Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Case 39 (2009)

Director: Christian Alvart

Writer: Ray Wright (Screenplay)

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie

 

Plot: A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Horror

 

Story: Case 39 starts as we see the workload of social worker Emily Jenkins (Zellweger), the latest case to fall on her desk is Case 39 about young girl Lilith Sullivan (Ferland) who is being abused by her parents but nothing can be proven. Emily get Detective Barron (McShane) to help investigate but when Lilith’s parents try to kill her, she is removed from the home.

When Lilith moves in with Emily during the case hearing, we start to learn what could have been the problem with Lilith as strange things start to happen around the people Emily cares about, is this Lilith causing the problems or something more sinister.

 

Thoughts on Case 39

 

Characters/PerformanceEmily Jenkins is the social worker that always does the best for the children through any of the cases she gets, she sees the latest case with Lilith and takes her in as the only one she can trust but soon her life start unravelling and Emily must question her good nature to stop people dying. Lilith is the young girl that Emily believes is being abused by her family, she starts of looking innocent but soon becomes strange through the film and she could in fact be evil. Detective Barron is the person Emily always turns to, to solve any problems in the cases she has, he is loyal to her and willing to help solve any wrong doings.

Performance wise, Renee Zellweger is good in this lead role showing us horror can work with the right leading lady. Jodelle Ferland made a reputation playing the creepy little girl around this time and she is the star of the show here. Ian McShane is good in the supporting role too.

StoryThe story is a smart decision process because a social worker having the mentality to want to protect children having to question that because one could be evil poses a great set of moral questions throughout the film. That is the core of the story here we do have characters getting picked off by what could an evil child but it does keep us wondering how somebody would deal with the actual anti-Christ.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes in our characters being haunted by their nightmares that are being created by Lilith but the mystery behind why this is happening in the first place.

SettingsWe have everyday settings in this film that makes us feel like this could happen to anybody, this does help everything unfold.

Special EffectsThe effects do work when it comes to the kills going on through the film without it being all over the top CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid horror that spends slightly too much time trying to add extra scares instead of focusing on what could be moral questions Emily should need to face.

 

Overall: Solid Horror that can be enjoyable for the horror fans.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – L – The Lovely Bones (2009)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (Screenplay) Alice Sebold (Novel)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan

 

Plot: Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Fantasy Elements Throughout

 

Story: The Lovely Bones starts as Susie (Ronan) introduces us to her family, father Jack (Wahlberg), mother Abigail (Weisz), sister Lindsey, brother Buckley and Grandma Lynn (Sarandon), Susie tells us about her memories, dreams and that she was murdered by George Harvey (Tucci).

Susie trapped in purgatory wants to show her family who the murderer was as she watches over her family, her family are dealing with her loss in different ways, Jack is trying to solve who would have done it, while Abigail is grieving silently.

As Susie watches her family she does see the healing happening but when Lindsey catches the eye of George, she makes it her mission to protect her sister from the same fate she suffered.

 

Thoughts on The Lovely Bones

 

Characters – Susie is our victim, she is also our narrator telling us her feels towards her family before and after she is murdered. She is the light in the darkest places, a teenager that never experienced those life moments she dreamt off. Jack is Susie’s father that never gives up on finder the person responsible but this only makes him crazy pushing Abigail away from him as she is parent that needs to get away from everything to recover. George Harvey is the man that killed Susie, he lives in the street waiting for his moment to take advantage of any of his victims. Grandma Lynn tries to help bring peace to the family and mostly the children.

PerformanceSaoirse Ronan showed us here once again that she was one of the best actresses of her generation, being able to tell the story for the eyes. Wahlberg gives us a solid performance through the film while Weisz does all she can with what she gets, she does have a couple of powerful moments though. Susan Sarandon enjoys the grandmother role but it Stanley Tucci that gives us the most haunting performance of his career to date.

StoryThe story brings a fresh spin on the idea of a murder in suburban neighbourhood, we have had the ones where it could be someone in the area, we have had the parent searching for the killer, we have had the ghost haunting but to have the spirit watching over the people they loved and the one that killed them brings a unique way of looking at the whole murder and solving it. For a story this may well be from a novel of the same name and it is good watch throughout.

