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Dark Crimes (2016)
6/10
Dark and bleak, yet on some level it works
21 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
About a week before I even discovered this film existed I listened to a podcast titled 'Amok' which just so happened to be about the case this film is based on. The story interested me and so I was excited to check out the movie, particularly considering it had the always great Jim Carrey in it. The film was probably about what I expected in a lot of ways. Very dark and bleak and almost zero attempts at humour (yes confirming Jim Carrey is indeed in this movie). What totally caught me off-guard though was that the film ended completely differently to how the real life version of events did. I can't ever remember seeing that to this degree in a "based on a true story" film. Although I do notice that the film never actually posts that tagline anywhere, and perhaps for just that reason.

The film certainly isn't a barrel of laughs, but it kind of works in its own way. Jim Carrey gives his all to the performance, of that there can be no question. He seemed like an almost broken man and I wonder in some ways whether the recent goings-on in his life were the reason he took this role. From my perspective the story this is based on worked better in podcast form. When you know the story from the beginning to end, with all the details included it really is quite fascinating. The film tended to gloss over the most interesting aspects and then completely changed the outcome. It's certainly not must-see stuff, but you could also do worse on a lazy Sunday evening.
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Revenge (II) (2017)
9/10
Another brilliant French film
18 May 2018
'Revenge' has very much a 'I Spit on Your Grave' feel to it. It's a different film in a lot of ways, but the general atmosphere of both films is very similar. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned after all. There's something endlessly satisfying about seeing a woman who has been disgustingly wronged get her swift and brutal vengeance. It doesn't undo what has happened to her, but it goes a wee way towards bettering things.

This movie blew me away. I love French films because they seem to find a way to keep things extremely simple, while having endless layers of complexity hidden under the surface. This may not be the greatest example of that out there, but it's certainly still got traces of it. The main actress Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz did a phenomenal job. She transformed from harmless, sweet, innocent girl into a superpower that you would not want to cross. When we were first introduced to her I was slightly worried she might be a weak element to the film. By the end of the film there was no doubt that she was the strongest element the film possessed.

The violence is extreme - and you wouldn't want it any other way. You do need to highly increase your suspension of belief for one element of the movie (you'll know exactly what I'm referring to if you've seen the movie). There was no shame on the film-makers part in terms of this component of the story though. They owned it, and for that reason I was fully willing to permit it. This is an incredibly fun film that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.
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Unsane (2018)
9/10
An incredible roller coaster ride
14 May 2018
I knew absolutely nothing about 'Unsane' going in. I managed to avoid all trailers and even any synopsis or hint of a plot. I love watching movies that way. I wish I could do it for all of them. Everything is a delightful surprise that way. And 'Unsane' was a delightful surprise. It was like 'Shutter Island' mixed with 'Misery' mixed with 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. Not a bad wee combination of movies if I do say so.

Incredibly (and I didn't know this until after the movie - maybe the one downside of not knowing anything about the film going in) the entire movie was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus (coincidentally the same phone I happen to own). I could tell while watching the film that there was something very unique about the way it was being shot, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I probably wouldn't have guessed that's what it was in a million years. Did it add anything to the film? I think in a way it did. To have such an incredibly unique looking film is rare. There are genres it may not have worked for, but I think it was ideal for a thriller/horror type of film.

The mysterious story is what I loved most about this film though. I love a film where the audience isn't privy to all the information and has to make some decisions on their own (much like 'Shutter Island'). I don't even mind if it's left ambiguous at the end, but this film lets you in on what is going on and I think the majority of audiences will appreciate that fact (not everyone is like me - poor bastards).

'Unsane' is a brilliantly done psychological thriller that will be looked back on in years to come as a very underrated film. The only flaw I could ascertain was perhaps some plausibility issues. Going into those would lead to spoilers and I don't want to touch those because I wish everyone could see this film the way I did, with little to no knowledge of its secrets. They're certainly not enough to spoil the film, but they are in the back of your mind the whole time. I hope this film doesn't skip over people's radars though because it is a terrific film not to be missed.
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Truth or Dare (I) (2018)
8/10
Another great edition to the new brand of horror film
9 May 2018
Here's the thing: very few people are able to be scared by a simple horror movie anymore. People are just too clued up about the realities of the universe and how unlikely 99% of the scenarios put forward are to ever actually effect anyone. So, aside from just giving up on the genre altogether, what is the logical next step? To start being smart, creative and fun with your horror movies. And if done correctly it can work an absolute treat. Late in 2017 'Happy Death Day' blew me away with just what a rollercoaster ride in managed to be. Earlier in 2017 'Get Out' was a masterpiece of a film. Now while I wouldn't quite describe 'Truth or Dare' as being as good as those films, it's still a hell of a good movie.

