Don’t Knock Twice (2017)

Director: Caradog W James

Writer: Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler (Screenplay)

Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Richard Mylan, Nick Moran, Pascale Wilson

 

Plot: A mother desperate to reconnect with her troubled daughter becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Horror

 

Story: Don’t Knock Twice starts as Jess (Sackhoff) is desperate to reconnect with her daughter Chloe (Boynton) who she left at a children’s school/home years before. Chloe not wanting to return home finds herself involved in an urban legend game with a friend about knocking on a mysterious door.

Soon after Chloe’s friend vanishes (we do see what happens to him but she doesn’t) leaving Chloe only have one place to turn to as a ghost figure starts to haunt her, Chloe must go home to her mother. With the mother and daughter trying to rebuild their relationship, Jess must face the demons off her past which led to her giving up Chloe but together they must face the unknown enemy haunting them both.

 

Thoughts on Don’t Knock Twice

 

Characters – Jess is the damaged mother that has made mistakes in her past which has caused her to give up her child, cleaned up and back on the right path she offers a home to her daughter again but finds herself needing to battle an evil spirit out for vengeance against her daughter. Chloe is the daughter of Jess, raised in a home very insecure with commitment issues, she finds herself targeted by a spirit which has a connection to her past. Boardman is the cop who led the investigation to what happened with the ghost figure.

PerformanceKatee Sackhoff is somewhat of a favourite in the geek community for her work in sci-fi but over the recent years she has stepped into horror effortlessly and stands out as a great lead and this is no different. Lucy Boynton, we saw make a splash last year with Sing Street enters into horror here and she is good through the film even if the character feels slightly flat. Nick Moran as the detective is a character we would have liked more from but he does well with what he had to do.

StoryThe story side is split into too, the first is showing the difficult side of parenting, the sacrifice the mother must make to overcome her personal demons to make sure she is safe but we follow the rebuilding process which is an important stage of this film. the horror side of the story is one of my favourite, it follows a ghost haunting that leads to our character needing to solve a case to be free of the hauntings, while not everything is explained as smoothly as it could have been it does work watching it all unfold. The mix of the two stories does work to show how the relationship between mother and daughter though strained needs to remain strong.

HorrorThe horror used throughout is mostly jump scares but not false jump scares, this is a good thing because too many would ruin the film. a lot of the film is also well built up moments of horror.

SettingsThe everyday settings for the film show us just what could happen to non-believers suddenly when they stumble into urban legend.

Special EffectsThe effects being used through the film are all good, we get a mix of practical and what feels like CGI to create the ghost figure haunting the family.

Scene of the Movie – The first kill on the laptop, mostly because it is a surprise.

That Moment that annoyed me – One twist too many.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good horror, it does create a good ghost investigation film but tries too hard to shock us with twists.

 

Overall: Good late night horror experience.

Rating

 

 

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

The Dam (2011)

damDirector: Sohan Roy

Writer: Sohan Roy (Screenplay)

Starring: Joushua Smith, Vimala Raman, Ashish Vidtarthi, Vinay Rai, Linda Arsenio, Thampy Anthony

 

Plot: After many years two mariners return to homeland with the hope of a new beginning, little did they know about a disaster that would change their destiny.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not What it Says on the Tin

 

Story: The Dam starts as Captain Frederick Brown (Smith) is selling his newest book Dam999 as we flashback to learn the story behind the book. On the cruise liner Captain Brown is with his wife Raziya (Burman) and close friend Vinay (Rai) and his son Samuel (Rath) who are all heading to Vinay home searching for a cure for Sam’s diabetes.

As we follow the idea of lost love between Vinay and Meera (Raman) everything takes place in a small town next to the Dam built by the ancestors of Captain Brown and Sandra (Arsenio) the wife of Vinay arrives in the town. The town is being run by a corrupt Mayor who has cheaped out on the new dam which upon opening becomes a threat to everyone in the town.

 

Thoughts on The Dam

 

StoryWhen you look at the story I can’t help but find this miss-sold because this is very much a love story about following fate or your heart what could have been or what could be with a disaster tagged on the end of the film. This is all fine but it does feel very long in places making us lose interest in wait for the disaster event to actually happy.

Adventure/Thriller The adventure side of the story doesn’t really come through until the disaster moments of the film and with that we get some tense final moments on the dam disaster idea, the problem is the early stages take too long to get going.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters all feel like they have been perfectly pick to deal with the situations of the love story going on and have all the different dynamics going on for the characters without the shock value. When you look at the performances well let’s just say they are not the best and keep it at that.

SettingsThe settings all work giving us the traditional location for the characters with the location next to the dam just part of the bigger story.

Special EffectsThis is subject that I can’t really say anything good about so I will be keeping away from the criticism of it all.

Final ThoughtsThis is mostly an endless love story of how love can never die with the disaster storyline is just tagged on really.

 

Overall: Be carefully what you go into this one looking for.

