Category Archives: Entertainment

Babysitter (2015): Growing Pains (Review)

MarVista Entertainment

Written and directed by Morgan Krantz “Babysitter” follows the story of two lost teens and their growing pains. Ray Longway (Max Burkholder) and Anjelika Dey (Danièle Watts) cross paths because of Ray’s mother Hailey Longway (Valerie Azlynn). Hailey is getting a divorce from her Hollywood director husband and he is fighting dirty.  Needing help with her kids, Ray and Stella (Gracie Ray Loveland), Hailey is talked into hiring  Anjelika whose pop star mother died some years perviously. 

The film is full of unpleasant characters that are difficult to connect with. Out of the entire cast only Anjelika is close to endearing. Having lost her “crack-head” pop star mother the 18 year-old turns to Wicca and casting spells.  Not long after taking over as Hailey’s babysitter and maid, the teen puts a talisman into Ray’s closet.

Hailey is self centered and just as guilty of playing around as her soon-to-be ex but she was not caught.  Stella is spoiled rotten and Ray has issues on top of the teenage boy problems of hormones, attitude and testosterone.  The first day Anjelika arrives, Ray goes through her backpack and takes a gold lighter.

He also pushes Anjelika to buy pot for him which he then sells at school.  Later in the film, after Anjelika becomes part of the family, Hailey’s family arrive and she not only turfs the babysitter out of the house but asks her to wear a housekeeper outfit.

Ray falls first in lust and then in love with the babysitter but the two have a major falling out later in the film.

Lesley Ann Warren has a “blink and you’ll miss her” cameo as Hailey’s mother and in terms of casting, it is spot on. Both women look enough alike to really be mother and daughter.

It is hard to have any sort of empathy for any of the characters, apart from Anjelika.  Hailey is at turns unpleasant and over-powering and her parents may not be racist per se, but they definitely think they are better than “the help.”

Part of the problem may well be that the Longways are an upper middle class family whose divorce will cost more than some third world countries have for their national budget.  Ray himself has a sense of entitlement that is annoying, but then too  does his mother and younger sister.

Krantz choosing to follow the issues of people connected to the film industry takes away from the empathy we are meant to feel for these, mostly, unpleasant people.  Ray tells the audience at the start of the film about seeing his mother eaten by a werewolf in a film she worked on Initially it frightened him. Later, Ray says,  he watched it for fun.

The film is, rather surprisingly, labeled a comedy on IMDb.  Having watched  the film twice it is easy to say that there is nothing remotely amusing about the plot or any of the characters.  So  of all the things “Babysitter”  could be, funny is not one of them.

It is interesting and, despite the puzzling relationship between Ray and Anjelika, a compelling film to watch.  Regardless of the fact that Ray seems to vacillate between being snotty, annoyed and annoying, in equal measure, we do still feel the need to see where his relationship  with Dey is headed.

Burkholder does a more than capable job of portraying his “rich kid” with angst and Watts completely owns her character. Sadly there was not enough Lesley Ann Warren. That said, what there of the award winning actress, captivates.

There are parts that could be construed as funny but these moments never really gel and the overall unpleasantness of the film’s characters sucks any tiny bits of humor right out of the film. “Babysitter”  may not be a comedy but it is s a solid 3.5 stars of of  five as a quirky drama.

“Babysitter” premieres May 3 via Digital HD and On Demand. Worth a gander if only to see the growing pains of the almost rich and vacuous.

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LADYGREY: Melancholia in South Africa (Review)

Liam Cunningham in LadyGrey

Apartheid may be over, but the events of a small South African village still resonate with its inhabitants in “LADYGREY.” Directed and co-written by Alain Choquart the melancholia of a community forced to continue a tense and uneven existence is, despite the bleakness of its characters, a beautiful experience. 

Starring Emily Mortimer, Liam Cunningham, Peter Sarsgaard and Jérémie Renier,  LadyGrey is the name of a school, and of the village,  where 11 black children were gunned down by whites during the apartheid years. The bodies were never found and two French nurses were murdered in retribution, one of these women was Sarsgaard’s wife. 

The film follows Samuel (Sarsgaard), who aspires to be a horticulturist cultivating and selling roses, and his son who spends his days making a tunnel through the cane to the river; the same one his mother disappeared in years before. Argus (Cunningham) and his new city wife Olive (Mortimer) as well as Mattis (Renier), a lad who is “slow” and an odd assortment of characters are all seen going through their everyday lives.

