Double Feature: Black Mountain Side (2014) & Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Time for the next Double Feature! We’re moving right along with the B selections. The first is a Shudder pick, Black Mountain Side and the second is a movie currently on Netflix called Berlin Syndrome! Let’s check it out!

Black Mountain Side (2014)

Black Mountain Side

Director (and writer): Nick Szostakiwskyj

Cast: Shane Twerdun, Michael Dickson, Carl Toftfelt, Marc Anthony Williams, Andrew Moxham, Timothy Lyle, Steve Bradley

At a cold, desolate, northmost outpost in Canada, an archaeological discovery is made. A specialist arrives Nov. 1. Strange things happen. All contact with the outside world is down. – IMDB

Black Mountain Side is a slow burn indie horror film. I think its important to grasp all those elements because the first half is one that is slow and quiet. The setting itself in the Canadian North makes it a unique setting to say the least. The first part does a good job and laying out the land of how communication and its cast of characters are all there and their purpose in this archaeological dig site and the outpost itself. Paced by its calendar execution in chronological order of what happens on what day and how much time has past is a decent way to give a sense of progress.

At the same time, the lay of the land itself and the things that happen does get intriguing once actual things start snowballing and the pacing picks up a little more. Thing is, it does feel like there’s not enough that happens in the first half to have the second half make up for it. Its not only that issue but also the fact that it doesn’t use its isolated landscape or give each of  the character’s dig site as a decent area to create more suspense. The suspense is mostly in the unknown. While that does create a lot of questions, its ending relates heavily to a better executed film recently with a similar premise, The Ritual.

That’s not to the say, the premise here doesn’t have potential. Its mostly execution issues that becomes most of its downfall. Its a very slow-burn film overall, and takes patience to get through the first part without a lot of things happening and just building up foundation and setting up the scene to have a better quarter and the ending is also not exactly one that I’m quite fond of (although I won’t talk about it too much to avoid spoilers). Its sad because the Canada’s Great North has a lot to offer as a setting and its a shame that its not used more.

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Berlin Syndrome

Director: Cate Shortland

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken

A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. – IMDB

While Berlin Syndrome’s premise isn’t exactly groundbreaking, what it does is execute a good abduction thriller. Berlin Syndrome tells the cautionary tale of an Australian young woman who travels to Berlin and ends up having a holiday romance with a young man who ends up abducting her and trapping her in his apartment to keep her by his side. It manages to balance a good level of obsessive romance, fear and danger as well as dependence and some deeper psychological thriller elements.

One of the best elements in Berlin Syndrome is in its characters and of course, the two leads that take on the respective roles. Teresa Palmer takes on a great role as the female lead and possibly the first time that I’ve seen her act in her native accent and not an American accent. Its rather refreshing plus, her character as Clare is not a damsel in distress but full of survival. Even when it feels like she is stepping down from conflict in the situation, she is always quietly looking for the next step and adapting to her situation. Her character has a bit of complexity. Just like Max Riemelt as Andi who plays the abductor and obsessive lover who wants to keep her there and yet his character is full of psychological elements to consider as more is revealed, there is a depth to his character and why he does it as well as his dependence on the relationship even with his priorities in life outside of his secret life of having an abducted girl at his home which shows the different sides of him with family and his job and the mental struggles he may be having to keep his life in control.

Berlin Syndrome is a pleasant surprise. Its always great to find movies like this kind of hidden gem that gets tucked away. It was packed a good balance from great execution to the rather one location element and the abduction as well as the relationship dynamic and changes from the start to finish between Clare and Andi as well as the characters development. All done really well and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

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

Double Feature: Child’s Play 3 (1991) & Child’s Play (2019)

Welcome to the second half of the Child’s Play double feature. If you missed the review of the first 2 movies, you can find it HERE. I’m know that I’m missing a few other movies between Child’s Play 3 and the 2019 remake/reboot (whatever you want to call it). Either way, this is the pairing that I’ve gone with. Let’s check it out!

Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Child's Play 3

Director: Jack Bender

Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Brad Dourif, Peter Haskell, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Burke Byrnes

Chucky returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy who defeated him, and now a teenager living in a military academy. – IMDB

I’m not going to lie that Child’s Play 3 is the one in these four movies of the franchise that I feel is the foggiest as I’m writing this. In some ways, it feels also very similar to the first film mostly because Chucky employs the same schemes to try to get back his life. In reality, if there is anything to truly appreciate about Child’s Play is that its killer doll has one goal (or well, 2): to get back a human body and to track down Andy. In this one, he uses his same schemes towards another young boy but unlike before, Andy is now a teenager and uses every way he can once he finds out to protect the little boy.

