Hereditary (2018)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

 

Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.


Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Take Time to Analysis

 

Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.

After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.

 

Thoughts on Hereditary

 

Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.

PerformancesWe have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.

StoryThe story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.

SettingsMost of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one scene that I could help but pick up on the CGI being used and it annoyed me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.

 

Overall: One to think hard about.

Rating

 

 

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Wheelman (2017)

Director: Jeremy Rush

Writer: Jeremy Rush (Screenplay)

Starring: Frank Grillo, Caitlin Carmichael, Garret Dillahunt, Wendy Moniz, Shea Whigman

 

Plot: A getaway driver for a bank robbery realizes he has been double crossed and races to find out who betrayed him.


Tagline – Think Fast. Drive Faster.

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Real-Time Action Film

 

Story: Wheelman starts when the latest job for the man only known as Wheelman (Grillo), he gets to and from the robberies and is one of the best in the business. When the job is being done, Wheelman gets a phone call warning him that the crew will kill him after the job, forcing him to make the decision on whether to leave the crew or not.

Leaving the crew Wheelman is stuck in the middle of trying to figure out who he should trust, who to give the money to and how to stay alive this night.

 

Thoughts on Wheelman

 

Characters – Wheelman is our central character, he is every scene, we know he is an ex-con trying to keep some custody for his daughter, he is on his latest job, which doesn’t go as planned, leaving him needing to figure out what he has gotten himself into. Most of the characters come through phone calls, one being his connection, another being his daughter and two being either side of the arguments.

PerformancesFrank Grillo in the leading role carries the film, if he gave us a bad performance we would be seeing a very different movie, he feels like he could be a lead in any action crime film. the rest of the cast are mostly on the phone with the odd scene, so it is hard to judge their work.

StoryThe story is simple, a driver finds himself in the middle of a mob war when he is involved in a bank robbery, he must use his driving skills to keep ahead of the game as he looks to figure out who is the side to trust. This does keep us guessing along the way which does keep us invested in where things will go.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action is good car chases, we watch them unfold from the lead car which we stay in through the whole film, the shows us where the crime has taken place and the mystery surrounding who to trust.

SettingsThe film is set from with the car around the city, most views are car views of the city which is nice, we see what the driver sees.


Scene of the Movie –
Losing the tail.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It can feel like the same after seeing the first chase.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action film to watch if you have the time, it won’t challenge you much, but will keep you entertained throughout.

 

Overall: Action film fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Red Sparrow (2018)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writer: Justin Haythe (Screenplay) Jason Matthews (Novel)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciaran Hinds, Joely Richardson, Bill Camp, Jeremy Irons

 

Plot: Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.


Tagline –  I Know Your Secrets.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Espionage Movie

 

Story: Red Sparrow starts when CIA agent Nate Nash (Edgerton) blows his cover in Russia just as brilliant ballerina Dominika (Lawrence) breaks her leg during a performance, 3 months later her Uncle Vanya (Schoenaerts) offers to help with the new financial crisis her family would be facing, by bringing her into the Sparrow school.

The Sparrow program teaches the subjects to use their bodies to seduce the enemies of the Russia as Nate is forced back into the field as he is the only contact to a source within Russia. Dominika’s first assignment is to track down and seduce Nate bring stopping him from getting the security information he is after in Hungry, the cat-n-mouse chase is now on.

 

Thoughts on Red Sparrow

 

Characters – Dominika was once a brilliant ballerina, destine to be one of the top stars of the dancing world, after an accident her priorities change as she is desperately trying to keep the roof over her sick mother’s head. She is recruited to become a Sparrow, an agent that seduces the enemy in hopes of getting secrets, she isn’t like the other sparrows though, she has a way about getting the job done. Nate Nash is a CIA agent undercover in Russia, he does blow his cover landing him back home, but when his source will only talk to him he enters the field again, he uses his skills to get the information and stay ahead of Dominika. Vanya is the Uncle of Dominika, he recruits her with his government position believing that her family connection will help get results.

PerformancesJennifer Lawrence is good even if her accent comes in and out way too often for a consistent level required in the film. Joel Edgerton is good throughout, we can always count on his to give us strong performances throughout any film though. Matthias Schoenaerts is the best performer in the film in the supporting role and to say how many big names we have in the supporting roles we get to see some of the best actors in the industry here.

StoryThe story takes us into the espionage style movie where we follow a reluctant young Russian woman being forced into working for the Russian government and an American CIA agent looking to finish a case he should have been removed from. This does fall into the cat-n-mouse style story which will try to keep you guessing along the way and shows how both sides of the intelligence war are operating, leaving you to figure out who is the mole for the Americans. It should have higher levels of suspense for the subject matter, but just doesn’t suck you into the film on the levels you are expecting.

Mystery/ThrillerThe film uses the mystery side of the story to keep us guessing to who the contact in Russia is, what are the secrets that are being released and which side will get the upper hand, the Russians or the Americans. The film doesn’t feel like the highest tension level that it should though.

SettingsThe film does have some beautiful shots as we learn where the film is being set, we do move around Europe for the film though, which takes away moments of suspense we could receive.


Scene of the Movie –
The weapon of choice for the assassin.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It has slow pacing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced spy thriller, it does try to keep us guessing throughout only to end up failing to give us any suspense or use any of the sexual skills we are forced to watch the training side of things.

