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Lonely Street (2009)
The King is dead, long live the King!
Usually, I don't pick up B-Movies for the evening, but I had nothing else to watch, so I went with this one. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. While the movie has the look of a low budget film, it certainly doesn't feel like one. The characters are cliché and the acting is exaggerated, but that is all positive, because it perfectly fits the comical style of the movie. Another strong point is that the acting performances were pretty stable throughout the whole film. Especially the main character is charismatic enough to keep you interested. He also does a great job narrating the movie by letting the viewer know what the main character thinks in certain situations.
The plot is surprisingly fresh and keeps you guessing right up to the end, who the baddie is. All in all, this was a fun ride and worth watching. If you don't need big names and huge budgets to enjoy a movie, then this might be one you could enjoy. I know I did.
On a final note: I have to give kudos to the people behind this movie, because B-Movies here tend to have 10-star ratings by the time they are released, due to the many fake votes by those involved. I hate this trend and I appreciate a movie even more, if people don't resort to cheap tricks like that.
The hunt for a mind...
...but an unsuccessful one. So what you get is a mindless story with mindless characters and a predictable ending.
The story centers around a group of soon to be FBI profilers. To graduate they are flown to a lonely island that belongs to the Navy. They're instructed that a murder will be set up, which they will have to solve successfully. So far so good, but that's as good as it gets. While the idea for this story is pretty promising, the script behind the movie itself is not. Once the group finds the fake murder scene they realize that this was just a set up to ambush them directly. Now, they encounter a series of traps that are set up to kill them all off.
The actors do an OK job portraying unbelievable characters and unbelievable they are. Once the action starts, everybody is on the edge like any other victim in any horror movie. However, we're not dealing with unsuspecting victims, but with professionals, who are everything but unsuspecting. And this is just one point where the script loses touch with reality. They soon suspect that the killer is one of them, which in the end proves to be true, but how does that make sense? They were together all the time, yet setting up the traps would have taken a considerable amount of time. Also, the distrust and hate among the group doesn't make much sense either. You'd expect that such a small group of people who has been through the hard school of the FBI would bond pretty much. In fact, team play is one of the qualities that the FBI seeks, yet this movie portrays a group of loners.
The fact that the traps are all pretty random and would have been easily avoidable also doesn't get into the way of the movie. Same goes for the fact that they all seem to be nerdy lab rats. At one point they analyze blood and other samples, where you'd have to ask yourself: How come they know how to do that? If you're a profiler, this is not your job. That's what you have labs for. Why are they suddenly experts on biochemistry? How did all the analysis equipment get to the Navy database? Why aren't they earning a fortune by working at pharmaceutical companies, or any other company that pays well for those qualities? How could mentally unstable personalities get as far in the FBI school as they could? These are just a few of the many plot holes. The most annoying one must be the one that they blame themselves for the murders, even though their instructor explicitly said that an extra person would be the puppet master of the murder, yet no one gets the idea that this unknown guy might be responsible.
The movie also features terrible one liners, for example "where there's a skill, there's a weakness". How does that make sense?? By that logic an unskilled person would have no weaknesses at all. Still, the movie is able to get even worse. In one of the last scenes, the three remaining guys run around the base, shooting dummy targets that pop up from the ground in the hope to kill the puppet master. Well, that a human being just doesn't pop up from the ground in a stiff fashion should be enough not to waste ammo on something like that, yet they all fire away like the brain dead meat puppets they are. This scene only serves the purpose to get rid of the ammo, so that the movie can bore you for 5 more minutes with a ridiculous fight, instead of a quick stand off.
All in all, this wouldn't have been half bad if the script wouldn't have abandoned reality just to make its ridiculous storyline and characters work. After all, that's how you distinguish good movies from bad ones. It's not the over the top plot, or exalted characters that make a good movie, but a storyline that is believable enough to have happened in reality. Watch a Grisham movie to see a perfect example for that matter. Anyway, this is worth a rent, but certainly not a buy.
Reach for Me (2008)
simple, yet powerful movie
There aren't that many low budget movies out there that neither look nor feel cheap, but this certainly is one of them. The movie doesn't offer huge climaxes, or surprises, but rather offers a nice flow that knows how to take you with it.
You'll get to see a snapshot of the life of an old man and all the things that influence him. Sounds boring, but in fact, it is a very interesting character-heavy film. The persons are very believable and you'll soon forget that you're watching actors. This is basically the highest achievement a movie can reach. Seeing that this was delivered by such a small production is quite impressive. I was surprised to see LeVar Burton's name flashing up as the director in the credits. He sure did a great job on this one.
If you like movies that revolve around real life stories like "About Schmidt", then you might like this movie. I sure do. In fact, I can't really point much out that I would consider sub-standard, bad acting, or plot holes, so this one gets a 9/10.
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Stunning, silent, loud, emotional and...
...rewarding!!! Oh how rewarding this movie is! I like horror films, but I really hate stupid ones with predictable plots, shallow characters and those which have cliché written all over them. Now, this is true for may be 90 to 95% of movies of this genre, which makes it pretty hard to find the good stuff, that isn't just another boring teeny slasher. Well, look no more, because you have found one fine movie with "The last house on the left".
I just read on IMDb that this is a remake of a great horror movie, so I watched this version without any bias. Usually, I'm not a big fan of remakes, but thanks to this movie, I'll check out the original, too.
