Double Feature: Deadly Detention (2017) & Downrange (2017)

Time to move into D double feature! Two incredibly random choices on my lists on Netflix and Shudder respectively. The first is currently on Netflix Canada called Deadly Detention. I’m not going to lie that I picked it initially because it looked like one that I didn’t have to spend too much energy to watch, which usually doesn’t bode well in past experience. The second is a Shudder exclusive called Downrange. Let’s check it out!

Deadly Detention (2017)

Deadly Detention

Director: Blair Hayes

Cast: Alex Frnka, Sarah Davenport, Henry Zaga, Coy Stewart, Jennifer Robyn Jacobs, Gillian Vigman, Kevin Blake

Five high school students are having Saturday detention in a former Correctional Facility, and must find a way to outsmart an unseen menace out to kill them. – IMDB

Deadly Detention is something of a Saw mashed with Escape Room kind of deal. A lot of things don’t make sense, especially right from the beginning to why the school picked their backup detention hall in a former correctional facility to the generic character structure that might be trying to draw some parallels to The Breakfast Club. This teen horror movie leaves a lot to be desired and that’s coming from me that had pretty low expectations going in to begin with. The characters aren’t appealing and honestly doesn’t really make you want to cheer for any of them. While the “big twist” reveal is meant to be shocking and the facts of why the “killer” does all this and how they get them all in this location is explained, its all stemmed from something that is merely mentioned so slightly.  At the end of the day, even the ending is something of a let-down even if it also tries to pull a clever little turn of events.

There’s so many things wrong with Deadly Detention from bad decisions from the characters to unsatisfying character developments to incredibly bad dialogue and a lot of overacting in most of the cast. Its not one that I’d recommend and honestly, it was something of a waste of time. I don’t say that about movies a lot but this one is very unsatisfying and rather annoying to watch and even for myself, who has a great ability to suspend reality found the scenario just too contrived and convoluted that it made everything very predictable and linear as well. If there was one thing that was good about this, its probably the role of detention monitor played by Gillian Vigman that actually seemed to fit her character well but her character isn’t really on screen a lot.

Downrange (2017)

Downrange

Director (and co-writer): Ryuhei Kitamura

Cast: Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Rod Hernandez, Anthony Kirlew, Alexa Yeames, Jason Tobias, Aion Boyd

Stranded at the side of the road after a tire blowout, a group of friends become targets for an enigmatic sniper. – IMDB

The best way to describe Downrange is that its something of a hidden gem. Shudder acquires some really great movies and its been getting some good exclusives as well. Downrange is a 2017 horror thriller and while there are some issues here and there and some obvious issues with visuals, probably due to budget, with what they had, this was done pretty well.

One of the best things about movies like this is its setting. Its secluded and well-targeted. They are hunted by an unknown factor simply chosen by chance and coincidence that they passed in that stretch of road who wields a sniper rifle hidden in an unknown location. The unknowns give the hunter advantage especially when the point of view is mostly placed on the stranded friends. While each of the stranded friends have their own stories, they don’t let their own personal issues drag out too long but rather uses it to build up their character traits and even the physical and mental strength that they have with each decision that they make in the process of being hunted and the plans they attempt to try to survive and escape.

Its a well-paced execution and full of gripping moments. The intense situation is not only a pressing matter of survival with water and food dwindling under the intense heat and the secluded desert road. Its definitely the constant coincidence structured in horror movies to have someone very saavy on survival and guns to be a part of the crew but the group isn’t all useless. These characters want to survive and while they begin scared, they all find their will to survive and work together to figure out the best way to escape. They make some suitably clever choices albeit some more understandably risky ones. Downrange is a pretty decent horror thriller. It delivered both the horror and thriller elements pretty well and is an engaging watch. Its always nice to find hidden gems and this one might not be perfect but its definitely worth a watch.

That’s it for this D double feature!
Two very similar cast set-up but with two different opinions!
Have you seen Deadly Detention and/or Downrange?

Double Feature: The Changeling (1980) & Catcalls (2017)

Next double feature up is the C double feature! Its a bit of a Shudder double feature as I finally watch 1980’s The Changeling and then also pair it with a 2017 short film Catcalls!  Let’s check it out!

