ABC Film Challenge – Horror – V – The Veil (2016)

Director: Phil Joanou

Writer: Robert Ben Garant (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Thomas Jane, Aleksa Pallandino, Shannon Woodward, Reid Scott

 

Plot: Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Mystery

 

Story: The Veil starts as we learn about Jim Jacobs (Jane) and his religious cult that committed mass suicide at a place known as ‘The Veil’ only one person survived, a young girl. 25-years-later a documentary film maker Maggie Price (Alba) leads a team with the grown-up survivor Sarah (Rabe) back to ‘The Veil’ to learn what happened and why Sarah was spared.

Being back gives Sarah a few answers as she leads the team around the camp discovering a secret stash of videos which show what Jim Jacobs was up to in cult and not everything is what they were expecting as they start to find themselves haunted by the spirits of the cult.

 

Thoughts on The Veil

 

Characters – Jim Jacobs is the leader of the cult, he wants to prove the spirit can be separated from the body, did he die in the mass suicide or did he achieve his goal with the other members of the cult. Maggie the lead in the documentary team, she introduces the team and arranges for Sarah to return, she does also have a connection to what happened during the mass suicide. Sarah is the lone survivor from the suicide, she returns as a grown up even if she does seem to be happy to be back to learn the truth.

PerformancesThomas Jane is the highlight of this movie, his performance is filled with all the crazy needed for role. Jessica Alba on the other side of the coin is average to poor throughout, this role could have been played by anyone to a higher level. Lily Rabe does continue to make herself feel like she should be in horror films at all times.

StoryThe story follows the documentary team looking at new evidence which could explain what was happening on the site of a mass suicide. The idea of learning what happened through a mix of tapes which sadly don’t feel like found footage which is the biggest problem. The continuing idea works but the forced horror is the stumbling block here. The story does also have flaws including why didn’t the police investigate the property to find the tapes, I mean come on there was a mass suicide surely raiding every possible location is important in an investigation.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does feel forced for the most part and once we see the final scene feels almost unnecessary, this could easily have just stuck to the mystery thriller side of things and kept us on edge wondering where things will go next.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the Veil, it shows a place that has had mass suicides would be haunting to be around as well as have secrets people might have missed.

Special EffectsThe effects for the ‘found footage’ are way too high of a quality, this is mostly down to one moment feeling like it has the grainy effect but the next we are thrown into that time. The ghost activity is fine but nothing overly impressive.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I want to put a couple here, first why did the police not investigate the surrounding area? Why is Jessica Alba a lead actress? The horror is mostly plain old jump scares.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book horror mystery thriller which would have hit higher levels if it had remained just a mystery thriller without the pointless jump scares that miss most times. We also have a forgettable supporting crew in the documentary team.

 

Overall: Try but don’t buy in.

Rating

 

 

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Before I Wake (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Topher Bousquet, Dash Mihot

 

Plot: A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.


Tagline – Fear your dreams

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprising Horror

 

Story: Before I Wake starts when couple Jessie (Bosworth) and Mark (Jane) decide to adopt after losing their own son, they take in Cody (Tremblay) who seems like a pleasant young boy that there seems to be a mystery about why other families haven’t been able to care for him.

The days that follow show that Cody has an ability to bring his creation to life during his sleep, first with butterflies, then Sean but what comes from his dreams also comes from his nightmares in the form of the Canker Man.

 

Thoughts on Before I Wake

 

Characters – Jessie is the mother of the house, she is filled with guilt because of the death of their son, she doesn’t sleep much and gets addicted to the idea that Cody can give her time with her late son. Mark is the father of the house, he has grieved in his own way and is eager to become friends with Cody as quickly as possible to fill the void he has been left with. Cody is the young boy the couple adopt, he has been going through families even though he comes off pleasant, he isn’t a bad kid, he just has his dreams and nightmares come to life.

PerformancesKate Bosworth is good in this leading role being what we need for this film, it isn’t truly stand out but does everything it needs to, Thomas Jane works well too and Jacob Tremblay also goes a great job for the young actor who seems to be wonderful throughout.