“LADYGREY” looks gorgeous and is shot beautifully.  The main problem with the film is its downbeat air and the characters who all seem to have much more in common with Mattis than with Argus or Olive. Samuel obsesses over his roses yet when Waldo (Jude Foley) shows them off to the bossman (Argus) he dismisses them as weeds. 

A cast of “simple” yet dispassionate characters fill the film.  Mattis’ sister, a mixed race prostitute who  gets one of her customers to sort out her brother’s custody, is the preferred sex partner of Argus and the man is so cold to his “city wife” Olive one wonders why he married her.

There is a simmering discord between the races in this multilingual film. French, Afrikaans and English are spoken throughout and the connecting factor in this  drama are the French characters. Left over from the days when the village housed a mission, these people could be seen as the conscience of the village, or at the very least its chroniclers.

The eagle, that Mattis so yearns for seems to represent a type of freedom while the doomed sheep the repressed people murdered by the white farmers, the jackals.  Samuel has a barely hidden contempt for his black neighbors

Choquart’s film is peopled with bleak and cold characters. The only one who has any passion is Mortimer’s Olive.  This is fitting as the nurse is not from the village and therefore not scarred by its horrific events in the recent past.

The day after she discovers her husband has been sleeping with a client, skeletal remains are found  in a drainage ditch.  As a memorial service is held Olive is given Samuel’s dead wife’s wedding band.

A sense of foreboding permeates every single frame of this film, leaving the viewer tense and waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop.   Despite this, the music and the landscape of South Africa make this French, Belgian and South African film a feast for the eyes.

It captures the feeling and the essence of a country that is steeped in bloodshed and a violent history that still resonates today against a stunning canvas of natural beauty.

Performances are of the highest quality and Renier plays the mentally challenged Mattis with a mixture of angst, slow-wittedness and over-excitement. “LadyGrey” is not a film to be viewed repeatedly; it is too downbeat and depressing for that. It is however a lovely film to look at and as such worth at least one viewing.

“LADYGREY” was released on April 26 via Digital HD and On Demand.  This is a solid 3 star film for the performances alone and worthy of a look by those who appreciate cinematic beauty.

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Most Likely to Die (2016): A Killer Reunion (Trailer)

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MarVista studios brings “Most Likely to Die” out in theaters on May 13th (Friday the 13th).  Starring Jake Busey (“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series“), Heather Morris (“Glee”) and Perez Hilton, the film follows Gaby (Morris) at her high school reunion and it turns out to be a real killer event with her former school friends dropping like mangled flies.

Written by Laura Brennan and directed by Anthony DiBlasi  the film features an alumnus who is  holding on to an old grudge .The victims are all being murdered in the manner of their yearbook descriptions, only now they all seem to share the same one, “Most Likely to Die.”

Texas Hold ‘Em Champ Gaby realizes that the only way to survive this reunion is to find the killer herself. With a list of suspects that includes the Class President, the Jock and Class Clown, Gaby must find out who is killing off her classmates or die trying.

Check out the trailer:

 

 

Victoria (2015): One Take Wonder – (Review)

Frederick Lau and Laia Costa in Victoria

“Victoria” co-written and directed by Sebastian Schipper is a “one take” wonder. All 134 minutes of the film is done in one continual shot and follows the award winning star Laia Costa, who plays title character Victoria. The camera watches the young woman as she experiences a long life-changing night with Sonne Frederick Lau and his three friends in Berlin. 

A young Spanish immigrant to the city falls in with a group of young men who welcome her to a night of fun and excitement that turns deadly.  This award winning film slipped under my radar and if @RealKateDavies not waxed ecstatic about this independent world cinema offering, it would have been missed altogether.

Schipper worked off a 12 page script apparently and this left the actors to improvise the vast majority of their dialogue. IMDb also states, in the Trivia section, that the film took three attempts before being completed in April 2014.

The film should be boring and at the beginning it seems to be mostly drunken dialogue from the men and  fractious English from both the guys and the girl.  Initially one does feel a certain uneasiness at this young Spanish beauty trustingly leaving a club with four male strangers who are inebriated and slightly wild. Almost certainly “bad boys” this tiny gang of young men seem to be good natured and all slightly enamored of their new friend.

