Double Feature: The Lodgers (2017) & Luz (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature as we continue with the alphabet and head into our L selections! The first is an Irish gothic horror called The Lodgers and the second is a German (and Spanish) supernatural horror film. Let’s check it out!

The Lodgers (2017)

the lodgers

Director: Brian O’Malley

Cast: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley, Deirdre O’Kane, Moe Dunford, Roisin Murphy

1920, rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set out by The Lodgers. – IMDB

The Lodgers is a gloomy sort of film. Its filmed with a dark atmosphere and lingers in a mysterious air as the story of The Lodgers, their rules and these twins’ stories are gradually revealed of why they are bond to the house and what is expected of them. The story does take a nice pace in revealing it and maintains a rather creepy vibe especially in the first half when its laying out the story and the mysterious vibe with the crumbling estate and what the predicament of the twins and the lodgers. Its in the second half when things start unfolding that it starts feeling like it loses a little of its steam since the twist is revealed in a fairly obvious way by that point and its easy to understand where the twist is. To be fair, its actually one of the scenes of the female lead seeing the figures of her parents in the lake that seem to repeat itself one time too many.

The Lodgers falls under one of the issues where the “monster” aka The Lodgers reveal is where it renders the horror element lesser than when it was a mystery.  While that is the case, the whole underwater scene is shot so nicely of where the lodgers reside and who they are. There’s something very fantastically creepy about the deep underwater darkness and its captured so well.

Other than that, there are essentially three main characters here. The female lead Rachel (Charlotte Vega), her twin brother Edward (Bill Milner) and Rachel’s suitor Sean (Eugene Simon). There are a few other supporting cast that help further set up the story and the mystery surrounding the twins and their estate. The three main leads do create a nice dynamic especially watching the interaction between the twins as well as between Rachel and Sean.

The Lodgers do have a few tropes and such but somehow it does have this very chilling and ominous feeling throughout. Its twist is revealed gradually but is rather easy to find the hints to what its trying to build towards by probably the middle of the movie. There are some unique elements to the story that definitely deserve a watch especially with its estate setting being used from inside the house to the grounds as well as having a great cinematography.

Luz (2018)

luz

Director (and writer): Tilman Singer

Cast: Luana Velis, Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz, Julia Riedler, Nadja Stubiger

Luz, a young cabdriver, drags herself into the brightly lit entrance of a run-down police station. A demonic entity follows her, determined to finally be close to the woman it loves. – IMDB

The best way to describe Luz is probably “odd” and “bizarre”. The whole setup of the movie has this old film filter over its scenes. At the same time, its incredibly psychological. Visually, it uses a lot of close-up shots as well as still shots to capture the moments and emphasize an uneasiness in the scene. It fluctuates between what is reality and hypnotic dimension especially for the character of Luz. There are so many little details set up to bring in a lot of intrigue (and maybe get lost a little in this whole possession) of what is actually happening in the room and what is happening in Luz’s mind. Its all done in such a unique style that adds so much to the story itself.

I do have to say that what works for Luz for some viewers might be what doesn’t work at the same time. Its a strange experience watch and one that challenges piecing together the different parts of the story line especially at the beginning as the events seem to blend together and connecting the characters. As it works towards the finales, the characters and the possession element and the hypnosis world and reality all easily can become this confusing to follow story. For some this confusion might be quite the fun ride. For myself, that ride was unique and as things started to slot back into place, the execution is key to where it all stands out at its best from the cinematography to its use of sounds.

Luz is a hard film to talk about it. Its quite the horror experience on a psychological level and takes a unique approach to the whole possession premise right from start to beginning.

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

Double Feature: Kidnap (2017) & Killer Legends (2014)

Next up, we’re heading into our K double feature! I’m going to say that this one was a touch one to pair up since selections were limited.  Let’s check it out!

