ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – W – The Walker (2007)

Director: Paul Schrader

Writer: Paul Shrader (Screenplay)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty, Moritz Bleibtreu, Mary Beth Hurt, Lily Tomlin, Willem Dafoe

 

Plot: An escort who caters to Washington D.C.’s society ladies becomes involved in a murder case.


Tagline – Everyone loves a good scandal

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Mystery

 

Story: The Walker starts as high society walker Carter Page III (Harrelson) keeps the ladies of the Washington high society company, with Lynn Lockner (Thomas) being one of his most famous clients. When Lynn discovers a murder, Carter takes up a position to help her not ruin her name for being at this location, while the rest of the society Natalie Van Miter (Bacall), Jack Delorean (Beatty) try to learn his involvement in the murder.

As the case continues to grow, Carter becomes the prime suspect being targeted by the police and the high society that want somebody to take the blame away from their own circle.

 

Thoughts on The Walker

 

Characters – Carter Page III has made a career out of mingling around the women of high society, where he walks them in parties to keep them entertained, his actions never put the rumours in the air, until one of the ladies is involved in a murder, Carter sees the once always open doors closing around him, forcing him to uncover the truth to save his own reputation.  Lynn Lockner is one of the most frequent clients for Carter, they have a close friendship which is tested when she is involved in the murder of a man, did she discover the body or have something to do with it? Natalie Van Miter is another one of the high society that enjoys Carter’s company only she doesn’t always play fair with the others in the circle. Jack Delorean isn’t the biggest fan of Carter and certain members of the high society, he is always looking for dirt on them.

PerformancesWoody Harrelson is the highlight of the film with his engaging performance in an otherwise forgettable story. Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty bring their big name presence to the film without making the impact to make you care about their characters.

StoryThe story takes us into the high society world where the rich believe they can get away with anything, we follow a walker that mingles with the ladies to keep the business with gossip etc, when a murder is committed, he becomes the prime suspect and must figure out how to clear his name before his reputation is ruined. This story is just like you would imagine, it is a series of conversations from people that are always looking down on people who just want to take each other of their high horses through the eyes of a man desperately trying to stay within the circle. This story could have been extended to give more development to the characters through a television series, which would have been a lot more interesting to watch.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film follows the aftermath of the murder which adds to the mystery as to who committed it and why, we do get plenty of suspects, but most people we meet seem to have a shady reason to be in the position they are in.

SettingsThe film is set in the Washington high society world, with flashy parties, massive apartments, everything you don’t see people in natural life.


Scene of the Movie –
Reporting the murder.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough time to address the real issues touched on within the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story that had potential to be much bigger and more interesting only for it to become mostly forgettable with the slow pacing and weak character development.

 

Overall: Slow and disappointing.

Rating

 

 

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Scar (2007)

Director: Jeb Weintrob

Writer: Zack Ford (Screenplay)

Starring: Angela Bettis, Brittney Wilson, Tegan Moss, Ben Cotton, Christopher Titus, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Devon Graye

 

Plot: Joan Burrows returns to her hometown for her niece’s graduation, only to be confronted by the serial killer she thought she offed years ago — after he kidnapped and tormented her and killed her best friend.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Late Night Horror

 

Story: Scar starts when Joan (Bettis) returns to her hometown for the first time after her survival from serial killer Bishop (Cotton) for her niece’s Olympia (Blanton) graduation, here she must face her past, remembering what happened all those years ago.

When a dead body turns up in the town, Joan must confront her past and a serial killer she thought was dead one more time to save her niece from the same fate.

 

Thoughts on Scar

 

Characters – Joan is a character we meet at two different ages and flashback between through the film, the teenage version of her gets tortured by the serial killer leaving her with the scar on her face. The adult one heads back to her hometown for the first time since to see her niece graduate. When the killings start again she becomes the prime suspect though she believes she killed the killer all those years ago. She must learn who the killer is before her niece goes through the same ordeal she does. Olympia is the niece that is living the normal teenage life graduating only to become the latest target by the killer who has already taken her friends. Bishop is the serial killer that targeted Joan and her friend all those years ago, forcing the through a torturous ordeal, has he return? He enjoys making the victims suffer as he cuts them. We do get to meet other characters who mostly become victims of the killer, each one interacts in their own way.