Costa, won a Lola for her role in this film, (the first foreign actress to win the coveted German award) and watching Victoria it is easy to see why.  The Spanish actress carries the film, along with habit of help from German actor Lau, from start to finish.

Victoria (Costa) and Sonne (Lau) end up together almost by a combination of default and charm.  Sonne is the leader of this group of slightly naughty boys, out of the lot only Boxer did jail time (something that will come back to affect his joyously drunken evening/morning later) as an adult although Fuß stole a vehicle and drove it to Poland as a lad of 11.

The start of the film is one long moment of truth  after another. Each of the friends in Sonne’s “gang” have a surprising depth  of character and all react to their surroundings and circumstances in a way that feels real.  At well over two hours the film should not work.

It should drag and be so drawn out that the viewer loses interest. “Victoria” does not do this  however and it is a testament to the actors, director and the focus of each that make this a true experience to watch.

The three main stars of the film are Costa and Lau (Frederick also won an award for Best Actor), and of course Schipper, who pulled a gong for best director, all deserve multiple plaudits for “Victoria.” This thriller/drama occasionally comes across as a documentary and it does convey a certain “fly-on-the-wall” feeling, even down to the latter part of the film where things go so wrong.

Anyone who has lived, or even partied, in Europe will recognize the settings as well as the “feel” of the film.  The underground club, the cafe where Victoria works and the streets of Berlin all feel authentic, as well they should since the film was shot entirely in one take in the city itself.

“Victoria” is a 5 star film, it entertains and gets the viewer caught up in this quirky story and its characters. Quite possibly the best film I’ve seen this year from any World Cinema offering, this movie should be shown in filmmaking classes the world over as an example of how films should be made.

Streaming on Netflix at the moment, but not easy to find, search for the title. It is well worth that little bit of extra effort.

Rosewood: Silkworms Y Silencio – Yams and Chuppahs (Review) 2016 the Year of the Telenovela Parody

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“Rosewood: Silkworms Y Silencio” was not just about yams and smashing a chuppah,  it was about yet another telenovela parody, this time set to the  storyline of a murdered soap star whose killer may, or may not have been a costar.  Although in reality the episode could really be all about soap or even television  tropes.

The main plot has an actress found murdered in her home and only one real suspect.  Playing out against the mystery is the continuing Villa and Rosie relationship storyline. It  is turning into another triangle with Erica (Joy Bryantas the interloper who is competing successfully for Rosewood’s affections.

(Earlier triangles were “mini-me Rosie” Mike, played by Taye Diggs and Kat, played by Nicole Ari Parker.)

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Anita (Sherri Shephard) die hard Rosie fan.

There was “mucho comedia” (See what we did there?) and a little backstory, although the flashback to Rosie buying the GTO was really set up for later gag.  It appears that since Warehouse 13 did an entire episode as a  telenovela, it has become quite the thing to do on American TV. Not to mention all those telenovela “remakes” and the sitcom Telenovela with Eva Longoria

In “Rosewood” this week there are more subtle and not so subtle jokes than one can shake a parody at.  From Hornstock’s amazement at the gorgeous cross-dressing suspect (played by an actor who was almost the spitting image of actor Justin Long) to the teasing Rosie/Villa reenactments, there were so many “gags” that it took repeated viewing to catch them all.

Underneath the whole murder of a soap star plot, was the intensifying of the two doctors, Kincaid and Rosewood as a new couple. Erica struggling to get on better ground with Rosie’s mother Donna (Lorraine Toussaint) by giving a dinner with roast chicken was the secondary theme. However,  the new woman in Rosie’s life will not be making yams, something  that is apparently expected not only by Donna Rosewood but just about everyone in Miami. 

In keeping with the theme of soap opera romance, there are more females “looking for love” than usual. The soap star who is murdered works on Daisie Villa’s (Lisa Vidal), favorite show. This allows Annalise’s mother to pop up a lot in this episode;  at the precinct and the soap set.

Another Rosie fan also shows up, Anita (Sherri Shepherd) who has never hidden her burning torch for Rosewood.  

Not being completely au fait with the world of the telenovela, which is referred to as a soap in this episode (a rose by any other name…)  superficial exposure to the genre has made some things in “Silkworms Y Silencio” obviously funny.  Other gags perhaps less so, but there appears to be a sub-context going on that deals with fandom and just how much the telenovela has become part of American, or Miami, life.

There is much made of Rosie and Villa’s continued denial of their mutual attraction, although to be fair it is more Annalise who continues to prove the old “not just a river in Egypt” schtick.