StoryThe story follows a family that has lost their own child and now want to adopt to help move to the next stage of their life, the problem comes from the idea that the child’s dreams come to life when he is sleeping. We are in the horror world which does take the back burner to everything because we are dealing with personal loss and trying to move on. We do have horror moments too, the idea that a child could dream things that come to life which brings wonder and terror unlike anything the adults could imagine. We do get an investigation too which again is something we always see and works for these types of films.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy involved in this film plays into the idea that dreams and nightmare can come to life bringing new horror to the victims.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the activities in the home which makes sense because that is the main place you would sleep.

Special EffectsThe effects show us how what can be created in a child’s mind and just how it can bring joy and terror into the world, the moment he awakes if just vanishes.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth is wonderful to see unfold.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I got confused when Cody was attacked in his sleep.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that does bring us into a word that can be filled with wonder and terror without even realizing it.

 

Overall: Wonderful horror with beauty visuals.

Rating

 

 

The Predator (2018)

Director: Shane Black

Writer: Fred Dekker, Shane Black (Screenplay) Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen

 

Plot: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.


Tagline – You’ll never see him coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Commits to Comical Tone

 

Story: The Predator starts as we meet elite sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) whose latest job sees a spacecraft crash land with a Predator butchering his team, with a few goodies he finds, he sends home, knowing what is coming. With his son Rory (Tremblay) being an Asperger’s sufferer, he accidently unlocks the code trapped within the system.

Government agent Traeger (Brown) is trying to unlock the system and when the captured Predator escapes, Quinn must team up with other soldiers branded crazy, Nebraska (Rhodes), Coyle (Key), Baxley (Jane), Lynch (Allen) and Nettles (Aguilera) who help scientist Casey (Munn) find a solution for the new Predator problem.

 

Thoughts on The Predator

 

Characters – Quinn McKenna is a sniper who finds himself in the middle of the latest Predator ship crash landing, surviving his first encounter with the creature, he uses the technology to escape, he must use his training to protect his son and save the world from the impending attack. We do know he isn’t the best family man, but this night should bring him closer to his son. Nebraska is one of the ‘crazy’ soldiers, he will help Quinn becoming the connection between the rest pushing them to do the right thing. Rory is the Asperger’s sufferer that can solve puzzles others can barely unpack, he is your typical different student and school, the outsider if you like. Casey is the scientist bought in to help understand just what is happening with the Predator’s visiting Earth and certain questions about their DNA. Traeger is the government that is trying to keep the lid on everything, he will kill anyone that cross the government to keep secrets and has a dark sense of humour. The rest of the soldiers, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles do have their own problems from serving in the military with this battle giving them a chance to redeem themselves.

PerformancesBoyd Holbrook in the leading role is good for the film, he doesn’t reach the levels of Arnie and will fit in well with the rest of the leads. Trevante Rhodes is the guy you most want to watch, he gets the best scenes for the military unit. Jacob Tremblay is getting a reputation for playing kids with troubled sides, he seems to be excellent at this type of role, this however would be his weakest outing so far. Olivia Munn is good even though she doesn’t get the best scenes to work with. Sterling K Brown makes for a great fun human villain and the rest of the unit show good chemistry.

StoryThe story here follows another group of soldiers that come face to face with a Predator and must fight back to survive, this time we have a bigger, badder Predator. Now is a fun story to watch, however if you are a fan of the original this will not give you everything you want to see. The biggest plus in this movie is explaining why the Predators visit Earth, watching this is the right move for the franchise. The story does show insensitive when it comes to dealing with the military unit that clearly have their own mental health problems which sadly gets overlooked and turned into a running joke. For a man of Shane Black’s calibre, we would expect better written scenes, instead of just lazy insults. The key element to take away from the story is that we are watching something fun that has moved away from the original tone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is big, we get the fights which are big and bloody which is all we want to see, the horror does take a back burner as even when the film tries to be suspenseful it falls short, but the blood does help us out here. The sci-fi side of the film comes from trying to build a bigger world for the Predators to visit from.

SettingsThe film doesn’t make use of the settings too, we get the woodland area which plays into Predators speciality.

Special EffectsThe effects here are very weak for the budget, the opening sequence alone is poor for what we would expect, when it comes to the camouflage ability doesn’t even look better than the 87 film.


Scene of the Movie –
Hello big boy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Making a joke of the mental health problems soldiers face.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel, the tone does stay the same from start to finish which other big blockbusters have failed to do, we get to see more about the history of Predators and most importantly we learn just how deadly they can be.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – D – Drive Hard (2014)

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith

Writer: Brigitte Jean Allen, Brian Trenchard-Smith (Screenplay) Chad Law, Evan Law (Story)

Starring: John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris, Yesse Spence, Jerome Ehlers

 

Plot: A former race car driver is abducted by a mysterious thief and forced to be the wheel-man for a crime that puts them both in the sights of the cops and the mob.