Child’s Play 3 is okay. It is third in a franchise and changes the setting to the military academy. There’s still a lot of people that fall into the trap that Chucky presents. At the same time, it is also quite predictable to watch. In some ways, its pretty on par with the sequel however still lacking the quality of the first one. Perhaps, its just that the freshness of the killer doll elements is not changed around as much. Its really a question of whether Chucky will succeed in his ploys.

Child’s Play (2019)

Child's Play

Director: Lars Klevberg

Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, Trent Redekop, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio

A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature. – IMDB

As we get remakes and reboots of all the horror films of 80s and earlier, everything is just spilling back onto the scene and its a great time to revisit those original films, like in the case of this one where this 2019 remake was the reason that I even started watching Child’s Play in the first place. 2019 Child’s Play is very much set in the present as it turns Chucky into a corrupted AI turning him into a malicious killer doll. In concept, this is the way to translate this film into the current technology and times.  Its not quite as satisfying in goal especially since the malicious AI plot is done rather frequently in current horror or thriller films. What gave Child’s Play the edge of a voodoo and actual human soul transferred into a killer doll gives this one less purpose perhaps. I just wonder if there was no comparison of the original and we took this solely as a standalone film, would it have seemed better in the world of corrupted AI film.

The general expectation of a remake/reboot is that it will not be quite as good as its original. In the case of Child’s Play, its just too easy to figure out. Instead of having some well-built moments and some creepiness, here it falls into a lot of predictable jumpscares. It succeeds at startling momentarily sometimes but in terms of being scary, it just doesn’t quite get there. Its not a horrible movie though and still quite at par with the quality of the second and third movie.  Its a rather lackluster movie experience. There are pacing and execution issues. Although the AI element is done alright. Set in another circumstance, maybe it would have done better. 

That’s it for this double feature!
I feel like Child’s Play franchise (at least the four that I’ve watched so far) is not really my cup of tea. The first movie does well and then the next 3 are all pretty much at the same level of rather indifference

What are your thoughts on the Child’s Play franchise? What’s your favorite movie of this franchise?

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?

Double Feature: Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) & What A Girl Wants (2003)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time is a rather female character driven combo with the Barden Bellas final hurrah in Pitch Perfect 3 and Amanda Bynes in What A Girl Wants. It seems like a decent pairing, don’t you think?

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

pitch perfect3

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose

Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices. – IMDB

Pitch Perfect 3 has really just been riding on the success of its first film (review) but for myself, it feels pretty much like the Step Up franchise. In Pitch Perfect’s case, its all about the acappella musical elements and the charming cast of Bellas that come with it. Pitch Perfect 3 is a farewell movie and while the story itself is rather disposable as its yet another competition that they need to try to win but this time, its a little different because its about finding closure for all of the main players: Becca, Chloe, Amber, Amy as they move on with their lives from this family to each seeing those problems that make them who they are. Its a bit messy and brushed over quickly for all those involved, mostly because for most of them they never had tackled personal problems for these characters.

Looking at the cast here, which retains itself from the Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect 2 (review) but as they exit their lives after university and the many struggles of finding their own identity and purpose after their success, each have their own path right from the start and of course, their own issues that make them want to go on this final hurrah for them to compete again together. In many ways, Becca has gone full circle from the beginning to the end of this film where she finally finds success in what she wanted at the start in some form but now its her loyalty to the Bellas that holds her back, a bit of a reverse situation. Bellas is a wonderful little group of friends as they are unique in their different ways and different backgrounds, nothing more apparent than in this one, even if it does piece it together oddly.

Of course, aside from the Bellas, we still have the supporting characters including the staple characters of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins characters who have that additional comedic relief. On top of that adding in some other talent from DJ Khaled playing himself and a few side characters with Matt Lanter as the Bellas military guide and something of a bodyguard. The other groups competing for that one spot include Ruby Rose playing the lead singer of Evermoist. I remember that year, Ruby Rose ended up in three different movie sequels which was pretty fantastic as I love her style even if the Bellas were the main focus here. Of course, you also had John Lithgow sporting an Australian accent as Amy’s dad who “isn’t a very nice man”(quoting the line she uses to describe him).

