The Prodigy (2019)

Director: Nicholas McCarthy

Writer: Jeff Buhler (Screenplay)

Starring: Jackson Robert Scott, Taylor Schilling, Peter Mooney, Col Feore, Paul Fautuex, Brittany Allen, Paula Bourdreau

 

Plot: A mother concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him.


Tagline – There’s Something Wrong With Miles

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Jump-Scares

 

Story: The Prodigy starts as we see couple Sarah (Schilling) and John (Mooney) have their first child, Miles (Scott) grew faster than most children showing signs of genius, now 8-years-old Miles has reached new levels of disturbing behaviour, a level where Sarah must try to figure out what is wrong with her son.

Sarah takes Miles to see a specialist Arthur Jacobs (Feore) who offers answers, but the answer is even more disturbing than Sarah could imagine, she must figure out how to get her son back to normal before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on The Prodigy

 

Characters – Miles is the young boy that is turning into a genius, only he has a darker side which sees him acting violently towards people, he sleep walks, talks and must control the situation. Sarah is the mother of Miles, she sees the problems with Miles, trying to figure out how to help him, while become uneasy around her son, once she learns the truth. John is the father, he has come from an abusive family which sees him want to remain calm raising his own son, but even he can’t cope being around Miles. Arthur Jacobs is the doctor that can get to the truth of Miles head, he does unlock the truth which only makes Sarah’s life even harder.

PerformancesJackson Robert Scott is the strongest member of the cast, he has to deal with the innocent nature of a child and the other figure in his mind, a much darker one. Taylor Schilling is solid enough as the mother, taking most of the horror elements of the film. Peter Mooney struggles to make an impact in the film, which is more to do with the lack of character given to his role. Colm Feore fits the doctor role well even if he is only has limited involvement in the film.

StoryThe story follows a mother than must learn what is wrong with her son before he turns into an evil force. Now the story could easily be compared to ‘The Omen’ this can be seen, but this film does bring us an original spin on the idea, while it does become clear from the opening scene it works to bring a new level of horror in the story. That is the only positive side of the story because this story is filled with flaws, which are all about the decision-making process, everything Sarah seems to do, doesn’t have any logic, when there are simple issues that could be solved, we just ignore them, it gets very frustrating.  We also don’t get to see much of the lives the parents live, how can they afford a house like this when neither seems to have a job or career.

HorrorThe horror in this film does include some very effective jump scares, sadly, some are used in the trailer, but the one where Sarah sees Miles in the hallway, is easily one of the best in recent years.

SettingsMost of the film seems to be set in the house, which shows how the evil within a child could come into your home without you knowing.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well, they are not overly used, but the times we get them, they are used for added horror.


Scene of the Movie –
The hallway hug.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Decision-Making processes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror with great jump scares, but weak character decision-making, it will make you jump and hit your head against the wall.

 

Overall: Good for the scares.

Rating

 

 

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Pet Graveyard (2019)

Director: Rebecca Matthews

Writer: Suzy Spade (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica O’Toole, David Cotter, Hindolo Koroma, Rita Siddiqui, Katie Milner Evans, Hattie Willow

 

Plot: A group of teens are tormented by the Grim Reaper and his pet after undergoing an experiment that allows them to revisit the dead.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Afterlife Delight

 

Story: Pet Graveyard starts when struggle college student Lily (O’Toole) is pressured by her internet famous brother Jeff (Cotter) to take part in one of his latest videos, one that will push the boundaries of science and the natural world in a hope to speak to their late mother. Joining the siblings are Zara (Siddiqui) and Francis (Koroma) who are both wanting to reconnect with lost ones.

The three will kill themselves to travel to the afterlife, where they do get to see the lost loved one before Lily brings them back to life. The problems start when the three start getting haunted by what they saw because once you enter the afterlife it doesn’t want to let you go.

 

Thoughts on Pet Graveyard

 

Characters – Lily is the student nurse that has been struggling with her grades after the death of her mother, she reluctantly agrees to help her brother with his latest stunt video, being trained to bring the back from the afterlife, she is the one that investigates when the strange events start happening to the three that went to the other side. Jeff is the now daredevil internet celebrity looking for his latest fix for views, he does want to see his mother once again after how they last saw each other, he will need to let lily help once the experiment starts having darker side effects. Zara is one of the other people to take part, she wants to see her little brother again, she is the first to go under, giving us the idea of what we will be experiencing. Francis is the third member of the experiment, he wants to reconnect to the girlfriend he lost, he tries to go back to his normal life after, but what haunts him will not stay away.

PerformancesWe have four main actors in this film, Jessica O’Toole does take the leading role with her needing to balance the grief and responsibility required for character. David Cotter does make us believe we are watching an internet celebrity figure, or at least one trying to become a superstar, bringing the carefree attitude to life. Rita Siddiqui brings her characters traditional beliefs to the film which works for the supporting roles, with Hindolo Koroma completing the cast with supporting performance that works well.

