Scarecrows (2017)

Director: Stu Stone

Writer: Stu Shone, Adam Rodness (Screenplay)

Starring: Hannah Gordon, Mike Taylor, Umed Amin, Maaor Ziv, Jason J Thomas

 

Plot: Teenagers are kidnapped and made into scarecrows that are left to die in the crop fields


Tagline – It was supposed to be the summer of their dreams.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Late Night Horror 101

 

Story: Scarecrows starts when four teenage friends Ash (Gordon), Farbsie (Taylor), Ely (Amin) and Devon (Ziv) head of for a weekend trip at a luxury lagoon, well that is what Farbsie is calling it. Their trip takes them onto farm land where they keep running into crows eating body parts.

After they have their fun, they decide to head back to the car which has gone missing, they head towards the farm for help, only to learn the farmer has his own plans for them as he likes to make his own scarecrows.

 

Thoughts on Scarecrows

 

Characters – Ash is the ‘good’ girl out of the two, she is thinking about breaking up with her boyfriend before he goes to college, she is the more sensible of the two friends, though the character gets caught between being the virginal girl and the out going girl. Devon is the best friend of Ash, she is pushing her to dump Ash and believes all men are the same, she is your typica slutty friend. Frabsie is the louder mouth of the two guys, he thinks he is the real deal and supplies the drinks or drugs for the friends, this character feels like Stiffler from the American Pie movies. Ely is the one going off to college, he wants to pop the big question to Ash on this trip, though his eyes often wonder to Devon. Now these are four generic horror characters that do seem to fall into the brackets of the basic characters for horror, though we get the problems with character decisions being made throughout as the chemistry between the doesn’t feel real. The farmer is a silent killing machine, he whistles to warn of his arrival which only makes him feel more terrifying, he strength makes him an threat to anyone who gets in his way.

PerformancesThe performances from the cast are difficult to judge because they do lack chemistry between themselves, when the horror side of the film starts, it does improve, though the only one that gets a chance to become good enough is Hannah Gordon who gets the most to do.

StoryThe story here follows four friends that end up in a remote location where they get picked off by a farmer that wants to make his own scarecrows. Let’s break the story down, first off not once, but twice do the group find body parts and still decide to go on their trip, this is easily one of my pet hates in horror, when people ignore clear warning signs of danger and still continue on. When it comes to just what the killer is up to, this does become twisted and interesting because it would be horrific way to go and to give this character a minor backstory which could have been shown more feels like a missed opportunity. The story is easy to follow, even if certain character decision will leave you wondering about the friendships between the friends.

HorrorThe horror does take time to get going, once it does and you think about it, it is quite terrifying what the killer is doing to his victims.

SettingsThe film is set in and around a remote farm house, which does create the isolation factor needed with the corn fields making us understand just how scary they can be.

Special EffectsThe effects are used slowly at times which is good because we get to see how the preparation unfolds.


Scene of the Movie –
The preparation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Knowing the mouths are sworn shut and still calling out like they will go ‘yeah I am here’

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough late night horror movie, it will best enjoyed with a drink because certain moments are eye rolling for the most part.

 

Overall: Late Night Drinking Horror

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – A – American Made (2017)

Director: Doug Liman

Writer: Gary Spinelli (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke

 

Plot: The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.


Tagline – Based on a True Lie

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable

 

Story: American Made starts as Barry Seal (Cruise) a pilot gets offered a job by the CIA agent Monty Schafer (Gleeson) to fly over different parts of Northern and Southern America to take photos for the CIA, the job is exclusive but as his family grows with Lucy (Wright) having children, he needs more money.

When one if his flights takes him to South America he meets businessman Pablo Escobar (Mejia) and his partners who recruit him to smuggle drug into America. Before long Barry is getting pushed into other forms of smuggling both to and from America.

 

                            Thoughts on American Made

 

Characters – Barry Seal was a small-time cigar smuggling pilot before he gets recruited by the CIA to fly over other parts of the Americas to spy, soon he becomes involved in large scale smuggling across America both in and out, he believes he is working in the CIA but always seemed to be getting slightly in deeper than first thought. He struggles to keep his personal life together with his wife and children suffering his sudden changes in location. Monty is the CIA agent that recruits Barry to smuggle, he believes he is in control of the whole situation as he bails Barry out of trouble and gives him the instructions from the American side of the events. Lucy is the wife of Barry that must deal with his lifestyle but once there is a large amount of money involved she embraces the life of luxury for her family. We do have the drug dealing side of the characters that Barry deals with but we only see them in the dealing side of the story.

