Posts Tagged ‘film review’

Romantic comedies are everywhere these days and many aren’t worth the time of day. Mike and Dave intrigued me by the cast and the fact I sometimes enjoy films like this.

Let’s get the obvious out the way. The film isn’t going to win any awards. It’s not particularly Original, the jokes have been done thousands of times before and the script is both obvious and by the numbers. All of this though is not a reason to rule the film out.

The titular characters are party goers and cause mayhem wherever they go. Their family has all but ruled them out. They are due to attend their sister’s wedding in Hawaii and they are told they need to bring ‘classy’ dates with them. One thing leads to another and they end up getting 2 girls to come with them (unsuspecting that the girls are just as chaotic as them). Of course this all leads to mayhem and silliness.

Zac Efron and Adam Devine are fantastic and play off each other incredibly well. They are likeable and fun to watch. Without them i dont think the film would’ve worked as well. Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick are equally as good as their dates. They too feel like they’ve been friends for a long time and bounce off each other like skittles off a chalk board.

The jokes are sometimes/often crude but it’s that kind of film and it’s what I was expecting. They don’t always hit the high notes, but more hit then miss. Part of this is down to how well they are delivered by the cast. The supporting cast are strong but never overshadow the main group of 4.

Direction-wise it works. The pacing is great and the film flows at a good rate. It never outstays it’s welcome and just when a joke might begin to become stale we move on.

Sure it’s obvious and has been done in a similar way before, but you know What? I had a really fun time with the film. There really isn’t much more to say as it’s one of those films where you get what you expect. It’s worth checking out.

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Nowadays horror films seem to be the gateway into film making. I’m guessing it’s because it can be a cheaper genre to make a film within, as playing on a person’s fears often doesn’t need that much help.

Lights Out, based on the directors earlier film short is a perfect example of how clever use of atmosphere, a clever script and some good acting can for a smallish budget, create a film that stands out amongst the overcrowded genre.

The basic premise is a family are being ‘haunted’ by a malevolent force and the only way to stay safe is to stay in the light. There’s much more to the story though and watching it unfold is another one of the films strong points.

Unlike many horror films, Lights Out shows you the ‘monster’ very early on and also introduces the main plot device of ‘stay in the light’ at the same time. By doing so it gives the film much more time to focus on the characters and the ‘why’. It’s a clever use of pacing and one that really pays off. It’s not the first film to use light as a safety measure, but it is one of the best.

At times I was very much reminded of the 2003 film Darkness Falls (previously reviewed) as that has a very similar idea of ‘stay in the light and your safe’. The big difference here is that Lights Out is a good film. Whereas that film relied on jump scares, this film builds a great atmosphere in which you never feel safe. Every shadow, every bit of shade becomes a danger.

There are some very clever moments that play on preconceptions. This is especially true of some of the characters as they all feel like natural people and not the over the top caricatures we often see in films like this. The film also heads in some interesting directions which I didn’t expect which I was really happy with.

It’s rare for a film to work on pretty much all levels but Lights Out achieves it. I’m not sure if it’s because I went in with no expectations or not (although I don’t think it is) but this may be one of the most enjoyable and good horror films in recent years.

Highly recommended

First things first, this isn’t the same ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as many know from the classic fairy tale.

This film focuses on a girl called Lucy (Emily Browning) as she struggles to earn extra money while studying, by being a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (essentially she is drugged and knocked out and while asleep men are allowed to touch and do what they like with her, everything except sex that is.) It’s not quite as dodgy as it sounds and none of it is filmed in an erotic or pornographic sense. It is a tactic that is used to study the base character without the superficial things such as clothes and makeup.

At its heart it’s a study of one girl and how her ‘sleeping beauty’ life and her waking life merge until she no longer knows what is real. The film handles everything amazingly well and the acting especially from Browning is close to perfection. Bearing in mind the only thing I had seen her in previously and recognised her in was ‘Sucker Punch’, her acting in this was a massive step up.  She holds the film on her shoulders and does a phenomenal job. It is amazing how likeable her character is when you consider she is essentially a glorified escort. Not even that really as during the film she gets paid for sex on the side. But still she is compelling and her tale is great.

As a piece of art the film is a masterpiece. Every shot feels like it could be a painting, and every chord of music draws you in and evokes emotion. The film takes it’s time and never rushes anything. I think this is why it works so well. By the end of it you feel like you have had an experience and that is what a film should do.