StoryThe story follows four people that perform an experiment to visit lost loved one only for the grim reaper to come calling for them. The first element of the story we need to address, is the title of the film, this has nothing to do with pets, in fact it is closer to Flatliners. Getting past this, we do have an interesting horror that does address the question about whether you should try to community with the dead or not. When it comes to the figure that visits, we do get a new looking figure that is one you wouldn’t want to meet, that does give a unique kills too. It might have certain moments that are by the book, but for a horror story this is easy to follow and that’s all we need.

HorrorThe horror comes from the visit to the afterlife, the figure that comes for the victims, it does feel like we could have a new horror figure too.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings simple, we have the ritual location which is filled with spiritual creepiness, while the rest of the settings include everyday life, showing how the hauntings will follow them home.

Special EffectsThe effects are simple, we only use them when needed and they don’t look out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The afterlife world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The cat.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong horror that will ask a question about the afterlife, introduces us to a potential new horror icon and has unique kills.

 

Overall: A new horror killer is born.

Rating

 

 

A Patch of Fog (2015)

Director: Michael Lennox

Writer:  John Cairns, Michael McCartney (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Graham, Conleth Hill, Lara Pulver, Archer Ali, Stuart Graham, Ian McElhinney

 

Plot: A security guard catches a famous writer/television host shoplifting and blackmails him into becoming friends.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple & Effective

 

Story: A Patch of Fog starts as we meet successful author and television presenter Sandy Duffy (Hill) that would like to return to the quiet life only to find himself caught shoplifting by security guard Robert (Graham). In an attempt to keep the story out of the papers tries to bribe Robert, who turns the tables on Sandy by blackmailing him into being his friend.

As Sandy tries to get himself out of the blackmail, he learns that Robert has a much darker side which puts his and his girlfriend, presenter Lucy (Pulver) lives at risk.

 

Thoughts on A Patch of Fog

 

Characters – Robert is mild mannered security guard in a general store, he is a lonely figure that takes advantage of the situation of power once he catches acclaimed author stealing in his store. He blackmails Sandy into being his friend and tries to stay one step ahead of him as he tries his best to escape from position. Sandy is the acclaimed author that has become a celebrity on television, though he wants to take a step away from the spotlight and the endless conversations about his book, A Patch of Fog. He tries his best to outsmart Robert though he can only get so far before learning Robert has everything planned out. Lucy is the television presenter just starting a relationship with Sandy, she has been trying to get the interview together for long time now.

PerformancesStephen Graham in the leading role as the slightly unhinged loner works very well, he shows that given the chance the moments of darkness can shine through. Conleth Hill is great in his role as the author that wants out of the limelight. When it comes to the rest of the cast they are fine without being overly involved in the main story.

StoryThe story follows an author and celebrity being blackmailed by a security guard that catches him stealing. The story does come down to a cat-n-mouse style thriller where each character tries to stay ahead of the other, which brings twists along the way. This is a style of story telling we have seen before and it is one that is always interesting to watch unfold, by having both sides having secrets this does make it feel like one of the better ones too.

ThrillerThis is a film that does keep you on the edge of your seat throughout as we wait to see just where things will go next.

SettingsThe film does show the different lives both Robert and Sandy live, one with success, one with loneliness, though most of the scenes try to take place in everyday locations.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth about A Patch of Fog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not truly knowing is Robert has done this before or whether something made him snap.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the books blackmailing movie, it does keep you guessing throughout the film and with the two leads shining we did just want to see more.

 

Overall: By the book stalker thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – P – The Patriot (2000)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Writer: Robert Rodat (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper, Techeky Karyo, Rene Auberjonois

 

Plot: Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.


Tagline – Some things are worth fighting for. 

Runtime: 2 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long War Epic

 

Story: The Patriot starts where peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Gibson) sees the American Revolution coming towards his doorstep with his eldest son Gabriel (Ledger) fighting about the British. When the British reach his doorstep they end up killing one of his sons, Col William Tavington (Isaacs) makes an enemy he can’t prepare to fight against.

Benjamin prepares his own militia to fight back against the British, one that has experience fighting on this land, one that has already won a war, all this to get revenge on the man that took his son in a cowardly action.

 

Thoughts on The Patriot

 

Characters – Benjamin Martin was once a feared general in the military, now he is a quiet farmer looking after his children after his wife’s death. when the American Revolution comes to his home, he loses a son to a ruthless Colonel. Returning to the force he leads the militia in battle against the English showing all the tricks he has learnt through the years, in his mission for revenge. Gabriel is the eldest son of Benjamin’s he is the first to go into war and after it returns home, he will serve under his father to show the pride he has standing next to him. Charlotte is the sister-in-law that protects the children from the war while the men go off to fight. Col William Tavington is the man that kills Benjamin’s son in cold blood, he doesn’t want to give a calm peaceful end to the war and is willing to and wants to kill anyone against him.

