Tag Archives: movie review

“Choose or Die” (2022) #100WordReview #NetflixReview

Think “Horror Jumanji”

After starting up a previously undiscovered survival horror video game from the mid-80s, “Curs<r”, a young programmer’s world is torn apart as the game unleashes real world horror. Think “Horror Jumanji” or “Ring + Saw”.

Choose or Die is the feature debut from British director Toby Meakins, and stars young and old British talent such as Iola Evans, Asa Butterfield, Eddie Marsan and, err, Robert England Englund (well, he did go to RADA).

The film is tense, genuinely horrifying, and one of the trials is truly disturbing. It’s a bit different, but nothing revolutionary. There are some weaknesses in the plot and acting.

A strong and enjoyable horror flick.

3/5

© 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/isxWigGBWpXtc2xOxybiYWxHzWm.jpg

The Promise (2016) #NetflixReview #ArmenianGenocide

shines a spotlight on this awful chapter

Set during the sunset of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise tells the true story of the awful and sadly forgotten Armenian Genocide, where 1.5 million people were brutally slaughtered by the Ottoman and Turkish authorities because of their ethnicity. This is a genocide which, amazingly, the Turkish authorities still bold-facedly deny; therefore, this is an important story that needs to be told.

The film follows a love triangle between an American journalist (Christian Bale), an Armenian artist (Charlotte le Bon), and an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac). As the Empire enters the First World War, our trio’s charmed existence spirals into the depths of nightmare.

By focusing on this love triangle, does The Promise belittle or demean the awful genocide by turning the film into a soppy wartime romance? Absolutely not. Rather, we become invested in the Armenian people and their plight directly through our affection for our leads. It allows us to explore the Turkish and Armenian society of the time, and the place of religion and culture.

The acting is first rate. Christian Bale is well-known as one of the most versatile, brilliant, and committed actors of his generation. Oscar Isaac is less well-known to the general public, but his performance here can leave no doubt in anyone’s minds as to his phenomenal talent.

This film wonderfully shines a spotlight on this awful chapter in human history which the Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge.

4/5

© 2020-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/qM61fndC3TN023zapoNVuNIgU72.jpg

Film Review “The Unforgivable” (2021) #NeflixReview

she struggles to reintegrate into a society which refuses to forgive

A young woman (Sandra Bullock) gets sentenced to a long stretch in prison for committing a serious crime, but she struggles to reintegrate into a society which refuses to forgive her past sins.

“Do the crime, do the time”, the idea being that when you get out, you are free to start your life again. But what if the time wasn’t enough to pay off the crime? What if you got off lightly? Wouldn’t you deserve to have your life ruined? The Unforgivable explores the nature of forgiveness and freedom.

We are in no doubt that Sandra Bullock’s life was freer on the inside. Outside she has to regularly check in with her parole officer, she has huge restrictions placed on her life by the State, she has to guard the secret of her past transgressions or face the consequences. But no matter how she tries to get on with it, people will not let the past lie.

There are moments in this film where we can see the powerful acting chops that earned Bullock her Oscar in the magnificent The Blind Side. We never feel the film is bombarding her gratuitously for dramatic effect nor are we made to feel that she was okay to do what she did. No, but we do wholly sympathise with a woman who made a fatal mistake and is simply not allowed to survive.

A wonderful and believable movie. Completely compelling.

4/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.gatto999.it/images/stories/Film%20posters%202021/The%20Unforgivable%202021%20Netflix%20banner.jpg

Las Elegidas ‘The Chosen Ones’ (2015) #NetflixReview #100wordreview

disturbing

Las Elegidas (‘The Chosen Ones’) follows a fourteen year old who gets kidnapped into sexual slavery by her boyfriend who is himself under the duress of his people-trafficking older brother and father. The boyfriend begs his father but is presented with a stark choice: his girlfriend will be released if he finds another girl to fill her space. So we spend half the film with him seducing another girl, ultimately successfully. His girlfriend is changed forever, however, and is “released” but only to live with the family and under their supervision at all times.

The film was moving. The sex scenes were disturbingly shot, but featured no actual sex. But this made it all the more disturbing as the sex is in our minds.

However, the film ends rather abruptly. Just as a plotline develops about one of the patrons of the brothel being an undercover would-be liberator of the girls, credits roll.