Kidnap (2017)

Kidnap

Director: Luis Prieto

Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Jason George

A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. – IMDB

Feeling a lot like The Call (review) in terms of its thriller style, Halle Berry stars in this thriller about a recently divorced mother who is truly quite the lady as she doesn’t give a second thought and chases after the kidnappers who have taken her son. There’s a lot of really unbelievable bits in this one. Just like how her rather rundown minivan is in a car chase with an 80s Mustang GT or something along those lines (although I’m not car expert so what do I know?). While her actions might feel more instinctive and acting on the moment so some of it makes you feel like its passable in the believable element but then you have these kidnappers who are a little odd as they reveal themselves at some point and it just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do in the whole scheme of things especially seeing as the plot takes a turn to lay out who these two are albeit a rather shallow back story. Its main focus is on a mother retrieving her kidnapped son against all odds.

I’m honestly not hating on Kidnap. Sure, some plot points are hard to get behind. There are some stupid decisions and it did get a little boring to watching Halle Berry on a constant car chase that takes up a good part of the film, mostly in panic and fear. It feels a little shallow in terms of content. However, it knows what it wants to be and there is some growth in Halle Berry’s character throughout the whole ordeal (as it should with something so traumatic as chasing down kidnappers and doing things most normal mothers wouldn’t be doing). It has a few thrills and redeeming moments but also seems like the plot is too straightforward and doesn’t go deep enough to be a fun thriller as the reveal itself fell a little flat as well.

Killer Legends (2014)

killer legends

Director (and writer): Joshua Zeman

Delving into our collective nightmares, this horror-documentary investigates the origins of our most terrifying urban legends and the true stories that may have inspired them. – IMDB

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries and honestly, when I do, sometimes I’m not sure that I’ve reviewed a whole lot of it. Killer Legends is something of an educational research documentary. It takes four urban legends that have been rather popularized through horror movies and takes a dive into cases where those types of serial killers had occurred in real life. Most of them dive back to decades ago well before movies were made from them but Joshua Zeman and researcher Rachel Mills heads to the different cities where these cases happened and revisits the locations of the murders based on case files as well as talks to the residents to see their thoughts on those long ago cases and how many people actually still remember it and who they thought were the suspects on these (mostly) unsolved mysteries, as some of them have caught a killer but also speculations that there were uncertainties.

Seeing as I’m not one to go deep diving on the Internet for information on this topic and looking up cases from decades ago and such, this documentary was pretty good. Each of the four urban legends are ones that I’ve heard of and have seen movies related to it in one form or another. There were real life case file pictures added into the research and makes things more real and the whole set up of how the research and killer profile was pretty interesting (seeing as I was a big fan of Criminal Minds). The one that probably is the most intriguing is The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs section while the most surprising might go to the urban legends behind the Candyman with the real life case connection. The other two stories is the Hookman which definitely feels more familiar (with recent viewings of Zodiac and I Know What You Did Last Summer) which was a fairly creepy look as its the one case that haunts the town of Texarkana and remains unsolved which is always chilling to hear about, and finally wrapping up the Killer Clown urban legend which wraps up the cautionary tale behind this whole documentary and with this, giving it the purpose.

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the two running this whole documentary as the conversation feels not as smooth as it should be but the people they choose to interview and the information that they gather and put together does add a little substance to these urban legends and what they mean to the people who lived through the times and in the cities that they occurred. Its not about solving these mysteries but rather taking a second look at the info available and piecing it together and they do a decent job on achieving that through the course of the documentary and the four urban legends which makes it well worth a watch.

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

 

Double Feature: Jigsaw (2017) & Jack Frost (1997)

Up next for double feature is the J selections!

Jigsaw (2017)

Jigsaw

Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Cast: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson, Cle Bennett, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for over 10 years. –IMDB

Seven years after the seventh movie of this franchise, Jigsaw arrives. I’m not going to lie that I was a bit skeptical about how this could go considering that I found the last few movies of Saw a little bit meh. It still had some fun elements but it had a significant drop in horror value since the first Saw movie. To be honest, what is there to expect from Jigsaw? Its an attempt to revive the franchise and it picks up over 10 years after John Kramer is expected to be dead. For the most part, it does work pretty well and exceeded my expectations from it. It was a fun time with some decent traps and the whole twist at the end really comes together as its both a police chase and the game playing out together.

