Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Haunter (2013)

haunterDirector: Vincenzo Natali

Writer: Brian King (Screenplay)

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, Stephen McHattie, Peter DaCunha, Samantha Weinstein, Eleanor Zichy

 

Plot: A teenager is stuck in a time loop that is not quite the same each time. She must uncover the truth but her actions have consequences for herself and others.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Twist

 

Story: Haunter starts as we meet Lisa (Breslin) a fifteen-year-old girl who has to live through the same day over and over even explaining to her family Bruce (Outerbridge), Carol (Nolden) and Robbie (DaChunha) what is happening.

Wanting to breakout of this cycle Lisa starts seeing strange events happening around the house even though she keeps restarting her day. When Lisa also sees the day running differently it is the arrival of the Pale Man (McHattie) giving her a warning that pushes Lisa to look into uncovering the truth. Lisa knows she is dead and wants to communicate with the new inhabitants of the home as Lisa is only one of the victims of this killer.

Haunter brings a fresh approach to the ghost investigation sub-genre of horror because we are only used to seeing it on the living characters side but this time everything gets turned on its head as we follow the ghost trying to communicate with the living to help them. While this does take away any of the peril involved in the film it does make for a very interesting to follow mystery. I do also feel this is slightly lightweight for a horror film but still on that can be enjoyed.

 

Actor Review

 

Abigail Breslin: Lisa is our teenage girl that we follow living the same day over and over, she knows something isn’t right and when she figures out she is in fact dead she has to wonder why the living are communicating with her. Abigail is good in this leading role and the clear star of the show.

Peter Outerbridge: Bruce is Lisa’s father who is stuck inside this world where he has to constantly fix the family car. Peter is solid but really doesn’t develop the character enough.

Michelle Nolden: Carol is the mother of the family who is always has chores for Lisa to do. Michelle struggles like Peter to really make an impact in this role.

Stephen McHattie: Pale Man seems to be the man holding Lisa in this world even being the man that murdered the family. He is always staying one step ahead of Lisa being able to communicate between both worlds. Stephen does make for a good villain shining through this role.

Support Cast: Haunter has a small supporting cast which are mostly just the other victims that Lisa has to communicate with.

Director Review: Vincenzo NataliVincenzo gives us a lightweight horror with a really clever story that could easily be a one off television episode.

 

Horror: Haunter has very simple scares which do work but having our leading character being dead you just never feel any peril in the haunting side of the story.

Mystery: Haunter does use the mystery side of the story to its advantage making us truly wonder just what is going on within the household.

Settings: Haunter keeps us within the house for the whole story even if we arrive there at different times of crimes being committed.
Special Effects
: Haunter has strong use of effects to blend the time periods using the times style of filming to its advantage.

Suggestion: Haunter is one I do think the horror fans out there will be enjoying but only if you like a good investigation style ghost film. (Horror Fans Try)

 

Best Part: Old style filing for final showdown.

Worst Part: You never really feel the peril because she is dead.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

Overall: Nice twist on the ghost investigation film.

Ratingcard

 

 

Fruitvale Station (2013)

fruitDirector: Ryan Coogler

Writer: Ryan Coogler (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael B Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly

 

Plot: The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Drama

 

Story: Fruitvale Station starts with the start of Oscar Grant’s (Jordan) day disagreements with his girlfriend Sophina (Diaz) but covering it up for their daughter Tatiana (Neal) who he does everything he can to be a wonderful father to. The day is New Year’s Eve and Oscar’s mother’s Wanda (Spencer) birthday that he goes out of his way to make today special for her.

As the day continues we get to see the sort of life Oscar has been living, fresh out of jail but recently losing his job trying to escape a criminal lifestyle which could pay for everything his family needs.

Finishing the parties and everything Oscar joins his friend’s on celebrating the new year stuck on a train but making the most of everything but this is only the beginning of this night for Oscar.

 

Thoughts on Fruitvale Station

 

StoryWhen you look at this true story you will know the outcome of what will hit hard, the story of the day in the life of Oscar a young man whose life has been tough with not everything going smoothly but this day shows how he could be turning the corner and cleaning up his act becoming fully responsible. Now to get into the overall problem with the big incident in the film, which only happens because chaotic scenes after a small scuffle which caused all the protests in the aftermath, if these guys where innocent they should have co-operated and not being all riled up causing the chaotic scenes which followed and then this tragic story would never have happened.

Biography/RomanceShowing the events of this day of Oscar shows how he wasn’t the squeaky-clean character which is important but one whose life decisions has put him on the wrong side of the laws eyes. This is important because we sympathise with the character but also know he hasn’t always walked the straight line.

PerformancesMichael B Jordan gives a truly wow performance here showing he is the star we know he is now, while he is the true star of the film the supporting performance are all brilliant too throughout.

SettingsEach setting shows us just where Oscar was in his life how he didn’t have everything just wanting to make sure his family had a roof over their heads and food on their table which comes through in every single scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard-hitting drama that shows just how difficult the divide between citizens and police is in certain parts of the world.

 

Overall: This is important to see just to see how tragic the story is

Ratingcard

 

 

Blue Ruin (2013)

blieDirector: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Jeremy Saulnier (Screenplay)

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W Thompson

 

Plot: A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Filled Thriller

 

Story: Blue Ruin starts as we see homeless outside Dwight (Blair) doing all he can to get by breaking into houses for baths and searching bins for food while sleeping in his abandoned car. Dwight’s life is turned upside down when he learns about Wade Cleland release from prison, the man who killed his parents.

Dwight turns everything he has into a method of transport in his car to travel to get vengeance on Wade for what he did, leaving him dead in a bar bathroom.