 

Overall: Thriller that just doesn’t hit the suspense levels required.

Rating

 

 

Hangman (2017)

Director: Johnny Martin

Writer: Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger (Screenplay)

Starring: Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow, Joe Anderson, Sarah Shahi, Sloane Warren

 

Plot: A homicide detective teams up with a criminal profiler to catch a serial killer whose crimes are inspired by the children’s game Hangman.


Tagline – The killing game.

Runtime: 1 hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Hangman starts as FBI Profiler Will Ruiney (Urban) is given the short straw of having to guide a reporter Christi Davies (Snow) around his job just as the latest murder happens, joined by retired homicide detective Ray Archer (Pacino) as the bodies start piling up and now they must stop a serial killer.

When the three learn that the serial killer is playing a game from the childhood game of Hangman, they realize how long they have between murders as they look to figure out just what the motive behind the game is.

 

Thoughts on Hangman

 

Characters – Ray Archer is the retired homicide detective that spends his time doing crosswords while supporting his partner through the murder of his wife, he still has the tricks to go against the criminals trying to be the friend Will needs through the latest case. Det Will Ruiney is a profiler that is battling with the murder of his wife, he gets given a reporter to show around, but when this case becomes personal he will not stop until he gets his hands on the serial killer. Christi Davies is the reporter that gets assigned to shadow Will giving her an insight to how the job rolls, this does open the door to her being a help when it comes to different parts of the crime. The Hangman is the serial killer that is playing the games against the cops, he seems to be able to stay one step ahead of them and can predict their next moves.

PerformancesAl Pacino is one of the greatest actors of all time, so to see him in any film in the crime world is a pleasure, this role he is good, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can, but does give us a good performance. Karl Urban is strong in his role we get to see his desperate side through the film. Brittany Snow does well with her role even if her character can feel out of place in certain scenes.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives that are tracking a serial killer that is forcing them into a game of Hangman. That is the core of the story which is fine, we establish the idea early and run with it, we have twists along the way to keep us guessing, but the putting the pieces together doesn’t get to happen for the audience, everything we learn is what the detectives learns and you won’t be able to get the outcome by guessing. This does add and take away from the film because it was good to see the killer stay ahead of them and us, but sometime the audience does like to put the pieces together themselves.

Crime/MysteryThe crime is like clockwork and does show what the killer is planning with his kills as the game is left there for them to guess, which adds into the mystery as who is this guy remains the biggest question.

SettingsThe film takes place in one city where the crime does start to make the locals panic about what is happening, it shows how a crimewave can bring a town to panic, even if we don’t see it unfold that way.


Scene of the Movie –
Trainline.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That final shot.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good crime mystery thriller that keeps us guessing to the motivation and identity of the serial killer, which is all we ask in these films.

 

Overall: Tense thriller that keeps us guessing.

Rating

 

 

Jessica Alba Weekend – The Eye (2008)

Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez (Screenplay) Yuet-Jan Hui, Oxide Chun Pang, Danny Pang (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija, Fernanda Romero, Rachel Ticotin, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: A woman receives an eye transplant that allows her to see into the supernatural world.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Bad as I Remember

 

Story: The Eye starts as we meet blind violinist Sydney Wells (Alba) who is about to get a cornea transplant giving her sight back for the first time since she was five. With the operation being a success, Sydney along with her sister Helen (Posey) must work together as the change takes effect with the vision taking time to return.

Sydney now must learn to see once again but with horrific visions make her start to question herself, she has a DR Paul Faulkner (Nivola) who comes along to help her with these new experiences but he can only help with the reality of seeing again, not the supernatural side of things.

As the nightmares and visions become more realistic Sydney finds herself walking the thin line between paranoia and reality as she finds herself investigating these visions to learn the truth about the eyes she has been inherited.

 

Thoughts on The Eye

 

Characters/PerformanceSydney is given the chance to see once again but dealing with the new eyes makes her question everything in her day as she is given the chance to witness the living being taken by the reaper. I have a lot of questions about this character because we never learn her job which must have been limited because of her blindness, there is an origin to why she is blind to which we don’t get to see either and I feel most of the development of this character is very poor. Dr Faulkner is an average forgettable doctor who doesn’t even fill the romantic love interest and the sister well why is she even in this movie?

The performances are fine Jessica Alba does well without shining but the rest of the cast just doesn’t seem to fit in the film enough.

StoryThe idea that when you get a transplant your body could change has been proven so why not mix this up into a horror film, well the Chinese thought this would be a good story too. This is the remake of that story, so we know the story is very similar and interesting to see unfold because this film isn’t about a big body count like other horrors, it is the ghost mystery which is something I do always have a soft spot for and does keep you guessing along the way.

Horror/MysteryThe horror side of this movie is nearly all jump scares as the film doesn’t reach the true levels of the original, the mystery side of things is what keeps us going through to see where it all ends up going.

SettingsThe settings just don’t work for this film, you can’t understand how Sydney is in the location she lives in without learning about her job.

Special EffectsHere is an iffy part of the film, the special effects which you can see being added with the CGI.

Final ThoughtsWhile I do think the original is scarier, this is a simple to follow and easy horror to watch for all that would be watching.

 

Overall: Remake which works but doesn’t reach the same levels.

Rating