Sundance Review: Girl

The curious relationship between a girl and her mother is threatened by the hostile community around them.

Girl is one of those movies where you see it a festival and think to yourself “that was a nice little movie” and then really don’t think anything more about it. I don’t really mean this in a bad way, it was a decent little movie that did tackle it’s themes pretty well. It’s just not one of the festivals highlights. 

The performances from Déborah Lukumunea and Le’Shantey Bonsu are incredible they give such a strong mother and daughter bonding performance, the movie is about them connecting both of them having their personal issues. The movie explores trauma and how it can really hurt someone and ends up being a quite moving movie at times, the main criticisms are mostly the pacing and the script lacking in power in some areas. I do appreciate Girl letting the character’s movements tell the story rather than the script during certain scenes, but other times it does not quite stick the landing. The final act isn’t as investing as the rest of the movie but it’s by no means bad, it’s just noticeable a bit of downgrade from the rest of the movie. 

Girl currently has no release date. 

6/10 C+

Sundance Review: Run Rabbit Run

A fertility doctor notices strange behaviour in her own child.

Run Rabbit Run was one of my most anticipated films of the Sundance Film Festival and is unfortunately the biggest disappointment, while it’s not terrible in fact it does have it’s positives. It’s held back by a lot of things that could have made this movie even better. 

The positives come from Sarah Snook’s fantastic performance which has this raw feel to it at times, which compliments well with the movie’s atmosphere which is another positive. The atmosphere is immediately established when the movie begins and is used quite well up until the third act of the movie where things get way too familiar. Which is the main issue with Run Rabbit Run it’s way too familiar, it’s yet another generational trauma horror movie that really doesn’t offer anything new. There’s some interesting bits of the mother and daughter relationship that show a lot of promise, but unfortunately don’t end up fully working to the full potential. The final act is filled with a bunch of plot points that are very familiar even the mother and daughter aspect which started out promising enough quickly turns into familiarity. 

Overall Run Rabbit Run has it’s moments but ultimately misses when it comes to being memorable and bringing something new to the table. 

Run Rabbit Run will be released on Netflix later this year. 

5/10 C

Sundance Review: Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Onyx the Fortuitous, is struggling. He’s misunderstood at home and work, but his dreams for a new life seem to be answered when he lands a coveted invitation to the mansion of his idol Bartok the Great for a ritual to raise the spirit of an ancient demon.

Unfortunately Onyx The Fortuitous and the Talisman Of Souls did not do it for me at all, once again I don’t have a whole lot to say here mainly due to the fact this based off something I have never heard of up until I saw the movie. 

Onyx The Fortuitous is a character that Andrew Bowser he also plays the character, he’s character that has a very dedicated following online. And apparently this movie was a Kickstarter project so I do give the much earned respect Andrew Bowser and his team deserve for making the movie actually happen. Unfortunately the said movie isn’t that great, while the cast is pretty fun particularly Olivia Dudley and Rivkah Reyes who actually do bring some decent performances and everyone else seems to be having a lot of fun. The rest of the movie has a lot of jokes that fall completely flat plus if you have no idea who Onyx is like I did you are not going to get a lot of the in jokes among other elements as well. 

What really does put the nail in the coffin is the pacing combined with the running time, this was much too long and I get they wanted to make something more grand and special for the character. But sometimes online characters work far better in shorter video format and that’s definitely the case here, it starts to become very repetitive after awhile and just makes you keep checking the time when it will be over. 

I’m sure die hard fans will love this but for everyone else not so much unfortunately. 

Onyx The Fortuitous and the Talisman Of Souls currently has no release date. 

4/10 D+

Sundance Review: Young. Wild. Free.

A hot-tempered high school senior finds his claustrophobic life suddenly thrust into an enticing, dangerous direction after he is robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams.

Young. Wild. Free. was my first Sundance film of the festival and it wasn’t exactly the best start, it’s unfortunate because I do think there was a lot of potential here. The premise itself sounds very interesting and could have been a very investing story. 

The positives mostly come from the filming that’s actually quite beautiful at times and the performances are quite decent, there’s a few moments here where it does seem like the movie is going to touch the subject of mental health. But quickly abandons it in favor of some dull coming of age story elements that have been done better before, the twist completely breaks the movie mainly due to how predictable and unrewarding it really is for the viewer. It doesn’t help that there was next to no build up to the twist, it’s just sort of there for the sake of being a twist. 

Overall there really isn’t much else to say about Young. Wild. Free. It’s well filmed and has solid performances but leaves a lot more to be desired when it comes to the script. 

Young. Wild. Free currently has no release date. 

4/10 D+

Autistic People aren’t allowed to make mistakes apparently.

