Franchise Weekend – The Ring 2 (2005)

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay) Koji Suzuki (Novel)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, David Dorfman, Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Sissy Spacek, Ryan Merriman

 

Plot: 6 months after the incidents involving the lethal videotape, new clues prove that there is a new evil lurking in the darkness.


Tagline – Fear comes full circle.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weaker Sequel

 

Story: The Ring 2 starts as Rachel (Watts) and her son Aidan (Dorfman) have set up to start a new life after the events of the first film, Rachel in a small paper, while Aidan has taken after his father, with his love of photography.

When the town has its own video tape going around, killing people, Rachel decides to burn the tape, which only draws the attention of Samara again, as she sees her son targeted by Samara, with Rachel needing to get to the bottom of the tape once again.

 

Thoughts on The Ring 2

 

Characters – Rachel has moved her child to a smaller town to start a new life away from the pain of the previous one. she gets a new job, only for the first day on the job, Samara takes her next victim. Wanting to stop the spread of the curse in this new town, Rachel destroys the video tape, only to see herself become the target once again of Samara. Rachel will need to continue the investigation into who Samara was and why she is still haunting the world. Max is one of the co-workers at the newspaper, he isn’t trying to hit on Rachel, but does become the only person that Rachel can turn too. Aidan is the son that has started to take after his father with his love of photography, he does become the target of Samara, we see two different sides to David in this film. Dr Temple is trying to figure out what has been happening to Aidan, first seeing that it could be child abuse, she needs to make sure the child is safe before anything else.

PerformancesNaomi Watts is still strong in the leading role, we need her to show extra motherly emotions in the film this time around. Simon Baker doesn’t get a chance to get going in this film, while David Dorfman does make a big improvement because of the extra additions to his character. The supporting cast are not the strongest either with most getting left to limited screen time.

StoryThe story here continues to see Rachel haunted by Samara needing to continue to unlock the truth about Samara to save her own son from her curse. Now this is a confusing as for a story because everything felt pretty wrapped up at the end of the film, this did end up just putting a forced sequel out there which tries to build more on the Samara legacy. Where this falls short in the story as by giving us weak supporting characters, having the events literally start the day Rachel arrives in the new town and going against certain things that happen in the first film.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film does give us basic moments of scares, though dream sequences a hoping the same jumps can worked in the first film. the mystery continues to look at the mystery about Samara and why she has continued to haunt people.

SettingsThe film was moved to a smaller location, while returning to certain other locations with them being an extra clue involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film have dated already, you can see certain green screens being used, which were meant for uneasy scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
The bath surprise.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The dated effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker sequel that tries to build up on the original legacy, only to dive further into something we didn’t need to get more about what is happening.

 

Overall: Simple and weak sequel.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Ring (2002)

Director: Gore Verkinski

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay) Koji Suzuki (Novel)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn

 

Plot: A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it.


Tagline – In the well, no one will see.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Scary Horror Mystery

 

Story: The Ring starts when Rachel’s (Watts) niece dies suddenly after giving us the idea of what happens with the mysterious video tape, that if you watch it, you will receive a phone call saying, you will die in seven days.

Rachel being a reporter starts to investigate the mysterious death, which medical personal simply can’t explain, she ends up watching the tape filled with the horrific images, receiving the phone call, facing the seven days to solve the mystery about the tape.

 

Thoughts on The Ring

 

Characters – Rachel is a single mother and reporter that starts investigating the mysterious death of her niece, this leads her to a VHS tape which puts her in the same seven day warning, forcing her to investigate the tape, she uses her connections and skills as a reporter to unlock this truth, while become more desperate after her son watches the same tape. Noah is the ex-partner and father to Aidan, he is still dating college students, which is why they no longer date, he is however an expect on video, which sees him being used to help break down the tape, which does including him watching it, he doesn’t come off like a nice guy, but we get the scene which shows why he is the way he is. Aidan is the son of the two, he seems to be the most grounded of the three, he is always prepared for the day, knowing that his mother will be late, only he watches the video making him one of the targets for the curse within the video. Richard is the adopted father of Samara, his love for the horses as seen his life destroyed even with his connection to Samara being the reason for the curse.

