FNC 2019: A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur, 2019)

A White, White Day (2019)

A White White Day

Director (and writer): Hlynur Palmason

Cast: Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir, Hilmir Snaer Guonason

In a remote Icelandic town, an off duty police chief begins to suspect a local man to have had an affair with his wife, who has recently died in a car accident. Gradually his obsession for finding out the truth accumulates and inevitably begins to endanger himself and his loved ones. A story of grief, revenge and unconditional love. – Letterboxd

Unlike a lot of the films at Festival du Nouveau Cinema (that I’ve seen this year), A White White Day is not about a relationship but rather a person’s journey. Its fairly existentialist and also very arthouse. It also is quite slow-paced as the story slowly revealed of those tidbits that pieced the story together to come together in the second half. This movie is focused on a lot of time pieces which is quite obvious just from how the movie starts off showing a car passing through different surveillance cameras on the secluded highway of remote Iceland and ends up in a car accident. Its filled with fog regularly (as we soon learn). And then it jumps forward to a still shot of a house and snapping away like a time piece as different elements change and shift in and out and the seasons also slightly change as well. Everything is in the detail and the director’s respect for the audience’s ability to connect the dots is where most audience will appreciate it the most. At some points, these little time-shift still shots aren’t quite for everyone (just like watching someone eat pie for 10 minutes in A Ghost Story doesn’t work for everyone either). Consistency is quite important and A White White Day commits with these transitional shots to show time and possibly different emotions during driving with these styles of shot a few times during the film.

The entire remote Iceland setting is fantastic for this story. The middle of nowhere fits well with a man who loses his wife and thinks about her and the mixed feelings that he has about the situation that soon reveals as an obsession for the truth behind his wife and whether she had an affair and who it was with. This leads to the high point of the film as he loses it and makes for a fantastic way to end the film. Don’t get me wrong though, A White, White Day has some really great moments especially the one where he tells a scary bedtime story to his sick granddaughter.

As much as all the technical is worth a note here, the true star here would go to the main male character Ingimundur played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, as this is his journey of finding out the truth. Everything is in the details just like how it frames its shots to his facial expressions and how he acts with his eyes (which is always a sign of a great actor especially for a quiet and subtle role).

A White, White Day is not a film that is to my cup of tea whether in pacing or just snapshots of the same thing over and over again (which was where I knew this wasn’t going to be for me). However, there will no doubt be an audience that can appreciate it because there are a lot of standout elements and some great moments here and the second half of the film really does boost the movie to fantastic heights.  If existentialist and arthouse drama is your cup of tea, this one does have a lot to offer.

A White, White Day has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 18th at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 17. You can find more info HERE.

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FNC 2019: Adoration (2019)

Adoration (2019)

Adoration

Director (and co-writer): Fabrice du Welz

Cast: Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Beart, Beatrice Dalle, Laurent Lucas

Paul is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mother, a nurse working at a mental institution in the middle of a forest. While visiting his mother at the clinic, Paul crosses paths with Gloria, a schizophrenic teenager, and falls in love with her to the point that he decides to help her escape at all costs after she commits a crime. The pair embarks on a trip across the Ardennes woods which will reveal the extent of Gloria’s dangerous madness and Paul’s devotion to her. – Letterboxd

Some people say that our first loves are the deepest and most memorable. It certainly would apply to Adoration who sees a 12 year old boy, Paul’s fascination and infatuation with the latest resident, Gloria at the psychiatric clinic where his mother works. This story is mostly through the eyes of the main character Paul, played by young actor Thomas Gioria. Independent stories usually like to use the view of one character and it works very well as it keeps the story fairly straightforward while leaving it space for the unknown to happen. The audience learns with the leading character and is able to connect with their situation. In this case, Adoration does a rather good job.

Thomas Gioria does a fairly good job at bringing Paul to life the most subtle and quiet way. Paul is a shy boy who lives secluded from everyone and keeps to himself mostly so when a beautiful teenager Gloria (Fantine Harduin) literally bumps into him, its no surprise that he will be fascinated at not only someone around his age but also the questions of why she keeps trying to run away from the clinic which in his mind should be for her own good. However, Gloria is a convincing girl whether its because Paul chooses to believe her situation or maybe his attraction to her makes him feel the need to protect her but he follows through after she makes a huge “mistake” to run away. Its the journey to Gloria’s grandfather’s home and the time spent with these two characters and their increasingly toxic relationship. To be honest, Paul’s character is rather dialed down that while the movie is mostly seen through his point of view, its Gloria’s slow reveal of her psychological problems that become the shocking elements and simply how much she is able to keep Paul in her control while also having him also be somewhat of her anchor because of their reliance on each other.

