The Snowman (2017)

Director: Tomas Afredson

Writer: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Jo Nesbo (Novel)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J.K Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jamie Clayton, Toby Jones

 

Plot: Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.


Tagline – Soon the first snow will come, and then he will kill again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Twisty Mystery Thriller

 

Story: The Snowman starts as we meet alcoholic detective Harry Hole (Fassbender) a once great detective that is lacking the motivation because of the lack of murders and his break up with his long-term girlfriend Rakel (Gainsbourg). He gets a new member of his team Katrine (Ferguson) who has embraced the latest technology in police work and the two start an investigation into a missing woman.

The two have very different backgrounds and the story does jump back to a previous serious of crimes that were being investigated in a different part of Norway, but as the women continue to go missing we are thrown a list of different suspects and mixing this with the personal backgrounds of the two characters we wait to see who the killer is.

 

Thoughts on The Snowman

 

Characters – Harry Hole was once one of the best detectives in Oslo, his cases have been studied be the candidates in the academy, but he has fallen on bad times with a drinking problem and a relationship ending. When the case does come up he is still the first man selected to lead the investigation, this is where we get to see his true skills. Katrine is a rookie that transferred to the department, she uses the technology to make the work easier but slowly we learn about her past and her reasons for being transferred to this department. Rakel is the ex-girlfriend of Harry who they still remain close due to Harry building a relationship with her son. Arve Stop is a political figure running the campaign to get Oslo the Winter World Cup, he does become one of the many suspects. We do meet at least a total of 6 potential suspects which could all have motive for the crime which is nice, but this also means we don’t focus enough on the mind games between the killer and Hole.

PerformancesFassbender is great in the leading role, giving us what we would expect from him without reaching his best of the best level of ability. Rebecca Ferguson is good too, she doesn’t steal the spotlight like she did in Rogue Nation but shows she does have more to her in ability wise. The rest of the cast do well with what they have to work with, even if they don’t get enough screen time to make the impact they could.

StoryThe trailers made this out to be a true mind games based serial killer versus cop movie, this is in fact a lie, we have the slow processes of trying to solve who could be behind this with plenty of suspects along the way. The tease with the note does feel confusing though because it sets up the mind games but doesn’t seem to follow through on them. We do have a lot of side stories going on including Harry’s relationship with Rakel and her son, Katrine’s past and just who is Arve Stop, which doesn’t help us focus on what should be the biggest factor the killer.

Crime/Horror/MysteryThe crimes do look horrific when we see the full effects of what the killer is doing and his weapon of choice is fresh and terrifying at that. The mystery does keep us guessing through the film but the lack of final punch takes away the horror for me.

SettingsThe settings make this film look beautiful, we have stunning shots of the Norwegian snow cover countryside but once we are in the big cities it all looks the same.


Scene of the Movie –
First learning of the killer weapon.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was confusing to figure out if the characters were Norwegian or what.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good crime thriller, it does keep us guessing but it does get confusing trying to balance too many side stories, unlike Wind River which deals with the problems head on.

 

Overall: Good but not great snow flake.

Rating

 

 

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Horsemen (2009)

Director: Jonas Akerund

Writer: Dave Callaham (Screenplay)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Lo Taylor Pucci, Clifton Collins Jr, Barry Shabaka Henley, Patrick Fugit

 

Plot: A recently widowed detective still grieving over his wife’s death discovers a shocking connection between a serial killing spree and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Horsemen starts as Detective Aidan Breslin (Quaid) a widower raising his two children Alex (Pucci) and Sean (James), but his quiet life gets thrown wide open when a dish of teeth is found on an ice-covered pond and a woman tortured to death left hanging.

When the bodies continue to be discovered Aidan learns that there is a connection to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, making this or these serial killers a major threat to the city. When one of the killers makes, themselves know Aidan must find the rest of the killers before too many people become their victims.

 

Thoughts on Horsemen

 

Characters/PerformanceDetective Aidan Breslin is your 101 detective, he is grieve his lost loved one and not being there as a father, but he is a brilliant detective. Kristen starts off being one of the victim’s family but soon we learn her true part in everything. Alex is the eldest son of Aidan who has taken the responsibility within the house while still dealing with his own grief of losing his mother.

Performance wise, Dennis Quaid is always a solid lead actor and in this film he goes well throughout the story. Ziyi Zhang does well in one of her first English movies with Lou Taylor Pucci also doing well with his final third of the film being the highlight.

StoryThe story is a dark crime thriller which involved tracking down a serial killer that full believes in their cause. We have seen this style of film before and playing into the religious side of thing isn’t the most original either, but it is all a good watch and has plenty of twists along the way.

Mystery/ThrillerThis film does keep you guessing to just what will happen next and this gets a brilliant payoff in the final act, this does also keep us on edge with some horrific looking kills.

SettingsThe town is fine but doesn’t get used to the full level other than the shock of it happening in the town.

Special EffectsMostly all practical effects we get great effects to show just how methodical the killers are.

Final ThoughtsI do like a good crime serial killer hunting film and this does everything I want without being on the very best level, it kept me guessing until the final moments.

 

Overall: Good little thriller most people missed.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Black Death (2010)

Director: Christopher Smith

Writer: Dario Poloni (Screenplay)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Carice Van Houten, John Lynch, Tim McInnerny, Andy Nyman, Kimberley Nixon

 

Plot: Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is given the task of learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Medieval Horror

 

Story: Black Death starts with the plague sweeping across England, a young monk Osmund (Redmayne) is starting to question his own faith when the chance to join a group of soldiers led by Ulrich (Bean) who are requesting a man of faith on their latest mission. Ulrich and his men of colourful characters, that include a torturer, a family man and a man who would be happy to cut someone in half.