Standout Moments:

Rosie’s request for an APB (all points bulletin) for his missing car, aka The Yellow Queen.

The Hornstock and Rosie exchange about Chuppahs.

The “looking at Villa’s badge and running;” twice,  by two different suspects.

The Antonio Espada (Juan Pablo Di Pace) scene where he describes, in essence, the relationship of Villa and Rosie who both deny any resemblance to his tale.

Followed by Espada’s other co-star, played by Yara Martinez doing the same thing moments later. Rosie turns to Annalise and starts to say “You start” and Villa ignores the comparison completely.

Unicos.

Daisie Villa.

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Final Thoughts:

There were a lot of tropes in this episode (which is really just a fancy way of saying stereotypes) and all worked brilliantly.  Even the old standby of “mom hating the new girlfriend” is pulled out and that works too.

By the end of the episode, it appears that Villa is pushing for Rosie to admit his feelings for her, but at the same time, pushing him away when he starts. It could be said that this has been their relationship from the day one  but now it seems that Annalise is upping the stakes.

Battle lines are drawn at the dining room table, and Erica’s faux pas at not being prepared to take part in saying “Grace” after her first sin of omission by not making yams, has fired off the first salvo in this war.  The soap star’s killer turns out to be the her next door neighbor who is rumbled by the  nebbish/nerdish neighbor who offered help at the start of the episode.

It should be pointed out that Donna is not the only mother who “interferes” with her offspring’s life.  Daisie also constantly turns up and butts into Annalise’s day, especially when it comes to “Hot Chocolate” Rosewood. Both women’s Christian names start with D, are the writers trying to tell the viewer something?

Will Erica Kincaid survive the meal, with yams provided by mother Rosewood, or not. Time, and a few more episodes, will tell.

“Rosewood” airs Wednesdays on FOX.

 

 

 

The Sound and the Shadow: Millennial Nancy Drew (Review)

Mary Kate Wiles and Joseph E Murray

Directed, edited and co-written by Justin Paul Miller (Sam Zvibleman was the other scribe on the film) “The Sound and the Shadow” is Miller’s first feature length film and stars Mary Kate Wiles and Joseph E. Murray as an odd couple pairing of two disparate roommates with Wiles playing a sort of millennial “Nancy Drew.” This comedy/ mystery is brilliant entertainment from the first frame.

Ally (Wiles) is a young woman seeking to share an apartment or rent a room. She meets Harold (Murray) who rents her a room in his home. The two are complete opposites. Ally is open, quirky and vivacious while Harold suffers from a plethora of allergies and records life and his neighbors rather than interacting with them in person.

Soon after Ally moves in with Harold a small girl goes missing from the neighborhood.  As the police search for the child, Ally pushes for information to find the girl and Harold reluctantly agrees to help.   Harold’s tenant is fascinated by the missing neighbor’s child  and in her mission to learn what happened Ally pushes her landlord way past his comfort zone.

Harold is socially inept mainly due to his self imposed isolation. While the man is pretty much a prisoner because of his allergies, Harold is a sound engineer who is able to focus on his recordings and pick up clues about the missing girl while “spying” on his neighbors.

Ally is a mix of  wide-eyed enthusiasm combined with a healthy pessimistic attitude that she is not afraid to share with her friend Kyle (Alex Anfanger) or Harold.  She pushes for “Harry” to investigate the clues he picks up with his recordings and he finally agrees to join the amateur detective in the hunt. 

“The Sound and the Shadow” can best be described as a buddy picture, where a 20 something free spirit teams up with her allergy suffering landlord to work on a kidnapping case. Along the way, Ally reveals that she is willing to take risks to save a young girl’s life and Harold has a secret that he shares with his new young friend.

Wiles is the main attraction in this film. Her character is quirky and fun, if not a little too direct and morbid.  For example, when discussing the missing Pearl (Holly Sambas) Ally lectures Harold on the likelihood on finding the child dead and dismembered. She also warns “Harry” (a shortening of Harold’s name that he abhors) about finding little baby heads all over the place. 

In many ways Ally is a cross between a pragmatic millennial “Nancy Drew” and a optimistic “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”  Harold’s closest literary namesake, and personality type, would have to be Eeyore, the downcast and depressed donkey from Winnie the Pooh. These opposites bond and make a great comic pair of sleuths who fall out as much continually.

The interactions between Wiles and Murray works brilliantly.  Their chemistry is perfect. Harold’s uncomfortable reactions to almost everything that comes out of Ally’s mouth is all about annoyed exasperation, initially and later reluctant acceptance.

Both of these complete opposites prove to be fearless in their search for Pearl and her abductor. As they struggle to put all the pieces together to solve the neighborhood mystery each affects the other in unlikely ways.

The cinematography by Michael Dwyer conveys moods with lighting and a precise framing of each scene.  The nighttime set pieces are perfectly presented so action is easily seen and not lost in overly dark shadows.

Over and above the superb performances of Wiles and Murray there is the story and all the characters in the film.  Ally’s enthusiasm to solve the mystery is infectious; sweeping up the viewer much faster than her onscreen roommate.

At 90 minutes, this film has a cracking pace.  The plot throws enough twists and turns to keep the most devout armchair detective happy and the evolution of both characters is funny, entertaining and slightly poignant.

There are a number of odd and interesting neighbors and potential suspects in the film and many  fall firmly into the suspect range.

“The Sound and the Shadow” is a film that entertains on many levels. It is a comedy that deals with number of issues and offers up a brilliant set of characters and clues.   Ally is adorably quirky, fun and nerdy  in the film and Wiles brings the girl to life effortlessly.

MarVista are releasing “The Sound and the Shadow” on April 19 via digital HD and On Demand.  This is five star entertainment. A film with interesting and amusing  characters that keep the interest  and move the story forward. Watch this one and discover the brilliance of Mary Kate Wiles and become a fan.

Estranged (2015) Gothic Horror Returns to Its Roots – Review

Amy Manson as January in Estranged

Directed by Adam Levins from a screenplay by Simon Fantauzzo (who co-wrote the original story with William Borthwick) “Estranged” features some of the best of British in this Gothic horror returned to the genre’s roots.  James Cosmos, Craig Conway,  Nora-Jane NooneEileen NicholasJames Lance  and Amy Manson  star in this dark, twisted  and oddly intimate horror film.

Starting in Brazil; January (Manson) and her boyfriend Callum (Simon Quarterman) are riding a motor scooter in Rio and get into an accident. She ends up in a wheelchair suffering from amnesia. With nowhere else to go, January and Callum go to her home. 

The crippled woman left six years previously and is apparently estranged from her family.  Once the couple arrive things get strange rather quickly.  The rundown mansion has moldy walls in the bathroom and the house is falling apart. Yet the family can afford to retain a butler.

January can remember nothing about her childhood and her father Albert (Cosmos) dislikes Callum. One day her boyfriend disappears and  January’s life takes a a severe downswing.  At first her mum Marilyn (Nicholas), sister Katherine (Noone) and brother Lawrence (Lance) continue to act like her family.

Later, a guilt stricken Thomas (Conway) reveals the truth to January who then tries to escape.  She is made a prisoner in her own home and her life becomes a living hell.

Levins makes “Estranged” more than just intimate. The film is claustrophobic and cloying. Manson’s character is run through the wringer. As the story progresses her trials continue to get worse and she discovers that what she has been told is not true.

Conway is brilliant as the servant who has obviously been beaten into submission by Albert. Cosmos, as the bullish patriarch, is massive and powerful looking and acts like an alpha male on steroids.

The film’s pace is languid to the point of standing still in places but it is necessary. It makes January’s predicament not only disturbing but frustrating as well. This oddball family, so determined to control her every move are strange and annoying. Gradually the theme bypasses strange and enters firmly into the world of the weirdly scary.

As events slowly play out the viewer guesses at what must really be going on in this quirky  country estate where everyone seems to be a more disturbing version of either the Addams family or criminally insane.

When the truth is finally revealed things are worse than imagined and the ending is fitting, if not a little unsatisfying.  In a nutshell, this film allows its stars to shine. Cosmos is scary as hell and Conway plays against type to be the most sympathetic character in the film.

Noone is at turns disturbing and childlike while Lance is just creepy full stop.   Eileen Nicholas is also spot on as the doting mother who has definitely seen better days.  Her Marilyn is spacey and disconnected to everything going on around her.

Manson goes through hell  in this film and it is all too easy to imagine the actress being covered in bruises for some time after shooting the feature.