Overall, Pitch Perfect 3 is quite a mixed basket but the musical elements are still there if you like these movies. The Bellas are still quite fun to watch and they get themselves into some serious trouble and Amy really steps up. At the same time, Its the right time to wrap this whole thing up and they do it really well in the credits with what looks like bloopers and extras from the production of the three movies together which is a nice path down memory lane.

What A Girl Wants (2003)

what a girl wants

Director: Dennie Gordon

Cast: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Eileen Atkins, Anna Chancellor, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver James, Christina Cole

An American teenager learns that her father is a wealthy British politician running for office. Although she is eager to find him, she realizes it could cause a scandal and cost him the election. – IMDB

If you put together a dash of Mamma Mia (review) and then adds in a dose of The Princess Diaries, you will get something like What A Girl Wants but maybe a little less refined. Rightfully so because this was movie before Lovewrecked (review) earlier than the movie that I knew Amanda Bynes from, She’s All That. However, it does feel that Amanda Bynes always has that same type of character that she played really well in the 2000s teen movies that just seemed to work for her. Along with that, she did have Colin Firth playing her father with does boost this movie a little despite its rather run of the mill story.

With that said, Amanda Bynes plays Daphne, an American teenager who ends up reaching out to his British wealthy politician father who doesn’t know he exists. While she doesn’t want to lose her unique personality and herself in this new world, she soon realizes that to exist in her father’s world, she may have to in this part fish out of water story as well with adapting to some of the British terms and upper class etiquette. Colin Firth playing her father actually is an opposite type of character who is more reserved and contains his feelings and affection as well but soon also shows the side of him that Daphne’s mother loved, especially as the whole secret of who broke apart her parents in the first place comes to light and a few secret motives, that are actually quite obvious reveals itself.

There’s not a whole lot to say about What A Girl Wants. For people who like Amanada Bynes, this should fit the bill as its an earlier roles of more popular roles like She’s The Man but its still very much her style of humor and acting. At the same time, there are some very predictable moments and the script isn’t that great but it has some fun moments and Amanda Bynes’ character Daphne has some good empowering characteristics that I did like. Some good, some bad, I’d say its somewhere in the middle: pretty much one to save for a rainy day.

Thats it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Double Feature: Crawl (2019) & Bumblebee (2018)

Welcome back to another double feature! Today, we are looking at an interesting pairing to say the least. One is a creature feature with alligators and the other is another Transformers movie but more of a spin-off of how Bumblebee ended up on Earth. Its a pretty fun double feature

Crawl (2019)

Crawl

Director: Alexandre Aja

Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, George Somner

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators. – IMDB

*Originally posted as Friday Film Club on Movies and Tea HERE*

While sharks are primarily the star of creature features, Crawl takes on a lesser used monster as it takes a disaster film and pairs it with a horror film where a father, daughter and their dog gets trapped in their basement crawl space and hunted down by alligators during a Category 5 hurricane. As in any of these films, it is about survival. Directed by Alexandre Aja who is no stranger to directing horror films, Crawl takes on a decent form from the atmosphere and how the whole story goes as it builds gripping tension with these characters and this quiet predator.

Starring Kaya Scodelario as a rising swimming athlete in university called Haley who goes to check on her father Dave played by Barry Pepper, she ends up finding him in a crawl space unconscious and their own salvation is behind these pipes that the alligators hunting them can’t get through. As the crawl space fills up with water, they need to find a way to escape without being noticed by these alligators. Just looking at the character designs, it definitely feels like a rather contrived way to put a swimmer as a central character in a flood and yet, if you can get past that (and you should), Crawl manages to create some gripping moments and build up a decent  bit of tension while also making the whole crawl space experience to play well in the claustrophobic and time-sensitive situation.

There’s a lot to love about Crawl. For one, it uses a lesser used “monster” which definitely needs to be used more as quiet predators create some good surprise attack moments. At the same time, the characters are pretty good. While there is still some family drama to sort out between the father and daughter, the focus on survival is the priority. At the same time, the script makes an effort to give reasoning for why these alligators have gathered in this crawl space and it all does come together in the end. Plus, the director manages to not only use the crawl space and the claustrophobia of that setting to its potential but when it migrates out of there, it still manages to use its environment and the hurricane to its advantage as well. Crawl definitely delivers a great creature feature film that’s well worth a watch.

