Abandoned: Straight Up Slop, Hard And Lacking Nourishment

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another horror thriller film about post-partum depression.

How many times are we going to be served the same slop? Is there supernatural goings on or does the lead character have post-partum depression, and or is the baby possessed or does the lead have post-partum. We have seen it so many times before and frankly I am becoming agitated with the generic storylines that keep making it into horror cinema, the Babadook did the idea well and all the films that have come after it have been bargain basement knockoffs at best.

What’s more I am beginning to question whether Emma Roberts can act or whether she simply gets roles because of who her aunt is. We have all seen and enjoyed Wild Child, Adult World and American Horror Story but outside of those productions Roberts seems to be phoning it in, unable to communicate any kind of emotion at all in any of her performances.

The mystery here isn’t a mystery if you have ever watched a horror film or a thriller before, it is just mind-numbingly obvious.

Overall, Roberts is slumming it for an easy pay check.

Pros.

It is watchable, it is not offensively bad.

Cons.

Roberts is awful

The mystery is entirely predictable

You have seen this film before

It is not scary or thrilling

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Crimes Of The Future: Where We Are All Heading

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a future where humans are evolving to eat plastic, a war is being fought over what makes someone human as well as notions around monstrosity.

Honestly this film will not be for a lot of people. I myself had a fair amount of issues with it such as: it was far too long, it sometimes came across as pretentious and smug and thought it was a bit more intelligent than it actually is, and of course there is a scene where you see a child’s penis. No scene in any film should show a nude child, just no.

However, despite that opening painting a rather damning picture, I don’t think this film is all bad and I do think that there are some trace amounts of greatness in here. In many ways this can be seen as a traditional Cronenberg film, or certainly as the director returning to his roots. The body horror aspects are all very inspired and well done and as such the film stands out in the modern horror landscape, however, there are a few times wherein the gore and the viscera became a little too much for me; what can I say I don’t like live surgery scenes and there are a lot of them here.

Moreover, I think the performances across the board were also terrific. This is highlighted with gusto by a very game Viggo Mortensen and a surprisingly unsettling Kristen Stewart. I think that the characters and world created are so intriguing that it allows the film to get away with some of its worse sins. I also really enjoyed the originality of the premise as I felt like I hadn’t seen this before.

Overall, very much a film made for a niche audience, but one you should experience for yourself all the same.

Pros.

The performances

The world

The premise

Cons.

It is too long and at times overly pretentious

Showing child nudity

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Dashcam: Triggering Libs And Running From Demons

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Annie Hardy, played by Annie Hardy, live streams her travels to England wherein she comes into some demonic trouble after pretending to be a food delivery driver.

I had been excited for this film for some time, then I read that some cinemas in the UK were banning screenings of this film as it was so offensive, naturally this made me want to see it more even though it proved to most likely just be a marketing tool, and now after seeing it I would say it mostly lived up to my expectations.

I don’t think this film is a homerun in the same way Host was, I think there is a lot to like for sure but it is not without its issues. My main issue with the film was the fact that the shaky cam got a bit too much at times with it going here there and everything to the point that it was hard to see what was going on. Moreover, the film is further made hard to follow by the fact that it never gives concreate answers to anything that is happening and you don’t know what is going on a lot of the time.

That said, I do think this film is scary and has a number of good scenes that stick with you after watching. The abandoned world of night time England made for a refreshing setting and also somewhat of a novelty.  

Hardy’s lead is supposed to be unlikeable, I would assume, to give you mixed feelings as she comes into trouble. On the one hand you want to see the monsters get her but then again you also sympathise. I think there is some commentary trying to be communicated through that depiction within the film but it is not strong enough that I could tell you what it is.

Overall, a strong and refreshing horror film only held back by too much shaky cam and a lack of concreate answers.

Pros.

Strong scares

A novel and refreshing setting

The tension

The ending

Cons.

Too much shaky cam

It is never clear what is going on

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Men: Too Art House For Its Own Good

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young woman, played by Jessie Buckley, goes out to the British countryside for a few weeks to emotionally recover after the death of her abusive husband.

I thought this was a mixed bag of a film.

On the one hand I appreciated that this film felt fresh, and tried to do something new rather than repeating the same old same old as a lot of new horror releases do. Moreover, I also enjoyed the distinctly British feel to the horror, it reminded me of classic British horror films like The Wicker Man and early Hammer fare. I also thought both lead actors, Buckley and Rory Kinnear, were very strong in their respective roles and really sunk into their characters.