PerformancesThis is another Tom Cruise vehicle where he shows just how talent he is, this helps his credibility after the disaster which was The Mummy, this could be his best full ranged acting performance in years. Domhnall is great in his supporting role showing he can work in nearly any genre right now. Sarah Wright is good but we don’t get to see enough of her characters struggle or enjoyment of the money.

StoryThe story follows Barry Seal and how he went from small-time cigar smuggler into one of the most infamous drug and gun smugglers in modern American history. We follow the events from how he remembers them explaining how he just didn’t seem to know how things just kept falling his way but he went with the flow and how the government helped support the international gun trade. This was a lot more interesting that I could imagine showing us just how corrupt the government could be when it needed to be.

Action/Biopic/ComedyThe action comes from how Barry would get the job done, he has edge of the seat moments of when it comes to the flight sequences, the comedy is lightly toned into the story which sounds like a comedy over a real story but seeing the story of Barry Seal and his smuggling makes for an interesting biopic.

SettingsThe film does take us across difference parts America to show where Barry ends up going to which all look like the time being presented in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Emergency Landing

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does make the idea seem like a good thing rather than a criminal in action.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining biopic that shows how a smuggler ran a multi-million-dollar organisation that even the government supported.

 

Overall: Enjoyable movie all around.

Rating

 

 

Terrifier (2017)

Director: Damien Leone

Writer: Damien Leone (Screenplay)

Starring: David Howard Thornton, Jenna Kanell, Catherine Corcoran, Katie Maguire, Samantha Scaffidi, Pooya Mohseni, Margaret Reed, Cory DuVal

 

Plot: A maniacal clown named Art, terrorizes three young women on Halloween night and everyone else who stands in his way.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blood Soaked Horror

 

Story: Terrifier starts when two girls Tara (Kanell) and Dawn (Corcoran) are planning to find a way home from a Halloween night of partying, the two stumble across a mysterious clown (Thornton) that doesn’t look our of place on this night, making them uneasy they see him as harmless.

When they car gets damaged Tara must call on her sister Victoria (Scaffidi) to save them, but the wait for her to arrive will let the clown, do what he does best, take bodies in his twisted desire or murder.

 

Thoughts on Terrifier

 

Characters – Art the Clown is the silent clown, he uses his expressions to get attention, he has a dark side which gets unleashed once he starts piling up the bodies while hunting down the girls. He has different styles for kills, some are planned and calculated while others are able to show his adaptability to the situation. Tara is the more responsible of the two-party goers, she won’t drink and drive, though she does think food will make herself sober enough to drive. Dawn would be considered the one that gets all the guys trying to hit on her, while batting them all off, can’t handle her booze either. Victoria is the sister of Tara, that instead of studying for her test ends up coming to help her sister in the time of need. It would be far to say the girls are traditional for the horror and are not portrayed with any strength.

PerformancesDavid Howard Thornton gives us one of the most disturbing and eye watching performances in horror, you want to see just where the character will go next. When it comes to Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi and Catherine Corcoran are all good even if they do fill the normal for a horror film.

StoryThe story takes place over one night as Art the Clown goes on his killing spree through the night. The idea is simple as we see how Art has different plans for different victims, though this could also be considered somewhat of a weakness because certain kills seem like they have a lot of preparation while others can be just what is at hand. The story keeps us playing along the idea of a killer keeping one step ahead of their victims and just how they can make sure they aren’t put in a position of weakness. This is also an extension of the story told in All Hallows Eve where we see the same clown do sadistic acts to his victims. This won’t be for the weak hearted and will only appeal to the horror fans out there.

HorrorThe horror side of this film follows Art the Clown on his rampage, we get different kills per victim each more unique than the last, there is blood and gore throughout which checks the horror boxes well.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in an old warehouse, not a location chosen by the killer, but a place where safety is searched for, the victims each have their own reason for being there which does make sense to the story too.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects we are mostly looking at the practical ones that were used and they were brilliant for the body cutting, slashing and piercing scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
Art’s actions in the dinner show us just how twisted he is going to be.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The preparation kills seemed like they did take too long to prepare for the time we watching Art do his thing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one for the horror fans to smile about, the kills are blood, brutal and the killer is one you won’t be forgetting any time soon.

 

Overall: Horror fans enjoy the bloodbath.

