Thursday, August 25, 2016

Safelight (2015)

Number Rolled: 8
Movie Name/Year: Safelight (2015)
Tagline: Love with lead the way.
Genre: Drama
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Aloupis Productions, Hacienda Film Co.
Producer: Tony Aloupis, Bernie Gewissler, Joe Krieg, Andrew Mysko, Cory Neal, Carol Randinelli Stark
Director: Tony Aloupis
Writer: Tony Aloupis
Actors: Evan Peters, Juno Temple, Kevin Alejandro, Jason Beghe, Christine Lahti, Ariel Winter, Will Peltz, Don Stark, Matthew Ziff, Joel Gretsch, Ever Carradine, Meaghan Martin, Joe Krieg, Lee Garlington, Gigi Rice, Roma Maffia, Taylor Boggan

Blurb from Netflix: A lonely teen bullied for his limp and a runaway who turns tricks at a truck stop embark on a road trip and discover a new world of possibilities.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is generally the kind of drama I tend to steer away from. From beginning to end I tend to feel like absolutely nothing happens, nothing changes, and the plot is pointless.

Straight dramas are just not my thing.

I attempted to put that attitude aside in order to enjoy it. I failed. Mostly, I was just bored.

Juno Temple (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Maleficent, Mr. Nobody) was outstanding in her role, but Evan Peters (American Horror Story, Adult World, The Lazarus Effect) was a little on the unbelievable side to me. I felt like the limp wasn’t quite realistic enough for me to believe the story. Sometimes the limp was more pronounced, other times it looked like he forgot to limp at all. Since the very core of the story is based around that limp, that’s a big issue.

All the other main actors followed Temple’s lead. There weren’t any that I had an issue with. Jason Beghe (Chicago P.D., X-Men: First Class, Chicago Fire) played the sick and waning father figure wonderfully. Christine Lahti (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Jack & Bobby, Chicago Hope) was very believable, however, I kept putting Katey Sagal (Pitch Perfect 2, Sons of Anarchy, Futurama) as the part of Peg in my mind… so every time Lahti’s face came on screen I was momentarily confused. That’s not Lahti’s fault. It’s mine and I don’t know why it happened.

Some of background actors irked me, like the actor that played the main bully – I think it was Will Peltz (Unfriended, As Cool As I Am, The Outskirts). Nothing he said or did landed well. Everything he did was like an over-exaggeration or parody of what it was supposed to be.

I guess the plot itself was fine, it just didn’t resonate with me. It might, however, resonate with hardcore drama fans. You’d have to be a fan of the genre though.

Cat’s Point of View:
I thought this movie would be interesting when it came to our attention during our monthly Top Twenty. It was, indeed. Though, as I come away from watching it; I find myself feeling down.

This film goes to some dark places – though, I get it. What better way to illustrate the beacon of safety that the lighthouses represent. There was a thread of hope laced in to the tale, but it didn’t seem to be enough to shake the overall bleak feeling.

Evan Peters (Never Back Down, The Good Doctor, Elvis & Nixon) and Juno Temple (Wild Child, Horns, Away) both knocked their roles out of the park. Peters captured that teen awkwardness well and you could just feel the internal struggle of both characters.

There were a few moments of levity scattered through the seriousness of this drama – and one was entirely subtle on the level of an Easter egg.

I loved Christine Lahti’s (Smart People, Petunia, Touched with Fire) character, Peg. The redheaded spitfire is the glue that holds the elements of this movie together. I couldn’t help but notice her hairstyle and some of her mannerisms reminded me heavily of the character Peg Bundy from Married With Children (1987-1997). I had a giggle. Things that make you go ‘hmm.’

I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again, just because I didn’t like the low place it left me in. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good drama – regardless of how it twists you up by the end.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 6%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 28%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. There’s a short, somewhat pointless, scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 22, 2016

4 Minute Mile (2014)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: 4 Minute Mile (2014)
Tagline: The hardest race is against yourself.
Genre: Drama
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: One Square Mile Management Company, Phoenix Rising Motion Pictures
Producer: Howard Burd, Randy Dannenberg, Mark DiSalle, Mel Eslyn, Michael Hothorn, Dane Lillegard, Michael Magnussen, Lawrence Steven Meyers, Deborah Moore, Jennifer Reibman, Lauren Selig, Joe Sisto, Micah Sparks, Jonathan Vanger
Director: Charles-Olivier Michaud
Writer: Jeff Van Wie, Josh Campbell
Actors: Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins, Kim Basinger, Cam Gigandet, Analeigh Tipton, Rhys Coiro, Aaron Washington, Gerald Grissette, David Brown-King, Daniel Oliver, Dylan Arnold, Josh Feinsilber, Andrew Haggerty

Blurb from Netflix: A teenage track star and a former coach who each face difficult obstacles in life turn to each other to find comfort, stability and hope.

