The Bubble (2022)

Quick synopsis: The cast and crew of a blockbuster action franchise attempt to shoot a film while quarantining at a posh hotel

I don’t think I trust Apatow as a writer anymore. The last thing of his I really enjoyed was Trainwreck, and that was something he directed, didn’t write. Other than that, lately, his stuff just seems like it’s all just deleted scenes from other movies. Funny People was far far too long, This Is 40 just seemed kind of cruel, and a lot of times his characters are unsympathetic. Plus he casts like he’s still a young up-and-comer, casting his friends and family whenever he can. I do wish Apatow would stop casting his family members in major roles. I get he wants to see them in it, and he can trust them easily. But I don’t think Iris Apatow was the best choice as one of the main cast. I’m not saying that being Apatow’s daughter is what caused her to get the role, but I have a feeling it was. I really don’t get how she was the best option for the role. Especially when Maria Bakalova was cast in the film in a smaller role. An ensemble-cast film like this means you can’t have any weak links, and having someone as inexperienced as her alongside performers like Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, and Keegan-Michael Key just makes her inexperience stand out even more.

But maybe Judd Apatow’s writing saves this? Nope. The whole thing feels like a first draft. It’s really weirdly paced. You’ll have a two-minute scene set during the day, then a short one set at night, and then another one set in the day. It’s just weird and means you don’t get a good grounding of time passing. Time passes so quickly that you don’t really get that feeling of suffocation. It also repeats itself, as well as repeating itself, and worse of all; it repeats itself. There’s a montage of the characters in the second quarantine where some are just drinking and doing drugs, some are going crazy with the quarantine, and some are learning lines. It kind of feels like it should have been shown during the first quarantine section. Would have been a good introduction to the characters, as it is, it’s just confirming personalities we’ve already seen. It’s a repeating of a situation we’ve already seen, and it’s not entertaining to see it again that long into the film. It’s like the whole plot has been brought back to the start. The way that montage ends is weird too, it doesn’t have a definitive end, just cuts to a scene of characters talking, so it makes it seem like those characters are breaking the isolation bubble. It would be very in character for them to do so, and they actually do that, sneaking out (in a scene which either didn’t happen or if it did, was very forgettable).

That’s not the only montage btw, there are quite a few of them, and most of them are pretty bad. It feels like the film is trying to aim itself at the TikTok crowd. It’s trying SO hard to be young and “hip”, that it just comes off like it’s as old-fashioned as someone in their 30s who still uses the word “hip”. Maybe that was done because montages are good ways to show characters quickly, and this film has so many characters that juggling them is difficult. It fails at that, btw. Most of the characters are ridiculously underdeveloped. It doesn’t help that we only see them at their worst, so we don’t really get a sense of who they are. They’re not helped by the dialogue they’re given. “you remember the reviews from your last film Jerusalem Rising”. That is a terrible sentence because it just feels really fake. I don’t think you’d mention the film title, or you’d mention just that. You’d say either “you remember the reviews from your last film”, OR “you remember the reviews from Jerusalem Rising”, it’s weird they mention both. Feels fake. It’s just blatant exposition, and it’s terrible that it’s one of the first lines in the film.

The film also starts with the hotel staff being briefed. They’re the best parts of the film, and if it was focused more on them it would be a better film. It would allow us to see the Hollywood lifestyle from the outside, and get a better view of the madness. As it is, the Hollywood stars are the main characters, so it feels too much like rich people watching other rich people. It’s incredibly toothless as a satire of film-making. It’s the film equivalent of government-approved satire. It doesn’t have a point to make, it’s just surface-level jokes.