The lighting and camera work combine to make the film look dark and claustrophobic.  “Estranged”  is a cracking horror film that, while slow, does hit all the right marks and delivers in the end. A full four  stars for this one,  missing the fifth as the pace really is a tad too slow at times. Streaming on Netflix at the moment in the US but not easily found due to the awkward category browsing system.

Watch this one and see why British horror is some of the best in the world.

Hush (2016) Horror With a Quiet Edge of Terror (Review)

John Gallagher Jr. as "The Man" in Hush

“Hush” is brought to us by the same man who scared the dickens out of audiences with the 2013 horror film “Oculus;”  Michael Flanagan.  Flanagan directed and cowrote “Hush” with the film’s star Kate Siegel, who plays the deaf/mute heroine; author Maddie.

The writer has moved out in the middle of nowhere to work on her latest novel and after her neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) stops by for a visit to return a book, things start going very badly for the author.  Her dinner is burnt to a crisp, setting off her smoke alarm and not long after Sarah leaves, the good neighbor/friend is murdered right outside Maddie’s house. 

The murderer is a man (John Gallagher Jr.) wearing a while “plain” face mask that has a whimsical and sad smile on its visage.  Learning that his next victim is deaf, the man begins a night -ong game of cat and mouse with Maddie. The madman is quite confident that he is going to win in the game and because of this he underestimate’s his victim and her capabilities. 

Maddie is armed with a fertile imagination and a will to survive. She battles the crazy man with his crossbow and bests her foe a number of times.  In the end whoever is the most focussed and able to plan ahead will win.

Flanagan uses Maddie’s world to good effect.  The author can hear a voice in her head (it sounds, she says, like her mother) as she was not born deaf. This voice, along with her ability to see events in her head like a film, not only make her a capable writer, but a more than adequate enemy to the man who wants to kill her.

If there is one complaint about this film, it is the unexplained, or even addressed, motive of just why the man with the crossbow and knife is intent on killing the writer.  The killer just turns up and murders the next door neighbor, he also  takes out her husband later on, but only just.

Despite the randomness of the killer’s actions, the film works on different levels.  The man is not a superhuman monster, a’la Jason or Michael Meyers.  The murderer uses cunning and at least one victim’s gullibility to win.

The tension is pretty taut and gives the film a needed touch of suspense, taking away from the  usual “slasher” premise.  There are no jump-scares here. Having a deaf-mute heroine takes the film even further away from the “idiots being slaughtered by a knife wielding maniac” theme  and helps make the action that bit more believable.

Set in the dark woods in a house that is Maddie’s combination of safe haven and prison, “Hush” is suspenseful and clever enough to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. The lighting is perfect, giving the illusion of night but without things being so dark that the action cannot be discerned.

Gallagher is disturbing and frightening as the murderer and to give the actor credit he is more terrifying with the mask off. Siegel is spot on as the grimly determined writer living in a silent world who will not stop fighting.

In some ways “Hush” is not too dissimilar to Flanagan’s “Oculus.” Each feature a villain, in “Oculus” it is the murderous mirror and in “Hush” it s the madman with the crossbow. Each is capable of mindless violence and evil intent.

We never learn why the man is so determined to kill Maddie. To be fair there is no real need to know why.   In the end, just as the mirror in “Oculus” has no real motive for its destruction of owners,  it is more terrifying that such evil exists with no identifiable motivation for its actions.

The villain in this piece is more clear cut than in Flanagan’s first film about inexplicable evil, no supernatural backstory here, the monster is all too real as anyone who reads a paper or watches the news on televisions can attest.

“Hush” is a brilliant bit of filmmaking which leaves the viewer rooting for Maddie while trying to work out her next move.  A splendid movie that forces the audience to identify with a heroine who is not a stereotypical horror film  denizen.

This is a 4.5 star film guaranteed to get the pulse pounding  in some scenes and the mind  racing in others. “Hush” is streaming on Netflix at the moment. Check it out and see what you think.

 

Mountain Men (2016): Canadian Bromance (Review)

Tyler Labine, Chase Crawford, Mountain Men

Written and directed by Cameron Labine, Mountain Men stars Tyler Labine and Chase Crawford as brothers who have grown apart since their dad went missing and  is presumed dead. The wedding of the their mother Marion (Christine Willes) brings the two men together. A trip to the family cabin to evict a squatter ends with them being stranded on top of the snow-covered mountain. 

