Radius (2017)

Radius (2017)

Radius

Director: Caroline Lebrèche & Steeve Léonard

Cast: Diego Klattenhoff, Charlotte Sullivan, Brett Donahue

Liam wakes from a car crash with no memory of who he is. As he makes his way into town to look for help, he finds only dead bodies, all with strange pale eyes. Liam’s first assessment is that a virus is present in the air, but he soon discovers the horrible truth: anyone who comes within a 50-foot radius of him dies instantly. – IMDB

Car crashes and memory losses are a common occurrence in film. Radius however takes a different approach by adding extra element to the familiar, an unknown danger. From that point on, Radius sets up a thriller that starts off in its opening scene setting up the mysterious and suspenseful scenario and following through with a tense and well-paced thriller to the finish. There are only a few key characters and while the foundation of the movie sometimes falls into a familiar formula, the radius of death for Liam and his reliance on this unknown girl who is the only one mysteriously immune to it is what keeps the audience on their toes. There is a danger here and yet, the characters don’t seem to deserve any of it because they are hurt and confused.

Radius

The cast mainly revolves around the two main characters. The first is a man we soon learn to be Liam. He is portrayed by Diego Klattenhoff who pulls off a strong performance. A lot of the opening scenes are solo and quiet moments and he manages to show the confusion and desperation as he realizes fairly early in the film that he has this mysterious danger to others. As the first act wraps up, Liam has learned his name and meets this other girl who also lost her memory and doesn’t remember her name so is referred to as Jane (short for Jane Doe), who is played by Charlotte Sullivan. Her role here is also done well as she seems even more of a blank slate than Liam and because of that, she is more suspicious of the situation and this man who initially hides information from her. Their bond is one that is intriguing to watch evolve as their journey to follow each  memory that flashes by them to uncover what actually happened takes us through the course of the film up until the big reveal. Other than this bond, these characters constantly remind us of their innocence in this situation and the despair makes them the victims. With no apparent villain other than their predicament, the audience can bond with these two characters.

 

Radius

Radius is a well-paced thriller. It creates a balance of mystery and humanity. Its story has the elements that raises it above the cliched initial scenario, setting it apart in a unique way. The dangers of being able to kill with proximity alienates these two characters, making their bond more intriguing to watch develop. Radius does an intriguing set up in its first act and a tense fast-paced second act but slightly stumbles in its third act during its ramp to the final reveal. Despite its small stumbles, the third act is still shocking. Radius relies on the audiences bond with the characters. The bottomline is that Radius is a competent thriller that does well with great pacing and good characters.

Radius is an official selection for FrightFest, Fantastic Fest and Fantasia Film Festival. It is available on VOD on November 10, 2017.

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Game Warp Podcast: Yomawari: Night Alone (2015) Game Review

Game Warp had a slight hiatus and ran a bit behind with me and Elwood taking a little vacation break almost back to back. However, here is our review of the Halloween featured game for October with Yomawari: Night Alone, a survival horror indie game developed by NIS America.

Horror games seem to love using vulnerable little girls in brutal situations and Yomawari: Night Alone is not any different. In this review, we discuss the gameplay mechanics and the characters and the story.

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Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype

(original title: Le secret de la chambre noire)

Director (and screenplay): Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet

When an assistant to a daguerreotypy photographer falls in love with the latter’s daughter the relationship mirrors the art form as love and pain combine. – IMDB

Even though I have only seen Pulse from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, its safe to say that he is a director who takes his time to build atmosphere. Daguerrotype takes on quite the same style as Pulse to be honest which is a good thing. For his first film outside of Japan, Daguerrotype is safe as it plays with a ghost story, slow pacing and builds on the atmosphere to create an uneasiness in this fantasy drama with horror elements. As an indie film, it does a lot of things right especially using a classic photography theme as its main focus. Some cultures believe that photography snaps away your soul and it uses this point as a centre of making his subject immortal, (at least that is what I make of it). Perhaps that is where the inspiration comes from. Classic photography and building the big contraption is definitely the eerier parts of Daguerrotype and adds this older style and mystery.

