Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Echoes (2014)

echoesDirector: Nils Timm

Writer: Nils Timm (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate French, Steven Brand, Steve Hanks, Billy Wirth, Caroline Whitney Smith, Kevin Brewerton

 

Plot: Struggling with horrifying, sleep-paralysis induced visions, a young writer retreats with her boyfriend to an isolated desert house. As the visions intensify, she finds herself on the verge of losing her mind…or uncovering a life-threatening secret.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Horror

 

Story: Echoes starts as we see Anna Parker (French) who has been suffering from sleep paralysis during the night and while trying to get her screenplay looked at past her agent Paul (Brand) during the day even if he is her boyfriend outside the office.

Looking to escape from the busy life the couple head out to a remote cabin to relax and focus on their relationship and work. When Paul must return to the city Anna finds herself alone in the cabin and it isn’t long before she starts getting haunted by a strange ghostly figure during her sleep paralysis. As the pieces come together we learn the truth about what happened to the ghostly figure haunting that home.

Echoes turns out to be just like most ghost investigation story where we have a ghost trying to get revenge on the people who were responsible for their death. There are not many scares going on during this film with most parts of the film just being designed to try and hide what is the most obvious conclusion of the story.

Kate does a solid job in the leading role while Brand is good in this role. The rest of the cast are just used as tools to help learn more about the bigger picture with none of them getting enough time to really make the impact on the overall story. this really is a simple horror film that doesn’t get any surprises along the way.

 

Overall: Horror investigation 101, nothing new, nothing fresh

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World Cinema Weekend – The End (2012)

endDirector: Jorge Torregrossa

Writer: Sergio G Sanchez, Jorge Guerricaechevarria (Screenplay) David Monteagudo (Novel)

Starring: Maribel Verdu, Daniel Grao, Clara Lago, Carmen Ruiz, Andres Velencoso, Miquel Fernandez, Blanca Romero

 

Plot: A group of old friends gets together for a weekend in a mountain cabin. Years have gone by and yet nothing seems to have changed between them. But lurking behind the laughter and stories is a murky episode from the past that continues to haunt them. A strange, sudden incident alters their plans, leaving them stranded and with no line of communication to the outside world. On their way for help, the group starts to disintegrate, just as a new natural order is unveiled before their astonished eyes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Impressive Sci-Fi Drama

 

Story: The End starts as an old group of school friend reunite for the weekend we have Maribel (Verdu), Felix (Grao), Eva (Lago), Sara (Ruiz), Hugo (Velencoso), Sergio (Fernandez), Cova (Romero) and Rafa (Garrido) all in the cabin within the mountain region of Spain.

Their trip is interrupted by a sudden light and boom in the distance with all the phones going dead along with all of their cars. They all beginning to question an incident in their past with another student Angel known as the Prophet where the consequences of what they did are still being felt.

Finding themselves standard they look for a way down from the mountain top back to society but find unusual occurrences along the way, what has happened to make this happen and who will make it back alive?

 

Thoughts on The End

 

StoryThe story plays nicely into the idea that the end of the world has happened and people could be left behind, we have a nice mix of not knowing going on throughout the film and with the characters disappearing one at a time we are left wondering just what is happening within the film. This gives us a compelling story even if it isn’t the most original. The big plus point I u just not knowing who will go missing next or why these people have been left.

Sci-Fi/ThrillerThe sci-fi side of this story comes from the end of the world happening with people being left behind and just not knowing what to expect from being left behind. The thriller side is us left wondering just what is left for our characters to find and what is their fate.

Characters/PerformanceEach character is different in their own way but in a way where you could see them all being a group of friends. Each performance a great from the actors and by not knowing who most of these actors are it is hard at times to figure out who the most important ones will be early on.

SettingsThe settings are used to show us the remote isolated location our characters start in when the incident happens as well as showing us just how empty the world would look without humans in.

Special EffectsThe special effects all work well but the film focuses more on the drama of what is going on between the characters as they slowly disappear from each other’s lives.

Final ThoughtsThis films shows just what life is like as the people we once loved will eventually leave our lives at different stages of it, sure everything is put into an end of the world situation but the metaphor for growing older shines through in my opinion.

 

Overall: Very good sci-fi thriller that just keeps you guessing.

