Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Director: Andre Ovredal

Writer: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Guillermo del Toro (Screenplay) Alvin Schwartz, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton (Novel/Story)

Starring: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorrain Toussaint, Austin Zajur

Plot: A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

Tagline – Based on the iconic book series.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Goosebumps With Pure Horror

Story: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark starts with the backdrop of the Richard Nixon election, where high school students Stella (Colletti), Auggie (Rush) and Chuck (Zajur) look to get revenge on the school bully, which sees them stumble into stranger’s Ramon (Garza) car on Halloween which sees them head to a haunted house that has the story about the daughter of the family Sarah Bellows, writing scary stories for the local kids that soon went missing.

When Stella finds the story book she starts to investigate the stories, only to see the stories writing themselves with the locals starting to go missing, including her friends, Stella must investigate the myth about Sarah to stop the people she loves going missing.

Thoughts on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Characters – Stella is an outsider at her school, she has always struggled with the people talking about her mother that disappeared, she is known for writing stories and enjoys a horror film, she wants to investigate the haunted house and is fascinated by what she finds, even though she must do anything to protect her friends once she learns the evil involved. Most of this film Stella feels like a young Velma from Scooby Doo too, which can be hard to shake without realizing. Ramon Morales is a stranger in town, the police don’t take to him too kindly, but Stella sees him as a nice guy, it is slightly confusing trying to figure out how old he is and why he is hanging out with the high schoolers, but he does have a reason to be on the run. Auggie and Chuck are the two banter filled friends of Stella that do make the smart decisions when it comes to dealing with horror moments. Roy Nicholls is the father of Stella that has been struggling with his wife’s disappearance, which has seen him become distant from Stella too.

PerformancesZoe Margaret Colletti is great in the leading role, we see her give us a vulnerable, but strong character that needs to break out of her shell. Michael Garza is strong through the film, playing the mysterious stranger, needing to keep a lot of his secrets close to his chest. Gabriel Rush and Austin Zajur have great chemistry and the friends, while Dean Norris doesn’t do anything wrong, but does feel wasted at times.

StoryThe story here follows a group of teenagers that find a book that tells scary stories that come true with horrifying outcomes and they must figure out how to break the curse placed upon them. This does feel like a much darker version of a Goosebumps set of stories, with each horror figure being terrifying in their own right, which will lead to an event that you don’t see coming. We do have the investigation side of the film which does answer the questions about what is going on and why, which as always is entertaining to watch in a horror and with everything adding up nicely we will be left with a story that flows smoothly throughout.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the different creations of horror, for the most part the trailer does show us each of the creations involved in the film, the mystery plays into why the horror events are happening and just what Sarah is making this happen.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town, where everybody knows everyone, which does play into the idea that the stories around the town can destroy reputations and feelings.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used to make the horror creatures seem more terrifying where they look like practical effects too, which is a delight to see.

Scene of the Movie – Chuck’s visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The trailer gives away all of the horror figures.

Final Thoughts This is a fun horror film that is filled with scary figures that will fill you with dread as they are original creations and will surprise with what happens to the characters.

Overall: Fun Dark Horror.


Crawl (2019) Movie Review

Director: Alexandre Aja

Writer: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, George Somner

Plot: A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

Tagline – DANGER! Alligators are common in this area. They can be dangerous. They have been known to stalk prey. THEY WILL HUNT YOU

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Creature Feature

Story: Crawl starts when college swimming student Haley (Scodelario) who after a family disagreement with her father Dave (Pepper) hasn’t spoken to him in a while gets a call from her sister Beth (Clark) to make sure their father is out of Florida after a hurricane has taken a turn to put him in the path of the destruction.

Haley arrives back home, bringing back the memories with father and his training to make her an elite swimming, only to find him injured in the crawlspace, where he has been a victim of an alligator attack, the two find themselves trapped against the alligators, with the flood water rising and time running out, can they make it out, that is the question.

Thoughts on Crawl

Characters – This is a film that only really has two characters in, we have Haley who is a college student on a scholarship for her swimming, she has been training her whole life and is starting to question her place in the sport going forward, she reluctantly goes to make sure her father has gotten out of Florida before the hurricane hits and here she must put aside their differences to face off against the alligators that are looking to feed. Her swimming skills do come in crucial when it comes to staying ahead of the gators, but she does fall into the stupid decisions being made. Dave is the father that has buried himself in work after his wife left him, he had spent most of Haley’s childhood coaching her to be the best in swimming, with them both getting success, he has however become injured due to the attack and helps his daughter to escape, so they can rebuild their relationship. Where the two have been going through a strained relationship, it does show how the working together process isn’t working well to start with and as they rebuild their relationship, we see just how well they can work together.