daguerrotype
The outstanding elements of Daguerrotype is its atmosphere and the setting. It uses a dark and gloomy setting. This matches well with its characters which seem torn in their will to each break free in their own way. The camera does a great job at panning out and zooming in whenever necessary to capture and reveal what it wants to show. There was especially one part where it follows a character that is particularly immersive. It uses lighting very well to create the uneasy moments. The soundtrack is used appropriately  with a beautiful orchestral piece in various parts however still uses a mix of subtle and abrupt sounds to immerse its viewers during quieter scenes. While it may seem a little cliche and overdone, Daguerrotype uses the classic creaky doors opening slowly to create uneasy moments.

daguerrotype
Daguerrotype also has a pretty decent cast. Tahar Rahim plays Jean, the young man here who gets the job as a photographer assistant because of his inexperience and a general interest for photography. He is the main character and the script writes him quite in depth as we see many personality qualities of his. The story only does have about six roles aside from the small cameos roles with three being the leads. Playing opposite Jean is his photography obsessed boss, Stephane who has an unusual love for Daguerrotype photography which requires its models to stand for a long time motionless and uses a contraption to aid them. Stephane is played by Olivier Gourmet and he does a great job at capturing the grumpy perfection seeking artist with his own secrets. Stephane’s only perfect subject is his daughter Marie, played by Constance Rouseeau, who is a shy and quiet girl with a love for botany and struggles between going to pursue her dreams or staying to accompany her father and being his model.

The bottomline is that Daguerrotype does many things right however it is for the most patient of viewers. At over two hours run time, the story moves very slowly and sometimes might feel like the plot is lost in the little details and sidetracks making it feel fragmented and doesn’t come together however, it is also these fragments that may give this story something to think about after its finished. For horror fans, this might not fit the bill as it doesn’t have a lot of scares but more uneasy atmospheres and is more of a fantasy drama. However, Kurosawa’s skills of atmosphere, setting and tone along with the decent cast here that carries their role well are all good reasons to give Daguerrotype a watch.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, November 7 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

Double Feature: The Precipice Game (2016) & The Loft (2014)

And we are back to regular programming!

I have a few outstanding movies to review. Lets just hope I still remember them enough to write about them. First up is a double for two thriller-esque movies, a Chinese thriller set on a cruise ship The Precipice Game and a thriller with some well-known actors that I like called The Loft.

Lets check it out!

The Precipice Game (2016)

precipice game

Director: Zao Wang

Cast: Ruby Lin, Peter Ho, Mr. Black, Scar Kim, Wang Ji, Li Lin, Li Shangyi, Gai Yuexi

Liu Chenchen, a free-spirited young woman, rebels against her wealthy family and elopes with her boyfriend to join a cruise-bond treasure hunt. But what began as an innocent game with promises of great reward soon turns into a battle for survival when the contestants are thrown into a mysterious world of intrigue and chaos in the middle of the sea.-IMDB

The Precipice Game can really only be categorized as a thriller because of its twisty ending which while doesn’t seem to hint at it too much, you start somewhat suspecting the possibility of it all no matter how extremely ridiculous it seems. Now may be a good time to emphasize for those unfamiliar that the term Chinese films differ from Hong Kong films and I make that difference not because I particularly emphasize on my love for Hong Kong but because the film industry was established and progressed differently before the handover in 1997 and the themes and styles still differ immensely. It also goes to say that I’m still fairly new to the Chinese movies that are not from Hong Kong and therefore am frequently unfamiliar with the cast, this movie being somewhat of an exception because the actor and actress here is the reason I even gave The Precipice Game a chance.

the precipice game

The Precipice Game isn’t  all bad. They draw inspiration on different Hollywood films perhaps and while it all seems ambitious, it does try the best to get the tone down. The Precipice Game also has a decent cast however, suffers from having too many characters and really giving time for 2 or 3 characters to have the spotlight. Adding on the fact that some do overact a little on a film that is really quite serious makes it all the more frustrating to watch. There are scenes that will remind you of Saw a little (without the extreme body horror) and it gets the whole playing the game thing going on. Perhaps its strength is the cruise ship setting, giving it the tight corridors and similar paths easily making it claustrophobic and hard to maneuver.