The mission is to search for a small group of people who don’t have the Black Death but are meant to be using the dark arts and sacrifice to keep them safe. As the journey continues the group learn that the plague isn’t the only thing that could kill them.

 

Thoughts on Black Death

 

Characters/PerformanceUlrich is a leader of soldiers who fight against the unholy for the bishop’s cause, he takes his work seriously and will kill anyone who crosses him or his men. Osmund is a young monk who has given his heart to a woman who gets stuck between his own faith and the woman he loves. Langiva is the leader of the small village who has the power to bring the dead back to life using her own ways to tempt the men away from their God. The rest of the soldier all fit the generic requirements with the villagers also fitting in them too.

Performance wise, Sean Bean is the star performer here showing he can carry any film, Redmayne is good but you can see how he was still learning with this performance, while Carice van Houten does make for a good seductive villain.

StoryLooking at the story, we get elements of how the world feared the Black Death and would turn to God or lose faith in him all together turning to another form of belief. That is the core part of this film as the soldiers refuses to give up on what they have come to believe to stop what is meant to be a wave of terror surrounding a small village. This does everything it needs to but does have moments that could come off original but others that you could see things coming.

Action/Horror/MysteryThere is small bursts of action mostly sword fighting, the horror comes from what could be happening and any torture scenes which are all off camera torture, the mystery does keep us going as we are left to wonder what is the truth.

SettingsEach setting makes us feel like we are in the current time this movie is set which is during the Black Death which is all we require and isn’t over used for any added horror.

Special EffectsThe special effects are mostly practical ones when it comes to the deaths, torture and potential witchcraft going on through the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good medieval horror film, it does look at the idea of religion being good or bad as well as how deeply away from it you could go. It is also good to see a young Eddie Redmayne in one of the leading roles.

 

Overall: This is a film well worth checking out even if it isn’t the absolute best in the genre.

Rating

 

 

The Orphanage (2007)

orphanangeDirector: J.A. Bayona

Writer: Sergio G Sanchez (Screenplay)

Starring: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andres Gertrudix

 

Plot: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Ghost Story

 

Story: The Orphanage starts as Laura (Rueda) Carlos (Cayo) and their son Simon (Princpe) return to the Orphanage where Laura grew up in to adopted other children with handicaps. While getting the house prepared we learn that Simon has a HIV but just like every child is happy to make new friends in the strangest of locations.

Simon’s new friend is Thomas who during the opening of the home turns up to be real but this leads to Simon going missing and we watch how Laura and Carlos go to all the lengths they can to find their own adopted son whose disappearance goes deeper into the history within the orphanage.

The Orphanage gives us one of the most beautiful ghost stories ever put to film, with such perfectly placed music and most importantly no unnecessary horror. We do get elements of a ghost mystery film which of course you all know is my favourite sub-genre of horror film but this more about the relationship between a mother and her adopted son. This film will break your heart but somehow leave you with a smile on your face with the final shot. There really isn’t a single bad thing to say about this film because it is a near perfect class on story telling.

 

Overall: One of the most perfect ghost stories ever put to film.

Rating90

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Unfolding (2016)

Director: Eugene McGing

Writer: Eugene McGing (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Daws, Nick Julian, Lisa Kerr, Kitty McGeever, Lachlan Nieboer, Sam Swainsbury

 

Plot: An exciting and relevant new take on the Haunted House story. The Fall of 2016. A fearful world stands on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. A young researcher in psychical events, together with his girlfriend, travel to the legendary wilds of Dartmoor, England, to investigate a rambling, centuries old building – here they find themselves drawn into a murder mystery from the past, a mortal confrontation with pure evil, and a fight for their very survival.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Low Budget Ghost Story

 

Story: The unfolding starts as Tam (Nieboer) a young researcher and his girlfriend Rose (Kerr) are in the middle of Dartmoor with the world on the verge of nuclear catastrophe. Eventually locating the massive house, they are staying in we get to see just what the research includes.

The research includes looking into the truth being paranormal activity and alone in this house it isn’t long before strange events start happening around the house. Joined by friend Harvey (Julian) the haunting events start to get worse but what is causing them?

With Professor Chessman (Daws) joining the investigation, Rose does want to leave but seems to have become connected to the house and the spirits haunting it.

 

Thoughts on The Unfolding

 

Characters/PerformanceProfessor Chessman has been conducting these experiments on the house with his research team, he is open minded and calm through all the hauntings. Tam is the latest of the researcher who is trying to get the credit needed in what could be a huge discovery, he brings his girlfriend Rose who instantly wants to leave even though she has a connection with the spirit. Harvey is a friend that wants to learn the truth once he witnesses the haunting himself.

Performance wise everybody does well without being truly stand out, you can see the younger members of the cast are also making their first few steps in feature leading roles.

StoryThe story does come off like most haunted house films but this does have an interesting backdrop to everything going on, we have the idea of a potential nuclear war meaning being in this house could be safer than being in a big city. I do think the story does have a few pacing issues in places because it takes its time getting going.

Horror/Mystery The horror is the standard haunted house material but this does offer a mystery focuses more on what the spirits motives are.

SettingsNearly the whole film is set in and around this one house that is haunted, this works because all the scares happen here, the house has history and the safety away from big a city.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good low budget ghost house film, it does have a good backdrop story and doesn’t give away too much too early but does suffer from pacing.

 

Overall: Good late night horror experience.

Rating