We as horror fans are lucky to have Mike Flanagan. The man is making concepts that have no right work, do so in spectacular fashion. From murderous mirrors, or a killer stalking a deaf victim all the way to making the original Ouija suck a little less–now if only someone would help Before I Wake finally see the light of day.
Now, we’ve got Gerald’s Game. A movie that, in large part, takes place in a single location. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her hubby Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) decide to take a trip to their lake house and in an effort to spice if their marriage Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed. However, when Gerald’s role playing fantasy goes awry he suffers a heart attack and dies before he can uncuff Jessie. Left in an impossible situation she is forced to confront her traumatic past while searching for any clue that help her escape the cuffs.
How fitting for the latest Netflix Original to come out in 2017 just a month after we experienced a total solar eclipse. A similar event plays a pivotal role in Jessie’s psychological journey. The tole of emotional wounds coming to a head as she sits on the bed waiting for her death or for help to arrive. As her mind begins to crack she envisions versions of herself and her husband moving freely throughout as part of her internal thought process–both taunting her and trying help her thing logically in her predicament.
Gerald’s Game unfolds as a dramatic psychological thriller. Part drama about a married couple’s struggles at keeping the romance alive due to hidden desires and other deeper emotional scars and part survival thriller. Gugino crushes both aspects of her character–a woman who’s dodged childhood trauma her hold life and one driven to survive when forced to examine her actions that lead her to being handcuffed to that bed. Greenwood too, compliments Gugino as a force of masculinity with complicated ties to Jessie’s deep seeded troubles. In the end the film also delivers just enough cringeworthy violence and bone chilling sound effects to gratify genre fans looking for the cherry-on-top.
Like any minimalist thriller the struggle is keeping the audience riveted–Flanagan and co-writer Jeff Howard spin some incredible sequences of psychological barbs between characters. Combined with Flanagan’s visual prowess to stage a scene for maximum creep factor to provide some stiff competition to Pennywise and The Losers Club for best King adaptation of 2017.
Widely considered one of many unfilmable King novels, Flanagan makes it look like a walk in the park. Gerald’s Game is taught, suspenseful and magnificently performed–but a shame that the vast majority of the populism will only be able to experience it on the small screen.
Beer Recommendation: None at this time. Sorry, you kinky pervs.
The sights and sounds of war. That’s what Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is all about. Forget character and forget telling individual stories–this movie wants to put the audience on the front lines of land, air and sea to deliver an experience. Make no mistake, Dunkirk is one of the most incredible and unique cinematic experiences you’re likely to experience–and while there are a number of prolific filmmakers, few operate with such technical skill quite like Nolan.
The film tells the story of British forces trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk simultaneously awaiting rescue and intermittent air attacks at the hands of Nazi forces. Nolan’s focus is that of human resolve and wordless heroism. It is true, there are few characters you can attach yourself too, but that’s not the point. Dunkirk is a film you simply live as an audience member. In the grips of war, the British forces are constantly being bombed from the air as they await military boats to take them home–said boats are themselves under attack, so the soldiers are in a harrowing fight for survival. Dunkirk’s entirety pulls the audience from those breathless sequences to show intercutting sequences of a civilian boat headed to the beach to help save soldiers and the air forces en route to pick off the enemy planes attacking the boats. (more…)
Busy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!
Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+
Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-(more…)
Jordan Peele, a name synonymous with clever biting commentary on social issues, has stepped into the cinematic ring and delivered a one-two punch that’s more potent than anything audiences have seen in a wide release horror flick in quite some time. Get Out leans a little bit more studio than recent critical darlings such as The Witch or It Follows, but has a punch all its own that rivals some of the best genre films of all time.
Whether or not Peele’s debut feature will stand the test of time is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine something this sharp and witty to get pushed back in the annals of cinema history. No, it’s not just possible, but likely that Get Out is going to be talked about amongst critics and audiences alike for the foreseeable future. Exploring the simple yet all too real awkwardness of an African-American male meeting his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents and the weird stuff going on within the grounds of the family’s sizable estate. From scene one, Peele sets an uneasy yet humorous stage with an intro that features a black male waltzing in a suburban neighborhood at night before befalling something a little spooky. The racial factor is of course not lost on an audience of any race or gender, but is in fact a fear I’m sure we’ve all had walking late at night in unfamiliar territory–the possibility of being stalked by someone with less than noble intentions. (more…)
The last batch of Fantasia Reviews is a doozy, so why don’t we just hop right in, shall we?
As a huge fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley I was extremely intrigued to check out one of the show’s sporadic writers, Carson Mell’s, directorial debut. Another Evil explores the uncomfortable world of bringing in an emotionally fragile individual into your vacation home to exorcise ghosts that are cramping your style–we’ve all been there, am I right?