The Precipice Game didn’t give me any thrills but the I did like some of the characters and wished they had more time to drive the suspense than  just keep a death tally on people that we didn’t particularly care about. It may be the bitterness I have after watching Saw and being fed up of the “lets play a game” except these people were dumb enough to join into a vague game to win a big prize but my common sense took over where if I saw it was a weird host and an empty cruise ship, my danger receptors would sound off and I would choose to just leave. However, I am aware that people, especially in movies, make a lot of dumb choices.

Fairly average and quite predictable, even its decent cast couldn’t quite save it. It does have a twist ending so maybe you want to see this to see if you can figure it out.

The Loft (2014)

the loft

Director: Erik Van Looy

Cast: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Isabel Lucas, Rachael Taylor

Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city–a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved. – IMDB

I wanted to like The Loft so much. I’m not a fan of the premise to begin with. I mean, married men who believe they need a place to have their affairs. Suffice to say, The Loft should have been a character study of these different men. However, the cast here is amazing. If we didn’t have this cast, I might have turned off the movie and never finished it. Really what falls apart is the story and the dialogue. It seems this was a remake of a European thriller and I’ll probably try to hunt that one down one day since I do think there’s something interesting here.

the loft

There isn’t much to say about this one. I’m fairly indifferent to it. There are some pacing issues and it tries to mesh the investigation afterwards with what happened and then doing flashback and current and the story does seem to jump around quite a bit. To be fair, some of the characters here aren’t really bad in nature however, this is one of those stories where you don’t really want to cheer for anyone but its really wondering who did it, who is lying and what secrets do they have all hidden away.

The Loft didn’t offer any thrills. It never hit the erotic part of what it seemed to want to do either and then it never has compelling enough characters and dialogue to keep it suspenseful. Its fall short in so many ways that its quite below average. 

This wraps up the lackluster thriller double feature of The Loft and The Precipice Game.
Both have things they do right and they have the potential to be good but for various reasons, it just falls flat making them both average and  forgettable.

Have you seen these two? 

Horror Marathon: Monster House (2006)

We’re in the final week of the horror marathon! Maybe its a little late to slow down the gears and change our pace to something less serious and thats why I decided that it was time to finish Monster House. In that sense, I had to rewatch it completely because I had started it ages ago and then somehow the DVD got lost somewhere at my mom’s before my move so I never ended up finish it. Now that its landed on Netflix, I decided it was a good time to give it a go, plus all those intense films from brutal gory traps to creepy clowns was getting to me.

Let’s check it out!

Monster House (2006)

monster house

Director: Gil Kenan

Voice cast: Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner, Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Jon Heder, Kathleen Turner

Three teens discover that their neighbor’s house is really a living, breathing, scary monster. – IMDB

Maybe for kids this movie would be a scary selection, however for myself, it was a fun movie which some cool moments but never truly scared. Monster House is an entertaining animated film set on Halloween and includes a haunted house and a creepy house that is alive along with a cranky neighbor. These kids are suspicious about it all and are the only ones who believe that the house is evil and are determined to prevent any kids from getting caught in the trap. Best friends DJ and Chowder along with a girls scout Jenny end up taking up the mission in their own hands. While them and the house are the main characters of the story, we also saw the goth babysitter and her boyfriend.

Monster House

Just looking at the voice cast list up above, there are some names that definitely pop out and having them on the team here really does add to it even if some of these roles are quite short. The kids are also done quite well. There’s a level of believability to it. Monster House follows all the moves of the making of decent animated Halloween story however, it lacks that element that makes it truly soar. However, Monster House will get a few chuckles in there with some lighthearted fun.

Monster House

Where Monster House does really well is in its visuals. The house coming to life always makes for a fun time. At the same time, the best moments are when they are inside the house as we don’t know much about why this house is alive. I do wish that they had spent a lot more time with shenanigans and other traps and flesh out the backstory for the house and perhaps it would be more catchy. It would be a cool possessed home story with lots of danger. It felt that they didn’t quite manage to hit that potential . Some of the best moments are after they manage to get into the house.

