Looking Glass (2019)

Director: Tim Hunter

Writer: Jerry Rapp (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacque Gray, Kassia Conway

 

Plot: A couple buy a desert motel where they find that strange, mysterious events occur.


Tagline – Seeing is deceiving.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Anti-Climatic

 

Story: Looking Glass starts when Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Tunney) take over a small motel to help then get over their own loss. With Ray working on the renovations of the motel, they have a soft opening, which sees them attract their first guests.

When Ray discovers secret corridors with windows into each room, which he becomes interested in watching through, then the mysterious events start happening, starting with a pig dumped in the swimming pool.

 

Thoughts on Looking Glass

 

Characters – Ray has just purchased the motel to try and start over with his wife, he is a handy man by trade, using his time to fix up the motel. He learns about secret windows watching through them, he sees strange events happening and wants to get to the bottom of the events going on around his motel. Maggie is the wife of Ray, she is happy to move away from their past, but struggles to trust Ray after his own past. Howard is the local sheriff that keeps visiting searching for the former owner, he is overly friendly too often for the couple. Tommy is a regular that uses the motel for his liaisons while on the road.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is having one of his weaker performances here, he just doesn’t make his character feel like it is one of the own Cage like ones. Robin Tunney does a solid job in the supporting role, as does Marc Blucas and Ernie Lively.

StoryThe story follows a couple that take over a motel only to start dealing with strange events surrounding something that happened before they got there. The story starts off feeling like a mystery about what once happened here which is interesting enough right, well it soon takes a turn down a path where seemingly nothing actually happens here, a woman goes missing, Ray becomes a peeping Tom and a nosey cop gets too involved with the motel, this story seems like a bad soap opera episode because it seems like we get a starting thread of a story only for it to go no where. We seem to just end the story without any real twists or investigations going on, it just felt like a bunch of random stuff happening.

MysteryThe mystery is presented, only we don’t spend any time watching what happens which only ends up leading us rather flat about what we have just watched.

SettingsThe film is mostly set at the motel which shows how you will never know what could happen in a motel.


Scene of the Movie –
The meeting in the desert.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Did you do it, did I do what? This scene lasts an awkward two minutes, it felt like a lifetime.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that ended up going in no particular direction and ends up feeling like just a bunch of stuff happens, instead of a storyline.

 

Overall: Messy, directionless and empty.

Rating

 

 

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Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Director: S Craig Zahler

Writer: S Craig Zahler (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, Rob Morgan, udo Keir

 

Plot: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal as They Come

 

Story: Brawl on Cell Block 99 starts as former addict Bradley Thomas (Vaughn) loses his legit job and learns his wife Lauren (Carpenter) has been cheating on him, after getting through their differences the two are now expecting a baby and Frank is working as a runner for drug dealer.

When a deal goes wrong Bradley ends up in prison serving a 7-year sentence for just trafficking drugs, this is just the beginning of the time in prison when Bradley gets blackmailed by the drug lord which escalates the time Bradley must face and strict warden Tuggs (Johnson) doesn’t make things easy for him.

 

Thoughts on Brawl on Cell Block 99

 

Characters – Bradley Thomas is a former alcoholic, he has cleaned himself up trying to live a straight life, but that becomes difficult to make enough money, he starts drug trafficking knowing it can cover the money needed and his build should put off trouble. When he tries to do the right thing during a deal gone bad he ends up in prison, here he must use his boxing training to pay back the man who is blackmailing him. He comes off like a patriot, an honest guy that if you don’t cross he would be a good guy to have around, but you mess with him, he will become your worst enemy. Lauren Thomas is the wife of Bradley, they have been through some rough times, but now they are on better terms expecting a baby, she becomes the victim in the battle between the Bradley and his former employers. Warden Tuggs runs the prison with an iron fist, not willing to let his prisoners have any freedom.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is unlike you have ever seen him before, emotionless while still have moments of wise cracking, but it doesn’t fall into comedy, this could be a career best for Vaughn and easily the right path for a change for him. Jennifer Carpenter is good in her role and it is good to see her on the big screen. Don Johnson enjoys this role where he plays it out wonderfully in the supporting role.

StoryThe story follows one of the traditional ones we know, a good guy doing an illegal job ends up having to use his skills to do a job which involves leaving a pile of bodies behind him to get out of the criminal situation he finds himself in. The pacing gives us enough time to develop Bradley to a level we understand each motive he has and the blackmail put on him is the most twisted I think we have ever seen in a film.