PerformancesKaya Scodelario in the leading role is strong for the most part, we get to see how she manages to look like she isn’t completely in a comfortable place with her future and that she will never give up the fight. Barry Pepper, despite spending most of the film injured, does bring us a strong performance too which shows us that both the main stars of the film do carry the load well.

StoryThe story here follows a father and daughter that find themselves trapped in a crawlspace where they are being stalked by alligators, making walking out difficult, while also being in the path of a hurricane which will see them below water sooner rather than later. When we break down this story, we do have a creature feature film that does see man versus nature, with it being both natural disaster and a living predator. This is a battle to survive which does feel intense, even if the trailer does give away most of the film’s story, which is highly disappointing to see. This story does keep the pace up and does have the side of the story which sees the family needing to put aside their issues to make it out.

Action/HorrorThe action comes from the alligator attacks, they are intense and show just how deadly they can be, this is a horror that wouldn’t be terrifying to live through, this all shows just how deadly of a predator alligator can be.

SettingsThe film is set in one location, the house where Haley grew up, starting with a large part inside the crawlspace under the house, it is contained, and you can understand why the gators would be in there too.

Special EffectsThe effects when it comes to injuries are brutal to watch, with one scene involving a leg being placed back together standing out, the alligators look terrifying too through the film.

Scene of the Movie – Boat wave.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Does nobody in Florida know how deadly Alligators are?

Final Thoughts This is a fun and intense creature feature that doesn’t hide away from the blood and will keep you on the edge of the seat.

Overall: Creature feature fun.

I Am Mother (2019) Movie Review

Director: Grant Sputore

Writer: Michael Lloyd Green (Screenplay) Grant Sputore (Story)

Starring: Luke Hawker, Rose Byrne, Tahlia Sturzaker, Clara Rugaard, Hilary Swank

Plot: A teenage girl is raised underground by a kindly robot “Mother” — designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news.

Tagline – She’ll keep you safe
Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Starts Well, Finishes Weakly

Story: I Am Mother starts when a baby is bought to life raised by a robotic mother, known only as Mother, we see the girl known only as daughter raised to a teenager (Rugaard) where she starts to become more interested in what could be outside the bunker she is being raised in, the questions always get shot down by Mother and when a mysterious Woman (Swank) arrives the relationship between Mother and Daughter becomes tense.

After the woman is let in, she starts filling in daughter to what is outside the bunker and the mystery about the woman only continues to increase as Mother does what is expected, protect her young. Will Daughter risk her life to learn more or accept her role in the bunker.

Thoughts on I Am Mother

Characters – Daughter has been raised in a bunker by Mother, she has been taught the world outside was destroyed, with the training taught by the robot mother, would bring more humans to her life. Hitting the teenage years, Daughter continues to want to know what is outside the world she is living in and he willingness to help a stranger only makes her decisions more confusing. Mother is the robotic figure that has raised Daughter, she is learning on the job, with the idea being once prepared more will be raised, we see how everything she is preparing is for protection for the greatest good. Woman is the stranger who wants to get into the bunker, she shows that there is a bigger world outside and that has more humans in, her story only makes Daughter’s life more confusing all around.

PerformancesClara Rugaard is the star of the show here, the teenage daughter character who must deal with the confliction thrown her way and handles everything in a believable way through the film. Hilary Swank does bring the star power to the film, she does everything right without being on the level of the top sci-fi horror stars. Having such a small cast we don’t really see anybody else bring anything to the film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that has been raised in a bunker where she believes the world outside has been destroyed, all this changes, when a stranger arrives, giving her a decision to make about what she wants to believe anymore. This is a story that does start in a very interesting manor, by making us see the raising of daughter with the desire to know more about the outside world, this is routine and watching how the stranger and mother are both trying to convince her what is real, we see her needing to bounce between both sides. Once we go to the outside, this is where things start to fall apart for us and it just seems to fizzle out without answers any of the real questions posed.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in the film comes from learning the truth and just what that might mean for Daughter in her world. The sci-fi side of the film is the highlight because it puts us in the middle of a world that has seen destruction and this puts us in the location that is meant to be safe.

SettingsThe film is set in one location for the most part, the bunker, this does show us just what situation the world is left in, with our character not having anywhere to go. Once we leave the bunker, we do see everything go downhill with the generic looking CGI world.

