Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Moth Diaries (2011)

mothDirector: Mary Harron

Writer: Mary Harron (Screenplay) Rachel Klein (Novel)

Starring: Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, Lily Cole, Scott Speedman

 

Plot: Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa, the new arrival at her boarding school. But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa’s bond with Lucie, or does the new girl truly possess a dark secret?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull

 

Story: The Moth Diaries starts as we see best friends Rebecca (Bolger) and Lucy (Gadon) returning to boarding school catching up with all their friends after a summer back together. When Ernessa (Cole) arrives at the school she instantly strikes up a friendship with Lucy as we see early on the tension rising between the Ernessa and Rebecca.

When Rebecca starts to think Ernessa is up to something she finds herself becoming distant from her friends but soon she starts to learn they may have more in common. Rebecca becomes obsessed with proving that Ernessa is evil when strange things start happening to her class mates but how does she go about this when she believes she is a ghost.

The Moth Diaries gives us what comes off as the ghost investigation mixed with St Trinian’s. we follow how friendships get pushed and girls get up to things they shouldn’t including drugs and sneaking off for sex. The girls are all unlikable and the serious side of the tory seems to get forgotten. The whole story does come off very average and boring as you never believe any of the fear Rebecca is meant to be feeling.

 

Actor Review

 

Sarah Bolger: Rebecca has been best friends with Lucy for years at boarding school but when Ernessa arrives she starts to find tension between her friends and dealing with the suicide of her father she finds herself wondering if she will act the same in the future. Sarah is solid but doesn’t really pull you into the story enough.

Sarah Gadon: Lucy is the best friend of Rebecca who starts to become distant from Rebecca as soon Ernessa starts school. Sarah does seem to get forgotten through the film sadly and never comes off strong enough.

Lily Cole: Ernessa is the mysterious new girl in the school who seems to have the ability to control other people decisions. She seems to be targeting Rebecca and her friends making Rebecca come off as a loner but does she have an alternative motive. Lily is solid but you can see her struggle with the serious scenes.

Scott Speedman: Mr Davies is the first male teacher the school has had, he is also a big admirer of Rebecca’s father. Scott really is just a small supporting part in this film.

Support Cast: The Moth Diaries has very generic supporting cast which are all very forgettable.

Director Review: Mary HarronMary gives us what comes off like a slightly dull ghost story.

 

Horror: The Moth Diaries doesn’t have any moments of real horror happening at all.

Mystery: The Moth Diaries has a thin mystery about who Ernessa really is but otherwise you don’t really care about what is happening.

Settings: The Moth Diaries keeps nearly the whole film in and around the boarding school which works for the film.
Special Effects
: The Moth Diaries has a few but easily forgettable effects.

Suggestion: The Moth Diaries is easily one you could miss really. (Skip It)

 

Best Part: UMMM.

Worst Part: Story is very thin.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

Tagline: Every girl has her secrets.

 

Overall: Basic and boring ghost mystery film.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld Evolution (2006)

underDirector: Len Wiseman

Writer: Danny McBride (Screenplay) Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy, Steven Mackintosh, Michael Sheen

 

Plot: Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Fun Sequel

 

Story: Underworld: Evolution starts as we go back to the beginning of the battle as Viktor (Nighy) Marcus (Curran) must deal with the reckless behaviour from William (Steele) giving us a look back at the battle with swords and crossbows. In this we learn more of Viktor’s turn on Marcus imprisoning him for all time.

Selene (Beckinsale) along with new hybrid Michael (Speedman) are now the enemies of both sides must locate Marcus to put an end to the battle once and for all, but he is just as evil as Viktor and with Corvinus (Jacobi) also after Michael it is down to Selene and Michael to work together to escape the hands of both sides of the war.

Underworld: Evolution continues the war between vampires and lycans but this time we have a new species evolving that is both vampire and lycan. We get plenty more action this time around with blood flying and bodies piling up all around but it the looks into the past that drives the film to the next level as we learn why the battle lines were first drawn. The settings all look to generic for the story too without any being memorable by the end of the film.

Beckinsale continues to show her kick ass side in this performance even if she does have to show a vulnerable side too. Where this film struggles are by making such a point out of the Selene character the rest all just seem to fall into generic forgettable characters for the series. This really disappoints what could be yet another brilliantly fun action fantasy film.

