Franchise Weekend – Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)

Director: Mary Lambert

Writer: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Mara, Robert Vito, Tina Lifford, Ed Marinaro, Michael Coe, Lillith Fields

 

Plot: On a prom-night dare, a trio of high school friends chant an incantation, unleashing an evil spirit from the past with deadly consequences.


Tagline – Mary’s Evil is Beyond Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Than I Remembered

 

Story: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary starts as we follow three high school students including Samantha Owens (Mara) who are playing with the ideas of urban legends and the Bloody Mary myth, which sees them disappear for a couple of days.

When they return Samantha’s brother David (Vito) believes it had something to do with the football team that she exposed, but soon the Mary ghost starts putting the students through their own nightmares.

 

Thoughts on Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

 

Characters – Samantha Owens is on of the high school reporters, her latest story exposes the football team which leads to her being exiled from the school dance, victim of a prank she is put through the same ordeal that three student years before went through, which unleashes a vengeful spirit. She must figure out what is going on before too many people start dying. David is the brother of Samantha, he always watches over his sister and will stand by her to stop anything happening to her. Grace Taylor was one of the survivors that was involved in the first kidnapping that took place, she doesn’t remember who was involved and has spent her life avoiding the truth. Bill is the step father of Sam and David, thy have never been fond of him and we learn early on that he was around during the first incident.

PerformancesKata Mara is the lead in this film, this is one of her first leading roles and you can see she does have the little bit extra about her that will make her standout in the future. The rest of the cast is solid enough, certain smaller supporting roles do have weak performances, but once they are killed off it isn’t a problem.

StoryThe story here follows high school students that unleashes an urban Legend on the world only for them to get picked off, they need to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the murdered teenager to bring about the end of the curse. This does use connection to the first two films, mostly by pointing out who the killer in the second one was, showing that people will use Urban Legends to kill. By using the students names we learn who the killer is too early which is a shame because it could have been a good twist, when it comes to the kills the idea they are based on Urban Legends once again ends up mixed because some are just crimes which take advantage of the situation over being a legend. This will also fail by the fact that it decided to go supernatural on us for no reason what so ever.

Horror/MysteryThe kills continue to use the Urban Legends which is fine, we have learnt about these in previous films, but the supernatural side of everything only lets things down, the mystery behind the film is easier to solve once we look at the people in the opening sequence.

SettingsHaving a high school setting does make this feel too big, it also leaves us to wide spread for the kills mostly taking place in homes.

Special EffectsThe effects the biggest weakness of the film, anything practical works fine, but those CGI moments mostly the spider scene look terrible.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Those spiders.

Final ThoughtsFor the third in a franchise this is fine, it works and will make for a good late night movie we can enjoy as horror fans.

 

Overall: Late night viewing.

Rating

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw II (2005)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn Bousman (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Donnie Wahlberg, Erik Enudsen, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Emmanuelle Vaugier

 

Plot: A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.


Tagline – We Dare You Again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Sequel

 

Story: Saw II starts as we meet Detective Eric Matthews (Wahlberg), the lead investigator into Jigsaw now, he has been struggling with his parental duties with his son Daniel (Knudsen) but when he gets called out by Jigsaw, the team get their first lead. Closing in on Jigsaw or as we know now John Kramer (Bell) he finds himself watching over his son inside the latest game.

We follow Daniel with the other victims including drug dealer Xavier (G), returning victim Amanda (Smith) and Jonas (Plummer) as they must navigate their way through this game as Daniel watching on hopelessly learning the motivation behind all of John’s ideas.

 

Thoughts on Saw II

 

Characters – John Kramer is the man we know as Jigsaw now, he hosts the games and this time he brings the detective to him, knowing he hasn’t got long left to live, he mocks them as he explains his actions and choices. Detective Eric Matthews has been tracking Jigsaw for a while now taking over from the previous case, he finds his son in the latest game and must listen to the motives behind the games. Daniel is Eric’s son that is in the game, his true identity could be his undoing as he is put in the game with the criminals. The criminals in the game all have been involved in Eric’s cases and all have their own problems.