3/5

© 2020, 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://pics.filmaffinity.com/las_elegidas-843242959-large.jpg

Netflix Film Review “Perdida” (2018) #150WordReview #NetflixReview

totally falls apart, our main players [are] totally incapable

A policeman carries around the pain of the mysterious and unsolved disappearance of her best friend from years before when they were on a teenage night out together. But when she finally decides to reopen the case and investigate it herself, she soon finds herself in danger.

Perdida is a mystery crime thriller with some interesting twists and turns, although you can see one of the main twists coming a mile away. Sadly, the just-about-passable acting totally falls apart, our main players totally incapable of even trying to react normally at several crucial moments; indeed, there is no reaction at all at emotional pay-offs. This weird disjunction between what is happening and the performance of the actors is vaguely confusing and certainly ruins the film’s high points.

A good story, some bizarre acting.

3/5

© 2020, 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://pics.filmaffinity.com/perdida-721779021-large.jpg

Film Review “Clinical” (2017) #NetflixReview

a bit lazy … [but] nonetheless riveting and tense

A psychiatrist, who suffered a violent attack by one of her disturbed patients, tries to piece her life back together by finding new meaning — helping a new patient, but he has his own dark history to contend with. But is this case too much too soon for our Dr. Jane Mathis?

Clinical has two stories running in parallel, that of the horrifying attack Dr. Jane Mathis (Vinessa Shaw) suffered at the hands of her patient Nora (India Eisley), and that of her current patient Alex (Kevin Rahm) who suffered horrific disfigurement during one awful night. This structure works well.

Dr. Jane Mathis’ boyfriend Miles isn’t particularly believably played by Aaron Stanford. Sure, Stanford has little screen time and few lines to work with, but I never bought into their relationship; Vinessa Shaw, for her part, gives a believable performance. In fact, Miles and best friend Clara (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) seem to be there just to make up the numbers, add tension, help plot points and just, because, ya know, we need to have a boyfriend and bestfriend in these type of films to be menaced by murder and / or actually murdered. A bit tacked-on and underdeveloped.

A little bit lazy in places — shrink who’s on drugs herself, lots of glasses of wine, etc. — and underdeveloped in others — why should we even care about the fates of her boyfriend and best friend? — this film is nonetheless riveting and tense throughout. The ultimate assessment of whether this film makes the cut or not really depends on your opinion of the two parallel storylines, that of Nora and Alex, and the interrelation between these plot threads. If you feel that the two threads work nicely together, then you’ll like this film; if you feel that the two threads have been stuck together, then you’ll feel a bit frustrated. As for me, I think it all works quite well.

Worth a watch, but no classic.

3/5

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-F9Crpjr11J8/WHuq141WPEI/AAAAAAAADkg/z0uO5svlKpM-_J_VdoBl4M614jQdIZ_mwCLcB/s1600/Clinical_2017.jpg

Netflix Film Reviews “Lost Girls” (2020) #150WordReview #NetflixReview

will surely haunt you

Lost Girls is based on the disturbing true case of the Long Island Serial Killer, where upwards of 16 young ladies, all sex workers, were murdered and buried in a field behind a gated community. The killer has yet to be identified. The film focuses on the story of Shannan Gilbert whose disappearance and subsequent police search led to the gruesome discovery of this string of dead bodies.

Nobody wanted to listen, but Shannon’s mother, Mari (Amy Ryan), was tenacious and made it happen. Deeply flawed individuals. Amazing acting even from those with very few lines. The casting was fantastic.

The obligatory credits sequence where we see the real people involved was particularly grisly and gruesome, especially when the fate of the surviving members of the family is revealed.

I don’t want to overegg this sell. Just watch the film. Fans of crime, thriller, documentary, and true stories will all love this deeply disturbing tale that will surely haunt you weeks later.

4/5

© 2020, 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://fr.web.img2.acsta.net/pictures/20/01/17/09/06/4110848.jpg

Netflix Film Review: “Fatal Deceit” a.k.a. “Gaslit” (2019)

read the 150 word review of Fatal Deceit / Gaslit here

… like something from Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place

Olivia’s (Zoe McLellan) world is turned upside down when, following the death of her estranged husband in a car accident, her teenage daughter goes missing while on a camping trip with the neighbours. But when her neighbours deny taking her on the trip, or even having met or seen any “daughter” in Zoe’s house, ever, Zoe’s whole world, and mind, rapidly unravel. Has someone taken her daughter? Does she even have a daughter?

