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The Professor (2018)
10/10
Depp is in great form in a role perfectly suited for him
18 September 2019
I often think to myself those who are told that they have x amount of time left to live are actually the lucky ones in a way. Because at least they get to experience the freedom of knowing you have to live your live to the fullest. After all, we are all dying from the minute we are born. Some are just lucky enough to know it. That's what this movie explores. When people are put in that position they can either sit around feeling sorry for themselves, or they can make the most of the every minute left. I know I'd personally like to hope I'd choose the latter.

This role was perfectly suited for Johnny Depp. I don't know if it was specifically written for him, or if they tweaked it a bit after he was cast. Either way, it worked. The charisma he shows is incredible. He's one of the few people who can get away with being a complete ass and have it still be charming. It's mesmerising to watch. This movie isn't a long one either, so he is only given 90 minutes to make us fall in love with and care about his character.

Films like 'The Professor' are a necessary reminder that we are all mortal. I love a film that has the message of "live your life like there's no tomorrow". Because one day there won't be. I really enjoyed this film and I think others who give it a fair shot will too.
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4/10
Not the return from Muniz that I was hoping to see
16 September 2019
I was huge fan of 'Malcolm in the Middle' back in the day. I maintain it is one of the best television shows made in the last 20 years. I had seen very little of Frankie Muniz since then though so when I spotted a mystery/horror/thriler with his name on the header I couldn't resist checking it out. To be honest I kind of wish I hadn't. It wasn't great at all.

The first thing that blew me away was that Muniz hasn't aged a day. In fact if they filmed another season of 'Malcolm in the Middle' I'm pretty sure they could get away with picking up where they left off with him as an 18 year old. His acting style was always more suited to comedy though. In a more serious movie his line presentation isn't always as convincing as you'd like it to be.

The biggest crime 'The Black String' commits though is that it's boring. Even though there's enough going on, I was never invested in any of the characters to actually care. The film makes zero effort to introduce the characters and try to make them likeable. Add in some very poorly written and cliche-riddled dialogue and you have yourself a bit of tough watch of a film. Not one I'd recommend.
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10/10
A film that will stick with you long after the credits roll
16 September 2019
After finishing '(500) Days of Summer' I thought to myself what an incredible film it was and decided on rating it a 9/10. Then as the night went on the film just wouldn't leave my mind. Little thoughts and moments kept creeping back into my mind for further analysis. After a few hours of this I realised I had no choice but to boost it to a 10/10. Any film that can stick with you this powerfully is a pretty unique and special thing.

The film has narration (some of the best narration of I've ever heard in a film) and one of the first things said is a warning to the audience that this isn't a love story. At that point I realised this film was going to be something special. It wasn't going to play to the Hollywood formulas that we have all become so accustomed to. In fact it's one of the more unique films I can ever remember seeing. And what makes it so unique is that it isn't afraid to be raw and powerful and let you personally feel the pain the characters feel.

There's so much to love about this film. The soundtrack is amazing, the humour is genuinely hilarious, the chemistry between the two leads, the brilliant story structure that lets you compare the good times to the bad and the unique scene ideas like Reality vs Expectation that can be analysed time and time again. If you are like me and never saw this when it first came out please take the time now to do so. It is so very worth it.
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The Hunt (2012)
10/10
One of the toughest films I've ever watched
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
'The Hunt' is a very important film. It's important that it exists because even though it may seem unlikely, this could happen to literally anyone. It's such a brutal and hard-hitting film to watch because his man's life is being torn apart in front of your eyes and you feel so helpless to stop it. The film actually lets him off in a way (not entirely but at least in the eyes of the law) and while I was thankful for that from a spectators perspective I'm not entirely sure how realistic that was. Even still, this film provides you with (and leaves you with) a very uneasy feeling deep inside.

The final moments of the film are very interesting to me. A shot is taken at the lead character, which misses. This is such a brilliant ending to the film because it is a poignant reminder that something like this never truly leaves you alone forever. On a side note, and I know it's not the point, but I would actually love to see a whole other film made, starting at the point that this film ends. It could be a whodunnit of sorts. It would never happen, but dreams are free.

The acting in this film is incredible. The reason it's so incredible is because everyone has to have so much subtlety. There are so many tiny little looks and face details that speak a thousand words. Every one of them nails it. The little girl in particular blew me away. She was captivating in every scene she was in.