However, on the other hand I thought the third act had major issues and became too convoluted and pretentious for its own good. Once you get to the moment in the film where it is a series of live births then you know the film has gone off the rails. I am all for experimental art house indie horror fare, but if anything this felt too far in that vein. It is really not surprising at all that this film did not play well with general audiences. In addition, thought I applaud the social message the film was trying to convey I thought that the way in which it was done was a little too on the  nose and heavy handed, as a result the script can at times feel strained. Furthermore, I thought the use of the green man and the folk horror motif felt a little generic and played out, the genre space has featured a lot from this aesthetic recently and as such this film needed to do more to make its folk horror stand out, it didn’t do that.

Overall, an original and very British horror film that certainly won’t be for everyone.

Pros.

Buckley and Kinnear

The originality

The British feel

Cons.

The entire third act is a mess

It is far too niche and art house for its own good

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Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1: The Netflix Issue

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Hawkins gang are back for a series that feels forced and altogether needless.

Personally, I believe that the end of the last season was the perfect place for the series to end, the big bad of the Mind Flyer was defeated, the kids were going in different directions and the whole things had a very conclusive feel to it that would have worked well if it had been the end of the show. However, Netflix realising they don’t have much else decided to string it along for two more seasons.

I won’t sit here and tell you this season is bad, because that isn’t true there are some good moments here and there, there are just now also a lot of issues. The worst issue in my mind is the double whammy of having each episode go on for far, far longer than is necessary and also splitting the season in two, in a desperate attempt to keep people subscribed for longer. The episodes are at times off putting in their length and the binge as a whole this time around really asks a lot of you.

I enjoyed the body horror and the clear Nightmare On Elm Street inspiration here, however, I thought a number of the sub-plots either didn’t work or made no sense. The satanic panic idea that the Hellfire club some of the boys join being viewed by the towns people as a satanic cult just makes them all look really dumb, I understand this was a genuine thing that happened but still it makes no sense that the kids parents would actually go along with it. Worse yet the early season sub-plot about Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, getting bullied just feels entirely needless. The first few episode progress incredibly slowly and the bullying subplot and several of the other teen angst directions they try and go in don’t work and feel like filler. You fill find yourself going please just get to it at times.

Overall, I am not saying it was a bad collection of episodes but I am saying this time around it felt far less  needed and far more forced, which of course hurt the show.

Pros.

Steve and Robin

Some fun to be had

The more overt horror feel

Cons.

Needless subplots that feel out of place

The pacing and episode length  

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The Innocents: Where Is The Line When Showing Animal Abuse On Screen?

0.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of troubled children develop otherworldly abilities and use their powers for sinister means.

I forget who said it now, but a reviewer of this film that enjoyed it far more than I did said of it something to the extent of ‘finally a film for adults’, no doubt in a jab at the mindless blockbusters many don’t view as true cinema. However, I want to pose the idea that if this often excessive and unpleasant film is true cinema then maybe it isn’t such a good thing.

There are two examples I would like to point to that soured the film for me, both happen fairly early on and it only gets worse from there. The first is when a heavily disabled girl is tortured by our lead, played by Rakel Lenora Fløttum, and the second is when the lead and her friend shove a cat into a sack and then drop it from a height onto the ground. I understand that these elements are to show that the child is twisted and sadistic, but in my mind this is communicated to the audience in a needlessly tasteless way. A defence for this could be that it is a horror film so we can expect sights that sicken and disturb us, however, at least for me this crossed a line.

Animal abuse in film is always hard for me to watch.

Overall, this film was a bit too rich for my personal taste.

Pros.

The child actors do feel genuinely menacing

Cons.

The animal abuse

Bad taste

Pacing issues

The plot feels overly familiar

Some meandering subplots   

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The Ghosts Of Borley Rectory: Britain’s Most Famous Ghost Hunter

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Famed paranormal investigator Harry Price, played by Toby Wynn-Davis, investigates the most haunted house in the UK, Borley Rectory.

In many ways this is what you would expect from a straight to DVD film, it is cheap, derivative and looks slightly better than what a decidedly average film studies student may create for an assignment. However, it is not all bad because in that see of roughness I did find some fun to be had.  

I enjoyed the atmosphere of this film and thought that it did have a number of good scares peppered in over the course of the runtime. The demon nun angle was a bit cliched and overplayed and felt a little bit too much like they were trying to rip-off better films.

I thought Wynn-Davis was a commendable leading man and managed to keep everything together and going in the right direction. I don’t know if I would say this is the best take on the life and investigations of Harry Price I have ever seen however, as I think Rafe Spall was better in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter.

Overall, a slightly above average horror film with a few good scares. However, it is lowered by feeling too familiar and at times a little predictable.

Pros.

A few good scares

The atmosphere

Wynn-Davis

Cons.

