ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – X – Extracurricular Activities (2019) Movie Review

This is under X because of how you say Extra, yes, I am clutching at straws.

Director: Jay Lowi

Writer: Bob Saenz (Screenplay)

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Angela Kinsey, Colin Ford, Darlene Vogel, Gary Hudson, Timothy Simons, Nicholas Cutro, Ellie Bamber

Plot: A mature, intelligent high school student has a side job arranging “accidental” deaths (no 2 alike) of fellow students’ parents. A cop detective notices this student being connected to all the kids of dead parents. Who wins the face-off?

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: By the Book

Story: Extracurricular Activities starts as we see the first deaths of the parent’s, the school comes together to support the students with Reagan Collins (Ford) an intelligent high school student being behind the death, soon after another parent dies and the parent of one of the other students is a detective Cliff Dawkins (Simons) starts to investigate the deaths which seem too close together.

As Reagan’s business continues to gather steam, the number of parents dying increases, forcing Cliff into a true battle of cat-n-mouse to prove that Reagan is behind everything, putting his own career on the line.

Thoughts on Extracurricular Activities

Characters – Reagan is the confident intelligent high school student that is always getting the best grades and he has a business on the side, one where he helps plan and kill fellow student’s parents, he makes them all look like accidents, until detective starts sniffing around deaths, he looks to stay in control of the situations always having a way out of Cliff stopping him. Mary Alice Walker is one of the cheerleaders at the high school, who starts to get involved with Reagan, she comes off like the girl next door. Cliff Dawkins is the detective that starts to believe something is going on with the deaths, he believes Reagan is behind them and wants to prove it, even if it will put his bag on the line. He is determined to get to the truth when nobody else is getting involved in the truth.

PerformancesColin Ford does make this calculated character interesting to watch through the film, while Ellie Bamber makes for a fun love interest, without needing to do too much. Timothy Simons gets most of the laughs with his detective work, which shows how far one detective would go for the truth.

StoryThe story here follows a high school student that has a double life killing fellow student’s parents and soon gets a detective on his trail, while always trying to get the truth, despite the number of bodies piling up. This is a story that is showing just how dark school life can get when it comes to seeing how the kids are willing to look to murder if they get upset by their parents. It plays out in a world where the police are complete idiots, not having a clue about how to solve a crime and does show how calculated people can be in life.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in this film comes from seeing how the detective is trying to get to the bottom of the crime, with little mystery around what is going on, because everything is put there in black and white.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us where the characters would operate in everyday life, with the high school life and party areas.


Scene of the Movie – The envelops.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We are meant to support the wrong character.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that does the basics well, it shows a twisted idea without being the most engaging story.

Overall: Simple and Effective.

The Escape (2017)

Director: Dominic Savage

Writer: Dominic Savage (Screenplay)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Dominic Cooper, Frances Barber, Marthe Keller, Laura Donoughue

Plot: An ordinary woman makes an extraordinary decision which will change her life forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow and Draw Out

Story: The Escape starts as we meet everyday wife and mother Tara (Arterton) who when her husband Mark (Cooper) is at work and children at school, is left with the everyday household routine, which is causing her to feel distant from her own life, which is getting boring in her eyes.

Wanting something more Tara starts learning about art, wanting to look to take classes during the days, but Mark doesn’t think it will be good for her, as she is dealing with a problem child. Does Tara just need a break or can she escape the life she feels trapped in.

Thoughts on The Escape

Characters – Tara has been married for years now, has two children, a successful husband, but her life is going nowhere, she feels alone, trapped in a cycle where she doesn’t get time to do anything for herself, she is getting unhappier as the days pass until she finally breaks, will she just need a break or can she cope without the things she has in her life. Mark is her husband and spends most of his time working and expecting things to be ready when he gets home, he can’t handle Tara’s feelings which only makes him more controlling that he wants to be.

PerformancesGemma Arterton does all she can with the role, she is meant to be playing a down character, so we don’t expect her to do anything wildly over the top, just be plain, everyday, which is what we get here. Dominic Cooper in the support role does a solid enough job with his role too.

StoryThe story here follows an everyday wife and mother that is going through an early mid-life crisis, trying to figure out what she wants from her life, feeling lonely and unfulfilled, until she decides to escape for a while. This story is meant to show us how dull married life can be if you don’t find a way to keep the excitement in it, how you could blink one day and realize you are following a basic routine which isn’t going anywhere and that you need to break out. It doesn’t give us the true length of time as to why she is feeling this way and ends up leaving us wondering why more people aren’t around to help her, like friends or family outside of her husband. The pacing of the film is very slow, which doesn’t give us enough time to get invested in the film.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show just how plain and boring Tara’s life is, it doesn’t give us much else, only it does help to show how lonely she has become.