PerformancesAngela Bettis is strong in the leading role of this film, she often took chances on horror and this is one where she can lead the film and deal with the horrors involved. Kirby Bliss Blanton is solid in her role though she doesn’t get as much to do other than be generic teenager. Ben Cotton does make for a good villain that showed just how twisted his character it. The supporting cast are all solid enough without being challenged to do anything to make them standout.

StoryThe story follows a victim returning home for the first time only to face a serial killer she believed she had killed to protect her niece. The story does a good job balance the two timelines as we see how Joan is reacting to the ordeal from her first encounter to the new encounter, playing along the lines that she might not be as clean as she thought she was. We also get to deal with how people can become interested in killings over the stories about the killer over the victim. The strangest twist in the film is the fact that another bigger film seemed to use the exact same twist and motives behind the killings, I won’t mention the film because it will ruin the end of the film.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of the film follows the action of the serial killer which plays into the horror because of the torturous nature that they follow through the film, the wounds feel real, look real and brutal with just how they are made to look.

SettingsThe film takes place in a small town, which has a reputation, we see the normal locations, but it is in the shadows where we see the killer conduct their actions.

Special EffectsThe effects come from the graphic body horror we are put through by the killer, the wounds being enough to make the blood appear over causing fatal wounds.


Scene of the Movie –
The killer’s identity.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The killer’s motivation.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to late night horrors sometimes we can just enjoy the events for what they are, this is one of the perfect examples of this giving us horror when we need it and a simple horror to watch.

 

Overall: Midnight horror treat.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – U – Until Death (2007)

Director: Simon Fellows

Writer: Dan Harris, James Portolese (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Selina Giles, Stephen Rea, Mark Dymond, William Ash, Stephen Lord, Gary Beadle

 

Plot: Stowe is a dirty cop who is hooked on heroin, and everyone dislikes him. Because of an accident he is put into a coma, and comes out of it a better person. He wakes up wanting to put things right.


Tagline – They put him in a coma, now he’s going to put them out of their misery.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Action

 

Story: Until Death starts as we see how Anthony Stowe (Van Damme) operates under his own addictions of heroin, sex alcohol which has put his career on the edge, his marriage in the drain and his enemy Gabriel Callaghan (Rea) is getting away with the crimes he wants.

When Gabriel catches up with Anthony, he puts a bullet in his skull leaving him for dead, only to leave him in a coma in which he shouldn’t recover from. 6 months later he awakens from his coma and is left to the care of his estranged wife Valerie (Giles), as he recovers it turns out he has changed becoming a better person and even more determined to track down Gabriel.

 

Thoughts on Until Death

 

Characters – Anthony Stowes is a dirty cop, hooked on heroin with enemies in the force and on the streets, the methods have made his hard to work with and his long running pursuit of Callaghan puts him in the firing line. After he gets shot and left for dead, he must recover, a process which see him changing to become a better man. Valerie is the wife that is about to divorce Anthony after years of problems between the two, after his injury she takes him in even though she has moved on with her life. Gabriel Callaghan is the ruthless mobster trying to get ahead in the city, he disposes of anyone that gets in his way and won’t let Stowe stop his plan.

PerformancesWe watch Van Damme movies to watch him kick ass, not because of his acting standards, he is good through the film as does give us a chance to work on his serious reactions, he doesn’t get to show the fighting enough though. Selina Giles does struggle with her role though, you never believe her acting in this role. Stephen Rea does seem to enjoy this villainous role where he can become darker as the film unfolds.

StoryThe story follows a dirty cop that goes head to head with a crime boss only for his crashing life to be turned around by a near death experience. The pacing of the story is slow for my liking, we spend too much time with the bad version of Stowe and not enough on the reborn versions road to redemption, which is by the book. Granted we don’t need the deepest story here because we know what we are getting going into the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is held back for the final act of the movie, which is fine, but when you have Van Damme in the leading role, you would expect more. The crime side of the film does play into the bigger picture of what is going on which give the characters the biggest part of the development they get.

SettingsThe film uses New Orleans as the setting which is always a city used for dirty cop locations, it works well without being over used for the films backdrop.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act is the saving grace of the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The damn camera turns.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical Van Damme action movie, it tries to give us a serious side without being able to capture this and we are saved by a final act action sequence which is entertaining to watch.

 

Overall: Van Damme 101

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – P – P2 (2007)

Director: Franck Khalfoun

Writer: Franck Khalfoun, Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur (Screenplay)

Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin, Stephanie Moore, Miranda Edwards

 

Plot: A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.


