Brahms: The Boy II (2020) Movie Review

Director: William Brent Bell

Writer: Stacey Menear (Screenplay)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay, Oliver Rice

Plot: After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms.

Tagline – He’s made a friend

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Too Much Baiting

Story: Brahms: The Boy II starts when Liza (Holmes) and her son Jude (Convery) suffer a burglary gone wrong, which sees Liza injured and suffering in her own way and Jude turned to a mute, communicating only with his notebook, to escape and try to rebuild their lives, Liza, Jude and Sean (Yeoman) escape to the country, to a guest house next to Heelshire Mansion.

Jude discovers Brahms the doll buried in the woodland area around the house and starts to use it to communicate, but the rules Brahms wants in place lead to Liza getting worried about the power it might be having over him and the promises it is making.

Thoughts on Brahms: The Boy II

Characters – Liza does suffer a head injury after the burglary gone wrong as she was protecting her son, she is suffering her own traumas, but is trying to stay strong for her son, even though her trauma is rubbing off on him. She does start to question Brahms, with everything that she does, being for Jude. Sean is the typical father in horror films, he will always be the child’s best mate, try to be the voice of reason and usually not around when anything scary is happening. Jude is the young boy that witnesses his mum get attacked, he used to like pranks and now he is left to communicate through a notebook, he finds Brahms and brings him back to the house and is getting overly attached to the doll. Joseph is the local groundskeeper that always appears when the story needs just a little bit more mystery or explanation thrown in.

PerformancesKatie Holmes does well in the leading role, it is more her dealing with the trauma that shines through over anything to do with the horror. Owain Yeoman had a difficult job because the character is so flat, it is hard to bring him to life. Christopher Convery is creepy at times through the film, which does add plenty to the film.

StoryThe story here follows a family looking to rebuild their life and solve the trauma they have been through with an extended stay in the country, only for the son Jude to find Brahms the doll and bring him back to the home to join the family, which only leads to creepy events around the house. Well, this story was a lot to digest, first I would praise the fact that we are dealing with the idea of trying to overcome a trauma, which would explain a couple of events in the film, including why the doll was used as a way of getting back on his feet and how Liza could be unsure of what she is seeing. Where the story gets confusing, is by knowing what happened in the first film and while it might well get explained, it does feel like we are watching a completely different Brahms than we saw first time out. A lot of this, does first change the tone, it is a light feeling babysitting gig, it is a personal story about overcoming something, with a much darker tone through the film, that does give us a couple of potential theories as to what will happen, I personally had three different ideas of how it would end and none of them happen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is the basic jump scares, we know we will get silence, loud noise as something scary happens, they all happen to Liza, because the mother will always be the target in this style of film, though the doll does give us a creepy vibe. The mystery is why is Brahms different this time around, while we do get the generic research and slowly unwinding story from supporting characters, we don’t get enough clues or hints to anything that happens here.

SettingsThe film is set in the guest house next to the first film’s house, while still on the same land, the hallways are less creepy and we do spend time at the original house, it just isn’t the primary setting.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used sparingly through the film, they seem weird when used around Brahms, though could be saved by something in the final act.

Scene of the Movie – Let go of the hat, that kid deserved it.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – What sort of parent would bring their asshole son to see a child who has been through a horrific trauma, when he has the sensitivity level of zero?

Final Thoughts This is a sequel that feels like they wanted to try and create a franchise, the performances are good enough, the scares are basic and we don’t spend enough time on the true trauma of the characters.

Overall: Strange Sequel.