Scene of the Movie – Snapping at her kids.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It just isn’t very interesting.

Final Thoughts This is a film that is meant to show how difficult adult life can become, it shows us just how routine can drive us insane if we let ourselves get bogged down by it.

Overall: Basic life drama.

Emelie (2015)

Director: Michael Thelin

Writer: Richard Raymond, Harry Herbeck (Screenplay)

Starring: Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Chris Beetem, Susan Pourfar, Joshua Rush

 

Plot: A couple’s replacement babysitter turns out to be more than they bargained for when she subjects their kids to a series of twisted activities.


Tagline – A parent’s worst nightmare. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disturbing Thriller

 

Story: Emelie starts when Emelie (Bolger) takes the place of the new babysitter for a couple Joyce (Pourfar) and Dan (Beetem) heading off for their anniversary dinner. The three children, Jacob (Rush), Sally (Adams) and Christopher (Bair). The night starts off like normal with Emelie letting the kids do what they want, but soon it takes a turn.

Emelie starts pushing the limits of what the children should be doing, making them go through an ordeal before we learn the motivation behind her action, but can the damaged be fixed before it goes too far?

 

Thoughts on Emelie

 

Characters – Emelie pretends to be the babysitter for an unsuspecting family for the night, she comes off like a nice caring young woman, who soon starts to show a darker side when she tries to test the children by putting them through experiences they are too young to understand, she does have a dark past for why she is doing this though. Jacob is the eldest of the children who is the first to sense something is wrong as he tries to get help for his younger siblings. Sally and Christopher are the younger two that see the night as a chance to break the rules more.

PerformancesThe performances are strong through the film Sarah Bolger gives us a woman on edge performance which is on edge about what has happened to her. The child stars don’t do anything wrong for what they are put through which was going to be the hardest part of the film to decide.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a babysitter isn’t what the parents believe her to be and while they have a lovely dinner, the children are being put through an ordeal by a psychotic woman. Now this is a story that will get most fear from parents that let a stranger look after their children, because the story shows the balance of how the time can be easily a moment of happiness for them, going against the horrors their children are going through. It does however have a few glaring mistakes which question parenting etc which you will get annoyed about. We do have moments that are shocking though because when you stop and think about what is happening, you will see the wrong it what is happening.

HorrorThis film uses the horrors of what children shouldn’t be going through as the biggest way to upset the audience and using the time of a romantic dinner only adds to how quickly things can go wrong.

SettingsThe film uses to key settings, the first is the home which turns into a nightmare, this adds to the horror because the children believe it will be their safe place, while the second location is the restaurant which shows how lovely the dinner the parents are on is.

Special EffectsWe only get little moments of effects, which are used well when needed, but this film doesn’t need to use them.


Scene of the Movie –
Fighting back.

That Moment That Annoyed Me What sort of parent lets there 12-year-old child have a pet snake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a psychological horror that shows the horrors that could be happening with your babysitter, when you are having a dinner.

 

Overall: Strong psychological thriller.

Rating

 

 

Eminence Hill (2019) Movie Review

Director: Robert Conway

Writer: Robert Conway, Owen Conway (Screenplay)

Starring: Barry Corbin, Dominique Swain, Lance Henriksen, Clint James, Owen Conway, Anna Harr, Charlie Motley

Plot: A trail of revenge leads a notorious killer and a lawman to a town of fanatics. Blood will flow.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Real Red Dead Redemption Chapter

Story: Eminence Hill starts when Royce Tullis (James) and his gang of outlaws including Gretchen (Swain) kill a couple for their land, kidnapping their daughter Ruth (Harr) to trade down the road, Quincy (Conway) a lawman talks Carson (Motley) into joining him hunt down the Tullis Gang after their latest killing spree.

As Royce and the gang are looking to escape, they stumbling upon Eminence Hill, where Noah (Corbin) runs a community that play by strict rules, which sees the gang being put through their own test, giving Quincy his chance to catch up with them, before a final showdown.