I don't want to spoil the plot, so let's just say that this movie doesn't go the path of the "let's decimate a group of annoying teens"-movies. It's rather one of those "the-right-people-being-at-the-wrong-location-at-the-wrong-time"-kind of movie and this really pays out. The storyline is realistic and even more important: believable. Of course, some of the characters still border on clichés, but this is excusable, because this is balanced out by other "normal" characters.
The acting is pretty good most of the times. Especially noteworthy are the performances of Monika Potter and Tony Goldwyn (they played the parents). I haven't seen Goldwyn since "Ghost", but his side stroll through the TV-series market sure didn't hurt his acting. He portrays a believable father figure, whom you automatically sympathize with. Monika Potter's performance of the terrified, yet angry mother is just as excellent.
Some people argued that this is no horror movie and therefore a fail. It sure is more of a thriller, but that doesn't make it any less of a great film. Gore is being kept to a minimum, which adds to the realistic nature. Still, you get to see some nice and unusual scenes.
Even though there's a lot of action going on, the pacing always seems slow. This is due to quite long scenes, which stretch the agony of the characters to unusual lengths most of the time. This is actually a nice way to make a film. It's certainly better than killing the characters quickly and adding tons of fillers, which is the basic concept of, in my opinion, inferior horror movies.
Another thing that struck me was the flow of the movie, if you could call it that. While there are some strong emotional scenes, the movie doesn't know (or want) to emotionalize until the end. May be that's just my feeling here. At the end I didn't feel bad, but I certainly didn't feel as relieved as in "Taken". But don't get me wrong! I liked this feeling. This made the movie stand out for me.
At the end, the movie will be rewarding in one way or the other. It surely is more rewarding than most movies of that genre out there: If you hated "Eden Lake" because of its ending (or like me, just in general, because it is such a god awful movie), then you will most certainly like this one.
Eden Lake (2008)
Terrible, boring, unintelligent...in other words a waste of time
Good horror movies are hard to find and if you look here you won't find one. This flick is one of those that only work by making their main protagonists stupid beyond believe. You hate those movies where the victim opens the door with the murderer behind it, despite better knowledge? Then don't waste your time on this movie, because it is nothing more than 90 minutes of those moments strung together.
The plot is quickly told: A young couple, which is camping at a beach in a forest, gets into trouble with a group of teenagers - or rather kids - after complaining to them about their loud music. Things get out of hand afterwards and they end up being hunted by the minors. Sounds stupid and unbelievable to you? Then you got it right.
From the moment the movie tried to sell the small clash between the couple and the teenagers as a major reason to base the following 70 minutes of violence on, I knew this one would be really bad and I wasn't proved wrong.
The story is so full of plot holes, that it is unbelievable that the movie even achieved a higher rating than 3.
The next part is dedicated to the many plot holes and therefor will contain spoilers: When the couple first meet the kids at the beach, the man ends up being a total sissy, while the kids humiliate him. We are talking about 12-14 yr olds here, while the guy himself looked pretty muscular. Unbelievable.
Later the kids steal their car. When the couple finds them, the guy still acts like a whiny idiot and begs for his car. The scene ends in a fight with one of the older kids, who draws a knife and attacks the man, who manages to get a hold of it and accidentally stabs the rottweiler of the kids. Instead of using the knife to his advantage, he drops it in a totally unbelievable fashion, apologizes for the dead dog and suddenly flees with his girl in his car.
Which guy lets himself get humiliated by a bunch of kids? Who runs from kids, which he could have easily overpowered? Who drops his only weapon in a (make believe) situation of danger, but then runs from his "foes" to keep himself from harm, while the situation was in fact very controlled? When was the last time you saw a school teacher being beaten by a bunch of kids? The end of the movie follows the fashion of those that try to be different by doing the opposite of what you expect. You won't like it, so after you wasted your time watching a movie about a bunch of kids out of control, who chase two girls through the woods, you will wish to have watched something good instead - unless of course you like movies with unintelligent, illogical story lines.I sure know I don't.
What a waste of time
When i was little i watched the movie when it aired on German TV. It scared the hell out of me. If you've read splatterdome's comment then you can imagine why it can impress little kids. I watched the movie several times back then and it kept on impressing me. After the movie ran a few times it didn't show up on any channel and i wondered why. In my memory it was still a very respectful science-fiction movie. Recently I tried to obtain a copy of the movie and succeeded. Man, this was a mistake! The whole movie is embarrassing. The actors definitely don't have any talent. It doesn't matter that Walter Koenig played a famous role in Star Trek. Not just his role in Moontrap is bad (like all the others too), but he shows his major lack of acting skills. Together with Bruce Campbell they're struggling for the worst actor starring in a movie with the worst script the world has ever seen. The main plot itself ain't that dumb, in fact it's quite interesting, but it's realization was worse than the usual "B-movie-standards". The set they used seem to be a reject from old 70's shows and the overuse of clichés is too much even for the more patient types with a high tolerance of dumb stuff they can see before freaking out and throwing the remote into the TV just to stop the boredom. The movies ending was constructed in a way to make a sequel possible. Why they didn't do one you will understand after wasting 90 minutes of your life watching this movie ;) To all the guys waiting for a DVD-Release: there's a reason that it never appeared on DVD and chances are good that no company will ever waste money on releasing this. Just raise your standards of entertainment and you will see why :)