Resident Evil Welcome To Raccoon City: Sony Isn’t Even Trying To Hide The Product Placement

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first two games in the Resident Evil series are mashed together in what serves as another cinematic reboot of the franchise.

Oh boy this one is going to be divisive.

For the most part I really enjoyed this film, not as much as the earlier Resident Evil films with Milia Jovovich, but those hold a special place in my heart.

The biggest pro I can give this film is that I found it to be genuinely quite freighting, I don’t scare easily but this one did a number on me and stayed with me after I left the film. I thought the film did a lot of good atmosphere work as well as showing how much of a threat the mutants and Umbrella themselves are. I also thought the film was very tense throughout which only heightened this.

The casting… This is where things will get dicey for some. For the most part I thought the casting was good, many won’t like the portrayal of Leon S. Kennedy here, some for bigot reasons as Avan Jogia is playing a race swapped version of the character and others for the fact that he is constantly proven by the film to be inept and a bit of a loser. To those who Leon is there favourite character this will annoy them to no end, however, I was never that attached to Leon. Personally, despite him being a screw up character I actually thought Jogia did a lot with the role and I really liked him, he was probably my favourite character in the entire film.

Kaya Scodelario is great as Claire Redfield and Robbie Ammell is okay as her brother Chris, I think Scodelario is the start of the show throughout and would love to watch a Claire solo film with her in it. However, where the casting falls apart for me is with Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker. Firstly Hopper doesn’t look the part and looks distractingly miscast throughout, and moreover the characterisation of Wesker is all wrong with the film trying to portray him sympathetically despite him being one of the big bads of the Resident Evil universe. I didn’t like it.

The mashing together of the first two games stories worked for me and I felt like they gave both justice and didn’t rush through it. I would have liked Mr X to make an appearance but hey maybe in a sequel. I think there is enough there for both long time fans of the series, like myself, as well as for newcomers who might be unfamiliar.

Two other smaller issues I had with the film was the blatant product placement, it is everywhere, and the drawn out flash back opening, which I found to be quite slow. Personally I would have opened it with the police investigating Spencer’s mansion, but that’s just me.

Overall, I enjoyed myself I thought it did justice to the series and it scared me. Hopper was miscast badly and the product placement and opening put me off to a degree but the good vastly outweighs the bad.

Pros.

Jogia’s Leon

The scares

Scodelario’s Claire

The ending

Cons.

A slow opening

Hopper

The product placement

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Chucky: Twice The Grieving, Double The Loss

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids reel after a series of deaths, meanwhile Junior, played by Teo Briones, turns to the dark side.

In many ways this week feels like a build up to the finale, which isn’t necessarily a complaint as there are still a lot of fun moments here. This episode seems to be concerning itself with setting up all the pieces for the final showdown and what a show down it will be.

For the most part this episode is strong, a lot of good moments probably the best of these being Logan’s, played by Devon Sawa, death as it is brutal and memorable and will be one of the defining moments of the series for sure. Moreover, there is another excellent flashback wherein we get to see Fiona Dourif look eerily like her dad and nail the performance once again.

However, this episode is held back from a higher rating by two stupid narrative the decisions. The first being Andy, played by Alex Vincent, deciding to leave his adoptive sister, played by Christine Elise, behind and go on alone. It makes no sense why he would do this; the show wants us to believe he is doing this as a means to protect her yet he brought her back into this world in the previous films so he was fine with endangering her then. It just seems like you would want all hands on deck for the final showdown, no doubt she will conveniently show up. The other being Devon, played by Bjorgvin Arnarson claiming to be done and giving up, only to a few minutes later be back investigating again. This to me just felt pointless and like needless drama to pad out the runtime of the episode.

Overall, good but not great.

Pros.

Logan’s end

Another strong flashback scene

Fiona Dourif

The ending and what it sets up

Cons.

Dumb decisions.  

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The Feast: If You’re Bringing Up Long Strands Of Hair Seek Medical Attention

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film follows a Welsh dinner party in which everyone in attendance dies by the end of the film at the hands of a mysterious being.

Though the premise is nothing new there is something so unsettling about this film that makes it good. There is an off-kilter uncanniness that accompanies this film wherein nothing is quite like it seems and everything is filled with clues and hidden meanings, in many ways to truly get everything out of this film you should watch it several times over.