Selina’s Point of View:
At first, this film looked like your basic, every day, sports training drama.

As I watched 4 Minute Mile I found that it was absolutely typical and unoriginal… until about the last half hour of the movie.

Seriously, throughout the majority of the film I felt absolutely nothing for the characters or the story. I was bored and trying to keep my eyes open. However, that last half hour was something incredible. The boring build up lasted longer than the parts I enjoyed, but I still found that it was worth it to get to that part.

The actors were good, my distaste for the first hour of the film had nothing to do with them. Cam Gigandet (Reckless, Bad Johnson, Easy A) really made me believe the desperation that drove his low-life character and Richard Jenkins (Cabin in the Woods, Turbo, White House Down) brought the coach’s character to life. Analeigh Tipton (Viral, Manhattan Love Story, Warm Bodies) was my favorite, of course, but she’s one of my favorite actors in general. I rarely have anything bad to say or think about her. She also has an incredibly dramatic and interesting past – I recommend looking up her history. I would love to watch a film about her.

As for the main actor, Kelly Blatz (Glory Daze, Aaron Stone, Prom Night), he impressed me with his ability to show the audience all that inner turmoil his character was experiencing with only a look. Actually, both his mannerisms and visage reminded me heavily of Lillo Brancato (Back in the Day, The Real Deal, The Sopranos) from A Bronx Tale (1993) – which is also a phenomenal film.

In the end, this film honored the movies that came before it in the genre, like the Karate Kid (1984), but it took a while for 4 Minute Mile to twist its own flair into the typical plot.

Cat’s Point of View:
OK so I have a strange relationship with sports dramas. I’m not really a huge sports person. I know enough about them to understand what I’m watching when I need to – but it’s just not my thing usually. The only sport I really fangirl about is ice skating. Olympic Figure Skating is my Superbowl.

That being said, I’ve watched (and liked) a good number of sports themed shows and movies. Ones focusing on things that I enjoy such as martial arts, gymnastics, fencing, etc. are easier to watch and get invested in.

All the same, I’ve watched so many movies focused on football, baseball, basketball, and hockey that I’ve lost count. Track and field just doesn’t have a lot of pull for me in the same way NASCAR doesn’t rev my engines. I get the whole thrill of the race and all, but it’s just going in circles. The sports I like tend to have more grace and artistry. I’m not a sports snob, it just is what it is.

From all of what I just said, you might think that I didn’t like this movie. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I loved this movie. It got me in its grip and didn’t let me go until the end. I didn’t even feel the need to fidget; which was odd – I almost always fidget.

Sure, the movie mostly does what you expect it to – but it takes you to an unanticipated place as the lead, phenomenally played by Kelly Blatz (From Within, April Showers, Exeter), works through his personal challenges and internal conflicts stemming from family loyalty. Ultimately the tale goes into unexpected territory.

Cam Gigandet (The Experiment, Plush, In The Blood) delivers a solid performance with his complex character. He brought a sense of dread and suspense to the movie that helped take it out of that stereotypical box.
Kim Basinger (While She Was Out, Charlie St. Cloud, The Nice Guys) is no stranger to excellently portraying a mother in over her head. There were shades of 8 Mile (2002) in this movie that I couldn’t help notice.

Then, of course, every good sports drama in this vein has a Mr. Miyagi. Richard Jenkins (Fun With Dick and Jane, God's Pocket, Spotlight) steps into those coaching shoes with heart in his performance.

Some might groan about the romantic element in a movie like this. However, especially for high school age kids, it’s only reality that dreams and goals can be influenced by hormones and the challenge of relationships or heartbreak. I didn’t see that element of this film as fluff. I think Analeigh Tipton (Lucy, Mississippi Grind, Between Us) played an important role in the story in both giving some more insight into Blatz’s character, adding a little needed levity, and supplying a few rewarding warm fuzzies.

