The Levelling (2016) Movie Review

Director: Hope Dickson Leach

Writer: Hope Dickson Leach (Screenplay)

Starring: Ellie Kendrick, David Troughton, Jack Holden, Joe Blakemore

Plot: Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face the man she hasn’t spoken to in years: her father Aubrey (David Troughton). She is shocked to discover her home changed forever by the devastating floods that destroyed the area six months earlier, and Aubrey a tormented shadow of his former self. As she learns what has been going on in her long absence she and her father forge a new understanding, but can it withstand the troubles that they face on the ravaged farm as well as the truth of what drove Harry to take his own life?

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strong Drama

Story: The Levelling starts when Clover (Kendrick) returns to his family farm after her brother’s Harry (Blakemore) suicide, he had just been given the farm by their father Aubrey (Troughton), with the family grounds being ruined by recent floods.

The longer Clover is around the farm the more disturbing the reality of what has happened to her family home is, with her veteran training going well, she is left to do the difficult jobs around the farm, ones she doesn’t believe in.

Thoughts on The Levelling

Characters – Clover is a veteran student that was raised in the farm and boarding school, she hasn’t been home in a while and now her brother has died, she returns to see things have changed, first with the flood and then with what has happened to her family, laws being broken, so many unanswered questions for her to look into before she returns to her own life. Aubrey is her father, he now lives in a caravan on the grounds, drinking a lot, struggling to keep the farm afloat after trying to pass it onto his son. He has many secrets about what happened and has always been distant from Clover, not willing to open up about what really happened that night. James is one of the farmhands that was close to Harry, he knows more about what happened, filled with guilty about what happened.

PerformancesEllie Kendrick is great in the leading role, showing us how one person can become shocked by the changes they find in their life, showing the broken side of her character after what happened. David Troughton shows us just how men will hold in emotions after a tragic loss in his life, with the supporting cast showing how they would have been affected too.

StoryThe story here follows a family member returning to the family home after a death in the family, where they get to learn the secrets that may have led to that death and the troubles the family was facing. This is a drama that shows us how difficult life can be for a family business in farming with natural disaster problems causing more troubles, we get to see how the family has been broken without any fix and returning home can show you how much has changed even in what feels like a short time, we get to deal with loss from three main perspectives, a father, a sister and a best friend, all who didn’t see it coming and are left feeling helpless for not being able to help.

SettingsThe film is set on the farm and surrounding land, it shows us just how the landscape has changed for Clover since she was last there and how important it is to her from her time growing up there.

Scene of the Movie – The funeral morning.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Shaky cam.

Final Thoughts This is a nice drama that deals with family struggles and life in the aftermath of a suicide, with the guilty the ones left behind feeling helpless.

Overall: Strong & Important.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – W – Wolves at the Door (2016) Movie Review

Director: John R Leonetti

Writer: Gary Dauberman (Screenplay)

Starring: Katie Cassidy, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adam Campbell, Miles Fisher, Chris Mulkey, Jane Kaczmarek, Spencer Daniels

Plot: Four friends are murdered in their home for no reason by four members of the Manson Family.

Tagline – When night falls….the wolves will hunt

Runtime: 1 Hour13 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Another Pointless Manson Film

Story: Wolves at the Door starts when four friends Sharon (Cassidy), Abigail (Henstridge), Wojciech (Campbell) and Jay (Fisher) return home from a early birthday party to continue the party at home, this night gets interrupted by some home invades for are part of a cult, looking to kill the four friends and we watch to see if the friends can survive.

Thoughts on Wolves at the Door

Characters – The characters here feel like they aren’t allowed to be based on the actual victims, even though Sharon is a pregnant actress, we don’t get the heavy proof this is actually Sharon Tate, needless to say the characters are so bland you won’t care about them, which is a true shame because if these are meant to be the real people, the script does them no justice, they are just friends, they have nothing about who they are or anything.

PerformancesThe performances here are not good either, this is mostly because of the pure lack of screen time for most of the stars, everything feels too rushed to let them become the characters they are meant to be playing.

StoryThe story here follows the Manson family attack on the Tate household. Now this is the fifth version of the Tate murder’s that I have seen in a year, the story is horrific, please can you stop exploiting it. The way this story unfolds is dull, we get no chance to meet the victims, the murders are a flash at it is over, we learn absolutely nothing about this horrendous attack and it just ends up exploiting it once again.

HorrorThe horror is mostly weak home invasion ideas, none really come off as scary as they should be.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the Tate house, which works for all it needs to, it doesn’t add anything to the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are basic, most violence happens off camera, leaving it to our own imagination about what is going on.

Scene of the Movie – None.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pointlessness of doing another Tate murder film.

Final Thoughts This is a terrible film that just exploits the horrendous crime.

Overall: Dull and Uninspiring.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – T – Tell Me How I Die (2016) Movie Review

Director: D.J. Viola

Writer: James Hibberd, Rob Warren Thomas, D.J. Viola (Screenplay)

Starring: Nathan Kress, Virginia Gardner, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ryan Higa, Mark Furze, Ethan Peck

Plot: A9913 is a new drug improving memory – like being there again. Anna joins 17 others testing it for $2000. Some experience the near future including deaths.

Tagline – Knowing your fate is a real killer.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Drug Trial 101

Story: Tell Me How I Die starts when student Anna (Gardner) takes up an offer to be part of a drug trial, joined by fellow students Den (Kress), Kristen (Blanton) and regular Scratch (Higa) they are part of 20 person trial which sees them staying in a remote facility.

As the trial starts, the first side effects experienced, is replaying an incident, where the person sees, feels and experiences something, only to not have done it, only to do it and wonder why they have the feeling on déjà vu. Desperate to escape, the four are joined by Marcus (Furze) as they rush to try and escape the situation.

