Quick Review: The Independent.

A young journalist discovers a conspiracy involving a U.S. Presidential candidate that could change the election and the fate of the country.

The Independent is a very dull political thriller that just sort of exists, while the cast isn’t bad as they give it their all with such a shallow script. Jodie Turner-Smith and Ann Dowd in particular are pretty okay, there were also some scenes that were admittedly engaging that gave the movie some sort tension. However a majority of it really fails to do anything more than just tell a bland political thriller story, it’s way too predictable for it’s own good and nothing really stands out at all. The biggest problem here is that it feels more like a pilot for a NBC show rather than a movie, which is probably why it was quietly shoved on to Peacock without any advertising. Which is quite odd because you would think a movie where John Cena is running for president would do a hell of a lot more with that idea. Overall The Independent is largely forgettable and just does not have a whole lot to it.

The Independent is available on Peacock.

3/10 D-

Run Sweetheart Run is entertaining yet could have been more.

After what begins as dinner with a client, a single mom finds herself hunted by a monstrous and seemingly unstoppable assailant.

Run Sweetheart Run is a film that is not subtle at all, it establishes very early on that it’s a #MeToo type of film. Which I’m definitely all for and at times the movie uses that quite well, Ella Balinska gives such a fantastic and fun performance here, she really gives it her all here and completely steals the show in every single way possible. The “RUN” title card sequences when Cherie (Balinska) is in danger are very fun and creative, mixed with some thrilling atmosphere as well a very solid score to go with it. The vampire elements I have to say are solid and actually do a few things differently, it’s just a tad frustrating that they aren’t used to the full potential. Ultimately what stops this movie from being even better is the script, as I said before it’s not subtle at all which leads to many problems as the movie goes on, the dialogue from the other characters is on the weak side and none of them really have any memorable or distinct personalities outside of their respective ones they are given. The third act does have a twist that is quite engaging but unfortunately is a bit too late to really sink in or to do anything memorable with. Run Sweetheart Run clearly had a lot of potential to be great and I truly hope Ella Balinska is given a better horror film to work with in the near future.

Run Sweetheart Run is available on Amazon Prime Video.

6/10 C+

Halloween Ends a solid wrap up to the David Gordon Green Trilogy.

Four years after her last encounter with masked killer Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is living with her granddaughter and trying to finish her memoir. Myers hasn’t been seen since, and Laurie finally decides to liberate herself from rage and fear and embrace life. However, when a young man stands accused of murdering a boy that he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that forces Laurie to confront the evil she can’t control.

Halloween Ends is the final of the David Gordon Green trilogy of Halloween movies and the thirteenth film overall of the franchise, I will start out by saying that Halloween Ends is not going to be for everyone. It’s a very different film that doesn’t completely focus on being a full on slasher film as it does with the concept of evil and how it goes from person to person, there’s also the theme of the people of Haddonfield suffering as well. Jamie Lee Curtis and Andi Matichak are both fantastic here, they really give it their all and truly give some worthy performances of closing out the trilogy. The kills are of course quite great some of which being some pretty brutal ones that really capture the atmosphere of the film quite well, Corey Cunningham is a pretty interesting character that the film focuses on and the evil that is trying to take him, while the concept itself does have some weak moments as there are some script issues. The concept itself for the most part is pretty well done and actually captures the dark atmosphere the film has, there’s a lot more character moments in Halloween Ends than a lot of the other movies which is actually a breath of fresh air. The final moments of the film is a very strong wrap up to the trilogy and really captures the suffering of Haddonfield coming to end very well, overall Halloween Ends is a very different approach to the series and is a really strong one!

Halloween Ends is available in theaters and on Peacock!

8/10 B+

Stars At Noon is an atmospheric film with a stunning performance from Margaret Qualley

A young American journalist stranded in present-day Nicaragua seduces an enigmatic Englishman who seems like her best chance of escape. She soon realizes, though, that their torrid affair has only put her in more danger.

