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The Hidden (1987)
Oldie but goodie...
Possibly one of the most disgustingly disturbing sci. Fi. Films I have ever seen, after 1979's Alien. Its effectiveness as disturbing is matched only by it's bland simplicity in the idea's implementation. Very reasonable sci. Fi., with lots of action, violence and weirdo behavior galore for the connoisseur of retro psychological abnormality and bizarre dark humor. Akin to having a huge live cockroach in your esophagus guiding your consciousness. Pressingly urgent and suspensive, keeps you to your seat without extravagant sci. Fi. Pseudo-science. +1 for nicely trained Spaniel short Collie doggie which freezes against a mirror thinking how to implement most effectively nasty circumventing action against its 200 pound owner. What can I say... This film works. Don't miss it.
400 Days (2015)
Sorry to disappoint all the "critics", here...
But I will go with, excellently unpredictable, good acting and enough post-apocalyptic clues to last you a lifetime. Never mind the zombie-looking live characters and Never MIND what's actually happened. Even if "the unthinkable" happened, the critics would still complain that the movie was unpredictably cut short, with no explanation or there weren't enough nuclear explosions above ground to prohibit coming back out. +2 for "hey, what the hell happened with such an unpredictable and short cut at the end...?" That's NONE of your business, sport. That's the whole point of such an experiment.
Ok, yes, but...
An interesting idea with an interesting implementation, but it gets badly stuck on the scientific explanation of it. You can't make a whole movie based on sci.fi. Phenomena which haven't been sufficiently explained, yet. You have to explain WHY something horrific like that happens, or if you can't, leave it at that. Otherwise you'd think that these neat and very expensive labs are working on some pretty solid Bozonian Physics and Medicine. Still not bad though. Give more $s to Mr. Shyamalan and he will eventually come up with some very interesting stuff that's highly enjoyable to watch unfold behind your back, even through bogus science or myth. +2 for his cameo appearance as a lowly van driver who leaves all visitors just before a huge, restrictive, do NOT trespass gate leading into a dark tunnel. This dude has got it.
Shut In (2022)
It's not everyday that I have the patience to sit tight and watch around 1 hour of a non-action theatrical ploy with only 4 actors, but this was a GOOD surprise, after I watched the rest of the movie after 8 days! I'd given it a 10 if only the punishment devised was rat-poison in COMBINATION with that other cr*p! WooHoo! Excellent acting and retro scenery. Don't miss it!
Dark Web: Cicada 3301 (2021)
Limitless in the Dark Web's Conspiracy
Not bad, but a little too excessive and exorbitant (Limitless 2011) on various issues, such as some of the computer details. The director did his homework to some extent though: The beginning of the story matches almost word-for-word the most popular script for these guys found on the public web if you Google Cicada 3301 code, which contains detailed decoding steps identical to those shown on film. And the latter is at least 12 years old. So, a similar story up to the party element, which is probably fictional for Cicadas, along with most of the circumstantial practices followed during the party. The party probably matches much better various conspiratorial rogues, like Mithraism followers (The Conspiracy 2012) or Freemasons or something else similar such, so -1 for that. -1 for portraying the NSA as a bunch of stupid and inconsiderate loons, never mind the final twist which has them - along with the justice league humiliated and extorted into some sort of unbelievable money-giving scheme. Things DON'Tdon't work this way with the NSA. -1 for too excessive on the issue of intelligence. -1 for the unsatisfying final twist: Who'd need to go back to work and contribute to helping other potentials after getting all this money? I wouldn't if I had to go through such an ordeal. Better if he disappeared somewhere far and away from all eyes with all this money.
New Orleans' Angelheart doing summer business in Sweden
Quite a fun flick. Dark, bizarre fun. If you come with the right attitude, that is. If not, nothing more than 'can't argue with traditional pagan/voodoo' horror. If the idea was true and the Church saw this, they'd probably excommunicate the entire country as a bunch of satanic loons who've incorporated some really weird pagan practices in their tradition. Thank goodness the entire concept is fictional. -2, only for assigning this concept to the Swedes, something that makes them look a bit silly. If not for any of that, watch it for its excellent cinematography and scenery which obliviously goes contra the subject matter.
