Hotel Artemis

HotelArtemis

Directed By: Drew Pearce
Starring: Jodie Foster, Sofia Boutella, Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Charlie Day, Zachary Quinto, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

On June 21, 2028, after riots break out in Los Angeles over the privatization of water availability, a group of thieves take advantage of the chaos by robbing a bank and taking personal items off of those present. When they’re injured while fleeing, they go to a place called Hotel Artemis, an anonymous members-only hospital that caters only to the criminal element, and run by a woman named Nurse Jean and her orderly/security, Everest. The two thieves whose membership is up to date are allowed in and given the code names Waikiki and Honolulu to be treated under. As his brother recuperates, Waikiki wanders through the public areas of the hospital, where he meets Acapulco, an arms dealer, and Nice, an assassin, both recovering from their own injuries. However, as time passes, Waikiki examines the personal items taken off the bank patrons, and realizes that one of the items was more than it seemed. Desperate to escape a notorious crime boss, he attempts to leave, but finds himself trapped as his brother still requires medical care, and both the riots and the crime boss, who was injured in an attempt on his life, are drawing closer.

The concept for this movie is interesting, and the cast is stellar, however, neither one of those things can save it from the painfully mediocre execution (no pun intended). While the actors all seem to be having fun with their roles, the dialogue can get clunky in places. There also seems to be a mess of storylines that converge (I probably could have done a half a page on the plot alone, and left some of the story out for the sake of moving forward), which results in the plot dragging in some places and moving too fast in others. It also seems entirely possible that a place like the hotel might actually exist. Since a number of the cast usually play the “good guy,” a lot of the performances waver between gleefully evil and over the top cheesy, while those playing the more neutral characters tend to be bland and a bit phoned in.

The few special effects used are done well, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone looking for a little escapist fun with some time to waste should enjoy this movie. The cast does their best to make the most of what they’re given, and as stated before, seem to be enjoying themselves for the most part. You may want to pay closer attention the first time you watch it, but after that, it should easily suffice as background filler. There’s a ton of language and violence, so parents may want to watch it before letting small children see it.

Hotel Artemis is currently only available free to stream if you have Amazon Prime, but it can be rented through Redbox and Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

The Little Stranger

LittleStranger

Directed By: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling, Liv Hill, Oliver Zetterström, Kathryn O’Reilly, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: C+

In 1948, country doctor Faraday is called to a crumbling manor named Hundreds Hall, owned by the once prominent Ayers family, where his mother worked as a maid during his childhood. After the visit, strange occurrences start happening at the home, and Faraday finds himself visiting the manor to tend to deal with the family’s various ailments, including the war-injured Roderick and the slightly agoraphobic Caroline, with whom Faraday strikes up a romance. As time progresses, it seems the strange occurrences, as well as Faraday himself, are not as simple as they first seemed, and that some far stranger, and more sinister is taking place.

On the surface, this movie seems to be a cut-and-dried haunted house thriller, but as the movie progresses, it doesn’t seem to be quite that simple, and while I was a little disappointed in the ending, the rest of the movie is an interesting watch. At its heart, the movie is a story of obsession, and how far one is willing to go to obtain that obsession. I haven’t read the book this movie is based on, but the pacing seems to be okay, though it does get a bit rushed towards the end. The ending itself, I thought, was a little disappointing, and almost seemed to come out of left field, though, looking back, there are hints towards it sprinkled throughout the movie. The acting is well done, and Domhnall Gleeson seems to have perfected keeping characters one the line between well-meaning and slightly menacing.

The special effects are fairly well done, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Despite the somewhat disappointing ending, this movie should appeal to anyone who enjoys mystery/thrillers and doesn’t mind period pieces. It could almost be used as a character study in watching someone unravel. Parents may want to watch the movie before letting small children watch, as there are quite a few violent and intense scenes. While you should pay close attention on the first watch, anyone wanting to watch it again should be able to do so without needing to.