It reminded me a lot of the 'Final Destination' series (which I also love). 'Final Destination' was ahead of its time in that it was creative horror before there was a demand for creative horror. 'Truth or Dare's biggest strength is all the possibilities it lends itself too. There are so many tunnels to be explored and because it moves at a rollicking pace it is able to cover quite a few of them.

This isn't a film that is trying to scare you in any way (the scariest thing about the movie is probably the image each face forms when it becomes demonised). In stead it sets up solid characters, a fun and entertaining premise and a great pace. I love this new trend in the horror genre and as long as the films continue to be this good, long may it continue.
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Halloween II (1981)
8/10
I prefer it to the original
8 May 2018
I'm not the biggest fan of the original 1978 'Halloween'. I respect it for what it is, but I do prefer a little more violence and gore in my horror. There's no reason you can't have both extreme suspense and then violence and gore to top it off. That is probably the reason I enjoyed the sequel a little more than the original (sinful, I know). For me though, it just had everything the original had, plus more.

The great music is still around this time. It really is brilliant. It's so haunting and eerie and memorable. It just screams "Danger!". I also love how director Rick Rosenthal creates scenarios where there is a countdown of sorts (in creative ways like an elevator coming down floors) and the killer is getting closer and closer. This is when the film is at its most intense.

There's the usual dodgy acting and some of the dialogue is written in a pretty cringe-worthy way. Other than that though this is a horror master-class that has aged extremely well. The character of Sam Loomis remains one of my favourite horror heroes to this day. If you're a fan of 'Michael Myers', but find the original a little slow for your liking, try this one out for size. It may be more to your liking. Hell, even if you love the original you should still be able to find enjoyment in this one.
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Lone Survivor (2013)
8/10
Great film with a dreadful opening scene that lets it down
6 May 2018
When a film begins with how it ends there has to be a damn good reason for it to have done so. The best way to use it is like 'The Hangover' did, where it implies something, sets up the story and also sets up the mystery. 'The Hangover' used it perfectly, 'Lone Survivor' used it very poorly and it is one of the few faults I could find with this movie. The reason it was a problem? Because it takes away the suspense from a number of scenes that would occur later on. If someone could explain to me a valid reason they chose to put it there I would happily listen. Until then though I think it was major mistake.

That negative aside though, this is pretty fantastic film. It holds nothing back. For a 'True Story' it is particularly brutal and some of the imagery is quite shocking to watch. It was filmed immensely well and did a great job of putting you in the character's predicament. The best thing the film has going for it is that almost every character feels vulnerable. It feels like anything could happen at any time (and it often does). It is unrelenting in that sense. There is a lot to like here and this is certainly a must-see if you haven't already.
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Table 19 (2017)
6/10
Never quite gets into its groove
6 May 2018
A romantic-comedy simply called 'Table 19'. How did I find myself watching this film you may ask? Well I was at the airport waiting for my flight, reading through Anna Kendrick's hilarious Twitter page. I then got on board, checked the movies available to watch and one of the first ones I saw was an Anna Kendrick movie. I thought if that isn't a sign of the first movie I should watch I don't know what is. Little did I know it would also have two of my favourite comedic actors in it, June Squibb and Stephen Merchant. Not to mention the rest of the cast was pretty good as well. So was the sign from above telling me I would love this film a correct one? Not quite.

At times I just felt like the film was trying a little too hard. Then at other times I didn't feel like it was trying hard enough. Merchant and Squibb were fantastic (Squibb in particular - she carried the film for me) but I'm not sure they wrote Merchant's part overly well. There was one gag he had going at the start that simply went too long and didn't have enough pay-off to justify it. In the second half of the movie when his character freed up a bit he became much more effective.

