Double Feature: Submerged (2016) & Eden Lake (2008)

Welcome to today’s double feature!

I’m trying out to have these themed double features every once in a while when I can. This time, we’re pairing two indie horror thrillers. The first I had never really heard anything of before and honestly watched it as a filler one night when I was working on other things and Eden Lake was one I had both recommendations and dislikes of it which has me intrigued as to how I would feel about it.

Submerged (2016)


Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Jonathan Bennett, Talulah Riley, Rosa Salazar, Samuel Hunt, Cody Christian, Giles Matthey, Denzel Whitaker, Willa Ford, Mario Van Peebles

A young woman and her friends, who’ve been targeted by kidnappers, must do everything they can to survive after their limo is forced off the road and plunged into a canal. – IMDB

*sigh* I honestly don’t know how to write up this review right now. There is no extent of how indifferent I feel about Submerged. Its clear to say that at some point,  particularly the male lead of Mean Girls that Jonathan Bennett had a lovely peak in his career. Then he did some odd roles in other teen comedies like Love Wrecked (review) with Amanda Bynes for example, then he ended up with some Hallmark films like A Christmas Kiss II (review) & A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (review). Its been a staple of my last two years of Christmas marathon, however as generic as those two were, they were never disappointing. Finally, we see Jonathan Bennett in a thriller so I was down to give it a chance and well, guess what, this one was disappointing. I can’t say that his character was disappointing but rather the thriller itself was not incredibly standout. The ending itself felt like it was out of nowhere a little and didn’t quite fit into the story as it was really to give the twist. Maybe there were hints along the way, but then it doesn’t give me that particular motivation to go rewatch it either.


The story sets up itself in the trapped in the car concept, which is a good premise since we don’t seem to have a lot of substance to those parts. And then it alternates between the past to what leads to it. Fact is, the characters here doesn’t quite give us anyone to cheer for. Jonathan Bennett’s character has a little bit of development and back story however, at some point, it seems to want the viewers to believe in who is involved and then turn it around at the ending. As I mentioned, the twist is out of nowhere but then, somehow the lack of interest from the start to that point just wasn’t engaging enough to care about it.

Overall, Submerged is yet another disappointing thriller that takes a rather formulaic approach for a not too frequently used premise and yet never gives us engaging characters to make the out of nowhere final twist feel worth it.

Eden Lake (2008)


eden lake

Director (and writer): James Watkins

Cast: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell, Jumayn Hunter, Thomas Turgoose, James Burrows

Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences. – IMDB

Eden Lake is one of those films that are a little harder to review. Its one of the earlier Michael Fassbender films before he has the fame nowadays. In this horror thriller, it takes a slow beginning but ends up picking up the pace quite a bit as the story takes a turn for the worse with menacing kids lead by a kid who craves the violence. Him and his crew of other teens start chasing this couple down who first starts off with stealing their car and ends up chasing them and causing his dog to die, turning into something vengeful. The story does take many turns from bad to worse to completely intense. To be fair, Michael Fassbender’s character does play more of a supporting character role as Kelly Reilly takes on something of a stronger woman here as she tries to make her escape. In one way, I didn’t feel quite as immersed in the beginning however as the disturbing characters and events starting happening in quicker frequency, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat hoping that Kelly Reilly’s character would get out.

eden lake

On the other hand, while I do agree that the villainous teen leader, Brett definitely was convincing in his extremities that started out quite vengeful, it is also quite a terrifying thought as the days went by after I saw Eden Lake. Perhaps that is the terror here is that a vacation going array can be in this sort of everyday sort of situation. Kids are meant to be portrayed in horror/thrillers as innocent, defenseless or even annoying in some cases, however, these kids are out of the ordinary and we never quite get a reason why Brett acts that way throughout but we do see that the idea of peer pressure and wanting to belong in this alpha group makes these other kids who are doing things they don’t particularly want to out of fear. Its one of those movies that do have quite a lot of thought behind a normal survival horror story set in the middle of nowhere on vacation. And as I think about it more, the more I feel that it worked very well.

Overall, Eden Lake is a rather slow burn tension building horror thriller. For both the setting and the increasing extreme moments here, it sets a very psychological survival and escape experience that might start off feeling like not so much but definitely ends up being more than that in leaps and bounds. As an ending note, I’m not too sure how I feel about the ending but its one those things where you either like it or you don’t.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Submerged and/or Eden Lake? Thoughts?