I’ve written about ableism before, I wrote about it back when Sia’s awful movie Music was getting backlash (rightfully so) I also wrote why I believe it’s the worst film ever made. However this is an entirely different situation, this is about how people expect autistic people to be absolutely perfect and not slip up once.

Let’s set the stage first, Julia Fox an actress who got a lot of spotlight in The Safdie Brother’s 2019 film Uncut Gems is on Tiktok a very popular social media site. The last few years she has gained a following due to her talking about real world subjects as well as generally being likable by her audience. It’s also important to know that Julia Fox has said she is autistic and has even talked great lengths about it.

Enter the whole “mascara” trend which apparently was popular on Tiktok, I say apparently because I’ve talked to many people who pretty much live on Tiktok and they have told me they haven’t heard of it. So what is the mascara trend? Mascara is used as an euphemism for sexual assault, rape or dick (I can’t 100% confirm the dick part but I’ve seen some people claim that it’s also used for that). To give a little background on why this exists it’s basically because Tiktok has been censoring any video that talks about sexual assault and rape, which is disgusting as I believe that those topics are very important and people should be absolutely allowed to talk about, educate and share their stories.

That’s all well and good using a euphemism to get passed TikTok’s censorship isn’t the problem. The problem starts when you expect people to completely understand it without giving any context, Julia Fox ended up commenting “idk why but I don’t feel bad for u lol” on one guy’s video (I won’t be naming the person) that could easily be taken as talking about mascara, it was quite clear to almost everyone that Julia Fox did not have malicious intent, she’s been a very huge activist when it comes to sexual assault. Plus some autistic people take euphemisms very literal it’s very common knowledge that you really don’t even have to do that much research to realize.

That didn’t stop people expecting the absolute worst in her however, without even giving her five minutes to clarify ableism was thrown around and death threats were being sent. Which led me to realizing that this wasn’t just about Julia Fox this was about how people do not give autistic people a chance to clarify, or learn about something new.

Let’s start off with the common justifications, while yes the video was tagged “SAAwarness” be completely honest how many times have you looked at the tags on a video? Unless you are actively looking for a certain hashtag 90% of the time you aren’t going to notice anything.

Another common argument is the word consent being used, much like other words consent can have many different meanings and in this case you can easily fit it in well with mascara. Example being “you didn’t have my consent to use my mascara” or “this person didn’t consent to you using their video game console” consent doesn’t just mean sex.

I also do want to point out that having the mindset that everyone is supposed to fully understand that mascara is euphemism for sexual assault, rape ect is just wrong, especially when you don’t give an explanation you just yell at them.

Which leads me to the main point of this piece, you would think that Julia Fox being very open about her autism people would actually try and educate her rather than yell and act terrible…that’s not the case here unfortunately. Which is when I made my post about the matter, most of the comments agreed with me, others respectfully disagreed and then there were those who threw a bunch of ableism. I even got ableism thrown into my DMs as well as a few death threats. And i’m not the only person several other autistic people and sexual abuse survivors who didn’t go with the narrative that “Julia Fox condones sexual assault” were harassed and sent nasty messages.

So what does this whole situation tell me exactly? Well people will resort to ableism or will automatically assume the worst in autistic people, some people are trying to argue “this has nothing to with autism!” Once you bring the r slur to the mix and harass autistic people who disagree with your point of view it becomes a topic that has to do with autism. You can’t gaslight people into thinking otherwise, what gets me however is when Julia Fox apologized nobody issued an apology to her or any of the autistic people or sexual abuse survivors that were harassed.

For an app such as Tiktok who has a lot of people on there that like to claim “everyone is a little autistic” you would think they would be more understanding and do the research about autistic people. But I guess that would be asking too much, why do the research when you can be performative and get brownie points. These are the exact same types of people who will say they are best friends with an autistic person when in reality they might have sat with an autistic person once at a lunch table and never spoke to them again. As someone who has been very open about their autism, it’s truly both disappointing and really scary to see people send death threats and harass autistic people all because we have a completely different view of the situation and which was the case.

If this could happen to Julia Fox an actress this could happen to any autistic person, all because we don’t automatically get something, all because we make one simple mistake, all because people can’t find the decency to actually explain the meaning of something.

The only positive (if you want to call it that) to come out of this situation is seeing a bunch of people’s masks slip, some of which before this claimed to be huge activists for sexual abuse survivors and autistic people. While I’m not going to say they hate sexual abuse survivors or autistic people however I will say that their “activism” are now going to be looked at very differently and questions are going to start being asked.

To wrap this up the next time an autistic person doesn’t understand something, try and actually tell them what said topic means. It’s the absolute bare minimum you could do and they will absolutely thank you for it, a little clarification can go a long way. Accusing someone of condoning sexual abuse, calling them the r slur or sending death threats is only going to make you look horrible to any reasonable person who’s reading.

