The Grudge (2020) Movie Review

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Writer: Nicolas Pesce (Screenplay) Takashi Shimizu (Original Screenplay)

Starring: John Cho, Andrea Riseborough, Zoe Fish, Lin Shaye, Tara Westwood, Demian Bichir

Plot: A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.

Tagline – It’ll never let you go

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Typical Jump Scare Horror

Story: The Grudge starts as a nurse Fiona Landers (Westwood) returns home from Tokyo after spending time in the haunted house to her family in America, only for something to have happened in that house, two years later recently widowed Detective Muldoon (Riseborough) starts a new role with partner Goodman (Bichir) which starts by investigating a dead body.

Muldoon starts to invest, learning Goodman won’t touch the case, which sees the story split into seeing how four different people interact with the cursed ghost which has been continues it hunt for more souls.

Thoughts on The Grudge

Characters – Detective Muldoon is putting her life back together when she stumbles into a dead body case, which does have a connection to a murder in one house a couple of years ago, once she starts seeing things in her life, she needs to start get to the bottom by mostly reading, leading to the film cutting to what happened, or being haunted. Goodman is the partner Muldoon who has been reluctant to visit the house even when investigating the murders, he can sense bad omens, though he isn’t much help when it comes to Muldoon’s investigation. Peter Spencer is a real-estate agent with his wife, while planning for their first child, he is trying to sell the house, when he gets caught up in the curse, he isn’t more than just a side character that doesn’t seem to go anywhere or interact with any of the other characters in the film. Faith Matheson is along with her husband moved into the house to be closer to her treatment, one of the people that Muldoon finds still in the house.

PerformancesAndrea Riseborough is the closest to a good performance you will get in this film, her character is left with bad decisions, which leaves you scratching your head at what happens in the film. Lin Shaye being a horror icon does get strong moments in the film, while the rest always just look out of place for the most part, because of the weak storytelling style.

StoryThe story here follows the curse from the ghost house coming to America and seeing how it spreads like a virus, curse multiple people through years and how one detective is going to try and get to the bottom of the cases, which all seem to be connected. Where this story does lose a lot of steam is by having four stories going on at once, we see how the curse first gets bought over, the real estate agent who is trying to sell the house, the couple looking for assistant suicide for a sick member of the house and the detective trying to put everything together, each time we learn more about one, we seem to get another branch, which adds more characters, with the whole point of the original curse to be focused on a horrific crime committed in the house, while this is more just, they turned evil and did something horrific, losing all the mystic behind the story. The time jumps don’t give us enough time to digest what we are seeing, with each story waiting for the big moment in the final act to show us what happens to the characters, as most of the stories get revealed when the detective learns more about the case. This just ends up feeling messy for the most part, even if it does the formulaic jump scares.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is a lot of just typical jump scare material, usually sucking the sound out of the scene, before hitting us with a loud noise and image of somebody doing the creepy Grudge sound, sadly no signs of the original creepy figure, which has all the fear about it. The mystery is more about the detective reading about previous cases, never looking to solve like we are used to seeing.

SettingsThe film tries to create the horrors in a new American, house it doesn’t work to the same levels as the original house, not using the environment to create enough of the horror.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are weak too because we are left to see just a heavy make up effects, which might look good, but they don’t have the same effect the original once did.

Scene of the Movie – The opening leaving.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many stories going on a t once, which don’t get enough time to be strong enough to stand alone.

Final Thoughts This is a weak addition to the Grudge franchise and as somebody has seen a lot of the side and extended films, it needs the money shot to get a reprieve, which is what the original remakes had.

Overall: Disappointing Horror.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – X – Extracurricular Activities (2019) Movie Review

This is under X because of how you say Extra, yes, I am clutching at straws.

Director: Jay Lowi

Writer: Bob Saenz (Screenplay)

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Angela Kinsey, Colin Ford, Darlene Vogel, Gary Hudson, Timothy Simons, Nicholas Cutro, Ellie Bamber

Plot: A mature, intelligent high school student has a side job arranging “accidental” deaths (no 2 alike) of fellow students’ parents. A cop detective notices this student being connected to all the kids of dead parents. Who wins the face-off?

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: By the Book

Story: Extracurricular Activities starts as we see the first deaths of the parent’s, the school comes together to support the students with Reagan Collins (Ford) an intelligent high school student being behind the death, soon after another parent dies and the parent of one of the other students is a detective Cliff Dawkins (Simons) starts to investigate the deaths which seem too close together.

As Reagan’s business continues to gather steam, the number of parents dying increases, forcing Cliff into a true battle of cat-n-mouse to prove that Reagan is behind everything, putting his own career on the line.

