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: Hell House LLC II:The Abaddon Hotel (2018) & Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire (2019)

Wrapping up the Hell House LLC franchise from the first movie’s review HERE, its time to look at the remaining two movies. Let’s check it out!

Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (2018)

hell house LLC II

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast:  Vasile Flutur, Jillian Geurts, Joy Shatz, Dustin Austen, Brian David Tracy, Kyle Inglemen, Amanda K. Morales, Laura Frenzer, Danny Bellini

It’s been eight years since the opening night tragedy of Hell House, LLC and still many unanswered questions remain. Thanks to an anonymous tip, investigative journalist Jessica Fox is convinced that key evidence is hidden inside the abandoned Abaddon Hotel-evidence that will shed light on the hotel’s mysteries. She assembles a team equally hungry for answers with one goal: break into the hotel and discover the truth. – IMDB

I’m going to be honest here and say that after watching Hell House LLC, it never seemed like it needed a sequel or that a sequel would be in the picture. Of course, it did leave some space to explore the whole Abaddon Hotel mystery a little further. Hell House LLC 2 is supposed to be just that. It takes up the same found footage concept. This time, its years later and this anonymous tip sets this new crew on a search to find some answers. Suffice to say that things get a little out of hand, or else there wouldn’t be a movie to watch.

Thing is, Hell House LLC 2 is about The Abaddon Hotel and yet, the story itself seems like it gets lost in its story a little and what it wants to tell. While the haunted house element pays a lot of tribute back to its original and it tries to dig a little deeper into the history of it again, the story is not quite as unique as its first one. A lot of elements are very predictable and it doesn’t have the same effect of making this work out quite the same way as this group goes in with something of a paranormal investigation mindset. There’s a little more paranormal and less of the atmosphere building that gives it what it originally shone in the first one.

Overall, Hell House LLC 2 felt a tad unnecessary. It does try to add more context to the Hell House LLC haunted house deal and who is behind the situation that went down in the first movie and does add to the story. Its execution, however, is where it falls short. The movie starts off relatively okay as the crew groups together and they break into Abaddon Hotel but the further it goes along, the movie loses a bit of steam up to this ending with a rather annoying monologue bit.

Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire (2019)

hell house llc 3

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast: Elizabeth Vermilyea, Sam Kazzi, Theodore Bouloukos, Brian David Tracy, Brigid Abrams, Leo Defriend, Jordan Kaplan, Danny Bellini, Gabriel Chytry

The Abaddon Hotel will once again be open to the public. Russell Wynn has taken his audience-interactive show, Insomnia, into the abandoned hotel that is rumored to be haunted. – IMDB

Right after we talk about how unnecessary Hell House LLC 2 was, this series ends on the third movie, Hell House LLC: Lake of Fire. Lake of Fire was talked about in the second movie and here we see something of a first movie rehash as they try to rebuild the haunted house. The movie itself tries to pull the first and second movie together and then propels itself to an ending that wraps up the whole ordeal. There’s a lot of cuts that go back to those previous films as they go through the haunted house parts and draws parallels to the original and first sequel.

Its hard to tell whether its the pacing or the constant flashbacks or parallels drawn that make this film feel slow and rather boring. As the movie progresses, despite its shortcomings, it does add to bring in the “lake of fire” idea to the whole story and what makes it work especially when the haunted house experience is open the public. Its not hard to imagine what will be the result but how it all happens is on one hand cool in certain areas especially in this one area with the white corridor and adding in those creepy elements that link all three movies together actually work really well but then there are some shots that are cool in execution like using the camera on a turn table or display case or something that works out really well but at the same time, the believability of that scene has some flaws.

One of the better elements of this movie is how it chooses to wrap up the series to makes it more grounded and has some kind of conclusion. The ending ending itself is pretty clever. It sounds bad to say that the ending is the best part but the ending itself is structured to give the whole Hell House LLC something of an answer to what happened and why this is happening and how it all finds some kind of ending. Horror movies nowadays refer on the cliffhanger ending so they can have the “what happens next?” but with this third movie, Hell House LLC feels like its wrapped up and done and while I think it would have ended at the first movie at its strongest leaving some questions unanswered, somehow the ending of the third movie was good to have those answers as well.

Overall of the franchise: While Hell House LLC is strongest at its first movie, the haunted house and the whole location and lore that it brings is pretty solid. The execution in the second and third leaves a lot to be desired for the most part but the base story and what it tries to tell is still there.