The Little Stranger is currently only available free to stream if you have HBO, but it can be rented through Redbox and Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Heatstroke

Heatstroke

Directed By: Evelyn Purcell
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Svetlana Metinka, Maisie Williams, Peter Stormare, Warrick Grier, Calvin Hayward, Jeanne Neilson, et.al.
Rating: TV-14
Grade: C

Troubled teen Jo, having one too many run-ins with the police, is sent to Africa to help her estranged father Paul, and his girlfriend Tally, document hyenas in the wild for his work. Jo, unhappy with being dumped in the middle of nowhere, causes as much discord as she can until her father agrees to send her home. However, when they happen upon poachers, Jo’s world is turned upside down, and she and Tally must come to a truce as they fight for their lives in a harsh environment.

This is a serviceable thriller, adapted from the novel Leave No Trace, that does as well as a made-for-TV movie can with a limited budget. The plot is a little choppy and rushed, and while I haven’t read the book, I wonder if it might have been better used as a limited/miniseries. That said, the actors all seem to work well together, and Maisie Williams does well with an American accent, though her character does tend to come off as a whiny brat for the first part of the movie. Filmed on location in South Africa, the scenery is beautiful to look at, and almost makes up for the slim storytelling.

From what I could tell, there were little to no special effects or background filler used.

Anyone who likes mild intensity without really being scared, or hardcore fans of one of the actors, will likely enjoy this movie. There’s no real language or nudity to speak of (there is a relatively tame sex scene between Paul and Tally), so it should be safe for just about anyone to watch. The movie does pick up after the encounter with the poachers, but the story is easy enough to follow that you don’t necessarily need to pay close attention to it.

Heatstroke is currently available free to stream through TubiTV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime, and it can be rented through Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Knives Out

KnivesOut01

Directed By: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A+

When famous crime novelist Harlan Thromby is found dead in his study the morning after his 85th birthday, the initial police finding is that he committed suicide. However, noted private investigator Benoit Blanc was hired by an unknown third party to investigate the death and try to find the truth. During the process of interviewing Thromby’s family and close employees, including his personal nurse, Marta, Blanc unravels layers of deception and lies, as well as dysfunction throughout the entire family. As he nears the truth of what happened the night Thromby died, he realizes that the answers may not come from where he thought they would.

These days it’s rare to find a good whodunnit that isn’t either overly complex or watered down to remove most of the mystery. This movie manages to stay a half step in front of the viewer for almost the entire movie. The story is refreshingly original while retelling a tale that’s been around for ages, and the motives of the suspects is surprisingly both diverse and at the same time, all too similar. While there could have been a few more red herrings (they pretty much spell out the guilty party right away, it’s possible they did that so you were thinking there was no way it was them). The star-studded cast all seem to be having a blast in their roles.

What few special effects used are well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of old-fashioned murder mysteries will enjoy this movie, though the story is interesting enough to appeal to just about anyone wanting a fun and interesting movie to watch. The storyline, while it can get a bit over the top at times (something I found to be part of the appeal), is good enough that it doesn’t get boring to watch more than once.

Knives Out is currently only available free to stream if you have Amazon Prime, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

ScaryStories01

Directed By: André Øvredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Lorraine Toussaint, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

On Halloween in 1968, friends Stella, Chuck, and Auggie meet mysterious drifter Ramón Morales while attempting to escape local bully, Tommy Milner. In an attempt to wait out his ire, Stella suggests they go to a local abandon home that is rumored to be haunted. There, Stella tells Ramón the local legend of Sarah Bellows, a rumored witch who would tell scary stories to local children, who would then go missing. Upon investigating the house, they find a secret room believed to be the one that Sarah’s family locked her away in. After Tommy finds the four, and locks them in the room along with Chuck’s sister, Ruth, Stella asks Sarah to tell her a story, unleashing a sinister force that takes its revenge on everyone in the house.