By Day’s End (2020) Movie Review

Director: Michael Souder

Writer: Justin Calen-Chenn, Michael Souder (Screenplay)

Starring: Lyndsey Lantz, Andrea Nelson, Joshua keller Katz, Bill Oberst Jr, Maria Olsen, Devlin Wilder

Plot: Love is never an easy road. No one knows that better than Carly and Rina, whose relationship takes a turn for the worse after Carly decides to drop out of med school and Rina loses her job as an attorney. This forces them to move into a motel, a situation neither of them are happy with. To makes matters worse, Rina’s battles with depression have returned and Carly has decided to use what money she has left to buy a camera so she can pursue videography as a profession. Despite the cracks that are starting to show in their relationship, Carly and Rina pledge to repair what has been broken, no matter the circumstances, no matter the odds. But are they both as adamant as they say they are? Unfortunately, time is not on their side. When a pandemic disease ravaging the world appears in their city and starts turning people into crazed flesh eating machines, Carly and Rina decide to keep documenting the occurrence with their camera. Doing so, they are forced to band together like never before

Runtime: 1 Hour 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Plays Out Like An Opening Level of Video Game

Story: By Day’s End starts as Carly (Lantz) fresh after dropping out of medical school purchases her first camera to become a videographer while looking to get her feet back on the ground with her girlfriend Rina (Nelson) who has recently lost her job, leaving them living in the motel.

After Rina suffers another job rejection the day takes another turn for the worst when it turns out a pandemic has spread, one that brings the dead back to life, leaving the women trapped in their room, watching the world fall apart outside their door.

Thoughts on By Day’s End

Characters – Carly wants to become a videographer after spending years studying a med school, she is waiting for her chance to proposal to Rina, mostly hoping everything in life will work out, offering medical treatment where she sees fit, filming the day. Rina is trying to get back into job market after losing her job, she does wish Carly would get back to a more serious way of looking at life, while battling with her own demons. Wyatt is one of the residents that has a plan once the outbreak starts, he has been preparing for an incident for a while now, proving to be an excellent ally in surviving.

PerformancesLyndsey Lantz does have the most work to do, mostly because despite this being a found footage film and it is her character’s camera, she isn’t always behind it and more focused on the doing the right thing, showing us just how a dreamer can be living their life. Andrea Nelson does have one of the bleakest scenes early on, showing the best performance part of the film with it.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that have been going through hard times, that find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak, being trapped in the motel complex they are calling home. When it comes to zombie films it is hard to bring anything truly new to the genre, while this story on the zombie side of the film does feel like something we saw in both chapters of ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’ franchise of games, with a group of survivors needing to get out of a motel alive, while never being as intense as them, trying to show the slow outbreak. The relationship side of the film does show us how we just arrive in one day of their lives, instead of a big set up to place us there, which is nice to see, making this whole story feel like it could have happened within the day of the lives of the characters.

Horror/Romance The horror in this film comes from the idea that a zombie outbreak is happening, with the location being more secure than the open, only being shot in a mix of handheld found footage and security camera footage.

SettingsThe film is set in a motel area, be it the room, car park and corridors, it does offer up plenty of tight locations that facing a zombie would be difficult, which does keep the film even though set in the middle of a city, we don’t get a large number of zombies thrown into the mix.

Special EffectsThe effects are kept off camera with cuts to different angles to hide gore moments, relying on the blood splatter involved in the film.

Scene of the Movie – The plan to escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We have seen the basics of the surviving side before.

Final Thoughts This is a zombie outbreak movie that we have seen before, while keeping everything feeling more contained than normal.

Overall: Zombie Survival 101

Apparition (2019) Movie Review

Director: Waymon Boone

Writer: Mark S Allen, Howard Burd, Rob Rose (Screenplay)

Starring: Mena Suvari, Kevin Pollak, John Abrahams, Megan West, Grayson Russell, Annalisa Cochrane, Matthew Barnes, Jason Woods

Plot: A group of young people, guided by an app which connects living with the dead, find themselves at an abandoned castle. A place with a horrific history tied to each of them, for reasons they’ll soon discover.

Tagline – Reform School

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Badly Drawn Out

Story: Apparition starts as we see the horrific actions done by Warden White (Pollak) and his guards in a children’s correctional facility, move forward 20 years, the children of the warden and the guards, Taylor (West), Sam (Russell), Skyler (Cochrane), Derek (Barnes) and Nate (Woods) are celebrating a wedding, where Sam has created a new app which can communicate with the dead.

