Archive for the Thriller Category

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.

 

EXCLUSIVE: PRODUCER JASON BLUM TALKS DARK SKIES (PART ONE)

Posted in Aliens, Interviews, Movies, Sci-Fi, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2013 by darklordbunnykins

Keri Russell in Dark Skies

The DLB recently spoke to Dark Skies producer Jason Blum about the alien abduction thriller about to hit theatres tomorrow. Blum is the name behind Blumhouse Productions, the production company behind low-budget horror successes like the first Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister. Amongst our topics: making scary movies on small budgets, working with director Scott Stewart (Priest, Legion), the next Paranormal Activity and Insidious films, as well as working with Rob Zombie on The Lords of Salem. Part 2 of our chat will be posted tomorrow.

How excited are you about the way Dark Skies turned out?

I’m really happy with it. It’s exactly the movie that Scott…Scott brought me the movie a year ago, pitched it at me, well not exactly but very close to what you saw. and I really like an emotional story, you know, character, emotional work and the family drama that is depicted in the movie and to have a family upset by this dark force and I’m really proud of the movie and I am really pleased at how it turned out. I wouldn’t be doing these calls if I felt differently, obviously.

 

And why did you want to make it?

I always look for the same things in the movies that we decide to do, which is, is there a great drama and is there a great story. I think unlike a lot of the other companies that make horror movies I really look at the story first and the scares second, and I actually think that makes the movies scarier. I think a lot of places say, well tell me the scares and then we’ll work the story out later, and I think that’s not super effective, and so that’s a long answer to your question, but Scott checked all the boxes with this movie. It’s exactly the kind of movie we’re looking for and I would continue to make. Obviously I don’t want to repeat ourselves, we want to excel. And I think the movie is very different than Sinister and Insidious but certainly just as scary.

 

Speaking of Scott, what is he really good at and why did you want to work with him?

I never met him before we started the movie so I could only look at his movies, and what I got from his movies relates to what I just said, is that I thought he was really good at directing actors, he’s gotten really good performances, and that’s what I was drawn to, and I think that he continued to get that. Both Josh [Hamilton] and Keri [Russell] have seen the finished film, they love it, they want to work again with Scott, and I don’t have to tell you this but that doesn’t happen too often. So that’s what I thought he was good at, and I’m not always right, but I was right about that and I was happy about it.

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Speaking of Keri and Josh, why did you want to cast them, especially given that they don’t have backgrounds in horror films? Or is that an advantage?

To me that’s an advantage. I did theatre in New York but I was just starting out in my career. I had a company called Malaparte and Ethan Hart and Calista Flockheart and Steve Zahn and Robert Sean Leonard and Josh Hamilton, among a bunch of other people who were in the company and Ethan did Sinister and Ethan did a second film with me called The Purge and the casting of all of our movies, ultimately the directors have the final say, but I’ve encouraged them to cast actors who aren’t necessarily associated with horror. You can say that of Ethan, and you can certainly say that of Josh Hamilton and Keri, for that matter.

 

There are a lot of alien invasion films, a lot of alien abduction films, but to what extent do you think is Dark Skies scarier because it’s told on an intimate scale – it’s one family, as opposed to a more global invasion big-budget films like Battlefield Earth or Independence Day?

I don’t see this as an alien invasion movie at all. I know that may sound surprising after you saw it but an alien invasion movie implies exactly what you said, being a spectacle close-encounter, I see it as a family disrupted by a menacing force and to me, in Paranormal Activity you never see what the force is; in Sinister and Insidious you see it a bit more, but to me what the actual evil is, is much less interesting to me than what the evil causes. And that’s what I like about this movie, I don’t look at it like an alien invasion movie at all.

Josh Hamilton in Dark Skies

On that note though, how much discussion went into how much you would show the aliens and what they would look like, given that they are secondary as opposed to the effect upon the family itself?