Ratingcard

 

 

Drone (2017)

Director: Jason Bourque

Writer: Paul A Birkett, Jason Bourque (Screenplay) Ian Birkett, Roger Patterson, Paul A Birkett (Story)

Starring: Sean Bean, Patrick Sabongui, Mary McCormack, Maxwell Haynes, Joel David Moore, Viv Leacock

 

Plot: Ideologies collide with fatal results when a military drone contractor meets an enigmatic Pakistani businessman.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Thriller

 

Story: Drone starts as we see a drone hit in Pakistan, one year later we are back in America with Neil (Bean) and Ellen Wistin (McCormack) a married couple dealing with everyday problems and a teenage son Shane (Haynes). Unknown to them they are being followed by Imir Shaw (Sabongui) a Pakistan business man.

Neil is a drone pilot working with his partner on the coms Gary (Moore), their craft is searching Pakistan for the latest terrorist subjects and they are an effective team. Imir coming into the lives of the Wistin’s who are also dealing with the loss of Neil’s father, just as the release of government employees information has been leaked. Imir comes into the lives to purchase a boat, but his true motives become clear and the secrets of the Wistin family are revealed.

 

Thoughts on Drone

 

Characters/PerformanceNeil is a secret private drone pilot contractor for the government. He keeps this job secret from his family, he is also going through the loss of his father, he now must face the consequences of the collateral damage on his mission. Imir is a calm businessman from Pakistan who has alternative motives, he wants to confront the pilot of the drone that killed his innocent family. Ellen is the wife of Neil, the two have become strained leading to her getting involved in an affair.

Performance wise, Sean Bean is good in this role but his accent is slightly all over the place. Patrick Sabongui is good in this role, he never shows any emotion which is needed for the character who has lost everything. Mary McCormack is solid but her character doesn’t get enough development.

StoryThe story is one that asks the moral questions about drone pilots and victims of their attacks as well as offering a suspenseful revenge story. the problem with the story is that is doesn’t get going quick enough because we clearly know where it is going, so why hold us back? There is also another glaring problem with this film and that is making Imir come off as villain, when it was clearly the American that committed the villain act first, but the final moments of the film do make everything important in the message.

ThrillerThe final third of this film does keep you on edge throughout the film but getting to that stage does seem to take a while.

SettingsThe settings do show us that the two men have similar lifestyles, they work hard and raise a family, but the cultures see things differently and this causes the conflict in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very slow thriller which could have been so much better, but it does have a good message by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Slow burning thriller with rewarding ending.

Rating

 

 

The Discovery (2017)

Director: Charlie McDowell

Writer: Justin Lader, Charlie McDowell (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Mary Steenburgen, Brian McCarthy, Riley Keough

 

Plot: A love story set one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fascinating Sci-Fi Mind Bender

 

Story: The Discovery starts in a world where DR Thomas Harper (Redford) believes he has proven there is an afterlife, one year after this announcement the suicide rating in the world has sky rocketed with people believing they will ended up in this afterlife free of the problems they face in the real world.

Thomas’ son Will (Segel) a neurologist returns to his research facility on a remote island where his other brother Toby (Plemons) has been working on collecting more evidence with other volunteers who believe this afterlife is real. Being joined by Isla (Mara) the latest suicide failure to join the course Will is left to face the reality that not everything is as cut and dry as he believes with all of his science and medical beliefs. Will finds himself working with Isla to learn about a mysterious recording that came from the mind of a dead man, searching into his own past coming to a conclusion to everything.

 

Thoughts on The Discovery

 

Characters/PerformanceWill is a neurologist that is living in a world where people believe there is scientific proof of the afterlife, he still doesn’t believe in his own father’s discovery. He gets to investigating in a scientific mentality hoping to get to the bottom of everything. Isla is one of the people who had planned to kill themselves to get to this afterlife, she finds hope in searching for the answers with Will. Thomas is the doctor who believes he has discovered an afterlife, he has people working for him in a cult like situation while he is still trying to get the complete truth.

Performance wise, Jason Segel is brilliant here showing he isn’t just a comical actor and can handle the serious performances, Rooney Mara is good as always in the supporting role with Hollywood Icon Robert Redford giving a performance that is great for a supporting one.

StoryAn idea that we are in a world where we could know there is an afterlife is truly fascinating, it offers up questions never once asked before because there is no ‘if’ it is a ‘when’. The film does claim to have this question with our main character Will looking to prove this wrong, which again is good because this is a scientific discovery. This story will keep you guessing from the start to the finish and leave you going ‘What’ even though you can understand the ending.

Mystery/Romance/Sci-FiThe mystery is would you believe and is this discovery real, the sci-fi from the story comes from the discovery itself, as it offers up what is a scientific idea to the afterlife. The romance comes from Will and Isla story as they search for the truth.

SettingsThe one weak point I found in this film I would say is the settings, they do add up to the final story which is good but the film has the beach which is important and the lone mansion where the believers live.

Final ThoughtsI love a film that makes you think, this will do that, I love seeing actors who have been typecast to one genre prove themselves, Segel does here. I love watching how scientific ideas are posed to the audience offer us a question on what we would do in the situation. This is nearly everything I like to watch in a film, this should have been a cinema release not Netflix.

 

Overall: One of the hidden gems of the year.

Rating