The director seemed to have a fascination with characters randomly falling down. Almost every character does it at some point. It was quite bizarre. I'm not sure if he was going for something, or if it was simply a case of there not having been a laugh in a while and it being a simple way to break the drought. There's a bit of a 'The Breakfast Club' feel to the film at times, and I love that every character has their secret and the way it slowly reveals one by one. The film gets a little darker occasionally than I expected it to.

The flaws the film had were probably just not being funny enough often enough, and also I didn't love the way the movie ended in regards to Anna Kendrick's character 'Eloise'. I think they got that all wrong and if that was always the intended way for the film to end then they needed to handle things differently earlier on. It's not a bad watch, but it's sadly pretty forgettable.
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8/10
They nailed it
6 May 2018
I think it says a lot about modern society that when I watch a film like 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' I am almost 100% on the ape's side. There is a character in this movie called 'Dodge' played by Tom Felton who may across a little unrealistic and overplayed to some. However let me assure you that there are more people like him in this world than it bears thinking about. At times we can be a truly despicable race that I am utterly ashamed of. This is touched on lightly in the film, but perhaps not heavily enough.

This is a quite incredible movie. It took me a long time to get around to seeing it because I wasn't a particularly big fan of the original 'Planet of the Apes' movie, nor the remake. They didn't do much for me. This was a very different type of film. I tend to love origin stories. The way the character of 'Caesar' is handled in this film is incredible. I love that we see every stage of his development, and no matter what stage he is at or what he is doing at that time, we are on his side.

The animation in the film is nothing short of brilliant either. I can't speak highly enough about the class it was handled with. The story works, and it leaves you wanting more (if I had seen this when it initially came out I would've been upset I had to wait 3 years to see the sequel). If you haven't seen this movie yet like I hadn't I recommend you get around to doing so.
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6/10
It's good, but it's not Top 10 on IMDb Top 250 good
2 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There are some films that simply can not be reviewed without going into spoilers. 'Avengers: Infinity Wars' is one of them, so fair warning. I watch roughly 150 films each year and yet this is the first MCU movie I have seen. Not a single one of them up until now appealed to me. What finally got me along to see this one? Well the fact that it is currently sitting in the top 10 of the IMDb Top 250 had a little to do with it. I had to see what all the fuss was about. There are some truly tremendous and groundbreaking films in that list and the top 10 in particular holds some of the greatest films ever made. 'Avengers: Infinity Wars' has no business being there.

There are a lot of characters in this movie to keep up with and it is frankly exhausting at times. Admittedly, the film actually does a pretty god job of balancing everyone and giving them sufficient screen time and a purpose for being in the movie. There are so many characters though and so many story arcs that it can become a little frustrating waiting for the good ones to role around again. What I've learnt is that there are some incredibly strong characters in this universe ('Iron Man' was the stand-out for me) and some phenomenally weak characters too ('Captain America' probably being the weakest from what I could ascertain).

The strongest thing the movie has going for it is the character of 'Thanos'. A genuinely intimidating, menacing and threatening villain is always the key to any superhero movie being good. Josh Brolin plays him brilliantly (as he always does) and this film owes a lot to that character alone.

Now let's get into those spoilers by talking about the ending. Basically 'Thanos' wins and with the click of his fingers kills half the universe. We then see roughly half of the superheroes crumble into nothing and "die" (supposedly). I suspect this has a lot to do with the film having such a high IMDb rating. It turns out people love an ending where the bad guys win. That makes me happy, because it doesn't happen anywhere near enough in Hollywood today.

My problem with the ending though is this. If you really think those characters are dead, never to be seen again, then you are sorely mistaken. So in that sense it is incredibly cheap. I hate movies (universes) where a character dying doesn't actually mean they're dead (DC is just as guilty of this sadly). As if this isn't obvious enough to 90% of people, the film actually reminds of you of this fact not 5 minutes prior when a character is killed only for 'Thanus' to go back a few moments in time and thus bring him back to life.