When the murder isn’t reported on any news outlets Dwight must get his sister Sam’s (Hargreaves) family to safety as he waits for the Cleland family to come for their own form of justice against him. Dwight must use all his connection to stop the people who are after him and it isn’t long before we learn that Dwight is just as deadly as the men after him.

 

Thoughts on Blue Ruin

 

StoryThe story of vengeance shines through here where we get such a simplistic tale of one man’s quest to kill the man responsible for killing his parents. Each scene is filled with tension as we must see the whole story coming from the expression and action of Dwight. The story shows that you can have a simple revenge story that draws you in from start to finish.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime in this film is the path that Dwight leaves for in his vengeance mission and this helps the thrilling side of the story which is just full blown tension filled throughout.

Characters/PerformancesDwight is the strongest written character here and we see him in every single scene as he tells the story with next to no words. The rest of the cast only have a couple of scenes which doesn’t give us enough time to see these characters develop.

SettingsEach setting shows the bleaker side of America as we see the darker side to the country even if none of the locations can be clashed as memorable but they all look amazing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most intense crime thrillers that is carried by one of the best performances of the year of release.

 

Overall: Brilliantly tense thriller that is a must for the fans of the genre.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Forgotten Kingdom (2013)

forgttenDirector: Andrew Mudge

Writer: Andrew Mudge (Screenplay)

Starring: Zenzo Ngqobe, Nozipho Nkelemba, Lebhang Ntsane, Jerry Mofokeng, Mohoeshoe Chabeli, Lillian Dube

 

Plot: Atang leaves the slums of the big city to bury his estranged father in the remote, mountainous village where he was born. Befriended by an orphan herd-boy and stirred by memories of his youth, he falls in love with his childhood friend, Dineo, now a radiant young teacher. Through her, Atang is drawn to the mystical beauty and hardships of the people, and faces his own bittersweet reckoning.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautifully Moving Story

 

Story: The Forgotten Kingdom starts as we meet Joseph (Ngqobe) a young man in the big city in South Africa, estranged from his father he group are harmless troublemakers. When he gets a vision of his father Joseph whose real name is Atang must take another look at the life he has been living to bury his father in Lesotho.

While at his father’s funeral he meets an old-school friend Dineo (Nkelemba) who still lives in Lesotho but who gave up her life in Joburg to support her family. Atang journeys to be with Dineo where he is guided by Orphan Boy (Ntsane) as he learns more about the beauty in life and the difficulties other people must go through after being mugged and beaten.

The Forgotten Kingdom gives us a story of how one man must find his purpose in life after his father’s death, it shows the incredible journey he must complete where he must consider the spirits of the world he has since turned his back on. We see how difficult life is for the ones that don’t always tell the world in a world that is so different to my own, where sickness can be considered a curse that doesn’t get the support it needs. We also get a love story of one man who will go on a journey to be with the woman he loves.

The performances are brilliant with Zenzo Ngqobe give a performance that could be put up there with the very best in the year of the release. The film has a real heart to it which makes it stand out from the rest of the releases of this year.

 

Overall: Brilliant journey of self-discovery through the rough environment.

Rating

 90

 

Jason Bateman Weekend – Bad Words (2013)

badDirector: Jason Bateman

Writer: Andrew Dodge (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall, Allison Janney, Ben Falcone, Steve Witting, Beth Grant

 

Plot: A spelling bee loser sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Comedy

 

Story: Bad Words starts as we meet Guy Trilby (Bateman) a 40-year-old man who has decided to enter into the national spelling-bee for children. He finds a loop-hole for his entry and working with Jenny Widgeon (Hahn) his national sponsor to take on the authorities.

After qualifying for the national championships Guy gets frowned upon while making friends with Chaitanya (Chand) a contender whose parents leave him alone. Jenny tries to learn the story behind Guy’s decision to enter the tournament.

Bad Words is a comedy that takes on the spelling bee culture going around America and how if you study rules you can make any tournament eligible for entry. We get to see a sad back story which has driven Guy to act the way he does which is all good for why he is taking part in the spelling bee. The unlikely friendship also works because Guy sees himself in Chaitanya making him change over time. But on the negative the subject matter isn’t going to be for everyone and in the end could turn people away.

 

Actor Review

 

Jason Bateman: Guy Trilby is a 40-year-old man who wants to enter a spelling-bee for kids after finding a loop-hole. He doesn’t care who he offends by entering this tournament and is a terrible example for all the kids involved. Jason gets to use all his comedy chops here

Kathryn Hahn: Jenny Widgeon is a reporter trying to write a story about Guy’s story of entering the spelling-bee. She is also his sponsor for the tournament with her news outlet funding his journey. Kathryn is solid in this supporting role.

Rohan Chand: Chaitanya Chopra is a young Indian boy who is also entering the spelling-bee who befriends Guy along the way he is the only person that shows Guy any sort of light on his dark path. Rohan is great and working opposite Jason.

Philip Baker Hall: Dr Bowman is running the bee and takes an instant dislike towards Guy but he does try to keep everything together in difficult tournament. Philip works well in this role.

Support Cast: Bad Words has a supporting cast which do all help the way the story eventually ends up going.

Director Review: Jason BatemanJason does well directing this easy to watch film with the comedy being where needed.

 

Comedy: Bad Words has good moments that do get laughs without being full blown laugh out loud moments.

Settings: Bad Words keeps the settings in and around the spelling bee without having anywhere too iconic.
Suggestion
: Bad Words is one to try that does have moments of enjoyment but might not be for everyone. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Jason and Rohan have good chemistry.

Worst Part: Certain racial jokes which miss the target.

Funniest Scene: Final showdown.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $10 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Tagline: The end justifies the mean.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but not memorable comedy.

Rating

 card