Lifechanger (2018)

Director: Justin McConnell

Writer: Justin McConnell (Screenplay)

Starring: Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Rachel VanDuzer, Steve Kasan, Sam White, Bill Oberst Jr

 

Plot: A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shapeshifting Shocker

 

Story: Lifechanger starts as the murderous shapeshifter takes over the body of Emily (Bako) giving us the rules of how long they can be within each body, it won’t be long until it needs to find a new host. The shapeshifter Drew (voiced by Oberst Jr) is trying to get back to the woman he loved Julia (Burke).

As the story unfolds the shapeshifter finds himself visiting Julia in a different body on a daily basis, watching over her, trying to figure out how to explain the situation to her.

 

Thoughts on Lifechanger

 

Characters – Julia is the former wife of the shapeshifter, she spends most nights in a bar, she never knew what happened to her husband after the death of their child and little does she know that she is being watched over by her husband the shapeshifter. The shapeshifter Drew goes through a process, where it takes a body, disposes of any evidence before meeting with Julia, it knows how to adapt to each location, each body and each life and is doing everything it can to be with the woman it loves Julia.

PerformancesThe performances are hard to explain because all bar Lora Burke are playing versions of the Shapeshifter, needing to keep certain characteristics while also being unique because of their differences, in Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Rachel VanDuzer and more that is. When it comes to Lora Burke, we get to see a good performance of a woman that is lost in life, trying to remain strong after her own tragic moments.

StoryThe story follows a Shapeshifter jumping between bodies as it hopes to get back to the woman it loves only the bodies start piling up and soon it is running out of time to reveal its secret before its time runs out. This does seem like a smart idea because of the idea that it plays into, with love, though the final twist on takes everything we knew and throws it on its head leaving you shocked. It does pose the question about survival and even touches on the ideas that ‘Under the Skin’ did, only without going into the alien line.

HorrorThe horror in the film comes from just how the shapeshifting occurs which we see more and more as the film continues on.

SettingsThe film is set in a city where Drew can visit his love every time he takes a new body, it shows how the manhunt starts when the bodies start getting discovered.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which is a praise because we get to see how the changes happen ever increasing graphicness.


Scene of the Movie –
The hatching.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This could have been a lot gorier when it comes to the shapeshifting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a smart shapeshifting horror, it does want to get into the body horror levels, though it never reaches the shocking levels it could, even though it ends up focusing on a different side to it all.

 

Overall: Horror that focuses on the shapeshifters desire to survive.

Rating

 

 

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Locked In (2016)

Director: Ivan Silvestrini

Writer: Elena Bucaccio, Stefano Sardo, Ivan Silvestrini, Mauro Uzzeo (Screenplay) Roberto Recchioni (Story)

Starring: Katrina Bowden, Jay Hayden, Brandon W Jones, Lauren McKnight, Damon Dayoub, Justine Wachsberger

 

Plot: A mother and her son plan a surprise visit to Los Angeles to see her husband/his father. Halfway there they get into a terrible accident in the middle of nowhere and now must fight to survive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bad Parenting 101

 

Story: Locked In starts as Sandra (Bowden) is taker her baby David across country in new car a monolith, a new state of the art car that offers protection and safety unlike anything else on the market.

When travelling the car informs Sandra of an accident which leads her down a back road, where she is involved in an accident and like all responsible parents, she gives her mobile to her child to play with, well distract while trying to figure out what to do. The problem is that he locks her out the car and she is left stranded in the middle of know where with her son trapped in the car.

 

Thoughts on Locked In

 

Characters – Sandra is the stressed-out mother needing to take her baby son across country, she is questioning whether her husband is cheating on her and dealing with the new car that is technology driven. She does the modern parenting technique of given the kid the phone which leads to him locking himself in the car and her having no way of getting in to rescue him. We don’t really meet any other characters for more than a phone call.

PerformancesThis film relies on the strong performance from the lead, but the problem comes from the performance from Katrina Bowden who doesn’t have the range to take a leading role in this movie, we struggle to believe her actions.

