Overlord

Overlord

Directed By: Julius Avery
Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Olivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Iain de Caestecker, Bokeem Woodbine, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

Shortly before D-Day in World War II, a group of American soldiers are sent on a mission in German-occupied France to destroy a Nazi radio tower set up in small town church. When their unit is ambushed and their captain is killed, the rest of the unit attempts to complete the mission. After convincing Chloe, a local French woman, to shelter them while they figure out how to access the radio tower. During a recon mission to figure out the best way to approach the destruction of the tower, Boyce, one of the soldiers, finds his way into the tower, where he discovers that the Germans have been experimenting on the locals. Freeing one of his captured unit members and stealing a vial of the serum being used, Boyce returns to Chloe’s house, where he’s forced to use the serum on one of his fellow soldiers, and sees firsthand the terrifying truth behind the Nazi occupation of the village. Realizing there’s more at stake then a simple radio tower, the remaining soldiers try to formulate a plan to destroy the lab, and everyone involved with it.

A good two-thirds of this movie plays out like a fairly standard war movie, to the point where the monster-movie plot almost seems like an afterthought. Once they reach that point, they seem to rush through the rest of the movie, relying mostly on jump scares and very little suspense. At certain times, it’s more suspenseful wondering if the soldiers will be found out by the Nazis than what’s going to happen with the zombie/vampire/super soldiers. In a way, the movie sort of works as an arthouse-ish thriller, however, the trailers wouldn’t have helped with the casual viewer looking for a standard horror film, as most of the footage was taken from the back third of the movie. So far as the acting is concerned, all of the actors do well with their roles, and anyone using an accent other than their own manages to do well with it.

The special effects are fairly decent in quality, though it looks like they tried to use practical effects for most of the monsters, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Diehard fans of JJ Abrams brand of monster movies (he’s a producer) should enjoy this, as well as anyone who doesn’t mind a slower burn to their horror/thrillers. Anyone else should keep in mind that it takes a little time to get past the war movie aspect to the action. Those considering showing this to someone on the younger side might want to watch it first to see if it’s going to alright for them.

Overlord is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime and Hulu, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line/digital retailer.

I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

The Shallows

TheShallows

Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Sallas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Struggling med student Nancy goes on a surf trip to Mexico to find a beach her mother also surfed on. While there, she surfs a few waves with some locals, but wanting to catch more waves, stays after they leave for the day. After swimming further out to open water, she stumbles upon a shark feeding off a whale carcass and finds herself being targeted by it. After tending to her injuries, Nancy finds herself running out of time as she desperately tries to alert anyone she can to her presence, and also keep them from being attacked by the increasingly aggressive shark stalking her.

As far as ticking-clock thrillers go, this is one of the better ones made in recent years. The plot is well-paced, and Blake Lively, who is on screen for pretty much the entire movie, does well with the material. Shark attack movies are usually a dime a dozen, so finding one that stands out is a rare occurrence. The limited number of people in danger likely helps with this, as the survival of the main character is what makes the movie one of either tragic loss or triumphant survival. It’s also not entirely outside possibility that a shark would target a single wounded person who encroached on their territory, and ultimately the most unrealistic plot point is that Nancy doesn’t lose her leg.

The special effects are fairly well done, with the shark looking mostly realistic, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action/thriller fans should enjoy this movie, though those with a fear of sharks probably won’t. With a decent script and real consequences, this is one of the better shark attack movies that have been made somewhat recently, and it’s even worth spending the money on a purchase for future watching, as it seems like a good movie to rewatch when you’re bored.

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

Beyond Skyline

BeyondSkyline

Directed By: Liam O’Donnell
Starring: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Jonny Weston, Callan Mulvaney, Antonio Fargas, Pamelyn Chee, Yayan Ruhian, Jacob Vargas, Iko Uwais, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

After bailing his son out of jail, police officer Mark Corley must lead a group of people to safety after an alien invasion begins. After Mark, his son Trent, subway conductor Audrey, and blind, homeless veteran Sarge are captured by the aliens, Mark looks for a way to free his new friends and finds a young pregnant woman named Elaine, who tells him that one of the soldiers has the mind of her boyfriend, Jarrod, and that he is different than the other soldiers. When she dies after Mark helps her give birth to her daughter, he takes the child and he and Jarrod find a way to bring down the alien ship. After the crash, Mark and his friends take the child off the ship and find out that they crashed in Indonesia, where they attempt to find a way to fight back against the alien invaders who have come looking for Elaine’s child.

A sequel to the 2010 movie Skyline, this movie is as surprisingly enjoyable as that one was. In fact, knowing this movie exists might make the original slightly more enjoyable, as that one had a strange ending that, at the time, I felt was odd and slightly out of tune with the rest of an otherwise decent movie. This sequel doesn’t suffer from the same off-step ending its predecessor did. The storyline as whole was slightly more interesting, and is a decent sci-fi/alien invasion movie. The actors all work well together and the locations in Indonesia are beautiful.

The special effects are fairly well done, especially given the smaller budget, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who enjoyed the original, or is just looking for a decent alien invasion movie should enjoy this. The movie is good enough that it shouldn’t start to grate after only one or two views, and it’s easy enough to follow that you don’t need to devote all of your attention to it while it’s on.

Beyond Skyline is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and 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!

Us

Us

Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B

While on a family vacation to Santa Cruz with their friends, Adelaide Wilson can’t shake a sense of foreboding stemming from an incident in her past when she wandered off while at the pier carnival with her parents. After spending some time catching up with their friends the Tylers, Adelaide loses sight of her son at the beach, and then urges her family to return to their vacation home. Shortly after they return, they lose power and soon find a group of people standing on their driveway. The Wilsons quickly learn that the people are their ‘tethered’ doubles, a handful of remnants from a long-abandon attempt to control humanity by using clones of people. After outwitting their doubles, the Wilsons attempt to find help, and also try to learn why people’s doubles have surfaced after so many years.