JUNG_E is a beautiful film with well done dramatic moments that is mixed in it’s ideas.

In a post-apocalyptic near-future, a researcher at an AI lab leads the effort to end a civil war by cloning the brain of a heroic soldier — her mother.

JUNG_E is directed by Yeon Sang-ho directed of Train To Busan, The King Of Pigs, Psychokinesis and a few others. And unfortunately it’s disappointing to hear this but, there just isn’t a whole lot to say about JUNG_E. 

I will say that it is an improvement over Peninsula that honestly doesn’t mean much when you remember just how disappointing Peninsula was, JUNG_E nails it when it comes to the more emotional dramatic moments that Sang-ho uses in a lot of his films. Heck that’s one of the many reasons why Train To Busan is so loved by many and is still talked about to this day, there’s one scene in particular during the third act that really hits it out of the park especially when combined with the score of the film. The score is also really strong here, it hits those emotional notes really well and it has the atmosphere to back it up too. Lastly the film is absolutely gorgeous it’s a beautiful film to look at and really adds to the overall tone it’s going for. 

What hurts JUNG_E however is mainly the lack of world building and a lot of the ideas just not fully coming together, the world of JUNG_E looks and sounds really awesome the problem is we don’t get a whole lot of in depth information about it. We get some basics but admittedly some of the basics really end up being Sci-Fi cliches, being 99 minutes also really didn’t do the movie any favors either. It definitely needed more time in the oven to properly tell the story of the world and have it’s ideas fully develop. 

Overall JUNG_E is definitely not bad and is a decent movie but could have been so much more. 

JUNG_E is available on Netflix. 

6/10 C+

House Party (2023) this party is a bust.

Aspiring club promoters and best buddies Damon and Kevin are barely keeping things together. Out of money, down on their luck and about to lose the roofs over their heads, they need a huge windfall to make their problems go away. They soon decide to host the party of the year at an exclusive mansion, which just happens to belong to none other than NBA superstar LeBron James.

House Party (2023) is a reboot and remake of the 1990 film of the same name, this is yet another confusing case of remaking something just because they could. House Party (1990) was a fun little movie that while may not be anything incredible it didn’t need to be, it’s one of those movies where you just sit back and vibe with it. Plus it’s such a late 80s and very early 90s movie that you just can’t help but have fun with it, so how does the remake stack up? Well let’s see. 

Honestly the movie did have a bit of potential at the beginning, there’s at least some genuinely great jokes here that did get a few laughs out of me. Jacob Latimore and Tosin Cole are truly giving it their all here but the script really lacks in the humor department outside of a few jokes and mainly results in cameos. Yes House Party (2023) is one of those movies where it heavily relies on cameos, it servers nothing more than for the viewer to point at the screen and say “hey I know that guy!” I’ve said before that it’s a very cheap tactic that some movies use to avoid storytelling. Having that said the movie isn’t as bad as it could have been, the main issue here is that the whole movie is just bland. 

It completely misses the fun elements of the original and instead goes for a very dull cameo fest, the acting isn’t even that bad it’s the script as I said before that’s really holding it back. At the very least it does seem like the cast had an absolute blast making the movie. 

Overall House Party (2023) is a remake that just exists, while it could have easily been a lot worse, that reallt doesn’t mean anything when it completely misses the vibe the original had. 

House Party is currently in theaters. 

4/10 D+

There’s Something Wrong With The Children and Snow Falls (2023) Reviews!

Margaret and Ben take a weekend trip with two longtime friends and their two young children. Ben soon suspects something sinister is afoot when the kids start behaving strangely after disappearing into the woods overnight.

There’s Something Wrong With The Children is a new creepy kid movie, I’ve said before on my Top 25 Best Horror Films Of 2022 list that I’m not a huge fan of this subgenre of horror. Every now and then you get some really good ones but a lot of the time they end up being the exact same thing. Unfortunately that is the very case with There’s Something Wrong With The Children.

The positives come from certain shots actually being quite well done and the performances. There’s some genuinely strong performances here from the cast especially Alisha Wainwright, the main problem is from a story perspective the plot has been done better In far better movies. While the gore towards the end is pretty neat and the idea of the movie is pretty cool, a lot of it just falls in the typical cliche creepy kid horror genre. The misunderstandings, some of the adults completely not noticing anything different throughout the movie and so on. It doesn’t help that the kid characters are more annoying than they are creepy, which while could make for interesting movie isn’t what the movie was trying to go far. Maybe if it were a horror comedy the annoying kid aspect would work better, but that’s not the case here. 

