Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula

Director (and co-writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Cast:  Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won

Marine captain Jung-seok and his family escapes by ship which suddenly changes course to Hong Kong and ends up having a lower level outbreak that infects his sister and nephew, leaving him and his brother-in-law, Chul-min to escape in Hong Kong. Four years later, as they live poorly in Hong Kong with no status, the triad boss gives them a task to go retrieve money stuck in a truck in Incheon which was in transport during the zombie outbreak years ago and giving them a decent cut for their work if they get out alive with the loot. Jung-seok, Chul-min and two other Koreans end up taking this task and they find the truck fairly easily. As they plan to leave, a platoon ambushes them and triggers a massive wave of zombies. Jung-seok manages to be rescued by two sisters: Joon and Yu-jin who take him back to their hideout with their mother and  and grandfather. With the knowledge of a chance to leave Incheon, they decide to infiltrate the platoon’s camp to get back the truck and rescue Chul-min. 

Still set-2

Peninsula is a standalone sequel to Train to Busan. It is its own beast building on the post-apocalyptic world created from the previous movie. However, its important to remember that its a standalone and in many ways, an opposite experience from its predecessor, which has its pros and cons. Instead of a zombie horror film, Peninsula is more of an action film with zombies. There are more humans involved in the equation and its given up the straightforward concept in the first film to a movie with more moving parts. With that said, its hard to not compare the two as I’d wager that most people seeing this will be fans of Seoul Station and/or Train to Busan and have their own set of high expectations to meet. Whether this film lands or not will depend on how much you accept it. It does all the elements right and yet, there’s something a tad derivative that might not sit well for some. Due to more characters, it has has less space to develop memorable characters like the first film. With a standalone film, newcomers can come into this and shouldn’t have issues following the story. 

With that said,its best to see this as a standalone and come into this with fresh eyes and mind. Peninsula does a lot of the elements right. First and foremost, the cinematography is incredible. There are some scene set-ups showing the vast wasteland that Incheon has become over the course of 4 years from using the lighting appropriately to set the mood and in general, using light for its aesthetic as well as playing along with how zombies work in the Train to Busan world. The zombie scenes are the most outstanding of the film, with one scene when they first arrive in Incheon and traversing the place where the cross through that is a spine-chilling seen that comes to play in the end in a spectacular way. That aside, the zombies are used really well. Not quite as frequent but still making for a lot of good fight and escape scenes. The scenes at the platoon camp also adds a further dystopia element along with the rather familiar roles and events, however the rescue and retrieve mission is a good one. Suffice to say, the script had thought out a lot of the little details in these scenes and how its put together visually to be an engaging experience (even if it feels like a few of the plot points are familiar). 

Still set-1

The characters of Peninsula revolves around a few moving pieces. There’s ex-marine captain, Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) who is no doubt the main character with his own inner struggle and with the most character depth and development. Gang Dong-won grasps the character fairly well even if he’s rather brooding and has rather little dialogue. The turning point of the film in terms of charming characters do go to the two sisters: older sister Joon (Lee Re) and Yu-Jin (Lee Ye-won). They bring in a level of wit and courage as Joon is a beast behind the wheel and Yu-jin is a strategic little girl with her rigged up flashy remote-controlled cars. They bring a lot of personality to the film with their appearance and what’s important is that they both still have a helplessness to them where they still feel in times of despair that they are still just kids. Of course, the character that plays their mother Min-jing (Lee Jung-hyun) also brings in a great performance. The character doesn’t have as much depth but does manage to bring some inner conflict to the whole situation. There are some surprises in some of these characters and supporting characters that do add to the film especially by the end. 

