Fantasia Festival 2018: Our House (World Premiere 2018)

Our House (2018)

Our House

Director: Anthony Scott Burns

Cast: Thomas Mann, Nicola Peltz, Percy Hynes White, Kate Moyer, Lucius Hoyos

A young genius accidentally invents a device that amplifies the paranormal activity within his family’s house, possibly bringing back the spirits of loved ones, and unleashing things far worse. – IMDB

Our House is based on the 2010 microbudget independent film Phasma Ex Machina directed by Matt Osterman. While I haven’t seen the film that this is based on, Our House is said to have changed its focus and reimagined differently by director Anthony Scott Burns, to focus on a young man dealing with trauma and tragedy. Looking at the description, Our House seems like it has quite the potential to be a lot of the same but still have room to have its own potential. Sometimes films can be surprising and no one really can know what they get into especially when going into a movie presented at Fantasia Film Festival. Disappointingly, Our House actually is just another cliche and predictable horror film that falls into a lot of trope-y territory that makes its audience spend a lot of time doing things that have already been done before, sometimes in a more effective way.

Our House

Perhaps, a correction here because the film spends at least half (if not more), on building the drama in the family and healing after the parents get into an accident and pass away, changing the course of the main character, a young man called Ethan (Thomas Mann) as he leaves his promising education at MIT, distance from his beautiful girlfriend Hannah (Nicola Peltz) and go back home to work as a cashier to take care of his younger brother Matt (Percy Hynes White) and little sister Becca (Kate Moyer). In these parts, the story takes time to build up the dynamic and status of the characters however, the horror bits here are the familiar trails of black smoke or children seeing spirits and having it mistaken for imaginary friends and such. There is no doubt that the final act is quite atmospheric and works in a jumpscare way but it still falls a lot into the generic horror with predictable scares around the corner. Smoky figures and predictable moments of when they do something malicious will always be timed exactly as you expected. If you want almost all the scary bits, the trailer pretty much highlights a lot of those moments, however if you do plan on catching this one, you will do well to avoid it at all costs.

Our House

The redeeming part of Our House goes to its young cast. A few of them are familiar faces like Thomas Mann who did Kong: Skull Island and Nicola Peltz from Transformers: Age of Extinction. For what this script does, everyone delivers some great acting. Thomas Mann has taken on some interesting projects. While he has done horror before, this one is one of the more engaging roles he has been in. Playing his younger siblings, Percy Hynes White and Kate Moyer also do quite a decent job as their characters are written to show a different connection that they have with their brother, creating the riff in their relationship. They have their unreasonable moments but these moments match their characters and reactions very well.

Our House

Our House has some nice ideas and maybe the source material that inspired it had great reviews but disappointingly, it just didn’t quite hit the horror elements here. It was generic and predictable with so many horror tropes in the small amount of horror scenes that were actually happening on screen. Even with an great cast, there was no saving this one from being somewhat of a lackluster horror movie experience. What made it even worse was the “twist” ending that everyone saw coming a mile away. Perhaps it might satisfy the entry-level horror viewers but for horror genre veterans, it is too much of the same.

If you do want to catch Our House in theatres, it will be shown in theatres starting next week in selected theatres and will be available on VOD.

Netflix A-Z: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (2015)

Next up on the Netflix A-Z is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about this one, especially when it was released about the same time as The Fault in Our Stars and a lot of people had mentioned that this one is better. Seeing as I’m not a huge fan of The Fault in Our Stars, as horrible as that sounds, this one should be great! Or at least I hope it will. I personally like the cast so I’m pretty excited to see this!

Let’s check it out!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

me and earl and the dying girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine Hughes

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. – IMDB

 Some of the best and memorable moments happen when we step out of our comfort zone. In fact, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl shows exactly the bittersweet feeling of having something memorable happen in your life and learning from each other through friendship. There’s a genuine feeling here. I like movies a lot that have the main character narrate the story in a certain way. There is monologues in the background and its something like peeking into someone’s snippet of their journal entry that they wanted to share with you. Aside from that, the characters are all charming in their odd indie way. Whether its our main trio with Thomas Mann, Olivia Wilde and RJ Cyler or Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents or Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom. They all added a little something to the story.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the most charming parts of the story is the interaction and friendships shown here. The primary one being that of Greg (Thomas Mann) and Rachel (Olivia Wilde). Their friendship was “doomed” (the words of Greg) to begin with. Befriending a girl with cancer was emotional and crazy however, you can see that because they found joy and comfort in each other that their friendship, even at times with more silence than words grew. Actually, the timeline of the story didn’t seem like a long one but it felt like their friendship had a lot of depth and understanding and that is an irreplaceable connection that everyone can only relate to rarely and that is what makes this friendship so special. Plus, it made them both see a different side of school and themselves.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the quiet friendships but rather creative ones are between Greg and Earl who has been friends forever or what Greg would prefer to call, colleagues, as they work together to make films with titles that put a twist to their original and they were brought together by foreign films that Greg’s father had shown them when they were kids, inspiring them to want to make movies. That creates the basis of them being asked to make a movie for Rachel while she is in treatment and in a way, strains their friendship as they struggle to make an actual good movie together. Their friendship leads into other colorful characters like Greg’s dad, a sociologist if I remember correctly, who adds a touch of fun with his foods from around the world, played by Nick Offerman. The other would be the odd student and teacher with Greg, Earl and Mr. McCarthy where they hide out in his office.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Its hard to pinpoint how to show what is so good about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. What makes a movie great sometimes is the subtlety of how they grow a friendship or relationship and build the story. This is just a snippet in the entire life of Greg and yet it carries a life changing force. While he doesn’t learn everything all the time and there are moments when there is insensitivity at times, the idea here is that there is an authenticity and believable factor here about a guy who meets a girl and grows their friendship. The dialogue is witty and charming and quirky. Despite its issues about Rachel and her suffering from cancer, there is a odd lightheartedness to the whole thing that never sits in the sad territory for too long and Greg learns a thing or two through this segment of his life that impacted his outlook.

