‘Hereditary’ Review

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd

Synopsis: When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

A24 as a studio is killing it right now, and when it comes to their horror films, they only have – really – two of them now. The Witch turned a lot of heads and now you have Hereditary. The film also turned a lot of heads, and some are even calling it the best horror film in some time, as well, as a modern day Exorcist. Obviously, those are very big claims to make, and doesn’t help if people are willing to accept that. So, does Hereditary live up to the hype, or is just another independent horror film that is overhyped?

Hereditary follows the Graham family with mother Annie (Toni Collette), father Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their two children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro). After the death of Annie’s mother, Annie gets lost in her work of miniature sculptures and Charlie starts to exhibit weird behavior. Things only get worse when strange and unexplainable incidents start to occur.

That’s the bare bones of Hereditary’s story, and that’s about all you should know before walking into to watch it yourself. Hereditary truly works when you know nothing about the movie. Even if you’ve seen the trailers, believe me, it doesn’t give away anything about the movie. That being said, even though the movie is marketed as a horror movie, at the end of the day, Hereditary is a family drama through-and-through.

All credit goes to first time feature film director/writer Ari Aster, who crafted a compelling story about this family and adding horror elements that actually make sense to the history of the characters, and aren’t thrown in for the sake of having a scare or making the film creepy for audiences. There is enough of that to go around, but in this particular film, the scares are connected to the Graham family. We get a great sense of why the characters act like they do, and more important, what has led them to where they are now.

But as much credit Aster should get, Hereditary is carried by Toni Collette. She is put through the ringer here, and she carries it in stride. Her performance as Annie and the slow descent she goes through in the movie is amazing to watch, and one of the standout performances of the year by far. Alex Wolff is also given a breakout performance here as the young son, who also goes through his own mental descent, and newcomer Milly Shapiro as Charlie also breaks out in her own way as the younger Graham family member.

The main thing about Hereditary, much like a lot of independent horror films now, is that it will not be for everyone. Hereditary, like The Witch and even It Comes at Night, is an aggressive slow-burn that will test your patience, and then reward you with nightmare fuel in a grand finale. That said, the family drama keeps you invested – hopefully – but the slow burn will likely keep people from being fully invested, and once the third act kicks in, it might be too late.

All in all, Hereditary will definitely not be for everyone. It’s a slow burn family drama horror film that keeps the main scares at bay, while trying to creep you out in meantime. The film is carried by Toni Collette, who brings the right amount of range to everything that is asked of her. If you’re watching Hereditary and ask yourself at the end, “what the hell was that?” You’ve seen the right movie

Hereditary

3.5 out of 5

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‘A Quiet Place’ Review

Director: John Krasinski

Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski

Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and John Krasinski

Synopsis: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

Silence in horror films is always used in two ways. One, it’s used before a jump scare to scare the crap out of you, but since we’ve seen so many horror films we can predict those most of the time. Two, a way to set something up – most likely before a jump scare right before the killer or monster pulls a character out of their hiding place. But, what John Krasinski has done for A Quiet Place, his first directed horror film mind you, is something special. Not only the movie mostly a silent film, but silence almost feels like its own character.

A Quiet Place follows a small family of father Lee (John Krasinski), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their two children, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) – although their names are never said during the movie, only in the credits – as they try to survive after creatures have destroyed, what seems like most of the country. What makes matters worse, is the creatures are attracted to sound, so staying silent is key to surviving this new world. However, staying silent isn’t as easy as you think.

I’ll start off by saying, if you are not a fan of slow-burning horror, you probably won’t enjoy most of A Quiet Place, especially since most of the movie is silent, and most of the dialogue is said through sign language. It also takes a while to become a full-blown monster movie. That being said, that’s one of the reasons why I loved the film. A Quiet Place also works as a drama, and an effective one, because we get to know the characters from the very beginning and we care about them enough until the credits roll.

