Five friends decide to celebrate a stag do in an alternative style: with a manly cross-country hike in the deepest darkest woods. Uh-oh. They inevitably end up getting stalked by a lone marksman who terrorises them.
The whole point of Prey is to see how pressure exposes unseen cracks in the fellowship causing our team to battle against each other and themselves as their friendship threatens to self-destruct. Can they keep it together, will they destroy themselves? Sadly. this descent doesn’t work at all, as it was impossible to understand why these friends were friends to begin with; they hated each other from the get-go. So it’s all rather undramatic and boring.
As for the marksman, the film’s pathetic attempts to explain their actions makes no real sense whatsoever. Indeed, there’s no real motivation for anyone’s actions, including the decision to go on a hike instead of a booze-up. It wants to be a German Ritual (2017), but it’s really not.
the ghost story … goes nowhere [and] was pointless.
After an artist relocates with her husband and young child to a dream house for the dream price (familiar set-up?), she slowly begins to realise that both the house and her husband have a dark side.
Part ghost story, part psychological drama of the my-husband-isn’t-who-I-thought-he-was kind, Things Heard and Seen thrillingly portrays the descent into darkness, or rather the slow reveal, of Catherine’s (Amanda Seyfried) husband George (James Norton). I felt sickened and horrified as the truth depth of George’s deception slowly unfurled. All the actors were wonderful.
The story itself is compelling, but there are just too many loose ends to make this film the four star flick it seemed it was going to be. Apparently, the novel which the movie is based on, All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, does indeed develop these threads. For example, there are characters like Eddie and Cole Vayle (Alex Neustaedter and Jack Gore) or Willis (Natalia Dyer) who seem like they should be developed and central characters, but who just kind of go nowhere. What was the point of any of these characters, frankly? And the worst thing was the ghost story angle; it literally goes nowhere. It really was pointless and, ultimately, a distracting waste of time.
This leads on to the fundamental issue with the film. Whilst screenwriters Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulchini give it a decent go, they seem to be a little unclear as to what kind of movie they’re trying to make. Is it a domestic drama, or is it a ghost film? Or is it both? Clarity on this point would have sharpened up the movie and helped identify which of these loose ends to develop and which to cut.
None-the-less, a very entertaining film which lets itself down.
the excitement wasn’t whodunnit, but howdunnit and whydunnit
A woman (Meera, Freida Pinto) starts a new life with her husband (Henry, Logan Marshall-Green: Tom Hardy’s American doppleganger) after overcoming a bleak cancer prognosis in the dream house that he designed and built. But when they fall victim to a home invasion and robbery, Meera’s newfound sense of security is left shattered.
Intrusion plays the old “vulnerable wife, is the husband too-good-to-be-true?” angle quite well, although I could see where the film was going quite early on. None-the-less, this felt like an episode of Columbo: the excitement wasn’t so much in whodunnit, as we could guess quite early on, but howdunnit and whydunnit — although it must be said that the film didn’t quite deliver on the why.
Somewhat trite, somewhat staid, Intrusion was none-the-less capably written, effectively directed, and well acted. An entertaining Friday night flick.
our farmer brutally slits his wife’s throat in her sleep with the help of his son, as you do.
In the year 1922, a simple but proud farmer decides to murder his wife, with the help of his son, in order to seize her property before she divorces him.
She wanted to move to the city and open a hat shop, as you do; he wanted to undertake back-breaking labour in the scorching Summer sun harvesting corn, as you do; the son — caught in the middle — wanted to bang the next door neighbour’s daughter, as you do. So our farmer brutally slits his wife’s throat in her sleep with the help of his son, as you do. Compellingly portrayed, the story is told by our protagonist as a confession which is a nice framing device so we can see how living with his crime has affected him.
Adapted from the acclaimed Stephen King novella, 1922 is a grippingly depicted tale of what happens when you give in to your darker side. King is a wonderful writer, albeit not everyone’s cup of tea, yet everyone can agree that films based on his works are a decidedly mixed bunch: from the truly sublime (The Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, Stand By Me) to the truly stupid (The Night Flier, Thinner). 1922 is no classic, but it’s no bum note, either. It’s a good story which has been adapted well.
King fans should definitely watch this. Those who like psychological horror and fans of true crime stories should also watch this. Those who don’t enjoy watching middle-aged men sip lemonade on their verandas whilst brooding on the nature of sin should skip this.
All in all, “enjoyable” — insofar as watching sin destroy a family is enjoyable.
On a small, isolated island, deadbeat Harry (Chris Sheffield) still lives with his self-professed only friend — his Dad, Tom (Neville Archambault). But Tom ain’t alright; he’s starting to display bizarre behaviour, such as blackouts, catatonia, and sleepwalking where he terrifyingly finds himself repeatedly on his boat in the middle of the sea, apparently drawn there by a malevolent force. What’s happening to Tom? And does it have anything to do with the dead animals that keep washing up on Block Island or the new windfarms? Harry needs to find out before Tom does something to harm himself — or his family.
The Block Island Sound is a disturbing slowburn that keeps you riveted; what is the mysterious source of Tom and the island’s malaise, and can it be reasoned with? And just how much of a threat does it pose to Tom and his family? The evil presence, if it’s even real, is reminiscent of works like The Tommyknockers and Honeymoon (long review, short review).
The Block Island Sound is a solid movie with great acting. Unlike other similarly mysterious films, BIS has a very clear, almost spoonfed conclusion which kind of turns the whole film on its head. I’m not sure whether it qualifies as a “twist”, rather it just gives a different viewpoint, a new set of glasses through which to view the film. This ending, combined with the frankly horrifying nightly appearances to Harry of Tom, and the magnificent sound design, push this film from being a solid and memorable movie into being something a little extra, a little special.