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Monday was a holiday for us here in Canada as we celebrated Victoria Day. I had taken an extra day off on Friday with my accumulated overtime from April’s deadline turning it into a four day weekend and it was still incredibly busy and hectic however, my husband and I did manage to take some time to go see Alien: Covenant. The goal this year is to at least see all the anticipated movies in theatres, so far I have only missed one which is pretty good for an almost half year mark.

We both love the Alien franchise. To be more accurate, I love the Alien franchise because my husband sat me down years ago in our early dating days to watch it and it was awesome. We both enjoyed Prometheus and now, time for some Alien:Covenant.

Lets check it out!

Alien: Covenant (2017)

alien covenant

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz

The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. – IMDB

 Alien: Covenant is back and it takes place 10 years or so after the events of Prometheus. The crew and their ship of 2000 colonists is on their way to a planet called Origae-6. After many tests, Origae-6 has proved to meet all the tests for colonization. Despite taking years upon years, the crew is set on cryosleep. However, in a not so routine way of waking up, they are intercepted which affects the functionality of the ship, Covenant which ends up hearing signs of civilization in a fuzzy transmission and with the simple analysis, their new captain Oram (played by Billy Crudup) ends up making the decision to land to scout out the area despite the reluctance of his second, Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston. As part of the crew stays in the ship and the rest land, the crew on this remote planet ends up finding a familiar scene that we all know from Prometheus. Here is where the link starts and they start getting weird occurences that as the audience, we get to see have started affected the crew and people who know about the franchise already know very well which this direction will be. Except, Alien: Covenant takes a turn to make sure that its story isn’t all about aliens but rather its a new direction to hint towards advanced technology and android versus humanity and playing God. Whether that is a good change or not? I guess that depends what you expect from Alien: Covenant. For us, it does make a nice change because it gives the Alien franchise a new direction instead of their rather predictable Xenomorphs slaughters the space crew storyline. Xenomorphs are fantastic and if you are a fan of them, they are also wildly underused here. However, their presence can invisibly be felt in the latter half as they have been yet again changed a little more.

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant is a hard one to review and its taken me a few days to sit down and think about it a little more to let me feelings sort out further. The results of my thinking is there are pros and cons to this movie. It is important to say that I have seen and enjoyed (for the most part) the Alien franchise. We are huge fans of Prometheus as well as the first two movies and we honestly don’t have a huge issue with the 3rd and 4th although we do acknowledge that it is rather flawed in many ways however, the entertainment value is still there. With that said, Alien: Covenant has a lot of good, in fact there are some great moments here. One of the biggest pros here is the visuals. Visually, this movie is fantastic. There are so many scenes that build so much atmosphere and character to the remote planet they land on. It is incredible to see. There is quite a bit of detail as well. Leading to that, Ridley Scott, whether we are talking about Alien or Prometheus and even in Alien: Covenant is masterful at building tension and creating atmosphere. There is a lot of that here as well. The world is elevated mostly because of these two elements. Finally, the cast here that gets more screen time does a good job. There is no doubt that Michael Fassbender is a great actor. He has been in many movies that has proved that he can do a wide array of different roles and capture what the character he needs to portray and deliver something great. In Alien: Covenant, he is one man with two roles. If you were wondering what happened to David from Prometheus, you will get your answer here. He also plays mostly as Walter, who is the resident android on Covenant, as he calls himself an updated version which has its pros and cons as well which the movie will slowly let you learn. In this case, Michael Fassbender as David and Walter create some of the most engaging scenes as well as create depth for the story they want to tell here.

Alien: Covenant

However, the one thing I’m hesitating on being incredibly enthusiastic about here is the story arcs they choose to take. It definitely doesn’t fall in the fault of execution because like I said, the tension and atmosphere was done well and if in the hands of someone less capable than Ridley Scott, this might be less appealing. Here’s where my dilemma lies. An Alien movie should have more aliens, the Xenomorphs here are far and few. They have some pretty generic scenes that are pretty predictable at this point. They almost mirror the first movie such as the Xenomorph hanging out in the ceiling before attacking or the egg with the face huggers and then we have the little creatures breaking out of bodies. I don’t think these are spoilers mostly because they are expected in this franchise at this point, however, perhaps playing with the audience’s anticipation of these moments comes in the equation here where we know more than the characters in the story and if we connected with those characters, we would feel more tense and stressed out because we already know what is going to happen. Maybe this is where the uneasiness comes as well because there are a lot of characters and the only reason I even know their names is thanks to IMDB because they completely went over my head while I was watching it. It also says something about how memorable they are especually when our femal protagonist Daniels played by Katherine Waterston did a good job but somehow everyone was overshadowed by what seems like the main plot with Michael Fassbender who was a much better developed character(s). Somehow with a mesh of characters that didn’t quite get the depth they deserved and a plot that was rather predictable and familiar but also lacking in the appearance of the Xenomorphs. Especially when it attempts to surprise in some parts and yet somehow didn’t manage to do it for myself. 