The synopsis for this film mentions that the little girl is lying. Even though that intriguing synopsis is what got me to watch the film, I wish it didn't mention that she was lying. I think not being a 100% certain of that (and yes I know the film makes a point of being very clear at the start with multiple hints that she is lying) adds a layer to the film. Almost a little like the film 'Doubt', you always have it in the back of your mind whether he did or did not do it. I guess it's not the point of the film and maybe it does work better with the audience knowing he's innocent. I can see it both ways, but personally I'd prefer to have the doubt.

'The Hunt' is a masterful film. It takes extremely sensitive material and makes it into a powerful masterpiece. You must see this film if you haven't already.
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Haunt (2019)
10/10
Could be 2019's best horror film
14 September 2019
I can't remember the last time I said "wow" as many times as I did during 'Haunt'. This movie just never stopped amazing me. Every time it produced something brilliant I'd think to myself how the film had just reached its peak, and then five minutes later it would one up itself with something even better. Imagine this over and over again for 90 minutes and you have yourself an insanely good movie.

Very rarely any more do horror films impact me in any way. Mostly I'm just bored by them because either I've seen it all before, can predict what is going to happen next, or simply don't care about any of the characters. More often than not it's all three. In 'Haunt' however I found none of those things. There were countless occurrences I hadn't seen before, I had no idea what was going to happen next, and I literally wanted every character (on the good side of course) to be alright.

I had a really uncomfortable feel in my stomach watching this movie and that is what I dream of when I go into a horror movie. That means it works. There was so much to love about this movie. The set-design, the acting, the fact that it didn't rely on false jump-scares or dream sequences, the look of the bad guys (blew my mind), the unpredictability and the non-stop pacing just to name a few. Please see this movie. It is incredible.
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A Dark Place (2018)
5/10
Not a likeable character in sight
12 September 2019
The synopsis for 'Steel Country' was what got me interested in it. Yet surprisingly as I was watching it I found the movie to be more of a character study than about the actual story. They each drive each other, but I would certainly say the character side of things takes over at around the halfway point and never relents. The problem the film then has is that this isn't a very interesting character for us to be examining. Sure, he's odd and clearly not 100% there mentally, but does that make for good viewing? Spending 90 minutes with a completely unlikeable character isn't exactly my idea of a good time.

The story is simple. We are immediately shown a body of a dead boy in the river, the lead character 'Donnie' takes an off-hand comment from the victims mother about everything not being as it seems, and then 'Donnie' launches his own private investigation. I wanted to invest myself in the story side of things, but it was so difficult because every character was so dull and boring. There isn't a likeable person in this film.

The film contains an unexpected ending that at least tries to be different and shock the audience a little. Otherwise though there aren't a whole lot of positives to mention. 'Steel Country' isn't an unwatchable film, it's just a very bland one.
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The Fanatic (2019)
3/10
A trainwreck that you can't look away from
10 September 2019
If someone gave a legitimate filmmaker a challenge of making the worst possible movie they could, whilst making it seem like they were trying to make the best movie they could, I imagine it would look a little something like what 'The Fanatic' does. Was that what happened here? I've been racking my brains since the credits rolled trying to think how a movie like this got made, and to be honest I'm coming up empty on answers. This is one of the worst films I have ever seen.

John Travolta is a twice over Oscar nominated actor. Even though he doesn't make particularly good films anymore, he's still supposed to be decent to watch in the ones he does appear in. Here though it's as if his director was telling him to act as badly as he possibly could. It becomes very cringe-worthy very quickly.

The film is just laughable in almost every way. There are actually multiple scenes featuring narration. And the narration sounds like it's setting up 'Blade Runner' or something, it takes itself very seriously. Then there's the ending. Don't even get me started on how stupid the ending is. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. I think it is very hard to get across in writing just what a monstrosity this film is. I guess the only way to get enjoyment from it is to just accept how terrible it is, make peace with it, and turn it into a comedy in your mind. That's what I did very early on and it got me through the 90 minutes thankfully. Viewer has been warned.
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Ready or Not (I) (2019)
9/10
A brilliant cast, playing brilliant characters in a brilliant film
9 September 2019
The first thing you'll notice when watching 'Ready or Not' is how good the dialogue is. Horror movies are notorious for having terrible, bland, uninteresting dialogue, but the lines written for this film (and it does help that there are some very good actors delivering them to be fair) are superb. That sets the tone, and then the story takes over. I love how mysterious this movie is. You're always on edge because you feel like the film has more up its sleep than its showing you. This is a really well made horror movie.