Toxic relationships between these two teenagers are the heart of the film. Against some impressive musical pairing as well being able to start off the story in a fairly light-heart escape and the innocence of the characters (especially Paul) gives them room to grow on this journey of running away. The story ends rather abruptly but at the same time, leaves the audience room to ponder on  this relationship and where it can take them especially as they are just teenagers and dealing with some rather extreme situations especially as Gloria seemingly does fluctuate between the good and bad days simply with triggers. The ending is a bit of the headscratcher but its easy to see how its deliberately meant to be that way because it doesn’t quite matter where these two go but rather what Paul chooses despite now understanding the situation that he’s in.

Adoration is a teenage runaway story essentially. Is it completely expected what they go through? Probably not. Is it hard to imagine that Gloria was “lying” to Paul about her situation? She technically wasn’t because in her mind, this is all real. Despite its predictable elements, the setting on the forest and wilderness and having the different strangers that they meet on the path as well as the way Gloria’s character peels away in all its layers of mental illness is done with a lot of detail and care. For a young actress like Fantine Harduin, it is one outstanding performance that is well worth a watch.

Adoration has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 4pm at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

FNC 2019: Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC

Director (and writer): Werner Herzog

Cast: Ishii Yuichi, Mahiro Tanimoto

A man is hired to impersonate the missing father of a young girl. – IMDB

How far would you go to create a certain feeling? Family Romance LLC is a company that finds professional actors to create a certain moment crafted to their needs whether its a stand-in husband at a ceremony or setting up a surprise moment to relive an experience or in this story’s central story, a father returning to know a daughter. It takes a look at how a person’s desire to escape loneliness and feel wanted or important can lead them to create these fictitious moments and where does it stop.

Family Romance LLC approaches its rather personal material in a well-rounded structure. It focuses on the main story which is a mother hiring a man Ishii (Ishii Yuichi) to be the father of her 12 year old daughter Mahiro (Mahiro Tanimoto) who has left them since she was 2 and the following outings this “father-daughter” go on to build their relationship while seeing how this man Ishii reports back to the mother. At the same time, it gives another side of the story of Family Romance LLC and that is the other types of services that it offers for other people in need which gives a broader extent of how far these services can go and the boundaries and limits and how it is run on other levels.

While that is the case, Family Romance LLC will at times feel disjointed as it jumps from one scene to the next whether in his main vein or the little cases of different people that approach Ishii hiring their different actors for their different emotional voids. At the same time, its hard to determine whether this is a documentary or a drama as the main cast are non-professional actors sharing the raw story based on “rentaru furendo”, an actual type of agency like Family Romance LLC that exists in Japan. Perhaps its because these actors, mostly focused on Mahiro and Ishii that makes this film feel ever more realistic and at times, see that their attachment does form and how it will end as father-daughter relationships is something that can be replicated not exactly an act that can be forever. Especially as these two, despite their awkward interactions growing slightly better by the end, do spike some connection to these people and wonder whether on any level these lies are better especially for the daughter who may have believed to have found her father again but to inevitably have to lose him at some point depending on how far this act can go.

Family Romance LLC is a tough film to watch. Its not for everyone especially in terms of pacing and it blurs that line between cinema and reality. It looks at the society and the emotional voids that individuals will have as well as how far they will go to replicate feelings, relive moments and create this fake sense of security or happiness and find their own bliss. However, it also emphasizes on the actor hired, Ishii Yuichi and as much as this is a business and he can’t love or be loved (something along those lines), emotions are part of being human and he has to know where to draw the lines, no matter how difficult and as subtle as those feelings are portrayed, those struggling moments add a lot to the film as Family Romance LLC shows many sides of the story. For this premise, which is hard to portray, director Werner Herzog makes the best of it and delivers a fairly immersive film that will make you ponder on how far the lonely society will go and how significant emotional voids are in life.