I could keep going, but really I can only encourage that this movie just begs to be seen. It will unexpectedly tug at your heartstrings. I don’t know that I can watch it again from an emotional standpoint, but that doesn’t take away from it being excellent all the same.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 29%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 44%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Hallow (2015)

Number Rolled: 71
Movie Name/Year: The Hallow (2015)
Tagline: Nature has a dark side.
Genre: Horror
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Occupant Entertainment, Hyperion Media Group, Prescience, Altus Media (Five), The Electric Shadow Company, Bord Scannan ne hEireann / Irish Film Board, Fantastic Films, Altitude Film Entertainment, Hallow Film
Producer: John Brady, Jules Claassen, Will Clarke, Cathleen Dore, Rory Gilmartin, John Jencks, Deirdre Levins, Michael J. Mailis, Brendan McCarthy, John McDonnell, Joe Neurauter, Kate Sharp, James Swarbrick, Jay Taylor, Susan Wrubel
Director: Corin Hardy
Writer: Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino, Tom de Ville
Actors: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley, Gary Lydon, Wren Hardy, Stuart Graham, Conor Craig Stephens, Joss Wyre, Charlotte Williams, Luc Walsh

Blurb from Netflix: When a London man moves his family into a secluded mill house, he discovers that the surrounding forest is filled with demons who prey on children.

Selina’s Point of View:
The Hallow was absolutely incredible and I can never, ever, watch it again.

I was so totally creeped out by this film that there were a couple of scenes I simply couldn’t watch. At all. I had to look away from the screen completely and wait for some kind of cue that said the story had moved on to another scene. There were moments of gut-wrenching anticipation, triggers… I just… I can never watch this film again.

Although this film is not torture porn-esk, it’s still very much not for the squeamish. Keep that in mind if you intend to watch.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was really excited when this movie came up. I’ve mentioned before my love for all things Irish, yes? I probably have about 3 anthology books of Irish ghost stories. This movie was filmed and based in Ireland and draws partially on Irish folktales. Talk about a win-win, right?

I can assure you that while I do have a bias in favor of Ireland, I still managed to watch this movie with an open mind.

It’s said that the director, Corin Hardy (Strangers, In the Back, Watchtower), applied the influences of Alien (1979), The Evil Dead (1981), and The Thing (1982) paired with the draw from Irish folktales. These influences are definitely apparent throughout the movie - from ambiance to effects.

This film was a creature feature without a whole lot of bells and whistles. I think the heavy use of practical physical effects over computer graphics served this movie well. There were definite bits of CGI here and there, but it didn’t look hokey.

Some of the creature work bothered me but it really was pretty good overall. I think it was because I could clearly tell that there was a person inside a costume instead of a seamless monster performance. This held me back from getting entirely invested in those scenes.

Honestly, I was more unnerved when you couldn’t see the source of what was going on. There’s a lot to be said for the human imagination building an unseen boogeyman in the mind’s eye rather than actually laying eyes on the manifested form.

This appears to be this writer/director’s first full length feature film, so there were definitely lessons that could be taken from this movie into his next. Although, it’s said that Hardy has been tapped to direct the upcoming reboot of The Crow (1994).

I’m a bit skeptical of that entire endeavor. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with. I’ll chalk that up to a big ‘we’ll see.’

I digress.

Here’s another tidbit for you. This isn’t the first time that Michael McElhatton (Parked, Norm of the North, Strike Back) and Joseph Mawle (The Awakening, Shell, Kill Your Friends) have shared the screen. They’ve also been major characters in Game of Thrones (2011-). McElhatton played Roose Bolton on the well-known HBO series, and Mawle portrays the part of Benjen Stark. It’s said that Hardy wrote the lead character part for Mawle after seeing him on the series.

I like that this story delves into the darker side of Irish lore – where things aren’t cute or pretty. Pixies and leprechauns and fairies, oh my! When one thinks of the ‘fair folk,’ images of adorable little smiling faces on tiny creatures with wings or clutching treasure come to mind. The elfin-like sidhe and the Tuatha that live in Tír Na nÓg (the land of eternal youth and beauty) are also popular to envision. There are, however, many things that are not cute, cuddly, friendly, or in any way pleasant.