The cast of characters is just so great. There isn't a bland one amongst them. They all add something to the film and collectively make it so great. I would be remiss not to mention Samara Weaving in the main role. She is incredible. She is the horror character filmmakers dream of creating, because you can't help but root for her.

Even though this was a great movie throughout, I couldn't help feeling the ending was going to play a large part in how people were going to feel about it. So did it stick the landing? It did so and more. The ending was handled brilliantly and was the icing on the cake to an already great film. I can't recommend 'Ready or Not' highly enough. See this film.
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8/10
Another great French film
8 September 2019
My goodness the French are great at making films. They have this way of keeping everything so simple, and yet being endlessly complex and powerful at the same time. 'The Intouchables' is no exception. I've been meaning to see this film for a long time but just never got around to it. Finally it was playing on my flight to Bali the other day and I decided now was the time. I'm very glad I took the time to see it because it is a very fine film.

The chemistry between the two leads (and to a lesser extent the rest of the cast as well who also did an excellent job) is what makes this film so special. Unfortunately the fact that the real life version of Driss wasn't black is a little distasteful. I think it is disrespectful to the real life person. If it were the other way around there would be hell to pay. This is one of the very few negatives I can aim at this film.

The story is funny, charming, heart-breaking and joyous all at once. It is a great watch. I see that the American's have made a remake with Bryan Cranston (great casting) and Kevin Hart (not great casting - but hey, prove me wrong Kevin). I'm sceptical about seeing it but curiosity may get the better of me. 99 times out 100 though I would suggest people are better off just watching the original even if they're not a fan of subtitles.
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8/10
Not your average horror movie
4 September 2019
Very early on in 'It Chapter Two' there is some wink wink dialogue about an author writing a great book, but messing up the ending. Anyone who is familiar with the 'It' book or original mini-series will know the ending was not well liked. Here now though they had a chance to rectify things, and I can assure you they did. Not just in terms of the ending, but the entire second entry is actually a fantastically made film and in my opinion superior to part one.

The film is exceptionally long for a horror movie at nearly three hours. The thing is though I can't see it having the same impact if it were much shorter. There was a lot of layers to fit in. This isn't your average "fast-food" horror like the 'Conjuring' universe films. This is as much a drama in a lot of ways as it is a horror. The first half of the film especially. A long time is taken reintroducing us to the characters, showing us where they are with their lives now and building up their résumés again. Then in the second half of the film (and yes I'm talking about almost an entire 90 minutes) the film kicks into hyper-drive with non-stop, in your face horror - and it is a sight to behold.

The cast were again all perfectly selected. Bill Hader in particular steals the show. He is given some great one-liners to work with, much the same as Finn Wolfhard was, and he nails every one of them. There is also a great Stephen King cameo. This isn't just a case of blink and you'll miss him, he is given an entire scene with some hilarious dialogue. I wasn't sure whether 'It Chapter Two' would be able to stick the landing and give the story the ending that it deserves, but it certainly did. I had a great time with this movie and I think any lover of the genre will as well.
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11:14 (2003)
8/10
A really fun movie that builds up to a great final segment
2 September 2019
The concept used in '11:14' is one of favourites. I love any movie or television show that uses it. It typically works better in movie form though because there is more time to fit more layers into the story. The great thing about these is that every point of view segment is better than the last, because we have slightly more context and are able to make more and more connections. The fifth and final segment in '11:14' is the bow that ties it all together. It is done perfectly and makes this film what it is.

This film had a rather incredible cast. They may not have entirely known it at the time but there were a lot of astoundingly talented actors in this film. I didn't even recognise Ben Foster. The funny thing is that Jason Segel gets a minor role, and yet he has actually gone on to be one of the biggest stars out of this entire cast.

