Usually when I see a film like this, I do the usual review and mention about how I love it, but never want to see it again. The best examples of this are Hereditary, The VVitch, and Vivarium. All three films I love, but I’m not sure I could get through again. This had a similar effect with how it made me feel, but weirdly I want to see it again. In fact, I need to see it again. It has one of those endings which I know will make me appreciate the film more on a second watch. It feels low budget, but in a good way. In a way where it feels like everybody who worked on it was pushed to their limit to create the best thing possible, a film made possible by true dedication to the art of film-making.
I apologise for those of you who personally know me, and who like horror and sci-fi movies, because I will tell you to watch this film, and I will tell you it until you watch it. It’s one of those films that I feel you really need to experience. Turn the lights off, sit in the dark, and truly let it take you into it’s world. I’ve said this about a lot of films but it’s especially true with this, the fact I didn’t get to see this in the cinema is a great disappointment to me as I feel that would have been the optimum way to watch this.
I suppose if i had to describe this in a word I’d say “retro”. The music and visuals all combine to make it seem like something from the 80s, but in a good way. Not in a way that seems dated, but in a “this is a classic film from that time that you are now watching”. It’s hard to compare it to anything else but if I had to? Dunno, maybe a smattering of Nightmare On Elm Street, Alien (not with the plot, but in terms of the visual aesthetics), along with a side of….I’m not really sure, but there’s definitely a third element which I’m familiar with but can’t quite place. In terms of modern films, the closest I can find to this in terms of tone would be It Follows. A weird throwback but keeping a modern sensibility to it.
It’s hard to talk about the plot to this film, without spoiling it. So watch the trailer first, then decide if you want to watch it. The plot isn’t technically important, in terms of, if this was a book I wouldn’t advise reading it. But the way the plot and the technical nature merge together makes a lot of sense.
Almost all of the greatness of this film is down to two people: Anthony Scott Burns, and Julia Sarah Stone. Sure, the supporting cast are great, but it’s those two that anchor the movie. Stone gives a performance that if this film was better known, would be considered starmaking. She portrays so much in this movie, the fear, the exhaustion she faces is all written in her performance. She genuinely has some of the best non-verbal nuances I’ve seen in a long time. On that topic, there’s a few moments where I’m uncertain if the acting from some of the supporting performers were really good, or really bad. A few incredibly subtle facial tics where you can tell someone is actually happy when they’re supposed to be putting on a front of being sad/horrified. Either it’s really bad acting, and the performers can’t hide their actual emotions, or it’s REALLY good acting and all those incredibly subtle facial movements are just great character work. I’m leaning more towards the second one, as I don’t think Burns would allow anything less.
Right, Anthony Scott Burns, time to mention him. I mentioned how much of this movies greatness is down to him. He wrote it, and directed it. Which is not too unusual, but still good to see. But he also did the music, and that is SUCH a big part of why this film works. The music sounds blue (if that makes sense) and suits the colour scheme. He’s insanely talented and not gonna lie it makes me a little jealous. Although I know a few people who are looking to do similar roles, and it’s nice to see that it is possible, and how it can help create an artists true vision.
So in summary, if you get a chance you have to see this. It really deserves to be on Shudder, but until then, find other ways to watch it, you pretty much have to see it.
The opening for this had me very excited. Mainly because they set up the story through the opening credits. They told you there’s a deep drilling operation going on, and that there are rumours of strange sightings nearby. It also points out the normal hazards so that you know that even without the “strange sighting” they are still in danger. It’s a fantastic use of the opening credits and is a great example of effectively maximising time to tell a story.
The music is good too, it’s like a synth Jaws. Creepy and claustrophobic, it will haunt your mind while you listen to it. It gets better once the film starts because you have this intense creepy music, and then….silence, nothing, playing over a shot of empty rooms. It’s really creepy and meant I was fully on board for this film and ready for greatness.
Then it started, and I was disappointed. For a film that did so much in the opening credits, the film itself took forever to do nothing. It’s trying to be a mix of a disaster movie and Alien, and it fails to do either. They’re two genres which are really hard to pull off, because Alien is a very specific subgenre of sci-fi/horror. It’s one which is dependent on the use of silence and tension to effectively affect you. Whereas a disaster movie is built on noise and spectacle. So for this film to work it would need to be a loud impressive spectacle movie with great use of silence. You can see why that be difficult to do properly, and this doesn’t. Also, just a personal choice, I didn’t like the amount of shakey-cam in it. I found it nauseating. I was watching it on a small screen so I imagine it would have been even worse in cinema. It wasn’t during intense action scenes, just standard walking scenes would have it, and it just put me off.