PerformancesTobin Bell fast became the face of this franchise and you can see why in his calm performance throughout. Donnie Wahlberg is good as the detective but you feel he doesn’t get to the same level as Glover did in the previous film. Erik Knudsen is good as is Shawnee Smith, we have good performance from the whole cast.

StoryThe story continues in the hunt for Jigsaw, we know who he is now but the police still don’t know his identity. We follow how one detective gets put to the test to learn who the selection of new victims are that are with his son while we also get the first steps into the backstory for Jigsaw and what his goals with the games are. This does build a bigger world picture by the time we are done and just leaves you wanting more.

Horror/MysteryThe horror once more from the games being played by our victims, we get more graphic games here but that is because of the style of battle to survive, the mystery isn’t on the same level but we do have one as we wonder why these people have been selected.

SettingsThe settings keep us in dark warehouse rooms which show how low the people need to go to make it out alive and how easy the traps could be to create.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well to create the kills and games which look practical for the most part too.


Scene of the Movie –
Final reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the cut editing is too flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sequel to the original, it continues to build the world and most importantly brings us a twist that is even bigger than before.

 

Overall: Good sequel, keep watching.

Rating

 

 

Viggo Mortensen Weekend – A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: Josh Olson (Screenplay) John Wagner, Vince Locke (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Peter MacNeill

 

Plot: A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.


Tagline – Everyone has something to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Unsettling Thriller

 

Story: A History of Violence starts as we meet mild-mannered Tom Stall (Mortensen) working in his local diner with his own family, wide Edie (Bello) and child Jack (Holmes) and Sarah. One evening two men arrive in his diner trying to rob and kill the people inside, Tom’s quick thinking kills the criminals making him a local hero.

The act of heroism brings gangster Carl Fogarty (Harris) to town who claims Tom is from the criminal underworld hiding out with his older brother Richie (Hurt) waiting for him to return back to the criminal world.

 

Thoughts on A History of Violence

 

Characters – Tom Stall is a quiet man, running a diner having a loving family, he steps up to protect his customers and friends makes him a local hero. Now he has drawn a target on his chest with his past coming back to haunt him. Edie is the wife of Tom, she works in law bring home the bigger pay checks, she supports Tom, until she learns the truth and must decide where she stands with him. Carl Fogarty is the mysterious stranger that arrives in town claiming to know Tom from a previous life, he brings the danger back into Tom’s life with the past he wanted to run away from. Richie is the crime boss and brother to Tom, he has been searching for his brother for years and now sees the chance for the connection.

PerformancesViggo Mortensen is outstanding in this leading role we see how he keeps his character perfectly calm in everyday life and how the switch can make him a deadly killer, this is an ability that not everyone can achieve. Maria Bello is strong in her role as a woman unsure who her husband really is. Ed Harris and William Hurt in the supporting role are fantastic both take over the screen with their presence adding much needed tension to everything.

StoryThe story here follows a mild-mannered man whose past comes back to haunt him after protect people he loves and cares about. This is almost like the story that follows up one of the gangster films where we see someone leave the life only to get drawn back years later against his will. The film like to use the idea of violence being the breaking point for relationships between husband & wife, father & son and two brothers which gets played out perfectly. There is an air of tension from start to finish in the film which leaves us only wanting to see where things would go next.

ThrillerThe film uses the tension to keep us feeling uneasy through nearly each moment in the film never knowing what would happen next.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which Tom makes safe and happy, if would make sense for his character to be there too, it shows how media can expose anybody’s secret.


Scene of the Movie –
The first crime rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bullying side which isn’t the most important thing we see.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern thrillers you will see, you have four stunning performances and shocks around each corner.

 

Overall: Stunning thriller

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – The Skeleton Key (2005)

Director: Iain Softley

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett

 

Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.


Tagline – Fearing Is Believing

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Ghost Investigation

 

Story: The Skeleton Key starts as we meet carer Caroline Ellis (Hudson) who has been working in a home, but wants a change. This leads her to a New Orleans plantation to helps the Devereaux family, Violet (Rowlands) and the paralysed Ben (Hurt) with the lawyer Luke Marshall (Sarsgaard) trying to strike a deal.