The film is surprisingly dark when you think back on it. They try to make it feel like it's not by throwing some humour and some (sometimes out of place) light music into the mix. This is a very rewatchable film, in fact as soon as it finished I went back and watched the first 15 minutes or so again. I had a great time with '11:14' and if you never got around to seeing it back in the day I would highly recommend doing so now.
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9/10
A book adaption done perfectly
2 September 2019
I wish more films were made like this these days. This was Ben Affleck's cinematic directorial debut and you could tell he put his heart and soul into it. It helped that he had a great base material to work with, but converting a good book into a good movie is still never an easy feat. Affleck nailed it.

The acting he gets out of his cast is phenomenal. There is not a weak performance anywhere in this movie, and the main cast are incredible. I'm surprised there weren't more Oscar nominations forthcoming for them.

This is a very twisty movie that always keeps the audience guessing and unsure of what is coming next. The ending is fabulous too. Over ten years later and it is still being debated to this day. 'Gone Baby Gone' is a brilliant film not to be missed.
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Angel of Mine (2019)
7/10
Jesus...
31 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This review doesn't contain any specific spoilers, but just the mention of there being a twist in my opinion can be a spoiler. I don't really know any other way to review this film than to include spoilers. I always try to avoid that but on this occasion the twist is too important to the quality of the film not to discuss it. 'Angel of Mine' is an Australian film that caught my eye with a solid cast and an interesting sounding premise. Around two-thirds of the way through the film I was cursing my decision to watch it. I was bored, disinterested and hoping for it to hurry up and end. Then the ending came around and everything changed.

Without specifically saying what happened, I'll simply say everything that had come before needed to be reconsidered (in a big way). In hindsight the film actually does a brilliant job of manipulating the audience into a certain way of thinking, without ever cheating. It is very similar to 'The Sixth Sense' in that regard. When the twist comes around I thought to myself, holy hell the implications this has could fill an entire other movie.

The problem this movie is going to have is that it does such a good job of throwing people off the scent that I think a lot are going to be frustrated and bored with it before they even make it to the big reveal. That would be very disappointing. I've always said the way you end your film is the most important factor in terms of how people will judge it. 'Angel of Mine' ends on an incredibly high note and thus a lot (but certainly not all) of its flaws are forgiven.
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Ma (I) (2019)
7/10
A complex villain and an incredible final act make for a pretty decent film
18 August 2019
'Ma' was one of those movies where the trailer just kept coming up before every movie I would see in the cinema, to the point where I was sick of the film before I had even seen it. Nonetheless I finally got around to watching it, and I'm glad I did. The movie started out very much like what I was expecting based on my numerous views of the trailer. It felt very unoriginal and like a story I had seen a thousand times before. But then as the movie went along it began to present some original concepts, and by the time the credits rolled I was quite satisfied with the finished product.

Octavia Spencer plays the villain in the film, and it is actually a really fascinating roll she has been given to work with. This isn't your average villain. There are levels of complexity here that you don't find in your average thriller. I kept swinging back and forth between being on her side, and hating her more than anything. The flashbacks used to create this conflict are excellently woven into the film, drip fed to the audience bit by bit, so we know just as much information as we need to at any given time.

Around the midway point in the movie things were beginning to stall a little. I wasn't sure if the film had any tricks up its sleeve, so I begin to lose patience. I needn't have worried though, because the final third of the film things kick into gear big time. In fact the film gets shockingly dark. To the extent it really took me off guard. It went to some places I never saw coming, and I loved it. I had a surprisingly good time with 'Ma' and I think most that give it a chance will as well.
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6/10
Style can only carry a film so far
16 August 2019
I really didn't expect to dislike 'Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood'. It's a Tarantino movie so it is still well above the average film, at least in terms of quality of production. But to say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. All the great things that are apparent in every Tarantino movie were missing, at least for the first 2 hours of the film. The problems stemmed from the fact that this was a character study, rather than being plot driven. Tarantino is usually so good at combining the two together, so for him to completely ignore one of those elements is a real shame.

The film is almost 3 hours long and it simply doesn't have the pacing to justify that. I lost count of the scenes where, after they'd finished, I thought to myself how easy it would have been to leave that on the cutting room floor. So many scenes were setting things up for later in the movie, which is fine and has to be done, but none of them had any creativity to keep them interesting. We simply had to listen to long boring conversations.