On the plus side, I did get a kick out of a character being called Bola, mainly because I called a character that in a script and it’s nice to see a name like that used by actual filmmakers. Most of the cast are good, and the central idea is fine. It also does a good job of setting up the fictional franchise. It has moments where the potential shines through, but they’re quite rare. Really the main issue is one bad piece of casting, and a bad script. So that’s ALL Apatow. If he was replaced, and everything else the same (the casting, the concept etc), it would have the potential to be one of the best of the year. As it is? Bitterly disappointing. Oh, it also has a really awkwardly funny moment with Beck singing a song about dinosaurs. And a Miley Cyrus cover of Blondie.

See How They Run (2022)

Quick synopsis: A depressed alcoholic and bitter Inspector (Sam Rockwell) works alongside an enthusiastic new Constable (Saoirse Ronan) to solve a *adopts accent* MURDAH!

I absolutely adore a good WhoHasDoneThis? (which as B99 fans know, is the grammatically correct way to refer to films in the Whodunit genre). A great whohasdonethis film contains my favourite things to watch: great ensemble cast, a stylistic look to them, and a clever script. I love being surprised in films, and whohasdonethis films provide those in spades. Well, good ones do anyway. Bad ones are far too obvious, the audience should never reach the correct conclusion of the reveal before the film itself does, but the reveal has to make enough sense that when it does happen you feel kind of stupid for not getting it.

The person who is generally referred to as being the best when it comes to this genre: Agatha Christie. A lot of modern stories in the genre are heavily in her debt, and invite comparisons. The smart thing to do in this situation is to lean away from it, remove anything that can cause people to compare it to Christie. Especially if you’re a director (Tom George) making his first feature length film, and a writer (Mark Chappell) who has mainly made television. You want to keep it fairly safe and do something very un-Christie, to avoid comparisons to one of the greats. That’s the smart and logical thing to do.

They decide to go “fuck that” and lean so far into Christie comparisons that they’re basically shunting her work. It’s a very brave thing to do, and one that runs the risk of being a spectacular failure. Somehow it’s not. This film has an uphill battle to work, and climbs that hill admirably. Everything about it just works. The story is one you’re invested in, a believable case could be made for any of the characters, all who are fleshed out enough that if they were revealed you wouldn’t sit there wondering “who’s that?”. It has a visual style that’s reminiscent of the LA Noire games, some truly beautiful use of focus in some of the shots. The script is clever, keeping you entertained throughout. I mean, there’s one point where it literally tells you the ending, and when it happens you can’t help but laugh and be impressed. It’s also really funny, getting a lot of genuine laughs from people in the screen I was at. The performances are perfect, everybody is at their best. Saoirse Ronan, in particular, needs highlighting as a ball of energy who you love to see, her joyous outlook is infectious and every moment she’s on screen is a delight to watch. Sam Rockwell is good, and make no mistake, he’s a huge get for a film like this, but, I dunno, part of me feels it should have been David Tennant and I have no idea why, he was never linked to it at all, but it feels like the kind of role he’d do well in.

On the downside, there is a slight loss in momentum as it heads into the final third. The final section itself is brilliant, but the lead into it is a little forgettable. It’s not helped by a dream sequence which doesn’t seem to add much except make me want to watch The Shining. I also thought the opening was strange. This is going to seem very picky but I can’t ignore it. It opens with a shot of a theatre sign, pans down and we see someone. But because the focus is on the person, the background is out of focus. This would be fine but it means that the opening is a blurry shot of a sign, just seems a bit weird that they wouldn’t have that in focus and then just change it as they panned down. Picky I know, but it bugged me, especially the second time I saw it. But the fact I’ve seen this twice says enough about how highly I regard this film. A great watch, and a much better Whohasdonethis than the rather lackluster Death On The Nile. Does make me think that I really need to watch The Mousetrap though.

Three Thousand Years Of Longing (2022)

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a scholar who specialises in mythology. Whilst in Instanbul she purchases a bottle and accidentally unleashes a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes. Given her knowledge of this subject, she’s aware of the pitfalls and is unsure whether to wish. The Djinn tries to assuage her worries by telling her three stories of his past.