Rating

 

 

Pyewacket (2017)

Director: Adam MacDonald

Writer: Adam MacDonald (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Munoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere

 

Plot: A frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl awakens something in the woods when she naively performs an occult ritual to evoke a witch to kill her mother.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thriller Lacking the Bite

 

Story: Pyewacket starts as we meet the mother Mrs Reyes (Holden) and her daughter Leah (Munoz) who are both struggling with the loss of their husband and father, Leah has turned to the occult for answers while Mrs Reyes has become distant from her daughter, she decides to leave their home because of the memories, forcing Leah to need to travel to and from school for the remain part of the year.

Deciding she wants to get back at her mother, Leah performs a ritual to summon a witch to kill her mother, one that she instantly regrets when she gets haunted by a mysterious figure in the dark.

 

Thoughts on Pyewacket

 

Characters – Leah is a teenage girl struggling with the death of her father, becoming distant from her mother and wanting to look at the occult. After she is moved away from her friends, she continues to hate her mother which leads her down a dark path against her mother turning to the occult once again for answer, this only fills her with paranoia and fear of just what she has unleashed. Mrs Reyes is the mother of Leah, she is struggling too which is shown with her relationship with Leah, she is trying to keep everything together though. Janice, Aaron and Rob are the friends Leah hangs around though we never see enough of them.

PerformancesNicole Munoz is in the leading role, she is in every scene and is the one we need to see perform, she is great through the film, each decision her character makes we believe her performance throughout. Laurie Holden is the only other star that gets any major screen time and does a good job.

StoryThe story here follows a troubled teenager that turns to the occult to help her with her problems only to regret the decision she makes once she gets visited by the unknown. This story tries to address the grieving process that people will go through after losing a family member, we see the extremes someone will turn to and just how difficult the communication can be. When we see the horror side of the story we get to look at how dangerous the occult is and just what it can do to your mind through the increased isolation from friends. This isn’t the most engaging story and does go in the directions you would expect without having that shock moment before the end.

HorrorThe horror elements of the film focus on the occult and what you could unleashes when you mess with something you just don’t understand.

SettingsThe film starts in a family home location which holds memories, moving to the woods we create the isolation which only adds to the horror in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are not needed too often, the times we need them, they are mixed in quality too.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough focus on anyone else supporting the grieving family.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that tries to channel real emotions with everything it goes through, it uses the occult to try and balance the grieving process only to miss the point of both sides of this idea.

 

Overall: Simple occult horror.

Rating

 

 

The Vault (2017)

Director: Dan Bush

Writer: Dan Bush, Conal Byrne (Screenplay)

Starring: James Franco, Scott Haze, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Q’Oiranka Kilcher, Jeff Gum, Clifton Collins Jr

 

Plot: Two estranged sisters are forced to rob a bank in order to save their brother. But this is no ordinary bank.


Tagline – No one is safe.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strangely Disappointing

 

Story: The Vault starts as three siblings Michael (Haze), Vee (Manning) and Leah (Eastwood) put together their team to get what seems like a perfect bank robbery done, to solve Michael’s personal problem. With the hostages locked up and the alarms dealt with things look like they are going smoothly, then they open the vault to discovery next to no money.

Assistant manager Ed Maas (Franco) offer to help get into the old vault, but this is where the terror begins because this bank has a history one, none of the robbers were prepared for.

 

Thoughts on The Vault

 

Characters – Vee is the fiery short tempered of the siblings, she will get the rest of the robbers in more trouble, this is a front to her own insecurity. Leah is the leader of the robbers, the calmer of the group that doesn’t go over the limits, until she does and we lose any support for this character, the one we are meant to be following. Michael is the brother who has gotten himself into trouble and needs the money to fix the problem, he wants to no one hurt mentality and seems to be the only good one of the group. Ed Maas is a man that was one of the hostages that offers to get the money for the robbers.

PerformancesThe cast here is confusing, because James Franco is fine, but completely looks out of place in this movie. When we see the sister performers which does work well together as you feel the strained relationship between them.

StoryThe story is a bank robbery gone wrong, when are they not right? This time it goes wrong when it turns out the location the bank is haunted and now the spirits have returned. This could work for the most part but in the end it doesn’t deliver on the level it could do, mostly because we don’t seem to support anyone because they don’t dive into what Michael has done to need money, the two sisters both come off twisted and evil and the horror side is almost unwatchable.

HorrorThis movie uses the horror to put a twist on the heist idea in the story, the horror side of the film is difficult to watch though as everything comes off just too dark.

SettingsThe film is set inside the bank which keeps the story contained for where the events could go.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine, we only get to see them used sparely which is nice to see when it comes to the horrors.


Scene of the Movie –
Final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many difficult moments that don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing horror that doesn’t scare us in anyway and has a complete by the book heist movie.

 

Overall: Lacklustre movie.

Rating