I enjoyed the rural folk horror and thought it did interesting things with a message of environmentalism and not disturbing the natural world. I found the film more uneasy than scary however, there is nothing from this film that stayed with me after watching.

The acting is all quite good. I think Annes Elwy was strong as the lead and played both sweet and sinister well. Most of the characters in this film balance out fairly standard greed and lust issues with far darker under the surface evils to great effect.

Overall, a strong folk horror film that is well worth a watch even if you have to read subtitles.

Pros.

Elwy

The folk horror

The uncanniness to it all

The twist

Cons.

Not particularly scary

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Knocking: Noisy Neighbors Are The Worst

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A mysterious knocking is investigated.

I don’t think this film will win any award for originality, I feel the premise is done to death and has been for a long time, however, some what paradoxically this film does manage to take it in a surprising direction and do something interesting with it.

The horror I thought was used well for the most part, there were a few moments that I felt were a little tame and could have been better, but for the most part the film succeeded in creating a frightening atmosphere that resulted in some strong scares.

The performances were serviceable for the most part. No one really blew me away nor did they do anything to particularly take me out of it, it was incredibly paint by numbers on that front.

I thought the ending, which I won’t spoil, was by far the highlight of the film as it actually managed to do something unexpected and took me by surprise, which is a rarity at this point.

Overall, a generic premise is elevated by a strong ending.

Pros.

The ending

The atmosphere

It is short and uses its time well

Cons.

The acting is middling

A couple of tame moments that need spicing up and that felt out of place

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Black Friday: Working In Retail Is Hell

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Retail workers on Black Friday must do battle against alien creatures that possess people and turn them into zombie like creatures.

When I saw the trailer for this film I had such high hopes and I was disappointed when I actually saw it.

This film boasts horror icons Devon Sawa and Bruce Campbell but even their horror pedigree can’t help this film, sadly all icons make bad decisions from time to time and this is certainly one of them. Neither Campbell nor Sawa is given anything particularly interesting to do and as such there characters each feel very one note. This becomes even more of an issue as the group of characters that become more of a central focus by the end of the film are both boring and irritating.

In terms of horror this is incredibly by the numbers. You have seen this film before, the premise is nothing new. Some people are praising this film by saying that it is very reflective of the retail experience however, I feel other horror films have done even that better before. There is certainly nothing scary about this film, the only thing scary about it is how long it goes on for.

It has strong pacing issues.

Overall, simply disappointing a waste of good talent.

Pros

It is watchable

A few good moments

Campbell has natural charm that even this film can’t hide

Cons.

It is not scary

It is generic

It has pacing issues

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Ghostbusters Afterlife: The Freakiest Third Act Surprise You Will Ever See

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family move into an old farm house left behind by their deceased grandfather, shown to be Harold Ramis’ character from the previous films, there they learn a little bit about themselves and their family history and of course save the world from a ghostly invasion.

This film did everything correctly that the previous film, the reboot, botched. It merges the older films and a soft reboot perfectly; it is a legacy sequel done right. There is enough call backs and involvement of surviving cast members to touch on the nostalgia factor of fans of the original whilst also giving us a new generation of Ghostbusters to care about.

In many ways this is Mckenna Grace’s film, she is the central character and carries the film for a lot of the run time. However, Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd are also scene stealers and make the most out of the scenes they are given, hopefully a sequel will do more with them and give them more on screen time together.

I found this film to be quite funny at times, again particularly Grace’s lead. The older Ghostbusters have some good lines but I would say on the whole they are used sparingly as to not upstage the new characters. I am split on the CGI Harold Ramis, I do like that they give him a proper emotional send off and have each of the characters have a moment with him, however I don’t like the use of CGI to bring back dead actors as a concept, it is troubling.

Overall, a strong revival for the franchise.

Pros.

Grace

Coon

Rudd

Giving the older characters one last hurrah

Cons.

Pacing issues

Finn Wolfhard’s role could be played by anyone

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Spencer: Abolish The Monarchy

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Recounting a Christmas that Princess Diana, played by Kristen Stewart, spent with the Royal Family one Christmas

This film is haunting. If going in expecting a standard Royale biopic, expect to be shocked at every turn. Indeed this film plays more like a horror film, with the social anxiety themed horror becoming unbearable at times. However, the real horror here is the cold and almost sadistic way Diana is treated at every turn by the hands of the Royals and their staff. Now this film is not based on actually events, as far as I am aware, it takes certain elements of Diana’s life and takes a bit of creative license with them, but if even one scene of this film is true it should be enough to make any decent Brit question their support of the Royal family.