StoryThe story here plays into the idea of the nightmare situation where a parent finds their child locked in their car which they can’t get into. The problem here is that is sums up two problems in the world, the new technology boom and bad parenting that uses smart technology which children can cause problems getting the wrong material. By the end of the film it does feel like I was playing a computer game and got lose myself.

ThrillerThis is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, but sadly you will be checking the time a lot.

SettingsWe are set in the middle of nowhere, which works, but it seems like there are easier ways out of the situation.


Scene of the Movie –
End credits because I didn’t have to see anymore.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like a car commercial.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t a very interesting thriller which does just end up feeling flat from start to finish.

 

Overall: Forget about this one.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – L – Loser (2000)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Writer: Amy Heckerling (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Zak Orth, Thomas Sadoski, Jimmi Simpson, Greg Kinnear

 

Plot: A college student, branded a loser by his roommates and booted from the dorm, falls in love with a coed who has eyes for their condescending professor.


Tagline – Dare to be different

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Comedy

 

Story: Loser starts as small-town boy Paul Tannek (Biggs) gets a full scholarship to college in New York City, he struggles to fit in with his roommate and his friends Adam (Orth), Chris (Saboski) and Noah (Simpson) not liking him. The only student that gives him any time is Dora (Suvari) who is involved with their professor Edward Alcott (Kinnear).

When Paul gets moved out of his dorm, his roommates she it as an off-campus party place as they continue to use his kind nature, while he learns about Dora and her secret. We get to see how Paul must learn to deal with college life.

 

Thoughts on Loser

 

Characters – Paul is from a small town, he is over trusting of people which gets him in trouble when his roommates take advantage of him, Dora isn’t the most honest with him and must learn about the busy college life. Dora is the love interest for Paul, but she is dating her professor, she plays into the idea that she is being controlled by her authority figure that is clearly using her. Professor Alcott is the teacher for both Paul and Dora’s subject, he is using her knowing he would get fired if it ever became public. We do meet the roommates that mostly just use Paul to have parties while they try to drug women at the parties.

PerformancesJason Biggs was the king of teen comedies in the 2000s this might well be his least known role, but it sure was just what he was great at. Mena Suvari also came from the American Pie and while I hated her character in this film she showed she was a great go to girl for teenage comedies. Greg Kinnear gives us a good douchebag professor and one we could all hate.

StoryThe story follows one small-town college student that must get used to big city, people with different attitudes that will abuse his good nature while he falls in love with a girl that doesn’t notice him. This does have a thin story if we are being honest, as it does show the balance between college romance, and the shallow party lifestyle and not much else. If you want a simple romantic comedy you will enjoy this one even if the supporting characters can frustrate at times.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t on the same level as the other college films of the time and the romance story is here but it is frustrating to see how Dora doesn’t notice Paul that way for most of the film.

SettingsNew York makes for a great setting for any movie as I always say, this time it works because of the new busy location that isn’t filled with honest people that Paul must get used.


Scene of the Movie –
Music.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Dora is a dumb girl.

Final ThoughtsThis is a teen comedy I did enjoy back in the day, it does deserve more praise even though it feels like I have just moaned about it, I love the music, I like that we see our main character Paul learn about his mistakes through the film and become tougher for the next stage of his life.

 

Overall: Good Old Teen Comedy.

Rating

 

 

Leave No Trace (2018)

Director: Debra Granik

Writer: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini (Screenplay) Peter Rock (Novel)

Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Jeff Kober, Spence S Hanley

 

Plot: A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moving Struggle

 

Story: Leave No Trace starts as we meet Will (Foster) and his daughter Tom (Mckenzie) who live in the urban park in Portland Oregon, away from people quiet secluded life, where they only venture into the town when they need supplies.

The perfect life changes when the police arrest them sending them through a homing agency which places them in a remote location where Will must work and Tom is encouraged to enrol in school despite her being highly educated, we watch to see how they can adapt to this new lifestyle.

 

Thoughts on Leave No Trace

 

Characters – Will has chosen to raise his daughter away from society, living in the woods of a national park, he believes this is the right decision for her and this does seem to be for his own problems with the world, he can’t adapt to the new life offered to him, risking both their lives when he head back out to the wilderness. Tom is the daughter that enjoys the life her father has given her, but it is the only one she has ever known, when she learns of the new life offered, she does want to take the chance on it, making friends and even trying school. It is the bond she has with her father that truly holds her back.

