Reviews written by registered user
The_Dead_See

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128 reviews in total 
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Thirst (2015/III)
I see what they were going for, but they didn't pull it off, 24 April 2017
4/10

Thirst started out kind of fun. By the 30 minute mark we had a nicely established cast of characters (if a little cookie cutter), in a plausible wilderness scenario and I was enjoying myself ready for them to get picked off one by one by the creature.

The creature itself was satisfying enough. The sfx, while not great, were passable, and the centaur/biomechanical alien design was unique. They showed it a bit too much imo, when they could have hidden some of the dodgier cgi moments with cleverer direction, but overall the beast was well done.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, the director and writer were going for a fun, 80s style horror in the vein of Tremors or The Blob remake. Props for that, because in these days of convoluted plots, a simple people vs monster story is always welcome.

However, after the first act, the film falls apart quickly. The characters become increasingly unlikeable as the movie progresses due to really dumb choices and forced bickering. The director makes the poor decision of killing off the most likable and interesting character first, and so the one guy who might have carried the movie is quickly lost.

Thirst also suffers from the same problem many indies face - ill fitting music. The score might be fine as a standalone composition but it really just doesn't fit with what's going on on screen. It's tension building when it should be exciting, exciting when it should be tension building, ominous when it should be sad... it's almost like the composer was flying blind and trying to score without actually seeing the film. This along with some lackluster directing really kills any sense of fun, atmosphere or excitement that the movie could have had. Shame, because I usually love these kinds of films. 4/10

Thirst (2015/III)
I see what they were going for, but they didn't pull it off, 24 April 2017
4/10

Thirst started out kind of fun. By the 30 minute mark we had a nicely established cast of characters (if a little cookie cutter), in a plausible wilderness scenario and I was enjoying myself ready for them to get picked off one by one by the creature.

The creature itself was satisfying enough. The sfx, while not great, were passable, and the centaur/biomechanical alien design was unique. They showed it a bit too much imo, when they could have hidden some of the dodgier cgi moments with cleverer direction, but overall the beast was well done.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, the director and writer were going for a fun, 80s style horror in the vein of Tremors or The Blob remake. Props for that, because in these days of convoluted plots, a simple people vs monster story is always welcome.

However, after the first act, the film falls apart quickly. The characters become increasingly unlikeable as the movie progresses due to really dumb choices and forced bickering. The director makes the poor decision of killing off the most likable and interesting character first, and so the one guy who might have carried the movie is quickly lost.

Thirst also suffers from the same problem many indies face - ill fitting music. The score might be fine as a standalone composition but it really just doesn't fit with what's going on on screen. It's tension building when it should be exciting, exciting when it should be tension building, ominous when it should be sad... it's almost like the composer was flying blind and trying to score without actually seeing the film. This along with some lackluster directing really kills any sense of fun, atmosphere or excitement that the movie could have had. Shame, because I usually love these kinds of films. 4/10

Life (2017)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Flawed, but still entertaining and horrifying, 10 April 2017
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went in to LIFE with zero expectations and ended up quite enjoying myself.

No, scratch that. "Enjoying" isn't really a term that can be applied to this movie (unless bleak and horrifying downer scenarios are your fetish), so let's say I was "entertained" instead.

It's your standard 'Alien'/'The Thing' scenario - small group of people stuck in an isolated location with an unpleasant lifeform - That's pretty much it. However, 'Life' doesn't come close to creating the atmosphere or tension of either Alien or The Thing. The reason for this is, I think, in the characters who weren't near as empathic or sympathetic as those in the aforementioned masterpieces. The big flaws here lie in some illogical character decisions and some phoned in acting.

Where Life does succeed, though, is in three areas: 1) It gives us a believable and horrific creature, that thanks to its early introduction scene makes you uneasy every time it appears on the screen. The sense of danger was very palpable and well handle. 'Calvin' had me squirming for sure.

2) Wonderful sfx, most notably an impressive single tracking shot that opens the movie.

3) And this is the big one for me - it dared to do something that even Alien and The Thing didn't do - to not have a happy or even ambiguously hopeful ending. For this I give it major props. If you're wondering if Life should be categorized as a sci fi or as a horror, by the time the credits roll, it's firmly, unequivocally horror.

