Inside is definitely a strange one, in a lot of ways it did surprise me quite a bit. For a movie about a guy who gets trapped in a high-tech penthouse this movie does have quite a few different ideas floating around.
To get the obvious out of the way Willem Dafoe is truly fantastic here, he absolutely nails it with him being a one man show and even with several scenes that don’t have any dialogue he’s able to show his character Nemo’s thoughts and actions masterfully. There’s a lot of symbolism going on here that really gets you invested the more it goes on and it really starts to fuse together into this very atmospheric narrative.
Speaking of which the atmosphere is very well done, it’s dark and has this sense of being trapped in a very limited space that Nemo desperately wants to get out of. During the film Nemo slowly but surely goes into madness, where Dafoe starts to give a very unhinged performance that really makes the movie standout quite a lot. There’s a lot of gross scenes that admittedly did make me cringe and absolutely did catch me off guard, which If I had to guess show the desperation of Nemo in his situation.
Finally there’s the last bit of the movie that perfectly sums up Inside quite well, at this point Nemo has gone completely insane and is at his limit, it’s truly interesting to see how far the penthouse pushed him and his dedication to escape. The more I think about Inside the more I like it, it’s most certainly not going to be for everyone. But if it does sound interesting to you I do recommend giving it a go.
Boston Strangler as a true crime drama I definitely think it goes the job done well enough, the problem is it could have been so much more than just well enough.
Kiera Knightley and Carrie Coon are both really solid here and give some quite raw performances at times that easily capture some of the movie’s best moments. There’s some solid dialogue that captures the overall disturbing nature of the crime as well as some very dark atmosphere that much like the dialogue captures the disturbing nature of the crimes committed.
It is sort of impossible to talk about this movie without brining up the clear as day David Fincher elements used some people can and have made the argument that it really comes off as a rip-off particularly to Zodiac and Se7en. Which I really can’t help but agree that there are Fincher elements used some scenes almost feel identical just nowhere near as effective as they were in Fincher’s films. I would normally write off a movie doing that right there, but at the very least Boston Strangler does make up for it with some really engaging scenes that does bring in the viewer.
The third act definitely crumbles at the end, it’s very much a case of the path to getting to the third act was much more interesting than the final act itself, it sort of just tacks on ending and calls it a day. Really comes off as if there were a few scenes missing.
Despite my review sounding a bit negative I actually did have a decent enough time with Boston Strangler, it has strong act, great atmosphere and dialogue and engages the viewer well enough.
65 is so far the most disappointing movie of 2023 for a multitude of reasons, 65 had a very promising premise as well having the writers from A Quiet Place and Adam Driver involved. Finally it was a movie involving dinosaurs attacking people, which is unbelievably uncommon outside of the Jurassic Park movies.
I’ll start with what worked as always, Adam Driver does a fantastic job here. Driver has always been a really strong actor and that applies here, Ariana Greenblatt is also pretty solid here as well. Driver and Greenblatt work very well together on screen there’s some genuinely sweet moments as well. There’s some neat action scenes that are pretty thrilling as well and I do appreciate the limited dialogue scenes in a lot of areas in the movie. They add some suspense that is well done for the most part.
Unfortunately that’s really where the movie ends for me, a lot of people have said this movie is basically Jurassic Park meets A Quiet Place and I can’t help but agree, while that might sound good on paper when it comes to execution it becomes a mess. The movie doesn’t do nearly enough with it’s premise and the limited dialogue scenes while interesting never really amount to anything, there’s some decently suspenseful moments that were begging to be explored more.
A lot of the sci-fi elements are very surface level at best, and the direction is sort of lifeless. While I understand that might have been the intention due to earth not having any humans at this time, it doesn’t help when 65 tries to explore Adam Driver’s character. While his past about his daughter is very upsetting the viewer just isn’t given nearly enough development to really care. It’s sort of tacked on to a very below average sci-fi movie.
Overall 65 had a lot of potential but unfortunately misses the mark, if you are a fan of Adam Driver and want to see this only because of Driver you might get something out of it otherwise I don’t recommend it.
I’ve said before in my reviews that some of the hardest topics to talk about in film are sexual assault and abusive relationships, Alice Darling not only nails the topic down very well but it keeps things at a very grounded level.
Let’s address the obvious and if you have heard people talk about this film you probably already know this by now, but Anna Kendrick gives such a fantastic performance. She gives a heartbreaking and very raw performance that really sticks with the viewer and she does such a fantastic job of portraying the behaviors of what people go through in abusive relationships. Such as wanting to deny they are abused, show how scared they are, say things are fine when in reality they really aren’t. All of that is portrayed here in a very grounded and raw feel that really captures the atmosphere and feel of the film, Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku play the friends of Alice (Anna Kendrick) they both give tremendous performances and have very investing conversations with one another.