PerformancesThomasin McKenzie is fantastic in the leading role, she has easily made herself a star with this performance which is filled with loyalty to her father and confusion about where the right place for her is to be. Ben Foster once again excels in a leading role of this film, he shows that he is one of the best actors working today and one that doesn’t always get the praise he deserves.

StoryThe story shows a father and daughter living off the grid due to the problems in the father’s life after his time in the military. Where their home is taken they must learn to work in a normal society or face being split up. We see how Will can’t cope with this new life, while Tom is open to the change she is seeing from a new opportunity in life, which leads us to the ultimate decision needing to be made between the two. You can see why this clearly is being likened to ‘Winter’s Bone’ because of the bleakness involved in the world they have between them. It does look at how the re-homing system treats the American people that seem to know where and feel comfortable in the situation they are in. the key part of this story is that fact we have no villain to be seen, this does help tell the human story being told.

SettingsThe film does show us beautiful settings for the events to take place, the problem with this comes from the fact if you don’t know your states you won’t be able to pinpoint how far anyone travels.


Scene of the Movie –
The final shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing the locations on a map.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderfully directed movie that takes us on a journey to see where people can go to find a home even if it isn’t in the normal locations.

 

Overall: Powerful and moving drama

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror -L – Landmine Goes Click (2015)

Director: Levan Bakhia

Writer: Adrian Colussi (Screenplay) Levan Bakhia, Adrian Colussi, Lloyd S Wagner (Story)

Starring: Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer, Kote Tolordava, Giorgi Tsaava

 

Plot: Trapped standing on an armed landmine, an American tourist is forced to watch helplessly while his girlfriend is terrorized and brutally assaulted.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Interesting Horror

 

Story: Landmine goes Click starts as three friends Chris (Knight), Alicia (Locke) and Daniel (Geyer) head off into the Georgian wilderness for a weekend away before Daniel and Alicia’s wedding. When the three are having a photo taken Chris accidently stands on a landmine but this is just revenge plot by Daniel on his friends that have been having an affair behind his back.

Chris and Alicia must get help but this is just the beginning of the nightmare as Ilya (Tolordava) a local that puts Alicia through a sexual assault with Chris have no way of helping.

 

Thoughts on Landmine Goes Click

 

Characters – Chris starts as the third wheel on the trip but it soon turns out he has been involved with Alicia leading to the revenge where he finds himself trapped on a landmine helpless to help Alicia when she gets assaulted. Alicia is the fiancé of Daniel that has been cheating on him with Chris and in the revenge, must go through a brutal assault. Daniel is the friend that gets betrayed and sets up the revenge before abandoning his friends. Ilya is the main assaulter that takes advantage of Alicia but must face the reality of what he did in the future. The characters don’t feel overly original and the love triangle is an easy aspect to use in horror to create a divide.

PerformanceThe performances here are mixed because Locke must go through a lot but doesn’t convince to the levels needed, Sterling Knight does seem to struggle to be convincing in his role in both chapters of the story, at times it does just feel like he is on a film set over a real life situation which is needed for the role. The rest are both fine too through the film without being great.

StoryThe story can be broken into three parts, the first is the trapped on the landmine for revenge which seems to get skimmed over in places, then we have the assault side which does crank up the tension but does seem to go on slightly too long, the third side of the film is the revenge on the attacker which again doesn’t reach the tension levels. This mix tries to show us something new but in the end it does come off flat in places as we can predict where things will go.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action is mostly down to the potential of what could happen to the characters with the crime being the ordeals that Alicia and Chris must go through. The film does try to keep us on edge but ends up either going on too long or not long enough.

SettingsThe film has two main settings, the first is where the landmine is which does work if it was the only location but the second location makes the film feel like it has dragged on at times.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just felt long when it didn’t need to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting thriller that could have reached new heights but gets the timings of the three main scenes all over the place.

 

Overall: A lot of potential just missed.

Rating