Finally after a couple of hours a very intense and well-crafted scene involving Brad Pitt's character at a ranch happens. It's arguably the best scene in the film and all I could think was, where has this been? There is no doubt that Pitt and Leo DiCaprio carry this film big time. Without their acting talents this film would have been unbearable. Pitt especially was the best thing this movie had going for it. The film does its best to redeem itself in the final half hour or so, by then the damage was already done. This is my least favourite Tarantino film to date I'm sad to say.
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Night Hunter (2018)
9/10
Great cast and a fast twisty thriller make for a great watch
13 August 2019
I can't help feeling the title 'Night Hunter' somewhat misrepresents this movie. It's not inaccurate, it just implies a different movie. It implies more of a slasher film which this is far from being. The alternative title was 'Nomis'. I like that one, however it makes it sound like a foreign film to me, which is why I suspect they went with it. The bottom line is that I hope the title doesn't put people off seeing it because this is a very good film.

Firstly, what a cast! For a run of the mill thriller this is close to as good as it gets. The entire cast are fantastic but to have Henry Cavill driving your movie in particular is just a wonderful addition. The thing with this movie is there are some moments where you certainly have to suspend belief. You find yourself asking would that ever be the actual police procedure in real life? But the thing is the movie is so twisty and fun and is moving at such a great pace that you simply don't care.

This really wasn't the movie I was expecting to get going in, but I'm so glad it's the one I got. It had everything I love in a thriller. It also was not afraid to get very dark in certain scenes. There was no holding back in that regard. I had a great time with 'Night Hunter' and I would strongly advise you give it a watch if you haven't already.
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10/10
A near perfect film that will haunt you long after the credits
8 August 2019
About 15 minutes into 'What Keeps You Alive' the film was just cruising along. I was having a good time with a little bit of drama cropping up here and there as we meet a few different characters. Then in an instant, in one of the most haunting and brilliant scenes I have ever seen in a film, everything changed. From that point onwards the film was a non-stop rollercoaster thrill ride. This is an incredible film that has to be seen to be believed.

Something you'll notice early in the film is some very unique foreshadowing. It is done in such a way that it sticks with you throughout the film. Then finally it comes full-circle and is the complete opposite of what you expected. Very clever writing indeed. Also the direction in this film is nothing short of masterful. The trickery and innovation used in the camera-work on multiple occasions is second to none.

Ever since I saw this film I have been recommending it to people flat-out. I loved almost everything about it. I was very worried it wasn't going to be able to stick the landing but it nailed that too. A magnificent film not to be missed.
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Calibre (2018)
8/10
Went to places I didn't expect
5 August 2019
I was on the fence about seeing 'Calibre' so I decided to have a look at the trailer before watching it (something I almost never voluntarily do). About halfway into the trailer, before anything had happened, I turned it off and decided to watch the film. The acting looked strong and the tone seemed fittingly dark. I couldn't have antiquated though just how much I would enjoy this film.

The film takes some time to set itself up, all important plot-pieces that will come into play later on, and then boom it explodes in an instant. From that point on the film is as gripping as they come. For a cast of actors that I had never heard of before they all did an excellent job and were a big part in making this film what it was.

The strongest thing this film has going for it though is its final act. I kept thinking to myself as the film was going along, how are they going to wrap this up in a satisfying way for the audience. Well trust me when I say they found a way. This film gets very dark and it is brilliant. I can't recommend this film highly enough. Definitely with your time.
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Possum (2018)
6/10
A unique and challenging film that won't be everyone's cup of tea
5 August 2019
It's rare today for a horror film to respect its audience as much as 'Possum' does. Horror films that ask their audience to concentrate, think and solve are becoming less and less popular. All people seem to want is the fast-food horror that 'The Conjuring' universe spews out 3-4 times a year. And that's fine if horror isn't the genre you go to when you're looking for a heavy and deep film, but I would suggest you are missing out on some rare treats like 'Possum'.

What's going to hurt this film with audiences the most is that it is admittedly very slow. A lot of the dialogue is cryptic and there is basically no action. Despite this though I found I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It was almost hypnotising in a way. I was determined to work out exactly what the film was trying to tell me.