Bumblebee (2018)

Bumblebee

Director: Travis Knight

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Ricardo Hoyos, John Ortiz

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. On the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, Charlie Watson discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. – IMDB

While I don’t have any major qualms with Transformers to this certain point but knowing that its really just mindless entertainment, Bumblebee is a whole different level. I guess nothing looks so bad until you find something better that comes along. Bumblebee is a fun movie and brings so much to the table because its so goofy and really about the unlikely friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie as she learns gradually about what he is, maybe not fully as this movie also shows how he loses his voice and ends up finding it again with the help of Charlie and her mechanic skills.

Hailee Steinfeld has gone a long way in her acting career. She’s had some misses, mostly due to the overall movie and not her. Bumblebee sees her in a blockbuster role that she really does take on very well. Her character is a tad bitter about her life with her own burdens in her current life situation while at the same time, her sarcasm adds to the humor especially when playing off of Bumblebee who also is discovering Earth and just how it all works despite his amnesia. Its a bit of a fish out of water story in a Transformer point of view and its executed so well.

If there was anything that I disliked about Transformers, it would have to be the annoying John Cena character which plays a little like Samuel L. Jackson’s role in Kong: Skull Island who pursues Bumblebee like he is a threat and the army gets manipulated by the Decepticons (because you know, who wouldn’t believe anyone called Decepticons, right?).

Overall, Bumblebee is a fun time. It definitely has much more substance and gives an origin story angle for Bumblebee which works very well. It balances between the comedy, drama and action a lot and also manages to get in a lot of  screen time for the Autobots and Depcepticons instead of the humans. Really good job here!

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013) by 18 Cinema Lane

Wrapping up the first week of Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is a review of 2014 fantasy-adventure film, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box by Sally Silverscreen of 18 Cinema Lane.

18 Cinema Lane is a beautiful movie blog which shares a variety of movie-related posts, not just reviews. While Sally reviews a lot of variety of movies, she does cover a lot of Hallmark movies due to her appreciation for them. Be sure to head over to check out her blog if you haven’t already and give her a follow HERE.


The Adventurer

Take 3: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box Review

Because I wrote an editorial for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, I decided to write a movie review for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a film I had never heard of until I researched titles for this event. Since it was released in early 2014, I knew it would be a good entry! While learning more about the film, it sounded like a mix between The Librarian trilogy and Sherlock Holmes. Because I enjoy both of those stories, I figured I might get some enjoyment out of this movie! As I’ve stated on countless occasions, I try to use my blog to give lesser-known films the “standing ovation” they might deserve. Talking about The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box definitely fits that goal of mine! But is this movie truly worthy of a “standing ovation”? Please join me on this journey as we’re about to find out in this review!

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The cast in The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box was solid! I had never heard of Aneurin Barnard prior to watching this film. However, I was impressed with his portrayal of Mariah! His performance was expressive in a subtle way. A good example is when Mariah is explaining to Sacha why he wants to find his brother, Felix. The audience can tell that Mariah is about to cry, but Aneurin primarily relies on expressing those feelings of sadness and loneliness through his eyes. I was also not familiar with Mella Carron before seeing this movie. Like Aneurin, I was impressed with her performance as Sacha! Her overall portrayal was well-rounded. Similar to Aneurin’s performance, she was also expressive in subtle ways. One example is when she’s sharing her problems with Mariah. When she is talking about her father’s troubling behavior, Sacha’s eyes fill with tears, showing how much this situation upsets her. I thought Sam Neill portrayed a convincing villain! I’ve only seen a few of Sam’s films, so I have only seen him portray protagonists or characters that were not villainous. While bringing the character of Otto to life, Sam’s demeanor was arrogant and cunning. These are the qualities you’d likely find in a villain, as these kinds of characters sometimes see themselves as being better than everyone else.

Historical accuracy: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box takes place in 1885. While watching this movie, I noticed how everything looked and felt like that period in time. The wardrobe and set designs definitely fit within the world the film’s creative team created. The metalwork within the hotel seemed like it came straight from the 1880s. Even the font on posters and signs looked accurate to that time period. The ways this aspect of the film was handled shows that no detail was ignored during any part of the movie’s creative process.

The element of mystery: In The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, there was a mystery within the main plot. This mystery element was one of the most interesting parts of the film! It allowed me to stay invested in what was happening in the story and to the characters. The mystery also created a sense of wonder as to what would happen next. This element brought intrigue to the overall story!