All credit needs to go out to the team who made this small scale film, especially Browning and the director Julia Leigh (especially as it is her directorial and writing debut). The film, although having a very small budget feels very grand and thanks to the cinematography and script stands head an shoulders above a lot of films being made nowadays.   8/10

I’d wanted to see this film for quite some time due to my love of extreme Asian cinema such as ‘Visitor Q’ and ‘Tetsuo: the Iron Man’. I’m happy to say that it was worth the wait, well kind of.

How do you start to describe a film like this?

Well firstly I’ll say it’s not a film for the easily unnerved as the atmosphere created through clever use of music and visuals is pretty unsettling from the get go. It’s not as extreme or graphic in terms of its depictions of sex and violence as say ‘Visitor Q’ but it has a more eerie vibe about it all.  I guess you could say it’s a kind of sexual horror film. But it’s not that simple.

The film is pretty complex in its themes and ideas. The plot of the film is about a husband and wife who are being stalked by a twisted individual. But I’d argue the film is about the futility of life and the need for companionship. The husband and wife are both missing something from their lives and it is only when the third party intervenes in their lives that they start to openly address these issues. You could even argue that the film is about voyeurism and how everyone is being watched without even knowing it.

There is a lot of focus on the unity between nature and the industrial world we are all accustomed to. Not that the film is set in any specific time period. It’s kind of timeless and feels vaguely futuristic at times. In fact the whole film feels very dreamlike with its unusual camerawork and creepy score. Throughout the film the city is shrouded by constant rain which helps emphasise the characters depression. I must say that the cinematography is stunning throughout, especially during the outdoor sequences. It is this amazing camerawork that helps create a beautiful sadness to the whole film, making it much more than your usual semi erotic horror film.

As the runtime progresses so does the craziness of the onscreen antics. All of it culminates in one of the most confusing and messed up fights I’ve seen in a long time. Even when it is being crazy the film is still weirdly believable due to the slow way it draws the audience in. The story is compelling and constantly keeps you on edge, wondering what will happen next.

I think that the decision to release the film in black and white adds to its beauty.  It means you are not distracted by the colours of the world around the characters, while also helping merge the industrial with the natural.

I came away from the film thinking hard on what I truly thought of it and I’m still slightly mixed. It is definitely good but I’m not sure if I’d consider it anywhere near a classic. I’d say it’s well worth watching as it is a truly unique experience and one that I doubt I’ll forget. 7/10

An estranged couple’s take a break in the country to try and help save their relationship. Little do they know that they’re soon to have some unexpected guests….

Zombies are everywhere these days (not literally), they’re in books, games, board games, and most of all movies. It seems to be the craze for first time horror directors to try and break out with a hit undead movie. With so many made, it’s hard for many to stand out and be truly memorable. It doesn’t help that the benchmarks in zombie cinema (George Romero’s ‘Dead Trilogy’ being the landmark s) have set the bar ridiculously high. So high in fact that not even Romero has managed to capture the greatness that made his name.

This British production aims to have that special something to make itself stand out. Directed by first timer Dominic Brunt (from Britain’s very own soap opera ‘Emmerdale’ ) it shows a little promise at the start but that quickly fades.

I got excited about the film when I found it in a dvd store. The cover features an army of zombies and a man standing, shotgun in hand looking out onto an undead city. The reviews on the box stating ‘unforgettable… the most gut-wrenching modern zombie flick in years’ from Hollywood news, ‘Bloody Terrifying…’ from Starbust and ‘stunning cinematography’ from Little White Lies led me to believe what I was about to watch would truly be great. After watching the film I’m wondering if I saw the right film. What I saw was far from what was described or pictured.

From the outset the cinematography is very iffy. The camerawork goes from being passable (the scenic shots) the downright awful (zombie attacks). The lighting is appalling throughout with the camera being constantly overexposed. It just looks awful. I have no idea what the reviewer from ‘Little white Lies’ was watching but it can’t have been this. I’ve seen student films that look more polished. The music starts out ok with a sort of ’28 days later’ vibe but quickly transcends into a repetitive mess.

The first 20 minutes built up the tension pretty well and I was thinking that it may make up for the camerawork but alas no. It quickly spiralled down the hole of awfulness with a tired script, some awful acting and appalling action.

The film tries to be a ‘character driven piece’ instead of the usual everyone dying zombie film. This would work if there was a good script behind the acting. I felt nothing towards the main characters. I just wanted to see them die at the hands of the zombies during the ‘epic slaughterfest’ (as stated on the box). Even that failed to happen. in the whole film there are 6 zombies.  3 of which don’t appear until the final 2 minutes of the film. When the zombies are on screen they just feel like people running around after one another. They never feel like mindless bloodthirsty creatures, but more like people acting. I’ve never been one for the ‘running’ zombies but at least films like ’28 days later’, ‘Dawn of the Dead 2004’ or even the resident evil franchise, but at least these films handle the zombies well and actually make you fear for some of the characters (slightly less so for resident evil).