Like most people my age, I owned a copy of the book this movie is based on when I was younger. It freaked me out, and may possibly still be buried in the spot I put it all those years ago. This movie is surprisingly well-made, and has a decent amount of suspense for a teen horror/thriller. They do well in incorporating several of the short stories into the plot, and managed to make a cohesive storyline out of it all, which is no easy feat to do without an “episodic” storytelling format. They could very easily have had a group of kids sitting around a campfire or post-trick-or-treating candy pile telling stories to try and scare each other. The young actors playing the teens all do well with their roles and they all work well together. The older actors all do well in their roles as well, though they’re all secondary to Stella and her friends.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Horror fans and those who owned and/or loved the book growing up will likely enjoy this movie. There’s not a lot of gore, but the suspense is decent, which is something a lot of PG-13 movies forego in favor of jump scares and copious amounts of blood. The movie is incredibly rewatchable, and the storyline is easy enough to follow that, after the first watch, you don’t need to pay too much attention, and can use it as background noise if you so choose. Parents may want to watch it before letting young children see the movie.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is currently only available free to stream if you have Showtime, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

What We Do in the Shadows

WhatWeDo

Directed By: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, Rhys Darby, Benjamin Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Elena Stejko, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B+

A documentary crew follows a group of vampires as they live their daily lives, and attempt to navigate modern life. As they deal with tasks like paying their rent and divvying up chores, they also try to inconspicuous ways to locate victims, and also dispose of them after they’ve been killed, as well as their occasional run-ins with other creatures of the night, like werewolves, witches, and zombies. When one of their victims is accidentally turned into a vampire, they take him in, and are introduced to modern conveniences like wi-fi, dating sites, and Facebook. Their newcomer also brings in new dangers, as he enjoys going around telling people that he’s a vampire.

This movie is honestly more comedy than horror. The documentary/reality-style story telling is a somewhat refreshing take. Each character represents a different iteration of Hollywood vampire, from Nosferatu to Edward Cullen, and you can tell that the various actors are having fun with the material, and they all seem to have decent chemistry with each other. There also seems to be a more realistic take on the way various “mythical” creatures would interact with each other that provides a few of the comedic moments, as does seeing vampires use their “powers” to perform household chores, etc.

The few, if any, special effects used seem to be well done. As the movie takes place almost entirely at night, there is little to no background filler used.

Anyone tired of “serious” creature features and the YA take on them will probably like this movie. There really aren’t any scary moments, and the rating is mostly for blood and language, as well as a couple of scenes with sexual content. It’s an easy enough watch that you don’t necessarily need to pay full attention, though you may miss a visual gag or two. Parents may want to watch this before letting young children see it.

What We Do in the Shadows is currently only available free to stream if you have Hulu+, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Ready or Not

ReadyorNot

Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: A

On her wedding night, new bride Grace is informed by her husband, Alex, that, per family tradition, she must a game at midnight. Amused, she joins Alex’s family in their game room, where she is informed that gaming ritual is to appease “Mr. Le Bail,” who helped their family gain the fortune they currently enjoy. After pulling a card reading Hide and Seek from a box, she goes off in search of a place to conceal herself, unaware that her new in-laws are arming themselves with deadly weapons in order to sacrifice her to their mysterious benefactor. Upon learning the grisly truth, she finds herself in a life-or-death fight where she must try and live until sunrise.

One of the few movies that manages to find the balance between horror/thriller and comedy, this is a highly enjoyable watch. It takes on the absurdity of family tradition, particularly the amongst well-off, as well as what makes a person “fit” to join a family, and what some people are willing to sacrifice for money and power. Nearly all of the movie takes place in the Le Domas family mansion, and uses tendency of the rich to build “servant’s corridors” in their homes to its full advantage. Alex’s inner conflict between the family traditions he grew up with, and wanting to find his own happiness is shown to evolve throughout the movie. As for the actors, they all have decent chemistry and work well together.

What few special effects used are well done, and any background filler is unnoticeable.

This movie should appeal to anyone liking atypical horror/thrillers. While not terribly scary, there is quite a bit of blood, and there are one or two jump scares that work well. Anyone with young children may want to watch it first, as there is quite a bit of blood/gore, and the liberal use of adult language. The movie itself is incredibly rewatchable, and after the first viewing, doesn’t require too much attention.

