Strange Nature (2018)

Director: James Ojala

Writer: James Ojala (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Tobolowsky, Carlos Alazraqui, John Hennigan, Lisa Sheridan, Tiffany Shepis, David Mattey, Ann Hearn, Bruce Bohne, Faust Checho

 

Plot: The first film to expose unsolved wildlife deformity outbreaks and where they may lead.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Suspenseful Sci-Fi Shocker

 

Story: Strange Nature starts when single mother Kim Sweet (Sheridan) returns home with her son Brody (Beres) to live with her father Chuck (Bohne) and it doesn’t take long before the locals start locating deformed frogs, which leads to Kim investigate just what is happening with the local wildlife.

Soon an unknown creature starts picking off the residents of the area which takes Kim’s investigation to the Mayor Paulson (Tobolowsky). Joined by local teacher Trent (Checho) we see how the species being deformed are evolving into deadlier animals showing they must stop the cause before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Strange Nature

 

Characters – Kim Sweet was once a rising popstar whose life didn’t turn out the way she had planned, she finds herself a single mother returning home to care for her dying father, once home she gets to see just how bad the situation back home has become and must lead the fight to save the town from a threat causing deformities in its locals. Mayor Paulson is trying his best to keep everything under wraps in the town, to stop the people panicking even if he does have his own reasons for doing so. Sam is one of the locals who sticks with his kind, he doesn’t like people that are different only for it to become clear he isn’t even safe from the deformities himself. Trent is the closest to a scientist we have in this film, a school teacher that helps Kim with her investigation.

PerformancesLisa Sheridan in the leading role is strong through the film, we get to see her show the parental side, independent side and remains strong though the challenging subject matters. Stephen Tobolowsky always makes for a good political figure and this is no different, while John Hennigan brings us a different character we are used to seeing, a villainous one that fits the trouble maker in town. The rest of the cast are good through the film.

StoryThe story here brings us to a small town which has started to get birth defecates on the first small animals soon becoming more serious and deadlier. This gives us the small-town community that begins to point fingers at what or who is causing everything going on, which of course brings moments of panic. The scientific side of the investigation is interesting because we do get to see different potential answers over the cause and by holding back on the biggest reveals and side effects we get to be left to see just how far up the evolution chain the defects will go. As we mostly follow a single mother we get to see extra protection and concern being shown, while other members of the town want to turn a blind eye to what is happening. The story does try to ask us the question about what we think about potential problems we might be causing to our environment and how the side effects could bring something terrible towards us.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of this story comes from just showing us how the defects are affecting the environment, this is something we are seeing in real life, just this side goes that little bit further with everything.

SettingsThe film is set in one small town, this brings us a sense of community which only makes us understand how tight knit the people are.

Special EffectsThe Effects give us plenty of practical ones showing how different animals will look if they were to become deformed. They only make things look more disturbing through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The afterbirth effects.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That final twist.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi thriller that does ask questions, it holds back any big reveals until the final third of the film which keeps us guessing to just what we will be facing once the battle gets made clear and shows that pointing fingers never solves anything.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi for the thinkers.

Rating

 

 

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Minutes to Midnight (2018)

Director: Christopher Ray

Writer: Victoria Dadi, Christopher M Don (Screenplay)

Starring: William Baldwin, Richard Grieco, Bill Moseley, Viva Bianca, Christopher Judge, John Hennigan, Dominique Swain, Mercy Malick

 

Plot: On the cusp of New Year’s Eve, seven friends and a mysterious backpacker converge at a desolate ski lodge in the mountains when they are systematically hunted down by ruthless masked men with a cryptic agenda.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Bloodbath

 

Story: Minutes to Midnight starts when seven friends led by Sophia (Fletcher) head up to a ski lodge for New Year’s Eve for a party, they are joined by backpacker Travis Crenna (Hennigan) who is in search for his lost brother in the same area. The mountains are not a safe area though with Gimple (Moseley) and his murderous group collecting victims to torture.

When an impending storm puts the party on hold in the eyes of Ranger Taso (Judge) and Sheriff Wyatt (Grieco) who look to keep the town’s people safe and soon the night turns into battle to survive.

 

Thoughts on Minutes to Midnight

 

Characters – Mr Walters runs the town, he lives an isolated life when not working with his team, though he does seem to know more about the town’s past than lets on. Sheriff Wyatt is trying to keep the town safe by being fair to anyone that could be in suspect. Ranger Taso supports the Sheriff in trying to get the town’s people to safety when the storm start making its way towards the town. Travis Crenna is a stranger in town searching for his lost brother, he is trained in survival and gets involved in trying to learn the truth about fighting off the people in the woods. Chloe is one of the victims captured while trying to make her way to the cabin. Gimple is the leader of the group that is capturing victims in the woods around the mountain range and soon we learn how many people he is working with. We have a group of young people that are out for partying who are here for the main parts of the drinking, sex and bad decisions, in a strange way these are the characters we most likely didn’t need in the film.