George Miller is quite strangely wonderful, isn’t he? He’s made some huge movies, but still has the passion and weirdness of a hungry young director. He never feels like he’s phoning it in, whether he’s doing Babe: Pig In The City, Happy Feet, Mad Max: Fury Road, or Witches Of Eastwick. This is an adaptation of a short story (The Djinn In The Nightingale’s Eye), and somehow stretched it out to 110 minutes. Under most directors, this would be a recipe for disaster, but Miller kind of makes it work.

In terms of visual style, this is much closer to Fury Road than it is to anything else he’s done: it’s psychedelic and hauntingly beautiful in a way that entrances you as you watch it. If it turned out this film was actually just a way to hypnotise you into, I dunno, buying more yo-yos or something, you wouldn’t be surprised. It’s all so colourful and wonderful, accompanied by eerie strange music that compliments it perfectly.

I never knew I wanted Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba together in a film, but it makes a lot of sense. They bounce well off each other, and the chemistry they have is electric and I’d love to see them work together again. They’d make a good romantic couple in a film.

We know this because of the film’s weird third act. Most of the film consists of the Djinn telling stories about his past, and those parts are full of magic and wonder. After hearing those stories, for some reason Alithea decides that she wants her wish to be for him to be in love with her. It’s really weird and comes out of nowhere, especially since she’s only known him for a few hours. They then move in together and complications ensue, involving a small sub-plot with racist neighbours that is introduced and ended within a few minutes. The rest of the film is so good but the final third severely lets it down. It feels very disconnected from the rest of the movie, and feels like it has come from a very rushed script. It’s a real shame, as it means you leave the cinema not with a feeling of amazement, but with a sense of disappointment and frustration.

So, maybe see this, but paying full price almost guarantees you’d feel you have wasted your money.

Nope (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Aliens

Time changes a film. Despite the fact I have only watched it once, my opinions on IT: Chapter 2 are very different now than they are when I left the cinema after seeing it. Now I’ve had time for the mistakes of that film to bounce around my head a bit more, the inconsistencies in plotting have made themselves known. I have the opposite feeling with this film, I came out thinking “that was okay”, and if I reviewed it immediately, or even that day, this review would mostly be about how disappointed I was with it, how I’m worried Peele has slightly lost it and the lack of a big twist and that special “something” let it down, that the film veered off into strange diversions that just slowed the plot down.

But I just couldn’t forget about certain parts of this film, and then I realised certain things. My brain recognised thematic continuity, it realised the diversions weren’t really diversions, they were character explanations that said a lot about humanity and how they exploit things for entertainment purposes. It’s ironic that this film is about being watched, as it seems to be spending its entire runtime staring back, judging the audience for their participation in cruel acts. Once this film had time to breathe and spread itself through the recesses of my mind I realised this is actually genius. I’ve heard of a film being described as a slow burner, but “a week after you leave the cinema” is taking the piss a bit. A lot of people won’t like that, you don’t want to have to sit there and analyze a film to enjoy it. You shouldn’t have to delve deep into the themes to enjoy a film, but I think you do for this. An alien invasion film should be mass-market, and though Peele’s previous work has been highbrow, they’ve also been instantly accessible in a way that I’m not entirely sure this is.

I mean, it makes sense as a film, but if you watch it and don’t think about it, then it’s just going to be “okay”, if anything it’s going to seem too simple. It’s only when you think about it that the complexities reveal themselves. It’s kind of frustrating that that’s the case because it means it’s hard to defend this film without sounding like an obnoxious prick “no no, that was there because it’s about how that animal was being watched by a room full of people showing their teeth and it interpreted it as a violent gesture and lashed out. This ties into the main themes because humans feel they can control things when they can’t, they forget basic animal instincts and get cocky which leads to their destruction, it led to the deaths on set, and to the mass deaths in the theme park, it’s ALL CONNECTED”.

