ABC Film Challenge – Horror – I – The Invitation (2015)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay)

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Aiden Lovekamp, Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso, Jay Larson, Tammy Blanchard

 

Plot: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Build, Nail Biting Conclusion

 

Story: The Invitation starts as Will (Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend Kira (Corinealdi) get invited to Will’s ex-wife Eden’s (Blanchard) house for a mysterious gathering where Eden introduces her new partner David (Huisman), which soon turns into an invitation to join a cult for the guests.

As the night continues on Will becomes paranoid that there is an alternate meaning for the invitation but every time he believes he is about to prove the paranoia of the night, it all gets shut down and Will must start to face that he is grieving the loss of his son, or is he?

 

Thoughts on The Invitation

 

Characters – Will is the grieving former husband of Eden that attends a party hosted by his ex-wife which brings back the memories of his son, but he starts becoming paranoid about the reason for the party, he is the only one that thinks something strange is happening. Kira is Will’s new girlfriend that gets to meet his old friends at this party, she tries to be social even when his paranoia doesn’t help her get the welcome she desires. Eden is the host of the part, the ex-wife of Will’s that seems to have turned over a new leaf by joining the cult that she starts to recruit for with her new partner David.

PerformanceLogan Marshall-Green does a good job here because one moment in the film he is calm, then paranoid, then emotional and back to normal, this performance shows us a full range he must go through. Emayatzy is also good as the unknown element at the party. With Tammy Blanchard being the unhinged but at times calm host of the party.

StoryThe story circles around a party being held for old friends as the host has reinvented herself after the loss of her son, everything seems strange through the night until we learn about the cult she has become part of and wants the friends to become part of it but one man gets paranoid about what is happening during the night. It is easy to follow and you do spend most of the film waiting to see where it all ends up going which is rewarding by the end.

Horror/MysteryThe horror of this film comes from the idea that the characters are being recruited for a cult, while the mystery side of everything leaves us to figure out just what has been happening.

SettingsThe film takes place in one house that shows how a dinner party can turn sour as everything it not quite right.

Scene of the Movie – Not the drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a slow build up that does seem to give too many supporting characters screen time they don’t need.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror film, it does take time to build to the final act which is built through the tension that goes through the whole film.

 

Overall: Good horror that you get rewarded with by the end.

Rating

 

 

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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

Into The Woods (2014)

into the woodsDirector: Rob Marshall

Writer: James Lapine (Screenplay) James Lapine (Musical)

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine

 

Plot: A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Long

 

Story: Into the Woods starts by ‘once upon a timing us’ we have a small village on the edge of the woods where Cinderella (Kendrick) Jack (Huttlestone) and a childless Baker (Corden) along with his wife (Blunt) all live. Cinderella is left pushed around by her step sisters and mother making her do all the work. Jack is struggling with his mother to make ends meet and has to sale the only cow. The Baker and his wife let little Red Riding Hood (Crawford) head off into the woods to see granny. When the witch (Streep) from next door promises to lift the curse on The Baker’s family that she had placed years before where she has taken the baby sister of the Baker. The Baker must go into the woods to retrieve certain items which will lead him to clash with all the characters who possess one of the items.

We know all these characters from their fairy tales so we know the paths they should be taking and we follow The Baker as he falls into the stories to collect the items required. The Baker ends up becoming a catalyst to all of the stories to achieve the items as we continue to see the favourite characters and their fairy tale outcomes.

Into the Woods really does try to squeeze as many different fairy tale characters into the story and for the first half of the film I will say it works well adding slight twists to the stories we all know and loved as children. Where the film goes in a bad direction is for the second half, where everything just seems to go in a downward spiral. I appreciate this could be a way to show how happy endings don’t always happen but it really ended up coming off messy. We do have some terrible miss-casting too that hold the talented singers down. The film does jump between fairy tales too much and if you don’t know the basic story you might end up feeling lost to the actual point in certain parts of the film. This ends up being a very messy musical that had potential to be something very good. (4/10)

 

Actor Review

 

James Corden: Baker helpless lead who has to go into the woods to retrieve items from the fairy tales in order to lift the curse put upon his family by the witch next door. The Baker has to become the reluctant hero of the story. How did James Corden get a lead role in a film with such a talented cast? He really looks like a fish out of water here. (2/10)

 baker and wife

Emily Blunt: Baker’s Wife who against her husband’s orders follows him into the woods to help him retrieve the items before the deadline. Emily does a good job here showing she can play nearly any role in films now. (7/10)

 

Meryl Streep: Witch who has put the curse on the Baker’s family, she sets the couple a list to retrieve while keeping his unknown sister locked away from the world. Meryl gives a good performance but what would you expect from the best in the business. (7/10)

 witch

Anna Kendrick: Cinderella the lowly slave to her step mother and sisters who breaks out of her home to go to the King’s festivals where she meets Prince Charming. Anna continues to make a name for herself in these musical performance and does a good job here. (7/10)

 cinerella

Chris Pine: Prince Charming who is searching for Cinderella after she runs from the festival. He hunts her down after she loses her golden slipper. Chris does a solid job here but sometimes looks lost with the singing side of the story. (6/10)

 charming

Daniel Huttlestone: Jack young boy who trades his best friend and cow for magic beans only to learn to see the world in a new perspective. Daniel follows up his scene stealing performance in Les Miserable with another scene stealing performance here. (8/10)

 jack

Lilla Crawford: Little Red Riding Hood off to see her grandma in the woods only to come across a wolf who tries to trick her. Lilla makes a good debut in the role showing her singing talents. (7/10)

 lil red

Support Cast: Into the Woods does have plenty more of the fairy tale favourites or villains appearing that round of the cast nicely but in the end they don’t help the story.

 

Director Review: Robert Marshall – Robert tries to make this a good film but the source material isn’t used well enough here. (5/10)

 

Adventure: Into the Woods with all the adventures going on it is hard to enjoy any of them unfolding. (5/10)

Comedy: Into the Woods was this a comedy? (0/10)

Fantasy: Into the Woods delves into the fantasy world to create the environment well. (7/10)

Musical: Into the Woods is full of singing but no catchy songs to be heard. (4/10)

Settings: Into the Woods uses the setting well to make them feel like they are real. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Into the Woods uses good effects to create the different characters that appear. (7/10)

Suggestion: Into the Woods is one to try, I think it will appeal more to certain fans but the musical fans man end up feeling let down by the end. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Jack is interesting take on the character.

Worst Part: James Corden as the lead.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Awards: Nominated for 3 Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture in Musical or Comedy, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Oscar Chances: It might get a few nods, but I am not sure how.

Box Office: $96 Million so far

Budget: $50 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 5 Minutes

 

Overall: Uncatchy Musical

Rating 60