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IheartCali5882

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46 reviews in total 
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The Visit (2015/I)
3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Shyamalan has (partially) redeemed himself. A respectable comeback of a film., 13 September 2015
7/10

The Visit - 7/10 Shyamalan has moderately redeemed himself after a series of disasters. It's more thriller/comedy than horror but there are a handful of genuinely creepy scenes. Slow pacing, but the tone that something is very "off" makes the film interesting even while nothing is actually occurring. In that aspect (and only that aspect) it reminded me of Rosemary's Baby. Both directors managed to load seemingly harmless events with tension and foreboding. That's the part I appreciated the most. I also appreciated that the twist this time wasn't something totally off the wall, i.e. he didn't try to hard. It was a perfectly respectable twist within the realm of normalcy while still being slightly shocking.

The only negatives are that it's got slow pacing in the first act, but it does pick up considerably about 30-40 minutes in. Also the found footage gimmick is beyond tired at this point, but the utilization of it is slightly smarter than some other films I can recall.

Bonus points for the funny as hell son Ed Oxenbould. Aside from the seriously creepy grandparents he makes the film. The daughter is a decent actress as well , but the son got all of the funny material.

All in all Shyamalan has nothing to be ashamed of this time around. I may just go and see it again .

20 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
Nothing we haven't seen before, but it's decent., 31 May 2015
6/10

I understand that the original is considered a classic, but I'm also of the mind that even the original is not without it's faults. I'm saying this because I think that what may have been lacking in the original is handled better with the remake. Conversely what this version lacks, the original provided.

For starters, the original had absolutely no preamble. The first scenes of Carol Ann going to the flickering TV literally occurred within minutes of the film's opening. It always seemed rushed to me that there was no introduction of sorts. This film does better at providing a build up, if somewhat a small one. It doesn't just thrust you into the paranormal situation straight out of the gate.

The thing is with remakes, people are already prepared to naysay, partly because the majority of naysayers are old enough to remember the original and will nearly always choose the "good ole days". We all do it, with movies, with music, what have you. Just as with newer generation music, those who can remember music from even 10-15 years ago will find that new music usually just plain sucks. It's the same for horror remakes unfortunately. With a film like Poltergeist, which is a staple of the paranormal subgenre, there is almost no winning. I've asked myself what could the writers/director have done differently that would appease those going into it having put the original on a pedestal. And frankly I can't think of too much that could have been changed that would somehow make these type of people happy.

To start: The parents in this remake are more likable in my humble opinion. The father in particular has a great deal more personality than Craig T. Nelson had. I prefer them as a couple to Nelson and JoBeth Williams. The children here leaving something to be desired however. While they get the job done, the children of the original were far superior actors.

I will grant the original had more atmosphere and understated tension than did this one. There was a general feeling of unease that held through the film even while nothing of consequence was occurring. The remake lacked this, and I believe this may be the major hang up of the film. There were many BOO! moments that were sometimes effective. However there was no ever coiling tension. It was more of a case of peaks and pits. The energy was released as soon as the BOO! moment occurred. Wash, rinse, repeat.

On the other hand the remake benefits from advancements in special fx and technology. The writers obviously had more liberties with which to exploit the appearance of the supernatural presence. (Think cell phones, ipads, etc.) The tree, the spirits, etc naturally were far better looking in this remake than they were for the original, but clearly that's to be expected. My major beef with the original was that the final act turned too far away from horror into unscary sci-fi; particularly toward the end. That really puts me off from being a die hard "original" defender.

I guess what I'm saying is this: I will be one of the few who can see the merits of both films. From what I've read thus far, most either really enjoyed it or can't get over the fact that it's not the original (which it could never be anyway so that's a fight this film will never win). This remake has some qualities I think serve the story better than the original even, while at the same time I don't think it surpassed the original in the most important aspects. Still, it was a FUN film. I came to be entertained, and I was entertained for 91 minutes. Maybe my expectations were too low? Perhaps, however my ultimate decision rests on whether or not a film entertained me.

If you're going into it with a very high opinion of the original, I doubt that you will get much enjoyment from it. If you're the type to nitpick at small things, I doubt that you will get much enjoyment from it. If you just like to sit back and have a little excitement for a couple hours, you could do FAR worse than this film. It's decent enough that I don't regret shelling out the $$ to see it in theaters. Just don't expect anything groundbreaking. But then again you probably didn't because after all........it's the dreaded remake! My rating: 6/10

Gone Girl (2014)
0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A film that is everything it needed to be, 3 October 2014
8/10

David Fincher has delivered yet another film that doesn't disappoint. I often find myself saying that the trailer is possibly better than the movie in most cases. In this case however, the trailer doesn't do it justice. I knew going in that there would be twists, but I had no idea what to expect.