Fatal Deceit a.k.a. Gaslit (2019) is nothing new. The whole have-they-taken-her-kid-or-does-she-even-have-a-kid thing has been done many times before. None-the-less, the basic storyline was entertaining and capably written by Writer-Director Colin Edward Lawrence and co-writer Erin Murphy West. One of the key plot points was, however, clumsily and blatantly telegraphed quite early on, consequently much of the suspense which was otherwise rather well developed was slightly deflated. And the general release title, Gaslit, has to be the biggest spoiler-title since “Return of the King”.

The direction was — interesting. Some of it was unusual but worked, other shots were like something from Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place: a bizarre, TV movie parody, almost. But the hit and miles wide direction was nothing compared to the acting.

Zoe McLellan is a decent television actor. She seems to know what her range is, and she works to push her abilities. Yet despite being an admirable second-rate TV / small screen actor, she was made to look like an Oscar contender such was the truly abysmal work from her castmates. Daughter Hannah (Stevie Lynn Jones) gave an early and shockingly bad turn which actually caused me to turn the movie off. I took a breather, had a think, and plowed back on. But it was that shocking. The rest of the cast do no better: husband Layne, Matthew Pohlkamp, the neighbour Mary, Stephanie Charles, the friend Bruce, Chris Dougherty: all were poor. Only supporting character Jack, Mike Erwin, gave a half-decent go. It’s no exaggeration to say that Zoe McLellan might wish to use this movie as her new demo reel such is the gulf between her performance and that of her castmates: an average turn/performance has been made to seem quite impressive, just as eggy bread looks like haute cuisine next to a dog’s dinner.

This movie is basically trash. A TV movie for the insomniac. But it’s trash with some redeeming features.

2/5

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://res.cloudinary.com/jerrick/image/upload/c_scale,q_auto/5fac2467bf56e2001c728019.jpg

Netflix 150 Word Film Review: “Fatal Deceit” a.k.a. “Gaslit” (2019)

check out the full length review here

Flightplan in the ‘burbs.

Olivia’s (Zoe McLellan) world is turned upside down when her teenage daughter Hannah goes missing just weeks after the death of her estranged husband in a car accident. But when people deny having seen Hannah, ever, Olivia’s whole world rapidly unravels. Has someone taken Hannah, or did Olivia’s sick mind make her up in the first place?

Fatal Deceit a.k.a. Gaslit (2019) is nothing new. It’s Flightplan in the ‘burbs. None-the-less, the basic storyline was entertaining and capably written. Sadly, a key plot twist was clumsily and blatantly telegraphed early on, a real suspense-killer. And Gaslit itself has to be the biggest spoiler-title since “Return of the King”.

The direction was unusual, often ridiculous, but always sublime compared to the acting.

Zoe McLellan’s a decent television actor. She did well. But her co-stars’ performances were so uniformly awful that it made McLellan look like an Oscar contender.

A trashy TV movie for the insomniac — but with redeeming features.

2/5

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://res.cloudinary.com/jerrick/image/upload/c_scale,q_auto/5fac2467bf56e2001c728019.jpg

Film Review “The Nameless” a.k.a. “Los Sin Nombre” (1999) #NetflixReview #FilmReview #150WordReview

… still worth a watch.

Several years after a six year old girl is brutally murdered, her mother receives a mysterious phone call from a woman claiming to be none other than her daughter. With the help of a retired policeman and a journalist, our mother struggles to find the truth in the face of grave danger from a mysterious force.

Los Sin Nombre, based on Ramsey Campbell’s 1981 novel The Nameless, is a disturbing psychological thriller horror mystery. It’s dark, broody and grimy. It’s not clear until much later on in the film what actually is going on with her daughter and who this mysterious caller is. When the reveal comes, it’s a bit of a let-down as the back story isn’t fully worked out on screen. None-the-less, the first two thirds of the film make this still worth a watch.

A notable and praise-worthy film with a disappointing ending that hobbles it.

3/5

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VYJO5mhHAJI/TWi59dNsSyI/AAAAAAADC54/6RKv6jYqgLk/s1600/Los%2Bsin%2Bnombre.jpg