Very little. I think less is more when you are showing evil forces, and again, I think the conversations were about who should be in the movie, who should play it, what problems they were facing and in all the films that our company works on, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the…we give a personality to the evil by not showing the evil. We can’t compete with the bigger movies on showing evil forces, we just…so I feel we get a lot more mileage out of not showing them and letting people imagine. Whatever you can imagine is way worse than whatever we have the ability to show, so I encourage filmmakers to let audiences imagine what’s bad as opposed to see it.

 

Dark Skies opens Feb. 22.

 

 

 

WRETCHED REVIEWS: SINISTER

Posted in Books, Devils, Ghosts, Gore, Movies, Reviews, Supernatural, Thriller with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

SINISTER

Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, and Vincent D’Onofrio

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill

Alliance

 

How far would you go to secure your own legacy? That is the question at the heart of Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose writer-director Scott Derrickson’s return to horror after helming the underrated sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still.

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EXCL: JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLO TALKS “INTRUDERS”

Posted in DVD, Fantasy, Ghosts, Interviews, Monsters, Movies, Supernatural, Thriller with tags , , , , , on July 17, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s follow-up film Intruders hits DVD/Blu-ray after receiving only a limited theatrical release this spring, and we recommend it to rent. The dark fantasy film stars Clive Owen (Closer) as a father whose daughter Mia is being terrorized at night by a figure in her room she calls Hollow Face. A parallel story shows a boy in Spain dealing with the same monster. There’s a connection we won’t give away, but figuring it out is half the fun.

I got the chance to talk to Fresnadillo about Intruders at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

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WRETCHED RE-ISSUES: THE ENTITY (1982)

Posted in Devils, DVD, Ghosts, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Rue Morgue, Sex, Supernatural, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

THE ENTITY (1982)

Starring Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver and David Labiosa

Directed by Sidney J. Furie

Written by Frank De Felitta

Anchor Bay

Despite online chatter that an Entity remake is on the way (allegedly helmed by Ringu director Hideo Nakata), I find that hard to imagine. First, what studio is going to finance a movie about a malevolent spirit that repeatedly rapes the leading lady? Secondly, which actress would be brave enough to step into the shoes of the original’s star, Barbara Hershey? While not perfect by any means, the original Entity remains a disturbing film made in a bolder time, and a new version would likely be toothless by comparison.

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RE-MASTERED “JAWS” PLAYS TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX IN TORONTO

Posted in Events, Eye Candy, Monsters, Movies, News, Thriller, Violence with tags , , , on June 29, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

For all those Torontonians (or Southern Ontarians) who have only ever seen Jaws on video or DVD, get yourself to the TIFF Bell Lightbox ASAP to experience Steven Spielberg’s classic horror show in all its digitally remastered glory. The theatre is showing the version of the film being released on Blu-ray August 14, and it looks and sounds amazing, having had itself digitally scrubbed.

I attended the press screening sitting beside Jason from FilmFest.ca who basically said he were about to see God onscreen, and he was right. Show times and info is available here.

WRETCHED REVIEWS: MOTHER’S DAY

Posted in DVD, Gore, Movies, Remakes, Reviews, Rue Morgue, Serial Killers, Thriller, Violence with tags , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

MOTHER’S DAY

Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King and Patrick John Flueger

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Written by Scott Milam

Alliance Home Entertainment

 

It’s hard not to get excited about a movie when the director is excited. When I spoke to director Darren Lynn Bousman back in summer 2009 from the Winnipeg set of Mother’s Day for Rue Morgue Magazine, the Saw II – IV director was ecstatic about the film’s progress and his cast, which included Rebecca De Mornay as the titular psycho mom.

So seeing Mother’s Day released straight to video (sorry, DVD and Blu-ray) nearly three years after completion of filming made me think that a) Bousman was getting screwed or b) the movie must be awful, despite fellow horror journalists reporting how good it was. Fortunately, the latter has turned out to be (mostly) the truth.

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