Enjoy this film for what it is. It's a great looking flick, with some excellent action sequences, funny one-liners and a menacing villain with a clear and simple plot that is easy to follow. It's done well no one could deny that, but don't try and claim that is something truly great and worthy of the IMDb top 10 because that is simply not the case.
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7/10
A divisive film that works in two ways
26 April 2018
'Ingrid Goes West' is like a train wreck happening before your eyes. It's tough to watch, but you can't look away. It's not tough in the sense that it's a bad movie (it's actually a surprisingly good movie), it's tough to watch in the sense that this character ('Ingrid') is so damaged, confused and broken that it is nothing short of heart-breaking. As she is even told at one point in the movie she needs professional help. The line drawn between comedy and drama is a fine one here. To me this is almost entirely a drama, with only the odd speck of humour thrown in the mix. Having said that if someone told me they found this a very funny and even light-hearted movie I could understand that perspective as well. I think it works best as a very dark drama though. A character study of someone who is not right in the mind.

I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of O'Shea Jackson Jr. in the film. His character (a Batman lover, much like myself) brought some real and genuine charm to the film. His character perfectly balanced things out for 'Ingrid' and gave her character hope of a better "normal" life. As an audience member it was important to have him there. If she was entirely on her own I think it would be too bleak to bear. For me 'Ingrid Goes West' was a tough watch, but a worthy one nonetheless. I'm glad I saw it, but I don't think I ever want to watch it again.
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Wildling (2018)
5/10
Just a little dull for my liking
23 April 2018
A movie needs a hook. It needs an element to it that keeps you intrigued and needing to know what's going to happen next. 'Wildling' has it for a little while, but then loses it in the second half of the film. In fact it starts out with a very intriguing scenario. A quite bizarre and seemingly twisted one in which you really do need to know what's coming next. Then about halfway through the films puts all its cards on the table and what plays out from then on was simply not interesting enough to sustain the story.

It's a great looking film there can be no question about that. A surprising amount of work has gone into making every shot in the film exquisite to look at. It's also very well edited and put together. I would happily put a big-budget feature in the hands of writer/director Fritz Böhm.

The acting was also pretty good for the most part. There are some quite strong actors/actresses among the cast. I did have a lot of trouble buying Liv Tyler as a policewoman though I have to say. Her voice was far too soft for the role and her personality didn't convince me either. There's just enough in 'Wildling' to keep it from becoming completely unwatchable, but it's certainly not a film that will stick with me in any way I suspect.
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6/10
Make sure you stick around until segment 3 - you'll be pleased you did
22 April 2018
'All Hallows' Eve' has been on my watchlist for a few years now, but it wasn't until seeing 'Terrifier' recently that I knew I had to go back and watch it. It was pretty apparent that the character of 'Art the Clown' is something very special and I will lap up every bit of him that I can find.

I would call 'All Hallows' Eve' a bit of an appetiser for the main event that was still to come. The film is broken up into three segments, with a central segment tying them all together. I didn't realise until after seeing the film that the segments were actually the short films writer/director Damien Leone had made a few years prior.

The first segment is okay without being anything really special. 'Art the Clown' isn't really a huge feature in this one and while some of the other characters were certainly well designed, they definitely didn't pull off the same level of malice. The second segment is easily the weakest element to the film. It really drags everything down for a good half an hour there and was quite disappointing. 'Art the Clown' makes an appearance of sorts in this segment but it's hardly worth mentioning. The third segment though is where the film truly comes into its own. This was the original 'Terrifier' short film from 2011 and it is nothing short of brilliant. Genuine horror is so hard to find these days but this is certainly it.

The segment that ties everything together is mildly well done. It serves its purpose and provides a way for the film to go out on a high. As I said though things weren't quite polished yet. There's some pretty terrible acting at times (especially the phone calls) and the second segment really drags it down. If the film doesn't sound like you, but you'd like to see the third segment I spoke of you could simply try and track down the short film 'Terrifier' from 2011. And if you haven't already please see the 2017 feature length version of 'Terrifier'. It truly is a horror masterpiece. I give 'All Hallows' Eve' a 6/10.
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Unknown (2006)
7/10
A plot that leads to so many great opportunities it can be difficult to pick the right one
19 April 2018
'Unknown' has a brilliant plot in the sense that it leads to so much potential. It begins with the mystery of who each character is, and then leads further into whether those characters are good or bad, and finally leads into what their actual motives are. And it works for the most part. The only trap the film falls into is that when you have that much potential to work with it can be difficult to ensure you go down the correct route.

