Robert De Niro Weekend – Hide and Seek (2005)

Director: John Polson

Writer: Ari Schlossberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving, Dylan Baker, Melissa Leo

 

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.


Tagline – If you want to know the secret, you have to play the game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusing Horror

 

Story: Hide and Seek starts when psychologist David (De Niro) loses his wife to a sudden suicide, to help his daughter Emily (Fanning) through the trauma he decides to move to a more remote location upstate of New York.

David is trying to settle in with Emily, who soon starts to have her own imagine friend named Charlie, David does turn to colleague Katherine (Janssen) for advice, while trying to move on with both their lives, only Charlie starts to show an evil side.

 

Thoughts on Hide and Seek

 

Characters – David is a psychologist in the big city of New York, he has a wife and daughter, only all his skills can’t help him see the depression his own wife is suffering through, needing to put his life back together with his daughter, he needs to  make sure Emily doesn’t fall into needing more help, while navigating learning to live in a new town. Emily is the daughter that became traumatised after the death of her mother, she uses her imaginary friend to get away with doing evil things around the house. Emily is a character that you can understand the acting against the normal because dealing with loss can be difficult for a child. Katherine is the colleague that specialises in helping children, she is the one that David turns to for added advice for helping his daughter. Elizabeth is a local divorced woman with a child the same age as Emily, David tries to build a friendship for both himself and Emily with her, Elizabeth shows that people can be patient when searching for new friendship.

PerformancesRobert De Niro stepping into the horror genre is something refreshing, he does show how difficult it could be for a father to keep everything together after losing a wife. Dakota Fanning as the traumatised daughter brings the fear required, while also being creepy through the film. Famke Janssen and Elisabeth Shue are both solid enough supporting the film, without needing to make that big of an impact in what is going on.

StoryThe story follows a recently widowed father taking his daughter to start a new life in a quieter neighbourhood, only for her to get a new imaginary friend that doesn’t like the people in her life. Now this story could and does start by showing the effects of a trauma on a young girl, after she witnesses her mother’s suicide, this could explain the actions she ends up causing through the film, the problem with the story comes from the fact the film sets this up, only to go in a direction which makes zero sense for anything we have seen in the first act. It also doesn’t help the fact we have five yes FIVE different endings too. This is a story that completely derails because of a simple choice and ends up just being difficult to watch.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is confusing too, mostly because it is weak dream sequences before anything being remotely scary happening until the final third of the film which, does have strong moments, just doesn’t make sense to what we knew before. The mystery in the film comes from trying to figure out who Charlie is, because we get suggestions it could be a person with the number of people that get introduced around the new home, add in that it could be supernatural, we are left to figure out who they are.

SettingsThe film is set in upstate New York where the father and daughter are trying to start a new life away from the busy life that could have caused added stress in life. It does give the family an isolation factor which adds to the potential suspense in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Not interested in new friends.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The third act twist just confuses everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that was going in a smooth direction to be interesting only to take a twist which makes it frustrating by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Weak ending horror.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Killers Anonymous (2019)

Director: Martin Owen

Writer: Seth Johnson, Elizabeth Morris, Martin Owen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tommy Flanagan, Jessica Alba, Gary Oldman, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Tim McInnerny, Suki Waterhouse, Sam Hazeldine

 

Plot: A support group of killers is held regularly. The participants sit in a circle of trust and share their transgressions.


Tagline – Take It One Slay At A Time

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Slick as it Thinks it is

 

Story: Killers Anonymous starts with the assassination attempt of a Senator, the assassins involved are going to a private support meeting which only contains fellow assassins, where the killers can talk about their murders, with the newest member of the group Alice (Brown) getting to meet the paranoid members.

When The Man (Oldman) learns that the assassination failed, he wants answers which see the different members of the support group trying to figure out who is to blame for their failures and needing to clean up the messes left behind.

 

Thoughts on Killers Anonymous

 

Characters – The Man is the assassin’s handler, he puts them in the right place and deals with things when things go wrong, he is on his latest operation which has a connection to everything going on. Markus is one of the more experienced assassins that is at the meeting, he isn’t happy with new faces arriving in his meeting. Alice is the mysterious new member at the meeting, she doesn’t say much which only makes the other assassin’s question who and why she is there. Jade is one of the assassins that works under the Man, she has made a mistake because of her own personal life, which has only annoyed The Man.

PerformancesThis movie does have a big cast and is one that is using the biggest names to try and sell the movie, Gary Oldman isn’t in the film that much, the same can be sad for Jessica Alba, Tommy Flanagan does get top billing even though he is only one of many in the support group, with only Rhyon Nicole Brown having anything part of mystery about her character.

