ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – V – Videoman (2018)

Director: Kristian A Soderstrom

Writer: Kristian A Soderstrom (Screenplay)

Starring: Stefan Sauk, Lena Nilsson, Morgan Alling, Martin Wallstrom, Sven Wollter, Helena Jansson, Amanda Ooms

Plot: A VHS collector and a woman obsessed with the 80s, both alcoholics, initiates a romance that helps them battle their personal failures.

Tagline – A movie can turn your life around

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Memory Lane Thriller

Story: Videoman starts as we meet Ennio Midena (Sauk) who 20-years ago had the best video shop in Sweden, now with videos out of fashion, his collection is vast, but just not giving any money, even though he continues to add to the collection, with hopes of once again opening up a Video store, believing they will come back into fashion like vinyl to music.

When Ennio gets a call from infamous video collection Faceless, he agrees to sell her some of his collection for a large amount, which would solve some of the money problems Ennio is facing, only to learn that not many people live long after meeting Faceless, putting him on edge about his own well being and the new woman in his life Simone (Nilsson) who like him, is also obsessed with the 1980s.

Thoughts on Videoman

Characters – Ennio is a businessman, who made his money from a video store back in the 80s and 90s, now with the format dying out he want to make a comeback with his video collection being amongst the best in the world. He sees part of his collection attract a huge fee which could help clear his debts, just as he meets a new woman with the similar love of the 80s as him. He doe start to question his own reality after becoming obsessed certain parts of his collections are happening to him in real life. Simone is the assistant that is getting bogged down with work that she searches social media for attention when she isn’t drinking, her love for 80s doesn’t help he situation as most people in her life have moved on, until she meets Ennio. We do meet people in both their lives, with Simone having a tragic life of lost dreams, while Ennio meets his fellow collectors who give him the conversations about movies he enjoys the most.

PerformancesStefan Sauk and Lena Nilsson both give us wonderful leading performances, they both show the problems their characters are struggling through during the film. When we look into the supporting performances, everyone feels like they are in the world they are in.

StoryThe story does follow two people with their own addictions that find love through their addictions, they must look at their own life to see what is going wrong in their life and figure out if they can fix it before it is too late. We do get to see how one person is still hung up on an aging format, much like how we are seeing streaming services take over the modern media format, the collectors will always want hard copies of their love. We do get a serious look at how alcohol has taken over bigger parts in life too. This is an interesting story and does show how paranoia can take over when addictions are getting out of control.

Comedy/ThrillerThe comedy side of this film comes from seeing how Ennio is reacting to certain things that are happening in his life, the thriller side of the film does its best to keep us wondering just what could be real or not.

SettingsThe film does show us how the two people operating in everyday life, we see how the collectors are not always going to be where you think they are too.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong through the film, we get to see a couple of clever moments which are effective to understand Ennio mentality.

Scene of the Movie – Sleeping on TV?

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The collection talk will go over some people’s heads.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at how collectors still will make room for new additions to their collection, however much money comes their way, as well as showing how addiction can work.

Overall: Thriller that shows problems with addictions.

Killbird (2019) Movie Review

Director: Joe Zanetti

Writer: Jessi Thind, Joe Zanetti (Screenplay)

Starring: Tahmoh Penikett, Aaron Douglas, Elysia Rotaru, Stephen Lobo, Jesse Inocalla, Reese Alexander

Plot: When a young woman’s car breaks down in back country Oregon, she finds herself at the mercy of a paranoid conspiracy theorist, who assumes she’s a government agent.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Keeps You Guessing

Story: Killbird starts when a woman Taylor (Rotaru) is on a birding adventure when her car breaks down, with the only house she can find being the remote cabin of Riad (Lobo), a man that is very uneasy to let her into his house, the two look to get to know each other, while Riad clearly has a secret, he believes Taylor to have one too.

What follows is a battle of wits between the two, as Riad is trying to discover if Taylor is telling the truth or not, while Taylor is trying to hide her own reason for being here.

Thoughts on Killbird

Characters – Taylor is a woman that is birding, when she gets stuck in a remote location, where she finds herself being held captive by the owner, she is trying to get information, while trying to understand his point of view. Riad is the lone man living in the cabin in the woods, he has been living there for years, working on something bigger, he has been working on a bigger conspiracy theory that has been left in place for years in America, with his own one he believes in, involves avenging his brother who took the fall for a major disaster.

PerformancesElysia Rotaru in the leading role is great to watch, we does keep us on edge about whether her character is innocent in everything or playing the bigger game, while Stephen Lobo shows us just how on edge his character is meant to be through the film.