There's a great cast here with a sort of 'The Usual Suspects' meets 'Reservoir Dogs' type feel. Everyone's a grub, but everyone could also have a heart of gold underneath it all. There isn't a weak cast member in the lineup and everyone executes their role perfectly.

'Unknown' is certainly my kind of film. I did have a thought near the end (and have found that a lot of people feel the same way that I do) that there was a great opportunity for the way the film could end, and yet they dodged around that and took an alternative route. I think if they'd gone the way I'd liked them to (I won't say it for obvious spoiler reasons) have then this could have been something truly special. Even as it is though it's an enjoyable ride that is worth a look.
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Night Train (I) (2009)
7/10
Edge of your seat stuff
18 April 2018
Sometimes the synopsis of a film just calls out to me. I can't always put my finger on exactly what it is, but something just screams at me that I have to see that film. Quite often it leads me down the track of watching some abysmal films, but that was not the case when it came to 'Night Train'. What I found instead was a little gem (so to speak).

I love films set entirely in one place. Always have done. And trains are one of my favourite settings too because although they're all one place, each cabin can be entirely different, and characters can be in the story without a clue as what is actually going on around them. 'Night Train' was a surprisingly suspenseful ride from start to finish. It achieved what very few modern horror/thrillers manage to do and that is to get me on the edge of my seat and keep me there. Leelee Sobieski had a lot to do with this. She was a real presence on the screen and kept me hooked with everything she said and did.

There's a real creepy atmosphere throughout this one. It has very much a 'Twilight Zone' feel to it, only with slightly better actors, a little more action and obviously a touch longer. I also loved the underlying psychology of the story. We really are a strange race sometimes. I loved this film and if you are able to track it down somewhere please give it a watch. You'll be pleased you did.
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4/10
Not a lot going for it
17 April 2018
'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane' is probably one of the strangest titles for a horror film I can remember. It sounds like something straight out of the romantic-comedy genre doesn't it. I think that's the first sign that this movie doesn't take itself too seriously, which is probably the best thing it has going for it because if it was taking itself seriously it would be rather terrible. Even for what it is, it isn't much worth watching.

The whole movie just feels way too laid back. When you're watching a horror movie you should be able to turn it on at any point in the runtime and know within 60 seconds that you're watching a horror. Here it feels like you could go for about 30 minutes without knowing it. There is way too much down time. There's also a distinct lack of suspense ever created. Even when things do kick it up a notch later in the film it still feels very much by the book. You're also so annoyed by almost every character by that point that you want them to die.

Then there's the twist at the end which (and I won't spoil it) is just so lazy and phoned in it's quite incredible. Some films can be absolutely horrible for 98% of the time and then an amazing twist comes along and saves the day. This is not one of those films. Twists should be something that make you take what you know and do a total 180. In this case it's more like a slight veer to the right. Not well executed. All up there's not a whole lot to like here. Give this one a miss would be my advice.
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10/10
Proof that Vaughn could have played Jack Reacher in one of the best films of 2017
17 April 2018
Vince Vaughn is criminally underrated as a serious actor. I think people assosiated him the 'Psycho' remake early in his career and he never really recovered from it. He's obviously well known as one of the best comedic actors going around (with the right script) but very rarely do you hear him mentioned when it comes to the serious stuff. In 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' he is captivating to watch. The mixture of emotionless bad-ass with quick, witty and genuinely funny one-liners (the good kind, not the cheesy type) was nailed down to a fine art. In fact it lead me to believe that he would have in fact been the perfect choice for the title role of 'Jack Reacher' back when it was being cast. In a lot of ways he's basically playing 'Reacher' here in this movie. People forget too that he is an enormous human being.

The movie itself is also absolutely brilliant. If you've seen writer/director S. Craig Zahler's previous film 'Bone Tomahawk' then you know he is not afraid to use brutal imagery to get his point across. Believe it or not he actually takes it up a notch on this occasion. There are some images that are genuinely disturbing and hard to look at, but that will stick with you for so much longer because of it. I love a filmmaker that isn't afraid to be bold and not pander to the cowardly audience members of the world who would be offended is a fly flew across the screen.

The story is heart-breaking in a lot of ways because it does such a good job of putting you in the lead character's shoes and understanding that he really does have to do what he is doing. Like the best prison movies it also reminds you to appreciate the freedom we have because when that is taken away there isn't a lot left to live for. I was absolutely blown away by how good 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' was and I think everyone that watches it will feel the same way. An unquestionable must-see film.
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4/10
I've defended the series up until now, but I can't on this occasion
15 April 2018
It's pretty common knowledge that the 'Fifty Shades' series has been brutally panned by the majority of critics. For the first two films 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and 'Fifty Shades Darker' I stuck up for the series stating that it was nothing more than what it was trying to be and that the lead couple's relationship was both full of chemistry and also inspiring. 'Fifty Shades Freed' however I am not able to say the same things about. Everything I enjoyed in the first two films is gone and everything I didn't enjoy remains. Needless to say that's far from ideal.

This time around the relationship just did not work for me. Firstly, it didn't feel evolved enough. It still felt like 'Ana' was completely clueless as to how a lot of aspects in their life worked. There were countless questions she asked that would have made perfect sense in the first film, but not the third. Secondly, all the charming inspirational stuff from the first two was gone. In those films 'Christian' felt like a 'James Bond' type character with the wealth and the gadgets and the charming persona. This time around they just bickered like a couple of teenagers for most of the film. At no stage did 'Christian' come across charming. He simply came across bitter, jealous and unreasonable.

Everything in the film feels so half-hearted. The love scenes are about as bland as you could ever imagine. This has been a problem for me right throughout the series. The whole "bondage, play-room, dominatrix" (whatever you want to call it) was so boring. It felt like a complete after-thought and yet it was the point of difference these films possessed. Also every plot point in the movie is just completely phoned in. Entirely unrealistic and yet still somehow as straight-forward and uninteresting as you'll ever see in a cinema-released film.

It's lucky this is the last film in the series I have to say because if the films continued to slide in quality at this rate they would become unbearable pretty quickly. There's very little to like this time around and if you have fond memories of the series from the first two films, perhaps consider giving this one a miss.
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Machete (2010)
7/10
Truly unique
11 April 2018
The first question you'll find yourself asking before watching 'Machete' is how they got such an A-list cast for a movie as bizarre sounding as this. You'll probably still be asking the question after the film is finished to be fair, but you'll also understand that the film is made with a lot more quality than what you might otherwise have imagined. The most incredible thing about this movie though is that with the incredible cast they got onboard, the main character is a man who barely speaks. This truly is a unique films in more ways than you can imagine.

The best way to describe the film is just downright fun. I love that anything can and will happen at any point. You never know what's in store from scene to scene. No character is safe. The violence is extreme and plentiful. While they did well to get the star power of Jessica Alba signed on, this film is a reminder that she is in the industry for her looks and not her acting skills. She gives a very clunky performance, but damn she looked good doing it. Michelle Rodriguez falls into the same category.

'Machete' is a film that is very hard to do justice for when simply telling people about it. It needs to be experienced to be understood. And I certainly would recommend seeing it if you haven't already because in this day and age where originality is seriously lacking a unique film of any sort is worth its weight in gold.
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Spinning Man (2018)
5/10
Not sure there was enough of a story here to make a movie out of
10 April 2018
Mystery/thrillers can sometimes put themselves in a bind. They create a 'did he/didn't he' scenario and base their movie around it, but the problem with that is if the answer is one of the options (usually "he didn't") then you don't have a story worthy of a movie, and thus the answer is simple to work out. 'Spinning Man' finds itself in this predicament and takes a unique route to try and escape it. Did it work for me? Not really.

You leave the film with a little bit of a "what was the point?" mentality. The film being quite well made actually covers this up partially, but it's still there lurking at the back of your mind. The film is at its strongest when it is creating psychological parallels with the story that is going on. It's easy to tell the film was based off a book, because it is very well crafted in that sense. The acting from the main three - Guy Pearce, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver - is also very strong and helps carry what could otherwise have been some very clunky dialogue in places.