However, credit where credit is due to John Krasinski, who has only directed two feature films. Both have fallen into drama and comedy, but watching this, you would assume Krasinski has directed more than that. Not only that, you would think he’d directed some horror movies. His decision to make this a nearly silent movie is both ambitious and a risk, and one that completely pays off in the end. Even some of the decisions he makes his characters take, like creating a system with light bulbs to let others know the monsters are nearby, or even creating a sound suppressing box for the baby. Of course, there’s more, but that’s getting into spoiler territory.

Top that off with the cast he was able to get. Krasinski’s father figure tries his best to protect his family and even teaches his young son how to catch fish, which isn’t even the most touching scene in the movie. Emily Blunt as the mother is absolutely fantastic in this, and pretty much gets the most out of the movie, as her character is pregnant for most of the movie (not really a spoiler guys). Newcomer, Millicent Simmonds, as the daughter has a very prominent role that thankfully wasn’t spoiled in the trailers, so I won’t even hint at it here either. Unfortunately, Noah Jupe doesn’t get enough development, but out of everyone, he does have the best fear face (is that a thing?).

When it comes to the monsters, it takes a long while before we get a get look at what they look like. The design is rather interesting, especially once you realize that Krasinski actually changed the design at the last minute, and while the monsters probably aren’t ground-breaking new they are extremely vicious.

All in all, A Quiet Place is an effective horror thriller, and even a drama. Using silence as a key element has been done before, but I’ve personally never seen it the way Krasinski used it here in the film. The film only has a few minor missteps, but nothing that really takes away from the film. Personally, I loved A Quiet Place, and this is how horror thrillers should be done in my book.

A Quiet Place

4.5 out of 5

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. That said, this year could really take the cake, as Marvel pulled the unthinkable coup of moving their biggest films, and one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year to this month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

6th

Limited Release: Pandas

In the mountains of Sichuan, China, a researcher forms a bond with Qian Qian, a panda who is about to experience nature for the first time.

 

Limited Release: You Were Never Really Here

Based off the book by Jonathan Ames, and written and directed by Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), a traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. The film also stars Alex Manette, John Doman, Ekaterina Samsonov and Judith Roberts.

 

The Miracle Season

After the tragic death of star-volleyball player Caroline “Line” Found (Danika Yarosh), a team of dispirited high school girls must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hopes of winning the state championship. The movie co-stars Erin Moriarty, Helen Hunt and William Hurt.

 

Chappaquiddick

Ted Kennedy’s (Jason Clarke) life and political career become derailed after he is involved in a fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). The trailers have been rather weird to me, and while it’s based on a real event, I’ve never actually heard about this. However, with a cast like this, it could be good. The film also stars Ed Helms, Clancy Brown, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby and Bruce Dern.

 

Blockers

Three parents (Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena) try to stop their daughters from having sex on Prom night. I’m pretty sure the concept itself lends itself to being a little funny, and after seeing the trailer, I feel like that’s true to say. The movie does look like it’s going to go into the cringy and maybe raunchy area, but the sight of seeing John Cena playing against type will probably be fun. Blockers co-stars Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon and Colton Dunn.

 

A Quiet Place

Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, a family lives an isolated existence in utter silence, for feat of an unknown threat that follows and attack at any sound. Krasinski also stars along his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. The concept is awesome, and I can’t wait to see what Krasinski does with it. I mean, not only are we getting a brand new horror film, but a horror film where you can’t make a sound otherwise a monster – which we haven’t seen yet, which is great – will get you. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe co-star as the children.

 

11th

Beirut

A U.S. diplomat (Jon Hamm) flees Lebanon in 1972 after a tragic incident at his home. Ten years later, he is called back to war-torn Beirut by a CIA operative (Rosamund Pike) to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind. Beirut co-stars Shea Whigham, Mark Pellegrino, Douglas Hope and Dean Norris.

 

13th

Borg vs. McEnroe

The story of the 1980s tennis rivalry between the placid Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and the volatile John McEnore (Shia LaBeouf). Borg vs. McEnroe co-stars Stellan Skarsgard, Tuva Novotny and Robert Emms.

 

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

The true story of the most decorated dog in American military history — Sgt. Stubby — and the enduring bonds he forged with his brothers-in-arms in the trenches of World War I. The voice cast includes Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Ezzell and Gerard Depardieu.