Family Romance LLC has another screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 19th at 9:20pm at Cineplex Odeon Quarter – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

Halloween Double Feature: Blue My Mind (2017) & Boar (2017)

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Things are not easy for this Halloween marathon because a lot of the films that I’ve chosen seem to have not quite turned out to be conventional horror which is the risk of trying to go into a movie blind. The first choice here, Blue My Mind is definitely not in the conventional horror and is the one that I debated to swap out but there was a certain level of “horror” here that I’ll talk about more (its really categorized as drama-fantasy but Wikipedia calls it a coming of age/horror, so you decide). Second film here is Boar. A last minute change to the original pairing so that we can get some creature feature going on in this marathon as well as some definite horror film.

Let’s check it out!

Blue My Mind (2017)

blue my mind

Director (and co-writer): Lisa Bruhlmann

Cast: Luna Wedler, Zoe Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller, Georg Scharegg, Lou Haltinner, Yael Meier, David Oberholzer

A seemingly normal teenage girl faces overwhelming body transformations that put her existence into question. – IMDB

Final decision to add Blue My Mind in went into the complete belief that the transformation/body horror elements of Blue My Mind and even the coming of age realization and unknown transformation in this character for Mia is a horrific one. Sure, its more along the fantasy drama category for a lot of people but there were definitely levels of the fear of the unknown going on here. A lot of the unknowns here from why this happens to Mia remains mostly a question throughout. While there are lot of unanswered questions, the focus of the situation is honestly watching Mia transform all starting from the very scary first period that takes her onto a journey of trying to numb her pain by drugs and alcohol and then slowly coming to accept it.

Blue My Mind is odd and sometimes the teenage angst gets really annoying. The film is a rather slow burn as well so the first part takes it rather easy and gives time for Mia to change and try to make friends with the popular trouble-making students. There’s a lot of silly teenage decisions and the transformation to fit in this new environment as well as all the rebellious things she does at home along with the inner change all blends together. It really starts getting under the skin as the movie goes further along because her character is developed so well. The theme of body transformation and mermaids and such are so underused that this movie is a rare one to see. It might be able to be executed better with less of the teen angst and rebellion but overall, its one that does make us think.

Boar (2017)

Boar

Director (& writer): Chris Sun

Cast: Bill Moseley, Nathan Jones, John Jaratt, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Hugh Sheridan, Chris Haywood, Simone Buchanan

In the harsh, yet beautiful Australian outback lives a beast, an animal of staggering size, with a ruthless, driving need for blood and destruction. It cares for none, defends its territory with brutal force, and kills with a raw, animalistic savagery unlike any have seen before. – IMDB

Nothing says horror like a creature feature which usually has a good dose of cheese as well as a lot of horrified chases and screaming. I’ve never watched a boar be the center of a creature feature so figured it would be a nice one to add to this horror marathon line-up. While there were some issues here and there with acting and some computer effects as well as some other parts that didn’t quite make sense or just felt very been there done that with bad decision making and such, Boar actually was a fun time and it had a lot to do with making a decent second half of the film that went to quite a fun ending sequence.

Boar is pretty much about a giant rhino-sized (as they described in the movie) killer boar that terrorizes the Australian outback town full of farmers and workers. Its goes around hitting farms and then campers and moving right along to eventually go up against a family coming out to visit the brother, Bernie (Nathan Jones). While his acting isn’t anything to call home about or maybe it is because its overacting that kind of works for this role and is expected, he does have quite the hulking presence here making him the rock that stands between the boar and his family. At the same time, bar owner Sasha (Melissa Tkautz) who goes out looking for his father who has gone missing is quite the tough lady here as well.

Which brings in an issue with the film being that every mainstream character from Bernie’s family (sister, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend) are really hard to watch because its so cringeworthy. Then you have these bad dialogues all around. When its just the boar doing its thing, its actually quite good especially in the beginning as it only reveals part of this boar or from a distance and then shows all the different ways it is offing its victims and the rampage it goes on. It gets pretty intense even if the boar has some fairly cheesy shots, as it gets further on and some of these deaths are pretty gory and disgusting. There are some really crazy bits here as it gets closer and closer to the end or I guess you can call it the final showdown.

Boar isn’t great. The beginning takes a little long dealing with this cringey characters in their crappy dialogue but it has some redeeming points when it works through the creature feature bits, which is really what matters, right? There’s not a lot of Boar creature features so this point alone is worth a watch. Not to mention a death scene here that reminds me so much of Deep Blue Sea and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters death scene. Love it!

That’s it for this Halloween double feature #3!
Have you seen either of these films? If so, thoughts? If not, are they on your radar?

