Double Feature: Bug (2006) & You Get Me (2017)

 Another double feature here today! Tax season makes for a lot of background film watching. Gotta get something positive from the boring tax preparation, right? 😉

Two odd and random choices for myself since these two are two films that I wasn’t particularly completely invested in which was great for the criteria of being a background film. The first is 2006’s psychological thriller Bug with one of the debut roles of Michael Shannon played alongside Ashley Judd. Followed up by Netflix Original You Get Me starring Bella Thorne in a role outside of her normal bitchy high school girl, which is replaced by an obsessive character. I guess in some psychological way, these two do have something in common.

Let’s check it out!

Bug (2006)

bug

Director: William Friedkin

Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O’Byrne

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation. – IMDB

Where do I even start with Bug? In a completely spontaneous viewing, I checked out Bug on Shudder. What started out with something of generic story of a lady, played by Ashley Judd, hiding away from her ex,, played by Harry Connick Jr.  after he was released from prison and meets a stranger, played by Michael Shannon who she ends up falling in love with. Its easy to chalk this movie away in its opening moments but as the plot thickens once we start see the relationship between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon gets deeper, it gets so much more thrilling than the threat of Harry Connick Jr’s character showing up. Although, I do have to say that I thought Harry Connick Jr did such a great job at being the ex. I’ve only seen him in some romantic drama with Sandra Bullock. I think it was Hope Floats (review).

The question here really lies in whether you believe Michael Shannon’s character and the conspiracy theory that he believes in…or is it the reality? The movie does a great job as his crazy actions expand to where Ashley Judd’s character believes it also. As they get more unhinged, the blur in reality and delusion (as mentioned in the summary above) is the key element of the psychological thriller and its executed in a pretty competent way. Right up to the end, even when some extra characters come into the scene, it proves the theory and then denies it and its just a crazy trip you take with these characters. Whatever you want to make of the ending will depend on how you would analyze the whole thing and get out of the movies.

Props here goes to both the wonderful cast here. It always baffles me how underrated Michael Shannon is because in every role I’ve seen him in, he just does a great job. Convincing and believeable role. The story is thrilling and full of questions and as these questions bug these characters, we are wondering what is the same thing and the reality and delusion. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and see if I can pick up something else.

You Get Me (2017)

you get me

Director: Brent Bonacorso

Cast: Taylor John Smith, Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Nash Grier, Anna Akana

Tyler’s crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he’s gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man. – IMDB

I’m definitely in a 50/50 feeling for this one. I guess it explains how I’ve never been more certain about giving this one a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd. You  Get Me isn’t particularly innovative. It leans into a lot of predictable territory. However, the execution isn’t all bad. They do some nice shots and a good progression from some sweet moments in the beginning that spirals more and more out of control. I’d have to say that a lot of the greatness in this movie is that to date (from what I’ve seen, haven’t seen The Babysitter yet), I feel like Bella Thorne delivers one of her best performances. She’s always been a fairly one dimensional actress where she is the bitchy self-centred teenage girl role. This time, she dumps the bitchy and brings in the crazy and man, she definitely delivers it.

Sure, You Get Me never really hits the dangerous levels because it doesn’t seem like it would step into something so extreme, even though Netflix Originals usually do get some extreme if they wanted. There are some nice sexy scenes. Other than Bella Thorne standing out and Taylor John Smith being okay as the male lead since he is a decently attractive dude, I wasn’t too on board with the monologues he did. It felt so unnecessary and preachy about life and whatever. It wasn’t his acting that bothered me but just the script for that part. It was trying too hard to be deeper than the movie actually was. There are some thrilling moments but unfortunately, its one that is easy to watch and had a few tense moments but still never reaches the potential it could have reached as it didn’t break out of the predictable territory.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bug and/or You Get Me?

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Double Feature: Bullhead (2011) & The Shape of Water (2017)

Next up in the recaps is an odd combo, I’d guess. Probably should have taken the next double features movies (since I’m way ahead on watching movies but way behind on reviewing them). Either way, it is what it is. As I work through the Shudder movies, Bullhead came up which I wanted to watch because I love Matthias Schoenaerts. And then, I remembered that I had a rental that was almost due for The Shape of Water so here we are with two features with nothing in common except that they are both dramas.

Let’s just check it out!

Bullhead (original title: Rundskop, 2011)

Bullhead

Director (and writer): Michael R. Roskam

Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Tibo Vandenborre,  Frank Lamars

Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Jacky, a young cattle farmer who is constantly pumped on steroids and hormones, is approached by a veterinarian to make a deal with a notorious beef trader. – IMDB

Before we start this up, there’s a serious language labelling issue on Shudder. It said this was in English but its not. Bullhead is in Limburgish, Dutch and French. The French parts are the only ones that I had any ease at watching although it was fairly good subtitles. Regardless of that, Bullhead is quite an interesting movie. I don’t think that the crime part did a whole lot for me but the intriguing part is in watching Jacky, played by Matthias Schoenaerts as he grasps his character so well, with its aggression, pain and complex emotions. Its more of a character study than anything because everyone lacks depth in comparison to Jacky who we start learning about his past and why he is the way he is. There is a lot of unspoken moments and I love movies that can deliver those moments well.

Honestly, this movie is fairly slow-paced and requires a little bit of patience. It is a dramatic and at times, a little off-putting. Overall, Bullhead might not exactly be a great crime thriller that it was cut out for but Matthias Schoenaerts taking on the role of the main character Jacky is exceptional.

The Shape of Water (2017)

the shape of water

Director (and co-writer): Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. – IMDB 

Exceptional style and great visuals are two things to always expect in Guillermo del Toro films and The Shape of Water is no exception. There is a real balance between its colorful characters, thanks to an outstanding cast, along with its music/soundtrack paired up with the great visuals and set and how can we forget the Amphibian Man. While I can’t say that I think the story was particularly great, it did hit a lot of great elements and it derived from a story using a mute girl, played by Sally Hawkins who can’t seem to fit in and be heard but finds her place in only a few friends but it seems to truly make her come alive when she encounters the Amphibian Man. The lack of talking on her part emphasizes on how skillful Sally Hawkins was in her role as it gave her moments a lot of time to just imagine what she would do next but never quite know until she’s doing it.

As great as the visuals and the music here, the cast here shines also. Sally Hawkins, as I mentioned above is great in her role and hard to imagine any chemistry between her and an Amphibian Man but she manages to get there and at the same time, also let her character grow and develop. Octavia Spencer is always a joy to watch on screen. She has so much charisma and attitude that she truly embraces her role while Richard Jenkins plays a character somewhat the opposite of her character but also shows his worth and how everyone of them has their struggle to find their worth as well. And its how these two people are also friends with Sally Hawkins’ character. Now, let me take a breath as I talk about Michael Shannon because oh my goodness, is he a great actor? You can probably go back to the movies I’ve reviewed of his and you’ll see me say that also. I never think about Michael Shannon but whenever he shows up in a movie, he just is awesome and its no different here as he plays the villain. I actually had actual moments of disgust and hatred towards his character by the end. Its really a great thing one someone can carry a role in such a believable way.

Overall, there is so much to love about The Shape of Water. I don’t know if its Best Picture material since I haven’t seen the other nominations but this one is a must-watch. Its not quite as spectacular as some of del Toro’s earlier work but it tells a fantastic story and the soundtrack and visuals are great. There are some great sets here. What I love most about this story is the way they end it. Some people mess up the ending but this one I think ended it in such a smart way.

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

Double Feature: Seoul Station (2016) & Audition (1999)

Welcome to a Friday edition of Double Feature!

My initial plan at the beginning of the year was that Fridays would be for sharing my dive into Asian cinema (more particularly Hong Kong films) but hey, I’m a fan of all kinds of movies so as I ease back into the Asian cinema world, I’m heading into another Shudder double feature with Audition (1999) recommended to me by my fantastic co-host Elwood and the prequel of one of my favorite zombie movies, Seoul Station. Japanese and Korean double feature. This one is all kinds of different tags for why it works as a double feature already.

I’ve heard good stuff for both of these movies so I’m excited to check them out!

Seoul Station (2016)

seoul station

Director (and writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Voice Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Joon

Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul. – IMDB

With the massive success of Train to Busan (review), its hard to pass up the prequel that started the story. Seoul Station takes us back to where it all started pretty much. Although, who did bite the poor homeless man? We never will know how it started but Seoul Station focuses on a few people whose lives are intertwined and are escaping for their lives as the people around them are infested and attack the people around them. These clueless characters learn about what the zombies are capable of and that well, they are actually the undead. Seoul Station has its good and bad. Is it quite as good as Train to Busan? No, its pretty far from the tension and the story pacing and characters. However, that isn’t saying that its a particularly bad animated prequel. It does a good job to set the stage of what its successor can go from and builds an understanding of how the zombies in this world work. Of course, there’s still a lot more to learn in Train to Busan as movies like to make zombies evolve.