The film shares a lot of similarities with 'Memento' (and no not just because Pearce is again in the lead role) yet it too often feels like an episode of 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'. The pacing is a little lazy in spots which creates this feeling. This is far from must-watch material, but there is still enough here to make for a perfectly passable film.
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A Quiet Place (2018)
9/10
90 minutes of extreme suspense
5 April 2018
The opening scene in 'A Quiet Place' is one of the best I can remember in recent memory. It is perfectly crafted in every way. It would actually make a terrific little 5 minute short film all on its own. What it does so perfectly is that it sets the tone for the entire movie. The situation is made clear to the audience and then the reason for that situation is presented in brutal and compelling fashion. I was actually left with goosebumps as the title appeared on the screen. Luckily that was only the beginning of good things from what is a terrific horror movie.

There's a whole bunch of early M Night. Shyamalan being channeled in this movie. In fact if you'd told me he'd written and directed it I would have had no doubt you were telling the truth. The suspense most of all. You are literally on edge from minute one and until the credits roll. Not many films can achieve that. In fact not many films can achieve any suspense these days so that just shows how impressive it is to have it there for an entire run time.

The jump-scares in the movie are terrific for two reasons. First of all, they are almost all to do with the story and are genuinely things you should be jumping from. This isn't always the case, but near enough. Secondly, because of the concept of the whole movie needing to be quiet, when a sound rips across the screen it gives you much more a jolt than usual. It's something you really have to experience to know what I mean, but trust me when I say it works.

I loved almost everything about this movie. It was masterfully shot (especially for such an inexperienced director), the creatures looked great and I genuinely cared about each and every character. I love films like this that work because they are proof that there is still hope for the horror genre yet.
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8/10
The Da Vinci Code using pop-culture
3 April 2018
I love pop-culture references. One of my favourite television shows 'Family Guy' is riddled with them and I love each and every one. I didn't have a lot of buzz or excitement going into 'Ready Player One' (I wasn't even intending to see it in theatres but found myself with an opportunity to do so and decided to take it). I'm not a massive sci-fi fan and the nearly 2 and half hour run time had put me off. I have to say though I ended up having a pretty bloody good time.

I would describe the film as a futuristic 'The Da Vinci Code' only using pop-culture instead of ancient history for the clues. Sound fun? Yeah, it does to me too when I put it like that. The film is certainly at its strongest when it's trying to be a puzzle, and at its weakest when its trying to be an action movie. That was the only real downside of the movie for me was that the third quarter fell into a bit of a trap of forgetting to be fun and became a little tedious.

It's a great looking film though from start to finish. There are some really fun scenes too, where if you've seen the film in question you'll likely have the time of your life. It's a pretty damn fun ride for the most part and a film I can see most people thoroughly enjoying.
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Terrifier (2017)
10/10
It will take you to places you didn't know you wanted to go
3 April 2018
I saw the trailer for 'Terrfier' about a fortnight ago and thought it looked good, but had been burned by low-budget horror movies with promising trailers that turn out to be rubbish too many time before. So I decided to give it a miss until last night when I heard it getting some positive buzz. I was surprised anyone else had even heard about it, let alone enjoyed it. So I decided that was enough for me and put it on to watch. What I ended up witnessing was one of the most unique and brilliant horror films I've ever seen.

It should be known that very little ever bothers me any longer in the way of horror movies. I want them to effect me, they just don't. I feel like I've seen it all and have become numb to anything the movie-making industry can throw at me. So when I say that 'Terrifier' had me on the edge of my seat, make no mistake, that is a glowing endorsement. The film was creepy as hell. 'Art The Clown' is one of the best created horror movie characters I can ever remember.

The film clearly has a low-budget, but I think that helps it in a lot of ways. An unknown cast and a creepy abandoned warehouse setting are ideal for a horror movie because it leaves the audience with no comfort to fall back on. When you think you're getting scared in a movie and then Nicole Kidman enters the frame and reminds you of how much you liked her in 'Just Go With It' it can completely take you out of the film. There is certainly none of that here.