I'd recommend it to all sci fi horror fans - If you liked Event Horizon, Pandorum, The Blob, Europa Report, Infini, Leviathan, deep Star Six, Deep Rising, Titan Find, Splinter, Sunshine etc. then you're probably going to enjoy this. It's not Alien or The Thing, but fortunately it's not Harbinger Down or Supernova either.

13 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Messy and imperfect, but still lots of fun and very respectful to the original, 16 July 2016
7/10

To set the context for this review, I came at this movie as a middle aged guy who grew up loving the original and I don't care one bit about the "all-girl" reimagining. I wasn't impressed by the trailer much and I was worried it would be unfunny since nothing on the trailer made me crack a grin. All I went in hoping for was an entertaining movie, and that's exactly what I got.

What surprised me was that I also got more than bargained for. I was pleasantly surprised me with how respectful of the original it turned out to be - even having the courage to open with the original Ray Parker soundtrack instead of the modernized 'Madeon' sounding one on the trailer. It's got to be a really tricky task to navigate a route between a brand new story and a classic old one, but they pulled it off nicely, giving plenty of amusing nods and homages to the source material while still managing to tread fresh ground.

Another nice surprise was that the trailer hadn't shown all the cards, which is unusual for an A-list film these days. The villain and his nefarious plot wasn't shown on the trailers, and the role of Chris Hemsworth was hugely downplayed (he actually has a much bigger part in the movie than the trailers suggest).

Although I was surprised by the anti-female backlash directed at the trailer, I was initially offended that the only black member of the cast appeared to have been once again relegated to the non-smart, non- scientist role. But while the character isn't a scientist, she is played as the smartest of the group - passionate about New York history and the one that puts most of the mystery pieces together, which was nice.

Hemsworth steals the show really, he's clearly enjoying making a fool of himself and you'd have to be in a pretty bad mood as a viewer not to let that enjoyment infect you a little. He hams it up with glee and that's enjoyable to watch.

As for the supposed "feminist agenda", I really didn't see it. There's a little material that seems to have been added maybe as an afterthought, poking fun at the youtube commenters, and there's a couple of jokes which I guess could be construed as "feminist- agenda" if you were really desperately stretching - a line about how "safety lights are for dudes" for example, or a moment where they shoot the evil ghost in his twig and berries, but you seriously have to be stretching to think this an anti male movie.

I've seen some reviews on here about how it was unfunny and cinema audiences being "in silence". All I can say to that is the auditorium I was in was only half full and there was plenty of laughter. A few of the jokes were misses for me, but there were enough that made me laugh aloud to let the weaker ones slide.

Probably the only big downfall for me was the messiness of the script which seemed to lack a second act. It feels a bit like it jumps from the intro act to the climax without much of a build in the middle. I'm not sure if it was a product of the writing or the editing, but it's not much of an issue since, let's be honest, we're not expecting an Oscar winning script from a Ghostbusters movie anyway.

In summary, it's fun, it's entertaining, it's good natured, and it's respectful of the original. It's not feminist, it's not unfunny, and it's not perfect.

7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Not as far below the first one as some of these reviews would have you think, 21 February 2016
6/10

After reading the pretty horrific user reviews for this, the wife and I almost went to see Deadpool again instead. At the last second we changed our minds and decided to see something we hadn't seen yet, so we gave it a chance.

It's not as funny or as charming as the first one, let's get that aside right away, but then again what sequel is?

From the reviews, I was expecting this to be like Anchorman II, which I found to be a lame derivative rehash of the first and an extreme disappointment full of falling flat jokes and desperate attempts to cash in on popular moments of the original.

Zoolander II certainly has it's fair share of jokes that fall flat and derivations from the first movie, but it also has a fresh storyline and at least a few chuckle out loud moments. You won't be quoting it for years the way you did with the first, but it's definitely not a total failure. To be honest it was a fairly entertaining and fun couple of hours and we enjoyed it.

9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Really fun late 80's adventure horror - just three decades too late., 15 May 2015
7/10

As I look through the IMDb scores for Extraterrestrial, I have a theory that the lower ones are coming from children of the 90's and aughts - those who have grown up to expect a particular bleak atmosphere from alien abduction movies such as that set by efforts like 'Dark Skies' or 'The Fourth Kind'.

I suspect the reviews giving it the higher scores are from kids who grew up in (or are just fans of) the older school 'adventure' horrors that became popular in the late 80's. Movies like The Lost Boys, Waxwork, Evil Dead 2, Night of the Creeps, Return of the Living Dead 2, Creepozoids, The Blob remake etc. - you know the ilk, movies whose subject matters varied wildly yet they always had the same sort of vibe - a fast-paced, popcorn-entertainment 'adventure' feeling.

That, I feel, is what the Vicious Brothers were purposefully going for in Extraterrestrial. Although they mixed in a generous dollop of the 90's cabin in the woods type characters and the 2000's abduction movie clichés, it's the late 80's vibe that rings clear throughout. If Extraterrestrial had been made 25-30 years ago, it would likely have starred the Two Corey's, or perhaps Zach Galligan and Brinke Stephens. The cop would have been Tom Atkins or Lance Henriksen; and the crazy Michael Ironside character would have been Dick Miller... or perhaps Michael Ironside, come to think of it.

Bottom line is, Extraterrestrial clearly has a primary intent of being fun rather than scary. There's a few creepy moments - most memorably the skeletal body of a dead alien vanishing into the murky waters of a swimming pool - and a few more serious turns towards the end, but overall, it's more of an adventure/survival flick than a psychological/terror flick. If we still had drive-ins, it would be playing in them right now to crowds of frisky teens instead of on Netflix.

Check your expectations before you turn it on. You're not going to get scared, or grossed out, or made to think too hard, or put on the edge of your seat with tension... but if willing, you are going to have a lot of fun. 7/10.

Animal (2014/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not too shabby old-school creature feature, far better than anything SyFy puts out., 11 May 2015
6/10

I found this on Netflix, saw it's low IMDb score (4.6 at time of this review) and thought I was going to be in for a SyFY channel phoned-in, cash-cow effort, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The plot is ramrod straight - five friends venture into the woods and find themselves terrorized by a man-(and woman) eating monster. They eventually hole up with three other survivors in an abandoned house and spend the rest of the movie there attempting various occasionally fatally ill-conceived survival and escape strategies.

The film has the expected tone of all woods survival horrors, throughout I was variously reminded of Evil Dead, Signs, The Descent, Demon Knight, and a lot of the old school animal attack features like Razorback, Alligator, The Edge, Rogue, Lake Placid and Grizzly.

The characters are more interesting than the usual stock group of victims. While they start out clichéd, the script allows them to develop and have a few unexpected moments of humanity and development. You don't care for them as much as you care for, say, the boat crew in Jaws, but you do care for them a little, which is much more than I can say for 99% of creature features out there. They make all the stupid mistakes of course (poor scripting), but the fact that I was saying "that was stupid, why wouldn't they just ..." at least shows I was engaged enough to not check out.

The most refreshing thing was the man-in-a-suit/animatronic monster. I love love love that the filmmakers went this route. They would have never had the budget for a convincing CGI creature and for most of the movie they keep their rubber monster suitably concealed in foliage and shadow that it's quite convincing and scary enough to be fun.

In conclusion, it's flawed, in some places greatly so, but you can see it was trying hard to be a decent horror film instead of a thoughtless straight-to-video flick. The monsters are alright, the cast is alright, the script could be better but at least characters die who you aren't expecting to die. It definitely deserves more than it's current low IMDb score. If you like monster movies at all, you won't be wasting your time with it. 6/10.

Escape (2012)
8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Solid as a rock, but too simple and predictable to be great, 23 October 2014
6/10

I'm not sure I've seen a film as satisfyingly simple as 'Flukt' in years.

The year is 1363. The place is Norway, recently decimated by the bubonic plague. A young girl's family is murdered by a group of roving bandits and the girls is taken hostage. With the help of another young girl within the group of bandits, she escapes and the two girls flee across breathtakingly beautiful Norwegian landscapes with the bandits in close pursuit. This, in a nutshell, is the entire movie.

I'm a fan of simple films. I think the present day trend to blend too many subplots leads to 3 hour, convoluted, bloated stinkers (The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean, I'm looking at you...) but in some ways 'Flukt' was too simple for its own good. I was invested in the wellbeing of the two girls but I never really felt a sense of danger or surprise because the plot played it so safe and trod such predictable ground. You know this is going to turn out okay and even the ways in which the antagonists are dispatched are unfortunately over-telegraphed.

I would have loved to have seen a bit more of an edgy approach to the plot, a few twists and turns that weren't so obvious. But still, it's beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and exciting enough to keep your attention. Also clocking in at only 78 minutes, it's so short that even if you dislike it, you won't feel like you wasted any time.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Fairly accurate (and hence sometimes dull) true-life serial killer story, 14 October 2014
6/10

The Frozen Ground exists somewhere between an accurate crime procedural documentary and a thrilling Hollywood serial killer flick. It's not quite accurate enough to be taken as a straight retelling of Robert Hansens' diabolical killing spree in 1970s/80s Anchorage; but it's also not quite exciting enough to satisfy viewers who are looking for a faster paced thrill ride. It's quite a brave line to tread really, and although the end-result is a little slow and occasionally dull, it's still intriguing and tense enough to be worth the time. It put me in mind of other slow-burn thrillers such as One Hour Photo and Insomnia. If you liked those, you'll probably like this.

Cage is surprisingly subdued in his role, and it's really nice to see that he can still play a character with softer edges. Cusack is exceptional as Hansen - channeling a subtle menace masked beneath a small-town nice-guy persona. This is far from the Hannibal Lecter or Ted Bundy style psychopath that mainstream thrillers typically portray. Cusack's psychopath is fragile, introverted, human and deeply damaged and although I've never met a psychopath in real life (to the best of my knowledge) this portrayal seems more like what I would expect a real killer to be like.

Rounding out the triad is Vanessa Hudgens as a troubled 18 year old prostitute. Again, this portrayal is very realistic. There's a subtle troubled humanity there and nary a heart of gold in sight.

Because of its concessions to the real events (Hansen was captured and imprisoned, not taken out in a heroic, time-sensitive chase/rescue scene), The Frozen Ground can seem dull and uninspired at times, but if you haven't yet heard the story of Hansen's crimes it's quite an engaging introduction to them.

The Machine (2013/I)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful acting and cinematography makes up for a weak plot, 7 October 2014
7/10

You should see The Machine if only for Caity Lotz. I understand she's known for the TV series Arrow, but I've never seen that. I first saw her in 'The Pact' and was intrigued by how grounded and three dimensional a character she managed to create out of fairly average scripted one. In The Machine, she's an absolute revelation, so beautifully machinelike and tragically human at the same time. This is an actress to keep our eyes on, with acting chops like this she's gonna be huge someday.

I like to draw comparisons between movies whenever I can so that readers here have a better sense of what I might like and whether my opinion will be relevant to their tastes. The analogy I would draw here is that 'The Machine' is to 'Blade Runner' what 'Equilibrium' was to 'The Matrix'.

To elaborate - Equilibrium was a somewhat flawed, low-budget carbon-copy of The Matrix yet it was still enjoyable and valid in its own right because of some fine acting, beautiful cinematography, and a few pretty cool action moments. The Machine is in a similar position when compared to Blade Runner. It explores a very similar theme - the line between human and fabricant - and employs a very similar feel with it's bleak, placid tone, haunting synthesizer score, and impressive art direction. It's obviously not as good as Blade Runner - barely any film is - but it is thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

The weakest part of the work is the final act, which devolves into a generic low-budget action scene. Caity Lotz is a complete badass to watch and I love my action scenes - but after such a gently paced and thoughtful first two acts, the third seems out of place and forced here. I kind of wish they'd gone for drama instead and maintained the slow-burn nature through to the end - just as Blade Runner did.

Regardless, the weak third act of The Machine isn't enough to topple the outstanding foundation of intriguing concepts and stunning visuals that came before it. This is a film that will find its way onto my sci-fi shelf for sure.


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