That’s it for this double feature!
We wrapped up another horror franchise!
Have you seen the Hell House LLC movies? Thoughts?

Double Feature: The Blair Witch Project (1999) & Blair Witch (2016)

As we seem to be trying to catch up with all the horror movies that we’ve missed which are highly talked about, we end up checking out 1999’s found footage film The Blair Witch Project and following that up with the 2016 sequel called Blair Witch. Let’s check it out!

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

blair witch project

Directors (and writers): Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams

Three film students vanish after travelling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. – IMDB

The Blair Witch Project was a big deal in 1999. For one, it marked possibly a start to found footage and had a lot of discussion over its use of the “shaky camcorder” as a first person view into a situation. Watching this film for the first time, its definitely been one that I’m glad to cross off my list. While the movie itself might not be quite as exciting as what others have made it off to be, there are still some good elements to it and it mainly has to go to the found footage elements and being able to use that to build up the location and atmosphere.

The first part of The Blair Witch Project is where it somehow falls a little short. The three characters themselves are a little annoying as the three film students and the first part focused a lot on them doing this documentary and going into the woods and then arguing a lot. Its when strange things start happening like waking up to piles of rocks or other signs that the movie starts to get intriguing and unsettling. Its honestly all down to this location and its creepy stories that revolve around it that the unknown factor becomes what drives the horror in this forest that they get lost in and the camera and darkness makes it every bit more sinister, isolated and empty.

I’m sure at this point, a lot of people have seen this film before so there isn’t any spoilers but I’m still going to try to keep it spoiler-free. The best part of this film is how it executes the scares and what is presented and what isn’t presented. It manages to amp up the horror a lot by what isn’t there and the anticipation of what could happen. To be able to do that is one element of the film that earns a lot of good points.

Blair Witch (2016)

Blair Witch

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch. – IMDB

From the way that The Blair Witch Project ended, its hard to imagine that it was meant to have a sequel even if there is a lot of space to explore especially since it left a lot of things in the dark and having somewhat of an open ending. However, the only way a movie in the current horror scene could have happened would probably be to give us the big reveal, which I honestly was a little skeptical about whether it would take that path and that it would possibly destroy the imagination that it was being built up as in the first one. Of course, it did end up taking that path and it was one of the things that made it disappointing.

To call Blair Witch a bad movie wouldn’t be accurate. It still uses its wilderness environment and builds from the lore of the previous films. The bigger cast gives the room to have more eyes on the surroundings but still give the mystery. It also gives some locals to help give a little more idea on what makes people fear the forest so much and the Blair Witch stories and what mysteries seem to be linked to it. With all this, it manages to have some smoke and mirrors and then also create a good deal of jump scares.

What does fall a little bit of messy bit here is the reveal of the “Blair Witch” and the somewhat end-game that it was going for. At the same time, it added a lot of little things that would happen that didn’t happen in the first movie, making it feel like the whole Blair Witch stories had somehow evolved from the first movie and the over a decade time that has spanned between the movies in the story line into sometime much more intricate with night and day in play while still keeping some of the little things. Its hard to say which I appreciated and didn’t appreciate being added in.

Overall, Blair Witch is an okay sequel. It has a lot of shortcomings and really doesn’t live up to all the tension that the first one built and relies more on the jumpscares. Because this found footage is much more modern, there is less of the found footage elements felt here and some things that might not add up as much in technicalities. It does try to work on the lore and give more substance although the thing that disappointed me the most was the somewhat goofy witch design. It felt a little like some low budget horror game monster, which is always a little disappointing. It had built up to probably be more horrifying from what it can do than what it looks like.

That’s it for this double feature of Blair Witch franchise!
I know I’m missing a movie in the middle but from my research, its not too important in the continuation from the first to the 2016 version. I’ll see if I can catch it at some point. 
Have you seen the Blair Witch films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Dog Soldiers (2002) & Hell House LLC (2015)

Welcome to the next double feature! Something of a horror double feature as we start bouncing between Shudder and Netflix more (so more horror in the horizon..a lot more). The first to appear is a pairing of one movie that I’ve been wanting to watch the finally go on Shudder, Dog Soldiers and the second is a random choice by my husband, the first of three movies called Hell House LLC. Let’s check it out!