It’s a shame as this VERY smart and deserves plaudits. It looks fantastic, there’s a lot tension when there needs to be, and the performances are amazing. I do highly recommend this, but there is a chance you just won’t like. It’s one of those “1 or 5 star” films, I don’t think there’s an in between. But I’d rather that than a “meh” film.

The Gray Man (2022)

Quick Synopsis: When the CIA’s top asset — his identity known to no one — uncovers agency secrets, he triggers a global hunt by assassins set loose by his ex-colleague.

Bless netflix, they keep trying. The way people consume movies has changed, and netflix, logically, wants a piece of that. Big-budget, loud, explosive blockbusters always sell to the masses, so that’s what they try. They’re not going with small actors and directors either, they’ve roped in Will Smith, Ryan Reynolds, The Rock, Adam Sandler, Scorsese, De Niro etc. But they still can’t quite to the level needed. Yeah, the stuff gets watched by people, but the effects don’t last long. Just compare that to the television shows they’ve done; you don’t need to have watched Stranger Things to be aware of it. Stranger Things, Sandman, House Of Cards etc, they’ve penetrated pop culture in a way that none of the Netflix original movies has managed.

So, does this movie break that underwhelming run? I mean, it’s got Ryan BabyGoose, Chris Evans in full heel mode (and reunited with fellow Knives Out cast member Ana De Armas), it’s based on a successful book (which has sequels, so easy to franchise), and made by the Russo brothers (no, not Vince Russo, even netflix aren’t that stupid), who directed two Captain America movies, and the last two Avengers movies (you may have heard of them). So all pre-watch indicators say that it should be great.

I mean, obviously, it’s not, if a film was that good, I wouldn’t have waited until the third paragraph to let you know. That whole preamble was just to set up the inevitable disappointment. It’s alright, but it’s been less than a week and I’ve already forgotten a lot of what happened. The trouble is it never feels like it has its own identity. Die Hard is “the film in the skyscraper”, John Wick is defined by its stylistic choices. There’s no equivalent way to describe this. I’m not sure how you would define this movie in terms of describing it in a way that makes it stand out (I’m not sure “That Netflix Action Movie” counts). You won’t watch other films in the future and think “ah, they stole that shot from The Gray Man”. You’re not going to hear someone in the future say “I was inspired to get into film-making/writing by watching The Gray Man”. All it does feel like is a tribute to other films. The whole thing feels like a remake of a 90s Harrison Ford film which starred a young Ben Affleck as the villain. A film made in 2022 shouldn’t feel as dated as this does. It is possible to do a spy film, adhere to the tropes, and not feel as 90’s as this one does.

It does have it’s good side; Chris Evans playing an evil prick is always entertaining to see, and Ryan BabyGoose never fails to bring it, De Armas continues to impress but still needs THAT role to take her to the next level. Personal opinion, they messed up on one bit of casting. There’s a character at the start (Sierra Four) who is an assassin who worked for the CIA and gets killed while attempting to expose corruption. Considering the genre, and the pull that the Russo brothers have, they should have had a big name here. A fun cameo to please the audience, instead it’s just some guy. I mean, no disrespect to Callan Mulvey, he’s a talented performer, but it definitely feels like a wasted opportunity.

That’s a good summary of the film really: it’s good, but you really feel it could be better if it cared.

Fisherman’s Friends: One And All (2022)

Quick synopsis: Cornish singing fisherman continue to sing, this time joined by a Welsh farmer.

Fun fact: the synopsis currently on google is “After the highs of performing on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, the group struggle with their second album. During a divisive tour of South Australia, they will trace their ancestors and embrace a new community, and discover their musical DNA.”, that’s not what happens. The film ENDS with them on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, so I’m not entirely sure what is going on there. And the one on IMDB is just “a sequel to the first film”. Bit weird.

I’ll admit, I was going to be a bit cheeky in this. My original plan for this review was to just post the review of the first one, and then make a snarky comment about how weirdly everything about my review still fits. I read that review, and I was going through it I was thinking “wow, this is actually perfect, ALL of this still applies to this film”. But then I got to this line:

“The above made complete sense in relation to this film. Which is weird, as with the exception of 3 words, it was lifted word for word from an earlier review.”