I am not sure that I’d watch this one again, but I enjoyed most of it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

The Random Rating: R

P.S. Scenes during the start of the credits that lead to a mid-credit scene.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 15, 2016

One Day (2011)

Number Rolled: 61
Movie Name/Year: One Day (2011)
Tagline: Twenty years. Two people.
Genre: Drama
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Focus Features, Random House Films, Film4, Color Force
Producer: Raphael Benoliel, Jane Frazer, Nina Jacobson, Tessa Ross
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: David Nicholls
Actors: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Tom Mison, Jodie Whittaker, Rafe Spall, Josephine de la Baume, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Heida Reed, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Gil Alma, Georgia King, Matt Berry, Romola Garai, Diana Kent, James Laurenson, Matthew Beard, Toby Regbo, Thomas Arnold, Mike Binder

Blurb from Netflix: After a brief college romance, Emma and Dexter pursue separate dreams, but meet on the same day each year to compare their progress in life and love.

Selina’s Point of View:
Normally, this is not my kind of movie and, quite frankly, I’ve never been less in the mood for a drama than I am right now. Even with those massive hurdles, I found myself fascinated by One Day.

The pacing of this film was very good. There was never a length of time in this movie when I was bored or wishing something would happen. Everything was either happening or quickly building up to happening.

There was a slightly artsy flair to the set-up of this film, including the order of the scenes, but it wasn’t unbearable. There was a reason behind it instead of just being artsy in order to be artsy. I really like when films do something with a creative flair when there’s a good reason for it. This film didn’t insult the intelligence of the viewers by doing something completely out there and making it seem as though if you don’t get it then you must be an idiot.

The actors were very good, and I was impressed by their chemistry. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables, Don Peyote, The Dark Knight Rises) and Jim Sturgess (Upside Down, The Way Back, Close to the Enemy) work incredibly well together and I believed in their story. Plots that tend to lean toward how ‘impossible’ it is for men and women to just be friends tend to annoy me, but I think this one did pretty well with it. It didn’t make the obnoxious assumption that men and women could NEVER be friends without romance, they just localized it to a specific couple.

I’m not going to get into that rant right now, because One Day didn’t really make me feel like I had to.

So, moving on. I probably won’t watch this film again… but not because it’s bad. This movie was absolutely fantastic, there are just very few dramas I watch voluntarily. A drama has to get a 4.5 or higher on my rating scale for me to really want to see it again. One Day fell just short.

Cat’s Point of View:
I wasn’t sure how well I was going to receive a romantic drama. Shoulder issues have left me a bit cranky the last several days; though it wasn’t a good reason to think down on a movie I’ve never seen before, right? Stiff upper lip and all that rot – tally ho!

Ok, I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

This movie surprised me by how well it grabbed me by the feels and whisked me along.

Jim Sturgess (The Other Boleyn Girl, Cloud Atlas, Stonehearst Asylum) isn’t always my cup of tea, but the pairing with Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane, Passengers, Interstellar) was actually adorable. There was enough dissonance and yet pull between them that I bought in.

The word is that Hathaway was instrumental in Sturgess’ selection for the role. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it worked out.

This film actually had me pining a bit for school days and remembering a friend I had long ago. Sadly, they have passed from this world; but I wondered what it might have been like if we’d kept in touch at least once a year to compare notes as the main characters of this story did.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pining for a ‘what could have been’ love story or anything like that. The movie just spurred a few maudlin thoughts.

I also love the casting for Dexter’s parents. Patricia Clarkson (All The King's Men, Elegy, Shutter Island) and Ken Stott (Charlie Wilson's War, Toast, Café Society) seemed a little bit of an ‘opposites attract’ in their own story that is deftly woven behind their son’s tale.

This movie cast a spell on me, and I am glad for it. I would definitely watch this film again. There were laughter and tears as well as some palming of the face. I almost wish that there were more time to explore each of the presented years – but then that might have changed the whole thing.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 36%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015)

Number Rolled: 42
Movie Name/Year: The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015)
Tagline: First you were haunted now witness the exorcism.
Genre: Horror
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: WT Canada Productions
Producer: Justin Bursch, Mike Elliott, Greg Holstein, Kim Todd
Director: Steven R. Monroe
Writer: Matt Venne
Actors: Sarah Lind, Devon Sawa, Gina Holden, Peter MacNeill, Daina Leitold, Julia Arkos, Tom McLaren, Andrew Cecon, Jon Cor, Kate Yacula, Melissa Marie Elias

Blurb from Netflix: Molly is all grown up, and the demons who haunted her teens are gone. But now, only one fallen priest can save her from the devil himself.