Tagline –  A New Level of Terror

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Forgettable Horror

 

Story: P2 starts as businesswoman Angela (Nichols) starts running late to her family’s Christmas party after her work party, gets trapped inside her work structure after her car fails to start, leaving her at the hands of security guard Thomas (Bentley).

As the night unfolds Thomas puts Angela through a string off tests, before she tries to figure out a way to escape this psychopath.

 

Thoughts on P2

 

Characters – Angela is a businesswoman that finds herself working late too often becoming more distant from her family, while not starting her own. When another late night finds her car breaking down and missing her taxi, she finds herself locked in the parking structure being chased down by the crazed security guard. Thomas is the security guard that has his own plan for Christmas, to keep Angela locked inside completing his twisted ideas.

PerformancesA crazy Wes Bentley is always something we like to see, but even he doesn’t reach the levels we would like to see him get too. Rachel Nichols is fine in the leading role as the damsel in distress, trying to fight back.

StoryThe story is very simple, crazed man prevents girl from escaping her parking lot only to want to get involved in a game to se how far he can push her. There isn’t much more to this story, we get glimpses into the idea that he is doing this to protect her against men that have done wrong, but otherwise, it is a cut and dry story with little in the way of twists along the way.

Crime/HorrorThe crime comes from what Thomas does, which works for the film, the horror never reaches the levels he could do for where the film tries to go.

SettingsThe film is set inside the parking lot which does make for a good setting with no escape once locked in.

Special EffectsThe effects are used when needed, the film doesn’t rely on them, when it could easily do so.


Scene of the Movie –
Merry Christmas Thomas.

That Moment That Annoyed Me She would know how to drive a car.

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime horror that grabs the basic ingredients and does nothing interesting with the story to make it a stand out.

 

Overall: Not worth the time it takes.

Rating

 

 

Black Water (2007)

Director: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki

Writer: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki (Screenplay)

Starring: Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodoreda, Ben Oxenbould, Fiona Press

 

Plot: A terrifying tale of survival in the mangrove swamps of Northern Australia


Tagline – What You Can’t See Can Hurt You.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacking Suspense Animal Attack

 

Story: Black Water starts when Grace (Glenn) her husband Adam (Rodoreda) and her younger sister Lee (Dermody) are off on an adventure across Northern Australia, visiting a crocodile farm before heading out into the black water for a fishing day with guide Jim (Oxenbould).

When their small boat is capsized by a crocodile the family find themselves hiding in the trees waiting to see if the crocodile has gone before making their decision on how to escape.

 

Thoughts on Black Water

 

Characters – Grace is the married pregnant old sister, she is using the trip to make the announcement to her husband, once the attack happens she wants to protect her younger sister, while trying to think of a logical way out of the situation. Lee is the younger sister that is on the trip for her first adventure, she doesn’t have anything about her to make her feel unique other than that she seems to sleep a lot. Adam is the husband that suggest the trip, once trapped he wants to use the quick option to safety which might be the more dangerous one.

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances we must start with the negatives, it doesn’t help that the characters are written very weakly, which gives the three main stars very little to work with, must of what they need to do is sit in a tree have the same conversation.

StoryThe story here is simple, we follow three people that get trapped by a crocodile in the middle is the North Australian waters, they must figure out how to survive and this is sold on based on a true story. there are plenty of things which don’t help the story here, first we don’t get a chance to get to know the characters well enough, they are mostly just generic because we don’t know enough to care about them. We get the same conversation about what is the best idea for seemingly ages without any action being followed. We do get to follow the normal animal attack story which mostly revolves around screaming over anything else.

Action/HorrorThe action isn’t shot with the best style, we know what is happening, its just most of the action is off camera which makes it hard to believe the crocodile attacks.

SettingsThe film puts us in the middle of the black water in North Australia which is does put our characters in a place where rescue isn’t an option and escaping isn’t one either.

Special EffectsThe effects for the after attacks look like good strong practical effects, when we start seeing the attack in progress we lose something about what we are seeing.


Scene of the Movie –
The feeding night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We see to have the same conversation 4 or 5 times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple animal attack movie that lacks that extra quality to make us truly disturbed by what we are seeing, we have dull characters and poorly shot action.

 

Overall: Simple animal attack film.

Rating