In fact the whole film feels like a student made version of the opening of ’28 Weeks later’ with none of the tension, acting skills, script or direction. In that film I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen. The music and the frantic pace push everything forward perfectly. This film does none of that (well it tries to). When the zombies do come the music gets faster and they employ the ‘shakey cam’ style. It just doesn’t work here. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve seen a more boring zombie attack in a film then the 2/3 in this film.  You know a film is bad when you start thinking about the practicality of a zombie and how their motor functions work etc…

I can happily say that this is easily one of the worst zombie films I’ve ever seen (possibly in the bottom 3) and easily one of the worst films I’ve seen in general. It has barley any redeeming factors and really is bottom of the barrel. I’m even more annoyed at the lies the box told me. There was no man with a shotgun facing a city in the snow (I forgot to mention that before but the man on the cover is standing in a little grassy patch in amongst a snowy wasteland.)

I do not recommend anyone see this film and I really hope that they change the dvd packaging in the future as not to trick viewers into picking up a film different from that on the box. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE GOOD REVIEWS!!!!!!! 2/10 (for an OK idea)

Sean Patrick Flanery stands up to a biker gang led by Lou Diamond Phillips. The biker gang don’t take kindly to this and vow revenge. They decide to get this revenge by attacking the wild west show town that Flanery acts in. Flanery must lead the actors in the stand against the bikers. Will he prevail?

I was really excited about this film when I found it cheap on dvd. I really like the two main actors and thought that they could bring charm to a low budget ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ style flick. Sadly, although they do their best, they don’t save this mediocre flick.

It may be because I was expecting more of an action film from what I read on the dvd box and I didn’t get that, or it may have been just because it wasn’t very good. We have a long build up with the odd confrontation between Flanery and Phillips but no proper action until the end. In the way it felt a little like the modern film ‘The Last Stand’ but just nowhere near as fun. This would be ok if the film knew exactly what it wanted to be but unfortunately it feels very much stuck in the middle between character piece and action flick.

The music is ok as is the cinematography. While neither is great they get the job done and make it easier to watch the slow meandering thriller where nothing really happens.

As you’ve probably guessed I didn’t really like the film. It’s not that it’s fundamentally bad, it’s just ‘MEH!’ It sits in that middle ground between being not good and not bad. It could have been a fun little action romp but what we get is a slow build up to a very anticlimactic ending.

I wouldn’t waste your time. 5/10

Set in 1989, the film tells the tale of a group of high school athletes who are accused of the gang rape of a mentally handicapped girl. When the town rallies to protect the athletes it is up to a detective and a prosecutor to discover what really happened.

After discovering the quality of the TV films distributed by ‘Odyssey True Films’ (Death of a Cheerleader, Deadly Whispers, In a Strangers Hand etc…) I decided to seek out this film as I really like the actor Eric Stoltz. I was not disappointed.

It is a deeply dark tale told without any kind of censoring of the facts (it’s based on a true story) . It deals with some very dark subject matter that I haven’t seen in a film in recent years, let alone a film made for television.  Although it features themes such as rape, corruption and the rights of the mentally handicapped, it never uses them for exploitation. Ferland handles each of the elements really well and handles them in an appropriate manner.

The pacing is brilliant as is the direction and the acting. Everyone plays their role amazingly well, especially Stoltz, Sheedy and Matarazzo. You can’t fault any of the actors on their performances which are all believable and fell very natural.

‘Odyssey films’ has yet to disappoint me with a bad film. What we have here is a very well made and highly thought provoking piece of film that I’d say is worth the time. 7/10

A group of individuals head to a cabin in the woods for ‘fear therapy’ unknowing of what evils may await them.

From the outset we are presented with a weird green filtered sequence with a child bumping into a group of people all wearing masks. We have no real explanation we’re just thrown straight into the weird cheapness that is to continue for the following 90 mins.

The film itself is kind of interesting but just feels a little like a more ‘fear’ orientated take on the film ‘Pin’ (which was far better than this). The wooden dummy (Morty) is actually quite creepy and is possibly the only redeeming feature of the picture. His movement and sound effects are really well implemented which helps him feel like an evil killer doll.