The film asks a lot of you. First of all to understand what it all means, and then to understand a twist through that same lens. I was fairly confident I had understood most of it, but I did read an explanation thread on the film afterwards just to be sure I had it right. Needless to say this film won't be for everyone, and some could even argue this isn't really a horror film, but if you feel like a challenge I'd recommend giving it a look.
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The Endless (I) (2017)
7/10
Weird, creepy and a fun watch
23 July 2019
Very rarely do I watch movies on the Rialto channel but I was flicking through the other day and 'The Endless' came up on the planner. It sounded interesting and after a quick glimpse at the trailer I decided to give it a go. It pretty much fit exactly into my perception of Rialto channel movies. To be frank, it was weird. But weird in a good way if that makes sense. This film goes to some utterly bizarre places.

The film starts out straight-forward enough. A couple of brothers return to the cult they left years ago. The first half of the film is spent introducing us to characters and creating mystery around the true motivations of the cult. The occasional weird thing is happening, but nothing too over the top at this stage. Then in the second half of the movie all hell breaks loose and we go to crazy town. I would have to say I actually enjoyed the first half of the movie more. In fact I would really like to see this film given a conlusion to the way it starts out that wasn't supernatural in any way. That's the film I would have preferred to see.

But what we got certainly wasn't bad. It's a movie where you never know what is going to happen next and I loved that about it. It also feels like anything can and will happen, also a major plus. The cast were actually the biggest surprise of all for me. For a clearly low-budget film they did extremely well. Creepy when they needed to be, mysterious at other times, they nailed all the marks. And it must be said this film does get very creepy in certain places. I had a good time with 'The Endless' and I look forward to going back and watching these filmmaker's earlier films.
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Trespassers (2018)
7/10
Pushes past a weak start and becomes a very good thriller
21 July 2019
After the opening scene of 'Trespassers', which is far and away the weakest segment of the film, I thought to myself oh no this is going to be a very long 90 minutes. It was just a very sloppy and lazy way to start a movie. No creativity was used, no suspense was built, they simply wanted to show that these were people not to be messed with and that was that. Incredibly though, from that point onwards the film gets consistently better until it reached the point by the end where I considered it a very good low-budget thriller.

It's quite a bizarre movie in the sense that there are almost two movies worth of storylines being combined into one. It is sold as a home-invasion movie, and yet that really is almost like a tacked on afterthought near the end. Most of the film is the explosive drama going on between the four lead characters in the house. I can't remember seeing a film like this before actually, where the film spends so long on set-up (if you could call it that) and so little time on the actual promised storyline. The reason it gets away with it is because both elements are done very well.

This may be the first time I've seen Fairuza Balk in something since 'The Waterboy'. I actually really enjoyed her cameo though. I would suggest she was the strongest actor in the cast and she fit her role perfectly. The rest of the cast were mixed. There was clearly some weaker performances amongst the bunch, but they all try hard and no one phones in their role at all. You certainly couldn't say anyone gave a dull performance.

There were a few weak points in the movie. The masks the invaders used could have been done better. A lot of films are getting very creative these days with killer masks and they can actually add a lot to your film. These ones were cheap and unoriginal. Also I had trouble understanding what the bad guys actually wanted. Maybe I just missed a line but it was very unclear to me their motives. Finally, when you do some thinking about it and put some logic together this would have to be the shortest night in the history of nights. Not a big deal but worth noting.

The colours in this film were excellent as well. They set the mood perfectly for some good old-fashioned horror/suspense. Also the film gets brutally violent in the final act so be prepared for that. I had a really good time with 'Trespassers' and would highly recommend it to people. Push through the opening scene and know that it gets better the longer the movie goes.
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4/10
Completely wastes a couple of big names and a decent concept
20 July 2019
I was just recently thinking to myself, I wonder if I'll ever see Jessica Alba in a film again. Then a few weeks later along comes a film with her in it. And not just that, but an interesting looking concept for a movie. The synopsis reads, "A support group of killers is held regularly. The participants sit in a circle of trust and share their transgressions." That hooked my attention. Sounds like a fun idea for a film, right? Apparently not, because the film was not interesting in the slightest bit.

No film called 'Killers Anonymous' about a group of hitmen telling their stories should ever be close to this dull. It's almost impressive that they managed to achieve that. Throw in the fact that the two big names the movie managed to get, Alba and Gary Oldman, went entirely to waste. Their characters added zero interest to the film incredibly.