 

Overall: When it comes to sequels this is extremely watchable even if not very memorable.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld (2003)

underworldDirector: Len Wiseman

Writer: Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (Screenplay) Danny McBride (Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Wentworth Miller

 

Plot: Selene, a beautiful warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, Over the Top Action Fantasy

 

Story: Underworld starts by taking us into a world where vampires and lycans where the vampires have the upper hand with the lycans on the edge of extinction. We meet Selene (Beckinsale) one of the most elite vampire warriors against the lycans who finds herself learning of an uprising of lycans waiting to come back into the battle.

As Selene investigates the encounter she learns that the lycans were targeting a human Michael (Speedman) but the reason is unknown to her, but this doe draw out Lucian (Sheen) the leader of the lycans and the old battle is starts once again. When Selene’s decision to save Michael only begins the war once more as the vampires await the rebirth of Viktor (Nighy) the lycans plan to take over the world.

Underworld is the fast-paced action fantasy film that brings us the war between vampires and werewolves in a style unlike anything we have seen before. We do have to go through a lot of the politics of the vampire world which at times get rather boring but when the action is unleashed it is all bullets and blood.

Beckinsale shines in this leading role showing she can kick ass like the best of them, it is the rest of the cast which don’t get the full effect out of their performance with Speedman looking lost most of the time, Sheen coming off too smart to be in the role he is given and Nighy being your typical elder character. In all honesty, this is purely fun and just switching your brain off you will enjoy it all.

 

Overall: Popcorn vampire flick that is easily enjoyable.

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Franchise Weekend – XXX 2 The Next Level (2005)

casting card

 

Plot: Darius Stone, a new agent in the XXX program, is sent to Washington, DC to defuse a power struggle amongst national leaders.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Sequel

 

Story: XXX 2: The Next Level starts as the NSA base with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is stationed meaning they need to find themselves a new XXX that is deadlier than the previous one. The man they turn to is Lieutenant Darius Stone (Cube) who is currently behind bars.

When all the government start searching for Darius and Gibbons they find themselves hunted down by General Deckert (Dafoe) making this a personal situation after he takes down Gibbons. Darius must use all of his training to uncover the truth with Deckeret after him and Agent Steele (Speedman) not knowing what he is walking into.

XXX 2: The Next Level is a sequel to a standard action film only it doesn’t bring back the lead actor and has to find a quick excuse to fit a new hero into the film and suddenly they are all one unit of former soldiers and everything stays within the US. This doesn’t really achieve what the first film does and ends up just being a plain action film that story comes off flat.

 

Actor Review

 

Willem Dafoe: General George Deckert is our main bad guy this time, he is the sectary of Defence that is out to us the NSA project as a cover up for his master plan which means he has to take out all of his former men including Gibbons and Stone. Willem as a villain what a surprise there where he is just solid in this role.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons has his base attacked leading him to find a new X agent where he turns to one of his old soldiers as we learn a lot more about the back story behind this character this time. Samuel is solid in this role but it feels like it could just have been pay check for him.

Ice Cube: Darius Stone is the new agent X he is a former soldier that has been locked up but after Gibbon breaks him out he puts all of his skills to use to uncover the truth as the battle comes to home ground in America. Ice doesn’t reach the levels of Vin as you never feel he could have been a soldier.

Scott Speedman: Agent Kyle Steele is the man investigating the attack on the NSA but as he learns more about the story he works himself with Darius to protect the nation. Scott is solid but doesn’t make that big of an impact in the story.

Support Cast: XXX 2: The Next Level much like the original has your typical supporting cast but I do feel this one does a larger range on the whole sidekick side of the story.

Director Review: Lee TamahoriLee gives us a sequel that doesn’t reach the levels of the original but having to fast track a new hero into the story didn’t help.

 

Action: XXX 2: The Next Level has very basic action being used throughout without being anything fresh.

Adventure: XXX 2: The Next Level lose the adventure side of the story which doesn’t help the ideas in the film.

Thriller: XXX 2: The Next Level should keep us on the edge but just doesn’t pull us in anymore.

Settings: XXX 2: The Next Level keeps all the action in America which doesn’t help the idea in the film because of the adventure angle.
Special Effects
: XXX 2: The Next Level has a few solid special effects but also a laughable effects.