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a subtle development and a genuine story at that making it believable and definitely one of those must-see coming of age stories. Its quirky and odd but just like the movie, my fondness for the movies grows more and more as I think back to it.

Double Review: Project X (2012) & Women in Trouble (2009)

I have a TON of movies that I watched and haven’t reviewed but these two recent ones due to Netflix expiration brought me to these and I figured I might as well have a say on these. I was pretty much on cold meds and pretty out of it when I’m at home.  I truly hate summer colds and ALL I ask is decent entertainment but lets just get this out right now that I truly did not enjoy these two.

Lets start this possibly rant-like write-up, shall we?

Project X (2012)

project X

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Cast: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Alexis Knapp, Miles Teller, Peter MacKenzie

Its Thomas Kub’s (Thomas Mann) birthday and with the influence of his friends, Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), they decide to take advantage of Thomas’s parents being away for the weekend to throw a huge party for their senior class to help them get popular.  Except things don’t quite go as they plan when more people than they expected arrive and its gets completely out of hand.

Seriously, thats all I even want to say about this movie.  Thats all it really deserves.  Why did it suck? They tried to use found footage and it was so ridiculous.  I haven’t been in high school in like 11 years or something and I wasn’t in the popular crowd either (nor did I want to be) so maybe thats why I can’t appreciate this notion of getting popular through doing all these stupid things. Point is, the movie encourages all the wrong things.

So, SPOILER ALERT starts about now (if you plan on seeing this): the dad didn’t even give a crap about it.  He just couldn’t believe that his son was capable of this because he was a loser.  Sure, he still grounded him for trashing his car but not the fact that the whole f’ing house was destroyed? That is THE WORST parent talk ever. *Spoiler END*

What the message that I’m getting is that:  Its okay to break the rules, trash the house, throw a gigiantic party and do a ton of stupid stuff and get held on charges as long as you come back to school and get the girl and all the popularity (that will probably fade after you graduate).  Is it really worth it?

Man, I’m starting to think I am old.

For the record, the only reason, at any age for me to even THINK about standing on my roof (forget jumping off it) is if there is a fire or I’m checking the shingles are good.

Anyways, suffice to say that I don’t think kids these days need this sort of movie as encouragement to party hard.  They can do it all on their own and to say that its okay for short-lived popularity, thats even worse.

Women in Trouble (2009)

women in trouble

Director: Sebastian Gutierrez

Cast: Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki, Connie Britton, Caitlin Keats, Isabella Gutierrez, Simon Baker, Sarah Clarke, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Josh Brolin

A serpentine day in the life of ten seemingly disparate women: a porn star, a flight attendant, a psychiatrist, a masseuse, a bartender, a pair of call girls, etc. All of them with one crucial thing in common. Trouble.- IMDB

To say I hated this movie is going a bit far. I just thought it was really boring.  I mean, I don’t find movies boring.  I rarely do.  I always manage to find that one thing that makes it good.  I sat through this in hopes that something would happen that made it good.  You know, the satisfying ending or something like that.  Before I knew it, there was only 15 minutes left in the movie and all I saw was 10 half-done stories of women that weren’t even actually 10 stories because some just vanished into thin air with nothing.  This is supposed to be a comedy and I rarely laughed, except for the final bit where Joseph Gordon-Levitt was on.  Even Simon Baker was not good enough to make me like this (mostly because his character wasn’t extremely likable).

There really is nothing much to say about this because nothing actually happens.  I’m leaving with that right there.

Oh right, and I believe there is a sequel for this following Carla Gugino’s character, a porn actress who gets pregnant and the development of the other women in the movie.  Its on Netflix also and I’m thinking since they used this entire movie to do nothing and just set the stage, maybe the next one might get somewhere? I don’t know anymore.  I put it on my list but maybe I’ll never get around to seeing it. The only reason I’d watch the continuation is to see if this second one gives some closure and substance to these characters.

Either way, I don’t recommend Project X unless you like that sort of party movie.  I apparently have no interest in it whatsoever, not when I was a teen, not in university and definitely not now. As for Women in Trouble, it could’ve been more but it didn’t do anything with it and just turned out to be a waste of time because there was no development of any sort.

Now that we have the bad part done…I have some pretty awesome movies to talk about for the next few reviews over the next few days! 🙂

Excited? I know I am! For one, I’m pretty sure I just fell completely in love with an actor.  I knew he was good but man, this guy is just wow right now.  If you want to know who it is, drop by again 😉