Overall, Peninsula is a well-crafted movie. Sure, its not as unique as the first one but what it has built with its post-apocalyptic world setting and the nature of their zombies gives it a lot of room to play around with. Where Peninsula might suffer is with the high expectations set from Train to Busan moving into this one, which is a completely different beast and in turn, easier to be disappointed (possibly). As a standalone, there’s a lot of standout elements and director Sang-ho Yeon does build a decent movie. Its a tad more complex and a lot more moving parts but there are little details that will be noticed that works by the end and makes sense. There are clever bits and some comedic bits, a few over the top characters and then there’s the well-choreographed action sequences with gun fights mostly (plus a car chase). If there’s one thing I didn’t talk about before, there are much more (unnecessary or over-emphasized) dramatic scenes in the veins of South Korean cinema that I’m not a huge fan of but that is also a personal preference. However, this director has one thread that links all three of the Train to Busan films and that is the conflicted main character which like I said before, is one of the great elements of this film as well. I can hate on this film but I have to say that standalone sequels always earns the film brownie points on my end at least. As a final thought, Peninsula might not be what was expected but I would love to see what else they can do with this zombie apocalypse setting especially if they move around different South Korean city as their story backdrop. 

Peninsula is currently in theatres, including IMAX, ScreenX and 4DX as of August 7, 2020

*Screener provided by Taro PR*

Blog Tour: Undead Ultra by Camille Picott (Review/Giveaway)

Undead Ultra
By: Camille Picott

thumbnail_Undead Ultra Cover

Publication Date: April 7, 2016
Genre: Science-Fiction/Post-Apocalypse/Zombies

We’re celebrating Zombie Awareness Monthwith a mini tour of Undead Ultra by Camille Picott! Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Synopsis

It’s life or death…

…and two hundred miles to run.

Can she survive the zombies and save her son?

When the virus hits, nobody is prepared. Society collapses and Kate’s son doesn’t have a way out of his dorm. She has to go get him, but the roads aren’t safe, and the government has blockades.

Everything is at a standstill.

It will be the race of her life.

Kate loves running. She’s gone from marathons to ultramarathons and knows what it takes to run a hundred miles at a time, but this is different.

This is twice as far as she’s ever run…

…and finding food is a problem.

Is it even possible?

You’ll love this unique take on the apocalypse because the struggle is unlike anything you’ve read before.

Add to Goodreads

Review

 Zombie apocalypse stories are a bit overused in the current landscape whether its books (or movies). However, Undead Ultra takes on a different take from the fast-paced style to taking the characters on an ultramarathon of over 200 miles for these two running best friends to rescue their kids from their different locations as they realize that cars attract too much attention and are dangerous to use in the current zombie apocalypse world that has overrun the country. Packed with a lot of unknowns and their expertise in running and the limited supplies, they go on this insane run that tests them both mentally and physically to not only survive the length of the run and weather but also their biggest unknown factors, zombies.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. The execution of the whole story is done incredibly well. It balances the zombie threat in a myriad of different encounters as well as the limited amount of people they meet on this run, some good and some bad as well as sharing their own darker stories with each other that they may not have shared previously. At the same time, they strategize on supplies and the different phases that they go through during this ultramarathon, probably something that not a whole lot of people are incredibly familiar with in the first place. The zombie element brings in the bad ass character elements and builds the two characters as they harden to having to fight them. The story element gives both characters a lot of insight on their past and builds them up so that the readers can know them more and connect with them. The last element of ultramarathon is simply a survival element. Its both strategy as well as survival and sheds some light on the whole concept of ultramarathon and how tough it is and the mental exercise it really is. All of these balance well together to put together this thrilling run.

Undead Ultra features primarily the two characters, Kate and Frederico. Kate wants to go find her son Carter at his unversity where she has news and communication that he is still managing to stay alive but danger is moving closer and closer. She is the main voice of the story. However, her running companion and best friend Frederico is something of a rock and has his own hardships which include some alcohol abuse and trying to find his daughter on the way as well. These two characters have a lot of depth to them as the story unfolds further with each of their conversations and especially Kate’s memories of the past as well as Frederico’s recounts of his past. As they go through their ordeals, their characters build with the knowledge of their past as well as their present actions and decisions.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. Its a fun read and a page-turner. Its incredibly well-executed and has well-developed characters as well. While the zombie apocalypse landscape might seem familiar and there isn’t a lot to change about it, somehow the execution of sending the characters on foot for an ultramarathon-esque rescue mission is one that sounds crazy but makes all the difference in making this story stand out.