Overall, I’m a pretty neutral with Monster House. I remember liking it more the first time I had seen it (or the little bit I did see) however watching it again now, I feel like it doesn’t quite expand on where it should. There are some fun laughs here and there and the voice cast is fantastic. The story could have been a little better to give it a bit more excitement. But then, it is a story for kids so I guess it works in that term.

Horror Marathon: IT (2017)

If you missed yesterday’s review of the 1990 miniseries IT, you can read it HERE.

IT is easily one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The images and the atmosphere and seeing the Bill Skarsgard transformation was all really captivating. It may be the horror genre of films I’ve chosen lately but I’ve been struggling to be truly frightened by a film and seeing as I have a deep-rooted fear of clowns, this seemed like one that would do the trick.

IT (2017)

IT 2017

Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicolas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert

A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children. – IMDB

IT is everything that you can imagine it to be. It does atmosphere and the horror really well. IT himself portrayed by Bill Skarsgard and his eye tricks are downright creepy. This movie is the IT that I had expected from the 1990 miniseries. However, with that said, I have to say that IT also suffered from a great PR team. Maybe not so great and also why I usually try to stay away from horror movie trailers because a lot of the effective scares were shown off in the trailers making all the scares rather expected with a few exceptions. Still, the experience of watching IT was a tense thriller with horror elements. And that hits my soft spot because I love movies that gives me a lot of thrill and has me anxious and tense.

IT 2017

For this remake, I can’t do this write-up without first talking about Pennywise. The 2017 Pennywise finds a balance between the friendly clown and striking all those horror elements perfectly. Bill Skarsgard has had some supporting roles here and there, even for myself, as I looked through his filmography, those roles didn’t quite leave any impressions because it wasn’t significant enough. The only one I know him from is as one of the main characters in Netflix Original Hemlock Grove and that show is plenty odd. I have a love hate relationship with it on various elements and thats why I haven’t finished the final season yet. However, my impressions of Bill Skarsgard stems from there. I think he is a fine looking guy so its hard to imagine him as Pennywise and actually pulling off this role so remarkably that we can forget the man is behind all this makeup and that is the most impressive. Ten out of ten for Pennywise!

IT

When the film finished, we had a huge discussion about this and 1990 miniseries. It was a long one so maybe I’ll finally do the adaptation, remake and source material idea that I never followed through with (yet). One of the main talks was about how the kids were played. Both has a commendable cast and very convincing portrayals of their respective roles. In short, my husband enjoyed the 1990 version of the kids and I thought these kids did a great job. In fact, The Losers had a lot more individuality in this one. You can really tell them apart as they accentuated how these characters are supposed to be. Perhaps having just seen Stranger Things helped and didn’t for Finn Wolfhard as it got confusing with the bike scene however he did a great job at being Richie Tozier especially with his speedtalking and the accentuating his fears. The Eddie character stood out especially with all his concerns and fears which had some comic relief in various parts. In general, there was a decent balance of action, thrills and a little humor. However, whenever Pennywise showed up in whatever form was always creepy and tense. The star of the Losers is Sophia Lillis playing Beverly Marsh. She was so convincing and fantastic. It was a lot of fun to watch her.

IT 2017

IT 2017 has some parts that stayed more true to the source material (and I’ve read the majority of what happens here) and does the parts the miniseries couldn’t. At the same time, they did make some changes that still made it effective. Changing up what the original or source material had never bothers me as long as it adds to it and still makes sense. In here, it does make sense. IT is made up by a lot of moments however, there is still a strong feeling of the bond they have created in The Losers. There are some nice effects and the atmosphere works really well. Pennywise is creepy and fantastic. Its a mostly tense movie. If you have avoided the trailers up till now, continue to do so, so that this movie becomes much more effective with each of the build up to the tense moments feeling fresh. Other than that, sit back and be thrilled by IT. It may have gotten a little overhyped by its PR and the trailers revealed too much but the film itself hit all the right notes for me. There were some parts that slowed down a little but it picked right up in the next scene so it never quite feels like it lingers.