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers

Director (and writer): Neil Marshall

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness. – IMDB

Werewolf movies are rather hard to come by and its nice to see that here and there they do come up even if a lot of times, it sometimes still feels a bit lacking. Dog Soldiers has my praise for tackling this subgenre in horror films but at the same time, the movie itself is something of a slow-burn. It plays up on the unknown of who is hunting them and why this military team is at the location at the time and that takes a lot of time to build, probably longer than I’d have wanted.

There are some decent scenes and yet, while the script tries to give all the characters something more, its main players do dial down to 4 of the characters especially when they end up trapped in the house. The two military exercise leaders of sorts is Sean Pertwee’s character Sergeant Wells and Kevin McKidd’s character Private Cooper who takes over when Wells ends up injured rather seriously. The next two is a woman who lives in the area and knows of these odd events happening played by Emma Cleasby as a character of Megan who gives them a lot of the information as she saves them from the wilderness  while the last is a Captain who won’t talk about what happened but was involved in the last attack that killed his team pretty much.

Dog Soldiers itself has a decent premise. The story its trying to tell and the way they want to add in the twists and answer all those mysteries. Even some of the attack scenes and werewolf designs, despite its budget, still works alright. The biggest issue here dials down to execution where the first half seems to lag a little and when the reveal happens and things get serious (even though there were attack scenes and other scenes before that), it seems a little late in the game making the second half definitely stronger than the first.

Hell House LLC (2015)

Hell House LLC

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos, Jared Hacker, Ryan Jennifer Jones

Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. – IMDB

Found footage films are always a somewhat interesting horror genre to see. They usually all reliant on the execution and finding how to create the right atmosphere. With Hell House LLC, its the first in what is now a 3 movie franchise. We’ll be looking at the other 2 later on as a double feature. This is an independent movie and yet somehow, found footage films are usually still very good with a smaller budget. This first movie does a great job in its execution and especially in using its cameras and background to have this lurking horror atmosphere. There are a few little jumpscares here and there but they are also very effective.

What does shine here is in the premise of looking back at this documentary that five crew members have joined together for their next haunted house tour in this abandoned hotel called Abaddon Hotel located in a small town . It shows the entire lead-up through the surveillance cameras and other filming cameras that document the whole making-of up to the night of the malfunction. It uses its lighting and darkness pretty well and also builds a decent lore with the story of the hotel and its previous hotel owner. It all makes sense but lacks enough information to keep it a mystery and how these characters one by one change in their own ways and it becomes a question of whether its because of the hotel and whatever seems to be haunting it or just the haunted house weighing down on them for other reasons. 

Overall, Hell House LLC is a strong found footage film. It has enough of a creepy factor and helps itself by having all these mysterious stories and how it brings in different horror elements in the background. There’s a change in the characters as well as the entire haunted house deal making it have a lot of opportunities to play with these suitable horror elements to appear amidst the haunted house props that also play well with the whole premise. Its one location makes Abaddon Hotel a worthy horror setting. Its definitely worth a watch if you  haven’t seen it yet!

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

After Hours: Europa Report

The next After Hours episode for Movies and Tea is here. This time, its my pick for Europa Report, a found footage sci-fi of sorts.

Head over to check it out and tell us if you’ve seen this one (or even heard of it)!

Movies and Tea

On this episode we check out the indie sci-fi found footage movie “Europa Report” which recounts the fictional story of the first crewed mission to   Europa, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter.

We question if sci-fi can effectively be done on a budget as well as the effectiveness of the found footage genre plus more.

Further Viewing

Life
The Martian
Moon
Event Horizon
Gravity

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Bear Mccreary – Theme from Europa Report

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Podomatic 

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Found Footage 3D (2016)

Usually nowadays, I do double features for everything, however Found Footage 3D is special because I had helped fund it on Indiegogo a few years ago. It really amounts to the fact that over the years, I’ve grown fond of this found footage genre (especially the changes its chosen to take while usually falling short of its potential all too frequently) and the concept sounded really unique. I honestly can’t even remember what it was all about since it was a little while ago which is great because I’m going in blind (which I’ve learned over the years are the best ways to go into indie horror films frequently). I did watch this in the 2D version on Shudder.