Thoughts on Extracurricular Activities

Characters – Reagan is the confident intelligent high school student that is always getting the best grades and he has a business on the side, one where he helps plan and kill fellow student’s parents, he makes them all look like accidents, until detective starts sniffing around deaths, he looks to stay in control of the situations always having a way out of Cliff stopping him. Mary Alice Walker is one of the cheerleaders at the high school, who starts to get involved with Reagan, she comes off like the girl next door. Cliff Dawkins is the detective that starts to believe something is going on with the deaths, he believes Reagan is behind them and wants to prove it, even if it will put his bag on the line. He is determined to get to the truth when nobody else is getting involved in the truth.

PerformancesColin Ford does make this calculated character interesting to watch through the film, while Ellie Bamber makes for a fun love interest, without needing to do too much. Timothy Simons gets most of the laughs with his detective work, which shows how far one detective would go for the truth.

StoryThe story here follows a high school student that has a double life killing fellow student’s parents and soon gets a detective on his trail, while always trying to get the truth, despite the number of bodies piling up. This is a story that is showing just how dark school life can get when it comes to seeing how the kids are willing to look to murder if they get upset by their parents. It plays out in a world where the police are complete idiots, not having a clue about how to solve a crime and does show how calculated people can be in life.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in this film comes from seeing how the detective is trying to get to the bottom of the crime, with little mystery around what is going on, because everything is put there in black and white.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us where the characters would operate in everyday life, with the high school life and party areas.

Scene of the Movie – The envelops.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We are meant to support the wrong character.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that does the basics well, it shows a twisted idea without being the most engaging story.

Overall: Simple and Effective.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – V – The Vanishing (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Writer: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Emma King, Gary Lewis, Connor Swindells, Ken Drury, Gary Kane

Plot: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.

Tagline – What’s left when the light goes out?

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Mystery

Story: The Vanishing starts as the two experienced lighthouse keepers Thomas (Mullan) and James (Butler) take rookie keeper Donald (Swindells) to Flannan Isles for their stint on the island. The three go through the normal actions until after a storm washes up a small boat, with a trunk, giving Donald a fight against the lone survivor.

When the men open the trunk they learn it is filled with gold, Donald and James want to keep the gold, while Thomas isn’t willing to risk his career, even though he comes up with a plan to get the gold back to the mainland.

Thoughts on The Vanishing

Characters – Thomas is the head lighthouse keeper, he has 25-years of experience and is willing to give the youngster a chance on his team, he has been through his own tragic events with his job being the only thing he has left, he will remain calm through all the events, knowing how the defuse the situations the men find themselves going through. James has been part of the team for years, he has always struggled for money back home, though he will keep his family safe with his job. Donald is the youngster member of the team, he isn’t used to the sea environment and finds himself facing challenges he shouldn’t do, when the events start happening. These characters are based on the real people, that nobody heard from again, this is hard to tell just how much would have been turned into more drama or how much would have been real.

PerformancesPeter Mullan is great in the leading role, he shows all the calm required for this role with everything that is going on around him. Gerard Butler gives one of his better serious roles, not playing into the action hero he has become more famous for. Connor Swindells is strong through the film too showing the loose cannon side of his character too.

StoryThe story here is based on a true event of three lighthouse keepers that disappeared, what we see is the story created around what happened to these men, as they discover a trunk of gold and must protect it from the people that claim it is theirs. By basing this on a true story, it does make it difficult because it is looking at a mystery about what did happen, even though nobody really knows what happened. The only thing we do know, is that the men disappeared during their stint on the island. The story here shows how they wanted to fight to keep a treasure washed up on the island and how the original owners came back in search of their own gold, dealing with the consequences of actions over anything else. There is nothing supernatural, it is all about human actions, reaction and emotions.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows how the three lighthouse keepers are left pondering what would happen to them after their actions and whether they would be able to keep the gold, a lot of character driven to what they are afraid off if they return, living with what they did. The mystery should be more front and centre, this is meant to be about what happened to these men on their time spent on the island, only we don’t focus on that or investigating what might have happened.

SettingsThe film does use the setting of a remote island of the coast of Scotland to create moments of tension as the idea that these men are dealing with a lot of emotional factors, means they have nowhere to go for help and between them, they aren’t always helping each other out.

Scene of the Movie – They are on the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really solving the mystery of what happened to these men in real life.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at characters who would be trapped on an island alone for a stretch of time, when it comes to treasure and consequences, only it doesn’t seem to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Overall: Interesting Character Study.

Greta (2018) Movie Review

Director: Neil Jordan

Writer: Ray Wright, Neil Jordan (Screenplay)

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Jane Perry, Colm Feore, Zawa Ashton, Thaddeus Daniels, Stephen Rea

Plot: A young woman befriends a lonely widow who’s harboring a dark and deadly agenda toward her.

Tagline – She’s been waiting for you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Never Lights Up

Story: Greta starts when a kind New York resident Frances McCullen (Moretz) who finds a handbag on the subway home, and being a nice person she returns it to a nice lonely French woman Greta (Huppert), who does start to offer her friendship, filling the void left after her own mother’s death.