Bloody Hell (2020)
Silently and weirdly amusing
Situational bizzarreity can strike at any time from Murphy's Law. Particularly when changing cultures. And when it does, your hand a feet are all you've got. Well, unless you haven't (got). The implications can be mind boggling. And so they are, with this script. Nice segmented story line, with carefully stitched flashbacks interjected to explain the plot. A little absurd on the issue of family support for genetic dysfunction, but otherwise quite fun. -3 only for spending too much time on the main character talking to himself all the time. Well, duh, everybody does that. No reason to spend a total of 15-20 minutes with a fake mirror self act. Dark and bizarre humor plethoric, with convining Ben O'Tool, who's impervious to bad luck one way or another, so if you are a fan, that's another of your chances to enjoy. Don't miss it.
12 Hour Shift (2020)
Angela Bettis' top notch seriously depressive addict acting can only be matched by tremendous and beautiful Chloe Farnworth's unimitable portrayal of your typical dumb blond whose power of stupidity is invincible. If a fan of irony, sarcasm and black humor, that's your movie. Don't miss it. -2 only for being a little slow at the beginning. But it does catch up eventually and when it does it's the absurd logic of Murphy's Law of the wild Grizzly bear's intentions, approaching the unsuspecting happy go lucky camper.
The Machine (2013)
Nicely made for British low budget
Interesting questions, visible since the recent advances in A.I., with some fairly accurate portrayal of what'd be required for a "program" to successfully pass the Turing Test for consciousness. Without becoming too involved, delivers several good reasons why such an advance should be avoided at all costs: From the military taking advantage of it for its own nefarious purposes, to the dangers of such tech falling into the hands of the power-hungry and insane. Nice not too aggressive performances by Stephens and beautiful Lotz, with some interesting moral issues raised. A little too involved on the militaristic aspect of using A.I. for mediocre purposes, but otherwise a quite accurate view of how things could turn-out if such tech was ever achieved. Matter & Consciousness problems at riotous bloom, without too much tech lingo. Absolutely worth its time.
Tasty & Inventive story
Interesting twist on an old problem - that of death, salt-peppered with an avalanche of additional problems arising from complications of the actual procedure used to extend life. Raises many interesting philosophical and ethical issues on the problem of transferring consciousness from one body to another, some of which may be of particular interest to adherents of Transhumanism, a movement which pushes for the extension of life through any possible/available means. Consciousness and Identity, Mind & Body Problem, Ego and Id, all relevant philosophical problems related to the issues raised, with moral side overtones and whistles from merging consciousness from (at least) two different people. The issue is quite complex and this movie presents some of the ethical problems raised. Falls a little heavy on the obligatory part that tries to justify a prior good moral code, but still quite successful in delivering a powerful interpretation of what a possible solution to the problem of death might entail. Nice plot, action, visuals, not too much tangential over runs, complicated twists and the obligatory Evil Scientist, who operates without any moral restraints whatsoever. Like others have pointed out, a mix between Limitless and Face On/Off, but more philosophically involved. Too bad only because the actual procedure used is pure fiction; such tech is unheard of. Excellent performances by both Kingsley and Reynolds, like Limitless, it's definitely worth your time. Don't miss it.
Garm Wars: The Last Druid (2014)
Very visually pleasing but stands low on story content
If cinematography on sci.fi. was an art, that would be it. Probably the best depiction/transfer of Gigerian art on screen, although in reality totally unrelated. When I saw it I mistook it for "Prometheus". Story however is shallow and at best drags along. A little slow in terms of development, but overall ok. Worth a watch if only for its art and mysterious atmosphere and Lance Henriksen.
Masterpiece thriller/horror story
A very intense round of Poker between "God" and the "Devil". The former continuously lags behind in clues & game - even if only so slightly, yet eventually wins - case solved, the latter holds one final trick Ace in his pocket for the next round: substitute the missing with another one: Demonically suspicious - always looking for clues & hints freemason (check his ring up close) police investigator with a nose for trouble, solves unbelievably convoluted & diabolically designed child abduction mystery, perpetrated by ex-faithful broken weirdo family loonie(s). Enough to make you salivate for more. Tremendous performances by both Gyllenhaal and Jackman. I was so used picturing Jackman as Wolverine, this was quite a surprise. But Gyllenhaal's facial ticks and expressions of response to the story turns, is beyond description. This movie put him on my top 20 actors list. Should be horror, really. -1 only for the "Devil" holding that trick Ace at the end. Don't miss it!
Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)
Nicely executed horror idea
Nicely made and interesting novel idea. The tech is pretty convincing, too, although I am not a Mac user, so I can't vouch for how accurate it is. Story takes a lot of surpisingly bad turns and each and every time you can expect the worst of the worst. -1 for speed of execution, which is a bit ridiculous (who operates their computers at such speeds? Typing 25-letter passwords in 1 sec?) and -1 for RGB and video viral decomposition sequences, whenever a suspicious face is to be shown. That's not really necessary, since the villains cover their faces anyway, not to mention it's not really possible (to affect the camera image dynamically like that via external factors). Overall a worthy watch. From the dark-web films I've seen, probably the best.
Absolutely worth its 1:45 minutes!
Excellent story line and cinematography. That's how good thrillers are made. Attentive and intense, without wasting too much time on personal issues. Most of the details are interesting and immerse the viewer into a cyclone of tech nomenclature without diverging too much into tech twilight zone. Even ignoring the tech - if you are not a computer person, it's still cold, relentless and gruesome, like good horror needs to be when dealing with deviant psychopaths who smile at the designed and expected and have everything preplanned. The tech is pretty impressive for 2008 and fairly accurate and close to modern capabilities. -1 only for not being very approving of the FBI image: Makes them look like a horde of lost idiots rather, than portraying their more intricate abilities, which SHOULD include the ability to locate such typical net gurus much faster than in the story. Good stuff, overall if you are a thriller/horror fan. Don't miss it.
The Invisible Man (2020)
Advanced optics tech makes it slightly unbelievable, but otherwise ok psychological horror.
Has some serious logical flaws in regard to its optics tech: Powering issues, cleaning issues, weight issues and damage from external factors & mobility issues. Not to mention size problems, since such a suit wouldn't be easily wearable. Apart from the previous - that is, it's still not easily implementable, the rest is pretty good: Good cinematography, scenery and decent acting, with rising tension throughout . But centering the entire script on just this cloaking device/method and how 2 narcissistic psychopaths can use it to confuse and evade others and turn everyone's life into a crazy nightmare is a bit over-plethoric and somewhat tiring. Similar to exhonerating every psychopath's dream: To use invisibility like that and do what he wants and escape unnoticed, since nobody's seen nothing or turn the blame elsewhere from lack of visual evidence. Gore is decent and the story allows for a gradual understanding of how two narcissist genius psychopaths work and think. If you haven't seen it it's a plus, although it spends too much time playing hide and seek with someone who makes absolutely no other noises? and infiltrates any space available? (-2). The ending was good, although fairly predictable: Dealing with a syzygy of psychopaths, you'd assume the worst: BOTH would be involved AND alive. Overall, a novel idea (combining sci.fi with horror), so it's worth a watch. See Predator (1987) - or any movie in the Predator vs Alien franchise, after you watch this, for a more (scientifically) informed take on the same optics effect.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
Cheeky, bloated & fun
Don't think too seriously about this. See it if only for the fun part. Bizarre and absurd, but carefully driven and pictured to be fairly entertaining. I love films that accurately portray dogs' response to dubious situations (+1) (How the heck do they do that?). Some parts were directly copied from Men In Black (I think 2), but the effects here are hillarious and they work, with some nice acting by Robert Englund. A deliberate orgy of stereotypical teen angst, anger, sillyness, stupidity and naive application of Murphy's Law makes this quite a funny script. Don't think too much watching it: Just grab your favourite beer and get ready to have a blast through the silliness.