The rest of the review mentioned some specific things about the film, but that one sentence is a curse. Because it means this film is so generic that I can do a review that’s not even a copy, but is a copy of a copy. I missed about 6 minutes of the film, and wasn’t lost when I came back. Stuff had happened in that gap, but it was stuff you knew was going to happen. In fact, I’d argue that you only need to watch about 15 minutes of this to get the whole plot. It’s a shame as it is enjoyable. It’s funny, heartwarming, and everybody is doing a great job. At its heart, it is a good film. It does everything well. There’s nothing inherently bad about it, and it’s a difficult film to dislike. When you’re watching it you’re not bored or distracted. Everybody in the screen I was in enjoyed it. If it’s on TV and I need something on in the background, I’ll keep it on. But I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d go out of my way to watch it. In a months time I won’t be able to remember any lines from it or moments I enjoyed, and as time goes on it will be increasingly difficult to remember what happened in this film and what happened in the first one. There are certain scenes in this that I felt I’d seen before, and that’s never a good thing. I’ll admit, there were also times I laughed, and times I was emotionally affected by the film. But there was absolutely nothing that will stay with me.

So to sum up: you won’t be bored or angry, but it’s not going to change your life. It’s almost the perfect definition of “If you liked the first one”.

DC League Of Super Pets (2022)

Quick Summary: Krypto The Superdog teams up with a group of superpowered pets to save the world from a hairless guinea pig.

Oh joy, a DC movie, animated, aimed at kids, this could be terrible. It’s not though, it’s funny, has a lot of heart in it, and makes the most of how ridiculous the premise is. It does seem somewhat hampered by the fact that a lot of the already existing jokes about pet ownership have already been taken by Secret Life Of Pets etc. It’s not doing anything new, but it’s not really expected to. Compared to the other Warner Bros animated fare, this is much better. Although let’s be honest, being better than Space Jam: A New Legacy is not exactly difficult.

There are some jokes which only work in this film, and really that’s how films like this should be. That’s the same for the story too. Bat-Hounds backstory is that he was abandoned by his family after they thought he bit their child. Brilliant writing as it ties into Batman’s “I work alone and don’t like getting close to people” nature, whilst also ties into the character, you know, being a dog.

Most of the casting is perfect. The Rock makes a great Superdog (if you stick around for the credits, you see him as Black Adam), and some of the human voices are almost too perfect: Keanu Reeves as Batman, for example. Kevin Hart as Bat-Hound doesn’t really work for me though. Kevin Hart is a ball of manic energy who survives on quick dialogue and humour. Which is the complete opposite of what a Batman-like character should be. It’s a shame as his chemistry with The Rock is obvious and sells many films, I just feel it might not be appropriate for this.

If you go into this as an adult, watching it and comparing it to other comic book movies, you won’t be pleased. It will be too simple, the plot too obvious, and the action scenes without tension. But if you go into this as a kids movie, just leave your mind at the door, and go in to have fun, you’ll like it. I’ve been in screenings for kids’ films before and this probably got the best reaction. That sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but kids’ films are REALLY hard to do. An adult goes into a film with the social understanding “I am going to sit and watch this film”, a child has no such qualms. If a child isn’t entertained by what they’re seeing, they’ll let you and everybody else know. They have no shame in complaining, or running around the screen. They’re a highly critical audience, and the fact that this film scores well among that audience is a testament to how well made it is. There’s not QUITE enough there for adults though, which is a shame as films like The Lego Batman movie have shown how you can show love for the source material, entertain children, and throw in references for adults to get, and this doesn’t get close to doing that.

So in summary, is good, but could be great. If there’s a sequel, that could be better as the characters will already be established.

