Werewolf (2018) Movie review

Director: Adrian Panek

Writer: Adrian Panek (Screenplay)

Starring: Kamil Polnisiak, Nicholas Prygoda, Sonia Mietielica, Danuta Stenka, Werner Daehn, Jakub Syska

Plot: Children liberated from a Nazi concentration camp have to overcome hunger, thirst and vicious dogs in an abandoned mansion surrounded by the forest.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Werewolf starts when a group of children are liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, finding refuge in a mansion in the middle of the forest, where they Wladek (Polnisiak), Hanys (Przygoda), Hanka (Mietielica), Jadwiga (Stenka) and others looks to hide out the rest of the war.

The children start to see enemies coming for them in soldiers, but more dangerously, a pack of ravenous dogs lurking in the forest, looking for their next meal, they children must work together to stay alive, despite running low on food, water and exits from the mansion.

Thoughts on Werewolf

Thoughts – Werewolf is a Polish movie with the original name of Wilkolak, we do get to see how the children have escaped from the concentration camp and are trying to survive by themselves, which in itself is a survival story, but add in the ravenous dogs, we get to see how they must band together, to evolve to survive the situation. The story shows how they will see other enemies coming too, need to deal with them, but one of the big things you will notice, there aren’t any werewolves in this film, the title is misleading. The performances from the whole cast is brilliant showing us just how difficult the lives they are living are and the desperation to survive they must show. There is an intensity to the dogs scenes, which is filled with the fear they would be going through too.

Final ThoughtsWerewolf is an intense survivor story.

The Ringmaster (2018) Movie Review

Director: Soren Juul Petersen

Writer: Carsten Juul Bladt, Soren Juul Petersen (Screenplay) Steen Landstrup (Novel)

Starring: Anne Bergfeld, Karin Michelsen, Damon Younger, Kristoffer Fabricius, Mads Koudal, Kim Sonderholm

Plot: During the night of the biggest sports final of the year, two girls working in a gas station experience strange incidents. Is it just staged pranks or is it something of a more aggressive intent?

Tagline – Entertainment knows no boundaries

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Ringmaster starts as we follow Agnes Berger (Bergfeld) and Belinda Andersen (Michelsen) as they are working a night shift at a gas station, they don’t get many customers and the ones they do get seem strange until they find themselves dealing with a couple of creepy men.

The women find themselves captured and placed into a twisted game run by The Ringmaster (Younger) where he will torture them for his audiences pleasure, they need to figure out how to escape before he gets to finish them off.

Thoughts on The Ringmaster

Characters – Agnes is looking to better herself with her education, using the time in the quiet shop to study, she does deal with the more difficult customers, and have to go through the more brutal parts of the torturous games. Belinda is the worker that is dealing with personal problems and her boyfriend that wants to use her, she is forced into being part of the game against her will. The Ringmaster gets the pleasure from torturing the victims, he listens to his audience and what they want and decides to make each action as twisted as he would like it to be.

PerformancesAnne Bergfeld and Karin Michelsen are both strong in the leading role, doing better with the pre-horror side of the film, over the torture moments. Damon Younger brings the charisma through the film which is key for the torture scenes, otherwise they would be very hollow.

StoryThe story here follows two gas station shop workers that get weird experiences through the night before finding themselves part of a twisted torture game run by the ringmaster who listens to his audience on what to do to his victims. This story does have time jumps which are more annoying than anything, with each visitor to the gas station, we see the slow emerging from the trapped contain before the game, this seems to be designed to keep us guessing as to who is involved in capturing them. When the games start, it isn’t anything overly fresh with what we are put through, but does make us feel like we are watching a performance.

HorrorThe horror in the film is all about the torture and what the ringmaster is willing to do to his victims, while one victim does go through seems more extreme than what they make the two women go through.

SettingsThe film uses the two main settings, first the gas station, which feels remote and isolated, making the victims seem like easier targets, with the second location being the performance stage, where the sick games occur.

Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The jump between gas station and just moving around in a box.

Final Thoughts The Ringmaster is a torture fans entry movie, holding back on the brutality it could give us, never hitting the heights of a Hostel, but being twisted enough to show us how to get into the sub-genre.

The Ringmaster will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 30th November & In UK Cinemas from 2nd December

Hot Air (2018) Movie Review

Director: Frank Coraci

Writer: Will Reichel (Screenplay)

Starring: Steve Coogan, Taylor Russell, Neve Campbell, griffin Newman, Pico Alexander, Tina Benko, Lawrence Gilliard Jr

Plot: A right wing talk show host’s life takes a sudden turn when his 16 year old niece comes crashing into his life.

Tagline – We all have a voice. Just be careful how you use it.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Family is Important 101

Story: Hot Air starts when Tess (Russell) heads to New York City to find her estranged Uncle Lionel (Coogan) a right wing talk show host. While Lionel isn’t happy about Tess turning up on his doorstep, he reluctantly lets her stay because she has nowhere else to go, he even offers her a job, while he gets used to being in the city.

As Tess learns about Lionel’s show, she starts to question why he speaks and act the way he does, shooting down everyone he goes against his right wing opinions.