Double Feature: Mary Poppins Returns (2018) & Tall Girl (2019)

DOUBLEFEATURE

The last double feature before the horror month is this one! As I try to work through some of the Disney movies on Netflix before it leaves, I managed to get in Mary Poppins Returns and then paired it up with something that I ended up watching as a multitasking film and it was the rather new Netflix Originals, Tall Girl.

Let’s check it out!

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

mary poppins returns

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davis, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury

Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives. – IMDB

Arguably, a lot of the Disney remakes or sequels feels unnecessary and the same goes for Mary Poppins Returns. However, while it is unnecessary, Mary Poppins Returns still achieves quite a fun family adventure. It follows a lot of the same formula as the original in terms of the events and even using some of the same lines in reference. It all helps link the two together even if the setting is decades apart and Mary Poppins isn’t the same actress and the children in the original are all grown up and the children in this one are the children of Michael Banks of the original. In all those elements, it does build a good bridge between the two and holds a lot of the essence of the original even if it still doesn’t have the same charm as the first one.

What does change in this one are the songs. All the songs are different from start to finish even if say what used to be the Chim Chimeree song is another sequence with streetlight leeries (is that what its called?) and they do the big dance number also . Then the bird lady is replaced by the balloon lady portrayed as cameo by Angela Lansbury. Dick Van Dyke comes back not as his original role but as another cameo role as well. Not to mention, Colin Firth comes in as a supporting role as well. Some of the other changes is adding in a bit of romance for its characters. Of course, the biggest change is Emily Blunt playing Mary Poppins which was always a question of how it would change. While she doesn’t have quite the same charm as Julie Andrews, she does hold up her own. In fact, this role is so different from other roles she’s done (that I’ve seen) that it actually surprised me in a good way and I really enjoyed her take of Mary Poppins plus they still gave her some sharp dialogue and replies.

Mary Poppins Returns might not be necessary but its still a fun family film with some decent music and characters that I wouldn’t mind watching a few times (not hard since I’ve already watched it one more time afterwards). All in all, a pleasant surprise!

Tall Girl (2019)

Tall Girl

Director: Nzingha Stewart

Cast: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter, Paris Berelc, Luke Eisner, Clara Wilsey, Angela Kinsey, Steve Zahn, Rico Paris, Bria Condon

Jodi, the tallest girl in her high school, has always felt uncomfortable in her own skin. But after years of slouching, being made fun of, and avoiding attention at all costs, Jodi finally decides to find the confidence to stand tall. – IMDB

Netflix Originals teen movies are usually a big bet to take. So far, I’ve really only liked the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and was alright with Sierra Burgess is a Loser (which really doesn’t hold us as much when you think more about it). In many ways, the issues with Sierra Burgess are pretty much the same ones that apply here. Teen romances have that really big issue with making girls always question their own self-confidence when they want to get the attention of a guy they like when they should be confident about themselves and their physical appearances, in this case, its her height, which constantly gets mocked by the people in school.

In the case of Tall Girl, the characters go through a weird character arc that everyone ends up going through this segment in their story where they are very hard to root for and somehow find their way back, of course whether its too late is the question for whatever situation they are tackling. While Tall Girl does have a few okay things and the better ones is how it chooses to end and the more inspirational speech that the main character Jodi talks about as she embraces her confidence and feels confident with her height.

Tall Girl just feels shallow and hollow. All the characters aren’t too deep and the story is rather formulaic and predictable. Its a story about finding your self-confidence and facing your feelings sort of deal, which is pretty basic but has a few good messages to share. What its trying to share has good intentions but just the execution and the script and some of the acting left a lot to be desired.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns and/or Tall Girl?

TV Binge: Accidentally in Love (惹上冷殿下, 2018)

Accidentally In Love (惹上冷殿下, 2018)

accidentally in love

Cast: Fiction Junchen Guo, Yi Ning Sun, Yi Qin Zhao, Mu Xuan Cheng, Li Ma, Mo Zhou

Chen Qing Qing is the daughter of a rich household desperately wanting to avoid an arranged marriage and find love on her own terms. On the day of the wedding, she flees town and heads out to enroll in the same college where her parents studied, hoping to find out more about their death. She changes her appearance and name in an effort to hide her true identity and does her best to blend in with her classmates. Her desk-mate in school turns out to be the famous singer, Si Tu Feng, whom she’s already had multiple run ins with. The two don’t start off on the right foot, quarrelling constantly and causing each other trouble. But could there be more between them? – MyDramaList

Where to find it: Accidentally in Love is a Netflix series.

