Beast of Burden (2018)

Director: Jesper Ganslandt

Writer: Adam Hoelzel (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Grace Gummer, Pablo Schreiber, Robert Wisdom, Cesar Perez, David Joseph Martinez, Mark Smith

Plot: Sean Haggerty only has an hour to deliver his illegal cargo. An hour to reassure a drug cartel, a hitman, and the DEA that nothing is wrong. An hour to make sure his wife survives. And he must do it all from the cockpit of his Cessna.

Tagline – Lines are meant to be crossed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tensionless Thriller

Story: Beast of Burden starts with Sean (Radcliffe) flying his small plane from Mexico to America, he starts to receive a host of phone calls that explain why he is doing this mission, first it is his sick wife Jen (Gummer) to whom he is trying to get the money for her medical bills, we have the drug cartel of whose product he is carrying, the DEA agent Bloom (Schreiber) who believe he is carrying a package which will give him an new life and the mysterious Mallory (Wisdom) who is making sure the job is getting done.

AS Sean is flying the stakes get changed and he is left needing to try and make a decision, one he simply can’t make, needing to think fast can he figure out a way to save his wife and clear his name or will he just put one side of the mission above the rest?

Thoughts on Beast of Burden

Characters – Sean is an ex-military pilot, he has turned to doing illegal mission across the border, we see him on one of his missions which sees him trying to get out of this life, but needing to balance the authorities that are working with him, the cartel who want their product and his wife’s safety after she is held captive by a hitman. Sean only shows us his life through flashbacks as he is trapped in the plane needing to make his decision. The other characters only appear in flashbacks or over the phone, we have Jen who is Sean’s wife that has been through a tragic event with him, Bloom the DEA agent trying to give him a new life for some information and Mallory that has the same employer as Sean, making sure the job is done correctly.

PerformancesDaniel Radcliffe isn’t the most convincing in this film, he seems to struggle with his American accent and shows too much panic in a situation that a pilot should show calmer decision-making. The supporting cast barely get a look in which doesn’t give them a chance to show their acting skills.

StoryThe story here follows a pilot that is left with what seems like an impossible choice while on his latest mission, which as seen him working for the cartel and the DEA to try and give his wife a new life after they suffered a tragic event in their life. This story does try to capture the similar ideas of ‘Buried’ and ‘Locke’ which saw one character trying to sort out a difficult situation from a location they couldn’t just walk away from, only they stick in the flashbacks to show us everything that has happened, which only leaves us not needing to think about what his situation could be like and just spoon-feeding us how we are meant to feel.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is very basic, we don’t seem to get too involved with anything close up, leaving the action around the crime world that Sean has found himself in, which is cartels and agents battle over the drug trafficking.

SettingsIf the film had remained in the plane for the whole film without the flashbacks, we would have had a better use of setting for the film.

Scene of the Movie – Bye drone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The flashbacks.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that just doesn’t capture the magic in a bottle that other films with solo locations have used to their advantage in the past.

Overall: Disappointing thriller.



Isabelle (2018) Movie Review

Director: Robert Heydon

Writer: Donald Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Amanda Crew, Adam Brody, Zoe Belkin, Sheila McCarthy, Krista Bridges, Alison Brooks, Booth Savage

Plot: A young couple’s dream of starting a family shatters as they descend into the depths of paranoia and must struggle to survive an evil presence that wants nothing more than their very own lives.

Tagline – Desire can get you past anything, even death.

Runtime: 1 Hour 21 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Leaves You Feeling Empty

Story: Isabelle starts when the Kane couple Larissa (Crew) and Matt (Brody) suffer the tragedy of losing their unborn baby, Matt returns to work to help him through the events, while Larissa is left alone in their house, where she starts hearing the cries of a baby.

The more time Larissa stays in the house, the more she notices the eyes of the neighbour Isabelle (Belkin) watching over her, even visiting her, despite being wheelchair bound.

Thoughts on Isabelle

Characters – Larissa is the mother that loses her baby, she has experienced a personal trauma, one that is impossible to understand unless you have experienced, she does become paranoid after her neighbour starts watching her and seeing her around the house, leaving her wondering if she is being haunted or whether she is being haunted for real. Matt is the husband and lawyer that is starting a new job, he works to get over the loss, with it getting heavily teased that an intern is trying to seduce him. We could have seen him getting more stressed out at work, which does start to get hinted about. There is a lot we have had with Matt’s character that does seem to get forgotten in places. Isabelle is the neighbour who watches from the window, disabled being left wheelchair bound, she appears to be haunting Larissa despite her condition. Ann is the mother that is very quiet keeping to herself for the most part.

PerformancesAmanda Crew in the leading role is the best of the performers, she does make us understand just how much trauma she would have been through. Adam Brody does start the film well, but the less we see from the character the less he has to do, Zoe Belkin might bring the creepy look, but most of the actions are difficult to take seriously, mainly because of the CGI around it.

