Bad Candy: Forget Razor Blades In Your Treats It Is Far Worse Than That

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A myriad of scary stories happening around a small town on Halloween.

I have mixed feelings about anthologies very often they turn out to not be very good and one particularly poor segment can easily ruin the whole thing. However, here I found the good to outweigh the bad and the wider creepy atmosphere to bring all of the film’s parts together in a nice cohesive way, even the weaker parts.

Now, I won’t say every part of this film is great there are several earlier segments that are incredibly forgettable. Moreover, the effects are never very good, but in that lies a certain B movie esque charm, you can tell they are trying there best with what they have available.

The best thing for me about this film was the imagery that it creates, whether it is the detailed segment on the man that stuffs razor blades into kids Halloween treats or the vampire/ demon creature that along with his army buddies hunts down wrongdoers over the course of the evening. The film manages to make both original and classic concepts feel fresh and interesting, the segment about the old man lacing chocolate with chemicals was particularly effective, as was his punishment.

Overall, a surprisingly strong horror anthology that holds up despite some weaker elements.

Pros.

A few good memorable scares

Most of the segments work

The performances are good

Cons.

A few of the segments are on the weaker side

The effects look rough

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Together: A Lecture About Covid

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An on the rocks couple, played by Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy, have to endure lockdown together.

Personally this film wasn’t to my taste. I enjoyed McAvoy and truth be told he was the only reason I stook with it till the end, however even then it was hard to get through. I found this film to be sanctimonious and preachy throughout not only constantly referring to how people should be during the pandemic, but also giving long drawn out to the camera rants about the failings of the Government.

Horgan’s whole character came off as annoying and only proceeded to get worse as the film drew on; she was the main one lecturing the audience. I found the character arcs of both the characters to be incredibly obvious and trite. McAvoy’s character went from someone who didn’t care about other people to someone who breaks down in tears and tells a shop worker they are a ‘hero’, and Horgan’s from a perfect compassionate human being into less so. It was all so obvious.

Finally, a lot of the points being made politically felt shoe horned in and cringe. It felt like those writing the film had a set list of points they wanted to make and that was how they structured the dialogue. Lazy.

Overall, unless you like being talked down to don’t watch this.

Pros.

McAvoy

It has a few funny lines

Cons.

Horgan

The character arcs are obvious

It is preachy

It is cringey

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The Guilty: Jake Gyllenhaal’s Best?

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A police officer, Jake Gyllenhaal, facing criminal charges finds himself in the middle of an abduction case as he is stuck behind a desk, all he can do is talk to the victim over the phone and try and resolve the situation.

This film is brilliant and possibly one of Gyllenhaal’s best. The journey this film takes you on whilst for the most part just showing you a man at a desk taking calls is truly magnificent. The emotions this film is packing will certainly take you through the wringer.

Gyllenhaal is electric in this role his character is volatile and damaged and you see every minute of it. From the inhaler scenes in the toilet, the fits of rage throughout, to the vomiting scene and acceptance again in the toilet. Gyllenhaal is able to really flex his muscles as an actor and give a layered striking performance.

I thought the mystery was also very strong, there is a twist three quarters of the way through, which I won’t spoil, but one that recontextualises the film in the most heart-breaking way so be prepared for that as it will hit you like a ton of bricks.

Overall, a terrific thriller film and one of Netflix’s best.

Pros.

Gyllenhaal

The ending

The twist

The emotions

Cons.

A slow start

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Lady Of The Manor: Forcing In A To Catch A Predator Scene Derails The Whole Film

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Down and out Hannah, Melanie Lynskey, gets a job giving tours at a manor house. Whilst there she also befriends a ghost, Judy Greer, of one of the dead residents.

In many ways I found this film to be needless. For example there is a big joke at the beginning that Hannah is caught up in a to catch a predator bit and is then a registered sex offender despite not being one. Now my issue with this is firstly why? There is no need for this plot wrinkle, and also that it makes no sense the police wouldn’t have convicted her as they had the wrong person and had no evidence- yet the film says they do.