Plot wise it all feels very random as does the pacing. It is incredibly slow which gets to the stage of going nowhere. When stuff finally starts to happen we see the group travel to an old abandoned amusement park (for what reason I do not know…). While there one gets raped and a little bit of violence happens (definitely not enough to warrant the 18 age rating the dvd has in the UK). We then get some weird possession stuff and your usual running from Morty. It’s all so tiresome.

The cast are all pretty bad in their roles and no-one is particularly stand out. It really is bottom of the barrel and sometimes difficult to watch. One quite nice touch is the fact that the film features a random cameo from Wes Craven (yes the director of horror classics ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream’).  The acting is even below par when it comes to cheap 90’s horror films and isn’t helped by an atrocious script.

Direction and editing is average at best, with the majority being tiresome and boring. The music starts off being ok but as with everything in this film, quickly becomes repetitive and boring. I got the end and found myself asking a simple question;

‘WHAT THE HELL WAS IT ALL ABOUT??????????’

I found no answer to this question and I don’t intend on watching it again to try and find out.

There is nothing worthwhile here and it’s a film that should just drift to obscurity and never be heard of again. It’s not even ‘so bad it’s good’. 3/10

If Lola loves you, you’re sure to find out…..

I expected this to be your average teen slasher horror and was pleasantly surprised with a fairly refreshing take on a tired genre.

The basic set up is out of the way quite quickly with Xavier Samuel’s character Brent turning down Lola’s (Robin McLeavy) invitation to the school prom. She doesn’t take this too well and with the help of her father, kidnaps him and submits him to her own kind of torture.

It’s a pretty basic plot but has a few nice twists and turns hidden away. It feels a lot like the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ film just with a boy at the hands of the villain instead of a girl. The dinner table scene feels very reminiscent of the same sort of scene in Tobe Hooper’s horror classic. As the film progresses, so do the methods of torture, until we reach some very extreme situations of punishment.  The pacing is top notch, as is the script which helps keep the audience captivated until the credits role.

The acting on the whole is very good with an amazingly nasty turn from Robin McLeavy as the evil Lola.  By the end of the film I wanted her to die at every turn. Xavier Samuel is great as the male lead, although at times he puts on the same pout that Kristen Stewart has used throughout her career. John Brumpton is also great as Lola’s equally crazy father.

The film looks beautiful with some stand out cinematography. This really helps the film stand out from the crowd and I must say makes it one of the prettiest torture films I’ve ever seen.  The stunning visuals are helped by some truly great sound mixing that helps build and maintain a great atmosphere throughout.

At the end of the day, what we have here is a horror film which is different from the norm and a bit of fresh air. It has some great small touches such as Brent’s razor blade that is his means of escape in more ways than one. I would say that the film is very grim and never really steps out of this. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it sometimes feels a little over the top. The film is also kind of pointless in the fact that no-one really learns anything. This is helped by the fact the film is constantly interesting and is always throwing something new at the viewer.

I did really enjoy it and would definitely recommend it. Although I’m not sure if I’d really want to see it again. 7/10

One day kids turn on the local bully. But how far will they go to make sure he doesn’t bully them again?

I had been looking forward to seeing all of this film for quite some time after catching the beginning on television years ago. I finally got round to watching the ending and I must say I was slightly disappointed.

The whole film is very well acted by the young cast especially Brad Renfro and Rachel Miner who are what you’d call the main instigators of the piece. Nick Stahl is also great as the town bully who can go from being likeable to a hateful rapist at the click of your fingers. The supporting cast are all just as good and all help power the plot along.

The film looks really good, yet isn’t too glossy which is nice. It all feels very natural and in a way, quite documentary styley. This helps the film get across the fact that it is based on a true story (I’m not sure how closely it sticks to the facts though).

The film is very grim which is both one of its biggest saviours and its biggest downfall. The grimness is created through the fact that everything is played out very deadpan and nothing is hidden. Larry Clark the director doesn’t shy away from filming graphic sex and violence and he’s no different here. While there is a lot of sex, non of it feels ‘erotic’ of ‘sexy’, it is merely there because it happens in real-life. I would argue that he started off using it in this way but somewhere in his carrier decided he would use it extensively for exploitative reasons and to get his films in the public eye.

Some films use sex and violence to make a point. This uses it to shock the audience. There is no other reason for it but on the other hand, without it the film wouldn’t work at all. It relies on this shock to in turn keep the audience watching.  It also doesn’t help that by the end the characters are all unlikeable and unrelatable to.

Overall I’m happy to have seen it, but I’m not inclined to watch it ever again. 5/10