The Birds: Why Is Hitchcock A Cinematic Icon? I Don’t Get It

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A woman with too much time on her hands, played by Tipi Hedren, starts getting attacked by birds.

I am going to say something that within some film circles is the highest form of blasphemy so get ready. I don’t really like the films of Alfred Hitchcock, I think they are often slow and badly paced, and more often then not seem to think they are smarter than they actually are. His films have a certain smugness to them, the only one I actually like is Psycho.

Anyway, I did not think this was the worst film I have ever seen but I did think it was boring. Scene after scene of Hedren’s characters personal drama as she obsesses over a man she met in a pet shop, played by Rod Taylor. Honestly it is quite a ways into the film where the titular birds start to turn bad until that point you would be forgiven for thinking you are watching some old fashioned drama/romance film. The pace during this early section is so bad that it almost made me turn it off.

I enjoyed the cinematography and the shot choice and would even go so far as to say a few of the shots were quite inspired, but this didn’t make up for the wider short comings of the film. Chief amongst these I would say were the performances that frequently felt quite wooden.

Overall, painfully slow.

Pros.

A few strong shot choices

Visually a beautiful film

Cons.

It is badly paced

The birds don’t turn bad until way into the film

The performances are fairly wooden

It is boring

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Bros: Insulting Your Audience

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first big studio rom-com to feature same sex leads, if you ignore Love Simon and a few others.

Honestly I just didn’t think this film was very funny. Somewhere in between all the jokes about how straight people are lame and the gross out sex gags I found myself questioning why for such an important film for a number of reasons they didn’t do their best to at least give it a good script and a few passable jokes. The humour of this film is at times aggressively unfunny and by that I mean that the film is actively angry at you for not laughing along with it, thinking that every joke made is the peak of comedy and that you are just a philistine for not laughing.

Another thing going against this film is the star Billy Eichner. Now I have seen Eichner before in a few other things and I stand by the idea that in small doses his particular shtick is funny, however, being exposed to it for over an hour proves to be unbearable. Additionally, Eichner’s character really isn’t particularly likeable and I found it hard to root for his happiness. Adding to that are the comments Eichner has made post release wherein he has said the reason the film has underperformed is not because of a weak script or unfunny jokes but because audiences are homophobic. Though this is true to an extent, it reeks of someone on the defensive lashing out because their ego got hurt, it also does nothing to make an audience want to see the movie because why support a star who is calling them names?

Overall, this film is important there is no doubt about that, but sadly what we got was incredibly mediocre with a leading man who is ill suited to the task.

Pros.

It is an important step forward for diversity within film

It is watchable

Cons.

Eichner is no leading man

It is unfunny

It has terrible pacing

It repeatedly lampoons straight people and then expects that audience to come out and support the film.

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Village Of The Damned: Beware The Stare

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a mysterious incident all the women of a small town fall pregnant, a while later their offspring develop otherworldly abilities.

I want to preface this review by saying that I have never read The Midwich Cuckoos before, as such I was unfamiliar with the story. Had I seen one of the other numerous adaptions beforehand or shared some familiarity with the story I may not have enjoyed it as much.

I thought this film was really well done, it did a lot of work with atmosphere and had a show but don’t tell sort of approach to the film’s monsters. I have always found there to be something slightly disconcerting about little children especially when they gather together as such this film was bound to trigger fears in me. I thought the ‘evil’ kids here had a well-acted alien quality to them and I don’t know if they were inspired by the classic idea of the black eyed children within folklore, but if so they added a whole new dimension to it.

I also thought the pacing was really well done, far too many modern horror films try and cram in as much artsy imagery and subtext as they can bloating the film into a multi-hour behemoths which then lose sight of their scares, whereas this film does it right. I thought the runtime was tight and left just the right amount of plot to the imagination.

Overall, a very effective creepy kids movie.

Pros.

The scares

The atmosphere

The pacing

The performances

Cons.

It is a little antiquated  

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The Horror Of Dracula: From Transylvania To Klausenberg

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A retelling of the classic Dracula tale.

