Locked In (2016)

Director: Ivan Silvestrini

Writer: Elena Bucaccio, Stefano Sardo, Ivan Silvestrini, Mauro Uzzeo (Screenplay) Roberto Recchioni (Story)

Starring: Katrina Bowden, Jay Hayden, Brandon W Jones, Lauren McKnight, Damon Dayoub, Justine Wachsberger

 

Plot: A mother and her son plan a surprise visit to Los Angeles to see her husband/his father. Halfway there they get into a terrible accident in the middle of nowhere and now must fight to survive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bad Parenting 101

 

Story: Locked In starts as Sandra (Bowden) is taker her baby David across country in new car a monolith, a new state of the art car that offers protection and safety unlike anything else on the market.

When travelling the car informs Sandra of an accident which leads her down a back road, where she is involved in an accident and like all responsible parents, she gives her mobile to her child to play with, well distract while trying to figure out what to do. The problem is that he locks her out the car and she is left stranded in the middle of know where with her son trapped in the car.

 

Thoughts on Locked In

 

Characters – Sandra is the stressed-out mother needing to take her baby son across country, she is questioning whether her husband is cheating on her and dealing with the new car that is technology driven. She does the modern parenting technique of given the kid the phone which leads to him locking himself in the car and her having no way of getting in to rescue him. We don’t really meet any other characters for more than a phone call.

PerformancesThis film relies on the strong performance from the lead, but the problem comes from the performance from Katrina Bowden who doesn’t have the range to take a leading role in this movie, we struggle to believe her actions.

StoryThe story here plays into the idea of the nightmare situation where a parent finds their child locked in their car which they can’t get into. The problem here is that is sums up two problems in the world, the new technology boom and bad parenting that uses smart technology which children can cause problems getting the wrong material. By the end of the film it does feel like I was playing a computer game and got lose myself.

ThrillerThis is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, but sadly you will be checking the time a lot.

SettingsWe are set in the middle of nowhere, which works, but it seems like there are easier ways out of the situation.


Scene of the Movie –
End credits because I didn’t have to see anymore.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like a car commercial.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t a very interesting thriller which does just end up feeling flat from start to finish.

 

Overall: Forget about this one.

Rating

 

 

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Prodigy (2018)

Director: Nathan Leon

Writer: Nathan Leon (Screenplay)

Starring: Tyler Roy Roberts, Cory Kays, King Amir Alahyar, Jeffrey Arrington, Adam Elliott Davis, Adrianne White, Hailey Henry, Embry Johnson

 

Plot: A father must protect his estranged son from the outside world when the boy accurately predicts three end-of-world events.


Tagline – What if he’s right?

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thought Provoking Thriller

 

Story: Prodigy starts when widowed father Erik (Kays) is recruited y Dr Faron (Tyrrell) to reconnect with his son Caleb (Johnson) to help unlock the secret to his latest vision, one which will change the world after he has already predicted to world shattering vision. Erik breaks Caleb out of the prison like environment he is being held captive in.

On the run, Erik and Caleb are marked as dangerous with certain people believing Caleb could even be behind the disasters, while on the run Erik gets to learn the truth about his own vision during one of the events to learn the truth about the future of the world.

 

Thoughts on Prodigy

 

Characters – Erik is the widowed father that has been struggling with life and alcohol problems, haunted by his own vision during the event, he agrees to help his son after nearly 10-years away from him, showing that he could do what is needed to help himself and son get the connection that will change the world forever. Caleb is the teenager that has predict world changing events, he believes the world is going to be hit by a third known as the moment ‘The World Turns Black’ and wants his father to be there with him for this moment. Maya is a waitress that helps the two find a new location to hide out in, she believes in a better life after the visions and will help make sure Caleb has the ones that could change the world. we do get to meet people who both want Caleb for their own agendas and people who want to help.