PerformancesMel Gibson might well have a few personal demons, but when it comes to this style of film, he never looks out of place on the big screen, easily be the star of this film. Heath Ledger continued to show the world just how talented he was going to become with a wonderful supporting performance and Jason Isaacs gives us a villain from a war movie we are going to hate.

StoryThe story follows a once deadly war general who is forced back into battle after his son is killed during the American Revolution, this follows his revenge in the battle which does give us a fictional story to a real war that changed America at the time. Now this does have a reality in how the men would be losing family members to the ruthless British, though this does make out that the British were the worst of the worst when it came to battle. This is a movie designed to make the American audience feel extra patriotic and does show the two sides of war, the respectful way and the dirty tactics people will use to win.

Action/History/WarThe action is large scale war sequences, each one gets bigger with the number of bodies piling up as we go along. The historical side of the film focuses on the real war over the real people involved in the war which is fine, we only need the historical side as a backdrop for the personal battle.

SettingsThe film does make the realistic settings for the time the war took place in each location does play a key part in the film be it a battle, the moment which will leave people wanting revenge or safety.


Scene of the Movie –
The final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Being overly patriotic.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the long war epics that is designed solely to make America look great, it does end up going down the revenge line which gives an edge to the battles, which will be the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Patriotic 101

Rating

 

 

Point Man (2019)

Director: Phil Blattenberger

Writer: Phil Blattenberger (Screenplay)

Starring: Christopher Long, Jacob Keohane, Chase Gutzmore, Marcus Bailey, Matthew Ewald

 

Plot: Set in Vietnam in April 1968 – three months after the tide-turning Tet Offensive and one month after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. – Point Man is the story of a U.S. Army fire team fractured by racial tensions, moral crises, and the crushing pressures of combat in a war nobody wants to fight. Andre “Casper” Allen, a rough-edged ideologue, finds his radical politics put him at odds with the squad’s machine gunner, Silas Meeks. When their search-and-destroy mission in the Mekong Delta goes terribly wrong, both men find themselves pitted against each other and their recalcitrant platoon commander, Lieutenant Sutter. Point men die like flies in the bush, and as loyalties dissolve every step forward comes with a price.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Reality of War

 

Story: Point Man starts in Vietnam with a platoon of mixed raced soldiers, Andre ‘Casper’ Allen (Long), Joe Creighton (Gutzmore), Felix Wake (Bailey) and racist Silas Meeks (Keohane) all under the strict Lieutenant Sutter (Ewald). On their latest mission they four men get separated from their platoon and are left behind enemy lines.

The journey back sees the four men clash with Joe making difficult decisions when they see how the fellow American soldiers are acting, Silas needing to put his racial problems behind him with Casper trying his hardest to keep the four men together knowing it will be the only way they can make it back to safety.

 

Thoughts on Point Man

 

Characters – Andre ‘Casper’ Allen is one of the black soldiers in the platoon, he is tired of the racial divide within the platoon, but after he is split from the platoon, he must do the correct decision-making to see his friends back to safety, the decisions he must face will see him go after his own side that have gone too far in the war. Joe is the one that will do the right thing, he knows just how bad the situations will be and will do the right thing even if it means his life will end doing it. Silas is the racist soldier that ends up with the three black soldiers, he doesn’t want to work with them, but knows this will be the only way to get out of the situation alive, he is always looking out for himself. Lieutenant Sutter is the strict platoon leader that has been forced into difficult decisions, he seems like he going to be the one that is against everyone through this film almost in a cowardly way too.

PerformancesThe performance in this film are interesting because when it comes to the discussion points, we get strong acting from the whole cast, it gets to the conflict side which also plays into the budget which does expose the weak points in this film. Christopher Long in the leading performance shows the chemistry required with Chase Gutzmore and Marcus Bailey, with the tension feeling real with Jacob Keohane.

StoryThe story gives us a glimpse into the mindset of three black soldiers in the Vietnam war, they believe they are just there to be part of the body count, while being given the jobs which are more likely to die, mostly the Point Man role. We see how they react to becoming separated with a racist behind enemy lines and how they must work together to survive, while dealing with the soldiers in the land that could cause just as much problems whichever side of the fight they are on. This story gets to show us how war can affect people, make them do things they wouldn’t normally consider and how the skin colour of these soldiers is going to seeing them get the blame for anything going wrong. This story shows us just how difficult the war was on the victims, how doing the right thing can make you an enemy to your own side. The only part of the film I didn’t like from the story side of things was the final act, it felt to quick.

ActionThe action in this film comes from the standard war related material, we see guns firing and people falling, none of the graphicness of war though.

SettingsWe follow our soldiers through the forests and plains of Vietnam, nothing looks out of place for the settings side of things, though it could have look slightly more war torn.


Scene of the Movie –
The first difficult decision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The ending was too quick.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong look at the reality of war, we see how the lives of the men would have been affected by their decisions and how they are in constant fear of being the first to be picked off.

 

Overall: Strong Look at War.

Rating