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling

Director: Peter Medak

Cast: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Barry Morse, Madeleine Sherwood

A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre. – IMDB

The 80s was a great time for horror movies. We talk a lot about slashers in that era among the many other releases and yet, The Changeling as a ghost story was honestly a treat. There are some elements here that is executed really well. While it might be the whole set-up or the more mystery thriller element that takes its priority as the story tries to find out why its being haunted and who it is haunted by, there are some moments that truly take a very basic element that we still see in horror films nowadays and its finding the perfect way of acting it out that adds so much to the scene. One of the best examples is when they are channeling the ghost. We see this a lot in current films and yet they never were quite creepy as this one. The only other time this round table spirit summoning ceremony crept me out was a few years back when I was playing Until Dawn.

The Changeling is a pretty decent haunted house film. Its location is quite good. The house is huge and it manages to use all those different elements of space and echo to create the atmosphere. Its all done really well and actually lands a lot of the suspense and unsettling feeling throughout the film. Its not exactly perfect. There are some small pacing issues but at the same time, the story is executed pretty well. There’s a good balance of mystery and horror and the acting is fairly decent as well.

Catcalls (short, 2017)

Catcalls

Director (and writer): Kate Dolan

Cast: Martin O’Sullivan, Cesca Saunders, Edel Murphy, Sarah Kinlen, Desmond Eastwood

A man cruises around late at night looking for something. He pulls in to ask two young girls for directions – only to flash them to get a cheap thrill. Unfortunately, he has picked the wrong girls. They are also out hunting tonight and they will stop at nothing to get their kill. – IMDB

Its rare that I’d review short films outside out of special requests or film festivals but Catcalls is a unique title that I watched randomly on Shudder, plus anything to do with cats always intrigues me. Catcalls is one that I definitely liked quite a bit. Running at 9 minutes, the story is really great. It takes on a literal term of catcalls towards ladies and merges it with cats to make it all blend together. The imagination and direction is awesomely clever. What makes it even better is that it keeps the suspense of whats going on mostly off-screen or never focuses on the effects of the actual horror elements, giving it this suspense and slowly reveals it bit by bit.

Catcalls is a fun short to watch. Its imaginative and executed well. The whole story works on a lot of levels and definitely one that I highly recommend.

That’s it for this C double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

What’s Up 2020: Week 20

Another week has passed and I’m going to say that Week 20 was a rather low point for myself. The week itself had a few issues that lingered on my mind and made the entire week rather unproductive. Perhaps its mildly the lockdown getting to me but then at least things did round out better on the weekend as the weather got better.

READING

double barrel horror vol. 3

  • Double Barrel Horror Vol.3 (Review)

Currently reading: To Wake The Dead (The Dead Dreamer #2)

Reading is definitely back on track as I have managed to get in more time for reading every day. At least its progress from no progress, right? I wrapped up Double Barrel Horror Volume 3 really quickly as I needed to get the blog tour done. I’ve moved onto the last book from the first batch of reading commitments of this year that I had wanted to get done earlier but didn’t end up doing but its better late than ever. To Wake The Dead is the sequel of To Dream is to Die (review) which I read earlier this year in March and was an incredibly enjoyable read.

PLAYING

need for speed no limits

Currently playing: Need For Speed: No Limits, Color Spots, Happy Color

Mostly mobile games in the progress right now as I haven’t quite been in the mood for starting anything more challenging. Our next Game Warp recording is just around the corner so I need to get cracking on the next game. Its going to be an interesting one to say the least and one that I’m looking forward to. New game that I tried this week is Need For Speed: No Limits which is quite similar to console games like Most Wanted and the newer titles where its campaign and cops chase and different races and moving up the racing world. I still think the thrill of playing on mobile is not quite as good as on console but why  not, right?

WATCHING

exists

  • Exists (2014)

Slim pickings when I only watched ONE movie last week, right? Exists is on Shudder currently and is directed by one of the directors of The Blair Witch Project (review). Its still a found footage project with what seems like a fairly low budget (although I haven’t done any research on that yet) but instead of supernatural lores in a forest, its also set in a forest with bigfoot roaming around. While my opinions are rather mixed, it had its charm and I’ll talk about it in an upcoming double feature.