Overall, IT packs the perfect horror thriller experience. Yet again, Stephen King has created some great characters and in this, we get a much more deeper look at the hints of how Pennywise came to be. We get to see his lair, which is captivatingly much different in a good way. The Losers are great because they feel like they are their own individuals and bring a certain something of their own skills to the table. My favorite is Sophia Lillis who plays Beverly. Now, I’m just sitting around wondering who will be cast for Part 2 and their adult roles. Its one I’m looking forward to a lot!

Have you seen the remake of IT?

Horror Marathon: Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)

And we’re finally here! The Final Chapter of the Saw franchise! Its been one rocky journey and I mean literally seeing as it went on a downhill slope for a little bit before slowly redeeming itself a little at a time. After the ending of Saw VI, I did want to see how they would end it. I guess I should mention, although its called 3D, I saw it in normal 2D.

Let’s wrap this franchise up (seeing as I’m still unsure whether I should see Jigsaw)!

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter

saw the final chapter

Director: Kevin Greutert

Cast: Tobin Bell, Betsy Russell, Costas Mandylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, Chad Donella, Laurence Anthony, Cary Elwes

As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror. –IMDB

The end is here. The sixth one ended with an injured Hoffman (Damn! Why does he just die?) and he’s onto Jill being a part of Jigsaw’s big plan. Call it a test or whatever, but it was one deadly one and he definitely passed it since he survived and now rather vengeful. The seventh one starts with a rather ambitious and grandiose game for a love triangle and its the first time its been out in the open (at least on screen). Of course, its disgusting and the choice the players make here are rather obvious and I’m going to be honest that watching these back to back has been really nauseating so I already felt incredibly sick at the first game and those are usually just introductions to the movie, which didn’t bode well. However, the story does really come together for this one. It brings back familiar faces from previous films and also takes for that moral journey that I had talked about in this final game also. At this point, its already noticeable that the script does reveal its intentions for the game fairly obviously however, the backstory with Jigsaw and Jill and Hoffman is where the mystery and twists all come out and its in the intricacies and extremities of each of the tests/games.

Saw VII

With that said, the main game focuses around Bobby, a man who has gotten his fame for his outlook on what he’s learned from surviving Jigsaw’s game. When he gets reeled into this game, we get flashbacks of how he met Jigsaw and all the pieces fall together in some ways. His tasks, much like the last film, are a huge puzzle where he is lead to go from one room to the next where he needs to save the people he knows in order to move forward to save his wife. The story is so similar to the sixth installment. However, his finale is one that we see coming a decent point before that or at least its definitely in your suspicions. While that is the case, its really is just one freaky test to the next. Its a bloody affair over and over again. We get a look at each of these characters before in a few scenes. Not enough to care too much about them but if you buy into this fellow Bobby’s role, then its alright.

Saw VII

What does make up for it is the idea of finally seeing how every fits together with Jill, Hoffman, and Jigsaw. Of course, we also bring in another agent into the formula. He does a fairly decent job. They even manage to seek out where the game is being played as they track down Bobby and fall a step behind. As I write this, I feel like its not as memorable as I’d like it to be for the whole investigation. However, the whole Jigsaw, Jill and Hoffman parts are the key twists here as they fill in those gaps of how it works which makes sense for the most part.

Honestly, I’m out of things to say about the Saw franchise. It has a formula and every time I feel like I’m saying similar things except now its just what works in the formula and doesn’t. The Final Chapter works for the most part and the way it ends it is quite awesome. There are twists that work and some that don’t. It really isn’t too bad although this one is incredibly bloody and gory.

Have you seen Saw VII? Did you see it in 3D? What are your thoughts on the franchise? Which movie is your fave?
Finally, do you think I should go see Jigsaw?

As an ending note here, I just thought of something that I’m going to work on as a final piece for this franchise. I feel like its needed to justify it more. One to look at how I’d rank each of these films, as well as a review of the entire story here in general. Either way, that’s coming up soon!