StoryThe story here follows a group of killers that meet to discuss what happened to make the latest job go wrong, this is a regular occurrence, well the meetings are, but soon things start to unravel to show us just what is happening, why the new woman is in the meeting and what went wrong. This is where the story is trying to become a fancy slick mystery, but in reality it is failing to capture this on so many different levels, it is one of those crime mysteries which tries to make everything single moment mean something that could turn the story on its head, only to end up giving us too many characters to focus on, without giving us enough information to make the characters interesting enough to care about.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action in this film is saved for two main fight sequences, which are almost blink and you miss them, while the crime world does show us just how the killers could operate, the mystery in the film is the highlight because we get to see just who could be trusted or who can’t be.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the one building, during the meeting and around the breaks, this does help contain the problem they are facing, only for it to not give us enough to see for what could be a bigger prospective film.


Scene of the Movie –
Church fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many assassins talking mostly nothing important.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that believes it is one of the slickest of the year, it never gets close to being that and only ends up leaving us disappointed.

 

Overall: Gives killers a bad name.

Rating

 

 

In Darkness (2018)

Director: Anthony Byrne

Writer: Anthony Byrne, Natalie Dormer (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Emily Ratajkowski, Ed Skrein, James Cosmo, Joely Richardson, Neil Maskell

 

Plot: A blind musician hears a murder committed in the apartment upstairs from hers that sends her down a dark path into London’s gritty criminal underworld.


Tagline – Fear Blinds the Truth

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Complicated Thriller

 

Story: In Darkness starts blind pianist Sofia (Dormer) starts getting worried about her neighbour Veronique (Ratajkowski) who eventually gets murdered by Marc (Skrein) who sees that Sofia on the night he commits the murder, worried she could expose him, he starts to get close to her learning that she is blind and that she isn’t a threat.

Sofia does have her own secret though which dives into a much bigger conspiracy as to what is going on within the main suspects, will the truth come out or not.

 

Thoughts on In Darkness

 

Characters – Sofia is a blind pianist that makes the best of the surrounding sounds which is why she is so respected in the music industry, she hears the murder of her upstairs neighbour which leads her down a spiral of conspiracies which she is just as involved in. Veronique is the upstairs neighbour that has been worried about her life, she does stay honest with Sofia though, until she gets murdered, which sees her connection to everyone being the key to everything. Marc is the man that is sent to kill Veronique, he needs to tie up the loose ends which sees him starting to target Sofia until he learns her position in everything. Niall is the connection that Sofia has to her past, he will help where he can always willing to help her.

PerformancesNatalie Dormer does a great job in when it comes to the blind side of her character, it is when it comes to certain other sides, things start to show the weaker side of her performance. Emily Ratajkowski struggles like she always does in acting, while Ed Skrein and James Cosmo do as well as they can with their roles in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a blind woman that hears a murder only to find herself in the middle of a bigger conspiracy going on with the people involved in connection with the victim. The story plays out like a thriller that wants to be bigger than it actually is capable of being, trying to through in a twist in nearly every scene which just seems to make it out that the people involved here are a lot more trained and skilled than they are portrayed for the opening parts of the film. if we had just played most of this straight, we might have gotten away with certain twists along the way, but in the end we just try to over complicate for the sake of it.

MysteryThe mystery in the film seems like it gets revealed early on, it is more why it happened, which does try to keep us guessing only to keep throwing more twists in along the way.

SettingsThe film is set in London, which barely gets used to make an impact in the locations used.


Scene of the Movie –
The funeral.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many twists in the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a mystery thriller that just makes things more complicated than it needs to be, this format would have played out better in a television series over a film.

 

Overall: Here is a twist, there is a twist, everywhere there is a twist.

Rating

 

 

Chinatown (1974)

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Robert Towne (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrel Zwerling, Diane Ladd

 

Plot: A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.


Tagline – The most highly acclaimed film of 1974!

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Mystery

 

Story: Chinatown starts when J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) gets hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) to investigate her husband, it seems like a routine job, follow him around, until he ends up dead and Gittes must uncover what led to his death.

J.J. ends up learning about a bigger cover-up which involves the city’s water supply, the place where Hollis worked before his death, which sees him investigating Noah Cross (Huston) the former owner of the water department.