Minions: The Rise Of Gru

Quick synopsis: It’s 1976, 11 year old Gru wants to join a supervillain league but is rejected due to his young age, he does not take it well.

I was ready to slate this, I was ready to come down on this harder than the next UK Prime Minister comes down on an unemployed person not applying for jobs in their sleep. I was going to use every insult that exists, and a few that I made up to express my anger at this film.

But then it ruined my plans by having the audacity, the sheer gall, to actually be okay. How very dare you! I mean, it’s not going to end up on my “best of 2021” list, mainly because it’s 2022, but also because the best it ever gets is “okay”. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the franchise, I think it’s because it’s basically old Buster Keaton skits, but in animation so there’s no sense of danger or risk. There’s also always the sneaking suspicion that it’s a merchandise-driven series rather than a creative one. It’s strange as its when this film links to the others in the franchise that it’s at its weakest. The timeline doesn’t line up AT ALL with the first Minions film, and when it makes references to the other films it falls flat, and like every prequel ever made has moments where the audience reacts with “what a useful skill/gadget, that would have been useful in [scene in a film made earlier but chronologically takes place later]”.

This does fix the biggest mistake of the previous prequel, it focuses on a character who can talk. The minions are fine in small doses, if they were in a series of shorts it would be fine. But following them over the course of an entire feature-length film is tiresome, so following less obnoxious characters is a smart move. What would be even smarter is utilizing the supporting cast more effectively: the main villains are played by Lucy Lawless, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Tajiri P Henson, and Danny Trejo. With the exception of Henson, it’s possible to watch this film and be unaware of that. They’re not used enough and it feels like kind of a waste casting them. Also, it’s strange having them in a movie set in 1976, change the plot (make Gru a young villain instead of a child), and set it in the 80s and that casting would make sense.

Now onto the good; the narrative is strong and it never feels like things are happening “just because”. It is very funny at times, and the music is fun. It’s also absolutely perfect for kids, they’ll love it. The colours, the sound, the jokes, this will be one of those films parents will hate because of how often their kids will want to watch it.

So in summary, if you have kids, take them to the cinema to see it. If not, wait until netflix then check it out when you have nothing else to do.

The Bad Guys (2022)

Quick Synopsis: A criminal gang made up of anthropomorphic animals pretend to reform themselves into good guys to avoid prison.

It’s difficult to be an animated movie. Since Toy Story changed the game back in 1995, everybody else has followed suit and started producing films more in line with that visual style. So they usually look great, but it does have the downside of meaning it will get compared to Pixar, and being compared to one of the most consistent studios is not going to end well. Sometimes studios don’t help themselves, like when Dreamworks released Antz so close to the release of A Bugs Life. This has a similar problem, a not-dog animal who frequently breaks the law tries to move to the side of good, and the big bad actually turns out to be a somewhat “cute” animal.” It’s going to be difficult for this to leave the shadow of Zootropolis.

Oh, I guess that “big bad reveal” is technically a spoiler, but it’s one that will be incredibly obvious to anybody who has ever seen a film before. That’s the biggest issue I have with this, it just doesn’t seem very original. It wears its cinematic influences too brazenly, so no matter how much you like it, it’s not likely to be your favourite film, as you’re constantly comparing it to something else.

Also, the opening is a bit strange. Essentially just two characters sitting in a cafe preparing for a heist while discussing an upcoming birthday. It establishes the characters, shows that the general public are afraid of them, and is weirdly Pulp Fiction-esque for a kid’s film. It’s also completely unnecessary. Everything it does is repeated in the next scene, the aftermath of the bank robbery. The bank robbery scene would be a much better opener, it’s fast-paced, funny, and showcases the best visual trick this film has: when it blends CGI animation with cel-shaded effects. This would get you straight into the film and perfectly set the tone for the rest of it. The opening it currently has is far too slow, boring, and I’m not going to lie, it did make me worry that the film was going to be awful.

