Friday, 8 December 2017

The Good Neighbor (2016)


You haven't seen this. You need to.


The Good Neighbor


Synopsis

A pair of mischievous high school kids create the illusion of a haunting on an unsuspecting elderly neighbor while keeping his every reaction under surveillance. A series of coincidences leads to tragedy.

Review


Trigger Warning
Review contains words like powerhouse, and masterpiece.


This is a masterpiece of tension, mis-direction, character building, and OMG moments.

There, I said it.

The premise of The Good Neighbor is simple: How does someone behave when they think they're being haunted? After that, it's hard to say much about the actual plot of the film without running so deep into spoiler territory, it would wreck the magnificent, heart-wrenching finale of this amazing piece of work.

The film centers on three characters - the "mischievous high school kids" and the neighbor - Caan - a reclusive, ill-tempered, and violent, possible sociopath. Perhaps psychopath.

So let's focus on the acting for a moment. The two young leads are portrayed by Logan Miller (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) and Keir Gilchrist (It Follows). Both are decent actors, and both create their characters well, by which I mean they give their deeply flawed personas life. They are initially perceived as inherently good people, with an ill conceived idea. Then as more is revealed the realization that all is not as it seems comes to the front. Some of this is, of course down to a craftly written script (Mark Bianculli and Jeff Richard) and the excellent direction of Kasra Farahani (best known as Art Director on movies such as Star Trek Into Darkness and Thor). But I want to take a moment to mention James Caan.


James Caan (left)


Caan lays down a powerhouse performance in what should be a b-grade low budget thriller. As I said, he gets great support from the rest of the cast, but Caan has without doubt been in a slump, or under a shadow for years now. When we think of great Caan performances what comes to mind? Sicilian Vampire? Preggoland? Or The Godfather Part II? Rollerball? They came out over 40 years ago. They're older than me. His performance here secures that he still has it.

And that is why you have to see this.

James Caan is still one of the finest actors working today.

Anyway, the film grinds tension throughout. It plays with the expectation of the viewer and twists throughout. Part thriller, part horror in places, even with some found footage vibe going on, this is a taut movie, with a massive pay off at the end. Utterly amazing.








Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Friday, 1 December 2017

Deadbolt (1992)



Deadbolt


Synopsis

When medical student Marty places an ad for a roommate, her ad is answered by handsome, clean-cut Alec. At first Alec seems to be a wonderful roommate; supportive, considerate and a real friend. However, Alec's affection turns to obsession as he plots to manipulate and control all aspects of Marty's life, imprison her in her own apartment and make her his.

Review

Man, this is one bonkers movie. Alec, the villain of the piece is played by Adam Baldwin - no not a Baldwin brother - but rather of Firefly fame. His plays sinister well. Very well, in fact. Protagonist Marty comes in the form of Justine Bateman of Family Ties. She's a strong heroine, portrays a strong woman who is manipulated by serial a manipulator/killer. It works surprisingly well - even if made for TV may limit the budget a little.

Starting with the death of an unknown woman by suicide, the film has an uneasy feel to it. It hides what it doesn't want you to see well. Who was this woman? Why did she kill herself? It turns out later that was Alec's previous "room mate". The Chekhov's gun is botulism. Seriously. Botulism plays a hand in the movie's climax.

It's actually a taut and tense watch. And a rather surprising one.


Justine Bateman

Directed by Douglas Jackson - who went on to direct no less than 59 movies - does a solid job. It's not remarkable, but it conveys "thriller" well enough.

Towards the end of the movie Alec does become something close to a super villain, snapping people necks with a pincer hold, and shrugging off killer viruses like the common cold, but it does help ramp the tension.

It's worth the 90 minutes of your life, just because of the botulism.





Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Monday, 20 November 2017

Update: Suicide Squad (2016)



We've already reviewed the theatrical release of Suicide Squad, here, where it garnered little more than complains about tonal imbalances and choppy story telling, gaining only a three star rating.




So, does the extended cut help?

Actually, yes, greatly. The extended cut is certainly the one to watch. Adding less than 15 minutes runtime to the movie means that unlike Batman v Superman's extended edition it doesn't suffer with bloat.

In fact, most of the problems addressed are the tonal changes. There are actually transitions between things now. It makes the film flow better. And the character effected most? No, not the Joker, but Harley. Her back story is fleshed out properly. I can't say that the film is perfect with the additions, but believe me, they are required viewing.



Friday, 17 November 2017

House III (1989)


Love me some Lance!




Synopsis

Detective Lucas McCarthy finally apprehends "Meat Cleaver Max" and watches the electric chair execution from the audience. But killing Max Jenke only elevated him to another level of reality. Now Lucas' family is under attack, his sanity in question, and his house haunted. Aided by a disreputable college professor, can Lucas reclaim his mind, house, and family?

Review

Following in the trend, House III has nothing to do with House, or House II, which is fine. That said, House III was never meant to be a House film at all. Following in the footsteps of the Hellraiser series, House III was originally call The Horror Show, and was scripted as a stand alone film. In fact, in some releases it carries The Horror Show as its tag line.

This, in itself, is the only real flaw in the film. It's not really about a House. In fact the climax isn't in the House at all. Well, it is, sort of. Anyway.


Brion James

The film begins with Detective Lucas McCarthy catching serial killer Max Jenke. It's a bloody showdown, McCarthy loses his partner, and after the arrest he suffers with some serious PTSD. It sets up the film well, with  McCarthy wondering if he's losing his mind or not. After Jenke goes to the chair, swearing revenge on McCarthy from beyond the grave, and still not going quietly, it becomes obvious, quickly, that Jenke is now haunting McCarthy.

Lance Henriksen (Aliens) holds the lead well. Made around the time that Henriksen's career was taking off - going from mostly TV bit parts to Aliens and Near Dark - it's a solid addition. Brion James (Blade Runner) is fabulously over the top, playing Jenke as a cartoonish villain, but not one you'd want to laugh at. Not to his face, anyway.

Supporting the leads are Rita Taggart (Mulholland Drive), Dedee Pfeiffer (Falling Down), and Aron Eisenberg (DS9) as the family, and they all do a solid job. A Notable addition is Thom Bray (Prince of Darkness).


Lance!

Directed by James Isaac (Jason X) and with Sean S. Cunningham's production company behind it it has pedigree.

And it is actually good. It's pretty gross in places, and pretty damn terrifying in others. The SFX hold up today, and from a schlocky start through to the emotional end it's a decent ride. You need a beer with it, and don't take it too seriously - but great stuff once again from the 80's.






Tuesday, 14 November 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Two Worlds (2017)



After our break for the Batman v Superman Perspective, this week we have a cute little sci fi short brought to us by Andy Lefton.