Tagline – This heist is about to go into overdrive.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Switch Your Brain off Movie

 

Story: Drive Hard starts as we learn that former race car driver Peter Roberts (Jane) who runs a driving school is struggling with money as his wife Tessa (Spence) pushing him to take on a new job. When Peter goes for his client it turns out to be American Simon Keller (Cusack) who ends up robbing a bank, forcing Peter to be his getaway driver with cops, feds and gangster chasing them through the Australian countryside.

 

Thoughts on Drive Hard

 

Characters – Peter Roberts is a former winning race car driver that is now struggling to keep his driving school open, he finds himself being selected by Keller to be his getaway driver, where he finds that he is trapped in the middle of a crime needing to work with Keller even though he wants nothing to do with the crime. Keller is the seasoned criminal who forces Peter to be his getaway driver, he tries to make Peter a more forward thinking person, as the two end up on buddy comedy level. Agent Walker is the standard fed who is trying to investigate the robbery, we learn very little about her.

PerformancesThomas Jane is good in a role where he gets to play against the usual strong character we have gotten used to seeing him in and he does work well with the unhinged performance from John Cusack. The rest of the cast as fine without being anything special or memorable.

StoryThe story follows a criminal that makes a former racing driver become his getaway driver and over the course of the robbery they become unlikely friends as the whole of Australia is in search for the two. The two together is great entertainment to watch, but most of the other characters just seem to be in something that can only be described as a series of adverts because the story gets dull with them.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action involves a couple of good chase sequences including one around a city on the Gold Coast of Australia, the comedy comes from the two men working on different sides of the crime as they must learn to work together to escape.

SettingsThe film is set in Australia which is new and refreshing from the usual America setting for a similar story.


Scene of the Movie –
First getaway chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of importance about the rest of the characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard enjoyable action movie that doesn’t have too many brains but will entertain from start to finish.

 

Overall: Action movie 101

Rating

 

 

1922 (2017)

Director: Zak Hilditch

Writer: Zak Hilditch (Screenplay) Stephen King (Short Story)

Starring: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian D’Arcy James, Neal McDonough

 

Plot: A simple yet proud rancher in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate.


Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Plain & Boring

 

Story: 1922 starts as Wilfred James (Jane) is about to lose part of his property to his wife Arlette (Parker), Wilfred doesn’t want to lose the farmland he has raised his son Henry (Schmid) on and wants to come up with a way to keep all the land.

Wilfred’s plan is to get his son to help him murder Arlette, to get the financial gain of taking ownership of the property. The guilt of what he did only ends up driving Wilfred crazy here as the mental state start to unfold.

 

Thoughts on 1922

 

Characters – Wilfred is a farmer and father that doesn’t want to leave his farm, he designs a plan to get that as he looks to stay but soon his mind starts slipping into insanity. Arlette is the wife that wants to move away but has to overcome the husband’s decision not to, only to find herself murdered and visiting him in ghost form. Henry is the son that helps with the cover up, but soon goes out on his own to learn the harsh reality of the world.

PerformancesThomas Jane does give us a good performance in this film, but the rest of the cast are just ok, none of the performances drag us into the film in any way to see where it will end up going.

StoryThe story was hard to follow, I think the idea is that one man loses everything because of killing his wife, the problem is that this is an incredibly slow-moving film that doesn’t seem to go very far or have any redeemable qualities. Is gets caught in the middle of a breakdown and a supernatural movie without being set on one that could make either feel stronger.

Crime/Horror/MysteryThere was a crime as it leads to a cover up of a murder which leads to the horror involved in the story as the past comes to haunt Wilfred.

SettingsThe settings do fit the time in question which is fine but nothing stands out as the best of the best.

Special EffectsThe effects are good when used but the film doesn’t just turn to effects to make things happen.


Scene of the Movie –
Final Scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was so so so so slow.

Final ThoughtsWell this is one of the dullest movies of the year, it has nothing happening for the most part and for a Stephen King spin it only disappoints.

 

Overall: Boring is being polite.

Rating