CrimeThe crime involved is centred around the idea that Bradley does break the law and ends up in prison, here the violence starts as we see how things go from calm to violent in a blink of an eye.

SettingsThe settings are used brilliantly because we see the normal life struggle, the illegal life and the two different prisons that Bradley ends up going too.


Scene of the Movie –
Delivery of the blackmail.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How easy it was to swap prisons with one moment of violence.

Final ThoughtsThis was a brutally violent movie that checks the boxes for everything he needs to be, Vince Vaughn gives a career best performance and the director follows up Bone Tomahawk perfectly for his fans.

 

Overall: Wonderful brutal movie people should be seeing.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Deadline (2009)

logoDirector: Sean McConville

Writer: Sean McConville (Screenplay)

Starring: Brittany Murphy, Thora Birch, Tammy Blanchard, Marc Blucas

 

Plot: A screenwriter who travels to an abandoned house to finish a script on time, but a series of strange events lead her to a psychological breakdown.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Story Wrong Genre

 

Story: Deadline starts by showing Alice (Murphy) our struggling screenwriter leaving the city to spend time in an isolated house to finish her latest work. Along with her friend Rebecca (Blanchard) who drives her we get to see the enormous house where she will be staying. Rebecca helps Alice settle in before leaving with the car to return next week to pick Alice up.

Alice alone in the house with the creakiest doors in the history of film it becomes clear that her week in the house will become difficult. The first night includes a nightmare and Alice starts to feel she isn’t alone in the house. We learn that Alice has an ex-boyfriend called Ben who is fresh out of prison who has done something to her in the past and Alice believes will come after her. Alice sees things in the shadows which lead her to discover the home movies of a couple called Lucy (Birch) and David (Blucas) before we find out about Alice and Rebecca real relationship.

Night two the hauntings escalate to hearing crying, seeing unusual images on her laptop, but this only drives Alice to stay and continue watching the videos. As Alice continues to watch the videos we see how David starts to change as the relationship continues as well as his obsession with filming moments of the couple life together. Alice has to try and figure out what happened between Lucy and David all while trying to battle her own demons which play out as a parallel to the story unfolding on the recordings.

Deadline offers up what looks like an traditional ghost haunting to solve a murder film and for the most part this is all that. Where this film takes a big change is in the final act which will leave you wondering about what happened. The biggest disappointment about this film is the idea that Alice has found tapes, watches them only to have the scene play out like we are actually there too. I do think if you watch closely you will see the hints about the end but otherwise this will disappoint on scares because most of the film is watching Alice watch the tapes. There was a lot more this film could have offered but in the end it falls short and never manages to decide what type of film it is meant to be. (4/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Brittany Murphy: Alice is our screenwriter heroine who decides to isolate herself from the world as she tries to finish her latest work. She isn’t as stable as we think as an ex is freshly out of jail that could come after her but when strange things start happening around the house we watch as she watches video recordings of a previous couple’s time in the house. Brittany does a solid job in one of her last acting roles but never reaches the level this film could have had with the ‘Don’t Say a Word’ level of acting. (6/10)

 alice

Thora Birch: Lucy is the wife from the videos who starts to see changes in her husband, she is also the ghost that seems to be haunting Alice warning her. Thora does a standard job as the victim but doesn’t seem to fit the role. (5/10)

 

Tammy Blanchard: Rebecca is Alice’s friend back in the city, she is the only connection to the real world Alice has and helps fill in the blanks to what was reported to have happened. Tammy gives a solid supporting performance without ever having enough time to excel. (5/10)

 

Marc Blucas: David is the unstable husband to Lucy who starts to question his wives faithful side before ending up becoming obsessed with the idea of not being able to trust Lucy. Marc starts out struggling in the role where it looks like David is normal but when he starts turning slightly darker it seems to bring out the best in him. (6/10)

david

Support Cast: Deadline doesn’t have anyone else turn up on camera in the cast.

 

Director Review: Sean McConville – Sean does a solid job directing it just seems like he wanted something fresh but went around reaching it the wrong way. (4/10)

 

Horror: Deadline starts out with very basic before moving away from the horror genre. (4/10)

Thriller: Deadline does try to keep you guessing and you are expecting a surprise by the end. (6/10)

Settings: Deadline creates a very isolated location for all the action to take place perfect for horror story. (9/10)

Suggestion: Deadline is a late night TV that you could give a go to but don’t expect anything great. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Twist is clever.

Worst Part: Lack of horror.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $1.8 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Tagline: Focus your fear.

 

Overall: Deadline is a horror thriller that really lacks any horror or thrills but does have a smart enough story.

Rating 50