I have long heard that this is one of the definitive takes on the classic novel, however, now after seeing I think that it lacks a certain something. Obviously, I am approaching this old film with modern sensibilities so some things will be lost in translation, but I think that it really suffers from clearly being very low budget. Now I know Hammer Horror was low budget and campy and that was all part of the charm, but I think here due to limitations Dracula, played by Christopher Lee, was able to be set up as a truly terrifying threat.

Moreover, I also think that this film makes a number of odd changes to the book that seem to serve no purpose other than to be confusing, as for the most part it is just swapping around character names and backstories somewhat. I don’t really understand why the film did this as it certainly didn’t add anything.

However, the incredibly strong positive this film has going for it is the legendary Christopher Lee, who easily blends into the role of Dracula and I thought was able to make the role his own and put his personal spin on it. Lee saves this film from mediocrity.

Overall, a very average film pushed up by Christopher Lee.

Pros.

Lee

It is very watchable

The final battle

Cons.

It makes strange changes to the source material for no real reason

It’s low budget hurts it in places

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Dead Silence: James Wan’s Puppet Movie

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The arrival of a ventriloquist’s dummy spells doom for Jamie, played by Ryan Kwanten.

I will give this film a slightly above average score for the fact that it does boast some quite unsettling visuals and did also leave me feeling somewhat disconcerted. I think the film’s strongest element is its horror, however everywhere else it is let down.

I think the lets call it ‘industrial’ style James Wan used on the first Saw film that he tries to bring over to this film just doesn’t work at all. The two films are very different beasts and the carried over style hurts the film a lot. Nowhere is this clearer then in the final moments of the film where we get a very Saw-like twist with the same accompanying music and everything.

Speaking off the twist ending really doesn’t work, because rather than bringing everything together it instead leaves you saying, ‘wait what’ and makes the film incredibly goofy. Any kind of tension or scares are immediately undercut when you realise that a man who has played a fairly large supporting role in the film as a whole was supposed to have been a puppet the whole time. Dumb.

Overall, some neat horror visuals, but fairly weak everywhere else.

Pros.

A few good scares

Some cool effects work and make up design

It is very watchable

Cons.

The twist doesn’t work

Wan reuses the same style from Saw and it doesn’t work

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Smile: Bathsalts Will Do That To A Person

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A therapist, played by Sosie Bacon, becomes the victim of a curse.

Originally I had very low expectations for this film after seeing the trailers, but then I started to read the early reviews and my expectations went up. However, now after having seen it I can say to temper your expectations, don’t go in expecting the world and you will like this film well enough.

The two major pros of this film are Sosie Bacon’s lead performance and the final third of the film, which like Hereditary, is truly a sight to see. In terms of scares this film does manage to be quite creepy and unsettling at times and the films monster will be one that sticks in your mind long after watching. However, I did find that this film was far too reliant on jump scares to the point where they lost all effect.

In terms of the negatives about this film things are far simpler, the issues all stem from just how similar to other horror films this is. To call this an original film is quite a stretch. It takes several films such as The Ring, Truth Or Dare, Hereditary and It Follows and strips them for parts which it then sows together into a Frankenstein’s monster which then becomes this film. Moreover, because this film is so derivative there are no real surprises, everything happens exactly as you would expect it to.

Overall, better than average but far too familiar.

Pros.

A few good scares

Bacon

It is very watchable

Cons.

It is far too familiar

It is entirely predictable

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Bullet Train: Lock Stock Meets John Wick

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of hitmen and murderers gather together on a bullet train, each has their own mission.

I didn’t catch this one in the cinema so I was waiting for the digital release, and now that I have seen it I am somewhat disappointed. Not because it is a bad movie, because it isn’t, but because it tries to be two very different things and didn’t do either of them enough, and to make matters worse these two elements badly clashed with one another. The film certainly has charm but it also has a lot of issues.

The two things this film tries to be to me, is on one hand a Guy Ritchie crime film with the quippy comments and colourful characters and then on the other it tries to be an incredibly stylised action film ala John Wick. The issue with the former comes as the tone can’t seem to maintain its quippy nature throughout and at times tries to go serious and dramatic, this derails it. The problem with the stylised action is that there isn’t very much of it, the film really goes out of its way to set up all these oddball characters with different backstories but then realises after it has done that that there isn’t any runtime left. The action we get is fairly tame and forgettable.