Seoul Station doesn’t have quite the exceptional characters to love. The main girl is made to be weak and whiny but somehow makes it through a lot of close calls. Her boyfriend that is on a separate area as they track each other time to meet up is pretty useless as well and makes a lot of bad calls and doesn’t have the guts. However, he is paired up with an older man who is tough as nails. There’s a whole story behind this and that leads up to the plot twist at the end. The story is somewhat generic but the twist was a surprise although the final twist was quite predictable. Where I find it excels is in its art. The movement and speed of the zombies have this blur behind it which is a lovely touch added in to make something of a motion blur and that works wonders for the aesthetics and effect. The areas and the zombie itself are creepy to look at. The tone of the movie and the backdrop here are done incredibly well also.

Overall, Seoul Station might not offer a unique zombie story and has its surprises and some rather predictable moments. However, it delivers on its art and visuals in this animated feature. Not quite as memorable as its successor but still worth a watch to lay the foundation for the next film.

Audition (1999)

Audition

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all. – IMDB

In many ways, I can see how Audition is a great horror film. In fact, its quite the psychological journey. Messed up and what not the further you dive into the plot. In fact, the ending is so weird that it kind of goes through a confusing phase. I still can’t quit figure out what went on. As psychological as it all was, it was one of those situations that never felt right to begin with. Auditioning for girls for a role that fitted into what this widower wanted, not sure I’m okay with that since it feels pretty contrived and manipulative in the first place. Nothing good comes from that. Then the girl herself was really weird to begin with but apparently Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) saw something in her.

The story has many layers and to be fair, it works for the most part. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Audition. There are some solid atmosphere here and the pacing is fairly good. The cinematography and sound design is great in boosting the atmosphere. The star of the show probably did have to go to the girl here played by Eihi Shiina who was so creepy and mysterious. The final moments however kind of did it for me. What started out as psychological turned into this torture porn that turned my stomach a little and I’m usually not so easily disturbed by it. If that was the intention, it definitely achieved its goal but for myself, I felt like it didn’t fit in so well.

I can’t quite pinpoint what I felt let me down for Audition but it just didn’t feel like it ever reached the potential before heading in directions I wasn’t too fond of. I do acknowledge it has some great character and a lot of mystery and atmospheric horror. But something just didn’t work completely for myself.

That’s it for this Asian Horror double feature!
I anticipated watching both of these quite a bit but both of them let me down just a little.
I can definitely see their merit but it just wasn’t exactly for me particularly Audition.

Have you seen these two? Thoughts?

Double Feature: John Wick (2014) & Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (2014)

And we’re ramping up on some of these double features. I’m trying to boost up some of the movie reviews especially since I’m trying to catch up on a lot of movies available on Shudder before I take a little break from subscribing to their streaming service. I do love their selection and they constantly are coming up with movies from Fantasia in the past few years that I had to miss due to scheduling conflict. Regardless, I’m going to try my absolute best to get through as many as possible.

I promise you that I never plan these things out so well but hey, apparently, I landed on a 2014 double feature. Why not, right? So, first one is catching up on John Wick, which everyone has been telling me to especially since its been a bumpy road for my Keanu Reeves love that has definitely faded quite a bit in the recent years, especially with the horrible Knock Knock that I wanted to roll under my car a few times if I had an actual physical copy of it. I heard John Wick is fantastic and it feels like its more in the Keanu Reeves element so I’m looking forward to it. Then its time to start the Shudder trek and go for a treasure hunt adventure in Kumiko The Treasure Hunter. It seems from what I’ve seen, its not exactly horror so I’m not sure why its in Shudder but hey, its been on my to-watch list for quite some time so I’m expecting some incredibly slow-paced indie film style. To be honest, I have no idea what to expect but it has this odd yet intriguing thing about it.

Without further ado, lets just jump right in!

John Wick (2014)

John Wick

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him. – IMDB

John Wick is one of those movies that I sit down and right away its obvious that its going to be a fun little ride to the end. Keanu Reeves has had a few down moments but this is definitely one of those great moments that I loved him for. Him as John Wick is truly in his own element. Its a simple story about revenge and it was about John Wick’s loss and while it felt like it wasn’t a big deal to others, he lost everything that was worthwhile.

