Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Shrine (2010)

Director: Jon Knautz

Writer: Jon Knautz, Brendan Moore, Trevor Matthews (Screenplay) Jon Knautz, Brendon Moore (Story)

Starring: Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern, Trevor Matthews, Vieslav Krystyan, Laura de Carteret

 

Plot: Two female journalists and a photographer travel to Europe to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances, only to find themselves embroiled in a struggle against a kind of evil they never expected.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy but not Shocking Horror

 

Story: The Shrine starts as young ambitious reporter Carmen (Sampson) learns of a string of missing people in a small town in Poland, going against her bosses wishes she takes her boyfriend Marcus (Ashmore) and her intern Sara (Heffern) to this Polish town.

Getting a less than warm welcome, the three find themselves pushed to leave, but Carmen’s determination to get a story puts their lives in danger once they enter a mysterious mist or fog surrounding one part of the forest. When their snooping gets them into trouble the three will learn what is really happening in this small town.

 

Thoughts on The Shrine

 

Characters/PerformanceMarcus is a photography boyfriend of Carmen who reluctantly agrees to go on the trip to help their relationship but does believe it’s all for work, he isn’t happy when he learns the truth but will fight to save Carmen’s life. Carmen is the ambitious reporter that brings her team to this small town in search of answers about disappearances through the years. She will do anything for the story. Sara is an intern working for Carmen that see this story as a chance to get ahead in her career but her naïve nature leaves her being designed as the disposable one of the three. The cult figures are all what you would expect in a film like this not coming off overly original in anyway.

Performance wise, Aaron Ashmore is fine without hitting the heights we know he can, the same goes for the whole cast, they are fine without being great.

StoryThe story is easily a by the book horror, group of Americans find themselves in a new country where they must fight to survive against the enemy there. It offers very little new to the world of storytelling and is easily an ABC into horror.

HorrorThis falls into the horror genre of being captured and needing to survive, the only scare comes from not knowing an easy way out of trouble they find themselves in.

SettingsThe remote town works on two fronts, it helps with the budget and shows us just how trapped our characters will be.

Special EffectsAll of the effects come off very basic, they are not needed too often and work when required.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple horror that can be enjoyed without being overly impressive but can be enjoyed by the horrors fans out there.

 

Overall: One for late night tv

Rating

 

 

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The Shallows (2016)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Writer: Anthony Jaswinski (Screenplay)

Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge

 

Plot: A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Shark Attack Movie

 

Story: The Shallows starts as we follow American tourist Nancy (Lively) who goes out alone for a day of surfing in what is beautiful coastal resort of Mexico. The holiday is for Nancy to recover in her own way over her mother’s death, Nancy is taking a small break from her medical school studies to figure out her own future much to her father’s (Cullen) concern.

Going out for one final wave Nancy finds the corpse of a whale drawing the attention of other sea life including a great white shark which attacks her, leaving a nasty bite mark up her leg. Nancy finds herself stranded close to shore but too far away to make it to safety.

 

Thoughts on The Shallows

 

Characters/PerformanceNancy is a tourist giving up time from her studies to experience the world after her mother’s death. She is a surfer at heart and this puts her into the position of needing to fight to survive once she gets attacked by a great white shark, sure it helps that he is studying medicine because she can ease her injuries.

Performance wise, this is one film carried by the solo actress with Blake Lively showing she can lead a survival against a shark by engaging us for the whole film.

StoryThe story here is very simple, it is one woman trying to survive after a shark attack with nowhere to swim, it is all simple and effective for the story telling process.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror is great because it puts us into a real-life situation of a surfer getting attacked by a shark and we are kept on edge through the whole film.

SettingsThe setting is also simple and works for the film, a small isolated location for our leading character who needs to fight for her life.

Special Effects – The effects when it comes to looking at the shark look fantastic and you would be left question if this was even a real or CGI shark throughout.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that shows just how simple you can make a movie making process, you need to create a simple idea of being stranded with a deadly threat that can keep us on edge throughout.

 

Overall: A Must watch shark attack movie.

Rating

 

 

The Snowman (2017)

Director: Tomas Afredson

Writer: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Jo Nesbo (Novel)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J.K Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jamie Clayton, Toby Jones

 

Plot: Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.


Tagline – Soon the first snow will come, and then he will kill again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Twisty Mystery Thriller

 

Story: The Snowman starts as we meet alcoholic detective Harry Hole (Fassbender) a once great detective that is lacking the motivation because of the lack of murders and his break up with his long-term girlfriend Rakel (Gainsbourg). He gets a new member of his team Katrine (Ferguson) who has embraced the latest technology in police work and the two start an investigation into a missing woman.

The two have very different backgrounds and the story does jump back to a previous serious of crimes that were being investigated in a different part of Norway, but as the women continue to go missing we are thrown a list of different suspects and mixing this with the personal backgrounds of the two characters we wait to see who the killer is.

 

Thoughts on The Snowman

 

Characters – Harry Hole was once one of the best detectives in Oslo, his cases have been studied be the candidates in the academy, but he has fallen on bad times with a drinking problem and a relationship ending. When the case does come up he is still the first man selected to lead the investigation, this is where we get to see his true skills. Katrine is a rookie that transferred to the department, she uses the technology to make the work easier but slowly we learn about her past and her reasons for being transferred to this department. Rakel is the ex-girlfriend of Harry who they still remain close due to Harry building a relationship with her son. Arve Stop is a political figure running the campaign to get Oslo the Winter World Cup, he does become one of the many suspects. We do meet at least a total of 6 potential suspects which could all have motive for the crime which is nice, but this also means we don’t focus enough on the mind games between the killer and Hole.