Despite the flaws I don’t think There’s Something Wrong With The Children is a bad movie, it’s just a very below average movie with great performances and filming. I definitely think had the writing been a bit more strong that would have given it the push it needed to be great. 

There’s Something Wrong With The Children is available on all VOD platforms. 

5/10 C

A New Year’s Eve party quickly turns serious when a brutal winter storm strands five friends at a remote cabin. Convinced that the snowflakes have infected them with a deadly virus, they struggle to stay awake to avoid freezing to death.

I love a good Cabin Fever movie, for those who don’t know the genre it’s basically when you have a group of characters stuck in a cabin due to certain situations. But oh boy Snow Falls isn’t one of those good ones. 

Quite honestly there isn’t a lot to say here that would be very interesting, there’s definitely a few glimpses of potential that the movie shows towards the final act, but for most of it the viewer is stuck with poorly written characters who you just don’t care for at all. I love one of the ideas the movie was trying to execute that being combining the cold with paranoia and having one of the characters go completely delusional, unfortunately all that really amounts to is a bunch of lazy jumpscares that you can see coming from a mile away. For a movie that has a running time of 79 minutes it definitely feels much longer than it really is, the first act in particular is a chore to sit through with character interactions that are just not interesting enough for the viewer to care. 

Overall despite my short review of Snow Falls sounding very negative, I don’t think it’s the absolute worst thing ever. As I said there’s a few scenes here that show glimpses of potential and what could have been and I do think the cast really tried their best with what they were given. 

Snow Falls is available on all VOD platforms. 

3/10 D-

Skinamarink is a sleep paralysis nightmare to never forget.

Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.

Skinamarink is what happens if your sleep paralysis demon got a hold of a camera and said “I’m going to make a film!” Then proceeded to make one of the creepiest and atmospheric films out there. 

Skinamarink is a one of a kind experience and really takes the horror genre in a very different, for starters the film doesn’t really follow a three act structure and never even shows the character’s faces instead it tells the story with dark ceilings, occasional voices, flashes from the tv and a few other small elements. This film really reduces you to when you were a child, when you would see shadows that you could almost swear were people when in reality they were just objects in your room. The film has this grainy look to it combined with it being dark and images of walls, hallways, ceilings, in a clever way the film makes your eyes play tricks on you thinking you see something in the film that’s not really there. It’s a very horrifying callback to childhood fears for the viewer, you could almost swear you see something move but in reality there isn’t anything there. Skinamarink of course has the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere to back it up, it’s the type of atmosphere that truly horrifies the viewer to the core and immediately drags you into the film. 

In fact the film really does a fantastic job of bringing the viewer into the film, nothing is explained in the film and it’s up to the viewer to make of all of this. It brings the viewer into a dark and lonely space with the only sign of people there are the voices of children, everything else is dark, lonely and abandonment. 

Overall Skinamarink is a film you must see to believe it’s a truly fantastic film that works on so many levels, it might not be for everyone but I do highly recommend it if you are interested. 

Skinamarink is currently in theaters and will be on Shudder later this year. 

10/10 A+

Sick is a mean and extremely fun slasher film!

While quarantining at her family’s lake house during the pandemic, Parker and her best friend are threatened by an unexpected visitor.

I haven’t been a fan of a lot of the COVID-19 related horror films, of course there’s the exception like Host (which I still think completely nailed the premise.) the common problem with a lot of them is that they don’t use their ideas to the full potential. So how does Sick do? Does it do more with it’s premise? 

Sick definitely surprised me in a lot of ways, for one thing the movie does actually take the premise and actually does a lot more with it. The cast in particular does a really solid job here, with some great performances from Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million who give some pretty raw performances at times while having a few over the top but fun moments as well. The writing from Kevin Williamson and Katelyn Crabb is both entertaining and humorous, Williamson brings what made Scream so fun here. The film itself is also a mean and gnarly little slasher film that has plenty of suspense that truly captures the tone the film is going for. Outside of the first act that helps establish the characters and the plot the rest of the film is one long horror film chase and it absolutely works here, mainly due to the film’s suspense combined with the truly striking performances from Adlon and Million.

The gore combined with the kills are very gnarly and are quite effective as well, they are very entertaining and really give the film it’s own personality. The only main flaw here is the villain’s motive which is a bit too ridiculous even when the film has a strong entertainment value, having that said that wasn’t enough to stop the film from being overall blast of fun. There’s parts of the ridiculous motive that actually works for the film’s favor and leads to some actually quite hilarious moments that deliver quite well. 

Overall Sick is definitely a huge surprise, what could have ended up being yet another forgettable COVID related horror movie ends up being one that is truly fun in a lot of ways, definitely give this one a watch. 

Sick is available on Peacock 

8/10 B+