QUOTES/SCENE

accidentally in love

STORY

Accidentally in Love is a rather formulaic kind of story. It starts off with two characters Situ Feng (Junchen Guo) and Qing Qing (Yi Ning Sun) both running away from their own family obligations and running into each other accidentally which leads to a bigger conflict, connecting them together. It also leads to their dislike of each other and then gradually through time, secretly finding each other’s more shining points as they become friends and gradually find the courage to fall in love with each other despite all the obstacles. In the process, their friendships and crushes and childhood friends and past all come into play as the college is a central location of where the story unfolds.

Chen Qing Qing runs away from her engagement party to enroll in her deceased mom’s college in disguise to keep away from the searching eyes of her grandfather in hopes to find out more about her parents and track down her father, whom she knows nothing about. In the process, she doesn’t want to fall into the planned path without having a chance to see the outside a little more. On the other side, Situ Feng’s story is about his disagreement of his career choice with his father, while also struggling to write and sing the music that he would like to do instead of what his music company wants him to do. For him, its also about proving that he can be himself and still find his success.

The series revolves around expectations versus reality, social status, and the effect of physical appearances. It is a little over the top in parts deliberately and overall, is a fairly fun and comedic little series with a lot of feel-good elements.

LENGTH/PACING

Episodes: 30 episodes
Episode length: 30 minutes (approx.)

Clocking in at 30 episodes with an average of 30 minutes per episode makes this a very quick watch. Its perfect for binging and also keeps it pretty well-paced. There’s almost always something going on whether its another of Qing Qing’s ideas or another of Feng’s little music things or some conflict that occurs because of past misunderstandings or present arguments or fun encounters. The story moves fast and while there are a good number of characters that pop in, it only chooses to focus on a few of them. There aren’t really any true villains but just friends with personal issues trying to stop things from going astray from where they anticipated.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

If we look at characters, there are some obvious relationships going on here as well as friendships and even some “enemies” are worth look at.

accidentally in love

The first is the obvious couple and the end game for our main leads: Qing Qing and Feng who are so simple and naive in nature, making them such a fun little pair to watch on screen. Both Qing Qing and Feng are naive in their own ways and each have their own little issues to deal with that when they meet, they end making each other better or at least they try to be a better person for each other. Its a natural development in their relationship as well that gives them quite a nice chemistry where its more rivalry at the beginning to finding a way to work together as students and friends and eventually embracing those lovey dovey bits. They are both charming and funny characters that can easily be loved that it makes their story so much more easy to connect to and root for.

accidentally in love

If we talk about the couple I was rooting for, this supporting characters Fang Fang (Mo Zhou) and school badboy Lin Yiyang (Yiqin Zhao) are the ones that change a lot throughout the series and they are the unlikely couple to root for but hinted from the beginning. There’s a Chinese saying which translates to “One thing best/vanquishes another” and its popularly used in relationship when a stronger character also finds that person who is able to “control” their attitude a little. Its not the right wording but it works here where the character with the most change is to both of these supporting characters and they are so fun in their roles as well.

Aside from that, there are other characters. Some of them are in the rivals. The first is the childhood friend of Feng who believes she should be with him and tries everything to get between them and sometimes in a frustrating way, which writes her in a very manipulative but also easily manipulated character that goes to some extremes that I don’t particularly like. At the same time, there are also other smaller supporting roles like Yiyang’s two minions who are wondrously dumb but adds so much humor. Then you have Feng’s agent who also has a so-called dominance but never quite gets there and yet plays up to something rather sarcastically funny as well as he overreacts at times and such.

OVERALL

Accidentally in Love might have a familiar plot concept but where it excels is being able to keep it very light-hearted. It is still a drama, so there are moments of heavier content however, it still lands a lot of the comedic moments. The rivalries here never are too heavy and lined a lot with some silly characters that keeps the tone in a fun territory while the characters all have pretty decent chemistry. The episodes are short enough to keep it paced well and the series itself is also very acceptable amount of episodes. Its deliberately over the top but it all adds to the humor its trying to achieve and most of it lands very well. Its definitely one to check out!