Suggestion: XXX 2: The Next Level is one to most likely miss, it doesn’t add anything to the original and almost comes off as a parody of the first. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: No

Worst Part: Car on the train tracks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $87 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: The greatest threat to our nation comes from within.

 

Overall: Terrible sequel really.

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Out of the Dark (2014)

logoDirector: Lluis Quilez

Writer: Javier Gullon, David Pastor, Alex Pastor (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Pixie Davies, Alejandro Furth, Stephen Rea

 

Plot: A couple and their daughter moves to Colombia to take over a family manufacturing plant, only to realize their new home is haunted.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Ghost Investigation: Columbia

 

Story: Out of the Dark starts by showing a man trying to escape Columbia in 1992 burning reports and documents, when a knocking at the door starts happening he answers to nothing before getting haunted by childlike figures and he’s dead. With that very simple introduction we know what type of evil we will be dealing with but not giving away the motive behind it.

Move forward to present day we see American family Sarah (Stiles), Paul (Speedman) and young daughter Hannah (Davies) moving to St Clara Columbia. Shown around by Sarah’s father Jordan (Rea) the family is in for a big culture change as Sarah comes to start her new job at a paper factory. The family just so happens to move into the same house from the opening sequence. The town is preparing for a festival to celebrate an old tradition where the children of the village wear masks and bandages.

Paul the artists is looking after Hannah when he makes a discovery from one of the photos he took when they first moved in, just as Hannah goes off wondering into the garden which leads into the forest. The Festival of the Children is about remembering an ancient story about the children of the village being killed by the conquistadors.

After Hannah goes missing in the house it becomes apparent that the house is haunted by the vengeful ghosts. Hannah is found sick in the house but with little in the word of answers about the sickness. When Hannah continues to get sicker strange goings on continue to happen around the house with the ghost children drawn the Hannah. When the vengeful children take Hannah, Sarah and Paul are left helpless must use what very little connection they have in the town to discover what is happening and get their daughter back before it is too late.

Out of the Dark is one of those haunting the family that was involved in something that lead to the death, these are the type of horror films I enjoy because of the mystery element added to the scares that might not come off. I would pose the questions of ‘would you move you family to a country you know nothing about?’ ‘Would you leave your daughter with a babysitter on your first week there?’ these two questions really lead you to wonder a lot about the goings on in the film. I did like the idea of the Conquistadors legend which would have been a lot better for the outcome than what we got, but in the end the human factor does help make it more realistic. As I am a fan of the genre I am going to say this is solid but only because it feeds what I like. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Julia Stiles: Sarah Harriman the go to work parent in what is a slight difference to our normal horror films where the mother is the one who usually stays at home getting haunted. Julia does a good job as the concerned mother and working lady. (7/10)

 

Scott Speedman: Paul Harriman the stay at home father who does work from home but is the one investigating the haunting. Scott is the first male character in horror film that is in a couple and is actual solving the problem. (7/10)

 

Stephen Rea: Jordan the father of Sarah who brings the family to the town where they can start a new life. Stephen does a solid job in the role without needing to do too much. (6/10)

 

Pixie Davies: Hannah Harriman the daughter who seems to be getting the most part of the haunting because the children like to take other children. Pixie does a solid job in the role for the young actress. (6/10)

 

Support Cast: Out of the Dark has a supporting cast that doesn’t get to involved in what is going on but does help explain what could be going on.

 

Director Review: Lluis Quilez – Lluis does a solid job directing this very much by the book investigation horror film. (6/10)

 

Horror: Out of the Dark has a couple of good scares but nothing shocking. (6/10)

Thriller: Out of the Dark keeps you guessing as to what could have happened. (7/10)

Settings: Out of the Dark puts our family in a location unknown to them which helps for the horror to grow. (8/10)

Suggestion: Out of the Dark is one for the fans of this type of horror to enjoy, you won’t get scared but if you like ghost investigation like films this is for you. (Ghost Investigation Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Dream sequence.

Worst Part: Questionable parenting.

Scariest Scene: Dream Sequence.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Beginning of credits shows what happened next to the town.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

Overall: Good Ghost Investigation Horror

Rating 65