Selina’s Point of View:
When we rolled this film I was unaware that it was the sequel to The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008). Knowing the name of the other film, it’s obvious, but I hadn’t known the other film existed. Cat and I both wanted to see the sequel with knowledge of the original storyline, so we each went and watched the first one. She found a copy and I rented mine on Amazon Video.

For the first one, I have no regrets. I spent $4 on the rental and I’m absolutely fine with that. It was wonderful. It was understated but creepy. It had everything you expect from a haunting film without being a paint-by-number recipe. I was very happy with the actors, the script, and the ending.

In fact, by the ending of The Haunting of Molly Hartley, I had NO idea how they could possibly create some kind sequel.

Alas, they came up with The Exorcism of Molly Hartley.

This film absolutely ignored the ending of the first one. In fact, it ignored the entire plot of the first one. A friend suggested to me that I look at it as a stand-alone film. Even doing that it’s complete shit.

I’m normally a rabid Devon Sawa (Robin of Locksley, Idle Hands, SLC Punk) fan. I have been since 1994 when I watched Little Giants. As a hell of a tomboy that was into various sports, that movie was the greatest thing I’d ever seen up until then and Devon Sawa’s character, Junior Floyd, made it seem not so bad to be a tomboy. I feel as though my confidence growing up would have been much lower if it wasn’t for that movie. Since then, I’ve watched every single film, or TV show, with Sawa in it. Even shows where he was only in one episode, like NCIS: Los Angeles.

As a result of my loyal devotion to Sawa as an actor, I’m always caught off guard if he doesn’t perform at his best in a film. Unfortunately, I don’t think The Exorcism of Molly Hartley got his best effort. However, I don’t think his best effort would have helped the film anyway.

The production company should have stuck to the original actress that portrayed Molly, Haley Bennett (Marley & Me, The Equalizer, Hardcore Henry), and they should have stuck to the original writers and director: John Travis (The New Daughter), Rebecca Sonnenshine (Within, American Zombie, The Vampire Diaries), and Mickey Liddell (The Grey, Black Rock, Anthropoid). If they couldn’t bring back those originals, they shouldn’t have made the film.

There’s very little I hate more, where movies are concerned, than a bad sequel that shits all over a good original.

Cat’s Point of View:
I hadn’t initially realized that this movie was a sequel until I paused it momentarily to use IMDb to find an actor. It was driving me nuts that I recognized him and couldn’t remember what it was from. (It was near the beginning and I was low on caffeine and impulse control.)

Lo and behold, this film takes place six years after the end of The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008). I hadn’t seen that before so this became a double feature for me! Unfortunately, the first movie is not on Netflix. I enjoy watching or reading a series in order, so I left Exorcism paused and watched Haunting first.

Not only did I want to understand any references that might have carried forward; but I also wanted to be able to advise whether or not the movies stood alone from one another.

You could watch the Exorcism movie without the first one without really missing a lot. There is one humorous reference at the beginning and then really the rest gets filled in for you as the plot unfolds. Casting also did a fair job in matching Sarah Lind (What Goes Up, WolfCop, Blackburn) to the look of the original Molly.

I wish I could tell you that I liked this movie more. It wasn’t horrible. It was okay. There wasn’t anything revolutionary or spellbindingly interesting about this exorcism movie that separates it from the others of the genre. The effects were decent, and I have to tip my hat to Sarah Lind for the more physical aspects of her performance.

I learned that the film was shot in an actual former psychiatric institution in Canada.  That definitely gave the film a more authentic quality for the setting. It would be interesting to hear if any of the cast have any ghost stories to share.

I hadn’t seen Devon Sawa (Creature of Darkness, Endure, Life on the Line) in anything in quite a while. His filmography indicates he’s been busy – it’s just been off my radar. I thought he did well with this role and it was nice to see a ‘grown-up’ version of him on the screen. I think I’d last seen him in Final Destination (2000).

For a bit of ‘six degrees’ on that film series; Gina Holden (The Listener, Mysterious Island, LA Apocalypse) plays the doctor in this movie but was also in Final Destination 3 (2006).

I am unable to come up with anything from this film that would make it memorable for me. If given a choice, I likely won’t be watching this movie again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Re-Kill (2015)

Number Rolled: 88
Movie Name/Year: Re-Kill (2015)
Tagline: We are the endangered species.
Genre: Horror
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: After Dark Films, Midsummer Films, Signature Pictures
Producer: Yoram Barzilai, Stephanie Caleb, Moshe Diamant, Steven A. Frankel, Christopher Milburn, Lucy Mukerjee-Brown, Jules R. Nasso, Julius R. Nasso, Karri O’Reilly, James Portolese, Bobby Ranghelov, Courtney Solomon, Allan Zeman
Director: Valeri Milev
Writer: Michael Hurst
Actors: Bruce Payne, Danielle Alonso, Roger Cross, Scott Adkins, Jesse Garcia, Angelena Swords, Dimiter Doichinov, Yo Santhaveesuk, Aaron Jay Rome, Layke Anderson, Raicho Vasilev, Claire Garrett, Rocky Marshall, Kanesha Washington, Dean J. West, Owen Davis

Blurb from Netflix: Five years after a zombie apocalypse, a team of soldiers discovers that the monsters they thought were destroyed are back to finish off the survivors.

Selina’s Point of View:
I wasn’t in love with Re-Kill, but there are some aspects that I really enjoyed.

I would definitely put this film in the category of ‘mockumentary.’ It was mostly shown from the viewpoint of the camera-man and made to seem like a TV show in the same category as Cops (1989-) or some other crime-based reality program. Personally, those shows aren’t my cup of tea, but this wasn’t exactly a true story. It took place in a post-zombie apocalypse world.

The film allowed us, the audience, to see the mockumentary as though we were a part of that world watching it on TV. It was complete with commercials and ads for shows that would be shown later in the day. That kind of reminded me of certain parts of Starship Troopers (1997).

“Would you like to know more?”

I thought the look of the zombies and the general effects were very well done – when the shaky cam allowed me to actually see what was happening. I’m a touch dizzy right now from the constant bouncing around. It’s easily the shakiest of all the shaky cams I’ve ever seen.

Regardless of the method of filming, I found the world the story was set in to be a very interesting place. There were huge plot holes here and there, but I wasn’t really expecting anything different. In fact, I was expecting a B-movie with a low level of quality, but I got something much better than that. The actors were very good at portraying their characters and the settings looked very realistic.

I want to like this film more than I did, but I found it to be kind of pointless and forgettable in the end. It wasn’t bad to sit through, but I doubt I’ll remember any of it by tomorrow.

Cat’s Point of View:
This was an interesting take on a zombie apocalypse movie. It reminded me a lot of Starship Troopers (1997) with its commercial breaks. The gritty reality TV angle with the SWAT-like R-Division ala Cops (1989-) isn’t something I’ve seen before for this genre and I think it really elevated the material beyond ‘just another zombie movie.’

I was glad to see that there was a strong female role present with the R-Division squad, played by Daniella Alonso (Hood of Horror, Revolution, Lawless Range).  Team leader ‘Sarge’ played by Roger Cross (Mad Money, Continuum, Dark Matter) was another familiar face among the cast. His character gives some interesting introspection along the way.

I found it interesting that Scott Adkins (The Pink Panther, Assassination Games, The Brothers Grimsby), action star extraordinaire, was limited to gunplay in this movie – considering hand-to-hand combat with zombies would likely be a poor decision. It makes sense, of course, but he’s usually in roles that are so much more hands-on. This didn’t take away from his character, though.

I think I liked the role of Winston for Bruce Payne (Greystone Park, Asylum, Breakdown) better than the last several things I’ve seen him in. I remember him best for his roles in Dungeons and Dragons (2000) and Highlander: Endgame (2000). Winston has some interesting views in this movie, and was one of my favorite characters in the film.