Bad Country (2014)
Worth its money
William Dafoe is versatile. Has played just about everything from bad cop, soldier and villain to Jesus Christ. Almost as versatile as Christopher Walken - without the psychopath look. His is a terrific performance in this, along with that of Tom Berenger (both appeared in Platoon (1986), nice to see them both aging nicely) and Matt Dillon, whose stern serious and solemn emotionally unresponsive look is worth it by itself. Nice pictoresque and graphical scenery, excellent cinematography and a story that doesn't bore. Good to the extent that most of the twists and turns were sort of expected: What else would one expect for a villain turning to help the gov., but an inevitable payback for his past karma, bit by bit? Nice cinematic reminiscent of the 80's with some of the standard bells & whistles of the times: Incessant smoking, nervosity & classic dark police investigative reasoning, sprinkled with a good dose of FBI incompetence - which has become somewhat standard as of late. Satisfying gradual tension, with a colorful array of redneck loon baddies and corrupt characters and decent action if you exclude the long gunfire scenes, which are a bit overdone and take too long. Overall, I am not sorry to have rewatched it recently.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
If something can go wrong, it will, after changing the initial parameters
Fairly naive interpretation of the popularized theme in Mathematical and Physical Chaos, that if you alter the initial parameters, the system may change upredictably and the changes will be BIG(1). That's the first part. The second part seems to be the unavoidable and repeated application of Murphy's Law: "if anything can go wrong, it will...", which seems to be acting simultaneously to the Chaos theme. Everytime one tries to change the parameters of some initial state, one falls into a different (probably) parallel reality, where life is vastly different. Problem is, Murphy's Law doesn't care about which universe you are in: It stalks relentlessly all realities independently: Hence the quite unpredictable and unexpected final twist result: It's best for things to not have started at all, than go wrong every single time. It's a quite sad and depressing movie actually and I liked that. Almost as depressing as Dark City (1998) or Jacob's Ladder (1990), with an affinity to the latter, since there's no good solution in sight. Good food for philosophical thought on many related issues, such as reincarnation, karma, life's choices, the absurdity of Murphy's Law, life and death, etc. Too bad there's no way out of Murphy's Law, so +10 for all the previous. The best solution is always no solution, since the best way to predict reality is to know exactly what you DON'T want. Excellent acting by all involved and a script that gives many satisfying examples. Couldn't have been made better. Probably a classic in its genre. Don't miss it.
(1): For a better depiction of this popularized idea for chaotic effects resulting from changes, watch instead The Cloverfield Paradox (2018).
Not worth its time
Excepting some nice acting by the main characters. Otherwise, unrealistic with a a silly script, unless one thinks that the perpetrator is a total loon who has no better business to do than harass someone to death over a small mistake. Nice to see a beer-belly, sweaty and violent Russel Crowe, though. Blows his handsome Gladiator left over image to smithereens.
Escape from L.A. (1996)
Better fun than Escape from N.Y.
Certainly better visual candy than the prequel (Escape from N.Y.), but otherwise point for point similar script only with slight variations and with many stereotypical addons a little utopic and outdated for their time, never mind outdated and naively played out. That's not 2013, more like 1998, again, but the effects are decent for its time. Great as for 1996, not so good as much later. Augmented with a colorful array of nuts and loonies, but the stererotypes almost ruin it. Communist rebels, Cuban attacks and a deeply religious fundamentalist president but unrealistic tech. Otherwise, good-ole times fun, like how REAL films were made, back in those days. Action fans don't miss it.
The Den (2013)
From the Den to the Den of Horror
A little ridiculous plot line - university study based on a Skype-like chatting program - why can't I get a grand like that? Slow start, but picks up after a while with some interesting comspiratorial gore near the end. Given the fairly mediocre cast, I wouldn't bother. The cast acts better as villains with masks on. Average B-movie horror, at best.
Open Windows (2014)
Hyperbolically advanced tech and overcomplicated twist
Fairly ok for thriller fans, but with tech that's not even close to your dreams. Diabolically sinister and confusing script spends 90% of its time prompting the viewer to think that the main character is a naive techless idiot celebrity fan, only to reveal an unecessarily complicated and douzy cybercrime spy story with at least 3 participant sides in a final twist. Absurd victimhood at its best: If mediocre and bad actors can be subject to such fuss, imagine what'd happen with famous good actors. Many unecessary elements, such as needless conspiratorial explanations - provided because otherwise the script would make no sense to the average viewer. Absurdy advanced tech and computer applications! Even the Army or the NSA wouldn't have such surveilance capabilities, never mind an amateur hack. Relentless wifi data & virus transfer and remote installation programs that provide camera views for just about every secret nook & corner in the known universe? Haven't these people heard of firewalls? GPS tracking and pinpoint camera locations? Does anyone have such advanced tech or is this stuff of dreams? Average acting, with the exception of Elijah Woods. Not much worth watching except as visual candy.