To be brief: Ben Affleck plays the husband of Rosamund Pike who has gone missing and is presumed dead. Naturally Ben Affleck is the prime suspect. All of this is divulged within the first 15 minutes of the film. What happens after that I'd have to include a spoiler warning for; which I won't do because watching the story unfold is so entertaining. We all think we're pretty good at guessing the twist, or we claim to be. But I promise you this time that most of us will be blindsided by this one. The story is at once, dramatic, shocking, and haunting without going overboard into ridiculousness. What transpires between these people is believable enough even though it's quite shocking. More than that I won't say.

What I will add though is that nearly everything in this film is pitch perfect. I would have preferred a bit more excitement at the very end, but the story ended as it probably would have had these been real people. Aside from that the cinematography is beautiful, the acting top notch (look for Rosamund Pike's Oscar nomination in February), the editing is fantastic, everything is exceptional.

Definitely money well spent. One of the better films I've seen this year.

8 enthusiastic stars********

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Solid overall, but still entirely forgettable, 4 July 2014
6/10

Maybe I'm doomed to be disappointed in every exorcism movie that is NOT The Exorcist (1973) because I find myself making comparisons whether I want to or not. While I know they can't possibly replicate the shock value of seeing a movie like The Exorcist for the first time, I do still want to be blindsided by something I wasn't expecting. If I can't have that, I'd at least like to be spooked or shaken up just a little. Two movies that come to mind are The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Conjuring; both films I enjoyed for different reasons. If you consider both of those to be good films, then I think you'll find Deliver Us From Evil to be middle of the road.

DUFE is more of a crime procedural film than anything else. This film could have easily been an action cop movie with the omission of about 15 minutes worth of certain scenes. On that level, it was a solid movie. Joel McHale's role as Bana's sidekick threw me for a loop. They worked well together and would have made a great duo were this film about them and not the exorcism of demons. Character exposition, good acting, minimal plot holes, tying up loose ends, this movie does all of that well enough. It's just not particularly frightening. And when the film does arrive at the final scenes, it begins to border on silly and overdone with a little bit of melodrama and cheesiness thrown in for good measure.

I think movies like this sometimes try too hard to be something they're not solely for the sake of trying to shock the audience (just like The Exorcist had done in its time).But after you've seen a possessed 12 year old masturbate with a cross, you become desensitized to anything anyone else can come up with. Besides that, The Exorcist had more going for it than just shock value. That film had the entire package. Deliver Us From Evil did try (there are some glaring similarities to the classic), but they didn't push the envelope enough. This film, like so many others in recent years, just plays it too safe. In the end, this lack of risk (or lack of imagination some would argue) ends up in a disappointment feeling of "Been there, done that. Nothing new to see here".

Overall: 6/10. I'll forget all about this film by next week. Worth a watch on TV, but not worth a Redbox rental if you've already seen it at the theater.

Oculus (2013/I)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Gets off to a great start, but eventually loses its way. Still worth a watch., 18 April 2014
6/10

This is one of the more complex story lines I've seen in recent horror films. Without divulging too many details, the plot weaves the past and the present together into one (arguably) cohesive story. In a nutshell: Brother and sister team up to defeat the malevolent forces contained in the mirror; the mirror that once was the source of tragedy for their family. Yes this past meets present has been done innumerable times, but not many recent films have made the effort to interlace past and present to this extent. One of the few that have managed to do it, and do it very well in my opinion, has been Insidious part 2. However I wouldn't liken this to Insidious II in quality or technical aspects.

While the editing was top notch, the story became overworked by the time the movie reached the second half. This is a clear example of Keep-It-Simple-Stupid. Where the first 45 minutes had good build up and intrigue, staying steady on its course to the main event, the remainder of the film eventually became a mash up of time weaves, flashbacks, reality/unreality hallucinations, etc. It became overworked to the point that the viewer was pulled out of the story by what I think of as the "silly" factor. I realize that, by nature, you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy a horror film. However even horror films can cross over from intrigue to silliness with the slightest misstep. Unfortunately Oculus has made this mistake. This is unfortunate because with just a little more editing down, I would have gladly given this a 7/10.