 

Truth or Dare

A harmless game of Truth or Dare among friends turns deadly when someone – or something – begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare. Let’s be honest, a movie about the game we played at parties when we were younger sounds dumb, but at this point, we shouldn’t probably doubt Blumhouse Productions at this point. They’ve already done Happy Death Day, which is basically Groundhog Day, but Truth or Dare looks rather odd. I don’t know if it’s the way they change the people’s faces when they are “controlled” or what, but I don’t know. Truth or Dare stars Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sophia Ali, Aurora Perrineau, Morgan Lindholm and Sam Lerner.

 

Rampage

Based on the classic 1980s video game, Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) shares an unshakable bond with George, an intelligent silverback gorilla that’s been in his care since birth. When a rogue genetic experiment goes wrong, it causes George, a wolf and a reptile to grow to a monstrous size. As the mutated beasts embark on a path of destruction, Okoye teams up with discredited genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and the military to secure an antidote and prevent a global catastrophe. I mean come on, it’s giant animals fighting each other with The Rock. Rampage co-stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello, Marley Shelton, Jake Lacy, Jack Quaid, P.J. Byrne and Malin Akerman.

 

20th

Traffik

A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a bike gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. Traffik stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez, Laz Alonso, Dawn Olivieri, Luke Goss, Missi Pyle and William Fichtner.

 

I Feel Pretty

A woman (Amy Schumer) struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed? I’m not the biggest fan of Amy Schumer, I’d probably even say I’m not, but I kind of enjoyed Trainwreck and Snatched, but those movies looked at least okay and funny. This does not. I Feel Pretty co-stars Michelle Williams, Busy Phillips, Aidy Bryant, Rory Scovel, Tom Hopper, Emily Ratajkowski and Naomi Campbell.

 

Super Troopers 2

A sequel that was funded by crowd-sourcing; when a border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers are tasked with establishing a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area. I can’t honestly remember if I liked or enjoy the first movie – I haven’t seen it in a while – and the trailers haven’t really grabbed me in the way I think it should for a comedy sequel that fans have been dying to see. The original cast will return with Rob Lowe, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Tyler Labine also starring.

 

27th

Limited Release – Disobedience

Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, a woman returns to the community that shunned her for her attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Disobedience is lead by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. Marvel pulled the ultimate surprising move by moving Infinity War a week earlier than original intended, much to fans praise. This also makes this first Summer Movie Season where a Marvel film won’t open in the last few years. Either way, we finally get the ten-years-in-the-making film early and I’m okay with that.

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! Compared to last year, February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. So let’s get to it!

 

2nd

Winchester (CBS Films, Blacklab Entertainment)

Eccentric firearm heiress believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. I had some doubts about the movie at first – even with Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke attached – but seeing the first trailer really got me onboard. Then I did some background on the actual Winchester house, and well, that got me even more hooked. Plus, it’s Helen freaking Mirren in a horror movie .Winchester co-stars Sarah Snook, Tyler Coppin and Angus Sampson.

 

9th

Limited Release: La Boda de Valentina

Jason (Ryan Carnes) and Valentina (Marimar Vega) get engaged, Valentina is hesitant about introducing Jason to her family. However, things get even more complicated when Valentina’s ex, Angel (Omar Chaparro) comes into the picture and not only tries to win Valentina back, but also starts a little competition with Jason.

 

Peter Rabbit (Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, Animal Logic and Olive Bridge Entertainment)

An animated comedic take on the classic Beatrix Potter’s tale and character, the movie follows Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden), who tries to make Mr. McGregor’s (Domhnall Gleeson) life a living hell after he closes the gates to his vegetable garden and tries to kick them all out of the forest. I honesty have nothing for this. When I heard there was going to be a Peter Rabbit movie, I didn’t want it to be this.