That’s a shame as the film is actually quite fun. The characters are well-defined in terms of motivations (although there is one doublecross that happens far too quickly), the voice-acting is pretty good (with the exception of the newsreader), and the jokes are genuinely funny.

The Pulp Fiction comparison earlier was apt, as this is essentially a Tarantino film for kids (although one of the female characters has 8 feet, and if Tarantino could make a film like that he’d never leave the edit suite). It makes the most of the concept beautifully. Sometimes in films like this, there are not many references to them being animals and it can feel like a strange creative choice. This depends on it, there are certain plot points, certain jokes etc, which only work if the characters are animals, and only if they’re these specific ones. The jokes are character and plot-specific. It’s overall a quite impressive watch.

It’s not going to change the world, but if you’re looking after young kids and want to keep them entertained, you could do a lot worse than choosing this.

Unhuman (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Seven misfit students must band together against a growing gang of zombies

Was really looking forward to this. It looked like it was going to be funny, violent, and slick. Basically I thought this was going to do with zombies what Freaky did with body swap cÍomedies. It’s not quite there, but that is what it’s aiming for. It’s definitely trying to do that, but it’s just not good enough to reach it.

Directing and editing are a bit like making a soufflé, there’s a fine line between perfection and the whole thing collapsing in on itself. This tries so hard to be slick and cool, but is too visually busy at times. Even scenes which are just conversations are overstylized to the point where it’s almost comical. There’s one in particular at the start where there’s an edit which is definitely a conscious choice, but feels like a mistake.

The directing and the writing are the weakest parts of this. The whole thing feels weirdly dated, to a very specific time too: the late 90’s early 2000’s. All that’s missing is a nu-metal soundtrack. There’s a cool mid-point plot twist that is pretty surprising, but I feel like it needs to be set up better. It also comes at a weird time, around halfway through. If it happened earlier then it would be the inciting incident and would set the film up as different from its contemporaries. If it happened later than it would propel the film into a chaotic third act, but it happens in the wrong place to achieve either. It also doesn’t do that thing that great twists do, you don’t sit there thinking “I’m going to watch this again and catch all the clues that led to this reveal”.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty damn good twist, and very cleverly thought of, it’s just poorly executed. Probably would have been helped if the characters were better, they’re so poorly defined that you could swap the characters at multiple points and it wouldn’t affect the story that much. They don’t feel like they have a relationship outside of this film, their lives begin and end when the film does.

There are some promising moments though: the bus crash itself is very well shot. Although there’s a moment in it where someone bashes their head on the chair in front and gets a broken nose. But the impact itself is weirdly flat and if it wasn’t for the CGI blood you wouldn’t think it did any damage. There’s a great split-second moment afterwards though where a guy is handed a menstrual pad to pass over to the broken nose girl to help clean up the blood. The pad is new and in an unopened box, but the guy still acts with utter revulsion. I don’t know whether that was the actor’s decision or the director’s, but it was really smart and so funny.

The cast? It’s okay. The main star is Brianne Tju, better known for being in TV adaptations of 90s horror films, which is a weird niche to be in. Drew Scheid also seems to have found a niche as “nice guy in a horror movie who turns out to be creepy”. There are no real standout performances, you mostly get “wait, where do I know that person from?”. It was released by Paramount yet the whole thing SCREAMS “Made for MTV” in terms of casting.

It feels like it’s influenced by the John Hughes movies of the 80s, but doesn’t seem to understand what made those films work. It’s not enough to just have “here’s a jock, and here’s a fat kid, and a shy girl, all trapped together”, you need to have heart. You need a warmth to the whole thing. There needs to be an emotional lynchpin to base the situation around so that you can relate, and this lacks that.

It’s a shame as I had a lot of hope for this, and it’s a shame that it ended up being so disposable and forgetful. Also, and I appreciate this is a weird criticism: it’s nowhere near as gay as it should be.

It looks cheap.

The bus crash itself is well shot,