BINGING

youth 2018

  • Youth (2018)

Currently binging: The Love Equations, Yes I Do 2, Me to Us, Welcome Back to Sound, Youth With You 2, Produce 2020

As variety shows are flooding my currently binging category, I had to start looking for something that was all released to have a proper binge among my rather subpar week and ended up starting (and finishing) Youth, a 2018 series about flat with 5 university roommates and their trials and tribulations through finding themselves, embracing their relationships as well as resolving their own “ghosts”. Its been one thats been on my list for a little while and it had a decent amount of episodes and I’m a big fan of watching stories about girls and their friendships/sisterhood that builds.

A few of the currently binging is in its final week or two and should wrap up soon. Its a good thing since there are some new series landing and playing right now that I’ve put aside due to the long currently binging list. Its hard to track all the days of new episodes landing sometimes. Two ending soon would be The Love Equations which has one more weekend to go and Youth With You 2 which has two more performances before their big reveal of who makes it into the final 9 girl group. Some optimal group choices has pretty much fallen apart at this point but luckily, some of my faves are still in the running. Its good also because its hard to track all these trainees between Youth With You 2 and Produce 2020 just starting.

That’s it for What’s Up Week 20!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

The Half Of It (2020)

The Half of It (2020)

the half of it

Director (and writer): Alice Wu

Cast: Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, Daniel Diemer, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin, Collin Chou, Wolfgang Novogratz

When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend – or fall for his crush. – IMDB

In the mass of Netflix Originals that gets released in a year, every once in a while, we find some hidden gems. While coming of age films are rather formulaic in many ways, The Half of It is unique in its own way as it packs in a lot of layers of teen issues altogether as well as immigrant family struggles. All these elements combines with a balanced execution focus on coming of age mixed in with bits of romance and friendship. If we think about this in similarities, the story here is similar to Sierra Burgess is a Loser (review), except you trade out physical insecurities with  some other issues like LGBT and immigrant family issues. The things that stand out in Sierra Burgess actually work really well here as well, like the friendship element between Ellie and Paul as well as her interaction with her father. 

The Half of It really works because of its cast that brings to life these well-written characters. Each of them presenting their different characteristics in a believable and charming manner, even behind their many awkward moments which adds to the humor. Leah Lewis plays the main character of Ellie Chu who keeps to herself and breaks her rules when she decides to help “edit” (but really write) a love letter for Paul (Daniel Diemer), a jock with rather undesirable writing skills, because she coincidentally needed the money. And yet, sometimes these perfect coincidences presents itself as a blessing in disguise when she bonds this unexpected friendship both with Paul and as the voice for Paul to appeal to Aster (Alexxis Lemire). Its the awkwardness moments that work well here whether its Ellie and Paul or when Paul interacts with Aster on their little dates. At the same time, like mentioned before, one of the highlights is between Ellie and her father (Collin Chou) who usually is known for his villainous and action roles in Asian cinema. The father element plays a decent part in the story and it makes this story always centered around Ellie which makes it truly her coming of age story and never loses sight of that.

The Half Of It might seem like a familiar tale in its execution but it also is unique because of the different issues that it tackles. Perhaps its because its about a Chinese immigrant family that it relates better to myself that it also strikes a chord and the family element here plays out really well. Or perhaps its the portrayal of Ellie Chu that really is quite appealing even though she doesn’t seem to find the same confidence in herself but actually finds it as she confides in Paul while helping him subconsciously building their friendship. While there is an unrequited love element there and teen romance that never quite gets a lot of resolution, it seems like the story is never quite about that but actually manages to create a fairly positive and sweet ending despite of it. All these elements makes The Half Of It such a charming coming of age movie. While I’ve never seen Alice Wu’s previous work Saving Face, I do hope that it won’t take her over a decade before making a new movie as she has quite a decent vision as a director and writer that it would be interesting to see what other stories she will tell in the future.

Double Feature: Black Mountain Side (2014) & Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Time for the next Double Feature! We’re moving right along with the B selections. The first is a Shudder pick, Black Mountain Side and the second is a movie currently on Netflix called Berlin Syndrome! Let’s check it out!

Black Mountain Side (2014)

Black Mountain Side

Director (and writer): Nick Szostakiwskyj

Cast: Shane Twerdun, Michael Dickson, Carl Toftfelt, Marc Anthony Williams, Andrew Moxham, Timothy Lyle, Steve Bradley

At a cold, desolate, northmost outpost in Canada, an archaeological discovery is made. A specialist arrives Nov. 1. Strange things happen. All contact with the outside world is down. – IMDB

Black Mountain Side is a slow burn indie horror film. I think its important to grasp all those elements because the first half is one that is slow and quiet. The setting itself in the Canadian North makes it a unique setting to say the least. The first part does a good job and laying out the land of how communication and its cast of characters are all there and their purpose in this archaeological dig site and the outpost itself. Paced by its calendar execution in chronological order of what happens on what day and how much time has past is a decent way to give a sense of progress.