The Conspiracy (2012)
Interesting but paradoxical
Is this supposed to be a faux documentary based on actual events or just a movie? if it's a movie, why the need to blur the faces and voices? If it's a faux documentary, what are the "actual events" talked about or simulated and why again the need to cover faces and voices? Looks like a faux documentary-like recasting of SOME "actual events", so it I am not at all convinced about its veracity, particularly as it focuses on only one group among the many in existence for conspiracy loons. "Tarsus" looks like a legit giant business corp. having nothing to do with Mithraic mythology. Weren't the movie creators worried about possible defamation of Tarsus with this film? Also, (c) by Mithras Films, Inc. at the end? Wth? This makes it look like a specifically published false impression BY the very group these reporters are investigating. That's a little absurd. So, many little inconstistencies that eventually confuse the viewer about this film's impression and purpose and detract widely from any "actual truth" of the matter. -1 for picking on only one such possible group (imaginary or not). The preliminary stuff about general conspiracies is basically irrelevant to the later focus and is nowhere documented. -4 for all the other inconsistencies taken together. Decent for conpiracy fans, but otherwise boring and inconsistent. Watch The Blair Witch Project (1999) or Regression (2015), instead. At least in Blair Witch you know it's just a faux "found-footage" documentary, so you will not be confused in advance about the film's intentions.
Satanic rituals & child sacrifices
Amenabar on orgasm on this one: A variant of the "everyone's in it except you" conspiracy genre, that has been done to death. The difference with this is that Amenabar resolves it much more rationally than most of the older films in this genre and that's satisfying and unexpected. So, +1 for that. But if such is the case, what's the purpose of the effects and visual delusions of the main investigator? Well, I suppose just an added bell to scare a bit the viewer. It almost works, even if carried off a bit far. Amenabar seemingly absolves this case as mass hysteria, but as always there are always two sides to every question: It is NOT very clear that ALL similar cases reported/recorded are just delusions or mass hysteria, so at this point looks like he hasn't researched his homework on the issue, even though the film admits that the FBI has been involved in some such cases. Leads one to think that the issue is essentially benign and related to psychology, but that's not quite the case. There ARE such obscure groups of people in existence (Satanists & Devil worshippers), even though the official carriers of these organizations have officially denied any involvement in questionable acts, as such (Search YouTube for documentaries on Satanism Child abuse victims, etc). Of course, if you are stupid enough - as an adult to involve yourself in such organizations, you'll just have it coming, so overall, the movie misses that point: -1 for that. A wider more well-rounded perspective story, including dubious or questionable (perhaps even unsolved) cases would've been more satisfying and would prompt the viewer to think the issue a bit more, instead of relying on some abstract dream visuals which don't do the issue justice. Overall, quite good, with excellent 1990's cinematography (+1) and good acting by Ethan Hawke and emotionally burdened, dramatic Emma Watson. Watch it if only as the apotheosis of all films Satanic conspiracy all in it horror genre - with an fresh twist.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
What the heck?
The first and best of the "found footage" genre. Terrific cinematography - albeit somewhat tiring trying to immitate an amateur camera, interesting development of characters and nice gradual increase of tension and terror, culminating in an apotheosis of voodoo-like magic scenery with associated absurd terrorific bells & whistles. Leaves the viewer hanging with "wth WAS that thing", and it's best that way, without revealing too many details about the perpetrator of all the terror. Gist of the story implies that "it" cannot be human or animal, but something else, probably inbetween the two, and that's what I liked best. Time looping, path looping, unexplained memory and object loss, random involuntary wondering in the maze that is the colorful American woods, all leading to the inevitable: Loss of sanity from scaring your living daylights from the terror of the unknown in more than one subtle way. Very original idea and execution, albeit a little on the cheap side - understood as trying to pass as amateur shooting. Will remain an unsurpassed classic. -1 only for not showing a little more of that thing involved. Its sequels pale in comparison to this. Don't miss it.