Jigsaw’s good bits are definitely in the escape room style and goes somewhat back to its roots. In this one, the group all start chained together and starts to realize that they all have some crime that has caused them to be in this position and its their way to admit those faults, whether they can get out or not is of course, pretty much set in the game. Each of these games as they move from one room to the next is a step more dangerous than the previous one and its a good structure. It brings in a lot of tension mostly from how each of these games play out because honestly, the outcome of these characters are fairly predictable for the most part. Plus, the gruesome and extremity of each trap is usually where movies in this franchise excel and this one is no exception.

The whole police section of the movie that plays as the outside factor of tracking these captured victims is a whole other level. It all dials down to figuring whether its Kramer behind all this as well as finding each of these victims and ends up where it all starts and cycles back into a twist as the story comes together. The story itself, especially the twist, was quite fun as a reveal. It became a little more apparent where it was going but then there was still a bit of surprise and cleverness which is always appreciated. Jigsaw was a fun comeback for the franchise and it’ll be interesting to see where they take it from here.

Jack Frost (1997)

jack frost

Director: Michael Cooney

Cast: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Ellen Seeley, Rob LaBelle

After an accident that left murderer Jack Frost dead in genetic material the vengeful killer returns as a murderous snowman to exact his revenge on the man who sent him to be executed – IMDB 

I’ve been some pretty odd choices for Shudder, most of them being quite random. The J selections on Shudder is rather limited and it was between Jack Frost and another French horror that I’ve heard mostly bad things about so here we are, heading back to 1997 to watch the horror Jack Frost. This one is silly and low budget. There’s not a whole lot to be scared about and its not extreme or anything.

There’s a lot of overacting and a lot of it is really odd, especially in buying into a killer snowman deal. Sure, there’s a little more to it than that but still, its watching a snowman, cut to a puddle of water and then hear some sound effects of it moving into another area. The connection of water and snow all comes into play in its different forms and in that sense, it does make a snowman a pretty lethal deal if it can move like it does. At the same time, its a bit hard to buy into it since this is some guy who gets hit by some experimental acidic solution.

Luckily, the movie itself doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously as this is categorized as a horror comedy. The whole idea of it is being mostly entertainment and the so bad its good variety. Jack Frost is very bizarre and I’m not exactly a huge fan of it. It has its fun moments because of the obvious low budget and how its all executed. Its mostly pretty ridiculous in some of those plot points and how the people get killed which makes it all the more funnier, in the laughing at the movie way and not the having a lot of fun way.

That’s it for this double feature!
A good pick and a meh pick, right?
Have you seen either of these movies? Thoughts?

Double Feature: I Kill Giants (2017) & I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Moving right along with our double features into the I selections! Trust me when I say that I don’t deliberately choose movies in decades apart, it just happens. The first is 2017’s fantasy film I Kill Giants paired with a movie that, believe it or not, is a first watch, 90s slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer. Let’s check it out!

I Kill Giants (2017)

I Kill Giants

Director: Anders Walter

Cast: Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade, Rory Jackson, Art Parkinson

Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Friday Film Club*

Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants also has its writer as the movie’s screenplay writer as well. I Kill Giants is a fantasy drama about a young girl called Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who lives in this world inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and baseball player Harry Covelski where she is defending her hometown from giants with her handmade weapons and traps. With this important task at hand, she keeps mostly to herself until one day, a new girl from Leeds, Sophia (Sydney Wade) comes to town who befriends her. As Barbara finally opens up about her world to Sophia, her fantasy world starts colliding with the reality as Barbara has to face the new school psychologist Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), the school bully Taylor (Rory Jackson) as well as her older siblings who doesn’t understand her like her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), as they all try to get pull her back to face the reality that she’s running away from.

While I Kill Giants does drag a little here and there, the imaginative and creative story that it tells is one that is fairly poignant. Visually, its also really captivating. Right from the beginning shots when we see Barbara clad in her bunny ears head band running through the forest, avoiding a giant and pouring this jam-like liquid onto the trees. The cinematography is done incredibly well. At the same time, the fantasy creatures, both giants and the harbingers also are well-designed and fun to watch. The story itself is expected that it would take a more psychological turn as it creates a twist for the character of whether this fantasy world is real or only in Barbara’s mind.