Prior to the release of this film I made several comments saying how terribly miscast Kristen Stewart was in the role and how she would eventually doom the piece. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Stewart is chameleonic here and blends so seamlessly into this world that you will be hard-pressed to not see her as Diana. From her movements to her mannerism to even her accent Stewart nails the role perfectly.

Moreover, Stewart is supported by an incredible British cast with Sean Harris and Timothy Spall being equally as commendable.

Overall, this is a magnificent film and Stewart deserves to win awards for her performance here.

Pros.

The tension

It feels more like a horror film

The more out there elements

Stewart

The ending

Cons.

A few slight pacing issues resulting in a drag in the third act  

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Chucky: Cape Queer

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The gang realise Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif, is going to be harder to kill then they thought. Meanwhile series main character Andy, played by Alex Vincent, returns to the fray.

I think now that the series has all its pieces together it is really going places, I am excited to see where this series will take us and how that will in turn effect the wider Child’s Play universe. Hopefully we will get one hell of a showdown between Chucky, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Tilly, a possessed Nica, played by Fiona Dourif, and the forces of good in the final few episodes of the series.

I think Fiona Dourif is quickly becoming the star of this series. I forgot in my review of last weeks episode to talk about just how good of a job this series does of having her play the role of Chucky, in human form, in the eighties. They make her look so much like her dad it is a little eerie, the resemblance is uncanny. Moreover, on top of that Dourif also really excels in the role and really nails the mannerism.  I would say she is better used in the flashbacks then in the present day scenes as she is given less to do in those.

Additionally, outside of Nica I also think the series finally seems to have a handle on who these new characters are and what it wants to do with them, as in previous weeks they have verged on annoyance, but here they seem to be well used and contributing.

Overall, the series is getting even better as it progresses.

Pros.

Fiona Dourif

The threat

The coming showdown

Andy is back

The series finally knows what to do with the new characters

Cons.

Fiona Dourif isn’t given much to do in the non-flashback scenes, she deserves more screen time.

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Deadcon: Influencers Finally Having To Face Their Fans

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of influencers head to a convention where they are met by an evil spirit.

My oh my this film was poor on so many fronts it is hard to know where to begin with it. Firstly, unlike something like Big Foot Famous that I reviewed recently that used this idea of influencer culture in a meaningful way, this film relegated it to a gimmick at best. All of the usual cliches were there, most of which are born out of an out of touch fear of the young people and their ways on the part of aging executives.

Secondly, I understand that this film is going for the B movie esque approach and not trying to take itself too seriously but that backfires into massive tonal inconsistencies. With some moments feeling too silly and others feeling too dower, and this imbalance is something the film never recovers from.

Thirdly, the plot is incredibly contrived and has been done much better in the past. I feel like I have already seen this film several times over before, with this iteration of it almost feeling like a spoof film.

Overall, the best thing I can say about this film is that it is short. It is so riddled with problems that it is doomed from the start.

Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It feels played out

The horror doesn’t land

The tone is deeply inconsistent

The influencer characters are awful

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Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2: Who Wanted A Mutant Romance Arc

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After the summer camp massacre the Polish police force goes in to investigate only to become terrorised by a new mutant.

There was no need for this sequel. I enjoyed the first film to a point it did not set the world on fire and had a fair number of issues but it had its moments, this on the other hand runs out of steam after about an hour and then you are just left with its rather obvious efforts to kill time.

Continuing on the theme of things no one asked for this film diverts attention away from the big battle of the third act by having a mutant romance and sex scene. Now who thought this was a good idea? To have the cops basically defeated within the second act was a terrible decision, it then left a huge gap that needed to be filled in the film’s run time and this is what they did with it for reasons known only to those that made this film. Not only does this romance arc drag on but it amounts to nothing. Making matters worse it runs out of time before it can give us the showdown between the special forces and the mutants the whole film has been teasing out, instead just showing the special forces capturing them. To say it is anticlimactic is an understatement.

Hopefully this series is dead and there won’t be a third film.

Overall, whoever decided to include the mutant romance single handily derailed this film.

Pros.

The opening is neat

The first act has promise

Cons.

The battle scene is over too quickly and at the wrong part of the film

The terrible romance plot

An underwhelming ending

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