 

The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and Malpaso Productions)

Directed by Clint Eastwood, and based on the true story and event that happens in 2015, three American soldiers stop a terrorist attack on a train bound to Paris. In an added bonus, Eastwood cast the real heroes of that day – Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone – to essentially reenact their heroic from that day. This is also the second real-life event turned into a movie for Eastwood, both of which only took a mere minutes – the other being Sully. Here, the movie will also focus on the younger years of the three heroes before the attack on the train. The 15:17 to Paris also stars Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Tony Hale, Thomas Lennon and Jaleel White.

 

Fifty Shades Freed (Universal Pictures)

The third and final installment of the Fifty Shades series, the movie sees Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) finally married, but both face threats to can ruin their new happy life. I…don’t really care for these movies. They’re not targeted toward me, and I haven’t watched any of them, which means, that I wouldn’t be watching this.

 

16th

Limited Release: Samson (Pure Flix Productions and Boomtown Films)

After losing the love of his life to a cruel Philistine prince, a young Hebrew (Taylor James) with supernatural strength defends his people, sacrificing everything to avenge his love, his people and his God. Samson also stars Billy Zane, Caitlin Leahy, Jackson Rathbone, Lindsay Wagner and Rutger Hauer.

 

Early Man (Lionsgate, Aardman Animations and StudioCanal)

Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne), along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City to save their home. Claymation is a toss-up, but Early Man looks like it could be a surprise hit, especially with the rest of the voice cast that includes Maisie Williams, Richard Ayoade and Timothy Spall.

 

Black Panther (Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures)

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed), Black Panther follows T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. Look, I’m not going to lie – I’m pumped for this. This is a long time coming too, and to finally see Black Panther getting his own movie, and looking this good? Come on! Black Panther co-stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

 

23rd

Every Day (Orion Pictures, MGM, Likely Story)

Based on the novel by David Levithan, a shy teenager (Angourie Rice) falls for someone who transforms into another person every day. I know this movie isn’t targeted for me, but the concept sounds kind of interesting, although this is tight week already with the movies I’m going to talk about in a bit. Every Day co-stars Colin Ford, Debby Ryan, Owen Teague, Justice Smith, Jacob Batalon and Maria Bello.

 

Game Night (Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Aggregate Films and Davis Entertainment)

A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery. I didn’t think too much about this, until I saw the trailer and I immediately was onboard. Game Night stars Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Kylie Bunbury and Kyle Chandler.

 

Annihilation (Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, DNA Films and Scott Rudin Productions)

Based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, and adapted by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), a biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. I’ve heard about the book for a while, and hearing all the great things about the book, and seeing the trailer to this, Annihilation jumped from my must watch list to my most anticipated movies of the year. Annihilation co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Benedict Wong and Oscar Isaac.

What are you looking forward to?

January Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in December so there is also that to look forward to.

 

You’ll notice that I will put the companies attached and responsible for releasing the film as well. Just trying something new to expand the page a bit and instead of posters, now you’ll be seeing trailers. I’ll try to update whenever new trailers come out.

 

 

5th

Insidious: The Last Key (Universal Pictures & Blumhouse Productions)

In the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise, Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home. The Insidious movies have always been pretty creepy in terms of visuals and the spirits the characters have to face. Shaye’s Elise is undoubtedly the best character in the franchise, so it makes sense that they would bring her back to be the face of the franchise. However, it kind of feels like – at least in the trailers – that they are trying to pass on the franchise to a new character in presumably Spencer Locke’s character.  Of course, we could be wrong, but The Last Key looks like another creepy installment to the franchise that I can’t wait to watch. Insidious: The Last Key also stars Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Caitlin Gerard, Tessa Ferrer, Josh Stewart and Kirk Acevedo.

 

12th

Expanded Release: The Post & Hostiles & Phantom Thread

 

Proud Mary (Sony Pictures & Screen Gems)

Taraji P. Henson plays Mary, a hitwoman working for an organized crime family in Boston. Her life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes awry. I didn’t know anything about this until I saw the trailer, and I was indifferent about it. While I’m always for actors getting out of their comfort zone – Henson isn’t really known action roles – I’m not completely sold on the movie yet. That’s not to say I don’t think it won’t be any good, or I’m not going to watch it, but it’s something I’m not rushing out to watch. Proud Mary also stars Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Billy Brown, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley and Danny Glover.

