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Today:  08/04/2021

Review: 'A Quiet Place Part II' avoids the sophomore slump

Posted July 27,2021 - 05:49 PM

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There are very few sequels that surpass their original film. Off the top of my head, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II and The Dark Knight are some examples where the sequel is arguably better than the original film.

I'm not quite willing to put A Quiet Place Part II in this lofty company yet, but it's definitely not a dropoff from A Quiet Place.

The tricky part when deciding on moving forward with a sequel is will the new movie add to the mystique of the original film or go down as the next Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo? A film as unique as A Quiet Place isn't immediately set up as a franchise as say a comic book movie or a big action film, but if done properly, subsequent films can add value to a franchise and broaden the storytelling of the original filmmaker.

It...

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Review: A star-studded cast puts the icing on 'The Birthday Cake'

Posted July 27,2021 - 04:33 PM

Birthday

I'm not sure if you've noticed recently, but Screen Media Films is sneakily becoming one of the go-to studios when it comes to quality, independent filmmaking. It's like the Covid pause gave them time to regroup and refocus and the results speak for themselves.

Besides acquiring the physical rights to Fleabag, Screen Media has made a concerted effort to bring unique and interesting films to market that has landed several cult classics on their shelf. Films such as Willy's Wonderland, Blackbird, The Outpost and Grand Isle are just some of these superior offerings brought to market by Screen Media since the onset of the pandemic.

The latest film to join this list is The Birthday Cake.

On the 10th anniversary of his father's death, Gio brings a cake baked by his mother to a family...

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Review: 'Midnight in the Switchgrass' loses itself among the weeds

Posted July 27,2021 - 01:26 PM

Switchgrass

Going into this review, I was pretty excited about the prospects of Midnight in the Switchgrass. It's based on a true story, it's a slow-burning serial killer thriller in much the same vein as True Detective, and it's overflowing with so much A-list talent that it has to be great. Right?

Not so fast, my friend.

Much like creating a soufflÃ, you can have all the ingredients and follow the directions to a "T", but there's a certain finesse and talent to making a fine soufflÃ. So too, there's a fine line between a gritty B-movie hit and punchline fodder for late-night talk shows.

Based loosely on the true story of the Truck Stop Killer, FBI agents on another case team up with a state police officer to help bring down a suspected serial killer. When an undercover sting goes horribly...

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Review: 'Spiral' takes the 'Saw' franchise in a cool new direction

Posted July 20,2021 - 05:45 PM

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I have been a huge fan of the Saw franchise from the very beginning. Don't get me wrong, there have been some highs and lows along the way, but for the most part, the entire franchise is strong and features some of the most graphic horror porn ever put on celluloid.

That said, my one general critique on the franchise is that it has seemingly relied more on elaborate traps with each successive film. The original movie was more intimate and focused more on twists and escape more than the complicated machines favored by the later films.

The early films also featured a lot of misdirection and bait and switch to keep you guessing all the way to the end. I guess after a half dozen movies, the well dries up a bit and the quality started to slip in the last three films. But, thankfully, the ...

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Review: 'Room 9' has horror pedigree, but little else

Posted July 20,2021 - 03:36 PM

Room9

I was really excited to review Room 9 because I was going in pretty unspoiled. All I knew ahead of time is that it starred a who's who of horror icons such as Kane Hodder, Scout Taylor-Compton and Michael Berryman and it was being compared to Jordan Peele's new horror oeuvre.

I was excited, to say the least.

Unfortunately, that excitement didn't last much beyond the opening establishing shot. As a self-proclaimed horror aficionado, I was expecting so much more, but simply got a whole lot of meh.

Long ago, Room 9 of the Johnson/Bedford Inn was the site of a gruesome double murder. Now, decades later, the small town is terrorized once more by ritualistic killings. Are they related to the terrible murder many years ago? Or is this simply a case of evil becoming ensconced in a particular...

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Review: Vestron Series continues its success with 'The Wraith'

Posted July 20,2021 - 02:29 PM

Wraith

As a child that came of age in the 1980s, I was predisposed to become a film buff. The absolute breadth and depth of cult classics released in this decade is staggering. No matter what genre you prefer, you will most likely find a seminal work released in the '80s.

It was during that decade that my healthy (unhealthy?) obsession with horror was born. I couldn't have asked for a better time to cut my teeth on the classic horror films that were seemingly being released each and every week. And while I would hesitate to call The Wraith a "horror" film per se, it is still a cult classic from this era that Lionsgate has finally salvaged through its "Vestron Video Collector's Series" of releases.

Four glowing orbs crash into each other over the Arizona desert, leaving in their wake a badass...

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Review: 'A Cinderella Story: Starstruck' is a fun family film

Posted July 13,2021 - 05:46 PM

Starstruck

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this news story. The opinions I share are my own.

I was very fortunate. I had my children later in life and as a result, I was able to successfully steer clear of Teletubbies, Barney, and Blues Clues - for the most part. I consider this a parenting success.

As the father of a young girl on the cusp of turning 10, I've also been fortunate to avoid the clichà pre-teen romance movies. That is until now.

When the opportunity to review A Cinderella Story: Starstruck came my way, I recognized it as the double-edged sword that it was. On the one hand, it would give my daughter and me an opportunity to watch a movie that she would undoubtedly enjoy. But, on the other hand, it would open a Pandora's box...

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Review: 'Here are the Young Men' is a bumpy mind trip

Posted June 29,2021 - 04:37 PM

Young men

If Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange had a child and that child grew up to loathe and despise its forebears, then you would have Here are the Young Men.

Several days after viewing this film, I'm still undecided about how I feel about it. But, I have to get my thoughts out, and maybe by the end, we can come to some sort of conclusion together.

There are parts that I enjoyed thoroughly (whenever Anya Taylor-Joy is onscreen) and there are parts that I simply hated, but the movie feels very rooted in the angst of the early aughts, which isn't surprising given that it is set in Dublin in 2003.

So, is it dated? Or perhaps sentimental? I guess it depends on your perspective. Writer-director Eoin Macken is certainly hoping that you are bringing your own drug-addled youthful exploits to...

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Review: 'Siberia' is a psychedelic trip through one man's mind

Posted June 22,2021 - 05:37 PM

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I have been a fan of Abel Ferrara since I saw King of New York when I used to manage a Hollywood Video store. The store was located in a rough part of town and this film was one of our most stolen movies, the other was Teach Me Tonight - but for far different reasons.

So, I was curious as to why so many people were intent on owning this movie illegally and I quickly fell in love with Ferrara's gritty style and fatalistic outlook on life. His movies were raw and gritty and didn't shy away from nudity and violence - traits that I would later learn translated from his adult film beginning - in other words, they were in line with the societal expectations of a young male in his early 20s.

I quickly outgrew that phase, although I'm still a sucker for a gritty crime-thriller. It seems, too,...

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Review: 'Night Walk' shows promise, but fails to deliver

Posted June 15,2021 - 05:59 PM

Nightwalk

It's been a while since I've given a scathing review.

I don't think Night Walk will quite reach that level of distaste, but much like the film itself, it's just full of unreached potential. As you know, I detest the "bait-and-switch" tactics used by companies on these B-movies that swing heavily into acting talent whose contributions end up as nothing more than glorified cameos.

This is the case with Night Walk, where if one were to simply just take the artwork, would think that Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts feature predominantly in the movie. In fact, this deception is further perpetrated by the trailer where I would say 90% of their collective screen time is included.

In other words, these actors collected a paycheck and the studio gained their image for the artwork in the hopes...

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