The other thing I liked is that absolutely no character feels safe. Too often with horror movies people are dying left, right and centre, yet there are the characters that you know are untouchable, and thus every scene with them in danger loses its edge. You have to watch the film to appreciate how far from the case that is here. Let me guarantee you though by saying - more so than any film I've ever seen before no one is safe.

Writer/director Damien Leone clearly knows horror and what makes people tick. He's put on a masterful display here and I can't wait to check out his previous film (also featuring 'Art The Clown') 'All Hallows' Eve'. 'Terrifier' has some of the most unique, brilliant, disturbing and somehow thoughtful scenes you will ever see in a movie (let alone a horror movie). It is a must-see.
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The Commuter (2018)
9/10
Changes the Neeson formula up and it works a treat
31 March 2018
I've complained in the past that all of Liam Neeson's films are beginning to become interchangeable. They are basically the same story, with him playing the same character over and over and over. Now, while 'The Commuter' isn't worlds apart from the usual formula, it is different enough and fresh enough for me to call it his best film since 'Taken' ten years ago.

The best element the film had going for it was the air of mystery it possesses. The film is a 'whodunnit' of sorts, perhaps not in your traditional sense, but it's there nonetheless. And the arc of that leading up to the reveal is well crafted. It had me fooled at least. The film also has a great cast outside of Neeson. To me it is a collection of underrated actors, actors who are terrific at what they do but don't always get the plaudits they deserve. Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks and Sam Neill all fall into this category.

There isn't a lot of humour in the film but when it does come along it is surprisingly effective. The pacing is also top draw. Once the action begins it doesn't stop and this makes the run time fly by. Ten years on from 'Taken' and it's fair to say Neeson still has the goods. Here's to the next ten.
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8/10
Workaholics on crack
27 March 2018
I'm a big fan of the tv series 'Workaholics' and 'Game Over, Man!' is just like a feature length episode with an increased budget. So needless to say there was a good chance I was going to love it - and I did. The three leads play almost identical characters to that which they do in the show and I think it was a wise choice to go down that route. Changing it up would be messing with a successful formula for no reason.

The movie is simply a whole bunch of fun. It follows a very similar storyline to 'Die Hard' (the movie is very self-aware don't worry) and just takes it down a heavily comedic route. Having said that, it is a very dark film in places. They were clearly given free reign to take things as far as they like and used that freedom to the full extent. In a number of ways I think it would be fair to say this is an even darker film than 'Die Hard'.

The film is riddled with cameos and they're all brilliantly executed. The dialogue is incredibly strong and almost no jokes fall flat throughout the run time. If you like 'Workaholics' you are unquestionably going to love this film, and even if you aren't a fan of the show but enjoy comedy I think there's still good chance you'll enjoy because it's different enough.
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5/10
This franchise has run its course
26 March 2018
The 'Insidious' series has always been a funny one for me. I've enjoyed every film in it (up until this fourth edition) without ever falling in love with it like I did 'Saw' or 'Paranormal Activity' or 'The Conjuring' series. The concept to me just isn't that good. Only the high quality with which they were being made kept me entertained by them. Now though in this fourth edition 'Insidious: The Last Key' they've finally jumped the shark. They no longer have any thing of value to add to the horror genre.

The film only has jump-scares going for it in the way of horror and even most of those don't work. There was only really one that got me in the entire film and that was near the end when I thought things were over in that respect (plus it used the best element the entire series has produced - I won't say but if you know the series you'll know what I'm talking about). As far as building tension or atmosphere goes though there basically is none. Firstly, every thing just feels way too safe for these characters. They're too well established for anything bad to actually happen to them. Secondly, the film is bordering on a comedy at times with the amount of humour it is trying to force in. It's all well and good to have a laugh or two thrown in the mix (and there are a few good chuckles), but when it completely takes you out of any tense mood that you're supposed to be in then it becomes a problem. The best horror movies have limited to no humour in them.

The film really just didn't work for me. I was purely bored through most of it. If they do make a fifth one (let's be honest, they almost certainly will) then they need to mix it up a bit. Change up the formula, get some new characters in and get everyone in a situation where they are in genuine danger and all bets are off the table. It all feels far too much like the 'Poltergeist' remake at the moment, and we all know that's one of my least favourite films of all time. Stay away from this one.
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