At the same time, the lay of the land itself and the things that happen does get intriguing once actual things start snowballing and the pacing picks up a little more. Thing is, it does feel like there’s not enough that happens in the first half to have the second half make up for it. Its not only that issue but also the fact that it doesn’t use its isolated landscape or give each of  the character’s dig site as a decent area to create more suspense. The suspense is mostly in the unknown. While that does create a lot of questions, its ending relates heavily to a better executed film recently with a similar premise, The Ritual.

That’s not to the say, the premise here doesn’t have potential. Its mostly execution issues that becomes most of its downfall. Its a very slow-burn film overall, and takes patience to get through the first part without a lot of things happening and just building up foundation and setting up the scene to have a better quarter and the ending is also not exactly one that I’m quite fond of (although I won’t talk about it too much to avoid spoilers). Its sad because the Canada’s Great North has a lot to offer as a setting and its a shame that its not used more.

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Berlin Syndrome

Director: Cate Shortland

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken

A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. – IMDB

While Berlin Syndrome’s premise isn’t exactly groundbreaking, what it does is execute a good abduction thriller. Berlin Syndrome tells the cautionary tale of an Australian young woman who travels to Berlin and ends up having a holiday romance with a young man who ends up abducting her and trapping her in his apartment to keep her by his side. It manages to balance a good level of obsessive romance, fear and danger as well as dependence and some deeper psychological thriller elements.

One of the best elements in Berlin Syndrome is in its characters and of course, the two leads that take on the respective roles. Teresa Palmer takes on a great role as the female lead and possibly the first time that I’ve seen her act in her native accent and not an American accent. Its rather refreshing plus, her character as Clare is not a damsel in distress but full of survival. Even when it feels like she is stepping down from conflict in the situation, she is always quietly looking for the next step and adapting to her situation. Her character has a bit of complexity. Just like Max Riemelt as Andi who plays the abductor and obsessive lover who wants to keep her there and yet his character is full of psychological elements to consider as more is revealed, there is a depth to his character and why he does it as well as his dependence on the relationship even with his priorities in life outside of his secret life of having an abducted girl at his home which shows the different sides of him with family and his job and the mental struggles he may be having to keep his life in control.

Berlin Syndrome is a pleasant surprise. Its always great to find movies like this kind of hidden gem that gets tucked away. It was packed a good balance from great execution to the rather one location element and the abduction as well as the relationship dynamic and changes from the start to finish between Clare and Andi as well as the characters development. All done really well and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

That’s it for this B double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Blog Tour: Double Barrel Horror #3 (Review)

Welcome to the blog tour for Double Barrel Horror Volume #3, a collection of thrills and chills by six amazing authors! Hold onto your pants folks!

Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3
By: Matthew Weber, Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, Robert Essig

double barrel horror vol. 3

Publication Date: March 22nd, 2020
Genre: Anthology/Horror/Suspense

Synopsis

Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a 12-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig

Add to Goodreads

Authors

Matthew Weber

Christine Morgan

Mark Matthews

Theresa Braun

Calvin Demmer

Glenn Rolfe

Robert Essig

Review

While I haven’t read any of the previous two volumes of Double Barrel Horror anthologies, Volume 3 is structured by its authors and their two stories each. For each of the author, it shows off their writing style and sometimes, even a little correlation in detail from one story to the next. Each of these stories are different in their premise and also have their own uniqueness and creativity. Its fairly imaginative and each one has their own twist. As with all kinds of anthologies, they usually have stories that will more and others that in contrast appeal a little less. Its rather nice to say that most of these stories all appeal rather well and it has to do with its variety and the different style that each author chooses while writing their horror stories.

