ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – H – Hellions (2015)

Director: Bruce McDonald

Writer: Pascal Trottier (Screenplay)

Starring: Chloe Rose, Rachel Wilson, Rossif Sutherland, Peter DaCunha, Luke Bilyk, Robert Patrick

 

Plot: A teenager must survive a Halloween night from Hell when malevolent trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door.


Tagline – Hell Comes Knocking

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shock Value Horror

 

Story: Hellions starts when teenager Dora Vogel (Rose) learns that she is pregnant on Halloween, she is meant to be graduating this year, she has the week to decide whether to keep her baby with the advice from Dr Gabe Henry (Sutherland). Dora decides to keep her pregnancy secret from her mother Kate (Wilson) as she prepares for her Halloween night.

This Halloween is going to go in a very different direction, when Dora, home alone gets visited by mysterious masked trick-or-treaters that are willing to kill, Dora must make a stand while her pregnancy isn’t going the way any normal one should.

 

Thoughts on Hellions

 

Characters – Dora is a teenager about to graduate high school, only she has become pregnant, which leaves her facing a difficult decision. Left alone on Halloween night she is left to think about her choice, which sees a string of masked trick-or-treaters come to invade her home, they want something from her and she will fight to keep it. Dora is the main character and involved in every scene of the film. Kate is the mother that has always pushed her daughter to achieve the most, while enjoying life, she takes her son Remi trick-or-treating. Dr Gabe Henry is the one that tells Dora about her pregnancy and offers to be there to help if she ever need help, standard doctor material here. Officer Corman is the first to come and try to help with the situation, only he knows more than he could which will offer Dora help while trying to make it through the night.

PerformancesChloe Rose is the leading lady and is the best performer in the film, she needs to be because of the amount of reaction her character must go through as she needs to keep our attention. When we come to the supporting cast we get the big name in Robert Patrick who does show his experience, while the rest of the cast are good with their limited involvement through the film.

StoryThe story is kept simple here, we have a teenager tormented by a group of masked figures in the form of children on Halloween night. She must fight them off to figure out their motivation for the attacks which will have a bigger impact on her pregnancy. We can clearly see the metaphor being used here on Dora as she must deal with the idea that could abort her pregnancy and this could be the haunting idea that she could become haunted by what she does for the rest of her life, giving her the chance to fight for her child’s life. If we want to dive deeper into the story, it becomes clear that the story can take the back burner for moments of shocking imagery which isn’t always needed for the film to move forward.

HorrorThe horror in this film reflects how Dora is feeling about hearing that she is pregnant, it comes with shocking images and demon child in masks which can work at times to make us feel uncomfortable through the film.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the action on the remote home of Dora’s, it does have weak phone signal, she doesn’t drive, giving this everything it needs to isolate her from the world.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong when it comes to practical effects which does include a melting scene which is something that is the standout through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The melting scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Over playing the shocking images over story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the typical late-night horrors you can put on, enjoy without becoming overly scared, because it turns to shocking images over scary moments.

 

Overall: Horror looking for shocks over substance.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)

Director: Scott Spiegel

Writer: Scott Spiegel, Duane Whitaker (Screenplay) Scott Spiegel, Boaz Yakin (Story)

Starring: Robert Patrick, Bo Hopkins, Duane Whitaker, Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson, Raymond Cruz, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: More people are turned into vampires as they go around spreading their evil satanic hate.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sucks the life out of you

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn 2 Blood Money starts when criminal Buck (Patrick) is offered a new job from his partner Luther (Whitaker), he puts a teams together including C.W. (Watson), Ray Bob (Harrelson) and Jesus (Cruz) and sets off to allude Sheriff Otis Lawson (Hopkins) who believes he is about to get involved in a new job.

It isn’t long the crew finds themselves at the Titty Twister bar and being hunted down by the vampires that are trying to rebuild their numbers and the five thieves seem to be their choice.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn 2 Blood Money

 

Characters – Buck is a thieve that has claimed to have gone clean after his recent stint in prison, the cops do still watch him, only now he gets a chance at a new job which will see him put his crew together, he has a way to work with his men, well that is about it, his character doesn’t have much more to him, Sheriff Otis Lawson has been waiting for Buck to make a mistake for years now, using the latest former member of his crew as hope that he could catch him in the act once again. Luther is the one that brings the job to Buck, only on his way back to the crew, he ends up at the Titty Twister grabbing the attention of the vampires, looking for spread the curse to a new selection of victims. C.W. is another member of the crew and just like the rest they don’t get much to make them stand out.

PerformancesRobert Patrick does try to make the most of his character only he doesn’t get anything to work with here. This is the big problem for the rest of the cast, nobody gets a chance to make anything from their characters who all end up being painful bland.