Special EffectsThe effects are mixed too, with the bunker location and Mother figure looking brilliant, but outside you can see the green screen effects in play.

Scene of the Movie – Searching for the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The ending.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting sci-fi film that had so much interesting material going in, only for it to fall flat with the ending.

Overall: Falls flat by the end.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Movie Review

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Writer: Matt Cook, Robert Mark Kamen, Ric Roman Waugh (Screenplay) Katrin Benedikt, Creighton Rothenberger (Characters)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nick Nolte, Lance Reddick, Danny Huston, Tim Blake Nelson

Plot: Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.

Tagline – Fallen. Framed. Forced to Fight for His Life.

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Franchise Hasn’t Fallen

Story: Angel Has Fallen starts when Mike banning (Butler) is the only survivor of a drone attack on President Allan Trumbull (Freeman), the rest of the team are killed and Mike has been framed for the assassination attempt. FBI agent Helen Thompson (Smith) is investigating the case, with Mike looking cut and dry to have been the man behind it, but when Mike escapes, he sets out to prove his innocence.

Mike turns to his estranged father Clay (Nolte) as he looks to discover why his old friend an private contractor Wade Jennings (Huston) has set him up and how he can prove his isn’t involved despite a nationwide manhunt for him.

Thoughts on Angel Has Fallen

Characters – Mike Banning is still a senior secret service man, playing righthand to the President, he has been keeping his injuries secret, which is nice to see an action man actually suffering injuries, instead of just being fine, like most action stars. He does his duty saving the President from an attack, only to find himself framed. When the people come to finish the job on Banning, he escapes and uses all his training to allude and search for a way to prove his innocence. Allan Trumbull is now the President, stepping up from his role as the Vice in the previous two outings, he is looking to change certain ideas, though he spends most of his film in a coma after the attack, he is the only other witness who could defend Mike’s involvement too. Wade Jennings is the private military contractor and old military buddy of Mike’s, he has framed him and is using his expertly trained team to hunt him down and finish off the job. Leah is the wife of Mike’s she is trying to keep him from working now they have a child and must deal with the consequences of seeing the name dragged through the dirt. FBI Agent Helen Thompson is trying to put the pieces together, seeing Mike as the prime suspect, she just wants the case closed without anybody else being hurt. Clay Banning is the estranged father of Mike’s he has been off the grid for years because of his own trauma from his time in the war, he is the only person Mike knows he can turn too.

PerformancesGerard Butler is great in the leading role, he is always going to be a bankable star when it comes to action roles and this is no different. Morgan Freeman does everything you would expect from a President role, without needing to do much. Piper Perabo takes over from Radha Mitchell in the wife role, which doesn’t have much to do if we are being honest. Danny Huston is one of these actors that you know is always going to be a villain, he does everything we know he can do in this role. Nick Nolte is a lot of fun, bringing his trademark estranged father role to the big screen once again, he gets a few laughs in too.

StoryThe story here sees Mike Banning being framed for the assassination attempt of the President, the figure that he has been guarding for years and he must go off the grid to prove who was really behind it. The story is one that is great to watch for action, but if you have seen the previous instalments of the franchise, you will be left asking a few questions. First what happened to President Benjamin Asher, we have zero mention of him, secondly, how is nobody on Mike’s side after all he has done in the past, like seriously, he pretty much saved the President against impossible odds twice. While this question could be answered with the number of pieces of evidence placed on him, it still doesn’t seem to fit the character these people have created. Away from these questions, we must say this does build on the scale of the previous film’s stories, which is good because it does feel different, which each film does do. We could easily watch this story as a single film too and the fact that we do touch on the physical injuries that Mike has suffered through his job, does show a vulnerable action character.

ActionThe action is big, we might not have the large scale opening attack, but once we get into the military formations ideas, we get plenty of tactical shootings.

SettingsThe film does build on the settings, with the first one being one building, the second being one city, now we have a nationwide hunt.

Special EffectsThe effects, well this has been an issue for the franchise all along, but the green screen scenes are so clear to see it almost feels like they didn’t finish the job yet.

Scene of the Movie – Mike and Clay have an escape plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – No mention of former President Benjamin Asher, like what happened here?

Final Thoughts This is a action sequel that does enough different to make it feel fresh even if certain parts of the story feels too farfetched, it does continue to have a 24 vibe to everything, but it is well for a watch if you have seen the franchise or not.

Overall: Trilogy that hasn’t Fallen.