Thoughts on Hot Air

Characters – Lionel is a right wing talk show host, he will put anyone back in their place, if they go against his beliefs. He has become distant from his family and his ruthless attitude sees people working in fear of him. He isn’t interested when his niece comes to visit him, seeing him being the only family member left in her life, he opens up to her unlike many other people, while seeing his career needing saving from a younger rival. Tess is the 16-year-old niece who comes to Lionel, her uncle, as her mother has checked into rehab, she has a brilliant future at her feet, with her intelligence, being something that Lionel shows more respect for than most people around him. Val is the partner of Lionel, she supports him and is the one that will talk him into letting Tess stay around, giving Tess the family experience for the time together.

PerformancesSteve Coogan is great in the leading role, he brings to life a character that isn’t afraid to stop before saying something controversial. Taylor Russell is filled with the innocence nature through the film, it helps her shine in the film too. Neve Campbell does hit the support role well through the film to complete the cast well.

StoryThe story here follows a 16-year-old girl that turns to her Uncle while her mother is in rehab, the two have never met and now have a strange relationship, which sees the walls to his brutally honest lifestyle, while she is constantly trying to remain strong through the difficult situation in her life. This is a story that focuses on the importance of family and how no matter how distant they are, they will find a way to be there for you. It isn’t the most original in how everything is presented, but is an easy watch for a story.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, which in the eyes of Tess is big and new, filled with opportunity, a chance of something great.

Scene of the Movie – Still my show.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough is made of the first meeting.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book drama, but one that is elevated by the performances of Coogan and Russell, with the heart piece on celebrating family.

Overall: Performance Driven Movie.

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – U – Unlovable (2018)

Director: Suzi Yoonessi

Writer: Charlene deGuzman, Sarah Adina Smith, Mark Duplass (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlene deGuzman, John Hawkes, Melissa Leo, Paul James, Ellen Geer, Jake McDorman, Gigette Reyes

Plot: A sex and love addicted woman learns what real intimacy is when she starts making music with a reclusive man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Friendship Story

Story: Unlovable starts as we meet Joy (deGuzman) who is a sex and love addict, she is constantly scared of being alone in life, despite having a boyfriend in Ben (James), she works in children’s television and has turned to a support group for help.

Reaching breaking point Joy turns to Maddie (Leo) to help her with her problems, which sees her moving to a new apartment for a month where she is cut off from everybody or any temptation, here she meets Jim (Hawkes) and she gets to learn to channel her addiction into music.

Thoughts on Unlovable

Characters – Joy is the love and sex addict, she has always needed a man in her life and even when she has one, she will go behind their back when she is lonely, she seeks help from a support group, but finds it hard to get over her problems until she finds music, which gives her a new outlet in life, to help her move on in life. Jim is the neighbour at the support group, he does have his own problems and cares for his grandmother, his outlet is music and he lets Joy into his world through a new friendship. Maddie is the sponsor at the support group that offers Joy a place to stay to get over her addictions, even if she isn’t happy with the new friendship between Joy and her brother. Ben is the boyfriend that Joy can’t get over, he doesn’t like her cheating on him, but he doesn’t give her the time required, he suggests her to get help.

PerformancesCharlene deGuzman is strong in this film, she does show the addiction taking over her character’s life and the regret after slipping off the wagon. John Hawkes is the best performer in the film, where he shows his class throughout the film, Melissa Leo is great too, showing that her character is going through her own struggles.

StoryThe story here follows a sex and love addict whose addiction has cost her, her relationship, job and house, seeking help she must learn to control her urges and find something to keep her busy in life, which she does in music. This story might well come up a little short in length, but does show us how addiction can control somebody’s life to an extent that it will cost them everything, the friendship angle and bond through music is the strongest part of the story because it shows us that we could find a mutual passion for something outside our own comfort zone. As mentioned the length of the film is short, which does take away from some of the real-world side of the film, like how Joy could afford a new apartment after losing her job, does she get a new job, what is her skills etc.

Comedy/MusicThe comedy does fall slightly short here, most of the comedy comes from Joy being embarrassed more often than not. The music comes from how the two bond.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in one location where Joy goes to recover from her addiction, it does show two people can meet to help each other.

Scene of the Movie – The first song together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Joy is very nosy.

Final Thoughts This is a good look at how friendship can come from the least likely place, it shows us that we can all help each other through the toughest times in life.

Overall: Friendship drama 101

Fugue (2018) Movie Review

Director: Tomas Street

Writer: Tomas Street (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka

Plot: Amnesic Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity.

Tagline – Who do you think you are?

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Fugue starts when Malcolm (Foley) wakes up without the memories of his life, his wife Helen (Tremblay) helping fill him in with the blanks of their life together, the small stories about them, until that night they get attacked, with Malcolm waking up not remembering anything.

Malcolm starts a new story, leading us to discover that people are trying to get a safe open in his life, with a code he can’t remember.

Thoughts on Fugue

Final Thoughts Fugue is a film that follows one man who is suffering from amnesia and finds himself being forced into giving up a code for a safe, he doesn’t remember each day, which will show from how the story is willing to shuffle to the timeline on everything we see. We do keep going through the different ideas of what might be happening with twists around each scene. The performances through the film are strong with Jack Foley in the leading role, showing us the strength of his character and the uncertainty required. The mystery we are looking to solve does keep us guessing, but we don’t seem to learn enough by the conclusion of the film, leaving a lot of empty loose ends to everything we have been watching.