Goodreads Score: 5/5

Purchase Links

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About the Author

Camille Picott

Camille Picott has been writing Stories from the End of the World since she figured out how to turn on her family’s Apple IIe computer and wrangle a floppy disk into the drive. She loves nothing more than penning an epic action scene or pushing a character to his limits.

When Camille isn’t writing or spending time with her family, she loves to run absurdly long distances. It’s not unusual to find her hitting the trail in her running shoes long before the sun rises or cranking out miles (and stories!) on her treadmill desk. She considers sleep optional and largely overrated.

Visit Camille at www.camillepicott.com to sign up for her newsletter.

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 11th

Backshelf Books (Review) https://backshelfbooks.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

May 12th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

May 13th

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

May 14th

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

May 15th

Gemma’s Book Reviews (Review) http://www.gemmmasbookreviews.wordpress.com Read and Reviewed (Review) http://readandreviews.blogspot.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Blog Tour Organized by:

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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?

Double Feature: Pet Sematary (2019) & Snowpiercer (2013)

As we put the holidays behind us, the normal double feature is back in action. This time, we’re catching up with some 2010s movie. The first film is this year’s Pet Sematary remake of the adaptation. The second is 2013’s Snowpiercer which has been on my to-watch list for much longer than I had intended. Let’s check it out!

Pet Sematary (2019)

Pet Sematary 2019

Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer

Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.  – IMDB

I’ve never read the source material or seen the 1989 Pet Sematary adaptation so I am basing this review solely on my feeling towards the story interpreted here and how it was executed.

Pet Sematary is an interesting one to talk about. On one hand, Stephen King stories are always quite an intriguing entry to discover as his storytelling skills are quite extraordinary especially with the execution of a story to its characters to the premise. This one is about bringing back the dead and how it all starts with a Pet Sematary and the burial of a cat. The story itself is a lot of fun and remains in that dark and creepy phase because any horror watcher, even the not so seasoned, knows that black cats are bad and bringing back the dead is not a good thing. There’s a lot of playing with bad omens in this story and yet the characters go right ahead to take its viewers into this creepy place as the neighbor takes a new resident of the city deep in the forest. At the same time, simply the different rituals of pet burials at the beginning are enough to bring a little chill down the spine with some creepy kids and scary masks.

While Pet Sematary does build a decent horror atmosphere, it isn’t doing a lot of difference. There are some rather predictable scares, jumpscares and whatnot. Its more expected to happen. At the same time, other than a rather convincing John Lithgow playing the neighbor and the daughter working out rather well, I’m not a huge fan of any of the other cast as Jason Clarke doesn’t stand out of a first choice for this role. He isn’t bad but then, its the normal horror film acting here.

Horror movies are so overused in all its genres that sometimes its hard to find that place of being unique. There’s a good story here and I would assume that it all goes to the strength of the source material and an alright execution. It’d be interesting to hear what others would think of this one: those who can compare to the source material or the first film adaptation.

Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer

Director (and co-screenplay): Bong Joon Ho

Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ko Asung, Ewen Bremner, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino, Vlad Ivanov

In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges. – IMDB

Snowpiercer sets its story in a future where the world has frozen over and the only survivors live on the train. As the lowest class tries to break forward to the leader at the front of the train, the different sections that the group pass through has its somewhat subtle hints on classes and are a big highlight in this story. I’m not sure why South Koreans seem to thrive on movies set in fighting through enclosed spaces especially on trains (like Train to Busan), but its definitely a great setting. Snowpiercer isn’t just a great setting in its claustrophobic and tight spaces where it does all its action, but its also a story packed with a lot of twist whether its group of characters or its plot twists and the different surprises that it delivers. Its visually very nice as each shot is framed very well, using all its elements and different areas having their different colors and such. Whether its pacing and execution, Snowpiercer does a fabulous job at delivering a good deal of drama, action and thrills.