Ready or Not is currently only available free to stream if you have HBO, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

October Faction

OctoberFaction

Starring: Tamara Taylor, J.C. MacKenzie, Aurora Burghart, Gabriel Darku, Maxim Roy, Stephen McHattie, Megan Follows, Praneet Akilla et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Netflix
Grade: B

Upon learning of his father’s death, semi-retired monster hunter Fred Allen brings his family home for the funeral and to sort out the estate. While there, his teenage twins inadvertently awaken their own magical powers, as well as unleashing an angry witch hellbent on revenge. As the witch hunting them down nears and their children’s powers grow, Fred and his wife, Deloris, find they are unable to maintain their facade of normalcy, and reveal to the kids that they are part of a secret group charged with hunting down werewolves, vampires, witches, and other creatures called “Octobers.”

Another TV show/movie based on a comic book I haven’t read (which, technically, is all of them). This is a fairly entertaining show, though the early episodes are stronger than the later ones. The plot is on the line between original and overused, though there are a couple of semi-decent reveals over the course of the show. The actors seem to do well with their roles, and they seem to have decent chemistry and work well together. As of this review, the show has been canceled, and will not air a second season, so any lingering plot threads are not likely to be resolved.

What few special effects are used are done well, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

As I’ve never read the comics, I can’t say whether or not fans of them will enjoy this series, though those who enjoy gothic/supernatural stories likely will. It’s a fairly easy watch, though some attention should be paid so certain plot points aren’t lost. There is some language, gore, and intensity, so parents may want to check it out before letting younger children watch.

October Faction is currently available to stream on Netflix, with no word as to whether or not it will be made available for purchase/rental.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Countdown

Countdown

Directed By: Justin Dec
Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Peter Facinelli, Dillon Lane, Tichina Arnold, Matt Letscher, PJ Byrne, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: C+

After a patient tries canceling a necessary surgery, nurse Quinn Harris and her colleagues download an app that the patient had been talking about, which is supposed to predict the exact time a person is supposed to die. Learning she only has a few days left to live, Quinn initially tries to brush off the app as a hoax, but upon learning of the patient’s death, Quinn cancels plans she had with her sister and father, and is informed that she has broken the user agreement attached to the app. Shortly thereafter, she begins being haunted by demonic visions, and tries her best to find out what the notification means. Her search brings her into contact with Matt, another person who received the user agreement notice and is similarly haunted by demonic visions. Together, they try to find the cause of their visions, and, if possible, a way to defeat the evil they’ve been plagued by.

This movie is a fairly cookie-cutter teen horror/thriller, right down to the pseudo-romance between Quinn and Matt. Honestly, most of these PG-13 horror movies almost seem like they would be better suited as a television show instead of a slightly-rushed movie. It would definitely give more time to get to know (and subsequently care about) the characters before they get picked off. It also doesn’t help that it appears as though a decent amount of material was cut for time (or just completely reworked/reshot), including a classroom scene with Dr. Sullivan where he talks with his students about the app. As for the actors, they all do well with their roles, including Peter Facinelli, who plays the aforementioned Dr. Sullivan, though he’s not a teacher, he’s a lecherous surgeon who tries to assault Quinn.

The special effects are okay, though some of the demon rending is a little off. The background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who likes jump scares with probably enjoy this movie, as that’s about all the horror it has. The ticking clock timeline adds some tension and helps the movie some, though not much. As for hardcore horror fans, it’s a coin toss. It can definitely be easily rewatched, and doesn’t need one’s full attention to follow.

Countdown is currently not available free to stream anywhere, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Announcement No. 3

Hey All!

As you are well aware, the world kind of went to shit a few months ago, and as I don’t have a home office, I was using a library computer on my day off to write. Since everything went into lockdown, I hadn’t been able to get out to write, and despite my best efforts, writing at home, where the computer is in a common room, proved extremely difficult. Fortunately, some restrictions are being eased in my State, and I’ve been able to get back to the library, so reviews will be starting up again as of today.

Thank you to everyone who’s stuck around (even if you just forgot about me).

-Kelly (a.k.a. That Girl)