The film really does such a great job of portraying friends who are very worried for one another when one of them ends up being abused. In this case Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) are very worried for Alice and ask if everything is okay and ask about Simon (Charlie Carrick), these scenes lead to a lot of very real conversations and really shows the power of friendship especially towards the end.
The film doesn’t show any violence take place it more so describes what Alice is going through, she is constantly worried about not “screwing up” and even with the smallest mistakes she freaks out, which is painful to really see. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times and can really get to the viewer, but that’s how it succeeds it shows the reality of how horrible these abusive relationships really are.
Sharper is a prime example of when someone says “the ending completely breaks the movie.” There’s definitely a lot here that really contributes as to why that’s the case and how it leaves the viewer feeling very cheated.
Before that let’s talk about the positives which are easily the performances, Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Briana Middleton and Justice Smith all give really strong performances that contribute to the film, combine that with some genuinely great character moments that do give these characters actually something to say and do and you have yourself what could have been a tense little thriller. The writing in the first two acts was tight and focused with a lot of dialogue that really builds the atmosphere and the interactions of the characters as well, while not every single moment was perfect in the first two acts as it was ultimately something that has been seen before and done better in other places. The great moments stood out and outweighed the bad ones by a huge margin.
When the twist in the third act rolls around however is when things completely flip around, throughout the movie the writers wanted to establish and show how smart and actually rational the characters are. The twist completely contradicts that and really jumps the shark when it comes to believability, when you sit and think about it for less then 20 seconds you quickly realize how nonsensical it really is. This might be a bit of overconfidence on the writers part but what might have looked like a huge shocking twist that nobody will see coming on paper ends up being a terrible twist that completely contradicts character moments and the plot in general.
I typically don’t like calling movies “another Get Out clone” because I feel like that it’s such a common trope when it comes to critiquing film, plus half the time said movie is almost nothing like Get Out at all. With that being said however there are times when a movie pushes things way too far and is quite obviously trying to be a clone and that is very much the case here with The Strays.
The Strays is basically if you took every single element that made Jordan Peele’s Get Out work so well and managed to make them dull in every single way possible. Outside of the performances especially from Ashley Madekwe who really gives it her all with such a lacking script, plus a few scenes that are decently effective due to the atmosphere. You are really left with a movie that just does not have a whole lot going for it.
It uses the topic of race which had the potential but unlike Get Out the movie doesn’t have anything really insightful to say about it, the movie more less repeats what was already said but does it in such a puzzling way that I’m not even sure the writers knew what they were doing.
Overall The Strays is a movie that presents itself as being super deep when in reality it’s just a clone of a better movie as well as being Netflix release date filler.
Brandon Cronenberg is back once again with another disturbing film that takes you on a very unique nightmarish journey, this time it’s a vacation turned into hell.
Right off the bat as soon as the film starts you are hit with the tone almost immediately, with the score being quiet yet effective and the many shots it makes sure to tell the viewer what they are in for. The acting is quite fantastic here particularly from Alexander Skarsgård who really goes all out towards the second half of the movie in such an entertaining yet thrilling way, then you have Mia Goth who is one of the main reasons why this film works so well. Mia Goth gives a very unhinged performance that is downright terrifying, as the film goes on her performance gets more and more unhinged until becomes complete and total madness. The rest of the characters like Mia Goth’s character feel like they are from another planet, all completely disturbed in their own way especially with their actions.
The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous with tons of shots of the location combined with the overall atmosphere that’s incredibly suspenseful, plus the world building is truly great it mostly does it through the visuals and camera movement but it’s truly effective. The many creative ideas Brandon Cronenberg brings to the table and is able to execute them flawlessly is truly inspiring, it’s definitely not going to be for everyone but the film itself while being disturbing actually ends up being very entertaining as well.
It was a bit of a shock to me to see Infinity Pool also go the entertaining route, but I actually do think that it largely benefits the film. There’s some truly fun campy moments with gore that’s used effectively and really brings this whole nightmare type of atmosphere. Infinity Pool definitely feels like one of those weird nightmares you get every now and then, there’s this feel of abandonment where there isn’t a whole lot of people and the atmosphere is truly dark yet somehow inviting. Like the nightmare is telling you to stay longer even when you want to leave you end up staying.
Overall Infinity Pool is an unhinged nightmare that’s not only disturbing but a huge blast of fun, it’s so far my favorite film of 2023 and truly makes me excited to see what Brandon Cronenberg does next!
M. Night Shyamalan is director that I’ve always rooted for, even if I don’t like some of his films (After Earth and Avatar The Last Airbender mostly) I always respect the work he puts out. In recent years starting with The Visit he has been self financing his own films which is really neat, to top that off Knock At The Cabin is truly one of his best!