 

The Commuter (Lionsgate, StudioCanal & Ombra Films)

Reuniting director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson – having done Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night together – The Commuter follows a businessman is caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute. The movie does have another added layer in that this could be Neeson’s final action movie – he did back peddle on that a bit, but still. The movie does look pretty good, despite the very spotty CGI of Neeson jumping from one train cart to another in the trailers. Either way, it’s Neeson doing what he does best, so I’m going to be sitting in the theater watching it. The Commuter also stars Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill.

 

Paddington 2 (Warner Bros., StudioCanal, Heyday Films & Canal+)

Paddington was a surprise and smash hit back in 2014, so a sequel was going to happen. Now, the sequel follows Paddington (voiced once again by Ben Whishaw), who is happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community. Paddington picks up a series of odd jobs to by the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen, and the blame put on him. I haven’t seen the first Paddington even though I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. However, just watching the trailers, it seems like a good time. Paddington 2 stars Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Brendon Gleeson and Hugh Grant.

 

19th

Forever My Girl (Roadside Attractions & LD Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Heidi McLaughlin, after being gone for a decade a country star returns home to the love he left behind. Forever My Girl stars Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.

 

Den of Thieves (STX Films, Diamond Film Productions & G-Base)

Den of Thieves follows an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department hunting down the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the crew plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank. I didn’t really think anything about the movie until I saw the trailer, and I have to admit, this jumped to my watch list. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the gritty feel of it, but seeing Gerard Butler chew it up as a questionable lawman is probably worthwhile. Den of Thieves co-stars Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones and 50 Cent.

 

12 Strong (Warner Bros., Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Alcon Entertainment, & Black Label Media)

Based on the true story and novel by Doug Stanton, the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. The juxtaposition of the soldiers on horses going up against tanks is something that weirdly drew me in right away. The cast is also pretty damn great too. 12 Strong stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, Michael Shannon, Elsa Pataky, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, Rob Riggle and William Fichtner.

 

26th

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Twentieth Century Fox, Temple Hill Entertainment & Gotham Group)

The final installment of the Maze Runner adaptation, The Death Cure follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he embarks on a mission to finally take down WCKD. I was surprised by the first Maze Runner but the sequel left me a bit disappointed. This looks like the big explosive finale that was built up in the last movie, so my only hope would be that they make it pay off. Maze Runner: The Death Cure co-stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Walton Goggins and Patricia Clarkson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Happy Death Day’ Review

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, Jason Bayle, Laura Clifton and Rob Mello

Synopsis: A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Slasher movies are a dime a dozen in the horror genre, however, what use to be the dominant subgenre in film has pretty much kept itself to VOD or Red Box rentals. That’s not to say the subgenre isn’t great anymore, but it’s not as good as it was back in the day – probably. That being said, you got to give props to anyone who has the gull to do a modern day slasher nowadays and give it a twist. That’s what the folks over at Blumhouse did, giving Happy Death Day the Groundhog Day treatment, and despite my early thoughts on the movie, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, it does misstep on a lot of areas.

The movie follows Tree (Jessica Rothe) – short of Theresa – on her birthday. She wakes up, hungover, in a dorm room that belongs to Carter (Israel Broussard), and as she leaves she comes across certain things; her father calling her, a weird guy checking her out, an activist trying to get her to sign a petition, sprinklers going off on a couple, a car alarm going off, a pledge off, an admirer, dealing with her sorority sisters and meeting with her married professor. Along with a few other things, it all comes to a head when a masked killer kills her – however, when she dies she wakes up back in Carter’s room and relives the day. Tree must then try to put the pieces together, and find out who has been trying to kill her. Lucky for her, she has an unlimited amount of lives.

Happy Death Day was not a movie was I really looking forward to, but I kept my reservation to myself and took the movie in like I do for every movie. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, but that’s not to say the movie was all that great. Happy Death Day has a pretty good concept, and I applaud writer Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon for fully embracing it and not making the movie too cliché. The movie does unfortunately carry some tropes with it, but the concept and the movie not trying to take itself too seriously, does help it out just a tad.