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of lighting: While the cinematography was mostly good in this film, there were some scenes that had little to no lighting. They were so dark, I had difficulty seeing what was on screen. One example is toward the beginning of the movie, when Mariah and Felix are having a conversation outside. This scene was so poorly lit, Mariah face was hidden by the darkness. Whenever this happened, I found it to be frustrating.

A misleading title: As I said in my Halloween Double Feature, a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. When a creative team makes an effort to put a subject in their movie’s title, they need to deliver on that “promise” to their audience. For The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, I didn’t really feel like there was an adventure taking place in the story, despite the film being called The Adventurer. There were some scenes that had a sense of adventure to them. But it never seemed like the characters were going on a journey or allowing the audience to go on a quest with them. The majority of this movie took place in one location. This made the story feel condensed. All these elements presented the overall narrative like it belonged to a mystery movie and not an adventure one.

Two separate mysteries: Like I previously stated, I liked the mystery element within this movie. However, I think it was a mistake to feature more than one mystery in the film. In this story, there is a second mystery that exists while the main mystery is being solved. For most of the film, these mysteries were separate from one another. While they eventually connected, this didn’t happen until it was almost time for the film’s climax. The second mystery also felt like it combined with the first mystery out of plot convenience. I thought both mysteries were intriguing. But they should have been in their own separate films.

My overall impression:

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a fine, enjoyable film! There were things about it that I liked, such as the acting and the historical accuracy within the project. However, I can think of movies with adventure stories that were executed better than this one. The fact that this film was light of the adventure was, for me, a disappointment. It also doesn’t help that the film’s title features the word “adventurer”. If you do plan on watching this movie, approach it with the notion that you’re going to watch a mystery movie. That way, the condensed nature of the story and the limited amount of adventure will make more sense. I’m not sure if this film was given a sequel. If it was, I’ll definitely consider reviewing it on 18 Cinema Lane!

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you ever heard of The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box? What movie from the 2010s is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!
Sally Silverscreen


A huge thanks to Sally Silverscreen for sharing her thoughts on The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, a movie that I’ve never heard of prior to the blogathon!

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews next week to catch the second week of the blogathon and see the next guest review!

Find the archive of posts in the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon updated daily HERE!

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

You can check out my review of the book that this film is adapted from HERE.
You can also read the review of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before HERE.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You

Director: Michael Fimognari

Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Holland Taylor, John Corbett, Sarayu Blue, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart

Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture. – IMDB

Being a rather big fan of the books as well as absolutely adoring the movie, To All The Boys 2 has some big shoes to fill. And just like how I felt about the book sequel, I feel pretty much the same about this sequel. While the pink hearts and feel good moments are created rather well, what happens here in exchange for a more focused and fun coming of age teen romance in the first one is one that adds in a few too many tangents that never gets explored giving the characters not enough time to truly have more impact. For viewers like myself, the immense love for Lara Jean and Peter is memorable from the first film and can move onto the second film, but the second movie isn’t self-contained.

P.S. I Still Love You is supposed to dive into the growing up and insecurities of a relationship and while Lara Jean has those moments, it gets a little buried in her meeting John Ambrose and having some sweet moments and then Peter’s character falling into the background, which is supposed to be because of underlying issues with his ex-girlfriend Gen and then his obligations with school in preparation for college applications which never truly gets elaborated enough and what we get are just some sweet moment together with the two, and then some arguments as well. Adding in the plot with Stormy, which was a really great supporting character in the book, she also gets very little screen time here but still has that quirk and romance guidance element for Lara Jean. Then, there’s the dad finding his romance and squeeze all of this stuff into 100 minutes and it gets a little rushed.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

While execution of the story and possibly how the adapted screenplay might be a little lacking here, the characters are really charming. The cast from the first film, Lara Jean and Peter still have that chemistry that they have and for viewers and people like myself who loved the first movie, its great to see their relationship move from being fake to real and navigating through certain insecurities and awkwardness of facing this in a more serious way. Adding in the love interest reappearance and choosing Jordan Fisher to be John Ambrose is definitely a good choice. John Ambrose is a different kind of charming boy that enters into Lara Jean’s life. He is something of a clean slate that creates a comparison for Lara Jean. While some of the decisions she makes approaching John Ambrose might not be all that correct, her character is a teenage student in her first relationship and the reality and expectations and comparing the two comes into play as all kinds of factors come into play as she tries to figure out her feelings towards these two boys. It does fit her character design as in the first film, its already obvious that Lara Jean isn’t someone who takes risks easily and doesn’t quite understand her feelings too well.

