Hereditary (2018)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

 

Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.


Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Take Time to Analysis

 

Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.

After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.

 

Thoughts on Hereditary

 

Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.

PerformancesWe have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.

StoryThe story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.

SettingsMost of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one scene that I could help but pick up on the CGI being used and it annoyed me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.

 

Overall: One to think hard about.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Animation – H – Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Writer: Robert Smigel, Adam Sandler (Screenplay) Todd Durham (Characters)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Space, Keegan-Michael Key

 

Plot: Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.


Tagline – Drac’s pack is back

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Sandler’s Sequel

 

Story: Hotel Transylvania 2 starts as Mavis and Jonathan get married and start a family in Dracula’s hotel, with their child Dennis in a position of being either a human or a vampire, Dracula comes up with a plan to forces Dennis into becoming a vampire, by sending Mavis and Jonathan on a vacation.

As Dracula’s attempts to push Dennis into become a monster, he must learn that the world has changed from the time he grew up and now monsters are accepted in the world

 

Thoughts on Hotel Transylvania 2

 

Characters – Dracula is the hotel owner and still protective father, but not grandfather, he wants to see his hybrid grandson follow in his footsteps over letting him be a natural growing into his natural form. Jonathan is the human husband of Mavis that enjoys the hotel life, he must work with Dracula to stay in the hotel. Mavis is the mother of Dennis, a vampire that is trying to figure out where to raise her son.

StoryThe story seems to follow the ideas of how the world is changing and people from different generations need to learn how to adapt to this new world. Somehow, we get a deeper meaning in a movie which was designed to come off as bringing different monsters together into one movie with a comic side to it. We have another look at how a grandparent is trying to control how their children raise their kids which is fine, it a formula that works well.

Comedy/FamilyThe comedy side of this film comes from how the different monsters can go against the trends of what we have seen in the horror versions of these films, this will also be one of the family to enjoy.

SettingsThe film takes us to the hotel in Transylvania as well as the modern world where Mavis gets to experience things for the first time, we get moments which takes out character down memory lane too.

AnimationThe animation used in the movie is good from start to finish, using the generic images of the monsters to add comedy to the looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Camp time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me One too many Sandler and friends jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is an animated comedy that does seem to work on levels you wouldn’t imagine it hitting, it will work for the whole family and shows when held back Sandler can make bearable comedies.

 

Overall: Solid animated sequel.

Rating

 

 

Malin Akerman Weekend – The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon, Kevin Barnett (Screenplay) Bruce Jay Friedman (Short Story)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman, Michelle Monaghan, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Scott Wilson

 

Plot: A newly wed man who believes he’s just gotten hitched to the perfect woman encounters another lady on his honeymoon.


Tagline – It seemed like a good idea… at the time

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Laugh Out Loud Comedy

 

Story: The Heartbreak Kid starts as we meet 40-year-old Eddie (Stiller) a single man who has never got near to marrying, with his friends settling down, when he comes out of an ex-girlfriend wedding he is feeling down, but a chance meeting with Lila (Akerman) could change everything in his future.

Being spontaneous and learning that Lila could need to leave for work unless she is married the two get married after just 6 weeks together and head off on their honeymoon in Mexico. The longer the two spend together the bigger secrets that come out and Eddie starts to regret marrying her and it becomes worse when he meets Miranda (Monaghan) while on the honeymoon.

 

Thoughts on The Heartbreak Kid

 

Characters – Eddie is a 40-year-old man who has never committed to a relationship with his friends getting married, but when he meets Lila he bites the bullet and gets married only to learn Lila isn’t the woman he thought she was and tries to start hanging out with another woman at the resort. Lila is the beautiful woman that comes into Eddie’s life, to stay in America she gets married, only to show the flaws that Eddie hasn’t seen yet, one that is different to what he wants. Miranda is a woman that Eddie meets at the resort and they just click, but she doesn’t know his secret.

PerformancesBen Stiller gives one of his best performances of his career on the comic level, he fits the character well and gets both the serious and slapstick style down well. Malin Akerman does great and uses her abilities for the comedy that goes against what you would expect. Michelle Monaghan is always a great choice in these roles and fits the role perfectly.

StoryThe story shows us what it is like to be getting to an age where getting married can become important or facing loneliness and warns us about getting married too quickly, leaving you a chance to fall for the person you are meant to be with. This does work for a story as we watch Eddie try to keep his wife happy and start flirting with another woman and the comedy plays into this well.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy works well in this film we get a range of it from sarcastic to slapstick, the romance works too because it shows what it is like at the age where people would feel the need to settle down.

SettingsMost of the movie is in and around Mexico which looks beautiful throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Everything revealed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is long in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is one comedy that I did enjoy, it has good jokes and comic moments, as well as a good romantic story involved.