Found Footage 3D (2016)

found footage 3D

Director (and writer): Steven DeGennaro

Cast: Carter Roy, Alena Von Stroheim, Chris O’Brien, Tom Saporito, Scott Allen Perry, Jessica Perrin, Scott Weinberg

A group of filmmakers sets out to make the first 3D found footage horror movie, but find themselves IN a found footage horror movie when the evil entity from their film escapes into their behind-the-scenes footage. – IMDB

Looking at the plot, you probably can already tell that Found Footage 3D is incredibly meta. The idea of using behind the scenes footage on a found footage film and then realizing they are part of one is actually (probably not new but) unique. Through the filming, you get to see these characters that we learn about their relationship and who they are through just how they act. The concept and potential of this movie definitely is there and as I look back at the Indiegogo page and why it attracted me (back in 2014!), it was because it talks about trying to make a film for what Scream did for the slasher genre. Found Footage 3D absolutely hits those self-aware parts where it knows the downfalls and cliches of the found footage genres and as they mock it while making some nonsensical decisions which leads to this whole 3D movie, it also adds on to the movie. At the same time, it reinforces why its almost impossible for found footage films to not appear “too Hollywood” because there are some incredible budgets and equipment behind it whereas throughout this film, what I loved the most about it was the fact that it felt like it was shot in actual found footage as in some random guy with his camera shooting an experience and since I watched the 2D version, I forgot about the 3D aspects of it all. It excelled at what it wanted to achieve for this film.

What works best in Found Footage 3D is that even in its title it feels like a work in progress for some random amateur title especially since the funny part is the film they are filming in the this movie has a title. It lives up to that as there are dramatic moments between the cast which has some conflict and then there are some dialogue which make it fun to watch and the horror parts are quite subtle and the absolute highlight of the film. Perhaps it is the balance that they found between the petty disagreements and fruitless discussions about using a house that has its own shady history making the location its own cliche that makes those horror moments really take a moment to be realized. The genius part is that the spirit in question haunts the film and its those moments as it shifts from the footage to reality that makes for the best moments as its done both in a subtle and creepy way.

Honestly, I don’t want to talk about Found Footage 3D too much because its a really fun experience and one that the more I think about it, the more I love it. Overall, it is a pretty awesome idea that is also executed incredibly effectively. It wanted to do what Scream did for the slasher genre but for the found footage genre and it achieved that. Its packed with creepy moments as well as funny moments. The idea of using a behind the scenes footage for a found footage film while plunging themselves into a situation making them fall into their own little tropes of the genre they try desperately to avoid while embracing the fact that a lot of their movie wasn’t that well thought out which pokes fun at the current downfall of the genre makes it satisfying to watch.

Fantasia Festival 2014: Open Windows (2014)

After a 4 day movie run at the Fantasia Film Festival, I have a few days off to put together these reviews (before my next bunch comes around) 🙂

The first movie to kickoff my Fantasia Festival 2014 is Open Windows, a Spain/USA crime thriller.  Open Windows didn’t start off on a good note technically and it had nothing to do with the movie.  After a server reboot and two stops due to sound issues throughout, the movie did finish playing thankfully and I think despite the irritating sounds during, everyone had a good laugh out of it 🙂 Thats what I like about festivals.  Everyone is pretty chill about these things.  So, I put those things aside and I’m going to write how I felt about this one.

open windowsDirector: Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Adam Quintero

Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) is the webmaster of Jill Godard Caught: a website dedicated to a star he obsesses over.  Luckily, he wins the Internet contest to have dinner with Jill Godard (Sasha Grey) except the campaign manager, Chord contacts him and notifies him that Jill has decided to cancel it last minute.  However, Chord makes it up to him by  sending him links that brings him closer to Jill’s life.  However, as the night goes on, Nick realizes that Chord isn’t really the campaign manager and he has something much bigger and more dangerous than he imagined for both him and Jill.

Open Windows is a tech thriller and one that utilizes a found footage-esque sort of approach. I’m not much of a found footage expert.  In fact, I’m relatively new to this genre and honestly, I’ve found zero interest in it.  Maybe its the shaky camera work and the really horrible scripts I’ve seen.  I go into every single movie hoping to like it and finally, I think I’ve found one thats decent.  Open Windows is not with a video camera but its the modern day version of it.  Everything happens on the computer screen of Nick Chambers.  Then it moves onto another technology item as the plot thickens. Its a new take on an overused and not so much appreciated genre (from what I gather) and this gives it a new life. It truly reminds us: everyday people who rely on almost everything with our computers, the dangers behind it. Someone can hack anything, control anything and just rip your life apart. I promise you, the first thing I did when I got home is re-apply a piece of post-it to cover the webcam on my laptop.  I’m not going to striptease nor do I think someone would stalk me but you know, precautions are always good.