To All The Boys 2 is not as strong as the first film, as expected with sequels. I’m still not decided whether having a script like this is good or whether they could have committed more to the love triangle at hand here. In the end, there were a lot of great and sweet moments whether its John Ambrose or Peter and Lara Jean and it does give space for other characters to have their own little developments but its both a good and bad thing. It doesn’t give time for too many unnecessary things to happen because it just doesn’t have time for it but at the same time, the story jumping through so many characters and giving them their own little developments also seems to be nice to see but also doesn’t give more time for their main leads. Good and bad, right? The good thing though is despite all that, they manage to wrap up the whole thing in a meaningful way and giving the whole sequel some substance. In the end though, To All The Boys has some nice chemistry and some good revelations for Lara Jean and in reality, it makes sure that the audience knows one thing: whether you are team Peter or team John Ambrose, its not really about them but the story is all about Lara Jean.

Double Feature: Turbo Kid (2015) & Hell Night (1981)

Next up in the double feature is the continuation of our catch-up for the New Year’s viewing with a movie set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in an alternate reality then hopping back to watch some 80s slasher as we work through some of the Shudder selections that we often forget to check out.

Turbo Kid (2015)

Turbo Kid

Directors (and writers): Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari, Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland in 1997, a comic book fan adopts the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord. – IMDB

Turbo Kid is a wonderful little full feature debut for RKSS, the team that contains the director trio, Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Together they put together this alternate 1997 post-apocalyptic wasteland setting filmed in the secluded Thetford Mines in the province of Quebec where asbestos mining used to be its main activity. Suffice to say, the thought of the setting already gives it a lot of extra points. The 1997 setting also gave this film a lot of the charm with its music selection, its effects, the color palette as well as the outfits of the characters.

turbo kid

On the other hand, the character designs are equally fun. Leading the movie is Munro Chambers who plays The Kid, who finds his heroism through his comic book fandom for Turbo Rider. The Kid lives by himself and has found a way to survive on his own since he was young and the film takes its time to gradually reveal his backstory. At the same time, his subtlety is quickly contrasted by his new friendship with a mysterious and very bizarre girl with an over the top enthusiasm called Apple, played by Laurence Leboeuf. If anything, Laurence Leboeuf does steal the show a little here as her character is colorful both physically an emotionally. There is something so odd about her that makes her the more intriguing to discover. With any hero movie, there has to be a villain and of course,  its not hard to soon discover in the harsh wastelands played masterfully by Michael Ironside, a towering bad guy called Zeus who pretty much controls the scarce resource: water. It doesn’t help that his masked henchman , Skeletron is also as intimidating.

There’s a lot to love about Turbo Kid. Its packed with a lot of creativity and creates an alternate reality that works in a wasteland that makes sense. The acting and characters all have their stand-out points. It also manages to blend comedy and action adventure elements really well to keep it fun while having some more dramatic moments as well.

Hell Night (1981)

hell night

Director: Tom DeSimone

Cast: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neumann, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtevant

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier. – IMDB

80s slasher films probably mean more to others than it does to me. To myself, its really just a fun little killing romp with a lot of the similar kind of deal. There’s always some kind of bad effects (usually because of the film not aging well) and then it has some disposable dialogue (that at the best of times is very fun to laugh at) and of course, a certain flow of events of the final girl syndrome and the couple having sex that gets killed first and the likes. I’m not well-versed in 80s slasher and really have just mostly seen the main big franchises so I probably don’t appreciate it as much as the connoisseurs out there.

With that said, Hell Night is okay. It has its very similar moments with a lot of the other 80s slashers and falls pretty much where I’d expect it. It drags in the middle a little and its incredibly predictable. The slasher scenes or death scenes aren’t very fulfilling as they just kind of happen and hope to get multiple scares as other characters discover the deaths. The acting itself is rather lackluster and its not helped by some pretty bad dialogue which merited some eye-rolling or laugh out loud moments. There’s some really silly moments in Hell Night.

