Traffik (2018) Movie Review

Director: Deon Taylor

Writer: Deon Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Luke Goss, William Fichtner, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Priscilla Quintana, Missi Pyle

Plot: A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

Tagline – Run. Fight. Survive.

Runtime: 1 our 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shock Filled Thriller

Story: Traffik starts when the ambitious reporter Brea (Patton) loses her big story and potential her job right on the eve of her birthday, her boyfriend John (Epps) wants to surprise her and with his friend Darren (Alonso) he gets a romantic weekend planned.

Heading up to the mountain location the couple find themselves in a gas station where confrontation is quick to find them with help stranger Red (Goss) along with gangs, showing a potential large group of different enemies. The romantic weekend takes a turn, first with the appearance of Darren and his girlfriend Malia (Sanchez), but again by a deadly gang of human traffickers led by Red, who will kill to keep their secret.

Thoughts on Traffik

Characters – Brea is an ambitious reporter always taking her time researching a story before throwing it to her editor, this has seen her get herself into trouble, losing stories and potentially her job. In her personal life it is her birthday celebrating among friends with a romantic getaway being part of it. This getaway will give her the biggest story of her career, when she finds herself targeted by human traffickers who want her in their collection. John is the boyfriend that is getting nervous about the getaway as he is about to propose to Brea, he gets hooked up by the friend that will give them the location and will need to help Brea fight back against the people after them. Red is the leader of the human traffickers, he can charm, but he will show his deadly side if anybody gets in his way.

PerformancesPaula Patton is the star of the show here, she gives us a strong performance that shows us just how determined she is to survive. Omar Epps, Luke Goss and the rest of the cast all do a great job letting Paula shine through in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a couple on a romantic getaway that get targeted by human traffickers who want to keep their secret safe. This is a story that is designed the highlight the horrific crimes of human trafficking, not just in America, but worldwide. Away from the message behind everything, we do see the mix of a home invasion, chase and fightback elements of story telling putting a firm light on the idea that women will fight back, in this case Brea. The way everything unfolds is mostly predictable which is fine, nothing really hits the intensity levels wanted from the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is a mix of chases and fight between victim and captures, they are quick instead of being over the top. The crime side of the film does show us just how easily this operation can happen to the victims and how organised it can be run.

SettingsThe film is set in the mountain range outside California where the people can pick and choose who they take.

Scene of the Movie – Escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – One of the main twists is too predictable.

Final Thoughts This is a generic action thriller that does highlight an important message of the horrors of the human trafficking world that leaves Paula Patton to shine.

Overall: Important, but Generic.

Knuckleball (2018) Movie Review

Director: Michael Peterson

Writer: Kevin Cockle, Michael Peterson (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Ironside, Munro Chambers, Luca Villacis, Kathleen Munroe, Chenier Hundal

Plot: Alone, and targeted on an isolated farm, 12 year-old Henry finds himself at the center of a maelstrom of terror, and a dark family legacy, when his secretive grandfather dies suddenly in the night.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Slasher

Story: Knuckleball starts when 12-year-old Henry (Villacis) gets left with his estranged grandfather Jacob (Ironside) on his remote ranch, while his parent head off to a family funeral, he meets the overly nosey neighbour Dixon (Chambers) and sees just how bad the climate outside is.

When Jacob dies in his sleep, Henry tries to contact his parents before turning to Dixon who might not be as friendly as Henry believes, showing his darker secret side.

Thoughts on Knuckleball

Characters – Henry is the 12-year-old left to spend time with his grandfather, he is the typical young boy who spends too much time playing video games, so this trip would give him a more hands on approach to work, he is left alone after his grandfather dies and proves to be a worthy opponent for the serial killer neighbour. Jacob is the grandfather who has a mysterious past, he does teach Henry little things and does expect him to work on the ranch, he has a past that has been kept secret from the rest of the family including his own daughter. Dixon is the neighbour who seems too interested when Henry is visiting, once Henry comes to him for help, he shows his true colours as a killer who has been waiting for this chance to let know about his own family secret. Mary and Paul are the parents that are left helpless as they try to find a way back to save their son.

PerformancesLuca Villacis as the boy is great showing himself to be able to show his character planning what his next move will be, Michael Ironside might not have the biggest role, but he brings his mentor figure to life, while Munro Chambers in the villainous role is dark enough to be a threat, even if he talks too much.

StoryThe story here follows a 12-year-old who must fight off a serial killer that is one of his family’s dark little secrets after being left for the weekend with his estranged grandfather. The story does flow well very well showing us just how the secrets slowly get revealed, while going through the slasher idea of following the kid trying to stay ahead of the killer. It does play into the idea of seeing one trying to get ahead of the other, with both getting their own upper hand at times, with each having a plan, while the parents just end up feeling like they are from Home Alone.