This film seems to exist separately from any form of logic and often things just happen which make no sense and we the audience are just supposed to go along with it. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the fact of how dumb this film is.

Personally I found most of the characters deeply unlikeable. There is having a flawed character and then there is packing your film with questionable icky characters and asking us to like them. I liked Hannah, I thought that she made several good points about being a woman in modern times, but I also think her behaviour is suspect. She was prepared to perform oral on a man who was clearly out of it, yet we are supposed to like her.

Judy Greer was a lot of fun; she was the stand out of the film for me in a lot of ways.

Overall, this felt very much like a made for TV sort of film and had so many uncomfortable and problematic elements that I lost count.

Pros.

Greer

The feminist messaging

Cons.

The icky questionable characters

None of it makes sense

It feels like an edgy made for TV film

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What If: Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In this what if scenario Tony Stark is not taken prisoner by the Ten Rings and is instead rescued by Killmonger and becomes a pawn in the latter’s quest for revenge.

I feel like this episode really shows just how much the premise of this show hamstrings it. This is not always the case as some episodes veer off in very different directions such as the Evil Doctor Strange or Marvel Zombies one, but in the case of this episode having to tie into the films and the preestablished cannon really becomes a problem. We see moments from several different MCU films but rather than feel like its own thing this episode just feels as though it is trying to recreate those moments just slightly differently. Originality seems in short supply on this one.

Moreover, none of the characters are advanced in any meaningful way by this changed timeline which seems like a huge missed opportunity. In the Doctor Strange centric episode the idea is what if the hero turned into a villain, here we have a Killmonger that has an entirely different plan and is far more successful than he was in the main timeline MCU and a Tony Stark who didn’t have to escape his captors and become Iron Man. There is a lot this episode could have done with that set up, yet the characters are exactly like how they are in the MCU anyway with very little personality difference.

Overall, this episode really highlighted the confines of the show.

Pros.

The battle scenes

It is watchable

Cons.

The character progression is nonexistent

It sticks to the films too much

It is limiting

The ending again feels too early  

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Child’s Play: How Not To Do CGI

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Chucky is reborn in a new world of tech and online interactivity.

This film is a travesty on multiple levels.

To be bluntly honest with you it took me three sittings to finish this film as each time I watched it I couldn’t stand more than about half an hour of it.

The only reason this film has a 1 is because of Aubrey Plaza as the mum, she is great as always, but she could do so, so much better than this. Honestly this film is just so terrible that no matter how good a performance any of the actors give it is quickly overshadowed.

I strongly disliked the new high tech Chucky. I thought the idea of modernising him and drastically changing what his powerset is to be stupid. It felt like a jaded executive being like ‘oh what do young people like today? Lets make him do that’. I think this film truly sullies the character. Both in terms of personality, as they don’t bring back the original voice actor, and in terms of appearance as he now just looks like an awful CGI mess. Nothing against Hamill of course but he can’t hold a candle to Brad Dourif.

Overall, I am glad this film did poorly enough to kill any chances of spawning sequels, this version of Chucky should be taught in writers rooms so that people know what not to do with the character.

Pros.

Plaza

Cons.

The child actor

Everything about Chucky

The story is dumb and convoluted

It does not need to exist

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Prisoners Of The Ghostland: Nicolas Cage Strangeness Taken Too Far

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A drifter, Nicolas Cage, is tasked with venturing out into the haunted Ghostland in order to bring back a local officials daughter.

As many of you know I am a big fan of Nicolas Cage, I am a big fan of the aesthetic of this film, but as a whole it just doesn’t work- at least for me. There is far too much genre mashup going on here, so much so that none of it works. The western elements are offset by the Samurai elements and the more cerebral parts made lesser by the gory realities. This strikes me as a film that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.

Moreover, Cage is used minimally here. There are a few experiences that get close to what some refer to as ‘full Cage’ but that is never nurtured into anything of substance, he achieves far more in Willy’s Wonderland in which he barely says a word.

Also I found this film to be oddly and needlessly vulgar. There is a moment when one of Cage’s testicles gets blown off, why? Other than a gross out thrill what does that achieve? Weirdness within a film can work but weirdness for weirdness sake is never good.

Overall, an interesting concept executed poorly

Pros.

The concept

The visual aesthetic

Cons.

It underused Cage

It doesn’t make a lick of sense

The mismatch of ideas hurts the film in the long run

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Black Mass: The Comeback That Never Quite Panned Out

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This film recounts the life of ‘Whitey’ Bulger, here played by Johnny Depp.

This film always feels like a shame to me. Not because the film is bad but because it could have been the start of a big comeback for Depp and yet it never panned out.

I think that this is one of Depp’s finest roles, he manages to capture the ruthless killer whilst also making us somewhat like/understand him. The character that Depp brings to life in a nuanced and multi layered way reminds us that no character is simply good or bad but shades in-between.

Moreover, this film is also strengthened by a terrific supporting cast with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessie Plemons and Joel Edgerton all giving terrific performances and really helping to bring the film together. Cumberbatch in particular steals the show here.

I also think the score of the film adds a lot and serves to nicely compliment the film and reflect the emotion of the scenes. I would say of all the gangster films I have seen this one’s soundtrack was the only one to stick with me after watching.

My main criticism of the film would be the pace, the film takes a long time to get where it is going. Though his early life is interesting the film spends far too much time there and not nearly enough time on his later life.

Overall, a strong Johnny Deep fronted gangster film.

Pros.

Deep

The supporting cast

The score

The ending

Cons.

The pacing

A very slow start

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Rampart: The Film Known For One Disastrous AMA

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A crooked police officer, played by Woody Harrelson, finds his various crimes catching up with him.

I found this film to be quite hard to get through mainly because Harrelson’s character was so utterly loathsome. I understand that the character is supposed to be bad, you are not supposed to root for him or warm to him, but he is so unpleasant that it becomes hard to follow him. If anything maybe the film does too much of a good job in making his character hateable, which then backfires of them.

Harrelson himself was fine, personally I don’t understand all the praise he gets for this role- I have seen him be better elsewhere. I think another issue this film has is that it is so dedicated to Harrelson’s character that it ignores the rest of the supporting cast and gives them nothing to do. This is a huge issue when said supporting cast has the likes of Brie Larson and Robin Wright. A huge missed opportunity.

I would have liked for the ending to be a little bit more conclusive rather than as ambiguous as it is. Though that is a personal taste thing on my part.

Overall, Harrelson is trying however the character is so unlikeable the film is hard to watch.

Pros.

It is an interesting premise

I enjoyed the escalation

Cons.

Harrelson

An incredibly off-putting lead

Wasting a great cast

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National Lampoon Vacation: Stereotypes, Racial Cliches And Female Objectification Aren’t Funny

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family decides to travel cross country for a holiday.

Big disclaimer here, I don’t view the argument of ‘oh things were different in the Eighties, so all of the jokes are somewhat defendable’ as in anyway right. Racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia have never been okay. Yes, if you haven’t guess by now this is going to be a negative review.

I actively found this film to be off putting, not only did I find the jokes cheap and unfunny but also needlessly offensive. It seemed to boil down to a game of how many cliches and stereotypes can I fit into this film on the part of the writer John Hughes- don’t get me started on Hughes. We have African Americans being shown as rough criminals, we have the child who was born without a tongue being a source of amusement and of course every woman is sexualised. It really shows how icky, troublesome and down right callous Hollywood was/ maybe still is.

Chevy Chase is bearable though not in large doses; his character has no likeable traits, and he seems to be written as a dick- which of course becomes grating quickly. The rest of the family are devoid of any kind of personality and you forget about them as soon as the film is over.

Overall, honestly this film is a pain to get through.

Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It is offensive

Chase

It is poorly written

It is not funny

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