Any good script also needs a great cast to deliver those great performances. In this case, the casting is right on point. With Chris Evans as the main character Curtis who leads the operation but doesn’t want to be considered a leader to his right hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell) and the no-nonsense mom who wants to find her son back, Tanya (Octavia Spencer) with a powerful presence of a disabled man, Gilliam (John Hurt). Along the way, they pick up the security mastermind of the train to help them escape, Namgong Minsoo (Kang ho Song) and daughter with some odd powers Yona (Ko Asung). As I mention Kang-ho Song which is a fave of this director specifically, Song is a great actor who has a huge range of acting capabilities as seen in another South Korean film I had seen previously called A Taxi Driver (review) The dynamic of this group brings a lot to the table as their personality does contrast each other and adds to their characters. Each having their own depth and further character development as the story moves along.

On the other side, the villainous side are a lot of lesser known group of characters or perhaps well reflected in the whole concept of the top tier always being less people with just more resources. In the forefront, defending the leader of this train is Mason, played spectacularly by Tilda Swinton. Along the way, they have a little cameo performance from a school teacher on the train by Alison Pill which doesn’t do a lot but has its moment. Finally, at the front of the train comes the leader Wilford who is played by Ed Harris. The band of villains might seem small but there are some great ones mentioned here and then there is the more assassin type who just never dies. I think if anything, the unrelenting bad guys or even sidekick always seems to be the most annoying to watch, probably, my only minor issue with this movie.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen 2019’s Pet Sematary and/or Snowpiercer? Thoughts?

TADFF 2019: Dark Before Dawn: Convoy/Patterns/The Changeling

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Dark Before Dawn: Convoy (2019)

Dark Before Dawn: Convoy

Director: Brodie Spaull & Paul Krysinski

After some research, Dark Before Dawn  is a YouTube series and this little part shown at Toronto After Dark is episode 10 called Convoy. Convoy is a little segment which tells the story of some men carrying previous cargo when they are infiltrated by some other men and end up fighting for their lives. You can watch the episodes HERE.

Looking really good right from the start, this episode of Dark Before Dawn as a start-off episode looks really intriguing and definitely sparks an urge to check out what came before to see whether it will reveal why the cargo itself is precious and whether its just a bunch of different people in the same (what would look like) post-apocalyptic world. The action itself is great and the whole tone works well. Its straightforward as small segments like these should be. Its just a lot of action and works for its context. There is some blood going on here and it all looks good and nothing low budget, which is always a plus. Definitely looking forward to check out the rest of the series and see what is in store for it, especially how the Dark Before Dawn element works in the series and story as a whole.

Patterns (2019)

Patterns

Director (and writer): BJ Verot

Cast: Steven Ratzlaff, Karl Thordarsson, Jake Kennerd, Aidan Ritchie

Patterns tells the story of an older man Henry who goes to a facility to get a treatment procedure and ends up being set on a path of killing after he receives a phone call.

Patterns has a fragmented storyline that jumps back and forth from the past where Henry goes to get his treatment and the happenings there to the trigger that leads him down the path. Its mostly an action piece and fairly mysterious as to what this whole procedure he goes to does to him as he ends up joining their “program” which makes him susceptible to number sequences on the phone which repeat itself in his mind over and over again. While the elements here from Henry to the doctor to even the Cleaner all are great pieces to the puzzle, the acting might be the only iffy bit here that seems like everyone seems to be trying too hard to make the film more suspenseful or that they have more to them instead of it being as natural as it should be.

There’s a lot of questions that leave unanswered but that does show a potential of this concept having a further area to explore if ever it was considered as a bigger piece and gives it some depth, always a good thing.

