Movie review – The Messengers (2007)

August 2, 2013 at 7:00 am

The Messengers 2007Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: The Solomon family move to a sunflower farm to try and repair their relationship but the farm isn’t as deserted as they expected.

Director: Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, John Corbett & Penelope Ann Miller

Review: So Stewart plays a grumpy, monosyllabic, troubled teen which must have proven a stretch given her varied career to date. There’s the expected issues with her parents, exacerbated by Stewart’s character having injured her younger brother while driving under the influence. Is it his head injuries which allow him to see ghosts in the new house? Or is there something more than flowers growing in the fields?

As expected, things start going bump in the night down on the farm and the addition of odd stranger Corbett only adds to the tension. However, only Stewart and her younger brother can see what’s happening while her parents focus on setting up a sunflower farm – because who doesn’t need more sunflowers? The ending is obvious from about a third of the way into the film and from then on it’s a race to see who passes out first – the audience or the cast from Stewart’s dull performance.

There’s nothing memorable or original about this movie and even the lovely combination of McDermott and Corbett couldn’t keep me interested.

Movie review: Seconds Apart (2011)

July 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

Seconds apart 2011Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: Twins Seth and Jonah share a dangerous ability, telepathy. Using their powers they can get people to do things which they later regret

Director: Antonio Negret

Starring: Edmund Entin, Gary Entin and Orlando Jones

Review: Detective Lampkin (Jones) is called in to investigate a series of deaths which seem to always have twins Seth (G Entin) and Jonah (E Entin) at the centre. The twins have a telepathic ability which can force people to do things against their will and causes a number of deaths. It seems as if the twins will continue on their evil path when Jonah meets ‘Eve’ and romance blossoms, although I have to question her movies: he’s a strange outsider while she’s a normal girl who could be part of the popular group. It’s not a normal relationship but then none of the relationships in this film could be deemed normal.

The twins are creepy throughout the movie and their actions go from squirm-worthy to downright evil very quickly. There’s no doubt from the beginning that these are two very disturbed young men with a certain ‘Damien from Omen’ quality about them – they believe it’s their right to act as they do because they have been given a ‘gift’. They act as if there are no consequences and even their teachers and parents are scared of them. For most of the movie you believe their powers to be equal but towards the middle of the film you see imbalances and begin to wonder if these boys could live apart from each other or who would be the first to demise if they were separated. Who holds the power in this relationship? It’s a question which continues to be asked right until the very last scene.

The storyline involving Lampkin seems forced and contrived and frankly the film could have down without dumping ‘issues’ on one of the characters. Contrived personal trauma does not a back story make! In fact it was one thing which annoyed me about the movie and slowed the pacing down as I drifted off when Jones was on screen. Jones is not a charismatic actor and the film would have worked without his story arc. In fact, I think it would have been a stronger film if they had eliminated his character entirely and focussed more on the relationship between the twins and Eve.

The direction is good and shows the different aspects of the twins lives and actions with a good, clean ending. As I’ve said, the acting can be a little uneven and the script is ropy in places but given that this is a good indie movie with an unusual pretence, go check it out!

Movie review – Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012)

July 5, 2013 at 7:00 am

Bad Kids Go To Hell 2012Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: The Breakfast Club meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacare

Director: Matthew Spradlin

Starring: Judd Nelson, Ben Browder, Amanda Alch, Augie Duke & Cameron Deane Stewart

Review: I didn’t have high hopes for this movie, based on an indie comic book, but I was quickly drawn in. There’s the stereotypical teens, from the jock, the oversexed ‘bad girl’, preppy virgin, misunderstood new boy who’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time and more.

If you’ve seen The Breakfast Club you’ll be familiar with the premise of students from different social groups being forced to spend time together in detention on Saturday morning but there’s a twist.

The acting is solid and while none of the characters are particularly likeable or sympathetic, you do find yourself cheering for them and I found them surprising me as their characters developed. There’s no one stand out performance but Jeffrey Schmidt as the doctor has some cracking lines.

There’s flashbacks to how to characters interacted and got detention but they don’t slow the story down at all and there’s a number of laughs to break the tension (the scene in the cafeteria is rather amusing). The plot is well-paced and you’ll keep guessing until the very end if it’s all the supernatural or one particularly evil student who’s killing everybody off. I strongly recommend you see this shamefully underrated movie.

And here’s a picture of the comic, one I’ll be hunting down!