PerformancesNaomi Watts in the leading role is great, she gets to show us just how difficult being a single mother can be, while trying to face a life and death situation with trying to find the answers. Martin Henderson is solid enough in his role which sees him being a bad father that could learn over this week. David Dorfman does give us a creepy kid performance, while Brian Cox in his limited screen time makes a big impact.

StoryThe story here follows a reporter that is investigating the death of a family member that is connecting a video tape which will give any viewer seven days to live. This story is a remake of Ringu and does fall into one of my favourite sub-genres of horror, the ghostly haunting investigation one, which is looking to solve a mystery and isn’t afraid to give us a moment of hauntings to push everything in the right direction. It is strange that part of this film has dated with the technology advances which could see the VHS side of the film going over people’s heads, but away from that seeing just how everything is connected, with glimpses of the video appearing through the film needing to be solved by both the character and audience gives this an interesting element for the audience to get involved in.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from the horrific imagines we see on the tape, we also know early on what will happen to anybody that watches the tape, by seeing just how the first opening kill looks. The mystery comes from just what we are seeing in the tape, it is a host of clues which will unlock the truth.

SettingsThe film shows us the settings through the tape, each one has a connection to everything going on and makes us want to know just what the connection is going to be.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic to watch, with one of the greatest effects scenes in the closing of the film which will shock and wonder how it was done.


Scene of the Movie –
The Horse on the boat is a horrific scene to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me VHS has dated out now.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the greatest horror remakes, it remains scary through the years along with giving us the time scale everything is going to be revealed.

 

Overall: Wonderful horror remake.

Rating

 

 

Horror Franchise – Scream 3 (2000)

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson, Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Patrick Dempsey, Jenny McCarthy, Parker Posey, Dean Richmond

 

Plot: While Sidney and her friends visit the Hollywood set of Stab 3, the third film based on the Woodsboro murders, a new Ghostface begins to terrorize them once again.


Tagline – The best Scream is always the last one. Just hope the last one isn’t your own.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best Horror Trilogy

 

Story: Scream 3 starts as we see just how successful Cotton Weary (Schreiber) has become, only now he has become the target of Ghostface who wants Sidney. Sidney now living off the radar helping abuse victims over the phone, with Gale Weathers (Cox) still making money off the murders.

Stab 3 is now being made with a string actors Tyson (Richmond), Tom (Keeslar), Sarah (McCarthy), Angelina (Mortimer) and Jennifer (Posey) playing the loved characters from the first film. Dewey (Arquette) is working on set and with Detective Kincaid (Dempsey) trying to get to the bottom of the murders.

With Sidney forced out of hiding, she must go face to face with Ghostface once again and learn just why the killer has returned in search of her.

 

Thoughts on Scream 3

 

Characters – Sidney is now living off the map, helping women in need of a helping hand, when the killer tracks her down, she comes to help from her hiding where she will come face to face with the true killer. Dewey is now working on the set of the Stab films, he is helping one of the stars of the film understand her character and gets stuck into the investigation this time. Gale isn’t as cut throat as she once was, her career didn’t go as well as it could have, she must put up with the needy actress who is playing her in the film. Detective Mark Kincaid is the cop assigned to try and track down the killer willing to push boundaries to uncover the truth. We get a string of actors that will be playing to the roles of the characters in the franchise, with Jennifer Jolie preparing to be Gale being the highlight of these and if not the whole movie. Our suspect list is long which only adds to the mystery we might be seeing through the film.

PerformancesNeve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette all return and give good performances through the film, they don’t build on what we know from them, Parker Posey however steals the whole movie, every scene she is in we want to see more from her. This film does suffer from having too many actors which does stop giving the stars the time required to truly shine.