The film is bolstered by a uniquely unsettling performance from Mark Proksch as Os, the socially challenged exorcist on the verge of divorce and a potential midlife crisis. In many ways his work calls to mind the great Mark Duplass and his performance in Creep, except…ya know, there are demons. As the audience we know there’s something supernatural afoot so Os’ intentions at first seem on the level, but after a while it’s unclear if he really has a gift or if he’s a lunatic with a glove that emits radio static. It all culminates with a troubling finale that drives home the ultra dark comedy by transforming into an even darker horror/thriller–with a touch of drama. (more…)
Malevolent light sensitive ghosts, evil beds and invisible dads. This edition of the Tall Glass of Film Hangover touches some interesting points on the genre compass, two of which (Bed of the Dead and The Unseen) were screened as part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of TGoF’s thoughts on a few upcoming flicks!
I’ve gotta be honest–I don’t think there was a chance in Hell that a three minute short would translate effectively into an 80 minute feature. Sure 80 minutes is lean and mean, but considering the lack of plot in David F. Sandberg’s original short for Lights Out was non-existent it’s reasonable to assume the feature wouldn’t remedy that to a significant degree. Luckily, I’m wrong a lot. Lights Out takes the smart route by setting up a simple story but hanging its success in the shoulders of a stellar cast and a relentless (but constantly recycled) barrage of scares.
Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, a concerned sister that has never had to shoulder real responsibility looking to possibly become the legal guardian of her brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin hasn’t been sleeping because his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), is on the verge of a mental break that has invited a dangerous specter, Diana, with deep ties to the family to enter all three of their lives once again. With CPS breathing down her neck Rebecca must find the secret to ridding the threat before it’s too late. (more…)
Before diving into the depths of Jaume Collet-Serra’s shark thriller, The Shallows, let’s make a snarky generalization. When an injured seagull outshines your lead, you know you got a problem. Those of you hoping for the next Jaws can keep on hoping because ironically, for a film featuring one of the ocean’s greatest predators, The Shallows lacks teeth.
Blake Lively top lines as Nancy, a med student on the verge of dropping out following the death of her mother from cancer. She ventures to Mexico in search of a beach her mother once visited to feel closer to her and do some gnarly surfing. Her bliss is cut short when she’s attacked by a great white shark and is stranded on a rock that’s exposed during low tide. However, as high tide approaches Nancy has to find the will to fight in order to survive. (more…)
It’s been a while and there are plenty of movies in my rear view so to conserve some space you can check out my reviews of some recently released flicks all in one place- as well as beer recommendations to go with. Read on to check out some reviews for the following: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Manson’s Lost Girls, and The Ones Below!
Zero. That is exactly the amount of not hours, not minutes, but seconds I’ve spent playing World of Warcraft. So what business have I to attempt to review a film that is so obvious in its attempts to please its fans? Technically none. As a fan of cinema and someone who tries to see anything and everything that I possibly can it behooves oneself to have a voice amongst those who are like me, but maybe are on the fence about spending money to see it. (more…)
Road weary punk rockers run afoul with backwoods Oregan skinheads in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room– the director’s follow up to his surprise indie hit, Blue Ruin. Maybe it’s jumping the gun a bit and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, but this could end up being the best movie I see throughout 2016.
Now, how can someone make such a bold statement just five months into the year? It’s actually pretty simple: I can’t find one thing that I do not like about this film. You read the bare bones premise in the opening of the review, and quite frankly, that’s all you need to know. That’s not to say that knowing the how the punk rockers run afoul with the skinheads will ruin the movie, it’s just that sometimes a one sentence slug is sufficient enough to sell a movie. Especially one with as simple a set up as Green Room. Saulnier isn’t out here trying to weave a complicated mystery that is trying to be one step ahead of the audience with twists and turns. The filmmaker simply slams a scenario down on the table and says, “What would you do?” (more…)
The way 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere (at least the marketing) just a month or two before its release reminds one of an exciting time. A time when we didn’t have a year or more to stew about an upcoming release and let the excitement slowly fade by the time it saw the light of day. A time where mystery can still exist in our theatrical experiences.
The less one knows about 10 Cloverfield Lane the better, but here’s the bare minimum just to cover all my bases. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman running away from a relationship when she is in a terrible car accident. When she wakes, she finds herself in a stuffy bunker held by the mysterious and potentially dangerous, Howard (John Goodman). Howard informs her of an attack that happened and that she and another guest, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) may be living together in his shelter for what could be as long as two years. Michelle, must decide if Howard is indeed looking out for her best interest, or if her savior is harboring some questionable and unstable motives. (more…)