StoryThe story here follows a family that suffer the loss of an unborn child and the trauma they have been through sees the wife start to question whether their neighbour is haunting them or not. For the most part the story is a pretty routine horror, it would pass on the it is watchable even if you know where the story will go, the problem comes from the final act which just leaves you scratching your head more than feeling like we got an ending to the film. Certain side stories that get hinted at early on, just don’t seem to come to pass either which leave them feeling like we had a couple of needless scenes too.

HorrorThe horror does fall into the idea that there is nearly always something behind Larissa, we have elements of possession, but not enough to bring any true scares.

SettingsThe film does use the home settings for the film, which does see how Larissa is getting haunted in a place that should be safe.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do feel clunky too, most don’t look like they are on a strong level in anyway, looking like a stretch picture rather than actual effects.

Scene of the Movie – Meeting the priest.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The final act.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does follow a routine, only for it to become predictable and when it tries to take a risk, it only confuses.

Overall: Routine Horror.

ISABELLE will be available on Sky Store, iTunes and UK digital platforms from 30th September

Seeds (2018)

Director: Owen Long

Writer: Steven Weisman (Screenplay) Owen Long (Story)

Starring: Trevor Long, Andrea Chen, Garr Long, Kevin Breznahan, Chris McGarry, Michelle Liu Coughlin

Plot: When his increasingly depraved behavior spirals out of control, Marcus retreats to his family home along the New England coast. But instead of finding solace, Marcus is haunted by his darkest fears and deepest desires.

Tagline – A Story of Temptation and Monsters.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Unsettling Throughout

Story: Seeds starts as we meet Marcus (Long) a man with depraving behaviour, he returns to a family home to put his life back in order, where he starts seeing a spider like creature lurking in the shadows, as his spends time with his niece Lily (Chen) because of her struggles with her own parents and his brother Michael (McGarry).

Marcus is asked to look after Lily and her young brother Spencer (Long), while Michael deals with his personal problems, with the time spent together getting increasingly unsettling. As Marcus spends time with the two kids as it sees the creatures coming for the children too, while an unsettling relationship between Marcus and Lily unfolds.

Thoughts on Seeds

Characters – Marcus has a dark past that he is running from, he returns to his childhood home to escape everything that could cause him problems, this sees him needing to look after his niece and nephew, one of which he has feelings for, but has always pushed away from ever giving into them. He believes his house is haunted which sees him needing to figure out what is real or not. Lily is the 17-year-old niece that has a past close relationship with her uncle, now she has grown up she gets caught in the middle of wanting a new one that does cross the line however wrong she sees it being. Spencer is the younger nephew that needs taking care off, Lily does it most of the time, with his fascination with insects keeping him entertained.

PerformancesTrevor Long does give us a disturbing performance, where we see just how conflicted he is through the events of the film, Andrea Chen shines too which is important for her role in the film. Garr Long and the rest of the cast have all done well through the film without taking over from the two leads.

StoryThe story follows a man dealing with his past while looking after his niece and nephew, believing there is a creature living in his home. This story can be broken down into dealing with temptation and letting the evil in the world manifesting into a thing of nightmares. If we dive deeper, we will end up going full spoilers. The tone of story is unsettling and disturbing throughout, it almost feels like you want to turn away, but you want to know just what is happening at the same time.

HorrorThe horror comes from the visits from the long legged creature in the shadows, it only strikes at night, when Marcus is most vulnerable.

SettingsThe film is set in one location, a beach house which shows us just where one man will go for time away from the world to fix his mind.

Special EffectsThe effects used to create the creature are creepy and feel like they could come for the people being haunted by them.

Scene of the Movie – The first creature appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does get too deep in places.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that is looking at life and how it decisions can have different results for the people involved.

Overall: Deep horror.

Obey (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jamie Jones

Writer: Jamie Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Marcus Rutherford, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Michael Quartey, Sam Gittins, T’Nia Miller, James Atwell, Taurean Steele

Plot: As London slides towards a time of violent social unrest, on the estates of East London, a young man’s life is torn apart by a love for a girl from a different place.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Eye-Opening Drama

Story: Obey starts as we meet Leon (Rutherford) a 19-year-old man living in London, he doesn’t have the education, he spends most of his time getting high and drinking with friends, while causing trouble with other gangs, Leon does train in boxing and is starting to wonder what his life is meant to be.

As the violence in the surrounding neighbourhood, Leon starts to question everything more, as he sees his friends acting out causing bigger problems, while he homelife isn’t getting any better with his alcoholic mother, stopping him from getting a chance to improve himself and the woman he meets Twiggy (Clark) only gives him mixed messages.

Thoughts on Obey

Characters – Leon is the 19-year-old man that was raised in the London, where he has become part of a gang, didn’t get a chance at an education and is left facing a life of uncertainty. Leon is feeling like life is going no where now and he wants to do something about it, this could see him go back into education or continue his training in boxing, but the reality comes with him that he just doesn’t want to get involved in criminal actions going on within London, it is a make or break time for the young man, that we completely understand his position in life. Twiggy is the woman that Leon meets, she has been squatting in London with her boyfriend, though she is a free spirit that isn’t looking for trouble, which makes her different to everybody else in Leon’s life. Anton is her boyfriend that we don’t learn to much about other than he is happy to hang out with whoever and fights for rights. We do get to meet most of the gang Leon is in, though the names are easy to forget, they represent a life of crime he could fall into, Leon’s alcoholic mother and her abusive boyfriend, each character does seem to reflect a life Leon could have.

