Archive for the Reviews Category

MOVIE REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM UPRISING

Posted in Aliens, Eye Candy, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Sequels with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

No, Pacific Rim Uprising is not horror, but it has monsters – sorry, kaiju – so close enough for The DLB. It’s also not horrible, which was what I have to admit I was expecting from this sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s only okay original. In fact, in many ways, it is a better movie that is even more fun.

Uprising takes place a decade after the Breach was closed. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of war hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, seen here in hologram), has been living a life of petty crime in a coastal city devastated by the giant monsters when he meets Amara (Cailee Spaeny), an orphan with a talent for making Jaegers out of junk. Arrested together, they are sent to Jaeger pilot boot camp where we learn that Jake washed out of the academy years ago, despite his potential. Now, in a bid to both honour his father and get out from underneath his shadow, he agrees to train a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including Amara. Activate redemption narrative now.

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Less obvious are some of the rather clever plot twists that follow, involving, sorry, cool new iterations of both Jaegers and kaiju. In fact, Uprising is surprisingly clever, despite a fellow critic’s not disrespectful pronouncement that it is “big, dumb, and fun.” Big and fun? For sure, but I also admired how director/co-writer Steven S. DeKnight and his team found a way to both honour Guillermo’s first film – which, to me, always felt more like one of his one-for-the-studio films, like Blade II, than, say, something personal The Shape of Water – and expanded that universe.

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Credit much of that success to Boyega’s charisma and humour, as well as expanded roles for scientists Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). Their dynamic is particularly entertaining, even if it has changed significantly from the first film. (Go see it to find out what I mean.)

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Yes, there are some amazing new kaiju and some awesome mayhem, but the focus is as much on relationships and story, making Pacific Rim Uprising that rare sequel that, to my twisted mind, surpasses its predecessor.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: UNSANE

Posted in Movies, Reviews, Thriller with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

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Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion was terrifying in its depiction of how easily disease could devastate the planet. But Unsane is the prolific director’s first foray into horror, albeit with a sociopolitical edge that will let snobs to call it a ‘thriller’ instead.

The Crown‘s Claire Foy stars as the unlikely named Sawyer Valentini, a young executive who has moved from Boston to Pennsylvania to get away from her stalker David Strine (The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard). The stress from that experience continues to fuck with her life so Sawyer books an appointment with a doctor from the first place that pops up in her researches, the Highland Creek Behavioral Center.

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Her first session at Highland seems to go well, but lurking within the sheaf of documents she hastily signs but does not read is a form that lets the facility hold her for 24 hours. Understandably upset, Sawyer tries to leave, but when she punches an orderly she has mistaken for Strine, her 24-hour stay is extended indefinitely. Thus begins an ongoing nightmare in which she is hassled by her fellow inmates, drugged into coherence, and, most horrifically, confronted by Strine who has followed her to Pennsylvania and secured a job, under an alias, at Highland.

Unsane is an uneven film whose strengths are undercut by unanswered questions. Most notably, how did Strine know that Sawyer would go to Highland for treatment? Is he just a lucky guesser? Is Sawyer just that unlucky?

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Leaving that massive plot hole aside, there is a lot of good work here. Foy is astounding as a terrorized woman struggling to maintain a life in the face of unwanted attentions. One scene depicting her confronting Strine within the confines of a padded cell is masterful in how Sawyer slowly turn the tables on Shrine, whose hollow-eyed menace crumbles in the wake of a strength born of the knowledge that she has power over him if she chooses to take it. Leonard is equally fascinating, depicting Strine as powerful and scary, yes, but also weak and child-like.

Unsane‘s depiction of mental illness is just realistic enough to be frightening, especially if you have ever visited someone confined to an actual mental health ward. Soderbergh includes a particularly evocative scene that depicts Sawyer’s experience of being drugged incorrectly (by Strine) that is harrowing in its surrealism. And the film’s back-story of how America’s private mental health industry attempts to confine patients who may not actually be ill in order to siphon off their insurance money – which is exactly Sawyer’s situation – is even scarier.

Unsane feels at times like a horror movie made by a director reluctant to admit to himself that he is actually making a horror film and is not overly familiar with the genre. That said, the young lady beside me at my screening was squirming in her seat and screaming at regular intervals from obvious discomfort. So good on you, Steven.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT

Posted in Gore, Movies, Reviews, Sequels, Soundtracks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

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A sequel to 2008’s The Strangers has been promised for years so a horror fan might reasonably wonder whether too much time had passed for us to care about another (mis)adventure in the twisted lives of the psychopaths colloquially known as Dollface, Pinup, and the Man in the Mask. The answer comes with today’s release of The Strangers: Prey at Night, and the answer is a (fairly) resounding yes.

The movie follows a troubled but loving family of four – mom Cindy (Christina Hendricks), dad Mike (Martin Henderson), son Luke (Lewis Pullman) and daughter Kinsey (Bailey Madison) – on a final family outing before Kinsey, exiled for some unnamed offense, is to be shipped off to boarding school. But their road trip to visit relatives at a deserted trailer park descends into hell when the kids discover the mutilated bodies of said relatives and a stalk-and-slash ensues, with the kids running, hiding, but ultimately facing off against the terrifying trio.