I mean, the performances are good, Kristen Stewart is shaking off her cinematic demons with aplomb, Vincent Cassel is also good in it, it’s a shame that TJ Miller just seems to play himself though, especially considering that who he is is someone who would phone in a fake bomb threat.
Oh, also this is a Cthulhu film, this is discovered near the end and doesn’t effect the film at all. It could just be a random beast and it would have made no difference. Having it be tied to that mythology is a waste and makes it look like they were trying too hard. Also, they kill it with an explosion, Cthulhu don’t go down like that.
So yeah, stay for the opening credits, then leave.
The qualifier for this is somewhat more complicated than the previous one. These aren’t necessarily bad films, just films that I don’t need to see again. Mainly films that I didn’t like, but can appreciate one thing in it. So quite bad, but had a single redeeming feature that makes them slightly worthwhile as a curiosity. There’s a few here which I can see people being annoyed about are in here. So I should point out that this is nearly all personal opinion, so please don’t firebomb me.
I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series. And if I managed that I can only imagine how infuriating it must have been for people who are fans of the series, must have felt like they were watching a remake.
+Katherine Waterston is fucking superb.
-Doesn’t really do enough to stand out on it’s own. I can’t imagine anybody saying “you know what? I hate most of the Alien films, but I really love Covenant”
Not quite as good as the trailer would make you think. Not slick enough, not polished enough, not quite good enough.
+Really good opening scene showing off the panic that attacks can have on the general public.
-A weird view of revenge. Constantly told how revenge poisons the soul but then shown lots of shots of the lead actor kicking ass and being awesome. It’s like when you play Grand Theft Auto IV and dialogue about how the main character doesn’t want to go back to crime is interspersed with him shooting everybody in the face. A film that tries to not just have its cake and eat it, but also spends all the time telling you how unhealthy cake is and nobody should ever have any.
It’s odd, these films always have REALLY good trailers, full of tense moments and good scares, but they never really work full length. That being said, this is a lot better than the first one. Although considering that is still one of the worst films I’ve seen, that’s not difficult. Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.
+A few scenes are spectacularly done. And it ties in well with the rest of the franchise.
-Only does so by rendering the previous origin film pointless. It would be Batman Begins having a prequel where it turns out he was bitten by a radioactive bat whilst in the well, and the rest of the films are a result of that.
Battle Of The Sexes
Great performances, Steve Carrell, in particular, seems to be throwing himself into this with everything he’s got. And the story is compelling and it does a great job of setting the time and place it’s in. So why so low? This is a one scene film. No matter how good the rest of the film is, the audience knows it’s all building up to a single event/scene. In a film like that you need to make sure that scene is superb, and in this, it’s not. It’s quite blandly shot. It’s shot like an actual tennis match from the time would be, which I suppose at least gives it an air of authenticity, but also makes it quite a dull watch. Compare this to Creed from a few years ago, the boxing scenes in that were not filmed like a TV channel would film them, they were filmed like a movie scene, it gave them angles which you’d never get in an actual boxing match, and it was all the better for it. This doesn’t do that, most of it’s filmed from a distance, and this robs the scene of so much.
+Set design/costume were brilliantly done, to the point where just a still photo would set the scene.
-That final match. Just doesn’t work.
Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of Baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that were only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.
+The line “I can’t save you if you’re being a dick” made me laugh.
-As with a lot of these sequel/reboot it’s far too in debt to the original to make its mark as an original film.
I liked this a lot more than the previous two. Although it should be said that I detest the previous two. I think they’re the only blots on Pixar’s record. Ties into the first one a lot better than the second one did, making the second one seem kind of like a spin-off.
+Genuine emotion in a lot of scenes. And there’s less Larry The Cable Guy, which is always a good thing.
-For a film called Cars the plot is really pedestrian.
Oh dear. Oh dear. More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong. They made a lot of mistakes but the biggest is they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all.
+Soundtrack/cinematography. And Willem Defore.
-Doesn’t so much throw away the mythology of the series, so much as burn it then piss on the ashes.
Despicable Me 3
This came really really close to being in the previous one. Like, really close. Then I remembered the amount of 80’s music and references in it which made me slightly smile.