PerformancesCory Kays in the leading role is good because he must deal with his characters own emotional problems, while also learning to be a better father. Embry Johnson gives us slow deliberate delivery for his teenage character which does make it stand out as a performance which shows us the character has been away from the world. Hailey Henry is good in her role in the supporting side of the story, while most of the performances are good through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the world filled with tension after two moments which changed the world, the third I on it way and people have become divided on wanting to know the truth, who should know the truth and what will happen, with only one teenager seeing what is about to come. This is a film that will make you stop and think about what could happen in the future, your reaction to knowing this could be the end and what would you do if you couldn’t explain what you saw. If you liked Midnight Special you will get the same vibes from the film which is one that grab the audience’s attention, this will too as you will want to know where it all ends up going.

ThrillerThis is a film that uses the idea of father and son on the run while an end of the world event could be around the corner. This does keep us going until the very final shot of the film.

SettingsThe film shows us how the characters are in hiding with most of them being through woodland areas off the grid, these do work for the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used very sparely which is nice because this could have gone for silly ones, the ones we get are used to show us the dream sequences only.


Scene of the Movie –
The race to the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Turns to one hiding idea too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thinking persons thriller that makes you want to look at moments in your own life and decisions you would make in the same situation.

 

Overall: Smart thriller for all.

Rating

 

 

Classic Franchise Month – Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Director: Mick Garris

Writer: Joseph Stefano (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, CCH Pounder, Warren Frost, Donna Mitchell

 

Plot: Norman Bates recalls his childhood with his abusive mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.


Tagline – You’ve met Norman… now meet mother.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: When Sequels Are Bad, Go Prequel

 

Story: Psycho IV: The Beginning starts as Norman Bates (Perkins) listening to a local radio station which is having the discussion about children killing their mother’s. Norman gives us a backstory to his relationship with his mother Norma (Hussey) as teenager Norman (Thomas) commits his first murder.

As he reveals his story the shows rating increase, but when he says he is ready to kill again, it becomes clearly that Norman has been pushed over the edge once again.

 

Thoughts on Psycho IV: The Beginning

 

Characters – In the characters we have two different versions of Norman, the older one who has committed the crimes in the past and now telling his story after moving on with his life and the teenage one that is getting abused by his mother as he first starts out his killing spree, this one is more interesting to watch as seeing him on the edge makes it easier to understand his motivation for his actions. Norma Bates is Norman’s mother, in this film she is very much alive and we see just how she treated Norman when she wasn’t happy with the way his life was going, trying to force him into being a girl.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins mostly gives us the commentary of his characters past, he is a good story teller which is what he must do. Henry Thomas does work as a younger Norman which is good he handles the creepy side of the character well. Olivia Hussey makes for a great Norma Bates, she looks seductive and easily hits the strict level needed.

StoryThe story here takes us to the origin of what drove Norman to become the killer, we get these through a radio show where he tells the story and see the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. This works because the sequel line was getting boring after a while, showing us that we needed to go to the prequel line to learn more of the motivation. This however does cause problems for the most part because we jump all over the place in the timeline of creating him, while in the modern time Norman must face his own battle with his mind while telling the story again.

Horror/MysteryThe horror elements do seem to have come out of the film now, we do get the murders, but they never feel scary, the mystery of doing this as a prequel doesn’t help because we know where the film will end up going.

SettingsThe film gives us less time at the Bates Motel, making the scenes there being the highlights of the film, but away from it we lose that IT factor about the Norman character.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie have improved, when it comes to the murders and the different styles Norman use we feel like they are real this time.


Scene of the Movie –
Young Norman doing the deed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The confusion timeline in the flashback scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the Psycho franchise, you could skip over three and still end up in a good position with everything and how this film directs the story.

 

Overall: Nice addition.

Rating

 

 

Classic Franchise Month – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Writer: Charles Edward Pogue (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, Roberta Maxwell, Hugh Gillin, Lee Garlington

 

Plot: Norman Bates falls in love with a fallen nun who stays at the Bates Motel alongside a drifter and a curious reporter. Meanwhile, “mother” is still watching.


Tagline – Norman Bates is back to normal. But Mother’s off her rocker again!

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Decline Has Started

 

Story: Psycho III starts when nun Maureen (Scarwid) is involved in a terrible accident at the monastery, forcing her on the run receiving a lift from drifter Duane (Fahey). Duane ends up at the Bates Motel getting a job from Norman Bates (Perkins) whose latest guest ends up being Maureen.