Thoughts on Tell Me How I Die

Characters – Anna is the student that is need of money, she takes the drug trial idea to make $2000 for a 30 days trial, she isn’t the most convinced by joining and soon becomes the person that can has the visions which could help the rest survive. Den had met Anna in a bar before the trial, needing the money for the same reason, he takes the trial in a plan to make money, while being the most decent person of the people trying to escape. Kristen is excited with the idea of the trial, she sees it as a chance to meet a guy, while becoming friends with Anna along the way. Scratch has been doing these trials for years now, he likes the pay day and the lack of work he needs to do, he does offer help when looking to escape.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are not the greatest, but they are also not the worst, we get a string of typical desperate young adults, who are slightly paranoid being filled in with the generic traits you would imagine to see.

StoryThe story here follows five main members of the 20 person drug trial, which sees them starting to experience the future, only to learn about a killer looking to pick of the members of the trial. This is a strange story, because you would have thought, we might have a couple of side effects from the drugs to start with, only for this to turn straight into the experiencing the future idea, which soon leads to the killer hunting people down. It seems to play out more like a slasher, over a psychological horror, which you would have imagined it being. In the end the story does most things to try and shock, rather than trying to have a complete story that makes full sense.

Horror/MysteryThis is a horror that circles around the slasher idea more than anything else, it tries to include a mystery, only it seems to come off flat while trying to unlock the truth.

SettingsThe film uses the big facility which is meant to help with the remote trial, it is filled with mystery about what is happening here and could have been used so much better.

Scene of the Movie – The first vision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The fact the idea seems to go against itself by the end.

Final Thoughts This is a horror mystery thriller that seems to come up short with how everything unfolds, leaving us wanting more and not getting enough of what we needed.

Overall: Flat Thriller.

Inside (2016) Movie Review

Director: Miguel Angel Vivas

Writer: Jaume Balaguero, Manu Diaz, Miguel Angel Vivas (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Nichols, Laura Harring, Ben Temple, Gillian Apter, Andrea Tivadar

Plot: A woman in her third trimester of pregnancy is stalked by a stranger who is obsessed with her unborn child.

Tagline – Some women would kill for a baby.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Inside starts when Sarah Clark (Nichols) and her husband are involved in a car accident, leaving Sarah alone and pregnant. Sarah is looking to have the baby alone, but nearing the end of it, she finds herself getting an unwanted visitor.

The lady (Harring) takes over the home, keeping Sarah in her home, trapped, needing to find a way to get help, killing anyone who gets close, all because of the baby she wants for a reason unknown to Sarah.

Thoughts on Inside

ThoughtsInside is a horror thriller set over one night, as a pregnant woman finds herself tormented by a strange woman who wants her baby, needing to battle to survive. This is a home invasion movie with a few angles to cover up the things which could be considered problems, first Sarah is deaf, so without her hearing aid she can’t hear certain things, Sarah getting tired of phone calls, cutting the phone cables, leaving her stranded. The problem with the story is that the motivation is so obvious, it is barely worth your time waiting for the reveal. The performances in the film are strong enough, with Rachel Nichols being the victim, while Laura Harring being haunting in her cold hearted villain role. The film does take place mostly inside Sarah’s home, which will be used to show how she might have an advantage on certain situations.

Final Thoughts Inside is a simple horror that doesn’t hit as hard as it could, with an ending you can see a mile away.

ABC Film Challenge – Sports – S – Spaceman (2016) Movie Review

Director: Brett Rapkin

Writer: Brett Rapkin (Screenplay) Richard Lally, Bill Lee (Book)

Starring: Josh Duhamel, W. Earl Brown, Ernie Hudson, Winter Ave Zoli, Carlos Leal, Stefan Rollins, Sterling K Brown

Plot: Story of former MLB pitcher Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee following his release by the Montreal Expos.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Drama

Story: Spaceman starts as MLB pitcher Bill Spaceman Lee (Duhamel) sees his career disappear after a interview with a drug magazine, he gets axed by his team, with none of the other teams in the league wanting anything to do with him, because of his reputation.

Bill finds himself with one option, joining a senior team across the road from him, where he finds he love for baseball once again, even if it meant he could continue to spiral down a drug hellhole he has created for himself.

Thoughts on Spaceman

Characters – Bill Lee is a pitcher in the MLB, he is one of the best in the game, only his reputation for drug use hits a new low when he appears in High Time Magazine, he loses his job and must find a way to rebuild his career and life, as well as learning about his love for baseball, to get his life back together. We do meet the ex-wife who has got tired of trying to help him get back on his feet and must put their children first, other players from different stages of their careers and coaches that has supported him or want nothing to do with him.

PerformancesJosh Duhamel is the best he has been in a leading role, going well outside of his comfort zone. The rest of the cast are fine without needing to do much through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the late career of Bill Lee as he sees his career taken from him, with him desperately trying to get back into the game despite the reputation he has created for himself. This isn’t the most engaging story, if you don’t follow baseball, you won’t understand how the system works, Bill Lee isn’t the most likable character because of his own reckless decisions. The style the story unfolds is even more disappointing, as it ends up just going in a direction that shows him trying to play for laughs, rather than seeing how he fixes his life all together.

ComedyThe comedy is mostly coming from trying to poke fun at different generations of baseball players, as well as stoner jokes.

SettingsThe film does take us around America as Bill tries to find a new team to play, it isn’t the easiest to figure out everywhere he has been attending.

Scene of the Movie – The rookie can’t handle the pitches.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not understand baseball at all.

Final Thoughts This is a disappointing sports comedy that is trying to tell an important story, only to end up feeling forced more than anything else.

Overall: Poor comedy.