Not entirely sure if everything completely works in Claire Denis’s second film this year Stars At Noon but there is still quite a lot to really like. Claire Denis does a fantastic job with her direction and immediately sets up a very strong atmosphere that instantly connects to the setting of the film, there is this sort of mood to the film that is both atmospheric and very relaxed. It’s sort of hard to describe if you haven’t seen it but it really captures the setting in such an interesting way. Margaret Qualley once again show’s how incredible she is as an actress, she gives such a tremendous performance that really highlights how powerful her screen presence really is, this is a performance that is sadly going to go unnoticed but it’s truly a powerful performance that really builds the film. The 2 hour and 15 minute running time is a bit much as the movie does take some time to get going, but gets more and more interesting as it goes on. Lastly there’s the cinematography that is truly beautiful and is shot in a almost personal like manner that leads to some very captivating shots and moments. Stars At Noon is not going to be for everyone but I do recommend checking this one out!

Stars At Noon is available on all VOD platforms.

8/10 B+

The Stranger (2022) Film review

Mark, an undercover cop, forms an intense, intimate relationship with Henry, a murder suspect, in an attempt to earn his trust and get a confession, risking both of their lives in the process.

The Stranger is an interesting little film about violence, it’s a dark film that tackles the several themes of violence but doesn’t show it. Which that in itself is a pretty interesting approach to take, which I do think the film does quite well, combine that with some really strong performances and some well put together music as well and you have yourself a suspenseful film that really has an interesting approach on violence. It’s slow burn element is also quite great especially when combined with the cinematography that adds so much to the film, the writing could have definitely been a bit stronger in some areas as it does lose some footing during the third act. But this is some really interesting stuff that I recommend.

The Stranger is available on Netflix.

7/10 B

God’s Country is a thrilling character driven film.

A college professor gets drawn into an escalating battle of wills after she catches two hunters trespassing on her property in the remote mountains of the American West.

God’s Country mainly works due to Thandiwe Newton’s performance that is very raw and really keeps the interest of the viewer, the photography of the setting is truly beautiful especially when combined with the atmosphere. Speaking of which the film absolutely nails the atmosphere on so many levels, the film does take it’s time to get going but once it does it actually explores a few themes such as racism. Which the film does a pretty solid job in despite feeling a bit unexplored at times, which the movie makes up for with very engaging writing that really builds the characters with a lot of personal moments between one another. There’s a lot here that is very striking and really adds to the film’s overall atmosphere that eventually leads to a very strong third act. Once again Newton is truly what makes the film shine, just watching her character interact with everyone else is really investing and gives the film it’s personality that is very memorable after watching.

God’s Country is available on all VOD platforms.

8/10 B+

Old Man has great performances but lacks a investing story.

After a lost hiker stumbles into the cabin of an eccentric old man, it becomes clear that one of them is hiding a terrifying secret.

I often like films with very limited rooms or settings, Old Man takes place in a cabin where a lost hiker (Marc Senter) finds a cabin where a man simply known as in this film old man (Stephen Lang) lives. It’s a simple setup that Director Lucky McKee builds quite well, however what comes after that is sort of a mixed bag that really does not have a whole to it. Outside of the performances Stephen Lang and Mark Senter, who actually give some quite grounded performances at times (keywords being at times because they do jump the shark towards the end) as well as the sharp and thrilling atmosphere that is very present. The story being told really isn’t enough to grab the viewer’s attention, this would have easily worked far better as a short or a segment that’s part of an anthology film, mainly due to the story being told would be far more mysterious and the viewers would be given far less answers which in this case is a good thing. The more the movie tells about the old man’s past the less thrilling and investing it gets, its a shame because Stephen Lang seriously does a fantastic job and would have been even more effective had the film let the character of the old man be more mysterious and tell his development and his motivations through his actions. Old Man is definitely not a bad movie, it’s competently made with some great performances and thrilling atmosphere at times. It just would have been far better off as a short film.

Old Man is available on all VOD platforms.

5/10 C

Quick Reviews: Dark Glasses, Dead For A Dollar, Jane and The Good House

Diana, a prostitute who was blinded by a serial killer in a botched attack, takes in a young Chinese boy named Chin, abruptly altering both of their lives forever.

Dark Glasses is Dario Argento’s first film since Dracula 3D (2012) and is yet again another one of his weaker films. Dark Glasses isn’t necessarily bad as it is just very very dull. There’s some ideas here that work and it’s actually decently crafted when it comes to filmmaking, the rest of the movie mainly the script is incredibly lacking and is essentially a very watered down Argento film, the opening is definitely decent and is very promising but everything after that is a mixed bag.