Bad Kids Go To Hell comic

Movie review: My Bloody Valentine (2009)

June 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

My Bloody Valentine 2009Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: A mining community is rocked when a mine collapses and in order to save himself, one of the miners kills six other miners. He wakes up from a coma on Valentine’s Day and the town discovers that he now has a taste for murder as he goes on a killing spree, with one of the only survivors being Tom (Jensen Ackles) the son of the owner of the mine. Ten years after the killings Tom returns to town and reopens the mystery of who the murderer was. Who will survive the swing of the miners pickaxe as the rampage starts again?

Director: Patrick Lussier

Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King & Kerr Smith

Review: I’ll be honest, I only watched this movie because I have a crush on Jensen Ackles (yep, I’m a super Supernatural fan!) but I wasn’t disappointed. The premise of a masked serial killer stalking screaming teens has been done to death (excuse the pun) by a multitude of other and better movies but

However, I think the problem with the movie is that you don’t care for any of the characters. There’s more tell than show as the actions moves along quickly and I really don’t like being told how I’m supposed to feel about the characters or forced attempts at making us care with ham-fisted ‘she’s a mother, love her’ or bad guys suddenly attempting to be good because he’s realised how much he loves his wife. It’s handled poorly by the director but the actors try their best with an uneven script.

The other gripe I have with the movie is that it’s blatantly been made for 3D audiences, with pickaxes flying at the audience. I’m not a huge fan of 3D in movies like this: it doesn’t add anything to the story and when the action is determined by where the blood will spray, I think it loses a certain credibility (see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter where all the action is directed for 3D which makes much of it insensible on a 2D screen).

However, for a fan of Ackles, there’s plenty of that cheeky pout and the ending is well done, if not really a surprising outcome to a disappointing movie.

Movie review: Below (2002)

May 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

Below 2002Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: An American submarine stops to rescue survivors of a sunken ship but as soon as they are on board, strange happenings start to occur in this claustrophobic supernatural thriller.

Director: David Twohy

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Dexter Fletcher, Matthew Davis and Olivia Williams

Review: I normally avoid war movies but I was drawn to this one due to its supernatural twist and also Dexter Fletcher – who doesn’t love him? Plus, ghost stories set at sea? I’ve not seen or heard one I didn’t love.

Anyway the pretence is that an American submarine undertakes a routine rescue mission, saving Williams and Fletcher. There’s plenty of misgivings about having a woman on board the submarine, not helped by things going bump in the depths.

Due to the setting of the film, it’s very claustrophobic which helps to build tension but it’s also well acted with even the minor characters putting in a good performance. Williams plays her usual ‘too cool British character’ we’ve seen in other films and shows such as Dollhouse but she does bring a certain depth to her character. Fletcher is typical Fletcher and plays his character well, while Davis as the first officer struggling to follow the commands of a rapidly unravelling Greenwood is excellent. However, it is Greenwood who steals the show as the war-hardened captain with a big secret.

I’ve mentioned the claustrophobia caused by the set but the director makes best use of the space and you get a feel for what life in a submarine must be like. The creaks and groans as the sub descends also adds to the unease felt by the crew and the fact that you know there is no escape when things start to go wrong builds tension and you’ll find yourself wishing the crew weren’t so far under water when ghostly happenings start to occur.

This was no jump-out-of-your-chair horror but a well crafted and thoughtful supernatural thriller which kept me entertained from beginning to end. I think it’s a shame that it’s not been more widely viewed and for those of you with Netflix it’s a great Friday night movie.

Movie review – Case 39 (2009)

April 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

Case 39 2009Reviewed by: Me

Synopsis: An overworked social worker (Renee Zellweger) becomes too involved with the family of her latest case and works hard to save the young girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that there’s more to ‘Case 39’ than she realised.

Director: Christian Alvart

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper & Jodelle Ferland

Review: I was drawn to this movie because I love Zellweger and loved that she was moving away from her bubblegum characters and was intrigued with her starring in a horror movie – would Bridget Jones be able to take down the forces of hell?

I’m happy to report that everybody gives a solid performance with Zellweger carrying the movie well. Cooper plays the would-be love interest come psychiatrist who works closely with Zellweger and McShane manages to keep his American accept up in his role as the policeman. However special kudos has to go to Ferland in her role as Lilith, the daughter of abusive parents but who has her own secrets. Her transformation from saccharine-sweet school girl to psycho child is subtle and well done.

A well made horror with plenty of twists and turns. Don’t be put off by the thought of Bridget Jones taking down demons: she’s handled Mr Darcy and Mr Cleaver, she can take down a demon-spawn.