I Kill Giants also packs in an interesting cast with Imogen Poots and Zoe Saldana both having key supporting roles to this younger actress. Not to mention that Madison Wolfe captures Barbara incredibly well. The story itself tackles a lot of issues from school bullying to unhappy circumstances, escaping from reality and eventually finding joy in the reality. There’s a lot to like about this adaptation whether its the message or its creativity.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

i know what you did last summer

Director: Jim Gillespie

Cast: Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Muse Watson, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki

Four young friends bound by a tragic accident are reunited when they find themselves being stalked by a hook-wielding maniac in their small seaside town. – IMDB

Like I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I Know What You Did Last Summer is indeed my first watch. I might have seen snippets on TV before but never have seen the film in entirety but I’m a big fan of movies like Scream (review) and 90s slasher since they have this cheesy dialogue factor that I really love a lot. I Know What You  Did Last Summer definitely does tick those boxes really well. It was a lot of fun to watch. Not exactly a very scary movie but there was a few tense jumpscare moments that worked really good. The best moments are anticipating a jumpscare but not knowing when it will land and still feeling startled.

If we look at the cast, the four main leads in 90s reflected the general criteria of 90s slasher films. There was a good balance of the characters needed in this group of four friends of what slasher movies usually would have.  The dialogue is definitely one of the elements that is full of cheese and actually some of it is a bit wooden but somehow the 90s slasher films always seem to have those very cringe-y dialogue that brings a lot of enjoyment. Of course, this element is one that differs between people. While its something of an enjoyment here, the acting in reality leaves a little to be desired. Some of the characters are a tad over the top. One of the surprises was seeing Johnny Galecki in this for sure.

Overall, I Know What You Did Last Summer is pretty fun. Its one that easily can be compared to Scream, which in my opinion is better overall in terms of all the elements and the tension, but this one is just entertainment. The mystery and how the four try to figure out who they killed and how the story itself is executed is done well. There are issues with this one but its not enough to prevent me from wanting to watch it again.

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

Double Feature: Hush (1998) & Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Next double feature is here as we move to the H selections. Two very random titles picked on my part. The first is 1998’s thriller Hush and followed by 1980’s Humanoids From The Deep. Let’s check it out!

Hush (1998)

Hush

Director (and writer): Jonathan Darby

Cast: Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnathon Schaech, Nina Foch, Debi Mazar

A couple with jobs and apartment in NYC, decide to move to his mom’s farm, get married and have the baby there. They can also make the changes to get a better price for the farm. However, there’s something seriously wrong with his mom. – IMDB

What to say about Hush? I think its fairly laid out in the plot summary above. Its one of those movies that doesn’t really give you more than its presenting. Jealous mother-in-law who plans out a great plot to get her son and daughter-in-law back to the farm house and then has some more plotting going on. The way the story itself is executed is actually also quite following that line. It doesn’t give the characters a lot of place to guess where its going, perhaps because we have something of a “god’s eye” to the situation, its meant to build the tension of how the characters will do. There are some little moments where its much more intense in the scene of what the mother-in-law characters decides to do and how far she will go to reach her objective that has a shocking element but its much more in the end. The movie in general is a fairly slow paced business with  not a whole lot going on.

Gwyneth Paltrow is being mostly how you would expect her to be. She does fit well enough into her role as Helen, the daughter in law who eventually does see through to her mother in law, Martha’s schemes to a certain extent. At the same time, the son character, Jackson played by Johnathon Schaech is more written to be a bit of an idiot. Some things that he believes doesn’t quite make sense. The biggest issue with the characters is that Martha, played by Jessica Lange does everything in such a suspicious way from every dialogue to every reaction to deliberate move that its all in her face that its hard for someone to not notice something is wrong and yet, the son and daughter-in-law characters seem too absorbed in their own situation to notice (or maybe that’s its intention?).