+A love letter to the 80’s, albeit not a very well written one.
-Waaaaaaay too scattergun. Has no idea what the main plot is, there seems to be about 4 of them all vying for attention and it never really focuses on any of them. It’s basically cinematic ADHD.
This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.
+From a technical viewpoint it looks superb, and has moments which feel really claustrophobic and tense.
-Occasionally seems like it doesn’t know what it’s wanting to say.
Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.
+Looks and sounds superb.
It Comes At Night
I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that. I think I’m going to need to watch it again on headphones on my own, I might appreciate it a lot more then, but watching it on a massive screen in an empty room gave me a sense of freedom that the film couldn’t stop.
+Superb job of keeping you invested in the story.
-Doesn’t quite know what it’s doing sometimes. Some scenes are oddly unsatisfying
Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing. If you bring back a dead franchise, you best do it well. You need it to justify it’s own existence. This doesn’t really do that, it seems like just the next step in a yearly franchise. It doesn’t need to exist, adds nothing new, doesn’t really do much. This does something worse than being bad, it’s pointless.
+Brilliantly inventive traps.
-Pointless and adds nothing to the franchise. Would have been acceptable a year after the last one, but a massive gap means it’s a waste.
Pure nostalgia fest.
+Some moments are a lot of fun. Especially in the opening “did you just slap me?” “yeah, weird right?” made me laugh.
-Takes itself far too seriously. You cannot make this film seriously, yet they attempted.
Unpopular opinion time; this film should not have been a horror, it should have a psychological drama with scary moments. I feel under the service of this story is a really solid detective/ghost story, but it’s restricted by being a horror so puts in scares which don’t do much to enhance the film. Also, I’m getting very annoyed with films being ruined by their trailers. I’d seen two trailers for this; one of which I saw back in November and was mainly focused on one of the characters in the shower and freaky shit starts happening. A well made scene, but it’s also the final scene of the film, it takes place after the “monster” is supposed to have died, so after the “death” you just sit there thinking “I know it’s not the end as we haven’t seen the scene which the entire advertising campaign was based around”. Especially since I think the revelation at the end was supposed to be a twist. It would be like if The Usual Suspects had the tagline “Kevin Spacey is….Keyser Soze”.
+The way the film opened was fantastic and was one of my favourite 10 seconds of cinema of the year so far. They put the Paramount logo into the film itself, by showing it on tv screens on an airplane. They also distorted the logo as it was playing. I love when films do things like that, it grabs your attention immediately
-That closing scene does so much damage to the film.
Nothing inherently wrong with this movie, I just never brought the central concept. It’s like if I was watching a film where Ryan Gosling plays a character who is too ugly to get a date, they’d need to be a moment in the film which means you can buy the central concept as otherwise you’ll just be sitting there thinking “yeah this is BS”. This film never has that moment, as such it kind of fails. The acting in it was superb though, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to impress after last years The Witch, whilst James McAvoy does fantastic facial work, it gets to the point where you can tell which personality is in control of him from a still shot of his face.
+McAvoy is great. And it’s got me very excited for the sequel.
-Was this film just to make a sequel to unbreakable? Seems like a waste, because that film seemed like it was only made to be a prequel.
Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist, which is bad”, and then does nothing else other than that.
+Tremendous ensemble cast.
-Doesn’t live up to its potential.
The Book Of Henry
Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.
+Opening half is great character work.
-Closing half doesn’t match it, at all.
The Lego Ninjago Movie
Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.
+The villain being a cat is very very funny.
The Mountain Between Us
When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.
+The first two thirds are fantastic. Brilliantly tense and haunting. And it looks great.
-The romance bit is a bit, erm, shit. And the make-up team needed to do better. Despite them being near death, they never really looked it physically.
A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.
+Looked superb, and was suitably brutal.
-Really unsatisfying reveal. And a lot of the scenes were hard not to laugh at.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets
I get both the love the hate for this film. Nothing I can say will do it better than I did earlier in the year here.
+The opening scene is tremendous. Like, seriously brilliant. Almost worth watching the film for, sets the world brilliantly. From that moment I had seriously high hopes and thought I’d love this film.
-The visuals, the story, the characters. In short…so so much. I can forgive bad films, I can’t forgive dull ones.
I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series.
Funny, easy to get through, and kind of quotable too. Great youtube series.
The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators.