It feels like a knock-off version of other better films

It is deeply predictable

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Morbius: The Kind Of Film That Reminds You How Good Dracula Untold Was

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Michael Morbius, played by Jared Leto, develops a cure to the terminal illness that has plagued him since birth, however, his cure also turns him into a living vampire.

I am starting to see a lot of aesthetic similarities between Sony’s Venomverse and the Dark Universe, it is in the fact that so far every Venomverse film has felt like an edgy emo teenagers dream with that being especially true with this film. To further the parallels between the Venomverse and the Dark Universe this reminded me in a lot of ways of Dracula Untold, it has a very similar vibe and a lot of the bat related CGI effects feel like they carry over between the films. The writers of this film also wrote Dracula Untold and you can tell in almost every line of dialogue, in many ways a lot of the emotional elements and plot devices from Untold end up bleeding over into this film.

I think Leto was miscast in the role and doesn’t even seem awake for most of the film, to me at least it seemed more like Leto didn’t want to be there and was probably only there to get paid. Leto is a problematic actor and it is for that reason I didn’t watch this in the cinema when it came out, instead waiting for my friend to rent it on VOD so that I could watch it on a visit. No one is on good form here, bar I suppose for Matt Smith you at least seems to be having some fun. I wish Smith could have chosen a better project to jump onto the superhero train with.

I won’t even get into the post credits scene, which yes is as bad as you have heard. There is no rhyme or reason for this scene it stands in the face of any kind of logic, not making sense through No Way Home’s spell idea. It seems the only reason this exists is for the Sony executives, who can’t sleep at night unless they are running comic book characters into the ground, who want a Sinister Six movie for some reason even though the team has little wide appeal or brand value but hey. It makes no sense that Morbius who has spent the film not killing anyone bar the mercenaries at the beginning would team up with Michael Keaton’s Vulture to go and hunt down Spider-Man, it is just dumb.

Overall, a deeply average movie that you probably shouldn’t watch unless you are looking to be bored.

Pros.

It reminded me how much I liked Dracula Untold

Jared Harris

Matt Smith

Cons.

Leto

It is boring

The post credits scene is awful

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Firestarter: The Remade Stephen King Universe

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter. The plot follows Charlie, played by Ryan Keira Armstrong, a young girl hunted down for her supernatural powers.

A lot of reviewers out there are giving this film very low scores and personally I can’t see why. I don’t know if they were very attached to either King’s original novel or the previous film, but I haven’t read or seen those so I can only judge this film based on its own merits and not compare it to anything else.

I thought for the most part this film was good, the tension was well done and I got vibes of Doctor Sleep in this regard. I thought John Rainbird, played by Michael Greyeyes, was fantastic until the final 10 minutes, he gave off a strong amount of supernatural intrigue as such you constantly wanted to know more about his character but the film didn’t reveal anything which I thought was a smart move. Moreover, Zac Effron also did a great job here further proving his serious acting chops, I thought during the psychic battle sequences he was incredibly.

Another highpoint for me was the score composed by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and David Davies. It felt like the perfect 80’s call back mixed with just the right amount of excitement and intensity.

However, it wasn’t all roses. I thought the CGI fire effects were poor, to make matters worse whenever Charlie used her powers the camera would cut to a close up of her face with the fires happening off screen which felt cheap and obvious. In addition, there were several moments in this film were it became unintentionally hilarious and made me laugh out loud in the cinema, I don’t think that is what the filmmakers were going for. Finally the ending of Charlie forgiving Rainbird and then going with him despite all the trauma he has inflicted upon her makes no sense and just seems forced in so that the film can have a happy ending.

Overall, above average and certainly with redeemable elements despite not being a great film.

Pros.

The score

Effron

The mystery of Rainbird

The tension

Cons.

The ending

The cheap CGI

It is unintentionally hilarious

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The Cellar: Apparently Hell Can’t Afford A Lift

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family move into a house in rural Ireland and not long after their daughter goes missing.

This won’t win any awards for originality, as the above premise suggests. However, I do think this was a surprisingly effective horror film and it left me feeling suitably unsettled. I would say the scares landed for the most part, and I liked some of the more out there visuals they went for. The ending was quite intriguing as well and it left me with a number of questions, which is always a good thing if done well.

My issues with this film boil down to one simple thing, Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is the lead of this film so that American audiences can have a familiar face to cling to, I think this is a bad move. It makes no sense that the rest of the family have Irish accents and sound the part and Cuthbert blatantly doesn’t. Her performance is also not good and certainly holds the film back in a number of ways.

Overall, despite not really being anything new what is here works well, bar Cuthbert, and produces some good scares.

Pros.

The ending

The scares

The wider mystery

Cons.

Cuthbert

The pacing

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