This is not to say it's not worth the cost of admission, because I did enjoy it. I definitely think the story has potential, and I'm glad I paid to see it. I appreciate the effort that went into writing and directing such a nuanced story. By no means is it a bad film. It's a perfectly decent film. However the distinction here is that it is decent, when it could have been elevated to the level of good with just a few less twists and turns.

Final verdict: Silly at times and the story becomes overkill. But intriguing and outright scary in some scenes. Definitely worth the cost of admission. 6.4/10

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Very hard to sit through to the end, 15 September 2012
4/10

I'll admit the last 20 minutes were touch and go. I zoned out a few times before returning for the final scene. Suffice it to say, I won't be making it a point to re-watch it. The beginning looked very promising and fresh, as most Armageddon movies focus on people trying to prevent the death of themselves, their planet, whatever. However with SAFFTEOTW the end is pretty much a given and people have resigned themselves to their own demise in 21 days time. And so it is rather interesting to see how the world would have changed under such a hypothetical scenario. I thought it was fun to see who would bother showing up for work, or continue watering their lawn. Would businesses remain open? Would policemen bother issuing speeding tickets? Most of these were actually addressed throughout the film, and were the most interesting aspect of it.

Aside from that, the storyline became disjointed and boring right when it should have taken off. Unfortunately the plight of the main characters was not engaging and so their road trip adventure fell flat. Not to mention there is zero chemistry between Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley. I thought it was only my peevishness, however I've seen several reviews from IMDb members across the pond addressing the utterly annoying acting technique employed by Knightley. About 5 minutes of watching her on the screen had me wanting to pass on the film. I enjoy Carrell for the mot part and can't help but wish some other actress was cast alongside him. I can't say from personal experience, but I'll take their word for it when British reviewers say that Knightley's overzealous (aka terrible) portrayal of a sprightly young English woman is by no means accurate.

For the life of me, I don't see how this film got so many great reviews on IMDb. Is it rigged? Or am I delusional, because this was one of the slowest most uninteresting films I've seen this year. I give it a 4/10 only because the idea of the film is refreshing. Too bad the execution is a major letdown.

49 out of 66 people found the following review useful:
The cream puff version of The Exorcist, 31 August 2012
7/10

The parallels between this film and The Exorcist are obvious even from the trailers, so I won't go too far into that. Just suffice it to say that The Possession contains none of the impact or shock value that The Exorcist has. In short, it's just not as good of a film.

However, in its own right, it's a pretty competent horror movie. The story of the central characters is kind of cliché. Husband and wife have divorced, they share custody of the children, there's a new boyfriend/girlfriend in the picture, etc. This type of set up is always convenient when dealing with a "messed up kid" film. That way whatever is wrong with the child can inevitably be blamed on the fact that the child is just not dealing well with the break up of his or her parents. And that's exactly what happens in The Possession; except there is actually something VERY wrong with the youngest daughter and it has absolutely nothing to do with her parents. Without giving away too much, the plot centers around an ancient wooden box the youngest daughter finds at a yard sale. Of course she wants it, and so she gets it. And there begins to occur some rather strange phenomena; most of them downright spooky, a couple kind of hokey.

All in all, I was pleased. This film has got good pacing, decent acting, and exceptional cinematography. There's not much I can find as a fault here. If I had to name my major complaint about this and similar movies it would be this: I'm not thrilled about the influx of PG-13 horror films. I've a suspicion this is due to a need to bring in a wider audience (younger viewers/teenagers), and make more money on ticket sales. Because of this the final product tends to be a little too watered down for my tastes. The Possession shows a lot of promise, but I can't help but wish the writers/director would have pushed the envelope a bit more; fleshed out the story. Then it would have been great. As it stands now, I'll just say it's a "good" little horror film. Nothing that will be talked about this time next year, but I consider my money well spent.

My rating: 6.5/10

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A waste of a good cast, 25 May 2012
5/10

I'm usually pretty good at weeding out the films that put all the best scenes in the trailer then leave you with a bunch of junk when you actually sit through it in its entirety. But I must admit I was fooled with this one. The daddy's group shown in the previews led me to believe this would be an edgy hilarious take on pregnancy. Considering Chris Rock was featured heavily in the clips, I thought it would be a safe bet. Unfortunately Chris Rock's " Dudes group" has minimal screen time, and even when they are on screen, the material is just not funny. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the best this movie has to offer.