Topher  (Labine) stayed behind and Cooper (Crawford) moved away and became successful. The distance between the two siblings is more than that of geography, they are miles apart in everything.  Once at the cabin the brother’s end up with the truck destroyed the cabin burnt to the ground and  no way of contacting anyone back in the town.

The two have unresolved issues and on their first night headed off the mountain, Coop eats too many pot cookies and walks off a cliff breaking his leg. Topher uses a survival guide, written by their father, to splint Coop’s leg and then he begins the long trek to get Cooper off the mountain.

As the brothers make their way down to civilization, they work on the many issues that stands between them.

The film looks brilliant, the lighting works to make the atmosphere look mind-numbingly cold. Labine is excellent as the pot dealing “professional DJ” whose much younger girlfriend is pregnant.  Crawford  is spot on as the stressed out younger brother whose life is unravelling.

Mountain Men was filmed in British Columbia and the stunning scenery helps to move the story along. The tale is slow moving, but not sluggish, and quite low-key. As a dramedy the film works toward a satisfactory conclusion that feels spot on.

There is no violence in this film, apart from a half-hearted wrestling/fist fight on a mound of snow, and while the language contains a number of “F-Bombs” these are not gratuitous in  nature and match the situations.

Topher and Cooper work to patch up differences and begin to bond after so many years of mutual disgruntlement with one another. The two men have an excellent chemistry and this helps to move the story on.

This is a film that, despite its low key approach, warms the heart and entertains brilliantly. It is described as a family film and with a lack of sex, violence or gore, could be classified as such but viewers with young children will find they get bored and the language is too grown up for the under 12s.

Mountain Men is streaming on Netflix and is a real 5 star film that can best be described as “On Golden Pond” for the younger set.   Heart warming, slow and peaceful, apart from at least two “life threatening” situations. The film is about growing up and accepting what the world is.

Watch this one and see why filmmaking is not all about superheroes or car chases, or shootouts. Sometimes the best films are just about people.  Head over now and turn this one on.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a pleasant viewing experience.

 

The Walking Dead Season Six Finale: Who Takes a Dirt Nap This Time

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After having missed an entire one and a half seasons of  The Walking Dead, the withdrawal was horrific, tuning into the season six finale was a bit disconcerting.  Apart from the obvious question, “Who does Negan bash with Lucille” (and in the comics we know that it is Glenn’s turn to take the big dirt nap) there is the whole Rick storyline to consider.

No one looked to be doing very well in the last episode. Maggie looks grey, so much so that Walker ash could be her next skin tone.  Daryl has been shot and those dark circles under his eyes made him look more corpse than not.  Carl (we won’t make fun of Rick’s pronunciation here) has that bandaged eye, although the uncovered one had enough venom in it to kill rattler.

Physical conditions aside, this was a frustrating episode to watch and it was not all down to Rick’s little band being herded into Negan’s hands. Carol (Melissa McBride) goes through her own hell after doing another “Rambo” earlier. Morgan (Lennie James) takes out after Carol and saves her from a fate worse than death; having to listen to her attacker ramble on and on while shooting her occasionally.

Many fans are upset at the cliffhanger ending. Not happy that it looks like Daryl could be the one that Negan (played brilliantly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan who  just chews up the scenery with unabashed vigor and vitality) decides to beat to death. A number of fans, who only recently threatened to kick off if Glenn died under that dumpster earlier in the season, are now clamoring for his demise.

Regardless of who gets Lucille, the worst part of the episode was Rick’s look at the end. As Negan gloats over his victory and the gang are all on their knees, Rick’s eyes spoke volumes. Trapped, hopelessness, anger and even fear were reflected in the leader’s eyes.

It was dismaying and upsetting to see this man being overrun by Negan and his crew.  However this had to happen eventually as the show is  moving ever closer to the comic verse of the series. The Walking Dead has deviated a few times, or more, from Robert Kirkman’s original comic. Creating new characters and opting to let other’s live and altering the time line considerably.

What is interesting to note, over and above the “who bought it debate” is the parallel between Carol and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) as the sixth season drew to a close. Both reached a point where they gave up. Carol prepared to die as her attacker decided to shoot her slowly to death and Rick’s end of the road meeting with Negan leaves him with no one to help him.

It says a lot about The Walking Dead that after a forced abstinence of the show, it took literally moments to get back into the story and into the heads of the characters on-screen.  The big question now is just who will end up taking that dirt nap after Negan swings that bat.