A nerve-shredding slowburn with atmosphere in buckets … [that] sadly goes nowhere.
An evil begins to plague barman Will (Armie Hammer) after he picks up a mobile phone left behind by people on a night out.
The second picture from writer-director Babak Anvari, all fans of his debut Under the Shadow[short review] will know what to expect: a nerve-shredding slowburn with atmosphere in buckets. The sound design played a big part in the terror (just like in his debut feature). The performances from our leads Arnie Hammer and his on-screen wife Carrie (Dakota Johnson) are highly believable. I felt sucked into the world of this increasingly burnt out down-and-outer as his life spirals to the gutter.
And if you are a fan of Under the Shadow [long review] you will know what else to expect: a film that collapses after Act One. Just as Under the Shadow was all set-up, never really delivering on its promise, Wounds also gives us a lot of hope for an immense film, but just goes nowhere. Despite being involved in the world in front of me, I realised we were forty-five minutes in and we were still at the set-up, five minute mark in a normal film. Worse than this overly long set up, there is no properly developed Act Two, no finale, and the film just goes nowhere. Nothing is tied up nor made to make sense. For example, Carrie is increasingly being affected by the evil, mesmerised by a truly disturbing portal, but that plot thread sadly goes nowhere; how can that be?? Some hail this type of thing this as ‘open-ended and subtle’, but it really isn’t. It’s the sign of a filmmaker self-indulgently (although understandably) revelling in the world he’s created instead of doing something with the world he’s created.
Anvari is clearly a talented filmmaker with a unique and disturbing vision. However, I strongly suggest he not take screenwriting duties for the next movie. Sure, we all want to be singer-songwriter, but some folks just aren’t cut out for it (see: David Gilmore). Likewise, Anvari should get a writer on board who can fulfil his undoubtedly powerful and frightening vision. I look forward to experiencing that picture.
Strong on atmosphere, light on plot, vacant of ending.
Part Meet the Amish, part The Village, part penal colony
Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) goes undercover on a dangerous mission to the isolated island of Erisden where his sister is being held hostage by a wild religious cult. The task is not easy; the island’s magnetic leader Malcolm (Michael Sheen) is becoming increasingly paranoid, and the island is ruled by a kind of religious police who control people’s actions and movements.
Apostle is an original film. It portrays the cult-village believably. Part Meet the Amish, part The Village, part penal colony in 1905, the egos of the main characters are believably presented. The cult itself is increasingly bizarre and it turns out there may be truth to the mysterious preachings of their prophet Malcolm. None-the-less, the supernatural aspects of the film are secondary to the psychology.
Good performances from all. A believable cult, a convincing community, a bizarre but original supernatural secret at the heart of the island, Apostle is a really good film. However, the full-on gore and body horror aspect might be too much for those expecting a period drama.
Writer-Director Gareth Evans reminds of a Welsh Neil Marshall, a rising star to watch, for sure.
haunted house in the country … and a group of unprepared wallies who strumble in
A group of young scammers go around “cleansing ghosts” from haunted houses much to the emotional comfort of their clients and the financial comfort of themselves. However, the fun and games stop when one of their clients houses actually is haunted and our young leads discover a secret about themselves that they hadn’t bargained for.
Malevolent is a simple film: haunted house in the country with hidden secrets and a group of unprepared wallies who stumble into it. The film is actually very linear and moves forward and concludes in a straight line. It left me wanting more, a little development. None-the-less, it was entertaining with convincing performances from rising star Florence Pugh and Olivier award-winning Celia Imrie. The loan shark plot thread hung loose a little for me, however.
A group of rapidly-heading-for-middle-age friends decide to take a hiking holiday to Sweden in order to rekindle and strengthen the weakening bonds between them and to commemorate a tragedy at the heart of their group. However, things (predictably) start to go awry when our group takes a “short cut” through the woods (have these guys never seen a horror film?).
Probably produced by Norway in order to undercut the Swedish tourism industry, The Ritual is a disturbing horror movie. It has the classic, minimalist horror theme that works so well: a few people alone with their thoughts in the middle-of-nowhere are forced to fight for their lives when an unseen evil begins to terrorise them. Simple but effective. The focus is on our lead Luke, Rafe Spall, as he grows to try and conquer his own demons.
Genuinely disturbing at times, this movie sucks you into its world and makes the unbelievable seem quite real. The acting and special effects were delightful, and the scenery is bleak but profoundly beautiful. Our characters’ choices are never absurd as so often is the case in these kind of films, although I must say I did sometimes feel the characters could do with turning their torches off.
Despite being reminiscent of many other horror movies, it never feels like a rip-off or a mish-mash, but rather its own thing. Nonetheless, there can be no bonus points for originality. A solid and thoroughly entertaining movie with a disturbing and credibly portrayed premise. A must for fans of horror or Scandi-anything (but note: it’s an English language film).
Despite the unbelievability of the premise… entertaining
An action-espionage-drama following Anna, a poor woman from Russia with a heavy burden of suffering who is ready to give up on life. At her nadir, a man swoops in with an unlikely offer — become a spy, in exchange for a decent life.
Despite the unbelievability of the premise, the film is otherwise quite believable. The movie’s made up of several segments which end in a twist, the scenes then rewinding to show us what really happened. Entertaining and shocking, but this shtick begins to wear thin by the end.
An entertaining and exciting flick with good acting all round.