While it sounds like I didn’t like the movie, I honestly did. Alien:Covenant does a lot of good. I’m a sucker for movies with great atmosphere and beautiful settings because its not only visually appealing but a thrilling and engaging world. While I might have liked more Xenomorph appearances, I do like that they are trying to expand the story to give it another fresh direction. Plus, even if some characters did lack depth for the most part, the few that got the development was done well. Not to mention, it still felt self-contained despite linking back to a previous movie. 
Have you seen Alien:Covenant? Do you like the Alien franchise? Which is your favorite movie from the franchise?

Steve Jobs (2015)

Biopics? Man, I watch so little of these and they appeal to me even less that I always go out of my way to avoid it.  It feels like Steve Jobs has had a lot of biopics over the last few years. Or maybe its some other influential tech “giant” thats been around and done awesome things. However, Michael Fassbender is up for an Oscars nomination and if you read my review on Fish Tank, well, you know I’m a huge fan of his. Plus, it was one of the few movies with the Best Male Lead for Oscar nominations available.

Let’s check it it out! 🙂

Steve Jobs (2015)

steve jobs

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. – IMDB

Who remembers the iMac? I was using an iMac in high school.  I remembered our computer lab one day filled up with these little weirdly shaped transparent-like computers.  They didn’t look like the PC I had at home.  I even did my computer class learning HTML codes and binary numbers and designing cutesy colorful labels with those.  When I used those computers, I didn’t know who Steve Jobs was.  Do I know his history any better as I grew up, even with the explosion of Apple products? Nope. That’s all to say that I don’t know how accurate these depictions of his character is and I’m not one to go digging into his history either. What I am saying is that Steve Jobs is an enjoyable biopic.  The idea to focus on Steve Jobs and the people around him highlighting the events of his life and how he faces them differently (or similarly) each of these times is what makes it focused and well done. It shows character development, adds some drama and creates a well enough balance for us to understand this man a little more each time.

steve jobs

What was great about this is that they don’t try to paint Steve Jobs as someone who is perfect.  This biopic works hard on focussing on his flaws actually.  Steve Jobs is influenced in many ways by his past and the choices he makes are based on one view that he has and his obsession with having control over the end-product. He made mistakes and he actually isn’t afraid to be that person who makes the tough decisions.  Just like most successful entrepreneurs, they aren’t exactly glorified human beings.  They make ruthless decisions and maybe throw a few people under the bus or whatnot to make sure they succeed.  They are extreme at times and stubborn at others and the people around them don’t quite understand what is going on in their minds. The story of Steve Jobs through his three product launch focuses on revealing his character from that first launch, what has changed in the second one and finally who he is by the third one.  Michael Fassbender captures that aspect of the character full of observations and monologues very well.

steve Jobs

While we see a lot of Michael Fassbender’s Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and the three girls that play the daughter at different ages play also a big part in amplifying the character development of themselves as their roles also show the importance that they have in his life regardless of how he treats them.  It brings out that humanity that we don’t often see in biopics.  While the girls that play the daughter’s role tugs on very much the emotional strings and make us see especially that there is an emotional tie that Jobs may not admit but it also makes him susceptible to having feelings as well.  However, the show stoppers that really seem to appear in the background but actually are rather central to this story is Kate Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman who is absolutely fantastic in this one and Seth Rogen, playing his innovative friend Steve Wozniak who started this endeavor with Apple II with him.  While having a small role, Jeff Daniels deserves quite an applause also.  Its nice to see him back in action doing some serious roles.  I appreciated his role as John Sculley, who is a pseudo father/mentor in some senses.

steve jobs

With my limited experience of biopics, there isn’t much left to say.  Steve Jobs is an excellent movie.  Its choice to highlight on 3 significant events of his life while showing his character through his interactions and decisions in those hard-pressed situations while flashing back remotely to some other past scenes makes for a well-paced film.  It retains his humanity and that he is also a real person with flaws despite being gifted in many ways. With a powerful cast like Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen and even Jeff Daniels, a well-written script and great directing, Steve Jobs exceeds my every expectation.