MAIN THEME

 

Double Feature: Love O2O (2016) & Escape Room (2019)

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Welcome to the a long overdue double feature. There’s nothing in common with these two films. I skipped over a few movies that I saw in between everything in the last month or two that I don’t really want to write about. You can see what I watched and ratings over on my Letterboxd so here we are with this random double feature with Love O2O (also called Just One Smile is Very Alluring) which is a Chinese romance and then the second is a horror movie from earlier this year called Escape Room.

Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城, 2016)

love o2o

Director: Tianyu Zhao

Cast: Angelababy, Boran Jing, Yu Bai, Janice Wu, Songyun Tan, Yi Cheng, Jiuxiao Li, Xian Li, Zijie Wang

A college stud tries to level up his relationship with a computer science major after becoming attracted to her skills in an online role-playing game. – Netflix

Its odd to see that a movie adaptation and a TV series adaptation of a novel is done in the same year however that is what happened with Love O2O. Both are available on Netflix right now and I had recently reviewed the TV series HERE. Its hard to not compare the two so while the movie is a much more shrunken size of the TV series with some of the characters in the movie version carrying multiple roles that different people played in the TV series. I have never read the source material so I don’t know which is the more accurate adaptation. The movie did get released before the TV series in 2016 so it works fairly well as a standalone film.

Love O2O is pretty fun. Perhaps because there is comparison, the film feels much more rushed because it has limited time to cover different elements from romance to fulfilling a game development dream and friendship which are three elements that make this story really good in the first place. The film itself works best because its one of the more positive stories on all elements. Sure, it adds a little drama with the young developers and friends hitting their first roadblock but it never breaks out of the idea of being a team and staying positive and working together to move forward. The message here is one that deserves a lot of attention and encouragement.

On the romance side of things, Angelababy works really well as the female lead. She fits the role very well especially with her interaction with Boran Jing. They do have a certain level of chemistry. Its hard to really picture Boran Jing in a romance film like this usually but oddly, he kind of grows on you because the character still fits him. It could all come from comparisons to the TV leads as well for myself and expectations but the differences here work also.

Fact is, Love O2O as a film has less depth because it doesn’t have the time to explore a lot of what its tackling. The story itself works better as a TV series but there are a lot of elements here that make this fun watch and still works in its own way.

Escape Room (2019)

Escape Room

Director: Adam Robitel

Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani, Yorick Van Wageningen

Six strangers find themselves in a maze of deadly mystery rooms and must use their wits to survive. – IMDB

It seems that the theme of 2019 is to make sure that there are no more fun and exciting activities in life to do as a lot of them are potentially great horror movie premises from seeing Aquaslash which make water slides slasher territory to now Escape Room being too real for its own good for its participant, its really a crazy world out there. All jokes aside though, Escape Room is a premise with a lot of potential seeing as its kind of like Saw pretty much but without the gruesome bits of losing body parts and bloody messes. With an entire cast other than Deborah Ann Woll that I had never seen, this one didn’t seem to have the star power (or maybe it did and I wasn’t aware) and had a decent premise and had the potential to do well. Did it? Its a yes and no answer for that one.

Its a yes because the escape room elements worked really well for the most part. The setup from the starting reception area that turned out to be the first room that turned into a gigantic oven all the way to solving one area to the next, the stakes were higher and higher. At the same time, the story was meant to link together with one character as escape rooms tend to be structured as while also giving a reason for why these six strangers were chosen to take part in this escape room. I’m not going to sell that this movie isn’t a whole stretch of imagination on that point because most people if they received a mysterious cube inviting you to participate in an escape room game probably wouldn’t accept it, no matter the prize because even if it wasn’t a death trap, its probably a  scam because normal people, let alone corporations, won’t give away free money. However, point is, the movie does make the effort to give these characters justification to why they even chose to accept to join this Escape Room game in the first place obviously without knowing that it was a sinister plan. So with that said, while some of the characters were slightly annoying, they did have a certain balance to it all.

Where it doesn’t work is that the final act really lets it down. For one, the movie starts where the final act will potentially happen at the end of the film which already is a big giveaway on who makes it and doesn’t in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t a good way to make these things happen especially if character elimination is part of the whole game. With any of these thrillers, there has to be a twist to give it the surprise element and in this case, it is so very obvious.  Going right back to my point on why the film doesn’t work, the final act is just pushing the story too far and then it doesn’t end but decides to wrap things up some more while teasing a second film (probably if it does well). Its a pity because the potential was there and it was pretty thrilling even if some rooms was just more of a passerby than a piece of a complex puzzle.