StoryThe story follows a group of criminals that are looking to head to Mexico for their latest job, only to attract the attention of the vampires using the Titty Twister becoming the latest target, can they survive the night? The story here is very weak, we get five criminals with little to no character development, not making us care about what is happening. We get thrown into another direction with the story which doesn’t help because we know what is happening, while certain members of the crew don’t, this does against what we learnt about the vampires in the first film. this story just feels like a forced sequel nobody really asked for.

Crime/Horror The crime side of this horror comes from seeing just how the crew is operating, how they plan to get the job done, the horror comes from the vampire side of the film, it does have darker moments, only it still doesn’t feel like a scarier film.

SettingsThe film is set between Mexico and Texas, no location involved does make us feel like we are in iconic location the first one did.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are not at the same standard either, with most of the attacks being from bats which seem to be extreme close ups that just feel too difficult to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
A helping hand?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of interest around the characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappoint sequel that pulls the quality level right down to just a basic sequel that just so happens to visit the same bar, having no connection to the previous film.

 

Overall: Bland sequel.

Rating

 

Alan Tudyk Weekend – Tell (2014)

Director: J.M.R. Luna

Writer: Timothy Williams (Screenplay)

Starring: Milo Ventimiglia, Katee Sackhoff, Jason Lee, Robert Patrick, Alan Tudyk, John Michael Higgins, Faizon Love

 

Plot: Ethan Tell is a small time crook who makes a big-time score when he steals 1 million dollars. Ironically, his life radically changes for the worse when he discovers that stealing the money was the easy part and he now must keep his partner, his wife, his parole officer, and two corrupt detectives from stealing it from him.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Con-man Playbook Passed

 

Story: Tell starts as a robbery Tell (Ventimiglia) is trying to get out off organised by Ray (Lee) his wife’s Beverly (Sackhoff) brother goes wrong, with Tell locked up for three years, with two cops Ashton (Patrick) and Morton (Tudyk) trying to get their hands on the money along with the parole officer Dwight (Love) as Tell is released from prison.

Out of prison Tell tries to get on with his life, but soon the familiar faces return to his life, Ashton, Morton, Beverly and Ray as he needs to stay one step ahead of them as he looks to collect the money before it is gone for good.

 

Thoughts on Tell

 

Characters – Tell is your standard crook, he always talks about having a normal life, but wants to steal his way to it. He isn’t likeable in anyway and even after getting shot and serving time in prison he still needs to stay ahead of the people that want the money he is meant to have taken. Beverly is the ex-wife of Tell that remarried when he was locked up to help raise their child, she wants to money because she dreams of the life of luxury. Ray is the partner in crime and brother to Beverly, he is left for dead at the crime scene and now has returned for the money, he feels like a loose cannon with crazy ideas. Ashton and Morton are the two cops that are hounding Tell for the money from the robbery.

PerformancesThe performances are mixed because of allowed screen time. Milo doesn’t give us a likeable character and feels like he is cruising through the film for the most part, Katee Sackhoff is solid enough as the wife figure, always after the money, for me it was Jason Lee who shines the best in this film as we just never know what he is going to do next. Patrick and Tudyk both seem to enjoy playing the crooked cops which is good to see.

StoryThe story follows a crook that is trying to collect the money from his previous heist though he has people from the heist, cops and an ex-wife that also want the money. This story follows the heist gone wrong paths well and the whole released from prison people will want what was never recovered, while never addressing the bigger issue, that Tell wants to live a normal life after his time in prison. This isn’t the most engaging story, be it the generic characters, by the books story or overly slow pacing.

Action/CrimeThe action we see in the film is a couple of shoot outs mixed with the punch or strike to get someone’s attention, the crime side of the film shows how the characters are mixed up in a world they shouldn’t be involved in.

SettingsThe film never uses the settings enough to make us understand where we are and even the backgrounds of the characters involved.


Scene of the Movie –
What happens after the opening sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It offers nothing new to the genre of the heist movies.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard by the book heist film, it checks the boxes without being anything you will remember enough to suggest this to heist fans.

 

Overall: Heist movie that falls slightly flat.

Rating

 

 

Edge of Fear (2018)

Director: Bobby Roth

Writer: Scott Barkan, Gregg Zehentner (Screenplay) Daxing Zhang (Story)

Starring: Robert Patrick, Zhu Zhu, Shen Lin, Robert Knepper, Rockmond Dunbar, Amaury Nolasco, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe

 

Plot: After being stabbed in the heart by ruthless home invaders, a man is left for dead. Now weak, outnumbered, and knife sticking from his chest, he attempts to do the impossible: save his wife from these murderers before he bleeds to death.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of Your Seat Thriller

 

Story: Edge of Fear starts as we get the introduction to our doctor couple Laura (Zhu) and Patrick Chen (Lin) who show their skills saving Mike Dwyer (Dunbar). We move on to meet our criminals led by Jack Pryor (Patrick) who along with his team break Victor Novak (Knepper) out of a prison convoy.

