House of Salem (2016)

Director: James Crow

Writer: James Crow (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Arterton, Jack Brett Anderson, Liam Kelly, Leslie Mills, Roberts Lowe, Andrew Lee Potts

 

Plot: A group of kidnappers become a child’s unlikely protectors, after finding out they have unwittingly been set up to take part in a deadly game of human sacrifice. As they start to uncover the truth of the safe house they find themselves trapped, they must battle demonic forces in the walls and uncover the terrifying truth of over a hundred years of murder in the name of the Devil.


Tagline – The Devil Has Come Home

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nightmare Building Horror

 

Story: House of Salem starts as kidnappers lead by Nancy (Arterton) kidnap young boy Josh (Kelly) with the plans to keep him in a safehouse until the parents pay the ransom.

The more time the kidnappers spend at the safehouse, the stranger things start to become in the house and the kidnappers learn they may have bitten of more than they can chew.

 

Thoughts on House of Salem

 

Characters – Nancy is in charge of the operation of the kidnapping, believing no one would get hurt and tries to protect her kidnap victim, she comes off as the misguided criminal. Jack is one of the kidnaping group he doe question just what the group is up to. Josh is the victim, kidnapped, but has strangely has a connection to his deceased brother and even know how the night is going to play out.

PerformancesJessica Arterton in the leading role is good, pulling of the sympathetic criminal well, while Jack Brett Anderson works well as the misguided criminal. Liam Kelly as the kid is good for a child star. The cast work well through the film to play out each generic criminal character.  

StoryThe story takes us on a kidnapping that takes a horrific twist, this is filled with ideas that you wouldn’t imagine because of the direction the story unfolds. The build up moments for the horror do play into the normal for horror involving these elements, but as the final twenty minutes show us just how twisted the film’s story will go.

HorrorThe horror side of the film comes from learning what the house is known for and why the people have been selected.

SettingsThe film takes place in one house in the middle of nowhere, it creates the isolation needed to add to the horror and they are there for a reason which makes sense for the story.

Special EffectsThe effects are mostly used for after effects of certain moments that have happened, or focus on the practical effects of the creation of the characters look.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The support kidnappers are not the most original characters, the tough one, the insecure one, the one that would kill.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good low budget horror, it has a smart idea that could easily become something much bigger too.

 

Overall: Strong low budget movie.

Rating

 

 

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Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Holiday (2006)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Christmas Film

 

Story: The Holiday starts as we see Iris (Winslet) a wedding columnist who is madly in love with a co-worker Jasper (Sewell) but discovers he is now engaged to a fellow co-worker destroying what she wanted in life. We move to LA where we meet Amanda (Diaz) who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Both women want to spend Christmas away from home and the stresses of their lives find themselves swapping homes for a couple of weeks. Both women find themselves like a fish out of water, with Amanda befriending Iris’ brother Graham (Law), while Iris meets composer Miles (Black) and her 90-year old neighbour Arthur (Wallach) who is just as lonely as she finds herself.

With the story unfolding the two women get to learn a new way of life they could never imagine and find themselves learning they could one day love again.

 

Thoughts on The Holiday

 

Characters/PerformanceAmanda is a movie trailer cutter who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes searching for a getaway from her life, she finds herself in England meeting Graham who shows her a new way of life. Iris is an English woman that has found herself trapped hoping that one day she will end up with one co-worker. She agrees to go on the house swap to LA where she meets a man whose getting older and feels forgotten by his work as well as a man in Miles who is going through the same problems is. Graham is a single father trying to balance any sort of relationship with a career and raising his children. Miles is a music composer for movies that offers friendship for Iris but connection on the levels,

Performance Wise, Diaz shows once again she is great for romantic comedies, with Winslet showing here that she can handle comedy, Law shows he is always good for this type of role and Jack Black steps up to go toe to toe with true A-listers.

StoryThe story is about love, how we these women go through a bad patch but will find a way to be stronger once they come through it. While it is all very much created to say there will always be a quick fix after a break up, we do get to experience the joy they go through. By the end of the film you will have said you enjoyed the journey we go through.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t too heavy but comes off when it needs to, with the romance side of the story tackling break ups, letting people go and most of all taking a chance on someone new.

SettingsThe settings are used well to show the different worlds both Amanda and Iris have come from and how they get used to the new lives they are living for two weeks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great Christmas film that gives us all hope when it comes to love even when we think we might have lost it all when it comes to hope.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Christmas film for all to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Hike (2011)

Director: Rupert Bryan

Writer: Rupert Bryan, Ben Loyd-Holmes (Screenplay)

Starring: Jemma Bolt, Stephanie Siadatan, Lisa-Maria Long, Zara Phythian, Barabara Nedeljakova, Tamer Hassan, Ben Loy-Holmes, Shauna Macdonald

 

Plot: This film is about a group of women who go on a camping trip in British countryside after one of them (Kate) gets back from doing a tour in Afghanistan where she witnessed her boyfriends death. While out in the bush area they come across a group of guys who are also camping out. But it all goes from having a good time and enjoying themselves to a fight for their lives as they are soon being hunted by someone in the forest. Who will survive?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boring at Best

 

Story: The Hike starts as five friends Kate (Phythian), Torri (Nedeljakova), Ellie (Long), Leanne (Siadatan) and Charlie (Bolt) head off into the countryside for a weekend away to help Kate get over the loss of her boyfriend while she was serving in Afghanistan.

As the girls hike goes on they meet a string off different characters also out in the woods but when one of their own goes missing, it is up to Kate to protect her friends and make it out of the woods alive using all her training.

