The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Director: Johannes Roberts

Writer: Ben Ketai (Screenplay) Bryan Bertino (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, Lewis Pullman, Emma Bellomy, Damian Maffei, Lea Enslin

 

Plot: A family of four staying at a secluded mobile home park for the night are stalked and then hunted by three masked psychopaths.


Tagline – Let us prey

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Not to Do in Horror Movies

 

Story: The Strangers: Prey at Night starts as a family mother Cindy (Hendricks), father Mike (Henderson) and teenage children Luke (Pullman) and Kinsey (Madison) are travelling across country because Kinsey is a trouble maker (we never learn what she does other than skipping a few classes) is being put in a boarding school, along the way they are stopping off at a secluded mobile home park with family.

Upon their arrival they notice the place is empty and it isn’t long before the iconic Strangers Dollface (Bellomy) Man in the Mask (Maffei) and Pin-Up Girl (Enslin) start stalking them around the park. Tonight, will be a battle to survive.

 

Thoughts on The Strangers: Prey at Night

 

Characters – Cindy is the disappointed mother and the end of her rope when it comes to dealing with Kinsey and she feels old, this is all we learn about her. Mike is the dad, that sums him up. Luke is the soon to be attending college baseball player, he does try to bridge the gap between himself and Kinsey, trying to be the big brother. Kinsey is the trouble maker apparently, she is being set to boarding school for something she did and is your typical rebellious teenage daughter character. The Strangers seem to have had a makeover too, they don’t seem as sadistic as I remember them, as usually they like to play with their victims more. When it comes to writing the characters, this film does a terrible job, as we see by ALL of the decisions they make in the film.

PerformancesThe bad characters does effect the acting because the four in the family have next to nothing to work with, other than run and scream, make as much noise as possible while trying to hide and having awful chemistry especially between the parent characters.

StoryThe story here follows a family which are going to be stalked by the returning Strangers, we have a bigger environment for them to play in, but this time it does seem harder to understand their plans because they seemed to like torture, but this time they are swinging for kills. This ends up turning the idea into a weak slasher film over any sort of psychological thriller, the decisions being made by the characters are hilarious and certain moments seem to have a character run 10 metres and forget where they just were. You will spend a lot of time rolling your eyes at the decisions being made in this film.

HorrorAs the original Strangers in one of the best home invasion style movies, making this horror expand didn’t seem to give the horror moments enough to go on, the trailer has also given away all of the best scares.

SettingsThe bigger setting does create an atmosphere at times, and the shots we are given do look great, which does get the best bit of the praise in the movie, the problem comes with this setting not suiting the Strangers MO.

Special EffectsThe effects are getting points because the attacks look brutal and this does have great camera work for creating the shots.


Scene of the Movie –
There are some brilliant looking shots around the park.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Decision making.

Final ThoughtsThis is a complete mixed bag of a horror, the visual creations are wonderful as are the music, but they just can’t save a film filled with the worst character decisions in most horror movies.

 

Overall: Well shot horror, terribly written characters.

Rating

 

 

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Striking Distance (1993)

Director: Rowdy Herrington

Writer: Rowdy Herrington, Marty Kaplan (Screenplay)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore, Brion James, Robert Pastorelli

 

Plot: Coming from a police family, Tom Hardy ends up fighting his uncle after the murder of his father. Tom believes the killer is another cop, and goes on the record with his allegations. Demoted then to river duty, the killer taunts Tom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Crime Mystery

 

Story: Striking Distance starts as we learn about Detective Tom Hardy (Willis) who is from a cop family with father Vince (Mahoney) killed during a high-speed pursuit around the time of a trial against Tom’s former partner Jimmy Detillo (Pastoreli) for excess force used that Tom went against. We also have a serial killer on the loose but soon everything gets tied together with the killer caught even though it isn’t the man Tom believes it is.

After Jimmy kills himself Tom gets reassigned to a river rescue, when a body turns up in the river, Tom’s Uncle Captain Nick Detillo (Farina) enters the investigation. Tom gets a new partner in Jo Christman (Parker) but Tom’s life is turned upside down as the serial killer has returned, taunting Tom as he killed their latest victim, but this clashes Tom with Nick as Tom searches for the truth.

 

Thoughts on Striking Distance

 

Characters/PerformanceDetective Tom Hardy is from a cop family, he has tracked a serial killer and doesn’t believe the outcome of the hearing, when his father is killed Tom is moved to a small department, now he is being targeted by the killer who is making it personal but Hardy must go against all odds and opinions to solve the case. Jo is the latest partner Tom works with, she is by the book questioning Tom’s motives but also loyal to the Tom’s beliefs. Captain Nick doesn’t want to push Tom out but must to keep his department working.

Performance wise, Willis is good in this film which is one where we see the typical cop needing to solve the case before it is too late, Parker is solid throughout and makes for good supporting performance with Farina who was always good in cop roles do everything well and we also have a good performance from Sizemore.

StoryThe story is what the audience of the crime genre will enjoy, it has the fallen cop who must solve the case that has haunted him for years, this is all by the book and has twists coming in it which you might see coming in places but does have enough to keep us guessing too.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action sequences are good car chases which are still slightly iconic now, the crime story is all about how cops track killers and not everyone believes everything which does play into the mystery needing to be solved.

SettingsWe start in the big city but move to the countryside which shows the different worlds that Tom must live through to prove his beliefs.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable crime mystery that will keep you guessing till the end, it has solid action sequence you can enjoy even if they are slightly barmy at times.

 

Overall: Good crime mystery.

Rating

 

 

A-Z Bonus Review Month – S – Search Party (2014)

Director: Scot Armstrong

Writer: Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller, Scot Armstrong (Screenplay) Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller (Story)

Starring: Adam Pally, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Shannon Woodward, Alison Brie, J.B, Smoove

 

Plot: A pair of friends embark on a mission to reunite their pal with the woman he was going to marry.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Comedy Adventure

 

Story: Search Party starts when Nardo (Middleditch) is about to get married to Tracy (Woodward), a stoned stag party leads Nardo telling his best friends Evan (Pally) and Jason (Miller) he is having second thoughts. Come the wedding day Jason interrupts the wedding leading to Tracy storming and Nardo going after her.

With Evan about to get a promotion he must put his career on at risk to travel to Mexico with Jason to rescue him and reunite the couple. What follows is a serious of comical events through the next through days.

 

Thoughts on Search Party

 

Characters/PerformanceEvan is the friend about to get his career on path but his friendship with Jason finds himself in trouble. Nardo is the friend who is about to get married but ends ups stranded in Mexico trying to win his girlfriend back. Jason is the screw up of the friends who always puts his friends in problems, he needs to look at his own situation and learn to grow up with this adventure.

Performance wise, Adam, TJ and Thomas all give good performances showing their comedy abilities throughout.

StoryThe story shows how three best friends all going on different paths will stay there for each other no matter what happens even if their personal lives are going in different direction. The adventure across Mexico is fun throughout and the madness the characters go through make for to get back together.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure side is all fun as we get to see how far the friends would go to help each other with the comedy all coming off in the right places.

SettingsThe settings add to the comedy adventure the characters find themselves on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy that does have plenty of laughs even if the laughs are slightly more risky in places.

 

Overall: Sit back and enjoy the comedy.

Rating

 

 

Kurt Russell Weekend – Soldier (1998)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: David Webb Peoples (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaac, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee

 

Plot: A soldier is dumped on a waste disposal planet and lives among a community of crash survivors on the planet and takes it upon himself to defend his new home when genetic engineered soldiers are ordered to eliminate the crash survivors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Universal Soldier, Wait No

 

Story: Soldier starts in a world where the military select babies to train into emotionless soldiers, Todd 3465 (Russell) is the best of the first batch of trained men but when Colonel Mekum (Isaacs) starts genetically creating his super soldiers with his star being Caine 607 (Lee), Todd finds himself defeat and dumped on a waste disposal planet.

On this planet Todd is taken in by a community that live there after they crash landed but soon his skills make him a threat to even them, forcing him to leave and become the lone traveller on the planet. This quiet group gets ambushed by the Colonel on a clean-up mission leaving Todd to defend the innocent from his replacements.

 

Thoughts on Solider

 

Characters – Todd 3465 is an emotionless soldier trained from a baby to be the best in the field, he doesn’t say much but when he gets replaced he finds himself using his training to protect the innocent. Caine 607 is the new genetically advanced soldier who has replaced Todd, he is faster, stronger and deadlier than Todd. Colonel Mekum is the man that has bought out the replacements to deal with the bigger problems in the universe, not caring about the original models.

PerformanceKurt Russell is solid in this role, he got himself into shape for it but in the 90s the action stars were more physical presence while Russell doesn’t get the full chance to be the guy we know from the 80s. Jason Scott Lee is solid too in his performance, he has the look of the typical enemy our hero must face in combat to achieve his redemption. Jason Isaacs will always be a good choice for a military role and often finds himself working with this director.

StoryThe story is simple to follow, we have modified soldiers that have been replaced by the newest models and the older model must use his skills to defend the people who took him in against the new and improved model. It is a simple story it does feel like Universal Soldier for the most part too.

Action/Sci/FiThe action sequences are mostly the generic ones we have come to know from the soldier versus soldier film but nothing stands out. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the idea the soldiers are trained and built to fight in a futuristic war.

SettingsTh settings are easy to use with most being used in the montage to show Todd’s war record, the most part of the film is on a waste planet which puts our characters on the world there are desperate to escape.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects are fine but parts of them have dated through the years.

Scene of the Movie – Todd versus the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does feel like a Universal Soldier rip off.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch action film that does feel like just another branch of the Universal Soldier universe.

 

Overall: Easy to watch actioner.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Stake Land 2 (2016)

Director: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Writer: Nick Damici (Screenplay)

Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Aramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Bonnie Dennison

 

Plot: When his home of New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to guide him.

 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Sequel to Underrated Vampire Film

 

Story: Stake Land 2 starts as we see Martin (Paolo) trained through the first film now a leader of a community that survives vampire attacks but his new life is shattered when he loses everything including his wife and daughter, left with only visions of his former mentor Mister (Damici) he roams the world alone searching for Mister.

Martin wants to take down the new leader of the brotherhood of the vampires, known only as The Mother (Hughes) he knows that only Mister has the skills to get the job done. Once Martin reunites with Mister the two must continue their battle with the vampires but also face the human enemies in the world.

 

Thoughts on Stake Land 2

 

Characters – Martin has lost his family to a vampire attack, now he seeks his mentor to get revenge and put an end to the vampire problem in the world, he is now capable to fight and this time he has more to fight for than ever. Mister is the mentor that taught Martin everything he knows and he has continued fighting his own way and now he is ready to join arms with Martin. Lady is a feral woman the guys find and take her under their wing to protect her against the common enemy. The Mother does make for a good villain, we know she is heartless and will kill anyone who didn’t obey here.

PerformanceConnor Paolo is good as the kid of the partnership, he shows the emotionless stage you would expect his character to be in. Nick Damici is good as the Mister character, he did also get the writing credit here so you would expect his character to get the best lines, which he does but otherwise this is a good aging hero performance. The rest of the performance are also good through the film even if we don’t get much development from the villains side of things.

StoryThe story follows the reunion between mentor and student as they look to kill a new deadly vampire leader that can control other vampires making them deadlier than ever. This is fine as a story, the problem I found was main about just how easy Mister was to find, it felt like just a couple of days but it is designed to feel like it should be longer. The battles themselves also come off too easy, find a place, get invaded, find a new place get invaded, there never seems to be a settled moment in the locations that feel like they are settled. When you do look into the deeper plot things feel rushed but otherwise it is a fun to watch.

Action/HorrorThe action used through the film is fighting the vampires, most you can’t see too much but otherwise nothing overly fresh. The horror is the attacks happening at night which should add terror.

SettingsThe settings are just designed to feel like safe holds in the battle but seem to always have one big weakness.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used when needed which is nice because we don’t need too much from this side of everything.

Scene of the Movie – The opening walk Martin goes on because it shows just how alone he feels now.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Night fights are nearly impossible to see what is happening.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action horror but in the end it just feels like it is hard to watch because of the lighting through the most part.

 

Overall: Solid sequel for the fan base of the original.

Rating