Fantasy/ThrillerThe idea of the fantasy side of the film comes from the purgatory that Susie finds herself in, it is a visual treat at times in this world.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a small suburban neighbourhood where everyone believes they know everyone, where the sudden disappearance of Susie brings the family to start pointing fingers shows how a neighbourhood can come together to put this behind them.

Special EffectsThe effects for the purgatory looks fantastic throughout the film showing us the imagination of Susie at work.

Scene of the Movie – Bottle smashing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does come off longer than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat and good spin on the murder movie, it is well worth watching to see how the lives of the people effected by the disappearance.

 

Overall: Good fantasy crime movie.

Rating

 

 

Dogtooth (2009) Guest Review

Dogtooth Review

 Kynodontas (2009)

You don’t know what true psychological discomfort until you watch the critically acclaimed Dogtooth. Director Yorgos Lanthimos has made a career out of making complicated and extremely evasive films and Dogtooth is the Holy grail. The film follows three siblings being brought up in a life of complete isolation carefully constructed by their controlling parents for motives unknown. The audience, initially captured by the absurdity of their living conditions, spend the rest of the film on a case study of their bizarre lives.

 

Thematically, it is very similar to Lanthimos’ The Lobster exploring the psychological affects that isolation can have on an individual. A rule of thumb I see in a lot of Lanthimos’ films is that you accept your own reality. This film is no different. Here, Lanthimos explores isolation’s effects on intimacy, understanding and relationships.

 

The cinematography is subtle but brilliant, it ensures that every shot is filmed in a visually interesting and engaging way. The lighting is notably excellent. The cinematography almost carries this film along with its originality. The music, nothing special, is well used and does accent the coverage in this film nicely.

 

However, the characters are underdeveloped which I know is meant to mirror the environment they have been placed in. But I can’t help but feel that we (the audience) didn’t develop enough empathy with the characters as a result which as a consequence left me more disengaged. Their lack of development reflects the grim realities of their isolation.

 

In terms of the dialogue, silence is used magnanimously in this film. The emptiness providers the audience with time to contemplate on what has and is going to happen it’s a sign of mature film making. The acknowledgement that every second of precious screen time doesn’t have to be crammed full of dialogue and fancy cinematography. Otherwise, the dialogue is clever and carries a healthy serving of deadpan humour which helps lighten the darker parts of the film.

 

The plot in my opinion is one of the drawbacks to this film. It is overdrawn and exhausts the audience, we find ourselves disengaged after an hour of watching because the plot is overspent and has no real narrative backbone. Which, from my perspective, limits the film greatly.

 

Dogtooth is an extremely bizarre case of you except reality for what it is. Everybody lives in different environments and so base reality off the truths that their environment tells them. Even if these truths aren’t really truths. It’s edgy different and I can understand that it provides this critical unique appeal to people bored of regular cinema. But at times in my opinion this is overdone and at times even with cringe. It’s something to watch for a unique piece of cinema and one thing I can vouch for that this is truly original and authentic in every single way. Nevertheless, originality does not always mean a good work of art. Dogtooth is definitely not for the faint hearted but if you’re bored of regular cinema this might be one to watch.

 

 Author’s Bio

My name is Yahia El-Tanani and I’m a 20-year-old Biomedical Sciences student at Newcastle University, England. I’m an avid artist and gym-goer. But I really enjoy the small things in life like firm handshakes, good food and hard work, and I hate (and I mean I hate) roses. More importantly than all of that is that I bleed film. Film is my passion, and I’m driven to become a positive influence and voice in the film industry. I’m exactly what it says on the tin. But enough small talk, go follow me on social media and don’t be afraid to have a chat. Why not be two complete strangers discussing our love for film?

 

Ps. Email is the quickest way to reach me J.

 

Instagram: @aka_milkyt

Snapchat: @yaya191

Email: yayaelta191@gmail.com

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – A – A Prophet (2009)

Director: Jacques Audiard

Writer: Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard (Screenplay) Abdel Raouf Dafri, Nicolas Peufailit (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb, Hichm Yacoubi

 

Plot: A young Arab man is sent to a French prison.


Tagline – Escaping the prison of life.

Runtime: 2 Hours 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Filled Thriller

 

Story: A Prophet starts as Malik (Rahim) enters prison, he wants to keep to himself and get out quickly, but this doesn’t happen because crime boss Cesar (Arestrup) sees him as a potential new employee in need of protection on the inside, but in exchange Malik must do some of the dirty work for Cesar.

As time goes by Malik starts getting granted day release from prison where he must run jobs for Cesar, instead of getting back into normal life again. When things start getting out of control Malik must find a way out of this life before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on A Prophet

 

Characters – Malik is a young criminal, sent to prison where he wants to do his time and walk away from his mistakes, he isn’t going to get this chance as he gets recruited with the promise of protection on the inside. He finds himself doing whatever it takes to survive this, but can he find a way out. Cesar is the crime lord in prison, he offers protection in exchange for jobs to be done for him, he will kill anyone that crosses him though.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are fantastic, you believe each reaction and motive the characters must go through as things are happening in the film.

StoryThe story follows one young man’s fall into the crime world from inside a prison, to where he must find a way out before it finds himself too deep. There is a religious element to the story which shows the tension between Arabic and Muslims as Malik is stuck between the twos battle. This is a by the book gangster style movie where the new person enters and rises up the gang only to want to find a way out too.

CrimeThe crime world we enter starts in prison and shows how things can still be operated from within the prison walls if the ranks are high enough.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the prison, so you can see the world that can operate inside there, outside each process is where Malik is either sent or finding himself while going through the release procedure.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kill.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long for my liking.

Final ThoughtsThis is a tense crime thriller showing us just where a young man can fall into while trying to just get out of his own problems with a large amount of religious undertone.

 

Overall: One for the gangster fans.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009)

Director: Martin Barnewitz

Writer: Todd Farmer (Screenplay)

Starring: Norman Reedus, Heather Stephens, Claire Holt, Richard Riehle, Darcy Fowers

 

Plot: Doing what he believes must be done in order to save his family and livelihood, farmer John Rollins places an odd scarecrow among his crops and promptly reaps the benefits. The thing is, his luck probably won’t last for long.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Built In Story

 

Story: The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow starts by following the family that previously lived in the house, the Rollins, John (Reedus), Mary (Stephens) along with their children Lindsey (Holt) and Michael. We the family is struggling to make ends meet and to get the crop to flourish.

Searching for a way to rib the land of the crows, John finds an old scarecrow with a strange look and decides to use it on his field. When the scarecrow works killing all of the crows, John starts to change and his family notices these changes becoming scared of him.

 

Thoughts on The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn finds his life crashing around him, his farm failing, his marriage falling apart and his money almost gone, but when he puts up a scarecrow his luck changes for the better, at first. Mary is the wife ready to walk away from John with the children. Lindsey is the daughter that clearly wants out of the town, that is about her character.

Performance wise, Normal Reedus does a solid job in the leading role without reaching the levels we know of him now in the Walking Dead, but it would be fair to say the women are written poorly which then shows in their bang average performances.

StoryThe story is a prequel to the first film but it also doesn’t have any real connection other than being set on the farm and the character names. Looking away from that problem, you will find this film having a much better story because it followers the struggling farmer that finds himself having his life controlled by a scarecrow. Sure, there is a human factor to this too as we see him deal with his own problems at home too. The story does feel a lot better and more engaging than the first film.

HorrorThe horror side of the film is slightly improved but we never find ourselves feeling terrified by any of the events in the film.

SettingsThe horror all happens on the farm which is good and all we need from the direction the story goes.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all simple and used to the effects required for the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good follow up but we kind of know how the film will end thanks to the original but the mythology behind it all comes off nicer.

 

Overall: Solid sequel but average film.

Rating