 

Thoughts on The Hike

 

Characters/PerformanceKate is meant to be a soldier that is grieving the loss of her partner but soon must go back into soldier mode to save her friends from the enemy within the woods. The rest of the girls are all very painfully generic and never look like they would ever go into the woods camping. The villains are also generic and while we get a tease of who it could be either way would not surprise.

Performance wise, this isn’t the best acted movie all around, we get what feels like completely fake conversation between the girls, and villain performance that just comes off boring. We also have two bigger names thrown into the mix to sell the movie who are barely even in a scene.

StoryThe story is an easy follow, girls go down the woods and find themselves fighting for their lives from twisted rapist and murders, all in England, well I never. My problem with the story is we go for shock here by having member of the group killed without being able to put up a fight while the strongest member Kate is preparing herself for the battle, the story tries to force us into watching uncomfortable rape sequences that just don’t shock like ‘I Spit on your Grave’ and ends up just becoming forgettable.

HorrorThe horror does work in places when you look at how people could find it hard to watch the subject matter we are seeing but otherwise it is just girls running in woods and guys looking to rape and murder them.

SettingsWe are in the middle of the woods which is great for creating the isolation needed within the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used when it comes to the kills all look good for the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that feels like they put the wrong characters in the middle of a survival horror that also offers us nothing new.

 

Overall: Forgettable Horror.

Rating

 

 

High-Rise (2015)

Director: Ben Wheatley

Writer: Amy Jump (Screenplay) J.G. Ballard (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Keeley Hawes

 

Plot: Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not My Thing

 

Story: High-Rise starts with Dr Laing (Hiddleston) moving into a new high-rise apartment, it doesn’t take long for him to meet the neighbours including Charlotte (Miller), Wilder (Evans), Helen (Moss) and the owner of the building and apparent recluse Royal (Irons).

The longer Laing spends in the building he learns all about the difference between people with in the building find some easier to get on with than others but can he cope with all the drama surrounding them.

 

Thoughts on High-Rise

 

Characters/PerformanceLaing is the stranger moving into the high-rise, he tries to stay on the outside of all social standards in the building but finds himself trapped seeing both sides of the battle within the building. Royal is the king of the castle, he wants to open the door to Laing as he is tired of the crowd he finds himself around. Charlotte is a resident in the building, a single mother that is always trying to go in within the building.

Performance wise, Hiddleston is good without being breath taking best, with Jeremy Iron strange king of the castle being the highlight of the film. Miller is solid without doing too much.

StoryThe story focuses on the different levels of social standard within one building from the view of the outsider trying to piece together what he has seen, this isn’t the most interesting story and turns to the quirkiness of the film to try and attract the audience.

SettingsMost of the film is set on the different levels of the High-Rise building that shows us the different social levels each level has as they slowly descend into obsession.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very weird film and I can clearly see an audience enjoy this movie, but for me I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy what was going on.

 

Overall: Awkward and weird to say the least.

Rating

 

 

The Hero (2017)

Director: Brett Haley

Writer: Brett Haley, Marc Basch (Screenplay)

Starring: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katharine Ross, Doug Cox

 

Plot: An ailing movie star comes to terms with his past and mortality.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Drama

 

Story: The Hero starts as we meet ailing movie start Lee Hayden (Elliott) who has become reduced to voice over advertisement, but his life is about to take an unexpected twist when he learns that he has cancer. Lee is distant from his family now with his daughter Lucy (Ritter) living her own life.

Lee is about to be given a lifetime achievement award and doesn’t want to attend alone, while his daughter is busy it is stranger Charlotte (Prepon) that gives lee a spark in his life and joins him at the ceremony. When Lee gets into a relationship with Charlotte a much younger woman, Lee starts to make headlines after his speech goes viral but Lee must start facing the mortality he is facing when his popularity is at its highest level.

 

Thoughts on The Hero

 

Characters – Lee Hayden is the aging film start whose career is going out in a whimper and the cancer diagnosis helps him sink to the bottom seeing his life going out with a flicker, but when he meets a younger woman he remaining time changes, he becomes an internet sensation and tries to rebuild his relationship with his daughter. Charlotte gives Lee a reason to continue to fight, she is a comedian who is younger than him but doesn’t think age is important. Jeremy is the drug dealer which accidently introduces the two, he has been Lee’s biggest support for years now. Lucy is the distant daughter of Lee’s who has gone onto live her own life but now gets a chance to get everything off her chest.

PerformancesSam Elliott is fantastic in this lead role, carrying the film with his every action, this performance could be an outside shot for an Oscar nomination this year. Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman and Krysten Ritter are all good through the film working with Elliott very well.

StoryThe story of a once famous movie star having his life and career fading away on front of his eyes is something many people in the industry have faced. This is an important look at how people should treat their elders, be it parents or people that paved the way for them in their field. It shows how it is never too late to make up for mistakes.

SettingsThe settings show us how Lee has made a life away from the busy life of LA but can never look out of place in the city too.


Scene of the Movie –
The Audition

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked to meet the agent over the drug dealer.

Award Wins: 1 Win Newport Beach Film Festival – Outstanding achievement in Filmmaking.

Award Nominations: 2 nominations for Brett Haley from Sundance and Cleveland International.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most touching dramas that show us how important life is no matter what people have done wrong the family members will love them, the people in the industry will remember them and you must continue to fight.

 

Overall: Very impressive drama that could have moments of tears or happiness.

Rating