This movie, a second outing for writer-director Jordan Peele, is a better-than-average horror movie, though the ending lacks the shock that accompanied the first one. Though it’s possible I feel that way since the twist ending was spoiled for me long before I ever saw the movie. It’s still a well-told story, and the idea of there being millions, or even billions of doubles tied to people is unsettling, but it’s just not quite the stellar outing that many were hoping it would be. That said, the actors all have decent chemistry and work well together.

There doesn’t appear to many special effects used, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of horror/thriller movies, including Peele’s first movie, Get Out, should enjoy this movie. There is a bit of an unsettling aura in the film that makes it interesting, and the movie itself is good enough that anyone who likes it will likely enjoy watching it more than once without it getting annoying.

Us is currently available free to stream if you have HBO, and 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!

My Soul To Take

MySoulToTake

Directed By: Wes Craven
Starring: Max Thieriot, John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Paulina Olsynski, Jeremy Chu, Emily Meage, Frank Grillo, Danai Gurira, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: D+

Sixteen years ago in the town of Riverton, on the same night a local serial killer called the Riverton Ripper died, seven children were born, several of who weren’t due for weeks or even months. Years later, those children have been raised with the rumors that they are the reincarnations of the various personalities the killer had. However, as teens are killed one by one, people begin to believe that the Ripper didn’t actually die, and that he’s attempting to seek vengeance by killing the children born the night he supposedly died.

There’s really no use in trying to mince words. This movie is not good. The characters are underdeveloped, the plot moves too quickly, there are characters and bits of plot that aren’t fully explored, and side stories that are entirely unnecessary, which considering the nearly 2-hour run time, is somewhat surprising. It honestly would have benefitted from the extra 15 or 20 minutes in order to make a more coherent movie. One of the few bright spots of the movie is Max Thieriot, who plays one of the only characters to get some kind of development.

What few special effects used appear to be decent, and the background filler isn’t really noticeable.

While I wouldn’t recommend the movie, anyone wanting a lesson in how not to make a horror/thriller should use this as their prime example. If you’re a desperate fan of Wes Craven or one of the actors involved, proceed at your own risk. This is one of the few instances in which I felt like my time had been wasted by the movie I was watching, and it’s ridiculous how easily entertained I am.

My Soul to Take 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.

Escape Room

EscapeRoom

Directed By: Adam Robitel
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nick Dodani, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, student Zoey, grocery store stocker Ben, and stockbroker Jason are mysteriously presented with a gift of a black puzzle box from someone they know. After solving the puzzle, they find an invitation to an escape room challenge, which holds a prize of $10,000 to anyone who can escape it. After their arrival at the company site for the room, they meet three others who also received the puzzle boxes, war vet Amanda, trucker Mike, and gaming enthusiast Danny. When the escape room mechanisms are triggered, they group quickly learn that the game isn’t what they first thought, and they all fight to stay alive against a system designed to kill them.

This movie was surprisingly good. I was entirely unaware of the escape room phenomenon before seeing this, so the concept seemed to be a fairly original take on a locked room mystery. Though only three of the characters get proper introductions before the action starts, they, for the most part, get some decent background instead of just being used as blank cannon fodder to increase tensions. The actors all do well with their characters, and they all have a fair amount of chemistry with each other. The puzzles themselves are all interesting, and aren’t obvious about the solutions or the potential dangers.

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

Fans of the horror/thriller genre should enjoy this movie. While there’s very little gore, it’s actually a pretty good thriller, and while it does open with a bit of a spoiler as to who survives, there are a few decent twists along the way. Anyone wanting to watch this shouldn’t be disappointed if they have to spend money on a rental, and it’s something that can be viewed multiple times without getting too boring.

Escape Room is currently only available free to stream if you have Starz, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Serenity (2019)

Serenity(2019)

Directed By: Steven Knight
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Charlotte Butler, Rafael Sayegh, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: C

Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on idyllic Plymouth Island, lives a quiet life taking tourists on fishing trips and wiling away his free time doing odd jobs for other residents on the island. One night, however, Baker’s life is thrown for a loop when his ex-wife appears and offers him $10 million to kill her current husband, who she claims is abusing both her and the child she shares with Baker. As Baker contemplates the tempting offer, he finds himself being lured back into day-to-day life by the residents of the island, as well as the promise of catching the one fish that has eluded him for years, which he has named Justice. After Baker has made up his mind about his course of action, he discovers a surprising secret about his life and home.

Despite very much wanting to be a high-quality noir thriller, Serenity falls short in many respects. The initial story of a man being approached by a woman asking him to kill her husband, while hardly original, is presented well enough to be interesting, and if the filmmakers had simply stuck to that, they might have turned out a decent B-quality movie. However, the unnecessary addition of a slight sci-fi element manages to take away any importance and impact that the main plot may have had. McConaughey and Hathaway have decent chemistry, and Clarke seems to be making a career out of playing assholes. For some reason, Hathaway made the choice to spend the majority of her screen time purring all of her lines in an attempt to sound like a 50s femme fatale, which takes some of the emotion out of her performance.

The special effects vary throughout the movie, but for the most part they’re fairly decent, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Unless you’re a die-hard fan of one of the actors in the movie, then you probably won’t want to spend money to watch this movie. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s also not very good, and requires a little more attention than most people would probably be willing to devote to it after the first hour or so.

Serenity is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.