I guess the producers thought they had a huge summer blockbuster on their hands; I mean why else would they pay top dollar for so many A-list actors all in one film if they didn't believe the film would be successful enough to see a return on their investments? It really does baffle me because this film is nowhere near as good as it should be to warrant the hefty paychecks of this cast.

The film centers around a montage of female characters from early pregnancy to delivery (with the exception of Jennifer Lopez, she's looking to adopt). There's a young 20-something who hardly knows her beau at all, a woman who's been looking forward to conceiving with relish but finds the reality of it a rather unpleasant surprise, her younger mother-in-law who, annoyingly, seems to handle her pregnancy with hardly a glitch, and a fitness guru who thinks she can control the whole ordeal like she does her diet and exercise regimen.

Ironically, as a stand alone, any one of these couples stories could have been developed into a decent film. However the mingling of all these stories results in a shallow treatment that makes the film underwhelming. And while this wouldn't necessarily make or break it, add in the fact that the film is just not funny enough, and it's just a waste. Some genuine humor would have made the flaws forgivable. Consider this: The only funny scene of the film is about 20 seconds in duration, containing non-main characters who have about 10 minutes total screen time. Wendi McLendon-Covery (of Bridesmaids) and Thomas Lennon share the single funny scene in the film and they're hardly in the movie, which means.......you get the point.

Overall there is some potential with this film, it's just underdeveloped and badly written. I wouldn't pay to see it, but it's good way to while away a couple hours if you happen to catch it on TV. Other than that, steer clear. This coming from a chick who enjoys rom coms. Thumbs down.

It was different...not great but different., 8 February 2012
6/10

Warning: This is not a horror movie. If you were expecting one you might as well pass this one up. It's more a drama/suspense than anything else.

The plot of the film sounds like a horror movie and the trailers lead you to believe it is too. And might I add that the trailers are better than the actual film, even though they give away entirely too much of the plot but that's just my opinion.

Nevertheless the film centers around Will, played by Daniel Craig. We believe him to be a publishing exec who quits his job in order to spend more time with his family and finally write the novel he's always dreamed of completing. Both of these reasons are ironic, and you'll know why after seeing the film. He, his wife, and their adorable young daughters have recently moved into a home that was the scene of a brutal murder of a woman and two children. You get the picture. I won't venture to say more. If you want to know more go watch the trailers, they give up some rather juicy twists, which is a shame because the twists are really the only high point of the film. And once they're revealed the movie really kind of loses it's momentum. There's a final reveal towards the end but by that time I had already lost interest.

It's OK for a one-time watch, but not something I'd like to see again. The story is unique, but the execution needed some work. All in all, not bad though.

8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Would be a pretty solid movie...if it were finished, 11 January 2012
5/10

In the same vein as Blair Witch and the Paranormal Franchise, The Devil Inside is another entry in the hand-held documentary style film. Although I think Blair Witch and PA did a much better job of making the "found footage" gimmick believable. Anyway The Devil Inside tells the story of a young girl, Isabelle who travels to Italy to learn more of the so-called demonic possession of her institutionalized mother.

The film opens with a 911 call made from the girl's mother in which she confesses to murdering three people who were trying to perform an exorcism. I guess it's safe to say it didn't work because when we next see the mother, she's holed up in Italian hospital for the criminally insane, mumbling to herself and looking generally frightening. Isabelle is looking to investigate the circumstances behind her mother's crimes and hopefully get her returned to the United States. And so the footage goes, mostly capturing her quest to learn more about exorcism, along with some help from two men she meets at a Roman Catholic university.

It could have been a very effective film if it wasn't for the glaringly flawed ending. Up to that point there was nice buildup and a few rather shocking moments. Then abruptly, it just ended. Poof! Like that. Shows over, go home. Myself along with the entire audience sat there for several moments after the ending scene, waiting....for something. I guess it took a few minutes to realize there would be nothing else. The ending came out of nowhere. None of the questions raised by the film were ever answered. The last 10 minutes embarked on a different path that just wasn't followed. It appeared as if the final climax was coming and then somehow the producers ran out of money so they just wrapped the film with whatever footage they had.

As it stands, the movie is incomplete so I can't give it more than a 5. Had there been an additional 20 minutes or more, I probably would have given it a 6.5 or 7.

This movie should have been titled The Devil Inside: Part 1.

Where the heck is the last half?!


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