Dark Glasses is available on Shudder.

5/10 C

Veteran bounty hunter Max Borlund heads deep into Mexican territory to find and return Rachel Kidd, the wife of a wealthy businessman. After learning she actually fled from the abusive marriage, Max faces a choice: finish the job he’s been hired to do, or stand aside while ruthless mercenary outlaws and his longtime rival close in on a town that’s been his temporary sanctuary.

I really don’t know what to exactly say here, Dead For A Dollar is terribly put together western revenge movie that is the very definition of predictable. Outside of the cast who tries their hardest with such a dull script there really isn’t anything here that’s any different from other revenge western films, the script is just begging for some sort of substance but instead gets a very traditntal revenge plot that doesn’t do anything in the way of development or character moments. Willem Dafoe is by far the standout but even he is restricted to how much of his talent he can really put in, due to the script giving very little to work with.

Dead For A Dollar is available on all VOD platforms.

3/10 D-

Olivia is a teen struggling with a recent loss of a friend. After getting deferred from her dream school, she spirals out of control and launches a social media-fueled rampage against those who stand in the way of her success.

Madelaine Petsch and Chloe Bailey are both great here and completely hold this movie together from falling apart, however a lot of this movie really boils down to a PSA about bullying and why using your friend who died Facebook account to get back at people is not a good thing. There’s some fine enough moments here mostly because the atmosphere does have a few thrilling moments, but the movie really tries to shoehorn some psychological thriller elements that come off as goofy mainly due to them not fitting into the story being told. There’s been high school movies that have done a far better job of telling this exact type of story before and there will be plenty more in the future. So Jane really just comes off as something where after you finish watching it you will quickly forget about it.

Jane is available on Creator+

5/10 C

A New England realtor ignites long-buried emotions and family secrets when she rekindles a romance with her old high school flame.

The Good House has a really strong performance from Sigourney Weaver and there’s a few touching moments that have heart, however what seriously kills this movie is the many tonal shifts, often times it treats subjects such as alcoholism as some cute moments and then other times it treats it as a serious subject. It’s very baffling to say the least, there’s also some strange fourth wall jokes here that completely don’t fit into the story the movie is trying to tell. Outside of that it’s a very typical adult romance movie that really doesn’t have anything going for it outside of Sigourney Weaver. The rest of the cast are fine and the family elements aren’t too bad here, but this definitely needed a huge rewrite.

The Good House is available on all VOD platforms.

4/10 D+

Quick Review: Burial (2022)

During the last days of World War II, Nazi werewolves attack Allied soldiers who are trafficking Hitler’s remains out of Germany.

Burial is yet another forgettable World War II horror movie that really could have been something interesting, the idea of Nazi Werewolves is interesting but it’s not touched upon in the movie. Outside of some decent shots, being competently made and the atmosphere actually being effective at times. The horror element is barely present here, a lot of it is just very drawn out and needed a lot more time in the oven to find a focus.

Burial is available on all VOD platforms.

4/10 D+

Mona Lisa and The Blood Moon is an entertaining ride.

When a struggling single mother befriends a mysterious woman who has supernatural powers, she sees a lucrative opportunity to make some fast cash. However, their crime spree soon draws unwanted attention as the cops start to close in.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is an interesting little movie, that while story wise it really isn’t anything special it makes up for it with a lot of other elements that go together quite nicely. The cinematography combined with the setting of New Orleans is truly a lot of fun and adds to the movie’s overall atmosphere, the performances are overall pretty solid particularly Jeon Jong-seo and Kate Hudson who have great chemistry and really steal every scene they are in together. Craig Robinson is also a fun addition as well, the direction from Ana Lily Amirpour (director of The Bad Batch and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) is really fantastic here, we get more character development than we usually would when it comes to films like this. There’s some character driven moments that are very investing and really drag the viewer into the film, Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon might be Amirpour’s weakest film mainly due to the story feeling a bit too recognizable, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that I do recommend giving a watch, it’s a solid introduction to her work.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is available on all VOD platforms.

7/10 B