StoryThe story follows the production of the third ‘Stab’ movie which is from the series of films that are based on the events of the Scream films, that starts getting its own body count from a new killer with connections to Sidney’s mother. This could easily be considered the weakest story of the three so far in the franchise, this is mostly because of the idea of being on the film set with the actors and real people gets overly complicated and takes away from the suspense we previously experience. As for the twists we learn the rules that make things feel like a larger scale operation which even after seeing the previous film do fit together much like what many of the 80s slashers did.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the slasher side of things which are all routine enough and work for the film, with the mystery coming from just who is truly behind the murders.

SettingsSetting the film in Hollywood, mostly in and around a film set makes us relive the moments we have gotten to know through the years and most importantly show us how a film could be getting made.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie continue the style we have seen before, it gives us the blood we need to make look real without being over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The continuing reference to how difficult Scream 2 was to make.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the supporting characters, mostly the actors don’t get much screen time.

Final ThoughtsThis is the third part of one of the greatest horror trilogies, it continues to show us behind the curtain of horror movies with a twist we didn’t know about to keep the story feeling fresh throughout the film.

 

Overall: This is how to make a trilogy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – The Skeleton Key (2005)

Director: Iain Softley

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett

 

Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.


Tagline – Fearing Is Believing

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Ghost Investigation

 

Story: The Skeleton Key starts as we meet carer Caroline Ellis (Hudson) who has been working in a home, but wants a change. This leads her to a New Orleans plantation to helps the Devereaux family, Violet (Rowlands) and the paralysed Ben (Hurt) with the lawyer Luke Marshall (Sarsgaard) trying to strike a deal.

When Ben doesn’t seem as disabled as Violet appears to let on, Caroline finds herself investigating the house more, where she finds a secret room in the attic, she turns to her best friend Jill (Bryant) to help who teaches her about Hoodoo which is what could be haunting the home.

 

Thoughts on The Skeleton Key

 

Characters – Caroline is a carer, looking to study nursing, she takes this new role which offers her the freedom needed to do the studying. She starts questioning the strange goings on within the house, which leads her to go into full investigation mode. Violet is the lady of the home, she wants to keep everything the way it was inside the house knowing and believing the curse that roams the house. She doesn’t like people coming to the home disturbing the peace she has created with the ghosts. Ben is the disabled husband that has suffered a stroke, he is the reason why Caroline is hired but not everything is right for him as he tries to communicate without being able to use his words. Luke Marshall is the lawyer putting the affairs in orders for the Devereaux’s, he hires Caroline to help care for Ben while using his charm will get him through any situation. Jill is Caroline’s best friend, she fills the filling in the information at times roles and gives us the character that helps question whether she is making the right decisions.

PerformancesKate Hudson is good in this leading role, she is strong minded character which shows in her performance. Gena Rowlands enjoys her role in the film where she gets to play the twisted character. John Hurt gets to show of his acting skills in the supporting role, he doesn’t get any dialogue in the film just gets to show the desperation he is feeling. Peter Sarsgaard is strong too, in a decade where he was always one of the go to guys in a supporting role.

StoryThe story dives into elements of horror I enjoy the most, we have a new member of the household, in this case a carer, that finds out something is right and must figure out what is happening before it is too late. The film offers plenty off potential options to where the film could go, which is what we like even if it does suggest heavily in one direction, you will need to keep thinking as to where the film will end up going.

Horror/MysteryThe horror isn’t in your face jump scares, it is well created tension filled moments that help us get to the final outcome, the mystery does take centre stage for the genres as we watch this get solved by Caroline.

SettingsThe New Orleans settings helps us understand the Hoodoo idea that is surrounded by the characters involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects aren’t used very often and to be honest the ones used don’t seem to come off very well.