With the first journey taking the friends to find a lost necklace, a moment of happiness, only for the second journey taking Skylar back to the correctional castle, now abandoned, where it doesn’t take long before the group start splitting up and experiencing horror experiences that bring to life the truth about their past.

Thoughts on Apparition

Characters – Anna is the housekeeper in the castle, she is meant to keep her mouth shut to keep a home for her child, only when she sees what is going on her position is put under threat. Warden White is very strict, he runs the correctional home where anything can go, which sees just how far he will let his guards go, 20 years later his son is about to get married and his is proud of this big day. Skyler is on the eve of her wedding day which is becomes clear she isn’t that happy with the man she is marrying, her journey takes her to the castle to learn about what happened to her father. Sam is the one that created the app, the son of the warden often considered the outsider of the group.

PerformancesMena Suvari is the biggest name in the film, she does start strong only for not being that involved in the film, much like Kevin Pollak who could have been a lot more menacing in the film. The rest of the cast just don’t get a chance to evolve their characters, which is the biggest problem in this film.

StoryThe story follows five friends that start investigating an abandoned castle where their parents once worked only to learn the horrific truth about the history there. On paper this could have been an interesting story, it is based on the horrors that really happened, only for us to be thrown into a weak introduction to characters, who just spend about five minutes in a haunted location before it just being constant jump scares through noises, it might have an ending that makes sense, it is just getting there which is badly drawn out because we just don’t get enough focus on why the horrors happen, even though it can be explained.

HorrorThe horror in this film is mostly just the friends walking around having lots of ghosts jumping out at them, it isn’t the most inspired style for horror to happen.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the castle correctional location, with first seeing what the boys were put through and secondly seeing what happens to the friends who visit the abandoned.

Special EffectsThe effects are not strong either as they are used more for jumping out with creepy looking eyes.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The characters are just dull.

Final Thoughts This is a bad horror that doesn’t give the characters enough developments to justifying how everything unfolds leaving us shrugging our shoulders at anything that happens.

Overall: Poor Horror.

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Robert Eggers

Writer: Max Eggers, Robert Eggers (Screenplay)

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman

Plot: Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Tagline – There is enchantment in the light.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Atmospheric

Story: The Lighthouse starts as the two lighthouse keepers Thomas Wake (Dafoe) and rookie Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) arrive at their remote lighthouse, Thomas wants to work with the light, while making Ephraim do the housework and maintenance work.

The two men have no previous connection, which sees Ephraim wanting to play by the rulebook, while Thomas is will to let his experience guide the time together, seeing the two clash, as superstitions start to take control of what Ephraim is allowed to do. Add in the mystery of a creature Ephraim keeps seeing, he is trying to unlock the mystery of the island, one he believes Thomas isn’t letting him know about.

Thoughts on The Lighthouse

Characters – Thomas Wake is the experienced lighthouse keeper, he has been doing this for decades, sacrificed family to do so. He is strict, wanting to only deal with the light responsibilities taking advantage of his rookie partner, he doesn’t show him any respect unless he is drunk, while keeping a mystery about the island to himself. Ephraim Winslow is the rookie lighthouse keeper on his very first job, he has learnt the rulebook wanting to play along with it to make sure the job is done well, he finds himself becoming the housekeeper doing the chores around the island, keeping everything operating smoothly. He starts to question what is happening on the island, having visions of a mysterious creature, all while trying to prove himself to Thomas.

PerformancesWillem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are both truly outstanding in this film, in the last couple of years we have seen plenty of lighthouse based films, with these two giving the best performances in any of them by a long way.

StoryThe story here follows two men with different levels of experience working on an island lighthouse, where they soon start to see the strange event happening, leaving themselves to question their sanity. This is a story that does keep you wondering just what is going to happen next, while we can start in the non-horror side of the story, we see how the two must put up with each other, finding the only joint idea being, having too many drinks, the respect does start to grow. When we look at the horror side of the story we are left scratching our heads, trying to unlock the truth, where everything is more about the sanity of the human mind over anything else, showing just how mentally challenging the roles of lighthouse keepers really were.