Its never been my forte to review anthologies and I won’t go through each of these stories as there are twelve of them and its more important to highlight the authors and the stories and even the double feature story that hit the mark the best for my own preference. Christine Morgan starts off the anthology with Eye See You in a remarkable way. The descriptive and visual portrayal in Robert Essig’s From Unclean Spells is outstanding. At the same time, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer and Glenn Rolfe all present some fun double features. Among them, Glenn Rolfe definitely ends on a high with two awesome stories called The Guide and The House on Mayflower Street that definitely was a major highlight and two very strong entries. Different in their horror genre but both equally entertaining. Although, one of the more memorable reads did go to Theresa Braun’s Stillborn which had some chilling elements. Same goes for Mark Matthews two stories, Wicked Smart Carnie and Goodwin that also stood out a lot as well.

Overall, Double Barrel Horror Volume 3’s stories all have their flair but for myself, some definitely land better than others. Luckily, they definitely almost all land in one way or another with the minority that are a little less memorable. Plus, they also have the perk of introducing previously unknown authors (to myself).

Score: 4/5

Purchase Link: Amazon

Blog Tour Schedule

May 11th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Kim Knight (Spotlight) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com
Literary Dust (Review) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/

May 12th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
The Scary Reviews (Review) https://thescaryreviews.com
Cats Luv Coffee (Spotlight) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

May 13th

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com
The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

May 14th

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Books Teacup & Reviews (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

May 15th

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

What’s Up 2020: Week 19

As we step into May now, things are calming down on the work front FINALLY! I have a little more energy to get some more writing done and hopefully clear out some writing backlog (although TV binges are piling up like crazy at this point). Either way, things are moving along now! Let’s check out Week 19 recap!

READING

Undead Ultra

  • Undead Ultra by Camille Picott (Review)

Currently reading: Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3

I finally finished reading Undead Ultra after some hardcore reading sessions due to blog tour being right around the corner! Of course, it already happened so you can check out the review linked above! Undead Ultra was a pretty solid read with a nice angle for such a commonly used zombie apocalypse premise!

Right now, I just started reading Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 which is a collection of short stories by various authors. As I’m writing this up, I only read the first story and that was a fun one so hoping that it’ll stay good. Review for this one is coming up REALLY soon since its a last minute addition to join a blog tour.

PLAYING

faraway galactic escape

  • Faraway: Galactic Escape

Currently playing: Color Spots, Pinball FX3, Demon’s Tilt

As I find back my more actual video gaming and not mobile gaming motivation, I’ve still been trying to persist on finish up at least one mobile game roundup but have been stuck on pretty much the same mobile games. Faraway series on mobile has been one that I’ve been following for a while so I had to eventually finish it up. I’ll talk about it quickly in the upcoming mobile game roundup (it will happen!). I’ve still been stuck on the pinball game phase so went back to try out the other modes in Demon’s Tilt and I’m pretty happy I did because its something to discuss for the review that I was working on but have put aside as I explore these new modes and the new features.

WATCHING

the half of it

  • The Half of It (2020)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • Panic Room (2002 rewatch)
  • Downrange (2017)

I have to say that other than Downrange having some little execution issues, my watching list was pretty solid. At this point, when you look at the titles here, I think you already know who is the director we’re working on for next season’s Movies and Tea. The Half of It is the newest release here and I felt that it actually exceeded my expectations of what they could do with this premise. Its pretty normal stuff but the characters and the focus is more along the lines of coming of age than teen romance and I like that sort of story. As we’ve been catching up on rentals and Movies and Tea and Netflix movies, Shudder had been neglected so we went to watch something there and found Downrange which also exceeded out expectations.

BINGING

Never Have I Ever

  • Never Have I Ever (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Welcome Back to Sound, Me to Us, Youth With You 2, Yes I Do S2, Produce 2020, The Love Equations, Go Fridge S6

What might look like a very busy TV binge is actually a lot of the same things. There are some new Chinese drama airing soon that I’m interested in and one that I plan on catching up with that just finished so I’m hoping to get on with those once I manage to get out of my The Untamed obsession that I’m currently going through and rewatching it a lot! Plus, The Love Equations has probably two or three more weeks before it ends and that will be a fun TV binge to write, I think.

The highlight this week is Never Have I Ever and the one series that I hesitated to start and then binged it in like over 2 evenings or something. Really fun series overall. Its more of the coming of age thing with some romance and friendship tangents. It’ll be nice to see this one get a second season after how they set up the first season and then ended it. Either way, TV binge for this one is in first priority since its a new Netflix release so that’s coming up soon!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?