Its one of those films that build on its character gradually. When the movie started, it was just about this tired man who lost his wife and then gets broken into and steals his car and killed his dog. But as we pan into these other characters, we learn more and more about John Wick. First that he is a person to be feared and then how he got that title and finally, it gradually through the many scenes showed up his true focus and competency. Its builds and paces itself well. It didn’t need a lot of dialogue and fit the story perfectly because sometimes being about to see what is unsaid is a truly great performance in itself.

john wick

The characters whether it was the longer staying ones or the cameos all were memorable characters. Michael Nyqvist was great as the bad guy here taking his role to a fantastic new level that made him very fun to watch as well. Unfortunately, I did miss that he had passed away last year but learned about while researching the film a little further. He had done some great roles and this one included. John Leguizamo had a cameo role and I like that guy a lot ever since I saw him in Moulin Rouge. He has such a stand-out presence.

john wick

Overall, John Wick was a fun and thrilling ride from start to finish full of action and one liners and great performances through and through. The story was never too complicated and that fitted in exactly the focused character that John Wick was portrayed as while showing off how incredibly fantastic he was as a hitman. The soundtrack also was so awesome, accentuating every action scene.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

Director (and co-writer): David Zellner

Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, David Zellner, Shirley Venard

A jaded Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of Fargo (1996) on VHS, believing it to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money. – IMDB

Right off the bat, lets just say that Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is definitely an indie film experience. Its fairly slow paced and honestly not a whole lot happens. We follow around this oddly introvert Japanese woman who believes in the based on a true story Fargo’s hidden treasure to fill her life goal to find it. Is it a journey to find meaning in her life? Theres something deeper in this story that pulls me in but yet, it feels like theres not a whole lot going for it because it feels empty and then maybe that is what Kumiko feels as her emotions are more connected to her pet bunny Bunzo than even her own mother. However, the story itself is quite unique and surprisingly, the more I think about it, I feel like there may be more to discover. Writing it up now, the intriguing elements of this story is in Rinko Kikuchi’s performance no matter how little she says, her actions and her expressions define her character and keeps us wondering what she will do next as he focuses on getting to her treasure.

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

I can’t say I am a huge fan of the movie or that I get whats going on completely and maybe it merits a second viewing. While I acknowledge the great performance of Rinko Kikuchi and the uniqueness of centering a story on someone actually believing the based on true story movies that general movie viewers (myself included) may have become skeptical to, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has some good moments and some well shot scenes but its definitely not for everyone. It requires a lot of patience to get through, but if you enjoyed A Ghost Story, this one might be right up your alley in terms of pacing at least. A bit of mixed feelings towards this one for myself.

Thats it for this 2014 double feature. A contrast in so many ways.
The first is action packed and the second is slow paced execution.
Have you seen these two yet?

Tomb Raider (2018)

Scratching another anticipated film from 2018 off the list. You can see the full list here.

I never saw the prior films with Angelina Jolie in the role so I have nothing to compare with, however, I’ve been looking forward to this new origin story style of Lara Croft especially with the franchise reboot for the game. It feels like it keeps it more real. Let’s start right away and say that I have a much more lenient view towards video game adaptations however, I will discuss why I think video game movies don’t translate so well on the screen, just like how superhero movies can be the same way (as I talked about yesterday in the double feature with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2).

Oh yeah, so before we start, you will like to also factor in that I had a very annoying theatre experience, even besting the Gravity viewing with a dog yelping in the seat behind me where a lady was texting and snapchatting for half the movie until another guy went to tell her to turn off her phone and she then just dimmed the phone. Common theatre etiquette apparently goes right over the head of self-centred people. Sorry if that sounds mean but it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience for more than the first half of the movie.

Enough rambling! Let’s check it out!

Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider

Director: Roar Uthaug

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. – IMDB

There’s been fairly mix reviews towards Tomb Raider. Video game adaptations tend to have those feelings. I’m not very well-versed in Lara Croft although I’ve played a fair amount of the games and understand what its about, even though I’ve only started to dive into the game that this movie is based on. However, the director himself had said that he didn’t know squat about the game either so based on that, its suffice to say that whatever he created would be suitable as a movie experience or as the story itself. Whatever it was that he did, for me, he did a fantastic job. I tend to be more lenient on video game adaptations however, this one did tick a lot of the factors that made it work.