As the two do become friends, Frances learns the terrible truth about Greta, that she has become over obsessive and will not leave her alone, leading to stalker behaviour which doesn’t get close to home for Frances.

Thoughts on Greta

Characters – Frances is a kind young woman living in New York city, trying to get started in life, she does a good deed, which sees her make a new friend in Greta, only to find herself being stalked by her, wanting to be a replacement mother in her life, she does everything she can to avoid the contact, seeing her life put on hold because of her new stalker. It is also clear that she is struggling with the loss of her mother, which has damaged her relationship with her father. Greta is the widowed lonely French woman who has been leaving her bag on public transport to get unsuspecting victims to come into her life, she does have problems, which haven’t been treated, which leads her to make the aggressive behaviour. Erica is the roommate and best friend of Frances, she does think she need to move away from Greta and will do anything to help her friend. Chris is the father of Frances who has started to move on with his life after the death of his wife.

PerformancesIsabelle Huppert in the leading role does have a menacing presence about her, only she doesn’t get to let everything out, the way it feels like the character is ready to. Chloe Grace Moretz is strong as a young woman just trying to hold her life together, while Maika Monroe gets the most laughs at times in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young lady that helps return a bag, only to see her life turned upside down by the owner who has been searching for her latest victim. This story does focus on a good deed leading to something terrible happening, highlighting how the law will favour a stalker over the victim and how people can just vanish in New York City overnight. Sadly, the pace of the film does leave little to the imagination as we seem to just jump between levels of threat, showing only friendly to never leaving the side, to the final act. This just seems to put moments together, leaving plenty of plot holes in how everything unfolds.

MysteryThe mystery side of this film comes from how far and why Greta is acting her way, it does get slowly revealed, only it just doesn’t get into a deeper idea.

SettingsThe film is set in New York which does show us how somebody could go missing in such an open city, with little people noticing anything that is going on.

Scene of the Movie – The next victim.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Following Erica is shot so badly.

Final Thoughts This is a simple mystery thriller which brings the stalker idea to the big city over the remote locations we know, only falling short in how everything unfolds.

Overall: Simple Mystery.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – H – High Life (2018) Movie Review

Director: Claire Denis

Writer: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Andre Benjamin, Mia Goth, Agata Buzek, Lars Eidinger, Claire Tran

Plot: A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.

Tagline – Oblivion awaits.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Sci-Fi That Offers More Questions Than Answers

Story: High Life starts as we follow lone astronaut Monte (Pattinson) who is on his mission with a baby Willow in tow, he completes the routine daily tasks to keep the space flying through deep space. Monte flashes back through his time on board the ship as we learn that he was one a selection of prisoners given this mission to cover their jail time, with Dr Dibs (Binoche) performing experiments on them.

As the truth gets reviled, we get to learn just why Monte is the last crew member and what happened to the previous members of the crew along with where Willow came from including who her mother really is.

Thoughts on High Life

Characters – Monte is alone on a spaceship with a baby, he is doing everything he can to keep his daughter alive, as we learn about his past on the ship and why he was selected. He was a prisoner that was given this chance to escape jail time and learnt how to survive amongst the crew. Dibs the scientist running the experiments of the crew, she is trying to prove or find a way to get humans to reproduce within space, she controls the crew for her every need though, which sees her needing to protect her experiment while going against the morals of her mission. Tcherny and Boyse are two of the other members of the crew that have been selected, they both have motivation for being there, while Boyse doesn’t settle on the levels of the other crew members.

PerformancesRobert Pattinson is the star of the show here, once again proving that he is in fact one of the best actors in the business today. Juliette Binoche shines too, which with this cast and their performances, is filled with wonderfully powerful performances.

StoryThe story here follows a lone astronaut that is trying to raise a baby in space on his one way mission, as he looks back at what happened to the rest of the crew over the years they were travelling through space conducting experiments took its toll on the crew. This is going to be a story that will easily divide the audience, it does show how Monte was able to adapt to his situation and learn how to survive, rather than trying to cut corners or act on his criminal ways like others do. The way this will divide the audience will come from the idea that this is just one mission of what could be many with each having different experiments, which is something we could have seen more from, understand the full ideas behind the missions. There is a lot of the story, which will be left for the audience to work out what has happened, or is happening without needing to spoon feed the answers.

Mystery/Sci-Fi The mystery side of the film is all about why Monte is alone with a baby and just what happened on the mission, which is a space mission which takes the characters through space.

SettingsThe film is set nearly entirely on the spaceship which does show the isolation of the mission, showing the crew must work together more than anything because they have nowhere else to go.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are mostly look towards the darkness of space, there is one black hole sequence that didn’t look as strong as it should have been.

Scene of the Movie – The second ship.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain characters did seem to just vanish.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting sci-fi mystery that will offer up plenty of questions that will let the audience make of what they want from the story being told.

Overall: Interesting Sci-Fi that will make you think.