Thoughts on Eminence Hill

Characters – Noah is the leader of a religious group, he takes it into his own hands to play judge jury and executioner in his community and doesn’t take to lightly towards the Tullis Gang coming into his territory. Royce Tullis is the leader of the gang with his love Gretchen, they have been targeting jurors who sentenced his brother to death and now finishing their killing spree, they look to escape, only they both find themselves questioning their actions while being held captive by Noah. Quincy is the lawman that is trying to track down the Tullis Gang, he is uses his gun skills when needed and can read a person through any conversation.

PerformancesBarry Corbin does bring his character to life in this film to change the tone of what we had seen. Clint James and Dominique Swain are both strong as the outlaw figures, not being full blown crazy evil like members of their gang. Owen Conway is the star of the show with his calm calculated character.

StoryThe story here follows an US Marshall tracking down a group of outlaws, who have fallen into the hands of a religion community that want to make them pay for their sins. We do follow three different sides of the stories unfold, we get the outlaws planning their escape, they have US Marshall planning his way of capturing them and the religious group wanting to stay out of world’s view. We do get to see each side develop and with secrets behind certain ones being held back long enough. We do get to see just how every does feel like a chapter in a Red Dead Redemption chapter, where the outlaws meet a random group which will be the problem they need to overcome, while avoiding a fate coming for them.

WesternThe western side of the film is well designed, showing us the outlaws, bounty hunter and strange groups that could have been built up not knowing too much more outside their comfort zones.

SettingsThe settings are well crafted sets for the town, while the open plains represent the world in the era the film would be set in.


Scene of the Movie – Noah’s dinner offer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have spent more time on the Royce hunting down jurors.

Final Thoughts This is a western that plays everything out well, without being as edgy as the subject matter wants to be, the religious group could have gone a lot darker, with plenty of signs of this, while the Marshall is the most interesting characters of the whole cast.

Overall: Western by the book.

Echoes of Fear (2019) Movie Review

Director: Brian Avenet-Bradley, Laurence Avenet-Bradley

Writer: Brian Avenet-Bradley (Screenplay)

Starring: Trista Robinson, Hannah Race, Paul Chirico, Marshal Hilton, Elif Savas, Danilo Di Julio, Ian Heath

Plot: After inheriting her grandfather’s house, a young woman must confront the mystery of his sudden death and the evil that hides inside.


Tagline – Evil hides inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Wonderful Mystery Horror

Story: Echoes of Fear starts when Alisa (Robinson) inherits her grandfather’s house after his sudden death, she has little option than to prepare it for sale, which sees her move in to get his done, joined by her boyfriend Brandon (Chirico) the two start the preparations.

With Alisa only getting fleeting visits from Brandon and her friend Steph (Race) she starts to experiencing haunting, which sees her looking back through the diary of her grandfather to learn the truth about the house.

Thoughts on Echoes of Fear

Characters – Alisa sees her last family die suddenly, she must head back to the house where she was raised to decide what to do with it next in what seems like a routine, tidy up and sale plan. Her plans are thrown off when she starts hearing noises, suffering nightmares and experiencing visions, which leads to her wanting to learn the truth, going through the house to unlock the truth, which each clue becoming more disturbing for her. Steph is the best friend that can visit at times and will help her with the investigation. Brandon is the boyfriend who is happy to help plan the changes, looking for a quick sell and start of a new life. David is the neighbour that does offer a few answers and is willing to help Alisa with any problems.

PerformancesTrista Robinson is the star of the show, she is the one getting haunted, trying to solve the problems she is experiencing and you believe every moment she is going through. Nobody else is getting too much outside the simple to do, with none of them doing anything wrong through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a relative that inherits a home and soon starts getting haunted by the ghosts of the house, leading her to try and solve the situation. This is a story that does keep us wondering what is going on with us learning more just as Alisa does, which is why this story works so well, because it enters the most interesting sub-genre of horror, with the haunting helping unlock the mystery. We could have a couple of questionable moments including a bit of miss-direction when it comes to what could be going on, this doesn’t really add up, but is nice to guide us away from the truth. This story does try to break certain rules created and does a wonderful job at this too, but lets just ask, why is there a sniffer mouse?

HorrorThe horror side of the film does use a couple of ideas, with the haunting being the biggest moments, while others come off more disturbing by the end.

SettingsThe film does keep most of the action inside the house, being a location, that Alisa would know, but hasn’t been to in a while, with he changes adding to the horror of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to create certain moments of horror, which most coming in the haunting moments.


Scene of the Movie – The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The sniffer mouse is very strange.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does keep us guessing, it has a disturbing outcome with the haunting being the highlight of the scares.

Overall: Horror with Plenty of Scares.