ThrillerThis uses the thriller aspect that are used in a slasher style movie, it only shows the two going at it without needing to give us the pile of bodies.

SettingsThe film uses the one location which is two ranches next door to each other in the snow-covered area which made the conditions harder to survive in.

Scene of the Movie – The basement trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The parents don’t seem to care that much.

Final Thoughts This is a slasher styled thriller that shows the battle between a young man and a 12-year-old where the boy must do anything to survive from the killer.

Overall: Cat-n-mouse 101.

The Tokoloshe (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jerome Pikwane

Writer: Richard Kunzmann, Jerome Pikwane (Screenplay)

Starring: Petronella Tshuma, Kwande Nkosi, Dawid Minnaar, Harreit Manamela, Mandla Shongwe

Plot: Busi, a young destitute woman with dangerously repressed emotions, lands a job as a cleaner at a rundown hospital in the heart of Johannesburg. Desperate for the money so she can bring her younger sister to Johannesburg, she must cope despite the predatory and corrupt hospital manager. When Busi discovers an abandoned young girl in the hospital, who believes she is tormented by a supernatural force, Busi must face her own demons from her past in order to save the child from the abusive monster that pursues them both relentlessly.

Tagline – Where she goes it follows.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fairy Tale Horror

Story: The Tokoloshe starts as Busi (Tshuma) moves to Johannesburg to start a new life, where she gets a job in a hospital as a cleaner, where she is warned about the manager Ruatomin (Minnaar) predatory ways. Busi learns of the darkness within parts of the hospital, along with the children’s wing that includes children that have also been forgotten.

Busi starts to feel uneasy in her new surroundings where she is filled with the guilt of leaving her sister behind, despite her job being to bring her to the big city too, soon she learns her guilt and despair could have bought forward an evil spirit following her, one that preys on the weak.

Thoughts on The Tokoloshe

Characters – Busi is a young lady that has left her sister behind in hope of starting a better life for the pair of them, she gets a job in the big city and learns that she is going to need to face demons in both human and supernatural form. Busi is filled with guilt for leaving her sister behind and will do everything she can to support her, but she needs to fight her own demons first. Ruatomin is the manager of the hospital, he likes to take advantage of the women and uses his position of power to get away with it. Gracie is the young girl Busi finds around the hospital, she believes he is being haunted by the Tokoloshe and when she is left alone, the creature strikes causing her great pain, it will continue to follow her too.

PerformancesPetronella Tshuma in the leading role brings us a performance that shows the pain her life has been through, while willing to show just how much she wants the change. Kwande Nkosi as the young girl that shows the horrors she has been through, while Dawid Minnaar brings us the horrible manager making you hate his every scene.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that heads to the big city to start a new life for her and her sister only to find herself needing to help a young girl that is being haunted by a mysterious creature in the shadows. The story does dive into a folklore of South Africa which tales of a creature that comes for child who are suffering. This story does address real life issues that Busi could be suffering from both in the workplace and at home with the problems her sister is facing. When it comes to the haunting side of the story we get to dive into the terror that could be experience by the people who are targets of the Tokoloshe.

HorrorThe horror does have a lot going on in the background, with the game of catch and with the being dragged along the floor poltergeist like haunting.

SettingsThe film does show the Johannesburg city being a place where somebody would go to make money, despite being one of the places where it isn’t as safe as she would want it to be, the hospital have plenty of haunting feelings and once we leave the city we get the area which includes extra horror.

Special EffectsThe effects are saved more for the final reveal, this is strong enough for low budget which does work for the film.

Scene of the Movie – The game of catch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The hospital has strange wings.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does bring a folklore to life and the gloom involved in the film to show the horror we would be experiencing.

Overall: Gloomy Horror.

A Simple Favour (2018) Movie Review

Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Jessica Sharzer (Screenplay) Darcey Bell (Novel)

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend

Plot: Stephanie is a single mother with a parenting vlog who befriends Emily, a secretive upper-class woman who has a child at the same elementary school. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie takes it upon herself to investigate.

Tagline – We all have secrets to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slick & Stylish

Story: A Simple Favour starts when parental blogger Stephanie (Kendrick) present her latest show, calling for help to locate her new best friend Emily (Lively), leading to flashback to how they met, through their kids at school and a play date between the two friends.

Stephanie decides to investigate the disappearance of Emily and becoming friends with her husband Sean (Golding) and the case is only waiting for the mystery to be solved.