Knock At The Cabin has a simple yet very effective setup that really shows the thrilling atmosphere Shyamalan is known for, what’s interesting is the film gets right to it. While yes there are a few flashbacks of Eric (played by Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (played by Ben Aldridge) relationship, them adopting Wen (played by Kristen Cui) and how they ended up vacationing to the cabin. Those are spread out pretty nicely so for the most part the film throws you right in which really works well, it’s a simple enough yet effective plot to understand what’s going on so it really doesn’t come off as confusing or does not end up being a mess.
The performances are truly great, everyone is given their moments Dave Bautista and Kristen Cui in particular really standout the most. Kristen Cui gives such a strong performance for a child actor and brings so much heart into her performance and love for her parents Eric and Andrew, especially during the ending when it’s truly devastating. Dave Bautista gives one of his best roles to date and shows just how strong he can be as an actor, his character while not coming off as threat immediately is very thrilling. What mostly works about Bautista’s character heck also Rupert Grint’s Abby Quinn’s and Nikki Amuka-Bird’s is that they are ordinary people with their own backgrounds and stories to tell.
The small cabin the film mostly takes in is one of the main elements that make Knock At The Cabin work, it’s a small space with thrilling atmosphere that quickly gets to the viewer and the camera shots especially the closeups bring you into the room. I know Shyamalan does these closeup shots a lot and while in some of his other films it doesn’t quite work, it most definitely works here mainly due to it complimenting the limited space. The ending is very devastating and while there are parts of it that didn’t completely work the film did wrap up quite nicely and leaves the viewer to interpret what actually happened.
One thing I’m going to say right off the bat is I’m not a fan of Gerard Butler’s last handful of performances or movies, there’s definitely audience out there for them however I’m not one of them. Having that said Plane really surprised me not only is this Butler’s best performance in awhile but the film itself is very competently made.
Plane has a simple set up for an action thriller a plane crashes on a island that’s very war torn and the pilot has to protect the passengers, what separates this one from the other movies is mainly a lot of the technical elements. The film itself actually looks really neat, the use of the location plays a lot here especially combined with the atmosphere that really adds to the film especially during the action scenes. The acting all around is pretty great as well, there isn’t any groundbreaking performances but there really doesn’t need to be.
The first 20 or so minutes are a bit on the rough side, the writing is very noticeably weaker there than it is in the rest of the movie. But once the movie gets going it gets to it really nicely, the direction from Jean François Richet is also pretty solid as well, he mixes dramatic moments and thrilling moments very well to the point where it’s quite entertaining.
Overall Plane might not be anything new but I absolutely give it credit where credit is due, it was a blast of fun and a decent little action thriller.
A little subgenre that has been growing slowly over the years is the screenlife genre, it’s often used in horror films as well as thrillers. Some very notable films to come out of this genre have been Unfriended and it’s sequel Dark Web, The Den, Spree, Host and Searching the film that eventually got it’s standalone sequel Missing.
Searching is a film that really brought a huge amount of attention to the genre mainly due to how masterfully it executed it’s premise and was overall an excellent film, when it was announced that Searching would be getting a sequel I was definitely interested to see how they were going to approach. Luckily they made the right choice of not doing a direct a sequel and instead bring in new characters.
Missing much like Searching has an incredibly strong opening, we are immediately shown the past of the main characters and about their family in this case June (played by Storm Reid) and her mother Grace (played by Nia Long), the first act really does a solid job of establishing the mother and daughter relationship they have. Sure it might not be anything new but it does feel mostly grounded, the screenlife style works just as well as it did and Searching while also feeling quite fresh as well. A bit later into the film we are introduced to Javier (played by Joaquim de Almedia) who is just such a fun character and Almedia’s performance just absolutely nails it. There’s something about his performance that’s both charming and exciting that ultimately becomes part of the heart of the film, he’s a side character that may not get a whole book of development but the viewer is able to know quite a lot about him to make him very effective.
The atmosphere is truly effective here just as it was in Searching, I know I’ve been saying that a lot but Missing does use a majority of what made Searching work and uses it to it’s full advantage while making it fresh. The third act is quite strong here as well, while it might not be as grounded as Searching that doesn’t stop it from being wildly entertaining and really brings the viewer to the edge of their seat. Storm Reid really shines throughout the whole film, her acting combined with the atmosphere is truly some thrilling moments that compliment the film really well, her conversations with Joaquim de Almedia are truly great as well. The film does a fantastic job of connecting the two characters and how their situations with family are both alike.
Overall Missing is such a huge blast that is also very thrilling and actually very well written especially when it comes to the mystery element and the characters!