HorrorThe horror comes from seeing just how the human mind could start to unfold, we might have a few creature related scares, but the human mind slowly going into insanity is where the real horrors lay.

SettingsThe film is set on the single remote island, with the lighthouse being the only building, it reflects the complete isolation the two characters are living through.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects, we do have strong ones when we need them, we don’t turn to a constant onslaught of needing them, but when an injury or unusual situation happens the characters react like anybody would.

Scene of the Movie – Drinking and dancing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much maritime talk.

Final Thoughts This is one of the most surreal horrors of the year, it will offer plenty of questions with performances that are truly outstanding.

Overall: Surreal.

The Turning (2020) Movie Review

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Writer: Carey W Hayes, Chad Hayes (Screenplay) Henry James (Novel)

Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Barbara Marten, Joely Richardson, Niall Greig Fulton, Denna Thomsen

Plot: A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents’ deaths. A modern take on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.”

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Basic Horror

Story: The Turning starts when tutor Kate Mandell (Davis) gets a job away from the classroom, to teach Flora (Prince) an orphaned little girl who has been living with her housekeeper Mrs Grose (Marten) in the mansion. While Kate it happy with this new opportunity, this job doesn’t seem as easy once Flora’s older brother Miles (Wolfhard) is expelled from boarding school.

After Kate starts experiencing strange events, nightmares and visions around the house, she starts trying to learn more about the past of the house and with Miles not making her time here easy, she must figure out the truth before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Turning

Characters – Kate is a teacher who is given a chance for this tutor role, a role which would mean only dealing with one kid instead of a classroom, she sees her own life in helping, with her father walking out on her and her mother dealing with her own mental health problems and tries to approach this role as something fresh. She does connect with Flora, but become friends with Miles proves to be more difficult and with her not sleeping she is torn between trying to help him or just leaving. Miles has been expelled from boarding school for assaulting another student, he has become friends with one of the housekeepers who died too, he doesn’t want to become friends with Kate and is happy to play games against her. Flora is the youngest member of the family, she witnessed her parent’s death, which has struck fear into leaving the home, she is just like any child of that age who wants to have fun, only she doesn’t have any friends in her life. Mrs Grose is the housekeeper and has been for generations with planning the daily meals and keeping the place clean.

PerformancesMackenzie Davis in the leading role does well dealing with the horror effects in the film, while the two young stars, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince don’t put a foot wrong in their roles.

StoryThe story here follows a tutor that gets a new job in a mansion and while here she learns the house might well be haunted and wants to get to the bottom of this before it is too late. The story is one of the biggest talking points in this film, while it does start off routine, it ends up trying to become smarter than it needs to, only contradicting itself by the end. It is a shame because the basic haunting ideas all work very well, in fact I thought I was watching any of ‘The Haunting’, ‘Awakening’ and films along that line, which slowly builds, has a ghost investigation side to it, only for it is have a spanner in the final works which will leave you scratching your head, but is far from the ‘Non-ending’ people have spoken about.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the haunted house, every scene does give us a proper jump scare, rather than just a false one, though you would be left wondering why she didn’t just leave straight away. The mystery is what did happen, which is more disappointing than anything else, because we only learn things that we get told, rather than Kate learning about anything herself.

SettingsThe mansion setting is beautiful, it shows how you would have creepy noises around, the long dark corridors and massive gardens, which for some reason sees the time of day change when running through it.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are an interesting choice, with the ghostly figures fading in and out so eerily it does add something to the film.

Scene of the Movie – The first reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get some interesting camera angles, which seem to be here for no apparent reason.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does the basic horror moments well, even if certain moments might come off overly complicated with how it ends.

Overall: Simple Horror, Complicated Ending.