Open Windows

I think before we continue with this write-up, you should know that I’m exceptionally stupid at computers and technology.  I make do and I learn bit by bit but I think being on a computer in this day and age is all about multitasking and we have so many different windows going on at the same time.  That is something to prepare yourself for with Open Windows.  Its a bit of multitasking and whats really good is that its really very vocal.  Everything is said out loud and we can follow as to what Chord wants Nick to do the whole way with a few interruptions.  That being said, this is  thriller and to at least keep the thrills on, there really shouldn’t be too much of a reveal here.

Open Windows is a great approach and although sometimes that computer screen can get confusing especially with the sound system problems, the insert of some mysterious characters turns the whole plot around.  Those characters also were responsible for a part of my confusion as they had the main guy had a really heavy accent and with all the voices going on at one point, I just got the jest of what was going on.  The pace of the movie is actually really intriguing and tons of questions pops up right up to the big finale when literally everything turns into a huge twisty pile.  I can’t say mess because I do applaud what they were trying to do even if I needed to sit back for a while (or think a bit about it while I was walking to the bus) about what actually went down. I think I have a good idea of what happened.  Where they sometimes lost me was with the technical thing, but I think the less you know technology the more you can feel the danger of this whole thing and for the most part, I started wondering, how will Nick Chambers get himself out of this situation? Lets not even go to say, how he will save Jill Godard…

Open Windows

Before I get ahead of myself because I know I’m heading in that direction, we need to look at Nick Chambers character. Elijah Wood does an outstanding job and falling into an obsessive fanboy. You know that he is because he catches everything of Jill Godard on his site and takes screen shots of every moment she shows her face.  To a certain extent, it covers his judgement and logic.  To me, it was illogical that I’d click a link from a stranger who calls me claiming to be somebody and I can’t see his face.  On top of that, the link is from a site called hackspot.  Ding ding ding! This cannot lead to something legal, much less something that you want to get yourself into.  BUT, he loves this girl and he’s curious.  Some of you might watch this and think he is dumb but as out there as the ending feels, it gives us the answer we want. I thought it was worth the wait at least.

Open Windows

Now, I’m not familiar with Sasha Grey. I only ever saw her in Would You Rather (my review HERE) and she had a somewhat meh role in that.  She’s definitely gotten herself a better role in Open Windows.  She still gets partially naked once but for the most part, she does carry the movie pretty well.  She’s really just the damsel in distress but at the same time, we’re learning about her since thats who the camera is intentionally stalking.  The question before anything is why does Chord want to do this to her and why would he use the hands of Nick Chambers to do it?

Overall, Open Windows is full of questions like most thrillers should have and a lot of them do get answered by the end.  There are some issues with just logic and judgement with the characters and the ending is a bit complicated, maybe a bit too complex since I got lost for a few moments. There are some parts where I questioned why anyone would do that but Open Windows was done well enough with a fresh take on how it was in that intriguing tech-y found footage-esque approach that I got over all of it and felt the tension as the movie progressed on.  I’m not going to say this is the best thriller I’ve seen but its far from the worst.  It has a lot of potential and it might have had space to be better but everyone does a great job here and I fully appreciated the movie for what it was (even if we had pauses due to technical difficulties) 🙂 I enjoyed it a lot and I would probably give it a second chance, maybe at home with some headphones and subtitles on.

P.S. I’m bumping up Elijah Woods’ Maniac on my viewing list 😉

Since this is just a Canadian Premiere, has anyone else seen this yet? What did you think? Any thoughts on Elijah Woods and/or Sasha Grey?

Three Quick Reviews: Accepted, Chronicle & How To Deal

This past week, I’ve been taking a break from reviews.  Before I dive into 3 short reviews, that prove I haven’t been NOT watching movies, I’d like to tell you why.

Aside from the reason of work totally burning me out, its mostly because I’ve been prepping myself for March’s recommendation month.  I’ve gotten the material watched so that I just need to worry about writing the reviews and I have some time to give it more thought.  Its something I’m working on actually.  To not watching everything last minute and then play catch up with my posts.  I’m hoping it’ll work out, but I don’t know…

Anyways, enough of that! I’m excited about recommendations month but first things first, I need to exercise those reviewing muscles.  I watched 2 of those this past week and the other one, maybe two weeks ago.  The reason I do these, its really because I’ve piled up too many movies or there’s just not enough to review in a single post.