When Ben doesn’t seem as disabled as Violet appears to let on, Caroline finds herself investigating the house more, where she finds a secret room in the attic, she turns to her best friend Jill (Bryant) to help who teaches her about Hoodoo which is what could be haunting the home.

 

Thoughts on The Skeleton Key

 

Characters – Caroline is a carer, looking to study nursing, she takes this new role which offers her the freedom needed to do the studying. She starts questioning the strange goings on within the house, which leads her to go into full investigation mode. Violet is the lady of the home, she wants to keep everything the way it was inside the house knowing and believing the curse that roams the house. She doesn’t like people coming to the home disturbing the peace she has created with the ghosts. Ben is the disabled husband that has suffered a stroke, he is the reason why Caroline is hired but not everything is right for him as he tries to communicate without being able to use his words. Luke Marshall is the lawyer putting the affairs in orders for the Devereaux’s, he hires Caroline to help care for Ben while using his charm will get him through any situation. Jill is Caroline’s best friend, she fills the filling in the information at times roles and gives us the character that helps question whether she is making the right decisions.

PerformancesKate Hudson is good in this leading role, she is strong minded character which shows in her performance. Gena Rowlands enjoys her role in the film where she gets to play the twisted character. John Hurt gets to show of his acting skills in the supporting role, he doesn’t get any dialogue in the film just gets to show the desperation he is feeling. Peter Sarsgaard is strong too, in a decade where he was always one of the go to guys in a supporting role.

StoryThe story dives into elements of horror I enjoy the most, we have a new member of the household, in this case a carer, that finds out something is right and must figure out what is happening before it is too late. The film offers plenty off potential options to where the film could go, which is what we like even if it does suggest heavily in one direction, you will need to keep thinking as to where the film will end up going.

Horror/MysteryThe horror isn’t in your face jump scares, it is well created tension filled moments that help us get to the final outcome, the mystery does take centre stage for the genres as we watch this get solved by Caroline.

SettingsThe New Orleans settings helps us understand the Hoodoo idea that is surrounded by the characters involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects aren’t used very often and to be honest the ones used don’t seem to come off very well.


Scene of the Movie –
The Final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had an issue with just having one random friend who was only used to fill in the blanks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little horror, it is nothing ground breaking, but it has good performances and a solid story that will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Good horror mystery from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

 

Plot: Two young brothers are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when their house is hurled through the depths of space by the magical board game they are playing.


Tagline – A new adventure from the world of Jumanji

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Adventure

 

Story: Zathura: A Space Adventure starts as two brothers Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) are trying to get the attention of their father (Robbins), with his work getting in the way they must learn to occupy themselves, which leads to them finding a board game Zathura which leads to them ending up in outer space.

The two brothers must learn to put their differences behind them to survive the game which is filled with multiply different space based threats.

 

Thoughts on Zathura: A Space Adventure

 

Characters – Danny is the youngest of the three children, he wants to be accepted by his brother even though he isn’t as good at sports and has a habit to cheat when playing games. Walter is the middle child, he wants to spend time with his father and get angry when Danny is allowed time too, he hates having Danny around never wanting to spend time with him. The Astronaut is a stranger from the game that assists the brothers through the game.

PerformancesThe performances are next up and we must first consider that we have two child actors, they are good in their arguments and it is strange to see that only one made it to the adult level in Josh Hutcherson. Dax Shepard is good and never gets to the annoying we know from him now, while Stewart and Robbins are good for the supporting roles.

StoryThe story does follow many of the same ideas as Jumanji, we have two brothers this time being forced into playing the game, needing to put aside their difference to finish the game to return to normality. We have the similar peril only in space which brings a freshness into the concept, there is a weird side story going on which brings a twist which is disturbing more than clever. If you want something just fun, this will hit the marks.

Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our two brothers to a place they could never imagine which plays into the fantasy elements of the film, the sci-fi side of things takes the whole story into space.

SettingsThe film is set inside the house, which is works because what would happen if your house was in space suddenly.

Special EffectsThe effects are surprisingly brilliant, I say this because Jumanji had weak effects, even though this is set in space it never looks out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The game first moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The twist seems weird.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun family film that can be enjoyed by everyone, it feels like it has full adventure that can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: One for the adventure fans out there.

Rating