PerformancesThe performances are good through the film, John Hennigan is the stand out as he continues to make a name for himself away from the wrestling ring. The performance can be divided elsewhere between the well-known actors including horror icon Bill Moseley, sci-fi icon Christopher Judge and Will Baldwin who are good and help draw the audience in. the other half of the performances can look at the group of friends who again are good and generally are involved in a lot more scenes than most of the iconic stars.

StoryThe story, well before we get into the story, I must ask you a question, how complicated do you want slashers to be? Well if you answer not very, this story will not be for you. The story follows a group of party animals who are about to start getting picked off by killers, which is fine, then we add in a backstory for motive which only gets glossed over for the most part, a story the party animals would never know about in the first place and we end up in a position where we have plenty of bodies turning up. I do however believe the way the villains are introduced was one of the highlights of the story and help the story feel like an enjoyable one for horror fans.

Action/HorrorWhen we look at the action in this film you get a hint you might be getting when you know one of the stars is a wrestler, we have good combat and with the weapons the villains use we get to see plenty of great blood-filled moments. The horror in this film is a slasher at heart, it has the cliched characters and killers which will leave bodies everywhere.

SettingsThe film takes place in the woods around a mountain range which keeps them from easy rescue.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical and when the bodies start piling up the kills mixed with the weapons look brutal through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The weapons are great and original.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain slasher clichés are overly focused on.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see a fun bloody slasher this one is going to be for you, we have plenty of bloodshed, bodies piling up and unique looking weapons for the killers to use.

 

Overall: Great addition to the slasher world.

Rating

 

 

Never Leave Alive (2017)

Director: Steven LaMorte

Writer: J Amanda Sabater (Screenplay)

Starring: John Hennigan, Michelle Taylor, Eric Etebari, Joseph Gatt, Alistair McKenzie, J Michael Evans

 

Plot: Rick Rainsford is trapped on a deserted island with his reluctant companion, Anna. While attempting to save another gravely injured survivor they find themselves hunted by Zaroff, a sociopathic ex-KGB Agent long with his partner Ivan. In spite of their differences Rick and Anna must work together to disarm Zaroff’s deadly traps, survive his assistant’s brutal attacks, and escape the island alive.


Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Survival Adventure Film

 

Story: Never Leave Alive starts as we meet drink dependant celebrity hunter Rick Rainsford (Hennigan) who along with his team Thomas (McKenzie) are heading to an island for a photoshoot with new photography Anna (Taylor), but when the ship they on ends up sinking with Rick and Anna washing up on the island.

Once on the island Rick and Anna are aided by Ivan (Gatt) and Zaroff (Etebari) to Russian men living on the island, but they have a plan for Rick and Anna, to become the latest victims in their hunting game, giving them the task of getting across the island to a boat or be picked off by the sadistic hunter.

 

Thoughts on Never Leave Alive

 

Characters – Rick Rainsford is a famous hunter being the face of magazines and living the celebrity life style, but now he must use all his skills against another hunter who brings his prey to the island to claim himself as a master hunter. Rick is quick witted and a constant flirt that relies on booze to function. Anna is a photographer hired to take Rick’s photos on his latest shoot, but they don’t get on which is made clear, but she will have to rely on him to get them off the island alive. Zaroff is the Russian hunter that has bought countless numbers of animals to the island for his own hunting pleasure but not he wants to go against the best human hunters with Rick being his latest target. Ivan is the assistant to Zaroff that is conflicted through the film about the code the two had originally put together.

PerformancesJohn Hennigan is good in the leading role making for a good potential action star, while Michelle Taylor is strong as the female lead not just being a damsel in distress. Eric Etebari is a good enough villain, he does well as the hunter with a code.

StoryThe story follows the celebrity hunter needing to use his skills to survive a deadly game, which turns the tables on what he is used to doing himself. The idea that two Russians are using the island as their own hunting ground is good because we know there are the people out there with the twist being they are bored of animals and want to battle hunters. This is an easy to watch adventure movie without being overly violent.

AdventureThe adventure side of the film is a lot of fun, it does have a life and death element but doesn’t have disposable characters.

SettingsThe film is set on an island which is good because it keeps us knowing just how difficult the escape would be for our characters, but it doesn’t use the visuals it could do with the setting.

Special EffectsThe effects used are low budget and are clear CGI moments which does take away from moments of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bad CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun survival adventure movie, it uses the small cast to keep everything on edge, solid banter between the two and the restrained moments of action.

 

Overall: Good little adventure movie.

Rating