Double Feature: Natural Selection (2016) & Ouija (2014)

Welcome to the next double feature! This one is going to be a fairly odd pairing but also one that I can’t say that I am particularly sure how to write about. We have officially passed the halfway point in the Netflix A-Z and going into the N selection. This one was a fairly hard choice and it ended up being drama thriller Natural Selection. My main hook for it is because Katherine McNamara is part of it and I was going through a Shadowhunters phase when I added it to my list. For the O selection, it is horror film Ouija with Olivia Cooke. This one didn’t have great reviews but I figured I’d give it a chance anyways.

Let’s check it out!

Natural Selection (2016)

natural selection

Director (& Writer): Chad L. Scheifele

Cast: Mason Dye, Ryan Munzert, Anthony Michael Hall, Katherine McNamara, Amy Carlson, Tyler Elliott Burke

As the new kid, a shy high school senior finds himself tormented by all his peers except one, but his new friend has a dark, infectious outlook. – IMDB

Natural Selection is not an easy film to talk about. In fact, the story itself is done pretty well and the whole meaning and message behind it also is done pretty well. The only issue with it is that the cast itself, especially the cast playing the students are not quite as refined in their characters. Some might like it because it makes their acting more raw but for myself, the acting was the downside of the film. The other little part that was the downside was the romantic connection here which felt slightly disposable. It had a purpose to pretty much strain a developing “friendship” but that was all it was, which made it make the movie contrived.

However, the pros of this film can’t be ignored and that is the movie itself. It takes a fairly serious issue which potentially haunts unexpectedly schools and the safety of it. It all dials down to ignored youths and their repercussions. The film does a good job at putting together very similar characters, the new kid in town Tyler (Mason Dye) and a somewhat of an oddball Indrid (Ryan Munzert) who ends up being friends and they are pretty much parallels to each other in a lot of aspects from parents that don’t take care of them to being bullied or looked down upon in school. The differences in their characters here is what changes and makes these characters intriguing to learn about especially as the end result becomes more and more obvious.

There’s some execution issues and some acting issues here but Natural Selection is not a bad film, plus, its always nice to watch something to learn about the things that teenagers that don’t get noticed and the dangers that may lurk in them. However, I have recently seen films in the similar vein to this recently which have been done a lot better however, the strength of the film is in its message.

Ouija (2014)

ouija

Director (& co-writer): Stiles White

Cast: Olivia Cooke,  Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, Shelley Hennig, Sierra Heuermann, Lin Shaye

A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. – IMDB

Oh boy…Ouija is another one on my list that falls into the bad reviews but why not check it out pile. I personally like Olivia Cooke because she’s done some good roles like in Bates Motel and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (review). Ouija is exactly what you would expect it to be. Its full of horror troupes and you can probably figure out whats going to happen next and when the jumpscares are going to show up. Everything here is pretty much playing it by the numbers a whole lot. Ouija (for those who do believe that it can channel spirits and shouldn’t be touched like Tarot Cards, etc) is creepy. Its not something you want to mess with but people still do. While I can’t say that Ouija is the bottom of the barrel, it also doesn’t offer a whole lot of wow moments either. The script tries really hard to give it a twist and yet, because its so deliberate (or at least feels that way), it ends up not quite landing that punch so well.

There’s not a whole lot to say about Ouija. Its fairly predictable and if you don’t buy into the idea of just being tempted to keep giving Ouija a go after bad things happen, then this movie falls apart at its seams. I fall into that category so this movie had some moments but because it was so easy to figure out, it loses its impact a lot. Not to mention, if you are a gamer, Until Dawn delivers the whole sitting around a table and something creepy lurks about a whole lot more effectively than this whole movie combined.

That’s it for this double feature!
Thoughts and comments?

Double Feature: Indiscretion (2016) & Bad Match (2017)

Let’s get into some of those seductive thrillers…kind of. At least that was the theme I seemed to be going for, but then Bad Match might not exactly match it, at least both are about scorned lovers.