This is a movie I will likely watch again, and would definitely recommend to fans of the genre – especially if I know someone likes Starship Troopers.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 23%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

P.S. Shows up on Rotten Tomatoes as: After Dark Originals: Re-Kill

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ava’s Possessions (2015)

Number Rolled: 15
Movie Name/Year: Ava’s Possessions (2015)
Tagline: She can handle her spirits.
Genre: Horror
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: ODD NY, Off Hollywood Pictures, Ravenous Films, Traction Media
Producer: Bronwyn Cornelius, Jordan Galland, Mike Landry, Maren Olson, Mark L. Pederson, Aldey Sanchez, Gregory P. Shockro, Carlos Velazquez, Douglas Weiser, Isaac Wilkins
Director: Jordan Galland
Writer: Jordan Galland
Actors: Alysia Reiner, Carol Kane, Jemima Kirke, William Sadler, Dan Fogler, John Ventimiglia, Whitney Able, Lou Taylor Pucci, Louisa Krause, Joel de la Fuente, Deborah Rush, Wass Stevens, Zachary Booth, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Geneva Carr, Olivia Anton, Erik Potempa

Blurb from Netflix: A young woman joins a support group for survivors of demonic possession to help her recover from a recent exorcism and expose her repressed memories.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie was both creative and kind of odd.

I’ll start with why it was creative. Ava’s Possessions is a brilliant twist on a very familiar exorcism recipe.

Instead of predictably showing us how she was taken over and all her crimes and her exorcism, this film focused more on what happens after the exorcism is over. We wound up starting with a main character that’s just been saved from a demonic possession and is left to pick up the pieces of the life she ruined. She remembers nothing and part of what the movie goes into is her trying to remember everything that happened.

In many ways it reminds me of a film I watched… I think in the first year of this blog. That movie was called ZA: Zombies Anonymous (2006).

ZA followed the story of a woman who was shot and killed by her boyfriend. That’s not a spoiler because it happens in the first five to ten minutes of the movie. The plot isn’t about why she was shot or how she died, it’s about her trying to come to terms with being a zombie in a world that knows zombies exist.

Ava’s Possessions was a much higher quality film than the B-movie it reminded me of. It had decent actors as well.

Moving on, however, I found the pacing to be weird. Not too slow or too fast, but not quite right either. I also thought some of the direction was a little off-putting. When the movie was over and I saw who the writer/director was, I understood.

Jordan Galland (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, Green Umbrella, Smile for the Camera) isn’t one of the most experienced writer/directors out there. That being said, he was responsible for a film I watched a while back that I absolutely adored: Alter Egos (2012). That movie was also on the strange side and had a weird pacing, but I fell in love with it anyway. Sometimes that just happens.

Despite my history with enjoying Galland’s work, it didn’t quite translate to Ava’s Possessions. The film wasn’t bad, but it left me feeling confused and unfulfilled.

I’m not sure I’ll be watching this movie again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I got excited about this movie back when we had it in our top twenty for the month it was released. It seemed like it was going to add a layer of dark humor to the horror of the possession narrative.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing here. I still liked the movie. It was sprinkled liberally with the comedic element I was expecting. At the same time, it was more of a mystery than a horror movie.

The film somewhat felt like a toned down darker version of Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000) except the main character wasn’t wasted and high – she was possessed.

That actually worked for me, for the most part, once I got into that groove.

Louisa Krause (King Kelly, Bare, The Abandoned) was a new name and face for me. Her performance was solid as the bewildered victim of possession. I’ll have to keep an eye out for her other work in the future.

There were some familiar faces in the film for me as well. I have to say that the role of Hazel was a great fit for Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Missed Connections, Asthma, The Nymphets). This was definitely a better use of her talent than the frenetic #Horror (2015).

Carol Kane (The Pacifier, Sleepwalk With Me, Gotham) had a small, but important, role in this film. She had me grinning and all warm with nostalgia. Fans of The Princess Bride (1987) might understand why when you watch the movie.

I had to giggle a bit, though, at Joel de la Fuente (Law & Order: SVU, Forgetting the Girl, Julia) playing a character named Escobar in this film. The only role I’d seen him in before was on Hemlock Grove (2013-2015) and it was an interesting juxtaposition.

All in all, this movie was entertaining. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good (if slightly predictable) mystery.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: R

P.S. John Ventimiglia (Sopranos, Money Monster, The Iceman) is NOT related to Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Gilmore Girls, Pathology).

Movie Trailer: