ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – V – The Vanishing (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Writer: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Emma King, Gary Lewis, Connor Swindells, Ken Drury, Gary Kane

Plot: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.

Tagline – What’s left when the light goes out?

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Mystery

Story: The Vanishing starts as the two experienced lighthouse keepers Thomas (Mullan) and James (Butler) take rookie keeper Donald (Swindells) to Flannan Isles for their stint on the island. The three go through the normal actions until after a storm washes up a small boat, with a trunk, giving Donald a fight against the lone survivor.

When the men open the trunk they learn it is filled with gold, Donald and James want to keep the gold, while Thomas isn’t willing to risk his career, even though he comes up with a plan to get the gold back to the mainland.

Thoughts on The Vanishing

Characters – Thomas is the head lighthouse keeper, he has 25-years of experience and is willing to give the youngster a chance on his team, he has been through his own tragic events with his job being the only thing he has left, he will remain calm through all the events, knowing how the defuse the situations the men find themselves going through. James has been part of the team for years, he has always struggled for money back home, though he will keep his family safe with his job. Donald is the youngster member of the team, he isn’t used to the sea environment and finds himself facing challenges he shouldn’t do, when the events start happening. These characters are based on the real people, that nobody heard from again, this is hard to tell just how much would have been turned into more drama or how much would have been real.

PerformancesPeter Mullan is great in the leading role, he shows all the calm required for this role with everything that is going on around him. Gerard Butler gives one of his better serious roles, not playing into the action hero he has become more famous for. Connor Swindells is strong through the film too showing the loose cannon side of his character too.

StoryThe story here is based on a true event of three lighthouse keepers that disappeared, what we see is the story created around what happened to these men, as they discover a trunk of gold and must protect it from the people that claim it is theirs. By basing this on a true story, it does make it difficult because it is looking at a mystery about what did happen, even though nobody really knows what happened. The only thing we do know, is that the men disappeared during their stint on the island. The story here shows how they wanted to fight to keep a treasure washed up on the island and how the original owners came back in search of their own gold, dealing with the consequences of actions over anything else. There is nothing supernatural, it is all about human actions, reaction and emotions.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows how the three lighthouse keepers are left pondering what would happen to them after their actions and whether they would be able to keep the gold, a lot of character driven to what they are afraid off if they return, living with what they did. The mystery should be more front and centre, this is meant to be about what happened to these men on their time spent on the island, only we don’t focus on that or investigating what might have happened.

SettingsThe film does use the setting of a remote island of the coast of Scotland to create moments of tension as the idea that these men are dealing with a lot of emotional factors, means they have nowhere to go for help and between them, they aren’t always helping each other out.

Scene of the Movie – They are on the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really solving the mystery of what happened to these men in real life.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at characters who would be trapped on an island alone for a stretch of time, when it comes to treasure and consequences, only it doesn’t seem to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Overall: Interesting Character Study.

VHYes (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jack Henry Robbins

Writer: Nate Gold, Nunzio Randazzo, Jack Henry Robbins (Screenplay)

Starring: Kerri Kenney, Thomas Lennon, Mark Proksch, Courtney Pauroso, Charlyne Yi, John Gemberling, Mason McNulty

Plot: This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, follows 12-year-old Ralph as he accidentally records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Runtime: 1 Hour 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strange & Unique

Story: VHYes starts in 1987 when young boy Ralph (McNulty) gets a camcorder for Christmas, which he learns will record late night television, which he does, diving into the weird and whacky world of late night television and filling everyday life, trying to capture some of the strangest moments in life.

AS the nights alone continues Ralph continues to watch more of the late night shows, he learns about new ideas of what to film, which soon blurs the lines of reality.

Thoughts on VHYes

Final Thoughts This is a story that is very strange to watch, mostly because there is a connection between everything that is going on, it might well be a series of what looks like random clips, from shopping network, antique show and even badly acted pornos. A lot of the clips we see do have political messages about the future or the world we live in now, which is nice to see. This story is so difficult to truly judge, because it is the filmmaking that is making a bigger impact, with the unique plan put in place to show us a message about blending reality with. This film should be praised for the filmmaking, it is original in way, though it could be a way of telling a story that leave people feeling like they missed something.

Overall: Unique Filmmaking.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – N – Vox Lux (2018) Movie Review

This is under N because of Natalie Portman performance in the film.

Director: Brady Corbet

Writer: Brad Corbet, Mona Fastvold (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Raffey Cassidy, Christopher Abbott

Plot: An unusual set of circumstances brings unexpected success to a pop star.

Tagline – A Twenty-First Century Portrait

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Plenty of Flash, No Substance

Story: Vox Lux starts in 2000 when high school student Celeste (Cassidy) is one of the many victims of a shooting in the school, left with spinal injuries, she must learn to walk and function again, turning to music with her sister Eleanor (Martin) to find peace in her life over the next days, weeks and months where she becomes an international music sensation, bringing the country together.

Jumping forward to 2017 another terrorist attack using the masks from Celeste first video might put a shadow over her latest performance, now Celeste (Portman) must work with her Manager (Law) to give a calm statement about the incident as we learn how much she has changed over the years

Thoughts on Vox Lux

Characters – Celeste can be split into two, first the school girl that was one of the victims of school shooting, who became an international music success over night, she kept her feet on the ground and found ways to continue to spread the world of her music despite only being 14/15 during this time. The second one the 31-year-old that has been working for nearly two decades in the industry, a mother that doesn’t always make time for her kid that her sister raised and is always thinking of the next big thing in her career. Celeste’s Manager has always seen the star making power and has always found a way to make Celeste the most important person in the room. Eleanor is the older sister of Celeste, she has promised to never leave her sister’s side and supports her through her career, despite her ending up with different mindset by the second part of her career. Albertine is the daughter of Celeste who is being raised by Eleanor, wanting to avoid the spotlight her mother is stuck in and isn’t as close as she should be to her mother.

PerformancesNatalie Portman gives us a wonderful performance in her role, while Jude Law is equally as strong, it is Raffey Cassidy that must be considered the best performer though, taking on two roles, first as young Celeste where we see the innocent nature and then as the daughter of the Celeste who feels neglected.

StoryThe story here follows a young teenage girl that is a victim of a high school shooting that suddenly becomes an international music sensation and we see how her career goes in a strange direction after jumping forward 17 years to her homecoming tour. Deep down you can see a message that seems to be focusing on the celebrity mentality being mixed into the cowardly terrorism action, showing how they can be used to capture quick headlines in the media. Outside of this, we do seem to jump from of the innocent nature of Celeste to the popstar that has been through the drug, drink and personal problems which has changed her nature dramatically. We do see how fame can change people with this and how life can go in strange directions, the down on the story is the random narration over everything which fills in blanks for a random reason and we won’t talk about the actual music, because that is awful to listen to, but it isn’t the point of the story.

SettingsThe film uses the main settings to show us just how much Celeste’s life changes, from schoolgirl to a European party trip before the big concert location.

Scene of the Movie – The first song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not a fan of the narration style even if Dafoe does make it enjoyable.

Final Thoughts This is one of the flashiest movies you will see, the performances are fantastic throughout, though we do focus on a couple of concert moments for too long and have a random narration which sees out of nowhere at times.

Overall: Concert Film Flashiness.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – V – The Veil (2016)

Director: Phil Joanou

Writer: Robert Ben Garant (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Thomas Jane, Aleksa Pallandino, Shannon Woodward, Reid Scott


Plot: Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.


Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Nice Mystery


Story: The Veil starts as we learn about Jim Jacobs (Jane) and his religious cult that committed mass suicide at a place known as ‘The Veil’ only one person survived, a young girl. 25-years-later a documentary film maker Maggie Price (Alba) leads a team with the grown-up survivor Sarah (Rabe) back to ‘The Veil’ to learn what happened and why Sarah was spared.

Being back gives Sarah a few answers as she leads the team around the camp discovering a secret stash of videos which show what Jim Jacobs was up to in cult and not everything is what they were expecting as they start to find themselves haunted by the spirits of the cult.


Thoughts on The Veil


Characters – Jim Jacobs is the leader of the cult, he wants to prove the spirit can be separated from the body, did he die in the mass suicide or did he achieve his goal with the other members of the cult. Maggie the lead in the documentary team, she introduces the team and arranges for Sarah to return, she does also have a connection to what happened during the mass suicide. Sarah is the lone survivor from the suicide, she returns as a grown up even if she does seem to be happy to be back to learn the truth.

PerformancesThomas Jane is the highlight of this movie, his performance is filled with all the crazy needed for role. Jessica Alba on the other side of the coin is average to poor throughout, this role could have been played by anyone to a higher level. Lily Rabe does continue to make herself feel like she should be in horror films at all times.

StoryThe story follows the documentary team looking at new evidence which could explain what was happening on the site of a mass suicide. The idea of learning what happened through a mix of tapes which sadly don’t feel like found footage which is the biggest problem. The continuing idea works but the forced horror is the stumbling block here. The story does also have flaws including why didn’t the police investigate the property to find the tapes, I mean come on there was a mass suicide surely raiding every possible location is important in an investigation.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does feel forced for the most part and once we see the final scene feels almost unnecessary, this could easily have just stuck to the mystery thriller side of things and kept us on edge wondering where things will go next.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the Veil, it shows a place that has had mass suicides would be haunting to be around as well as have secrets people might have missed.

Special EffectsThe effects for the ‘found footage’ are way too high of a quality, this is mostly down to one moment feeling like it has the grainy effect but the next we are thrown into that time. The ghost activity is fine but nothing overly impressive.

Scene of the Movie –
The final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I want to put a couple here, first why did the police not investigate the surrounding area? Why is Jessica Alba a lead actress? The horror is mostly plain old jump scares.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book horror mystery thriller which would have hit higher levels if it had remained just a mystery thriller without the pointless jump scares that miss most times. We also have a forgettable supporting crew in the documentary team.


Overall: Try but don’t buy in.




ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – V – Voice from the Stone (2017)

Director: Eric D Howell

Writer: Andrew Shaw (Screenplay) Silvio Raffo (Novel)

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Marton Csokas, Caterina Murino, Remo Girone, Lisa Gastoni, Edward Bring, Duccio Camerini


Plot: Set in 1950s Tuscany, Voice from the Stone is the haunting and suspenseful story of Verena, a solemn nurse drawn to aid a young boy who has fallen silent since the sudden passing of his mother.

Tagline – Silence is calling

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fizzles Out


Story: Voice from the Stone starts as we meet Verena (Clarke) a nurse that goes from house to house to try and help children that are struggling with problems, her latest job takes her to Tuscany to help Klaus (Csokas) with his son Jakob (Dring) who hasn’t spoken since his mother’s death.

When Verena learns that, Jakob believes he can still communicate with his mother, the case takes on a new direction for her, as she must learn to accept thinking outside of her believed reality for the answers to what is hold Jakob back.


Thoughts on Voice from the Stone


Characters – Verena is a nurse, she is an expert in helping children with problems, her latest job takes her to Tuscany to help a young boy who hasn’t spoken since the passing of his mother. She doesn’t believe in any of the afterlife but must now learn to accept it in this latest case. Klaus is the father of the boy, he an artist and grieving in his own way, hoping to get his son to talk once more. Malvina is the mother that has passed away, she hasn’t remained away though communicating with Jakob through the wall, holding him back, she must get pushed into the afterlife for the family to move on.

PerformancesEmilia Clarke is the biggest selling point of this movie, having one of the most beautiful women in the world, one of the most famous television characters, here she does get to show her serious side, but never reaches the levels we know she could. Marton Csokas is one of the good performers in the European mysterious men roles, here he is no different showing us why he is always picked.

StoryThe story here does get caught up in two minds, the first is just a young nurse trying to help a sick child get over the grieving process, this should be a good enough story, but we get thrown into a mystery about why his deceased mother is talking to him through a stone, while this does have a kicker of a twist and never reaches the true levels of mystery to make us satisfied with how it ended or how we got there either.

MysteryThe mystery does fall flat by the end of the film, because we get part of an answer but not the complete answer.

SettingsThe film does have beautiful settings outside of the house, we get to see moments of stunning scenery from the Tuscany location.

Scene of the Movie –
Pose for me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The ending doesn’t seem to make sense.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow moving mystery thriller that does make you want to see where things go, but in the end things don’t click to make sense to where it should all be.


Overall: Mystery that lacks the punch.