With Patrick and Laura spending time with Mike in his remote cabin, which just so happens to be the first place Jack and his team find as they look for a new vehicle, when the two collide, Patrick is left with a knife stuck in his chest and must figure out how to save his wife from the criminals.

 

Thoughts on Edge of Fear

 

Characters – Patrick is a brilliant surgeon, he is spending a weekend away with his wife and at a patient whose live he saved cabin in the wood. When the unwelcome visitors arrive he tries to defend his wife only to be left with a knife in his chest, somehow he survive with the knife lodged in his chest and starts to figure out how to fight back to save his wife. Laura is the nurse wife that was involved in saving the patient’s life, her weekend sees her husband stabbed and being forced to help one of the wounded criminals. She is trapped forced to wait with the criminals believing her husband is dead. Jack is running the breakout operation, he knows he will be getting a massive payday for getting Victor out of prison, he doesn’t have complete control of his team though which causes the problems, he doesn’t hold up promises which only annoys Victor. Victor is the man they all want to get out of prison, he is one of the most famous criminals in Mexico, however he does seem to honour promises believing karma will help him along the way.

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances we see Shen Lin give us a performance which needs to remain wound and not physical strong while facing the criminals. Robert Patrick as the loose cannon criminal, this is his strongest skill and he shows why he is picked for these roles. The choice of Robert Knepper in the role is strange because we are used to him being one of the crazy ones over the kinder villain of the piece. Zhu Zhu is solid enough in her role even though she is just the victim for the most part.

StoryThe story is nice and simple, it is a group of criminals that home invade a group of friends while waiting for a vehicle, they try to kill one man, only for him to not die and plan how to save his wife from the group of criminals. This is a formula that we have seen before, it is one that works, we have seen the biggest names in action handle this role, think Crank only without the bonkers side. The idea that our leading character Patrick is stuck with a knife in his chest only add suspense to the story as we know any movement in that knife would result in his death. the weaknesses in the story comes from the criminals themselves who are generic as they come giving us nothing new along the way.

ThrillerThe does keep us on the edge of our seats because we know that Patrick is seriously injured and any wrong moves will finish him off.

SettingsThe film is set in a remote cabin which is where the friends are for calm weekend and the criminals are looking to stay off the radar. It shows us how there isn’t going to be an easy escape for anyone visiting.


Scene of the Movie –
Tractor time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The group of criminals are not the most original.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable thriller, it doesn’t reinvent the genre and follows the rules to a level that can be enjoyed.

 

Overall: Enjoyable thriller

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman

Writer: Tracy Torme (Screenplay) Travis Walton (Book)

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, James Garner

 

Plot: An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.


Tagline – For five days, a man was borrowed. The story that Travis Walton and five other witnesses told is so unbelievable, so unimaginable, that it has become the most famous case of UFO abduction ever recorded.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: That One Scene Shines

 

Story: Fire in the Sky starts as five loggers Mike (Patrick), Allan (Sheffer), David (Berg), Greg (Thomas) and Bobby (Gregg) return to town in a panic with a story to tell the authorities, which brings in Sheriff Frank Watters (Garner). The story the guys tell is the they investigated a mysterious light in the woods which took Travis (Sweeney).

With the search going on for Travis, Mike and the crew find themselves prime suspects in a cover up, until Travis returns with his own account of the story.

 

Thoughts on Fire in the Sky

 

Characters – Travis Walton was a logger that went missing for five days, he doesn’t remember at first what happened, but the truth ill haunt him for the rest of his life as he remembers being taken by aliens. Mike Rogers is the best friend of Travis’ that doesn’t know how to handle his disappearance and his reappearance, but knows that nothing was done by the men in his crew. Frank Watters is the sheriff trying to prove this is a hoax or a cover up depending which side of the events are. The characters are based on the real people which does help make this feel like a good real story to follow.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, with D.B. Sweeney showing the pure terror needed during the abduction scene. Robert Patrick works well in his role where he could easily be the lead of the film. James Garner brings an extra bit of class to the performances too.

StoryThe story follows one of the most famous and detailed encounters from alien abduction in history. The story first treats the events like a murder cover up which is wonderful to watch on the screen because we don’t need to watch a full abduction routine which we do see later in the film. the story balances the ideas of what could be truth and what people would want the truth to be too.

Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi The fantasy part of this film comes from what you want to believe about the events, because there is no proof it is real, this adds the mystery too which does also circle around the truth too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the moment in space which shows what the aliens did to Travis.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small town location where the events happened which does keep us understand how the town would react to the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects are spared for the final moments of the film where we see what happened to Travis, they all look great too.


Scene of the Movie –
Memories nightmare

That Moment That Annoyed Me I was expecting more from the alien abduction side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sci-fi film, it does balance the event between what could have happened, what is believed to have happened and leaves you to make up your own mind, with a sequence in the ship which will be haunting.

 

Overall: A sci-fi film that hasn’t dated like others

Rating