Thoughts on A Simple Favour

Characters – Stephanie is a single mother who runs a vlog for other parents, mostly on cook, but other life issues parents could face, she has a quirky little life always keeping busy helping around the school. She becomes unlikely friends with Emily and her caring nature sees her offer to look after the children, before her wanting to investigate the disappearance. Emily is the businesswoman who is known as being quite cold in personality with her high class status, she enjoys a drink to get through the day and doesn’t look like the sort of person that would be friends with anybody. Sean is the husband of Emily that is an author that has been struggling to find the motivation on his latest book.

PerformancesAnna Kendrick is wonderful in the leading role bringing her innocence to the role always looking like she is the girl next door. Blake Lively easily gives the performance of her career her being a controlling woman. Henry Golding had a wonderful year in 2018, with this top supporting performance too.

StoryThe story follows a single mother with a safe normal life that befriends the high-class woman and becomes best friends only for her to disappear and Stephanie goes in search for answers, only to find a truth she isn’t prepared for. This is a story that starts with the mystery of what happened to Emily, it offers up plenty of what if, with the mystery about what happened coming through strongly, it does go in a direction that you shouldn’t be able to solve which is nice and is filled with style because Stephanie is a woman that you would never see in this position and thrives from the new excitement in life. The story is filled with plenty of twists along the way which will always keep you on your toes which is fun too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy from the film comes mostly from how Stephanie enters this new lifestyle and how the other single parents act towards everything. The crime side of the film focuses on the crime and mystery behind the disappearance.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to help evolve the story and shows just how out of her comfort zone Stephanie finds herself in.

Scene of the Movie – The single parents gossip time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It could have one too many twists for its own good.

Final Thoughts This is a slick and stylish thriller that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, it puts people outside of their comfort zones just to show what people could be.

Overall: Enjoyable and Stylish.

The Fare (2018) Movie Review

Director: D.C. Hamilton

Writer: Brinna Kelly (Screenplay)

Starring: Gino Anthony Pesi, Brianna Kelly, Jason Stuart, Jon Jacobs, Matt Fontana

Plot: When a charming fare named Penny climbs into his taxi cab, Harris, her world-weary driver, finds himself engaged in the only kind of courtship he can have with a passenger — one that lasts as long as her trip. That is, right up until she disappears from the back seat without a trace. When confusion gives way to reality, he resets his meter and is instantaneously transported back to the moment when she climbed into his cab. As he and Penny find themselves trapped in an endless night-time cab ride, with only each other for company, secrets will be revealed, truths will come to light, and Harris’ entire life will be changed forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Minding Mystery

Story: The Fare starts when cabbie Harris (Pesi) is picking up a fare in the middle of nowhere, with his passenger being Penny (Kelly), after hitting something, Penny vanishes, with him back on the road to pick her up again, reliving the short journey, only this time a sudden moment, makes Harris remember doing this before.

When Harris returns to the beginning of the cycle again, it turns out they have been doing this for ages, being stuck in this timeless loop, where now they both remember what happened before, getting to know each other, falling in love, trying to figure out a way to break the loop.

Thoughts on The Fare

Characters – Harris is a taxi driver, he is content with this job used to arguing with the radio and getting tired of his boss checking up on him. He finds out he has been stuck in this loop, trying to figure out ideas that Penny hasn’t tried before, in an attempt to get out of this situation. Penny is the fare picked up in the middle of nowhere, looking to go to the middle of nowhere, only she is has been waiting for Harris to remember the loop they are stuck in, making up stories to see if he could ever remember anything from each journey. The pair spend time just getting to know each other through the time they spent through the loop showing great chemistry in conversation.

PerformancesThis is a two person show, with Gino Anthony Pesi and Brinna Kelly doing a wonderful job together, showing the natural chemistry through the conversations and journeys they must continuously go on.

StoryThe story here follows a cab driver that picks up a fare only to see her vanish at a certain point of the journey, putting him back where he started, where the two must repeat the cab drive over and over again. This story does give us a nice mystery and does play in the time loop idea, this is interesting and we want to figure out how to break the loop with the pair. The most impressive side to the story comes from the truth, which will leave you surprised and happy with how everything unfolded.

Mystery/RomanceThe mystery here comes from why the two are stuck in the time loop, we see how everything gets unfolded as the two start to fall in love, showing how love can make you do strange things.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the taxicab which does show how trapped the two are, with only the cab being a location where they are together.

Scene of the Movie – The truth drives.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The montage of conversation is slightly too mixed up.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful mystery romance that will leave you shocked by the outcome of everything, it will keep you guessing and leave you happy with the ending.

Overall: Must Watch Mystery.