I’m honestly  not really hating on Hush. There wasn’t a lot of expectations going in as it was a random pick but at the same time, the movie felt a tad disappointing to watch as it didn’t have much of a high point. When it did reach a more shocking point, it was already in the final act and felt a little bit too late to re-ignite interest. The premise itself is alright but the movie just needed to be executed with a little more mystery perhaps.

Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Humanoids From The Deep

Director: Barbara Peeters & Jimmy T. Murakami

Cast: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Pena, Denise Galik, Lynn Theel, Meegan King

Scientific experiments backfire and produce horrific mutations: half man, half fish, which terrorize a small fishing village by killing the men and raping the women. – IMDB

I sometimes wonder why I keep choosing these 1980s horror movies to watch. There’s this feeling that some movies really haven’t aged well over time and Humanoids From The Deep feels a little like that. The crazy part is that the poster itself already reveals the general plot. It sounds like I’m hating on it but putting all the aging part aside, Humanoids From The Deep is not all bad. The Humanoids itself is pretty fun to watch. The way that it attacks and its design and all that actually is entertaining enough. After all, isn’t that what creature features are meant to do?

Humanoids From The Deep does feel like its inspired by movies like Jaws and Alien in some ways. However, those movies are meant to be rather serious whereas this one feels like it feels like its a lot more serious than the movie needs to be. I’m not exactly sure how to feel about this one. On one hand, there are some good bits, mostly with the Humanoids bits but then everything else feels a little forgettable.

While I don’t think that Humanoids From The Deep is something that I’d rewatch, the plot itself actually might be more relevant science experiment gone bad and movie technology combined in the landscape where remakes/reboots/sequels are frequently done that might actually give this a nice reboot quality in the right hands. In whose hands? I don’t know but it could be fun (unless its already a thing and I just don’t know about it which is also highly probable).

That’s it for this double feature!
I’m rather meh about both of these but let me know how you liked them if you’ve seen them?

Double Feature: Gwen (2018) & The Garden of Words (2013)

As we get back to more frequent double features, we head into the next letter in our alphabet run as we get to G. G selections on Shudder are rather slim pickings so I went ahead and started up 2018’s slow-burn film Gwen and then paired with also a shorter title with Japanese animated film by the same director as Your Name, The Garden of Words. Let’s check it out!

Gwen (2018)

Gwen

Director (and writer): William McGregor

Cast: Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Maxine Peake, Richard Harrington, Mark Lewis Jones, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Richard Elfyn

A folk tale set in the hills of Wales during the industrial revolution. – IMDB

Gwen is a slow pace Welsh horror drama set during the Industrial Revolution, mostly set in the isolated hills where this family of a mother and two daughters live on their farm. Unfortunate situations keep happening as the older daughter Gwen holds up the family and strives to survive while dealing with the farm animals dying mysteriously and her mother being overcome with a mysterious illness. Its a dark story and well-portrayed in its landscape and setting under its dim lighting and gloomy shots.

If we look at the characters, Gwen is played by Eleanor Worthington-Cox who does a really great job in this character. Its a quiet movie so dialogue is much less and there’s more of an observation of the situation and she does that very well. At the same time, her mother is played by Maxine Peake who also captures her role fairly well. There’s some rather “creepy” moments for lack of a better word. The movie itself isn’t exactly scary per se but it is a little unsettling at parts.

Gwen is for the patient audience that doesn’t mind a slow paced horror drama. Its not scary in the jump scare sense but more of a slow unwinding unsettling feeling that goes with where its set and the gloomy darker environment that surrounds this tale.

The Garden of Words (2013)

The Garden of Words

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Cast: Miyu Irino, Kana Hanazawa, Takeshi Maeda,

A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. – IMDB

The Garden of Words is a 45 minute Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, the person behind Your Name. Its interesting to see that this story also features two strangers Takao and Yukari who the latter is the mysterious woman who we actually don’t know the name until much later when her identity is revealed. The Garden of Words is something of a coming of age as the two characters have their own personal struggles of being a bit of a loner or misunderstood and finding it hard to know how to move forward. It uses the 15 year old boy, Takao’s passion for being a shoemaker and shoes in general as a metaphor for life.