Given the concept, Jessica Rothe is left to carry the movie on her shoulders, and for the most part she carries pretty damn well. Rothe’s Tree does make bad decisions like expected, but she does bunker down to try and figure out what exactly is going on. Tree also isn’t the most likeable person either. In fact, none of the characters, with the exception of Carter and a random girl sitting outside the sorority, are terrible people and not likeable at all. It’s to be expected, but it is off putting for a while.

Although, I’m not one to complain about a movie’s rating, Happy Death Day’s rating of PG-13 doesn’t do it any favors. Which is odd, considering you can get away with a lot in PG-13 movies nowadays, and this movie could have benefited more with a hard PG-13 rating. Given the concept, I thought there would be some elaborate or even at least one creative kill, but the movie shows them off-screen, and even when they are shown, they’re very bloodless – unless you count the blood on the masked killer’s knife. I know there’s a lot of debate amongst horror fans about PG-13 and R-rated horror movies, and while I don’t need every horror movie to be rated-R, Happy Death Day could have benefited by pushing the rating, at least for one kill.

Another con I would point out is even though the movie has a brisk one hour and thirty-eight minute runtime, Happy Death Day loses some steam before the final act. However, the final act does tighten everything up. Additionally, there is one particular subplot that involves Tree that seems rather important, and hints at connecting to the overall story, but it’s never really fleshed out and feels rather weird when it’s bought up and stops the movie completely. Landon has mentioned in interviews that this would be bought up in a potential sequel, but it is rather glaring when you sit down and think about it after watching the movie.

All in all, Happy Death Day is rather entertaining, and Jessica Rothe carries the movie on her shoulders. However, Happy Death Day also has glaring and unfortunate missteps that make the movie okay as opposed to be potentially great.

Happy Death Day

3 out of 5

October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

6th

Limited Release – The Florida Project

Sean Baker, who directed the first film to be entirely shot entirely on an iPhone in Tangerine, returns to direct The Florida Project. Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World. The film stars newcomer Brooklynn Prince, Caleb Landry Jones, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto and Willem Dafoe.

 

My Little Pony (Animation – Lionsgate/Hasbro Studios/Allspark Pictures)

When a dark force threatens ponyville and the Mane 6, they go on a journey to the end of Equestria to save their beloved home and they meet new friends and dangerous challenges along the way. I… I don’t know guys. The voice cast includes Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Michael Pena, Uzo Aduba, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Sia, Ashleigh Ball, Shannon Chan-Kent, Andrea Libman and Tara Strong.

 

The Mountain Between Us (Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Charles Martin, stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness. The film doesn’t look too bad, of course having two big names like Idris Elba and Kate Winslet leading your film for what looks like the majority of the film it’s got to be at least a little good right? The film also stars Dermot Mulroney and Beau Bridges.

 

Blade Runner 2049 (Sci-Fi – Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Alcon Entertainment, Thunderbird Films, 16:14 Entertainment, Torridon Films)

Set thirty years after the events of the first film, a new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD Blade Runner who has been missing for 30 years. The long-awaited sequel is finally coming out and boy does it look great! From the cinematography, the visual effects and the cast, Blade Runner 2049 could be one of the best films of the year. The film also stars Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Barkhad Abdi, Carla Juri, Lennie James and Robin Wright.

 

13th

Limited Release: Breathe

Directed by Andy Serkis, making his directorial debut, the inspiring true love story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) Cavendish, an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. The film has been getting a lot of love on the film festival circuit so keep an eye out of this film when it comes out. The film co-stars Diana Rigg, Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville.

 

Limited Release: Goodbye Christopher Robin

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by her son C.R. Milne. The film stars Margot Robbie, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nico Mirallegro, Alex Lawther and Kelly Macdonald.

 

The Foreigner (Action Thriller – STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers, thefyzz, SR Media)

Based off a novel called The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, a humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. I didn’t know this movie was even happening, but when I watched the trailer I honestly can’t wait. The film stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan and Michael McElhatton.

