The Secret Garden (2020) Movie Review

Director: Marc Munden

Writer: Jack Thorne, Frances Hodgson Burnett (Screenplay)

Starring: Dixie Egerickx, Richard Hansell, David Verrey, Tommy Gene Surridge, Julie Walters, Maeve Dermody, Colin Firth, Isis Davis, Edan Hayhurst

Plot: An orphaned girl discovers a magical garden hidden at her strict uncle’s estate.


Tagline – Unlock Your Imagination

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Secret Garden starts as a young orphan girl Mary (Egerickx) finds a new home from her Indian residents back in England with her Uncle Archibald Craven (Firth) a man that is strict with how his home is run, keeping his son Colin (Hayhurst) away from everyone else.

Mary does struggle to adapt to this new way of life, until she finds herself a place on the land, a secret garden, which will continue to give her hope of a better life, away from the pain of losing a loved one.

Thoughts on The Secret Garden

Characters & Performances – Mary has come from the life of luxury in India, where she would have had people wait on her hand and foot, only she finds herself alone in this world with nobody else, given to her estranged Uncle to raise her, she needs to learn to adapt to this world if she is going to make it, with her sense of adventure helping her cope with the loss she has experienced. Mary does come off as very self-centred and selfish, leading her to need to learn to be more accepting of people around her. Dickon is a young man that works the grounds, he befriends Mary as they look to learn more about the secret garden, seemingly close to nature. Colin the son of the uncle that is kept away from everyone else in the house, believing he is ill, Mary is looking to help him break out of this mindset. Archibald Craven takes Mary in, but he is broken after the death of his wife, which leaves him not anting to care about everything else in her life. The performances through this film are solid enough, without being as strong as they should be.

StoryThe story here follows a young girl who becomes orphaned and taken in by her estranged Uncle that has closed himself off from the world, the young girl gets curious discovering a beautiful garden that brings her the first bit of light in her life for a long time, a place she wants to use to help cure the whole family. This is a story that is focused on showing how people will be dealing with loss in a different way and will need help to get over the biggest changes in their life. The magical side of the story doesn’t seem to hit hard enough and the characters do feel overly stuck up for us to get behind though.

ThemesThe Secret Garden does use the colour pallet to show the different location, with the beauty of the location of happiness, while the darker colours inside the estate, showing it is a place left in darkness, that needs light bought back into after the tragedy around it.

The Secret Garden is a solid story but it does seem to lack the magical that would make it standout even more.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – O – The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Writer: Greg Rucka (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Plot: A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.


Tagline – Whatever it takes.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Old Guard starts as we meet the group of mercenaries, Andy (Theron), Booker (Schoenaerts), Joe (Kenzari) and Nicky (Marinelli) who are called for any job, which will play into their own hands, being immortal. Their latest job is for Copley (Ejiofor) who double crosses them, exposing their secret, while gives the group a connection to a new immortal Nile (Layne) a soldier who is killed in action.

Andy brings Nile into the team, as they look to find Copley who has bigger plans for the mercenaries, knowing what they could bring the world, if they are able to capture them and keep their secret safe from the world.

Thoughts on The Old Guard

Characters – Andy is the oldest member of the group, she has found other immortals through the years, taught them a code and prepared them to fight in a world which would capture and destroy them if they could, she never makes the same contacts, while trying to avoid any footage of her existence have become the latest challenge for her. She must teach Nile the ropes as she looks to clear up the betrayal the team has faced. Nile is the marine that gets killed in action, who somehow survives, she doesn’t understand what is happening to her, and isn’t willing to go quietly with Andy, until she starts to learn the truth about what she is. Booker is the other lonely figure of the group, he saw his family die, while he lived on, usually the second to Andy when on any mission. Joe and Nicky complete the original unit, often played more for laughs. Copley is the man that others up the immortals, believing they could help fight disease, his actions lead to the group being hunted by the money hungry Merrick who will do anything to make more money.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is wonderful in the leading role, which is everything you would expect from the queen of the action roles. Kiki Layne brings the grounded side to the film, with the conflict skills to give us the same entry into the world. Matthias Schoenaerts does well through the film as the second in command living multiple lifetimes in regret. Chiwetel Ejiofor brings the misguided character who believes they could be right, while Harry Melling is fun as an over the top villain.