PerformancesFassbender is great in the leading role, giving us what we would expect from him without reaching his best of the best level of ability. Rebecca Ferguson is good too, she doesn’t steal the spotlight like she did in Rogue Nation but shows she does have more to her in ability wise. The rest of the cast do well with what they have to work with, even if they don’t get enough screen time to make the impact they could.

StoryThe trailers made this out to be a true mind games based serial killer versus cop movie, this is in fact a lie, we have the slow processes of trying to solve who could be behind this with plenty of suspects along the way. The tease with the note does feel confusing though because it sets up the mind games but doesn’t seem to follow through on them. We do have a lot of side stories going on including Harry’s relationship with Rakel and her son, Katrine’s past and just who is Arve Stop, which doesn’t help us focus on what should be the biggest factor the killer.

Crime/Horror/MysteryThe crimes do look horrific when we see the full effects of what the killer is doing and his weapon of choice is fresh and terrifying at that. The mystery does keep us guessing through the film but the lack of final punch takes away the horror for me.

SettingsThe settings make this film look beautiful, we have stunning shots of the Norwegian snow cover countryside but once we are in the big cities it all looks the same.


Scene of the Movie –
First learning of the killer weapon.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was confusing to figure out if the characters were Norwegian or what.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good crime thriller, it does keep us guessing but it does get confusing trying to balance too many side stories, unlike Wind River which deals with the problems head on.

 

Overall: Good but not great snow flake.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Summer Camp (2015)

Director: Alberto Marini

Writer: Alberto Marini, Danielle Schleif (Screenplay)

Starring: Diego Boneta, Jocelin Donahue, Maiara Walsh, Andres Velencoso, Alex Monner, Xavier Capdet

 

Plot: Four American counsellors at a European summer camp must deal with the outbreak of a rage-inducing plague that starts in the animals.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Largely Forgettable

 

Story: Summer Camp starts as we learn of the disappearance of the American councillors in a summer camp, we move back to two days earlier where we meet Will (Boneta), Christy (Donahue), Michelle (Walsh) and Antonio (Velencoso) who are getting prepared for the summer students. With the preparation going well things take a drastic turn.

The problem comes when one of the dogs seems to be infected by an unknown ravenous disease which leads to it attack Antonio, before long the other three must fight to survive.

 

Thoughts on Summer Camp

 

Characters/PerformanceWill, Christy, Michelle and Antonio are all students who are going to be summer camp councillors in a Spanish holiday camp and must bond before the kids arrive. They are all generic and we don’t learn too much about who they are before all the action hits the fan.

Performance wise, the four lead actors don’t make the impact you think they should which is a shame because we know how capable they are from other films.

StoryThe story is just how the three students must fight to survive while they must also fight ravenous people including themselves. You do get certain laughable moments in this film and the idea just doesn’t seem to click in the way it should do.

HorrorThe horror isn’t on the scary side and just tries to go for over the top kills throughout.

SettingsWe are set in Spain which is fine and have isolation that is it.

Special EffectsMost of the gore happens off camera which is fine as it covers up the special effects that would be required.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very forgettable horror that lacks the punch it could easily have had.

 

Overall: Plenty of good ideas that are poorly executed.

Rating

 

 

Sightings (2017)

Director: Dallas Morgan

Writer: Dallas Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Dante Basco, Kevin Sizemore, Boo Arnold, Tahlia Morgan, Rawn Erickson, Jason J Lewis

 

Plot: A character-driven sci-fi mystery about a dysfunctional family living on a ranch in TX threatened by a cryptid in their woods. Ultimately, they must overcome their interpersonal conflict in order to unite and survive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Twist on the Alien Theory

 

Story: Sightings starts as small town Sheriff Tom Mayfield (Arnold) on his last day gets yet another call from his local crazy believing they have seen something on their property, to make the matters worse Tom discovered butchered women on his property, but remains to retire.

The case brings down detective Brendan Pitney (Sizemore) who puts Tom as the main suspect, but we also have Akiro (Basco) and Rebecca Otis (Drapeau) who believe there is more supernatural motives behind what happened, could it be a man, alien or even bigfoot.

 

Thoughts on Sightings

 

Characters – Tom Mayfield is the former sheriff that has step down for a quiet life, but his property becomes a crime scene and he must face his former demons of his wife’s disappearance to rebuild his relationship with his daughter to protect her from the same fate. Hannah is the daughter of Tom’s she dreams of being a writer with this latest case being her chance to potential stop getting the constant rejection letters. Detective Brendan Pitney is the out of towner that comes believing that Tom is the man responsible for the killings on his land, he takes his time to come around to the truth, while hoping to get a job for the FBI.

PerformancesBoo Arnold is good in this leading role as the conflicted father and former lawman, Kevin Sizemore is fun as the detective that wants more from his job and isn’t the nicest guy, while Tahlia Morgan does a good job as the daughter to Tom. We get solid performances from the whole cast in the long run of this movie.

StoryThe story follows a family that must face the biggest divide they had to overcome a new threat which could finish them. We have the idea of a legendary threat which teases and plays into mixing a couple of theories which would make sense if certain elements are true. We have a mystery throw in as we see what happened to our family and as this unfolds we see this new threat.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure feels like we watching the family and friends are pulled together to take on the threat which is sci-fi threat.

SettingsThe small town setting does work for the film because it shows how the people will work together against the unknown.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine, we don’t see too much which does add to parts of the film as we don’t know the full look of the enemy.


Scene of the Movie –
Final Showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We could have seen more of the creature.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good spin on aliens and bigfoot that does work to plan into the theories that mix the two together.

 

Overall: Go for a bigfoot alien twist.

Rating