Lets start with…

ACCEPTED (2006)

Accepted 2006

Director: Steve Pink

Cast: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Blake Lively

Bartleby (Justin Long) and a few friends didn’t end up getting accepted into any colleges but to please their parents, they come out with a fake school and stage the whole going to college event. That is until, the word goes out and actual acceptances were done through a fluke on their website.  Bartleby ends up running the college while creating something a lot more than he expected.

Accepted is a pretty stupid comedy and it revolves around a lot of dumb(ish) humor.  A lot of times (actually, more often than not), it doesn’t work for me.  It just doesn’t so I usually run the other way.  Somehow, I remember hearing before that this wasn’t bad so one late night, while I was feeling sick and couldn’t sleep, I turned it on to make me feel better. Its a comedy so its supposed to do that.  To be honest, I can’t pinpoint the reasons, but I ended up enjoying it.  I acknowledged the stupid parts but for the most part, I liked it.  Plus, I really like Justin Long doing that nerdy/geeky sarcastic humor thing and I have no idea why…

I do realize that aside from Blake Lively in Gossip Girl and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (which I should review), she’s never been very enjoyable in movies.  Its not that she’s bad but nothing quite beats her performances especially in Gossip Girl.  Either way, average humor and its a good one to sit around, leave your brain at the door and laugh a little.

Do you like Blake Lively? How about Justin Long? Any roles you particularly enjoyed of either of them?

CHRONICLE (2012)

CHRONICLE 2012

Director: Josh Trank

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw

Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a hole in the middle of the woods in the outskirts and go inside to find that they have absorbed some sort of energy that allows them to have all sorts of superpowers from telekinesis to even flying.  As their power develops, they are now torn as to how to use the powers in a rightful way and not be  lead into the darker side of things.

I’m not an expert at found footage. In fact, the only found footage I’ve seen was for last year’s Halloween fest opener, Area 407 (review HERE).  Oh yeah, I hated it! Its one of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to watch Chronicle but since it was going to expire (or has as this goes up), I figured I would.  To my surprise, Chronicle turned out to be pretty good.  I’m not saying I loved it but I liked it.  They used the found footage camerawork really well and even incorporated it with not only their camera but also whoever has filming devices like someone else’s camera (using a second point of view) and phones, etc.  I seriously think for found footage, that aspect is very important.

Plus, they used decent young actors. They portrayed their roles very well.  It helped that the script was done pretty good also.  It had a very intense parts, especially once their bond grows and then starts to fade near the end with disagreeing with how their powers should be dealt with.  Plus, the ending was pretty fulfilling 🙂

Do you like found footage films? Which ones are your favorites?

HOW TO DEAL (2003)

HOW TO DEAL POSTER

Director: Clare Kilner

Cast: Mandy Moore, Trent Ford, Allison Janney, Alexandra Holden

Halley (Mandy Moore)has seen so many love disasters that she doesn’t believe in true love.  When her sister and then her father both announce to get married and her best friend falls madly in love, she tries to stay supportive.  However, as she starts to know Macon (Trent Ford), the best friend of her best friend’s boyfriend, she starts to like him a lot but also tries to control her feelings.  Except, is it so easy?

Ever since I rewatched A Walk to Remember for the Valentine’s Marathon HERE, I’ve been trying to find more Mandy Moore flicks.  How To Deal is a romantic comedy and although I don’t think its a really great one, its good enough to deal with.  Let me make it clear though, I liked it because of the characters in the story. I always feel that Mandy Moore is a very crush-worthy girl because she gives off this simple vibe.  Plus, Trent Ford reminds me of the more recent Tyler Blackburn from Pretty Little Liars. He has this dark, mysterious but sexy-ish appearance. Plus, they have strong supporting role from Allison Janney.

Of course, the dialogue and story itself isn’t all that great, even though it is supposedly an adaptation of two novels that I’ve never heard of. There’s something missing and the main character is really not good.  I didn’t connect with that one as well but having Mandy Moore there makes this rom-com a lot more tolerable 🙂

OVERALL…the three movies I watched were pretty much average.  I never recommend comedy as its so personal to your tastes.  Even me, I’m not quite sure if its because I was feeling sick when I saw it.  I would recommend Chronicle though.  It was definitely the best out of the three here.  It was also a surprise.  How to Deal isn’t a great romantice comedy but it does have a decent cast who helps it to be better.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think?