Near the end the movie tries to get tricky and complicated but by that point you've already been bored into submission and no longer care. I'm not exaggerating when I say there isn't a single intriguing or watchable character in this movie. Don't be fooled by a couple of big names in the cast, this is pretty much a complete misfire and one to be avoided.
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Crawl (2019)
8/10
Few movies could keep pace with this one
16 July 2019
I remember the last time Alexandre Aja made a creature based horror film 'Piranhas 3D' I was very disappointed. It was still very well made like all his work, but it didn't take itself seriously enough. I'm all for less-than-serious horror movies on occasion but not when the best in the industry are wasting their time making them. Luckily 'Crawl' does take itself a lot more seriously. It's a brave thing to do actually these days, try and take yourself seriously as a creature based horror movie, because if you aren't able to pull it off the whole thing can look very silly. Luckily though Aja is good enough to make it work.

The pacing of this film is incredible. After a brief 15 minutes or so of set-up at the beginning the movie just explodes off the screen (almost literally) and from there it never lets up. The entire runtime from there on out is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. In fact one of the few problems I had with the movie (which isn't really a problem at all when you think about it) is that because the movie is so intense throughout, it struggles to raise the stakes for the final sequence. And so you are left feeling like it hasn't built up to the big finale, when in actuality the whole film is on the scale of an ordinary movie's finale.

There are terrifically done jump-scares in this movie too. I'm very against cheap jump-scares that aren't warranted or naturally occurring within the story (and there are a couple of those admittedly) but some of them are both warranted and will make you leap out of your seat. I really enjoyed 'Crawl'. In a lot of people's hands this movie would not have worked, but Aja nails it like he usually does and the end result is a fantastic horror film.
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Destroyer (2018)
5/10
Disappointing bland
16 July 2019
I had been quite excited about seeing 'Destroyer' for a while now. I really like female empowerment movies usually. Some of the best story arcs come from women being ground down to their lowest point, only to fight back and take revenge on those that have wronged them. In the first 10-15 minutes of 'Destroyer' I thought that was exactly what I was in for. Then slowly as things crawled along I began to realise just how bland of an experience this movie was sadly going to be.

The lead character in your movie can't be completely lacking in personality. It just isn't an option. Nicole Kidman is a fantastic actress, but her character and the portrayal of it here were bordering on atrocious. It is not fun to watch a depressed person be depressed. Then add in the fact that the movie had very little action (admittedly one of the few action sequences it does have in a bank is actually very well done) and the dialogue is incredibly mundane and you find yourself with a very long two hours ahead of you.

I can't remember the last time I went into a movie with this much anticipation and was so let down. I just didn't have a good time with 'Destroyer' at all. Not one I would recommend.
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Lake Mungo (2008)
6/10
Potential squandered
12 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a big fan of Australian horror movies. I don't like a lot of things they do but horror is one of the few exceptions. 'Lake Mungo' was a very frustrating film for me. There was so much to like about, so much that it did well, and yet for every stride forward it took, it seemed to take two backwards. It was its own worst enemy. Unfortunately I have to go into some spoilers in order to explain the things I didn't like about the film.

First of all the twist about the photos being doctored by the brother. Why did it need to be there? What did it add to the film? All it did was deflate the well created tension to that point. I assume it was so they could hit you with the one-two punch later in the film that it was actually all real (what a remarkable coincidence!) but I didn't like that addition to the film at all.

The other thing that let me down was that twice the film set itself to take my breathe away and both times it struck out. The first time was when the neighbour was found to be in the house. That alone was truly unnerving and could have led down so many creepy roads. But instead it just turned out she was having an affair with the neighbours and that storyline went absolutely nowhere.

Then, late in the piece a plot element arrives where we learn something has happened to 'Alice' at 'Lake Mungo'. Now obviously considering they decided to name the film after this location it must be something pretty massive right? Well it was and it wasn't. It was arguably the biggest moment in the film, and yet it really wasn't enough to justify naming the movie after that I thought. It implied that what happened there was the be-all end-all. Maybe they just couldn't think of a title and decided to go with that, I'm not sure. But I feel that moment would have been a lot more powerful if the movie wasn't named after that location.

Don't think it's all negative though, there were actually a lot of very strong elements to the film. It was suitably creepy in spots, the endless photos were well created and kept you on edge and the big moment that happens at 'Lake Mungo' will stick with you for a while. I just can't help feeling it could have been something great.
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