Before we get into the nitty gritty bits of the review, perhaps its important to talk about why I think video game adaptations, just like superhero movies, suffer from one factor and that is the lack of a truly dangerous feeling. Sure, we know that Lara Croft or Alice (from Resident Evil) or Iron Man is going to get into danger but will he die? Chances are if a movie is based on a main character and that movie has a chance to be a franchise, they probably won’t and that is why, it takes away from the tension. So for people who don’t even have the video game connection, it becomes nothing but a generic ride through a movie that you already know the ending of. Perhaps its because I play games that I tend to not mind these predictable endings and truly take the ride for what it is. For one, just judging by the story they are basing it on, you probably can’t compare Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft, which is an origin story versus Angelina Jolie’s version. They are a different era Lara Croft, telling a different time in her life. Maybe she’ll get into some skimpy shorts one day but comparing the Lara here and the Jolie one is like comparing Daniel Craig to Sean Connery’s James Bond. A bit of a contrast but I hope you get what I mean.

Tomb Raider

With that said, I think Alicia Vikander does a great job at being this intelligent and bad ass female protagonist. Her character had somewhat of a linear character progression as you would expect with a video game character but there’s a bit about her background and how she got dragged into this plus some mystery and puzzles to solve along with some tense action sequences. Honestly, that is all you could ask for because its exactly what defines a Tomb Raider game. We know that she’ll make it out alive but what dangers will she encounter. If you are familiar with video game comparisons, Lara Croft is something like the female version of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. She has a lot of story to discover and so smart. Of course, this also highlights some of her inexperience as she sometimes does things like go back to get something that she shouldn’t in the middle of a huge storm but we always know that its going to work out in the end. However, it doesn’t stop that fact that she is a compelling character to watch unfold.

Tomb Raider

I’m not going to lie that while my experience with Alicia Vikander was mostly in Ex Machina (review) and she did a mighty fine job in that role, I was excited and incredibly happy to see that Daniel Wu. Daniel Wu might not be a big deal here because he was in an indie which not a lot of people saw called Europa Report (review) which I personally liked but I know it has some mixed reviews as well. And I’m currently watching Into the Badlands, which is an AMC series which is pretty good also. But Daniel Wu won the Best Actor in the Hong Kong/Asia equivalent of the Oscars and that makes him a big deal over there plus it helps that he has a sexy English accent when he talks and looks fairly handsome also. With that said, even before that in some of the debut roles, I thought he was always really good. As Lu Ren, he adds such a great character. Lu Ren might not have had a whole lot of plot in this one but it was enough to highlight the traits that mattered for his character to exist and as the first movie of what I hope will be a franchise for Tomb Raider, both of these characters along with the back story of Tomb Raider has enough to keep it intriguing to keep discovering her story. I can’t say I’m an expert either even if I’ve played a few of the games but Tomb Raider may have a bigger plot that they want to tell here but Lara Croft herself has so many memorable adventures that she can go on.

I guess the final part here is both the dangers of tomb raiding and our villain here played by Walton Goggins. If Tomb Raider fell apart in anywhere, it had to be in the villain. Now, Walton Goggins did a pretty good job but as a villain, he did feel quite one dimensional. This relates back to what I mentioned in the beginning about video game adaptations and their predictable ending (I should really do a vlog on this topic, what do you think?). Walton Goggins never felt like a threat even if he tried to be ruthless by killing an innocent but the villain felt like he was just going through the motions as his goons had a more menacingly feeling. This character wasn’t smart or particularly badass, he just was there. Luckily for us, Tomb Raider and the dangers that came with the location along with the mystery never stopped long enough for us to deramp from the tension and the entertainment that it was a fun adventurous ride that it needed to be.

tomb raider

Overall, is Tomb Raider anything to call home about? Yes and no. Yes because Tomb Raider is one of the better video game movies to come out in the recent years (but we do have a few coming out this year as well, so who knows) and it does give us an intelligent and bad-ass female protagonist (reiterating that I never watched Angelina Jolie so not comparing the two) that is so great to add to the existing repertoire and has developed not only her character but Lu Ren’s enough to keep wanting to know more.  At the same time, the mystery itself is multilayered and gives us enough to be intrigued for where the future movie can hold if it does happen. However, no comes in the form that until they can break the mold of building video game adaptations with well-developed villains, the threats will be more the environmental and the end game will remain more or less predictable and that takes away a little from the experience itself. With that said, its never actually stopped me from enjoying a Marvel’s movie or any other video game character like the Resident Evil franchise.

Bottomline: Tomb Raider is a thrilling and entertaining experience with enough depth in both plot and characters to keep us at the edge of our seats waiting for the next danger and how Lara Croft makes it through.

Double Feature: Haunter (2013) & The Innkeepers (2011)

It times for the next double feature!