 

Overall: Enjoyable comedy throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – H – House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang (Screenplay)

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song, Hongfei Zhao

 

Plot: A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning

 

Story: House of Flying Daggers starts as we meet two police captains, Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau) both have been assigned to locate the new leader of the group known as the Flying Daggers, the first lead is with blind showgirl Xiao Mei (Zhang) who is set to be tortured for the information.

Jin rescues Xiao because of his respect of the Flying Daggers and wanting away from the corrupt government system. With Captain Leo hot on their tails it isn’t long before we are on a race to safety but not everything is what it seems.

 

Thoughts on House of Flying Daggers

 

Characters – Jin is one of the captain’s in the police in China, he is a playboy with the women which helps as he goes against order to rescue a prime suspect in the search for the rebel group, known as the Flying Daggers. Jin uses his charm to get close to the truth but his status becomes difficult once the truth about his plan is revealed. Leo is the fellow Captain that is by the books to make sure everything goes to the plan with the torture of Mei. Xiao Mei is the blind showgirl that is a prime suspect in the search for the Flying Daggers. Once rescued from jail, he must decide whether to truth Jin or not in a world which is dark to her, her fighting skills are fantastic as she sounds around her to know where her enemies are.

PerformancesTakeshi Kaneshiro is great in this leading role, but this does go for the three lead roles Andy Lau and Ziyi Zhang, the three shine in the film with the combat skills required to handle everything they go through with the emotional moments too.

StoryThe story here starts out as any routine, save a prisoner to go against your government idea but soon goes in directions you wouldn’t have imagined as certain things are not what they seem and love consumes the characters and what they believe they stand for. This is a very good story to watch unfold, we get moments of breaking when we turn to the action but that offers us something as the action scenes offer a moment needed for the characters to develop in the bigger picture.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action through the film is breath-taking moments using nature and weapons is a blend of beauty. The romance side of the film comes on thick in the second half as we see just how far the people will go for love.

SettingsThe film takes place mostly in a countryside of China, this gives us the beauty needing for the fight sequences.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to help with the fight sequences look even more breath-taking.


Scene of the Movie –
Treetop battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We lose track of the bigger battle in the final act.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best-looking action movies you will see, it leads you one direction before throwing us into a new one too.

 

Overall: Visual experience for all.

Rating

 

 


Hangman (2017)

Director: Johnny Martin

Writer: Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger (Screenplay)

Starring: Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow, Joe Anderson, Sarah Shahi, Sloane Warren

 

Plot: A homicide detective teams up with a criminal profiler to catch a serial killer whose crimes are inspired by the children’s game Hangman.


Tagline – The killing game.

Runtime: 1 hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Hangman starts as FBI Profiler Will Ruiney (Urban) is given the short straw of having to guide a reporter Christi Davies (Snow) around his job just as the latest murder happens, joined by retired homicide detective Ray Archer (Pacino) as the bodies start piling up and now they must stop a serial killer.

When the three learn that the serial killer is playing a game from the childhood game of Hangman, they realize how long they have between murders as they look to figure out just what the motive behind the game is.

 

Thoughts on Hangman

 

Characters – Ray Archer is the retired homicide detective that spends his time doing crosswords while supporting his partner through the murder of his wife, he still has the tricks to go against the criminals trying to be the friend Will needs through the latest case. Det Will Ruiney is a profiler that is battling with the murder of his wife, he gets given a reporter to show around, but when this case becomes personal he will not stop until he gets his hands on the serial killer. Christi Davies is the reporter that gets assigned to shadow Will giving her an insight to how the job rolls, this does open the door to her being a help when it comes to different parts of the crime. The Hangman is the serial killer that is playing the games against the cops, he seems to be able to stay one step ahead of them and can predict their next moves.

PerformancesAl Pacino is one of the greatest actors of all time, so to see him in any film in the crime world is a pleasure, this role he is good, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can, but does give us a good performance. Karl Urban is strong in his role we get to see his desperate side through the film. Brittany Snow does well with her role even if her character can feel out of place in certain scenes.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives that are tracking a serial killer that is forcing them into a game of Hangman. That is the core of the story which is fine, we establish the idea early and run with it, we have twists along the way to keep us guessing, but the putting the pieces together doesn’t get to happen for the audience, everything we learn is what the detectives learns and you won’t be able to get the outcome by guessing. This does add and take away from the film because it was good to see the killer stay ahead of them and us, but sometime the audience does like to put the pieces together themselves.

Crime/MysteryThe crime is like clockwork and does show what the killer is planning with his kills as the game is left there for them to guess, which adds into the mystery as who is this guy remains the biggest question.

SettingsThe film takes place in one city where the crime does start to make the locals panic about what is happening, it shows how a crimewave can bring a town to panic, even if we don’t see it unfold that way.


Scene of the Movie –
Trainline.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That final shot.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good crime mystery thriller that keeps us guessing to the motivation and identity of the serial killer, which is all we ask in these films.

 

Overall: Tense thriller that keeps us guessing.

Rating