Because of that focus, there’s a lot of scenes that capture the feet with how they sit and position their feet or walking through the streets, etc. Makoto Shinkai is a nice storyteller. His stories, at least the two to date that I’ve watched, has been rather meaningful. Its always about some element of life and adds a hint of romance in it that helps the characters grow. While this story isn’t quite as complex, it does take a level of careful execution to allow the story to work in the realm of keeping one of the character’s a mystery until giving her identity reveal. At the same time, Shinkai always gives these rich in color and beautiful animated scenery. In this case, its capturing the realistic rain fall set in the beautiful garden and capturing the light beams  and such.

The Garden of Words is a mere 45 minutes and because it doesn’t have a overly complex story but still with a little mystery, it adds enough to move the story in a quick paced. Its well-animated and has a rather careful metaphor. The story focuses on two characters with an age gap and while there are some elements of it that feels a little odd at first, its a rather interesting friendship that happens between them. Its a bit unlikely but then its not the friendship itself but rather how it develops emotionally perhaps. The Garden of Words is a quick viewing that’s definitely worth your time if you liked Your Name. Its not the same sort of story but its still a pretty good watch.

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

Double Feature: Flowers in the Attic (1987) & The Foreigner (2017)

Next double feature is here! We’ve arrived at the F features. The first is 1987 adaptation of V.C.. Andrews novel with the same name, Flowers in the Attic followed by 2017’s The Foreigner with Jackie Chan in this action thriller. Let’s check it out!

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic

Director (and screenplay): Jeffrey Bloom

Cast: Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, Jeb Stuart Adams, Ben Ryan Ganger, Lindsay Parker

Children are hidden away in the attic by their conspiring mother and grandmother. – IMDB

I still remember back in the days when I first discovered V.C. Andrews through some school friends reading it and it was such a rebellious thing to do because of its edgy content. Of course, I read some other series and not Flowers in the Attic which I learned when I got older that it was a very popular title in her writing. Until today, I haven’t read it so I also went into this knowing nothing about its plot. Call this a fresh watch if you may but this story is definitely a bit edgy as it deals with incest and religious beliefs and control. The story itself has a good premise to work with especially in the realm of a gothic thriller.

The execution of the film does leave a lot to be desire. There are some obvious direction to give it the scary grandmother and the mystery behind the family secrets and why the mother was kicked out in the first place as well as the general dislike and unaccepted feelings towards the children. There’s a lot done to give those unsettling moments. All this somewhat falls apart with a lot of overacting and the camera wanting to focus a lot unnecessary bits almost trying to hint that something would happen between two characters that would be unacceptable in the eyes of the grandmother. The mother at the same time is one of those characters that come and go and is meant to be incredibly odd and not meant to be likeable.

Flowers in the Attic was rather disappointing. I am curious whether the source material is as lackluster in general because the potential of the premise is there but then it feels so unsatisfying as a reveal. Its a tad bit predictable and there are some decent scenes. Even some moments that work between the siblings but when you put them all together, it just never seems to be well-paced and everything feels very deliberate. Not really my cup of tea but then its given me the desire to eventually get back to some V.C. Andrews reading and see how it holds up now.

The Foreigner (2017)

The Foreigner

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Orla Brady, Dermot Crowley, Ray Fearon, Rory Fleck Byrne, Michael McElhatton, Charlie Murphy, Liu Tao, Lia Williams

A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. – IMDB

The Foreigner is a fairly typical sort of action thriller. The story itself wraps around terrorism and politics and human clashes between a father who wants to seek justice and a government official who has some questionable background connections.

The story takes the time to give these characters a little growth as every step of the mystery opens up a little more of their backgrounds, especially the obvious one, how a businessman is so knowledgeable in creating these scare tactics and evading the pursuit of government official’s men. If we talk about characters, the movie is essentially carried because of Jackie Chan who plays the father called Quan and the government official played by Pierce Brosnan. I mean, two veteran actors who deliver good roles all around. Their clashes and the action from Jackie Chan is reflective of the story itself and doesn’t overdo it a lot.