Have you seen Steve Jobs? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of biopics?

Fish Tank (2009)

Last week I raved about a movie that completely just blew my mind.  Seriously, it did.  I didn’t want to reveal the name then but now’s the time: Fish Tank. From the beginning of September when I saw it till now, my mind still wanders back to that movie, about what happened and just the message of it.

Fish tankDirector: Andrea Arnold

Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Rebecca Griffiths

Fifteen year old Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives in the housing projects with her relatively young mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths).  She is also out of school as her mother sets up for her to go to a special school.  She wanders alone a lot especially since her mother seems more interested in keeping her life partying, drinking, smoking, pretty much anything except being the responsible parent she should be.  Mia is okay with improving on her dancing in her own world and just keeping everything to herself and living in her own world but thats until her mother brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender).  He encourages her in believing in herself and that is something she’s never really had before.

Fish Tank

Fish Tank is a coming of age story for fifteen year old Mia.  We see the movie a lot through her eyes and how she feels but a lot goes unsaid because she’s not a big talker.  She’s more of the quiet and analytical type of person.  She keeps to herself a lot but she also reacts with aggression when she has to.  Its all her protecting herself.  Her space includes being in a vacant apartment and dancing alone.  Her relationship with her mother isn’t great and her and her sister obviously care for each other but they don’t always express it in the right way.  Mia is an interesting character because her development throughout the movie is amazing to watch.  Its about seeing the bits and pieces of her that she’s protected as we also see her fragility as well as her tough girl side.  She’s complex but at the same time, she’s learning and growing every step of the way.  What makes Mia real is that she will make decisions that don’t make sense to the audience but at the same time, its those moments that drag them in.

fish tank

A lot of Mia’s character changes because of Connor played by Michael Fassbender.  I’ve always knew that Michael Fassbender is a decent actor (through Jane Eyre and X-Men, etc).  I haven’t seen a lot of his movies but he’s never been disappointing to watch, ever. Fish Tank and Connor is something I’ve never seen Michael Fassbender do.  Connor comes out of nowhere and essentially we know nothing of him just as Mia doesn’t either.  She sneaks around to learn about where he works and he does these mysterious things that all come together at the end of the movie as to what its about.  At the same time, although he’s Mia’s mom’s boyfriend, he also shows a lot of interest towards Mia along with her sister.  Connor never ceases to surprise me because for one, I never expected Michael Fassbender to do a sex scene and that was pretty convincing.  At the same time, there is one other scene that acts as a turning point of the story and as crazy as that scene was, I’m guessing its also the one that has me thinking the most.  Now if you’ve seen this movie, you’ll probably know which one I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Say hello to my new crush up there, I’m so impressed with Michael Fassbender that I’m about to prepare for a movie marathon of the movies he has done to date (if I can find a good portion of them). Charming, sexy and so talented, I just love him!

*ahem* Moving along before I get too carried away…

fish tank

The main focus is on Mia and the influence that Connor had on her.  Except everyone plays a part in her growing up.  We have her mother played by Kierston Wareing who fully convinces us of the type of mother she is and maybe a part of her doesn’t want to give up her youth especially when she’s really not that old and she still wants to have fun.  There’s a boy (played by Harry Treadaway) that Mia meets who she seems to gradually let into her life to trust because of a random bad encounter that spiraled into something else.  Her sister is incredibly convincing with the emphasis of just how their lives are not so fortunate especially when even her little sister engages in some bad habits herself and at such a young age.

fish tank connor mia

Fish Tank is outstanding because of its rather simple story with various twists of a coming of age story.  Its thought provoking and complex because its characters are deep and hard to read.  Everyone has something more but its not brought right in our faces all the time. I love this sort of movie because it envelopes growing up, messing up, making rash choices and really opening up to the world and seeing it for what it is or maybe more than what it is.  Its hard to explain how I actually feel about this without sticking in spoilers so I’m going to stop.  When the movie finished, I sat back and thought about what they meant by calling it Fish Tank.