The Changeling (2019)

The Changeline 2019

Director: David Hamelin & Neil Macdonald

Cast: Katherine McCallum, Emily Farrell, Tiarnan Cormack, Olivia Hamelin

The Changeling is a 5 minute short about a woman who comes home after a panicked call from her babysitter and frantically goes in to look for her baby daughter to find a demon looking after her instead.

There’s a lot of good elements here. The background score works well with building up the atmosphere here. There are a few jumpscares here and there however do work well enough except doors banging shut which because of its overuse in horror films in general don’t quite work as effectively. The demon itself is done really well. The acting is on point as well. The progression of events also is well-paced to give this one some tension. The Changeling isn’t exactly a new concept which probably other than the two feature films being done before and remade before, there’s a lot more but for a short, this one is well-polished and looks great and well-rounded on all the elements. An impressive short for sure!

Double Feature: The Ritual (2017) & The Silence (2019)

Its time for the next double feature. This time we are looking at two Netflix Original movies. Both are in the horror/thriller categories as well. As our second R selection, it went to The Ritual, which to be honest was a surprise addition due to movie night choices. Moving right along with the alphabet, we landed on S selection being The Silence. Two movies that looked pretty good but one worked better than the other.

Let’s check it out!

The Ritual (2017)

the ritual

Director: David Bruckner

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them. – IMDB

The Ritual is a mix of supernatural and back country kind of horror thriller. Its one of those situations where the characters all seem to have their own story behind this trip and because of it, its definite that the drama will cause them to break at some point. At the same time, its always these decisions that some characters will make some bad decisions and get into some trouble. I spent a lot of the first bit having a whole discussion of when its time to GTFO but of course, if they did, we wouldn’t have the movie (at least a shorter version).

Thing is, as much as I say that some decisions were illogical, The Ritual is one of the more solid horror flicks coming out of Netflix Originals selection. One of it has to do with the fact that its characters have some contrast. While there are a few too many that some don’t truly have their purpose, they each have their own issues to deal with in the spectrum of the story. In some ways, it feels a bit like everything happens with too much coincidence (ex. some guy twists his ankle right at the start of the trek) and then they still decide to go forward instead of backwards. Various other signs of addressing the dangers around them as well happen. However, deal is once the ominous bits start, its atmosphere builds the tension up and that is the saving grace of the film. It also has to do with a fantastic sense of lore, that I wish was a little deeper especially since the dangers we see are done in a timely fashion, revealed bit by bit to execute a good level of suspense.

The Ritual might have some lack of depth and a bit of it feels like its on rails but it does so well in execution and atmosphere building, using the terrain and the forest that these friends are lost in that its easy to forgive a lot of the other stuff and be immersed in this increasing suspense and horror and wondering what will happen next.

The Silence (2019)

the silence

Director: John R. Leonetti

Cast: Stanley Tucci, Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, Kate Trotter, John Corbett, Kyle Breitkopf, Dempsey Bryk, Billy MacLellan

When the world is under attack from terrifying creatures who hunt their human prey by sound, 16-year old Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka), who lost her hearing at 13, and her family seek refuge in a remote haven. – IMDB

The Silence is one of those films that (I think) landed during a phase of that overly used in a short amount of time idea of being stuck in a post-apocalyptic world where one certain sense is over reliant. In this case, its about being silent and the sense of hearing and survival. This horror film can be best described as a movie that starts off pretty strong but goes has a massive downward spiral as it crashes in the final act and then ends the film in a fairly abrupt way. Its not so much as a bad film as much as its a disappointing one. The main issue had to be with the final act when a new danger element adds into the already existing factors. It just felt unnecessary.

With that said, there was some elements that did work such as the sound design and the creature design. At the same time, Stanley Tucci is such an underrated actor and its great to see him in a lead role. Between him and even young actress Kiernan Shipka who plays his daughter, and I’d say the starting group of family and John Corbett as his best buddy, they all set a good foundation for all the characters involved. It was when some new characters get added in near the end that really gave the story a weird turn of events.