 

Happy Death Day (Horror Mystery Thriller – Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Digital Riot Media)

A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The Groundhog Day-esque slasher idea sounds cool, but it’s all really going to come down to the execution of the idea that makes this film either memorable or forgettable.  The film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.

 

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (Biography – Annapurna Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Topple Productions, Boxspring Entertainment, Opposite Field Pictures)

The true story of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the polyamorous relationship between his wife (Rebecca Hall) and mistress (Bella Heathcote), the creation of his beloved comic book character “Wonder Woman” and the controversy the comic generated in its earlier years. The film looks pretty interesting, and to be honest, I don’t know too much about Marston – especially this – so this has definitely peaked my interest. The film also co-stars Connie Britton, JJ Field, and Maggie Castle.

 

Marshall (Biography Drama – Open Road Films, Starlight Media, China Wit Media, Chestnut Ridge Productions)

The film is about a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases. It looks like Chadwick Boseman is the new king of biopics, already playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown and now Thurgood Marshall, in what looks to be a great film. Also, I like that they aren’t going with the Brown v Board of Education trail, and one that maybe not to many people know about. The film co-stars Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Keesha Sharp, Jussie Smollett, Sophia Bush, Jeffrey DeMunn and James Cromwell.

 

20th

Limited Release – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos – Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. The film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp and Alicia Silverstone.

 

Same Kind of Different as Me (Drama – Paramount Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Reserve Entertainment, Disruption Entertainment)

International art dealer Ron Hall must befriend a dangerous homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife, a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the journey of their lives. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, Dana Gourrier, Olivia Holt, and Jon Voight.

 

Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (Comedy – Lionsgate, The Tyler Perry Company)

Madea, Bam and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the boogeyman are unleashed. The film stars Tyler Perry (obviously), Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Brock O’Hurn, Yousef Erakat, Jc Caylen.

 

Only the Brave (Drama – Sony Pictures, Black Label Media, Di Bonaventura Picture)

Based on the elite crew of men who battled a wildfire in Prescott, Arizona in June 2013 that claimed the lives of 19 of their members. Going through two different names until landing on Only the Brave, the true story film looks pretty good, and I’m sure it’s only going to be easy to watch, but with a cast like this, it looks like we’re in for a great film in this busy week. The film stars Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Hardy, Andie MacDowell, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges

 

Geostorm (Sci-Fi Action – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Skydance Productions)

As a man heads into space to prevent climate-controlling satellites from creating a storm of epic proportions, his brother discovers a plot to assassinate the president. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, it looks absolutely ridiculous, but on the other, it looks absolutely ridiculous that it could be dumb fun. The film stars Gerard Butler, Ed Harris, Katheryn Winnick, Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturgess and Andy Garica.

 

The Snowman (Crime Drama – Universal Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Working Tile Films/Another Park Film)

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearances of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. The trailer makes this look like an uncomfortable crime thriller, but one that will be great to watch – as weird as that sounds.  The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, James D’Arcy, Val Kilmer and Toby Jones.

 

27th

All I See is You (Drama Thriller – Open Road Films, Wing and a Prayer Pictures)

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves. This movie has been moved around a few times, it was supposed to come out last month, but got pushed back to his month, so let’s see if that sticks. The movie stars Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, Wes Chatman, Ahna O’Reilly and Danny Huston.

 

Jigsaw (Horror – Lionsgate, Twisted Pictures, Serendipity Productions, A Bigger Boat)

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise as the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade. The film stars some unknowns for the most part with the biggest names being Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie and Tobin Bell (somehow).

 

Thank You for Your Service (Biography War Drama – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment)

Based off the book by David Finkel, a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq struggles to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. This looks really good. I wasn’t really all that excited for the movie when I first heard about it, but the trailer has really turned me around. The film stars Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Omar J. Dorsey, Beulah Koale, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Amy Schumer.

 

Suburbicon (Crime Mystery – Paramount Pictures, Silver Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Black Bear Pictures)

Directed by George Clooney and co-written by him and the Coen Brothers. A home invasion rattles a quiet family town. This looks absolutely fantastic! That’s it. The film has an impressive cast in Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler and Oscar Isaac.

 

What are you looking forward to?