When Norman starts seeing Marion Crane in Maureen, he starts to battle his nightmares once again and sees his chance to redeem himself after saving her life, but Mother is always watching him.

 

Thoughts on Psycho III

 

Characters – Norman Bates has the Motel open and is looking for support, the town has accepted he has done his time, but he still battles his demons and his mother in his head. His latest guest brings back the memories of Marion Crane and the battle in his mind becomes the toughest since his release. Maureen is a nun that is on the verge of suicide, this leads to a death on the monastery she is part of and her going on the run, ending up at the Bates Motel becoming friends with Norman, little does she know she is similar to Marion Crane.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins does keep his performance strong where you can believe how creepy he does feel in each scene, though stepping behind the camera didn’t help keep the focus on his character. Diana Scarwid is good for the most part even if her screaming doesn’t feel as real as it should. Jeff Fahey makes for a good drifter character knowing just how sleezy to make his character.

StoryThe story here follows the events of Psycho II as we see where Norman is after what happens at the end of that film, Norman is still balancing his new life with his battle of his mind about his mother as the lost souls find themselves in the motel. The story feels strange when connecting together because we have part romance, part loss of control and neither connect on a level we would enjoy and everything just turns into chaos. For the most part this tries to address the idea of being part of the public again when Norman is clearly unstable. There is a lot of material which tries to balance the idea of the murders happening again only this time Norman believes it might be him.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film comes from the additional body count happening, there is no suspense before the murders though, the mystery comes from just whether Norman is in fact killing again or is it in his mind.

SettingsThe film does take us back to the Bates Motel which does look creepy still, but is never shown in the fear filled atmosphere of the previous films.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do feel weaker too, as we don’t get to see enough of what is happening to the characters during the murders.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequence is the stand out scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The screaming is never believable.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker addition to the franchise, it doesn’t have enough to make it feel worthy of the franchise and shows the decline we have taken.

 

Overall: Poor sequel that didn’t even cash grab well.

Rating

 

 

Good Kill (2014)

Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood, Jake Abel

 

Plot: A family man begins to question the ethics of his job as a drone pilot.


Tagline – If you never face your enemy, how can you face yourself.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Look at the Side Effects of Modern War

 

Story: Good Kill starts as we meet our unit, Major Thomas Egan (Hawke) who leads the younger unit, Zimmer (Abel) Christie (Kenin) and new team member Airman Vera Suarez (Kravitz) who are drone pilot watching over Afghanistan taking out persons of interest that would be threats to America.

Thomas wanting to return to active duty must work with Colonel Jack Johns (Greenwood) with this plan, but when the CIA want to conduct operations with the unit, the whole unit must face difficult decision when follow orders.

 

Thoughts on Good Kill

 

Characters – Major Thomas Egan is a former active duty soldier, he served his time and now he works on drone unit, killing the enemy from a computer screen back in Vegas, he wants to return to active duty and soon his latest missions involve morally questionable decisions which only leaves him questioning his own role in the war and his personal life. Molly is Thomas’s wife, she like having her husband close to home and is finding her husband feeling distant from her. Airman Suarez is the newest member to the unit, she questions nearly every decision they must make, not sure whether they are doing the right thing at all.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is great in this leading role, he makes his character feel distant which helps us understand his mindset where things are not going the way he feels comfortable with. January Jones is fine in her role without being a complex with her performance. Zoe Kravitz continues to show she is coming along to become a major name in the acting world.

StoryThe story follows the life of a drone pilot who used to serve in active combat, we see how he wants to get back into this because he doesn’t enjoy having to do the kills from a distance. This shows us a new type of PTSD which soldiers will be facing when having to kill from their own land, it also shows how the soldiers will not open up about the horrors they are seeing and being involved in.

War/ThrillerThe war elements of this film shows us how the war can be fought from behind closed doors rather than the battlefield, it shows the effects of this too.

SettingsThe film is set in and around Vegas, showing the war is now being fought from the air being controlled back home.


Scene of the Movie –
Thomas final actions with the drone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While we see how Thomas is affected, I feel we had just as much time to focus on Suarez coming into this world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the modern warfare, it shows how difficult the battle has become, but the effects will still haunt the people.

 

Overall: Good thriller on modern war.

Rating