There isn’t much to say about The Silence. In some ways, a lot of its separate elements work and there are some moments that also work fairly well. However, its those moments that felt useless or added very little to the story that make the execution fall apart. For myself, the ending just didn’t quite cut it especially with the lackluster segment before that and the people they encounter before the finale.

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

Double Feature: A Quiet Place (2018) & Bird Box (2018)

This double feature is incredibly late. I saw these quite early this year. I always meant to pair these two together. While A Quiet Place and Birdbox are quite different, they both rely on honing into one sense and that is a fantastic angle that had me intrigued right from the moment I first saw any trailers for it, plus they both have leading ladies that I liked a lot as well.

Let’s check it out!

A Quiet Place (2018)

a quiet place

Director: John Krasinski

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. – IMDB

A Quiet Place is one those movies that are incredibly interesting in terms of the premise. Its an intense thriller because of the use of the silence and the meticulousness of the little details of how this family lives. The strength of the film has a lot to do with the quiet and the mysterious control of the monsters here. It also has to do with the script and the characters and how they each grow throughout the film to see what place they each have. There is no doubt that Emily Blunt and John Krasinski bring a lot to the film however, who does stand out is Millicent Simmonds and the emphasis on the relationship of her with her parents especially the journey she has as she lives with this guilt and these abilities. The best parts are the hunt and the genuine feeling of survival and the stakes in play.

However, there is one thing  that I can’t get past for this film. It has to do with the basis of this film of how the situation managed to get to the dangerous state that it is and that is Emily Blunt’s character’s pregnant state. Very different from it being a situation that happened before the danger arrived, this happened while knowing the risks of it. With that said, this doesn’t align with the whole mentality of what this family we see has tried to achieve the entire time. That is a plot hole in my opinion and something that feels contrived. Aside from that though, because as the movie intensifies, its easy to ignore and accept the situation at hand and it delivers on a lot of levels. Seeing as this is John Krasinski’s debut directorial effort, this is a solid piece.

The only thing that I’ve had on my mind (which still I wonder on) is that while the movie relies on silence, there is a prominent soundtrack that sometimes is less than subtle. It makes me wonder whether it would have achieved more with less soundtrack and more focus on the quiet. Its something that bothered me also when I saw The VVitch (review).

Bird Box (2018)

bird box

Director: Susanne Bier

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, BD Wong

Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. – IMDB

Bird Box is a really nice example of how the big Hollywood can take in a sophisticated filmmaking efforts that Netflix has to offer. There are things that don’t always make sense and it has its moments that aren’t quite as refined but this post-apocalyptic world and the world-building and the survival and character developing is all such a huge part of what makes Bird Box shine above all those imperfections. In some ways, there are  a lot of parallels to A Quiet Place but somehow Bird Box works better in that aspect because it starts in a situation that was made out of necessity. The structure of how the story is told makes a contribution to its success and effectiveness. All the way from why Sandra Bullock’s character changes over the course and seeing the need to find salvation to her two kids who she calls Girl and Boy and remains nameless throughout the film. The history of it makes it work because it helps build up the different elements of the invisible danger outside.

Sandra Bullock is an awesome actress and she takes on this role so well. A lot of credit has to go with the character being written really well. There’s a lot of great actors in here which creates a lot of layers to the story itself, making it a more psychological experience and a human nature sort of deal. There’s a more self-preserved character that is more grounded to the reality of the post-apocalypse played brilliantly by John Malkovich and a fairly shorter role of BD Wong and then, a great performance playing opposite Sandra Bullock by Trevante Rhodes that we first saw in Moonlight (review).

Bird Box stands out to me the most because of its tension. Its psychological aspects especially because the whole nature of the villain or outside factor that attacks civilization is about that as well. There are a lot of little details and reveals in the story that make it work. In some ways, there are elements that remind me of 28 Days Later and having the sense of hearing becoming a central sense works here also.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen A Quiet Place & Bird Box?