 

Diary Of An Unplanned Life or How Pop Culture Shaped My World

January 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

Life was so easy when I was a child. The plan was simple: go to school, go to uni, get a fabulous job and marry a wonderful (and extravagantly rich) man. My head was filled with Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton, I would take the world by storm, either as an amazing detective, fighting against the system, solving crime with unorthodox ways but always getting the perp, or I’d enter the world of the yuppie, drink chilled white wine in wine bars and make my subordinates tremble in their tasseled boat shoes as I flicked through my Filofax filled with famous names. It was a simple plan which could not fail. I mean, look at the Police Academy group. If they could do it, so could I.

However, along with my love of crime was a love of fantasy and science fiction. Being a fan of fantasy, I knew I was destined to become a princess, taking on the evil Goblin King as seen in ‘Labyrinth’ or the Emperor and saving the galaxy like Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars’. I’d take on the witches and fly over the rainbow in the beautiful red shoes. I’d just been switched at birth and would soon be returned to my people to rule over them while wearing stunning gowns.

However, just in case those didn’t pan out, I thought it important to get a good education, ticking the pre-destined boxes. I finished school with decent grades, completed my A Levels with minimum teenage angst thanks to shows such as ‘My So-Called Life’ I realised I had it fairly easy and decided that, under the influence of Indiana Jones and later Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, that I would submerge myself into the ancient world, studying archaeology. I’d be just like the delectable Lady Croft, breaking into tombs and finding the answers to the greatest mysteries of the world, beating back the baddies and all the while ensuring that not a hair was out of place. If that didn’t work out, well three movies and a TV series (I hadn’t started reading comics regularly then) told me I’d make a very good Lois Lane, plucky reporter who wouldn’t even let Superman get in her way of a good story.

As it happened, I was bitten by the archaeological bug, and encouraged by ‘Time Team’ I craved more knowledge and stayed to complete a masters degree, delving deeper into human anatomy and the effects our daily life takes on us. The plan then was to join the ever burgeoning ranks of ‘forensic anthropology’, Tess Gerritson and Patricia Cornwall giving me the skills needed to be a woman in a mans world.

That was the plan. It wasn’t going to be glamorous but I’d be changing the world. Ok, it was going to be in a slightly different way than I had envisioned as a child and I wouldn’t get to wear the power suits and spike heeled stilettos or even a tiara. I’d be solving mysteries, I’d be returning the deceased back into the arms of their loving families and bringing the murderers to justice. I wouldn’t be a princess, but then, did I really need a tiara?

So what happened? As always, the one thing that can upset the best laid plans: I met a boy. He was funny, he was attentive, he was kind. He was also the one. Now I didn’t realise this at the time. I mean, I was too busy making other plans, watching films and reading books. There were shoes to buy and a world to save, I couldn’t think about boys. I mean, Rose in Titanic didn’t allow boys to get in the way. However, it soon became apparent that we were meant to be together and when he popped the question, I knew I was marrying my best friend.

He also brought with him new books, new films and ideas which changed my plan. This was also the time I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I knew, no matter what was thrown at me, I could face it with my own version of the ‘Scooby Gang’. Alright, I wasn’t facing vampires or putting my life in danger on a nightly basis but like the characters portrayed, I was discovering myself, other peoples ‘hidden faces’ and dealing with life in general. It also stoked a fire in me to create stories involving mythical creatures, the supernatural and fantasy, something which has turned into a burning fire of passion and work with the Apocalypse Girls.

This was the one part of The Plan what I hadn’t counted on happening: Life. Lennon is quoted as having said ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ and that’s true. I’d been busy making plans and dreaming this idealised life based on movies and books. I also realised that a lot of my plans had been within the parameters agreed by society and imposed by family, friends and acquaintances. Looking back, would I have been happy with the corner office overlooking Central Park with a terrified assistant bringing me endless coffee like the Devils Wears Prada, or up to my knees in mud, digging up the remains of a gladiator like Time Team? I’m not sure and I’m not going to spend too long imagining it.

One thing I do know though is that my love of pop culture has influenced me, mostly in a positive manner (I hope) and certainly the various shows, movies and books I’ve read have equipped me to deal with whatever life decides to throw at me. If George Orwell’s 1984 encouraged me to challenge the system, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer taught me to do it with a snappy quip and styled hair. What Evita taught me about fashion, Grosse Pointe Blank taught me about making tough decisions and watching your back. Men In Black proved aliens could be here on earth and we wouldn’t know it, while Marrisa Tomei winning an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny proved the fact that stranger things than aliens are out there. And lets not forget my favourite, Mulan showing that women do not need to be forced into a role just because that’s what society expects of them but everyone needs to find their own path.

Our lives are all about the decisions made and paths we take and I occasionally wonder, in a ‘Sliding Door’s’ reality if there is a girl out there who did follow The Plan, and if so, is she as happy as I am?