Honestly, Hell Night is a lot of what you would expect of 80s slasher films, especially the earlier ones. Its not great but it has some entertaining elements that comes with the time. Its not quite as good as some of the more known slasher films but then, I think slasher film has its audience and if you happen to haven’t seen it, its okay. Save it for a rainy day or something.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? What are your thoughts?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Little Monsters (2019)

Little Monsters (2019)

little monsters

Director (and writer): Abe Forsythe

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca, Ava Caryofyllis, Kat Stewart, Marshall Napier, Charlie Whitley

Little Monsters is a 2019 Australian horror comedy-thriller that tells the story of a washed-up musician who ends up chaperoning his nephew’s class field trip in the heart to win the heart of the teacher however little do they know that, they end up driving into the heart of a zombie outbreak.

Between a lot of Taylor Swift‘s Shake It Off and a balance between humor and horror, Little Monsters is a horror comedy that does a lot right. It has to do with well-timed laughs and cleverly maneuvering its script between separating the reality into make believe where the kids are involved. Because the scope is fairly narrow and set mostly in one location, the Pleasant Valley Farm and despite the class of kindergarten children, the film focuses on a fairly small cast and all these elements do it a huge favor. It magnifies each character during the film to give it more space to develop and connect with. Every zombie movie gives its unique twist on the zombie trait (at least it tries), in order to make it stand out in a sea of endless zombie films and here, the reveal comes fairly late and yet, has so much charm to it.

A lot of Little Monsters is pulled together by the humor and how the characters deliver it. The definite star here is Lupita Nyong’o who is fabulously hilarious as a school teacher, Miss Caroline straddling the line between being a caring school teacher as she is sweet and gentle with her class of 5 year-olds no matter how docile or annoying they can be, but so fierce when things start to endanger them, best shown with one of the best scenes between her and Josh Gad‘s character, Teddy McGiggle. To the 5 year olds, this is all a pretense of a game in action and yet, the few children that have their focus all have the unique traits of different types of children in these situations which surprisingly, adds to the humor as the adults try to make sure that little make-believe stays alive.

Looking at the other roles, both Alexander England who plays Dave, the wash-up musician and nephew and Josh Gad’s role of Teddy McGiggle, a famous kid TV celebrity follow a very familiar character trajectory. Teddy McGiggle is a kid TV celebrity and with any rich celebrity is the human villain because of his selfishness and it becomes obvious where this arc will finally lead. As the other comedic role here that mostly delivers, there is one or two moments that the humor he delivers goes a little over the top (but humor is subjective so it may change to the viewer and how you accept Josh Gad’s humor in the first place). Dave is also quite comedic however, his story is more on the touching side. There are some slower moments that might feel a little misplaced and achieve the one goal to pull Dave and Miss Caroline. While unnecessary, it does help to give the character some depth.

Overall, Little Monsters is a great horror comedy. Its funny with some tense moments. There are some flaws but its easy to overlook them because of the overall film’s charm. Lupita Nyong’o’s character gives it a lot of life as she shines being both fierce and caring to spin a tale for her class. The script is well-written and pulls all the elements together with clever writing using music as a fantastic medium of diversion. The three adult characters also creates a balance for where they stand on the zombie outbreak spectrum. As the audience, the movie as a whole allows us to see things that the main characters don’t see especially the outside dangers from worried parents to how the army plans on attacking the situation, making it feel more urgent than the characters feel for the unknown impending danger. Its hard to call a zombie film, even one structured as a horror comedy, touching but somehow, Little Monsters subconsciously does all that.

Movies and Tea #9 – Pompeii

And we’re here at the final episode of Season 1 of Movies and Tea Podcast as we take a look at the final movie in the selection from Paul W. S. Anderson’s filmography, Pompeii. Head over to Movies and Tea Podcast to check it out for our thoughts and how it is as a Paul W. S. Anderson directorial effort and give us your thoughts on this movie that blends a Gladiator-esque story with a disaster film.

Movies and Tea

Our season one re-evaulation of the Paul W.S. Anderson filmography comes to a close with a film that sees him taking a note from James Cameron, Anderson’s “Pompeii” sees him deliving a sword and sandel / disaster flick the end result being a film which disappeared off the radar of most movie goers as quickly as it appeared.

We also reveal our favourite, worst and hidden gems of his filmography.

Come join us in the booth!!

Further Viewing

Gladiator
Kingdom of Heaven
Conan The Barbarian
Volcano
Dante’s Peak
San Andreas
Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Clinton Shorter – The Mountain

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