 

Thoughts on Chinatown

 

Characters – J.J. Gittes is a private investigator, he usually handles affairs and has a great track record. He is hired to learn whether Hollis Mulwray is having an affair, only to find himself digging into a bigger cover-up within the water supply after Hollis is found dead. Gittes is involved in every single scene of the film as we only learn the story from his point of view. Evelyn Mulwray is the one that hires Gittes to investigate her husband potential affairs, she soon learns the truth and wants Gittes to learn the truth about what happened to her husband. Noah Cross is the former partner of Hollis who between them owned the water, he seems interested in his own business. He is one of the prime suspects in what might have happened to Hollis. Escobar is the lead police detective that is trying to learn what happened, he doe shave a past with Gittes too.

PerformancesJack Nicholson in the leading role is wonderful as always, he is filled with the quick wit required and keeps us on edge as we work to follow the investigation unfold. Faye Dunaway shows us just how mysterious she can make her character. John Huston brings in the rich figure role well, while Perry Lopez shows us how we get the cop role done without any struggles.

StoryThe story follows a private investigator that start by looking into an affair only to find himself in the middle of a much bigger case which would bring him into a city-wide cover-up. When it comes to mystery stories we need to be kept guessing which is what this investigation does, we only get to see how everything unfolds through Gittes eyes which is helpful too because we learn the twists just as fast as he does. It does give us a story that does keep on taking twists along the way which like most detective stories too and shows us just how even a shady figure will do everything right to make sure the truth comes out.

MysteryThe mystery in this film comes from just who murdered Hollis, we get to see just how everything unfolds as we try to put the pieces together to learn the truth ourselves.

SettingsThe film is set in LA showing us just how the powers of the city will do anything to remain in control of the power.


Scene of the Movie –
Chinatown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The cops are all too similar.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the all time classic mystery movies, it shows how one person will do everything to learn the truth in the 1930’s LA where the corrupt rise to power with ease.

 

Overall: All time classic.

Rating

 

 

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

Director: Duncan Skiles

Writer: Christopher Ford (Screenplay)

Starring: Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathis, Madisen Beaty, Brenna Sherman, Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Emma Jones

 

Plot: A picture-perfect family is shattered when the work of a serial killer hits too close to home. Dylan McDermott stars in this chilling portrait of all-American evil.


Tagline – Every family, every man, has a secret.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Spin on the Serial Killer Movie

 

Story: The Clovehitch Killer starts as we head to a small town that has been living in the shadow of a serial killer branded Clovehitch because of his style of knot. We meet the picture-perfect family with Don (McDermott), Tyler (Plummer), Susie (Sherman) and Cindy (Mathis) who go to church every week.

When Tyler discovers a photo in his father’s car, he starts to think the killer could be closer to home than he first thought, he turns to the local Kassi (Beaty) who has been studying the killer for years to see if his father could be the town’s serial killer.

 

Thoughts on The Clovehitch Killer

 

Characters – Don is the father of the family, he has always helped his son with his boy scout assignments including knot tying, he helps around the neighbourhood too with his time in the church. He is hiding a secret that his son starts to figure out and does what he can to keep this from the rest of the world, Don is created in the same light as what we saw The Trinity Killer in Dexter. Tyler is the son that starts to think his father is the serial killer that scared the town, he tries to investigate which only makes things more difficult to one believe the truth and two keep a secret from his father. Cindy is the wife of Don, she is involved in the church believing they are living a happy life. Kassi is the estranged teenager in the town, she is considered an outsider because if her search for the Clovehitch killer, she is the one that Tyler turns to for help.

PerformancesDylan McDermott does give us a very disturbing performance which shows us just how easily a serial killer could operate in this world. Charlie Plummer gives us a strong performance as 2018 year was a fantastic year for him. Samantha Mathis is here and doesn’t get that much to do in the film, while Madisen Beaty brings the investigation figure to life well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager that starts to believe his father is the town’s serial killer and starts investigating whether this is true or not. This is an interesting spin on the serial killer film, we do go down the line that Dexter had with the character which is all good because we see how one operates and manages to keep things secret from their family. The idea that the son is trying to learn the truth keeps us on edge, but seeing the action unfolding we get an intense story that manages to keep nearly everything calm through the events of the film.

Horror/MysteryThe horror follows the idea of a serial killer being in the family, it gets to show us how they can seem like they are everyday people which only makes the serial killer coming off worse. The mystery of the film follows whether he is the killer or not, well it is meant to, only for it to give away everything way to early.

SettingsThe film uses the small town settings to make us believe just how the town has been in fear since the serial killer, it shows how one could operate without being looked at differently.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are very simple, we get to see just how he does the kills, only we don’t need to see anything graphic.


Scene of the Movie –
The newest victim.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could have been slightly more mysterious or just given us that he is a killer early on, it just doesn’t commit either side.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film that does take things in new direction which keeps us on edge even if it does miss a chance to commit to one side of the film.

 

Overall: Serial killer film with a twist.

Rating