Brad Pitt is still a strong lead, and in that he does make an interesting entry point into this world.

Overall, there are some things to like about this film, namely Pitt, but there are also a lot of problems.

Pros.

Pitt

A few funny moments

It has a nicely lively pace

Cons.

The tone doesn’t quite work

It feels mismatched

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Ticket To Paradise: A Holiday To The Cinema

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two bitterly divorced parents, played by Julia Roberts and George Clooney, must team up to try and prevent their daughter, played by Kaitlyn Dever, from getting married.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this film. It was nothing new or particularly surprising, but it was comforting. It was like a warm mug of soup on a hot day, you have had it before but it provides a nice escape from the winters day outside. In my mind this film did what all good films should do, it provided you with a nice breezy escape from reality. It entertains you for a few hours and ultimately it doesn’t need to do more than that.

I think George Clooney and Julia Roberts have great chemistry together, and the formers case it made me realise just how much I had missed seeing him on-screen. I think if the film had different leads it would have worked a lot less and the cornier elements of the narrative might have stuck out more for the wrong reasons, as it is the two bring a lot to the film. An interesting thing to note in terms of performance is that Dever gets totally out shone by Billie Lourd who plays her best friend. Dever doesn’t bring much to the film and could have easily been replaced by a number of other actors to minimal effect, Lourd though however is a scene stealer across the film.

Overall, this film feels like a warm hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Pros.

Roberts

Clooney

Lourd

It is a lot of escapist fun

Cons.

It is nothing new

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The Munsters: Use My Body To Keep You Alive

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rob Zombie brings back The Munsters.

I saw a few episodes of the original series when I was a kid, but outside of that I have come to this project with very little familiarity with the IP. Mainly I came because I am a big fan of the films of Rob Zombie, also I wanted to see how his first foray into the world of family filmmaking went. In all honesty this film is a mixed bag, and if you aren’t a fan of Zombie’s style then you will almost certainly not like it.

I think that Zombie’s sensibilities work better outside of the family genre, I think now after watching this that Zombie needs the gore and the mania as compliments to his work. That is not to say that this is entirely without charm, to the contrary I found myself quite enjoying some of the more out there nods and jokes here and Sheri Moon Zombie is as delightful as always. However, on the whole I would say the film’s comedy left me freezing cold.

I do question who this was for, was it for the original fans? New ones? Who? I don’t think the film at all justifies its existence, even though it has many opportunities to in as the film is seemingly on for eons- maybe it just felt that way.

A saving grace of this film was the score, it gave me something to latch onto.

Overall, the only reason this film gets a slightly better than average score from me is because I am a Zombie fan and really appreciate his signature style, most other people would rate in lower.

Pros.

Zombie’s direction flair

The zaniness of it

The score

Cons.

It is too long and doesn’t justify its existence

The comedy doesn’t work, and the family friendly feel holds the film back

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Confess Fletch: Who Doesn’t Need A Whole Bunch Of Fake Identities

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Retired investigative journalist Fletch, played by Jon Hamm, explores an art world mystery.

I will open this review by saying that I have no fondness for the Chevy Chase Fletch films. They were before my time and upon watching them in a more modern context the humour just didn’t land for me at all. However, I am pleased to say I enjoyed this film much more than the older Chase films.

I thought all of the performances across the board were great most noticeably Lorenza Izzo and Jon Hamm, but all of the characters were very easy to warm to. I thought this film had a lot of old school charm and reminded me of comedy crime films of yore, the sort that someone like Steve Martin would have made. However, unlike those movies a lot of the more toxic and problematic elements of those films were cut out here, much to the betterment of the film.

Moreover, the central mystery is pretty solid I did not guess it which is a sure sign of quality. In addition the humour of the film was more hit than miss for me and quite often made me laugh, I think Hamm in particular has great comedic timing.

Overall, a fun and enjoyable film that won’t set the world on fire.

Pros.

Hamm

Izzo

The humour

The mystery

Cons.

A few pacing issues  

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