Indiscretion (2016)

indiscretion 2016

Director (and co-writer): John Stewart Muller

Cast: Mira Sorvino, Christopher Backus, Cary Elwes, Katherine McNamara, LisaGay Hamilton, Melora Walters, Shane Callahan

A married woman’s affair comes back to haunt her when her obsessed lover infiltrates every part of her life. – IMDB

Let’s just start by saying Indiscretion is exactly a bad movie. Actually there are some elements and parts that work well enough but its just a little been there done that. You can’t fault the film for jumping straight to the point and getting the affair/weekend fling over with fairly quickly at the beginning of the movie. Its probably so that the crazy young love or crazy in love lover can spiral out of control and fall out the hinges completely as he does some pretty shady stuff. To be honest, there shouldn’t be any problems with this movie, except I just didn’t find it very thrilling. Its a common problem with thrillers. Indiscretion has Mira Sorvino and her real life husband Christopher Backus playing the married woman and the discarded artist lover respectively. They had mad chemistry especially during their weekend fling moments and the sexy moments. Rightfully so, of course. Christopher Backus does have that creepy lover feeling down fairly well. Then we have Cary Elwes in here and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why he is involved in this because I find him a really impressive actor and he is in this one dimensional role as the husband who is too busy working on his political campaign.

Indiscretion was set up in an interview format with Mira Sorvino’s character which leads us to already make conclusions as to what happened to certain people and that the outcome probably wasn’t too good if you noticed the grammatical tenses they spoke in. Those moments jumped by to the reality of the situation. I say this because you probably need to really dig deep to see how the twist is going to happen. I think the twist was the most clever part of the film but it also did somewhat feel like it came out of nowhere when it first happened. For those who want to watch the film, this is spoiler free so I won’t dive into that. Just know to listen carefully to the film because I thought back and realized that it did drop some hints throughout but then, Indiscretion lacks the immersive and intrigue I needed to be that concentrated to care.

Some good and some bad, Indiscretion falls below average with an ending that pulls it a little higher in the clever twist department but the execution of the film throughout could definitely have been better. I get the back and forth in the timeline thing and recounting pieces make for a puzzle to put together. Its a risky move that I’m not sure completely paid off.

Bad Match (2017)

bad match

Director (and writer): David Chirchirillo

Cast: Jack Cutmore-Scott, Lili Simmons, Noureen DeWulf, Brandon Scott

An internet-dating playboy’s life spirals out of control after meeting a woman online. – IMDB

After a string of a fairly lackluster thrillers, Bad Match definitely was a pretty good one. Surprisingly good because its hard to really like a thriller where you don’t really care about the guy that is being targeted because he is a playboy. However, there are some convincing roles here. Jack Cutmore-Scott and Lili Simmons are great at delivering through their roles. Plus, it helps that the camera work here takes some predictable moves like peeking from somewhere from afar however never revealing who is behind it making it feel both creepy and suspenseful.

The underlying fear here is honestly behind the whole online privacy issue that is quite obviously around nowadays. It happens when we don’t remember to put up our defenses and change the privacy settings on social media. It happens when we treat these online dating services without the caution it needs because it does have its dangers. And of course, it even spans into relationships you build in online friends that you have never met. It gets a little judgmental with some of the victims here however, the message Bad Match potentially delivers is an important one.

Whats really nice is the pacing they use in Bad Match. It ramps things up gradually and then it just goes out of control as you watch Harris, Jack Cutmore-Scott’s character, spiral as the events keep getting worse. At the same time, Lili Simmons also keeps it a mystery for us because she has this intensity of being someone who is at a different place on her views of what she expects with her encounter. The two characters are written well to keep everyone guessing especially Lili Simmons character to wonder whether to trust her or not.

I’m going to stop here with Bad Match because I don’t want to go into any spoilers accidentally. I love it when I find a thriller that surprises me as it seems like a generic film but actually delivers something really different and that ending was just awesome. This is a pretty decent one!