Overall, Fish Tank is a really good coming of age story with a handful of complex characters.  The main character, Mia being the most complex of all.  There’s a lot of silence and analysis to see whats beneath the surface.  Its wondering what will happening next because everyone is unpredictable in their own way. It feels an ugly reality thrust in our faces except sometimes how do you determine what is right or wrong and is ugly and beautiful. Its about learning to not just look out at everyone but to have the courage to live life, take chances, love others (and yourself) and probably there’s so much more.

I highly recommend Fish Tank.  Its not fast-paced but the whole story is compelling all the same 🙂

Have you seen Fish Tank? Did you like it? What do you think about Michael Fassbender? Are you a fan of coming of age stories?

Valentine’s Marathon: Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre is the classic written by Charlotte Bronte and this here is the newest movie adaptation.  I have never read this book before although it is sitting on my bookshelf and it will be done soon. I had no idea what to even expect of it but the box said that it was “a love story as fiercely intelligent as it is passionate.” Sounds like something awesome, no?

jane eyreDirector: Cary Fukunaga

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench

Most classics, people already know how it goes or at least have a general idea, but seeing as I didn’t know anything about the story except for that it was written by Charlotte Bronte and that this is something of a gothic novel. Here is the story. Jane Eyre Mia Wasikowska) was orphaned when she was young and her father put her under the care of her Aunt, Mrs. Reed.  She was bullied by her cousin and her aunt found her to be a burden and eventually, at a young age, sends her off to a boarding school.  She gets punished for being rebellious in her actions and not always conforming to the ways at this school, there she befriends another little girl, Helen who dies in front of her.  When its her turn to leave this school, she leaves and finds herself employed as a governess at Thornfield Hall.  It’s there she meets Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) who is the housekeeper.  When she finally meets the master of the house, Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender), she is treated as an equal.  Mr. Rochester is a man with dark moods which matches Thornfield Hall which is said to be haunted with a dark haired woman where screams can be heard and strange things occur throughout the night.  Thornfield Hall seems to have its share of secrets.  However, despite all that, a connection starts to draw Jane and Mr. Rochester together.  When things start to go out of hand, Jane decides to seek refuge and eventually gets saved by St. John (Jamie Bell).

jane-eyre lighting

As I haven’t read the novel, this will be seen as a standalone movie.  However, I will say one of the most captivating aspects of this movie is its lighting.  It stays true to the gothic style that the classic has.  At times in the movie, I actually felt an eerie feeling that you’d feel in a horror movie.  It made me sit at the edge of my seat and wonder what was going to pop out of the dark.  Its not just a love story but also a thriller because of all the secrets that are hidden in Thornfield Hall.  In most of the scenes the lighting is usually from either natural light of the outside or when inside, its from the light coming through the windows or candle light and lanterns. This helps set the tone of movie.

Jane Eyre Film

Aside from that, the two main characters are just amazing.  Mia Wasikowska is an beautiful actress and she portrays a simple and plain girl who hasn’t felt much (or any) love in her life.  She questions the nature of love and she ends up finding it in the rarest place.  The last time I saw Mia Wasikowska was in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  As much as many people did like the movie, I did appreciate her performance there.  She played this role perfectly.  As for Michael Fassbender, I know him from last year’s Prometheus as well as 300 and X-Men: First Class.  His role as Mr. Rochester definitely was great.  He showed how Mr. Rochester was dark and deep.  At times, he would be blunt and direct with his sentences however, his desire to understand Jane Eyre was also shown.  He showed that even though she was just a governess, he respected and confided in her.  When they finally fell in love, you could feel their chemistry.  Michael Fassbender can act with his eyes and that is one of the greatest skills of an actor (in my opinion).  He emitted his passionate love for Jane Eyre and you can just see the strong emotions in his eyes.

jane eyre rochester

I’ve already reviewed two classics in this marathon.  This one is completely new to me.  The first thing I did when the movie finished was to watch the deleted scenes and then leaned over to my bookshelf and pulled out Jane Eyre and put it in queue for the coming novels to read.  This movie is just that great.  Its an epic love story with dark secrets and unexpected turns filmed in an natural lit setting which gives off the gothic dark mood that I presume the novel is set in. I highly recommend this movie.  Its just a beauty to watch.

For those who have read this Charlotte Bronte classic, is it supposed to be dark? What do you think about the adaptation if you’ve seen it?

Do you think that movies that use natural lighting that makes every set a bit darker to be a effective means to set a suspenseful and eerie scene?  What do you think about Mia Wasikowska and/or Michael Fassbender?