Scene of the Movie –
The Final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had an issue with just having one random friend who was only used to fill in the blanks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little horror, it is nothing ground breaking, but it has good performances and a solid story that will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Good horror mystery from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Tim Robbins Weekend – Arlington Road (1999)

logoDirector: Mark Pellington

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, Mason Gamble, Spencer Treat Clark, Stanley Anderson

Plot: A college professor begins to suspect that his neighbour is a terrorist.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Socking Thriller

Story: Arlington Road starts when Michael Faraday (Bridges) finds a young boy walking down the street servilely injured before rushing him to hospital. The boy Brady (Gamble) lives across the street from Michael but as the family has only recently moved in he hasn’t got to know them. The parent Oliver (Robbins) and Cheryl (Cusack) show their gratitude for saving their son opening up a friendship between the two families.

We learn that Michael lost his wife who working for the FBI and that he along with his son are still coming to terms of losing her, Michael is a lecturer who has started with a new relationship with Brooke (Davis). Michael also teaches about terrorism where he preaches about how the effects of certain crimes including the one that saw his wife die, he doesn’t believe the story he has been told.

When Michael starts questioning certain details about the Lang’s he doesn’t know what he will find but what when he does discover the truth he will be left shocked while trying to find a way to spread the truth.

Arlington Road is a film that plays along the idea of conspiracy where our lead thinks something is going on but no one wants to believe him. I do like the idea that this film give us because just because we think someone might be up to something doesn’t mean they are. With the ending being one of the most shocking in modern film I think this is a stand out film that isn’t afraid to go where other films wouldn’t dare. (9/10)

Actor Review

Jeff Bridges: Michael Faraday is the widowed single father who lost his wife in a terrorist attack, he is still dealing with the consequences of her death while trying to move on with his life. When he befriends the new neighbours he thinks it is a chance for his son to make new friends, but when certain things come up between him and Oliver about stories Michael starts investigating the truth. Jeff does a great job in this role showing just how desperate he is to make sure his son is safe going through to the completely on the edge by the end of the film. (9/10)michael

Tim Robbins: Oliver Lang is the neighbour across the road, everything comes off very friendly but when Michael digs into his past he learns that he might be a very different person than he is letting on to be. Tim does a good job keeping everything calm and calculated through the film. (8/10)lang

Joan Cusack: Cheryl Lang is the wife of Oliver also comes off very friendly but is she helping cover up the truth about Oliver or just as involved in what is going on. Joan does a solid job but doesn’t get the screen time required. (6/10)

Hope Davis: Brooke Wolfe is the new girlfriend of Michael, she is just started the relationship so isn’t trying to replace his late wife but is trying to build the bridges with his son. She thinks Michael is getting paranoid while he looks into the truth about the new neighbours. Hope does a solid job but doesn’t get on the par as the leading males. (6/10)

Support Cast: Arlington Road has a supporting cast that includes the kids from both family’s as well as the FBI friend who tries to keep Michael’s feet on the ground.

Director Review: Mark PellingtonMark gives us a thriller that isn’t afraid to shock us and for that he deserves all the praise. (9/10)

Crime: Arlington Road lets us know early on that this will be about a terrorist crime but just what the plan is remains the question. (8/10)

Thriller: Arlington Road keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits because you will be shocked with how the film ends. (10/10)

Settings: Arlington Road creates a normal suburban neighbourhood for the setting which only adds to the shock value. (10/10)

Suggestion: Arlington Road is a film that must be watched mainly just for how shockingly it ends. (Watch)

Best Part: The End.

Worst Part: When you think about what has happened at the end.

Oh My God Moment: The End

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $24 Million

Budget: $21.5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

Tagline: How well do you know your neighbour?

Trivia: The script for “Arlington Road”, written by Ehren Kruger, was discovered when it won the Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting competition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This film is only the sixth winner of the competition to actually be produced.

Overall: Truly shocking, stunning thriller

Rating85