This time I’m digging into the Shudder categories. I honestly need to either watch more films there or just cancel the thing. The latter is definitely something on my mind lately but so many titles I still want to look at that I can’t find anywhere else. With that said, I’ve been looking for one of these films since its release so was looking forward to checking it out and hoping it’ll live up to my expectations. While the other is one I’ve heard mixed reviews on so wondering how that will turn out.

Let’s give it a go!

Haunter (2013)

haunter

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, Stephen McHattie, Peter DaCunha, Samantha Weinstein, Eleanor Zichy

A teenager is stuck in a time loop that is not quite the same each time. She must uncover the truth but her actions have consequences for herself and others. – IMDB

I love Abigail Breslin. Perhaps its one that I’ve had because she’s done some great roles in her younger days like Little Miss Sunshine and Nim’s Island. As she got older, her roles got a little more scattered. I was okay with the Scream Queens role and then I hate the Final Girl but I thought The Call was a decent role. Haunter was one that I had my eye on. It didn’t get particularly stellar reviews but I honestly liked it quite a bit. The scares are quite generic and predictable however the atmosphere and the story itself along with the whole thriller-esque aspect works pretty well. If that doesn’t appeal to you either, the cinematography here created with a rather older home setting works along with a warp into an older time where it adds something of a static-y old film filter that works incredibly well for the setting it was trying to create.

haunter

Haunter might not be anything particularly special but somehow it worked for me. There was some pretty unsettling moments. It worked hard to give it a more psychological twist and a story behind to figure out who is behind all this and what is going on because Abigail Breslin’s character is one of the few who notice the revolving day that she goes through. There are some obvious pacing issues and some generic content here. If its scares you are looking for, its actually more of a couple of jump scares but works more as a suspense/mystery/thriller and that works for me. Perhaps for the experienced and hardcore horror fan, this might fall really short.

The Innkeepers (2011)

the innkeepers

Director (and writer): Ti West

Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, Alison Bartlett, Jake Ryan

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay. – IMDB

In some ways, I can see how The Innkeepers gets its credit. I had a decent bit of scares and there was genuinely some creepy moments whether it was jumpscares or atmosphere related. The setting in a creepy hotel is quite generic however, it does work in its favor. The camera work and the limited amount of characters also works well here. Ghost-hunting and many other horror themes are absolutely going to show up here and it has its predictable moments. There is nothing that breaks the genre including the fact that our main character Claire, played by Sara Baxton is not only clueless but makes a lot of really dumb decisions.

innkeepers

What Innkeepers does really well is just setting up the mood and the shots. There are some really effective parts, even if it felt slightly pointless. But it also focused a lot on the unseen. What we can see will get our imagination going and I remember when I went to see the Before I Wake premiere (review) at Fantasia Festival a summer or two ago, during the Q&A session Mike Flanagan made a comment about how our imagination for Absentia (review) was far more effective than anything he could have created with the budget he had for that movie. It goes to show the power of our own imagination and how I appreciate it when directors know how to leave certain things to the viewer’s interpretation and imagination. For that, The Innkeepers did a decent job. In fact, you don’t see a whole lot of creepy ghosts or anything like that for a good portion and its really little subtle things that happen and they all build up the atmosphere as it takes you for a ride to the big finale.

While I can appreciate the great technique here and looking at Ti West and how he was behind Scream TV series, I can see how he has grown and this definitely shows his ability to have a voice in horror and am curious to check out some of his other directorial efforts. The Innkeepers wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking horror experience. It was pretty average with some cool ideas and executed moments.

Movies and Tea #1 – Shopping

Welcome to the Booth! Elwood and I just released the first episode of Movies and Tea, our new movie podcast. The structure of the show is divided into seasons where each season we take a look at different directors and their works. The first to kick off this debut season is Paul W.S. Anderson and his directorial full feature debut, Shopping.

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Movies and Tea

Kicking off our first season looking at the films of director Paul W.S. Anderson starting with his debut film Shopping

Released in 1994 to a mixed critical response and much distain from the BBFC Paul W.S Anderson’s Shopping gave a pre-apocalypic vision of an unanmed British city in which the recently released joyrider Billy (played by an impossibly young jude law) and his best friend Jo (played by Law’s future ex-wife Sadie Frost).

Here they set out to leave thier mark on the city along the way clashing with Jonathan Pryce’s authoritarian chief of police and Sean Pertwee’s rival gang leader Tommy in what could have been seen as sparking the revial of the british independent scene had it not been eclipsed by the release of Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave the following year.

Join us in the booth as we discuss this debut aswell as looking at the rebel girls…

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