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Director Johannes Roberts proved himself a competent manipulator of tension with the surprisingly good shark movie 47 Metres Down. Now, working from a script co-written by The Strangers director Bryan Bertino and gifted with a strong cast, he has crafted a tight little thriller that works because we believe that this family – as flawed as they may be – is just like us, and their torture and murder is excruciating to witness.

The movie, like its predecessor, claims to be “based on true events,” but how true that is does not matter. What does is that, yes, evil is banal and good people die for no good reason, something that is proven every day in every newscast. Do these people deserve to die at the hands (and knife points) of remorseless killers? No. And that is what is ultimately so terrifying about this film.

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For fans of the original, yes, Prey at Night is consistent with its stylish predecessor. The killers have no reason for their atrocities, which they commit against a background of ’80s pop fluff by the likes of Tiffany, Bonnie Tyler, and Air Supply. More importantly, like the troubled couple played by Luke Wilson and Liv Tyler in the first film, we see that violence is random and that bad things happen to good people. That may be obvious in times like these, but if it gives us more reason to hold our loved ones closer – including in the dark of a movie theatre – all the better.

MOVIE REVIEW: ANNIHILATION

Posted in Aliens, Beauty, Eye Candy, Fantasy, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

ANNIHILATION

Paramount’s decision to sell Annihilation to Netflix for all territories outside Canada, the US, and China is great if it gets the film a wider audience than would pay to see it in a theatre. The shame is that Ex-Machina writer-director Alex Garland’s adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer novel is a stunning work of art whose natural home is a darkened movie house. Indeed, on a big screen with a great sound system, Annihilation‘s thrills, chills, and ideas are that much more profound and intense.

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Left to right: Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in ANNIHILATION, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Natalie Portman (Black Swan) plays Lena, a soldier-turned-scientist whose military husband Kane (Ex-Machina‘s Oscar Isaac) returns to her a year after going missing. His assignment: to investigate the Shimmer, a mysterious phenomenon slowly engulfing the southern coast and making its way towards populated areas. An ill Kane is re-captured by the military, and Lena goes with him. Eventually she persuades Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the leader of the next team to go into the Shimmer, to let her come along. What she discovers there is best left unexplained, as it is alternately astonishing, beautiful, and terrifying.

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Indeed, while the IMDb classifies Annihilation as “Adventure, Drama, Fantasy,” it possesses a bloody streak of body horror. Some of the most genuinely weird and wild images ever seen in a big-budget Hollywood production are on display here, and its visual and thematic debt to both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Annihilation mark it as a bold work of imagination.

WRETCHED REVIEWS: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

Posted in Gore, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sequels, Serial Killers, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2013 by darklordbunnykins
Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is menaced by Leatherface (Dan Yeager)

Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is menaced by Leatherface (Dan Yeager)

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, and Tania Raymonde

Directed by John Luessenhop

Written by Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms

VVS Films

 

Nearly 40 years after its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is no longer “just” a horror classic. It is a brand, with the direct sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D, out today, just the latest iteration in a line of sequels, prequels, and remakes. The fact that this new Chainsaw manages to draw fresh blood makes it all the more impressive because, really, who thought this might actually be good?

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WRETCHED REVIEWS: CITADEL

Posted in Devils, Monsters, Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

CITADEL

Starring Aneurin Barnard, Wunmi Mosaku and James Cosmo

Written and directed by Ciaran Foy

Mongrel Media

With the DLB about to become a father himself, the Irish horror film Citadel (which was mostly filmed in Glasgow) – about a single father trying to protect his infant daughter against evil – hit home pretty hard, even if its foundation is not quite rock solid.

Aneurin Barnard stars as Tommy Cowley, a young father left to raise his infant daughter Emma alone when his pregnant wife is attacked by a gang of hooded thugs in their crumbling council estate high rise. She is left comatose and he is left a single father crippled by agoraphobia. Tommy is helped by a caring (and attractive) nurse (Mosaku), but an encounter with a volatile priest (Cosmo) leaves him fearing for his and Emma’s safety as the thugs – who may in fact not quite be human – return.

Barnard is utterly convincing as the fearful Tommy. Beyond the makeup that makes him look as though he has not slept in a year, Barnard radiates sheer terror but also evinces a steely strength as a poor young dad who will do anything to protect the only family he has left.

Writer-director Ciaran Foy, making his feature debut, is smart enough not to reveal too much too soon. The nature of the hooded creatures that attack Tommy remains mysterious until near the film’s end, and Foy drops enough strange visual cues (empty buses, deserted streets, half-glimpsed horrors) to evoke Adrian Lyne’s classic mindfuck film Jacob’s Ladder. Things get a bit silly at the end as Tommy and the priest face off against a high rise full of the feral things, with back story filled in a bit too quickly by the priest, but the end result is mostly horrifying.

With its near-apocalyptic vision suburban blight and a creeping sense of menace, Citadel is one of most dread-filled (and least dreadful) horror films of 2012.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Citadel opens in Toronto at Yonge & Dundas, with more cities to follow.

 

WRETCHED REVIEWS: SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D

Posted in Eye Candy, Gore, Movies, Reviews, Sequels with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D

Starring Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington and Sean Bean

Written and directed by Michael J. Bassett

Alliance

 

Having been on the Silent Hill: Revelation 3D set, I can tell you that the people who made it were committed, enthusiastic, and looking forward to taking the legacy of the first Silent Hill film, as well as that of the video games upon which the franchise is based, and moving them forward with the sequel.

Unfortunately, they failed.

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