While there is a whole other issue at hand with supporting plotlines with marriage and family, The Foreigner does remember where its main focus is as an action thriller and sticks to it. It adds a few twists and some secrets from the supporting cast. Its not exactly unpredictable and not a lot of surprises but its a decent movie experience.

That’s it for this double F feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?
Also, have you read Flowers in the Attic? Is it worth a read?

Double Feature: Escape Room (2017) & Exists (2014)

Next double feature is here! We’re at the E selections from Netflix and Shudder with the following titles respectively: 2017’s Escape Room and 2014’s Exists.

Escape Room (2017)

Escape Room 2017

Director (and co-writer): Will Wernick

Cast: Evan Williams, Annabelle Stephenson, Elisabeth Hower, Dan J. Johnson, John Ierardi, Kelly Delson, Iris Avalee

Six friends test their intelligence when an escape room they participate in takes a dark and twisted turn. – IMDB

Let’s make one thing clear that this isn’t the more recent 2019’s Escape Room (review). I have to make it clear because while the 2019 one had some issue but it was much better than this Escape Room which was a rather nonsensical version with some very unnecessary elements and unappealing characters that gets themselves into the situation.

This escape room takes a group of friends celebrating a birthday party for this guy whose girlfriend breaks out of the norm to gift them this experience for all the friends. Its an expensive expense but one that was surprising. It takes them a good half of the movie before they find out that this isn’t a game. Its a bit silly of how they didn’t find out especially when their goal was to save this girlfriend who was sitting in a cage naked! If it was a 2 person escape room, sure, maybe it made sense because it would be sexy outcome or whatever but this was with 4 other friends than this couple and friends that seemed to have their own connections with each other like siblings and affairs, etc. It tries really hard to pad out these rather shallow characters.

If there was one thing that kind of worked was that one scene where it had the characters stuck in a locked room. It was obvious that nothing good was going to happen with the contraption but it was kind of gross and somehow fit in as the turning point of revelation for these characters. As for everything else, it was badly executed with some really annoying characters to watch that really didn’t peak my interest much.

Exists (2014)

Exists

Director (and co-writer): Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Chris Osborn, Dora Madison, Roger Edwards, Denise Williamson, Samuel Davis, Brian Steele, Jeff Schwan

A group of friends who venture into the remote Texas woods for a party weekend find themselves stalked by Bigfoot. – IMDB

Full points for originality of tackling the Bigfoot premise that I haven’t seen much of (I haven’t, but maybe there is that I haven’t discovered). Exists is directed and co-written by one of the directors of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez. He definitely feels like a one-trick pony as Exists changes the Blair Witch story into the Bigfoot story also set in the woods and executed in found footage. However, playing to your strengths is never a bad thing because Exists does deliver for the most part. It has some common elements like its gang of friends heading out and making some silly decisions but its all part of these stories.

It feels like abandoned woods and the great mysterious outdoors is a great setting as long as it is utilized well. Exists manages to keep it well-paced. It uses its found footage elements properly to show off their isolated atmosphere. Its something of “A Road Less Traveled” idea when they first go to the cabin of these brothers who shouldn’t be there in the first place due to some unknown reasons. Of course, these guys use this time to pull off some relaxing and fun moments filming stunts and whatnot until they realize that there is something much bigger that has suddenly taken an interest in hunting them down. The ending of this story actually does work as to why and a somewhat common direction when dealing with creatures hunting humans.

One of its biggest successes and one that I love about this the most is that the budget didn’t affect how they portrayed Bigfoot. The control on how much of Bigfoot to reveal in every time it appears is done so well and its definitely the way that it should have been done in order to keep them guessing on what this creature looks like completely and how horrifying it is. At the same time, even when we get the full reveal, it still works. I would argue that I’m not sure how I feel about the ending but then, I would still recommend Exists for all its strengths and doing a good job in execution. There’s are some tense moments and that’s what makes these horror films thrilling to watch.

That’s it for this E double feature!
Have you seen these two films?
Also, any other Bigfoot movies to recommend (to expand my knowledge a little)?

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?