StoryThe story here follows a group of immortal mercenaries that find themselves targeted by a medical company that want to use their blood to help fight disease and make money, while the group looks to welcome in their newest member. This is based of a graphic novel, which will explain the over the top nature to certain things, mostly the deaths the immortals are going through. When it comes to the deeper meaning behind the actions of the group, it would have been even more entertaining to learn more of the overall discoveries, when it comes to dealing with the idea of being hunted down, it seems like it is something they would have experienced before and is generic for what we know about these movies. We are left wanting more from these characters, which is what we get with the story, which is a good introduction to them.

Action/FantasyThe action involved is fight sequences that are all choreographed well through the film, each going for a unique kill, which plays into the graphic novel stylings going on through the film. With the fantasy coming from the immortal characters, only not diving enough into the true meaning behind their immortally.

SettingsWe do see the characters head around the world, showing us how they will help people in need and fight against the people in power.


Scene of the Movie – London Fight Scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The impact the group have made on the world only seems be glimpsed at.

Final Thoughts This is a fun action movie that does seem to be the beginning of a bigger world, which we can’t wait to see more from.



I Blame Society (2020) Movie Review

Director: Gillian Wallace Horvat

Writer: Gillian Wallace Horvat, Chase Williamson (Screenplay)

Starring: Gillian Wallace Horvat, Keith Poulson, Chase Williamson, Lucas Kavner, Morgan Krantz, Jennifer Kim

Plot: A struggling filmmaker realizes that the skill set to make a movie is the same to commit the perfect murder.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: I Blame Society starts as we meet filmmaker Gillian (Horvat) who is trying to get her film made, with her facing plenty of negative responses, she starts to try and think outside the box, with a movie that could help her commit the perfect murder.

To prepare for this, Gillian looks to commit smaller crimes, as she looks to understand how the mindset works on the criminal side, struggling to find the motivation she needs.

Thoughts on I Blame Society

ThoughtsI Blame Society is mix of found footage in a style of a documentary, looking to show how quickly a desperate filmmaker will find themselves spiralling into a world or criminal activities to find a way to make a movie of her choice. The story doesn’t seem to get the biggest impact it is going for, looking to try and bring through a shock value, without hitting the try creepy levels. It could easily be compared to ‘Creep’ with the nature of Gillian actions, while trying to have a bigger message about what is going on in society. The performances are made to feel natural for the characters we meet, which does help give a nature feel about the project. It is not an easy watch because the nature of the Gillian character goes from ambitious to psychotic quickly.

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents I Blame Society on Digital Download 19 April 

 

I Blame Society will give Creep a run for its money, for the found footage psycho.

The Oak Room (2020) Movie Review

The Oak Room – Too Many Stories

Director: Cody Calahan

Writer: Peter Genoway (Screenplay)

Starring: RJ Mitte, Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Nicholas Campbell, Martin Roach, David Ferry, Amos Crawley

Plot: During a raging snowstorm, a drifter returns home to the blue-collar bar located in the remote Canadian town where he was born. When he offers to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story, the night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses and shocking violence.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Oak Room starts when Steve (Mitte) returns home during a snowstorm, returning to the local bar to repay a debt to Paul (Outerbridge), offering him a story as to why he has returned.

As Steve recounts his story, he tells a tale of the time he was the bartender, meeting a stranger in the bar late one night, with their own story.