PerformancesMarcus Rutherford easily gives us a standout performance in this film, he will make you understand every single situation his character is going through, which is a delight to watch. Sophie Kennedy Clark is everything she needs to be, with the whole supporting cast making you feel like you are part of this world that Leon is living through.

StoryThe story here follows a young man who grew up in London as part of a gang, who isn’t given a chance of a future, until he meets a stranger and is left to decide what he wants for his own future. This story is a true eye opener when it comes to showing us how the gang situation happens, is treated and how hopeless somebody could be if they are trapped within it. We do only follow one person, who is given a few outs, through support, a woman, but is also held back by his lack of education, his gang friends and caring for his addict mother. This does show us how hard the life can be, how the mentality can see the person making the wrong decisions, how the outsiders can see them as wrong, rather than not given a chance. This is an important story for the people of England to see and one that could open up more eyes to what the problems really are, not what they think they are.

SettingsThe film is set in London, this does show us just how difficult the life would be for Leon and other young people in this location, if they haven’t been given a chance.

Scene of the Movie – The journey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough development of the supporting characters.

Final Thoughts This is one of the most important eye openers in the world of film, it doesn’t glorify anything, just keeps it feeling realistic throughout the film.

Overall: Important drama.

Empathy, Inc (2018) Movie Review

Director: Yedidya Gorsetman

Writer: Mark Leidner (Screenplay)

Starring: Zack Robidas, Kathy Searle, Jay Klaitz, Eric Berryman, AJ Cedeno, Charmain Reedy, Fenton Lawless

Plot: An investor in a VR startup discovers that the reality the company provides isn’t virtual.

Tagline – WARNING: Being someone else may result in dizziness, nausea, flashbacks, hallucinations, and permanent loss of self. Enjoy responsibly.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Black Mirror Level Sci-Fi Film

Story: Empathy, Inc starts as Joel (Robidas) finds himself exposed as the person behind a stock market scam, which sees him needing to live with his in-laws, he gets approached by Nicolaus (Berryman) who offers him a chance to invest in a VR start up idea known as XVR (Extreme Virtual Reality), like any businessman, he wants to see how the operations runs, before taking any money off anybody.

After trying the system, Joel gets a chance to understand the system of what has been created and soon becomes addicted to the experience, until he learns the truth.

Thoughts on Empathy, Inc

Characters – Joel was one of the top stockbrokers in his company until it turns out that he has been made the scapegoat for a deal which lost people millions, Joel needs to get back on his feet, build his client base once again, which sees him taking advantages of a new VR system that has come his way. He thinks this will put his life back together, though it soon only makes things more complicated, as he must learn the truth. Jessica is the wife of Joel, she has supported him through the struggles, while trying to make a name for herself as an actress, she does make the most logic when Joel learns the truth. Lester is the mastermind that has created the technology, he is somebody that is happy to be isolated from the main world. Nicolaus is the old friend to Joel that offers him a chance to invest in the company, he has a reputation for questionable deals, but Joel has no choice. He knows how to sweet talk a deal through, which makes him the man bringing the project money.

PerformancesZack Robidas is great in this leading role, he does show us just how his characters life can come crashing down around him, while trying to figure out make up for his mistakes. Outside of Zack, nobody gets that much time to shine, with Kathy Searle and Jay Klaitz doing everything you imagine their characters need to, without being challenged, while Eric Berryman is as smooth as he needs to be throughout the film.

StoryThe story here follows an investor that loses his job and needs to rebuild his career, which sees him taking a chance on a new start up whose idea isn’t as sweet as he thought it would be. The story does show how one man must rebuild his reputation, this is all we need and everything that works in the story, where this story gets even more interesting, comes from the idea that a VR system could be created to do what this one does, XVR, this idea in the story is what will make this standout on new levels, because it does pose the ideas of what people would do with this technology. A story that makes you think, is what sci-fi is truly about, this could also easily be a welcome addition to the Black Mirror world.

Sci-Fi The sci-fi elements in the film do make you feel like you are watching an episode of Black Mirror, it is a concept that turns what seems like a smart idea, that takes a dark turn when the truth comes out, one that makes you think what would you do in this situation.

SettingsThe film does keep the settings looking like a start up business, which is all we need, we don’t need to see anything more or anything over the top either, the settings are handled perfectly for the tone of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects like the settings, don’t need to be anything more than we get, most are very simple, we don’t need anything fancy for this film though.

Scene of the Movie – The second visit on the machine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have had more of a conversation about the moral side of the concept.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi film with a concept that stands out, it will ask the audience a question and will keep you wondering just how far the people will go in the name of science.

Overall: Sci-Fi seriously good.