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

eyesDirector: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael (Screenplay) Arthur Schnitzler (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Rade Serbedzija, Todd Field, Vinessa Shaw, Sky Du Mont

 

Plot: A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Intense Thriller

 

Story: Eyes Wide Shut starts as Dr William Harford (Cruise) and his wife Alice (Kidman) attend a high society party hosted by Victor Ziegler (Pollack). At the party, Alice is wooed by a rich man at the party while William is almost seduced by two beautiful models before covering up an incident for Ziegler.

The next night the two find themselves arguing about what happened at the party which leads to the revelation that Alice almost cheated on William once before during the marriage. Wondering the streets after helping a patient he visits his old friend Nick Nightingale (Field) who is a pianist at selective parties which gives William a chance to explore a sexual underworld putting his own life in danger in the process.

 

Thoughts on Eyes Wide Shut

 

StoryWhen you look into this story, this is an erotic mystery thriller that shows what happens when you start to question you own marriage by going into the sexual underworld. We see how when William questions his own position what he tries puts not only his own life but everyone he knows life in danger in what feels like a cult heavy story of the rich and famous society. To think this film is over 2 and half hours long is amazing because it never seems to drag which when you try to simplify this story it sounds like an easy hour and half film.

Mystery/ThrillerThe mystery in this film is created once we are left to wonder just what William has gotten himself into, who are these people, why are the people he knows changing after than night, we get plenty of questions that lead to the thrilling side of the story that just keeps us guessing throughout.

Characters/PerformancesWilliam is the almost betrayed husband seeking something for his own desire like what his wife did but what he finds becomes he need to cover up his own action to protect his family. Every other character does just feel like somebody from within the mysterious cult that is following William. Performance wise this is brilliant from both Cruise and Kidman with everyone else give great performances for their few scenes.

SettingsThe streets of New York show just how lost in his life William is as the houses he finds himself in are all expensive houses, hotels or mansion to show how easily he could become part of this world.

Final ThoughtsI can see why people did enjoy this one and you can see just how brilliant Kubrick was as a director because each scene is filled with tension with excellent use of music. I didn’t enjoy this one that much even though I did think it was made so well with brilliant performances throughout.

 

Overall: Masterfully made movie that just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

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Eloise (2017)

eloDirector: Robert Legato

Writer: Christopher Borrelli (Screenplay)

Starring: Eliza Dushku, Robert Patrick, Chace Crawford, Brandon T Jackson, Martin Klebba, Nicole Forester

 

Plot: Four friends break into an abandoned insane asylum in search of a death certificate which will grant one of them a large inheritance. However, finding it soon becomes the least of their worries in a place haunted by dark memories.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Had Potential

 

Story: Eloise starts with reading and a history lesson on Eloise psychiatric home where DR H. H. Greiss (Patrick) is said to have performed inhumane tests and treatments on the patients before a fire closed the facility in 1982 with only four of the original 78 buildings still standing. So, let me guess this right, first we must read what happened, small clip of the torture and then news reports of what happened, oooo they do also have a report that the builds have been searched and people still see ghosts within the walls.

The film finally gets started with Pia (Dushku) being questioned in an asylum being asked to remember what happened in Eloise with the bodies of her friends being found there, yeah, the film gives away who dies in the opening moments.

So, she enters into what happened by jumping to Jacob Martin (Crawford) because she would know what was going on in his life before the events. Anyway, Jacob learns that his father has passed away but he needs to go to Eloise to find the records of his Aunt’s death so he can inherit his family’s fortune.

When the report takes too long to get Jacob is joined by his friend Dale (Jackson), local historian Scott (Byrne) and his sister Pia as they look to break into Eloise to locate the records. But this is a horror movie and as the four find themselves walking through the empty corridors they soon learn that not everything is as it seems as the ghosts of the asylum still search for new patients to practise on.

 

 

Thoughts on Eloise

 

StoryI feel like this is going to be a long rant, because to me the storytelling is awful, first we have the reading only two minutes later we get narration telling us the same story. we also have the film give away who dies and how in the opening scene and most ridiculous we must deal with a character telling the story who isn’t even involved in the first part outside Eloise. With the rant out of the way this is a story that does try to have some moments of originality especially in the final third but getting there has been done before.

HorrorWe have solid scares, we have a good setting which is what you need for the horror films but what we don’t have is a good story.