Thoughts on The Oak Room

Characters & Performances – Steve is the drifter who has returned home to pay a debt, he has a story to what has kept him away and he wants to tell it, which will give us the reasons to why he took so long to return. He is filled with a grief of not being home for his father’s funeral, a grief he would like to shake. RJ Mitte does struggle to become the narrator we need, each scene leaves him struggling to make the impact required. Paul is the bartender being told the story, he wants the debt repaid and isn’t prepared to listen to the stories, he just wants the point made. Must like everyone else in this film, we do find ourselves being left in the middle of jumping between characters, where the actors just don’t get to make the impact they would like to in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a drifter that returns to a local bar where he looks to pay of a debt, only for him to tell a story that starts tame before turning much darker than you could imagine. This is a story that is looking to make an edgy tale, only it takes a long time to get going and by the time we get to the darker side of the tale. Once we get the shocking side of things, it does feel flat and doesn’t seem to hit the chords it wants to and ends up leaving us with more questions than answers.

ThemesThe Oak Room is a mystery wrapped in a thriller that doesn’t get into the intense questions until much later into the film, leaving the tension not being built up for the shocking reveal. The single locations of the two bars does help keep things contained, but never gets used well enough for the truth.

The Oak Room will available on Digital Download from 26th April

 

The Oak Room is a film that is desperate to give us a shocking story, only it takes too long to get there.

The Banishing (2020) Movie Review

The Banishing – Slow Building Horror

Director: Christopher Smith

Writer: David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich, Dean Lines (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Brown Findlay, John Lynch, Sean Harris, John Heffernan, Adam Hugill, Jason Thorpe

Plot: The Banishing tells the story of the most haunted house in England. In the 1930s, a young reverend, his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Banishing starts when a family Marianne (Findlay), Linus (Heffernan) and daughter Adelaide (McKenna-Bruce) move into a manor house that comes with the new role as reverend in the local town. Linus does find himself getting a visit from Harry (Harris) warning him about the manor house, while his boss Malachi (Lynch) warns him about the local stories being told to him.

When Marianne starts seeing unexpected events around the house, she finds herself starting to question her own sanity, with her husband Linus not wanting to turn away from his faith to believe her, leaving her to try and learn the secrets of the manor.

Thoughts on The Banishing

Characters & Performances – Marianne is the reverend’s wife that is looking to rebuild her relationship with her daughter after being apart for a time, she doesn’t enjoy the size of their new manor home, believing the amount of people suffering could use the additional location. Jessica Brown Findlay does well in the leading role, reacting well to the horror scenes that a built up for the reaction moment. Linus is her husband and the new reverend that is looking to put his life back together with a quiet parish that could offer him peace, he doesn’t want to move away from his beliefs when searching for answers in the house. John Heffernan does bring this traumatised man to life with ease, showing the distant side of his character. Malachi is the man that gives Linus the job, he warns him that he will always hear stories around the town and not to worry about them. John Lynch brings the stricter figure into the film, showing how one person will do anything to hide the truth. Harry Price is known as the town crazy person, though he knows the truth about what has happened in the house, looking for a way to warn the family of what might be coming if they spend too much time in the house. Sean Harris plays this role with ease, he will keep things feeling uneasy like he might be making it up, while also showing the importance of his warning.

StoryThe story here follows a family that move into a manor house only for them to learn the manor house has a dark secret, one that starts haunting them to reveal their secrets. This is a story that we do get to see a lot nowadays, following the new family being haunted, with each haunting becoming more intense, while outside the family people are either warning or ensuring them there is nothing to worry about. The story does have a slow pace, which does show when we are not around the haunting moments, which are the more interesting ones to watch, add in the background of the incoming war, that could change everything for the characters. It does end up falling into the warning one, but doesn’t manage to capture the magic we have seen in so many horrors before it.

ThemesThe Banishing is a horror that will see a lot of creepiness happening in the darkness or shadows of a remote manor house, with secrets around every corner. Most are slowly built up scares, which are the strongest part of the film, with the scale of the house being added to the mystery about what is going on.

 

The Banishing is a slow moving horror that doesn’t get the scares to become as intense as it could have.