Not the best film ever but a great time-waster. The kind of film which I could see buying on VHS from a boot fair in the 90’s. Some great jokes, and very unsubtle. Odd that this is seen as a John Candy movie, I see it as more of an ensemble piece. Alan Alda, in particular, is great. Unlike a lot of satire, this has actually aged REALLY well, particularly in regards to the American invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan/Cornwall. There’s one line in particular which has aged, erm, weirdly. When they’re trying to find a new enemy to declare war on, someone suggests international terrorism, to which someone replies:
“Well, sir, we’re not going to re-open missile factories just to fight some creeps running around in exploding rental cars, are we, sir?”
Doesn’t really seem like Pixar. More like Dreamworks. Even the way they use music seems very Dreamworks. Pixar movies are supposed to be monumental events that change your life, this really isn’t one.
The worst Pixar film I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen all of them). Doesn’t help that it focuses on the worst character from the previous film. I usually describe Pixar films I don’t like as being “almost like a Dreamworks movie” (see above for evidence). This was more like “Mid 90’s Disney straight to video sequel”
A song I loved so much I used it in a script almost immediately after hearing it.
Despicable Me 3
Too much going on. Has about five separate plots going on. The story (well, stories) are only there as an excuse to tie chaotic scenes together. It’s like the scenes were written first, then the actual story was thought of later.
One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. The one thing that stops it being perfect (in my eyes, anyway), is that it’s missing that one standout scene. That one “even if you don’t watch the film, you have to watch this” scene.
Picture what you think this song sounds like, yup, that’s exactly what it sounds like.
Gone Baby Gone
Amy Ryan is really good in this. Almost unrecognisable from her role in The Office. I wrongfully assumed she was just a comic actress, but her performance in this is sensational, almost makes me wish this was released this year so I could put her in the “best performance” category at the end of the year. Casey Affleck is, erm, he’s okay. Nowhere near as good as he was in Manchester By The Sea, but you can see the genesis of his performance in that film in this one. It also has one of the most brutal endings I’ve seen in a while.
The sound of a drunken party in New Orleans. But a “teenage movie” drunken party where the worst thing that happens is somebody spills their drink. Nobody vomits, nobody fights, and nobody gets angry. They just drink and dance.
It Comes At Night
I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that.
Next Goal Wins
A documentary about the Western Samoa national football team (or “soccer” team to those of you are wrong) who suffered one of the biggest defeats in international football when they lost to Australia. Interesting moment in here where they talk about one of the players who is “third gender”. At first, I was annoyed at how they talked about it, to me that seemed like a much more interesting story than the one being told, then it hit me; the fact they’re not treating it as a big deal is fascinating, and is a big deal. It’s not about them, it’s about the team as a whole. The fact they are so nonchalant about it is wonderful, and kind of beautiful.
Some of the dialogue makes me think the writer has a rom-com in him somewhere. So natural and brilliant. Performances are a little stilted at times, very “end of year school play” air to some of the line deliveries. There’s a child in it, very briefly, who has the best delivery out of all of them. Her tortured cries are so realistic it makes me wonder whether this is actually a snuff film. This film is actually a lot better than its reputation would have you believe. Yes, the series did eventually descend into torture-porn, but the first film has one hell of a plot (also, one hell of a plot-related issue, but meh). Remarkably restrained, a lot of the horror comes from the situation, and one of the most brutal scenes is one where you don’t actually see anything, you just hear it.
I love it. So so much.
Stuart Saves His Family
Dark, but could afford to be darker.
The opening episode features a puppet prostitute getting shot in the head. What more do you want from a TV show? A buddy cop comedy set in a world where puppets not only exist, but deal jelly beans instead of drugs. The main character is called Herbie Smooshiloops, and at one point gets a ukelele out for a police press conference. Very funny, and a really good story. That kind of thing is usually not done in comedy, people have a tendency to think “well if the laughs are good, you don’t need a story”, wrong. Very very wrong.
The Last Word
Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.
Weird references to 9/11 and Katrina (i think it’s Katrina anyway). On the one hand, it places it in the world. On the other, it seems a bit, I dunno, weird to use those things where thousands of people died as a plot point in your piece of shit movie. I think that might actually be my biggest problem with it, not that it uses real life deaths in a film, but that it uses real life deaths in a shit film. This series will definitely have to suffer through a Halloween-watching live blog at some point.
The Space Between Us
I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that in a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.