Characters/PerformancesThe characters involved are easily ripped out of the generic horror clichés, we have the lead Jacob trying to figure out a way to find the information required with Eloise, the potential love interest who doesn’t want to go but does to protect family that is also telling the story, add in the token supporting characters with the pushy friend and the geek character with glasses none of them feel fresh. The evil doctor again is something we have seen before too.

When you look at the performances the film has a draw for the horror fans with Eliza Dushku who is good without doing too much, while Chace showing once more that he is more of a supporting star rather than leading man. Byrne makes himself the comic relief of the film with Jackson just being the extra guy. It is Patrick that enjoy the fun in this film being the mad man doctor.

SettingsOnce the film makes it into the asylum this all works well but otherwise this is all good for the settings side of the story.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the special effects in this fil we have good ones going on throughout without needing to be too over the top but enough for the horror.

Final ThoughtsThe film does have a good final act but getting there does take a lot of hard work, through the bad story telling going on early on even if the end comes off nicely.

 

Overall: The final third of this film is good but the build-up is so plain nothing work for the final moments of the film.

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John Malkovich Weekend – Empire of the Sun (1987)

empireDirector: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) J.G. Ballard (Novel)

Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant

 

Story: Empire of the Sun starts in 1941 China as we follow an English family the Graham’s Mary (Richard), John (Frazer) and boy Jim (Bale) who find themselves in the middle of the tension between China and Japan. While trying to get out of China during the first invasion Jim finds himself separated where he returns home waiting for his parents to return all while having to fend for himself.

Jim meets American Basie (Malkovich), British couple Mrs Victor (Richardson), Mr Victor (Gale) and Dr Rawlins (Havers) as he has to survive in conditions his privileged lifestyle isn’t used to as a prisoner of war.

Empire of the Sun is a war drama that follows one boy during a war outbreak. This shows his struggle and search for anyone who will help him. I do like how the story decides to stay away from showing the actual conflict of war showing the human effects of what is happening. Also seeing the story from the boy’s point of view helps us understand the struggle he is facing even if he does come off annoying in places. This is one of those films that hasn’t dated at all even though it is reaching the age of 30 this year.

 

Actor Review

 

Christian Bale: Jim is the English boy living in China during the outbreak of World War II, he has lived there for his whole life. He gets separated from his family he has to fend for himself from within a Prisoner of War camp. I will say this character comes off very annoying having been taught nothing by his parents and never knowing when to shut up but that can’t be taken away from Bale’s performance. Christian shows all the shines that he was going to go onto become the star he is now with this brilliant performance.

John Malkovich: Basie is an American wheeler and dealer that reluctantly takes care of Jim during the wartime partly because he knows how to find him a deal, he gives him motivation to carry on while always looking for his own escape. John gives us the performance that is great and shows us he is a main stay of Hollywood.

Miranda Richardson: Mrs Victor is one of the British woman that take care of Jim in the prisoner of war camp, she does get tired of his stories but knows she is trying her best to protect him. Miranda is good in this supporting role without being over used.

Nigel Havers: Dr Rawlins is also at the prisoner of war who offers Jim time within the hospital caring for the sick during the time of war. Nigel much like Miranda is a good supporting without getting enough time to be over used.

Support Cast: Empire of the Sun has a good supporting cast with what I would say the only bad thing is we never feel like anyone is a really bad guy character.

Director Review: Steven SpielbergSteven give us one of the best wartime drama of all time that doesn’t focus on the actual conflict.

 

History: Empire of the Sun shows us what the prisoner of war camps would have been like during World War II filled with sickness and dealing to make it all bearable.

War: Empire of the Sun is a great look at how the children or in this case a single child was effected by the conflict breaking out in a new country.

Settings: Empire of the Sun makes each setting come off realistic be it the cities or the camp to make us see and feel the struggle Jim has to go through.  
Special Effects
: Empire of the Sun uses the effects when need and they all come off very well.

Suggestion: Empire of the Sun is one I do think everyone should watch at least once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: While annoying Bale is brilliant in this role.

Worst Part: Slightly long.

 

Believability: While the story is fictional I do think elements could have been real.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 6 Oscars.

Budget: $35 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 33 Minutes

Tagline: To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.

 

Overall: One of Spielberg’s best films.

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