StoryThe story follows a woman that finds herself in a remote cabin in the woods, where a lone man lives, off the grid away from the world, the two clash on who could be telling the truth and just how is in control of the situation. The story does keep us guessing to everything that is unfolding, we are not sure who to believe about what is happening, you never can put your finger on which one is telling the truth, or doing the right thing, which is refreshing. The biggest weakness, would be that we are focusing on the incident that is nearly 20 years old, it also doesn’t help that we focus on a real event, because it could become too personal for certain audience members.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film focuses on just how the two are trying to keep ahead of each other, never letting us know who is truly in control.

SettingsThe film takes place in one location, the cabin in the woods, it shows how someone would live off the grid while working on a bigger idea, only for the problems of being away from the world could make you a bigger threat.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The incident being real could be seen as too personal.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting thriller that could show how a conspiracy theory could spiral out of control with what could be true or not.

Overall: Conspiracy Theory 101

A Clear Shot (2020) Movie Review

Director: Nick Leisure

Writer: Nick Leisure (Screenplay)

Starring: Mario Van Peebles, Mandela Van Peebles, Jessica Meza, Marshal Hilton, David Fernandez Jr, Lance Wood, Michael Balin, Hao Do

Plot: An electronic store erupts into chaos as four gunmen storm the premises. Rick Gomez, Sacramento Police Departments’ top negotiator, realizes he needs to talk down the gunmen and keep everyone safe, all while juggling government politics. The gunmen leader doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but his brother is a different story. A peaceful surrender quickly turns this sleepy city into a national tragedy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: A Clear Shot starts when Loi (Do) leads a group of Vietnamese gunmen into an electronics store to hold the customers and employee’s hostage. Gomez (Mario Van Peebles) is called into be the negotiator as he looks for a peaceful solutions where he gets Kappy (Hilton) on his shoulder for a more aggressive approach, with the Sheriff Todd (Balin) letting his SWAT teams prepare to breach.

As the situation starts getting more intense, Gomez must look to retain the power in the situation, as we learn the motivation behind the Loi’s actions, leading us to a highly tension conclusion to the situation.

Thoughts on A Clear Shot

Characters – Gomez is the negotiator assigned to the situation, he has a calm demeaner which will give him a chance to talk to the criminal in charge, he must learn who he can trust both on the inside and the outside, surrounding himself with the strongest helping make his job easier, where he will need to pull out all of the tricks to stay on top of the situation. Kappy is the second to Gomez, he does give him advice with different ideas of what he could do, but will stand by his decisions through the situation, Advencula is a cop that also works with Gomez from the street side of everything. Loi is the lead hostage taker who does have a reason for what they are doing, which gives us a reason to get sympathy towards him.

PerformancesMario Van Peebles in the leading role works very well as the negotiator, as he shows the calm persona required through the film. Marshal Hilton is entertaining to watch, giving us a few lighter moments through the situation, with Hao Do and Tony Dew being the highlight of the criminals.

StoryThe story here follows a hostage situation that sees the control of power need to be obtained by a negotiator from both inside and outside of the situation to save the hostages before it is too late. This story is based on a real event and does show how the situation can be calmly handled, rather than be all guns blazing approach. We are given a reason to understand why the hostage takers are committing their action, see how the different police are trying to play a card they believe is best. We even get to see how the different hostages are trying to operate, though one doesn’t seem to get the true impact as to what happens to them and also struggles to show us quite what happens when everything is all set and done.

ThrillerThis is a hostage situation movie, which does have tense moments through the film which sees Gomez trying to control everything.

SettingsThe film uses the electronics store interior and exterior as the main settings, it is everything you would expect, only it does looks too new to be an existing location.

Scene of the Movie – Meeting at the door.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The showdown isn’t as clear as it could have been.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining thriller that does show the difficulties of trying to maintain control of a situation which could spiral out of control.

Overall: Entertaining.

Prolonged Exposure (2019) Movie Review (On Amazon Prime US)

Director: Travis Thoms

Writer: Travis Thoms (Screenplay)

Starring: Dean Cain, Addison Foskey, Jenelle Baptiste, Travis Relyea, Martin Palmer, Megan Elisabeth Kelly, Michelle Roe, Ciro Vela, Julie Lee Romero

Plot: A therapist with a wounded past works with survivors of an industrial accident. Unfortunately for them, it was no accident, and someone is eliminating the witnesses.

Tagline – Someone is watching you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Aftermath Effect

Story: Prolonged Exposure starts as we meet trauma therapist Murdoch Lane (Foskey) who has her own troubles from his past too. Murdoch gets a new list of clients after a building explosion, with each client having a different story about what happened on that day.

As Murdoch starts his sessions, Detective Jaime Montenegro (Cain) arrives asking questions, only to be circling around the incident, with Murdoch starting to notice somebody around his neighbourhood and soon the patients start dying, with Murdoch wanting to learning the truth about what really happened on that day.

Thoughts on Prolonged Exposure

Characters – Murdoch Lane is a trauma therapist who is still dealing with his own problems with loss, he gets given survivors of a building explosion, each with their own story, only not everything adds up the way he had hoped and when he gets pushed by a cop for information, he starts to look into the case himself. Detective Jaime Montenegro is trying to get answers out of Murdoch about what happened, with his desire for the truth, showing him to become desperate, he wants the truth and will do whatever it takes to get it. We do get to meet a host of survivors from the explosion who all have different stories about the day, each one has their own tragic story about what happened.

PerformancesAddison Foskey in the leading role is great, he brings us a grounded therapist who shows that he has his own pain behind his words. Dean Cain in the supporting role is great too, showing us a character that could look both shady and desperate along the way.

StoryThe story here follows a therapist that gets a new list of clients that were survivors of a building explosion, only for certain stories not always adding up and an over eager detective who is sniffing around for clues about the truth. This story takes a very different approach to an aftermath of a disaster, by showing us how the survivors would be looking to get back on their feet, with survivors guilt haunting them, add in the mystery about really happened, a therapist with his own problems and a detective that is desperate for the truth, we get a story that will show the real side effects or surviving, while also offering a mystery we want to see solved.

ThrillerThe thriller side of this film looks to focus on how the mystery about what really happened coming through strong the deeper we get into the story.

SettingsThe film keeps the setting in the office of Murdoch, which sees most of the film being in the memories of story, letting us imagine the bigger picture of what happened.

Scene of the Movie – Murdoch visiting his own therapist, great scenes, reminds me a lot like ‘In Treatment’

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The poster is very misleading, it almost seems like it is an action film, rather than a thoughtful thriller.

Final Thoughts Nice spin on the thriller that truly does make us imagined what happened and shows just how difficult it could be to recover a disaster in life.

Overall: Thoughtful Thriller.

Watch Prolonged Exposure on Amazon Prime (US) here today

M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters (2020) Movie Review

Director: Tucia Lyman

Writer: Tucia Lyman (Screenplay)

Starring: Melinda Page Hamilton, Bailey Edwards, Edward Asner, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Julian de la Celle, Sevan Aliksanian, Lili Peper, Spence Scott

Plot: A distraught mother suspects her teenage son is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. After installing an elaborate spy camera system in their home, Abbey captures a series of disturbing videos that confirm her worst fears. Torn between a mother’s unconditional love and a mother’s acute intuition, Abbey caters her videos to all the other “mothers of monsters” online. Abbey’s plan backfires when Jacob uses a dark family secret against her, launching both mother and son on a terrifying, and ultimately deadly, game of cat and mouse.

Tagline – A distraught mother suspects her teenage son is a psychopath who may shoot up his high school, but when he outsmarts the mental healthcare system she is forced to take matters into her own hands… A Mothers Worst Nightmare.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters starts as we see all the recordings Abbey (Hamilton) has made of her interactions with her son Jacob (Edwards) through the years, now he is high school age, her concern about his behaviour continues to grow, only nobody is listening to her concerns.

As Abbey is trying to keep watch over Jacob, her contacts start reflecting what happened to her in her past, leading down the path of wondering if it is her losing it or it is history repeating itself.

Thoughts on M.O.M Mothers of Monsters

Characters – Abbey is the concerned mother, she has always thought something was wrong with her son and now she believes are becoming more intense, she wants to document the problems in hope of getting to the bottom of it, only her own past might be motivating the truth behind why she is suspecting everything. Jacob is the son, now a teenager with his own interests away from the world, he likes things that most teenagers wouldn’t, which is why his mother sees him as a threat. He uses his intelligence to stay ahead of her, which only continues to push her away no matter how hard he tries to prove he is harmless. Everyone else we meet gives advice or shows the concern for Abbey along the way.

PerformancesMelinda Page Hamilton and Bailey Edwards do nearly all the work in this film, their performances carry everything which is important as we see just how desperate they are to show the problems their characters are showing.

StoryThe story here follows a mother trying to figure out whether her son is a threat to the world by recording their everyday life, only to see the tension between the two, to become dangerous on new levels. This story does show how being a concerned parent could see things start to get out of control, this does show how the parental relationship can be tested and that some people will always have a fear of history repeating itself. We do get some twists along the way, with the truth behind Abbey’s motivations being kept secret for the most part of the film.

ThrillerThe film uses the thrilling side to keep us on edge, never giving us a side to believe, on whether Jacob will or won’t be a threat to the world.

SettingsNearly everything is kept inside the one house, this shows us how the tension between the two have been increasing through the years.

Scene of the Movie – The final straw.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – This story does feel like it needing a little bit more study on the help Abbey tried to get for Jacob, with us only learning little parts of this side of things.

Final Thoughts This is a film that plays into the relationship between a mother and son that could see thing spiral out of control with two powerhouse performances.

Overall: Powerful Performance Driven Movie.

M.O.M. movie is avail on Amazon Prime here: