Vengeance is a surprisingly darkly funny comedy thriller.

A journalist and podcaster travels from New York City to Texas to investigate the death of a woman whom he hooked up with.

Vengeance was a bit of a surprise as the trailer did not really do this movie justice, it’s a genuinely well written dark comedic thriller that explores quite a lot of themes. The characters are decently well written and the cast do a pretty good in their roles. Many characters talk about morality, relationships, regret, isolation and so on, sure it might not be in a very deep discussion but it’s enough to be noteworthy. The tonal shifts are a bit distracting at times and sometimes take away from a moment that could have been far stronger, but it’s not enough to completely take the viewer out of the movie. There’s plenty of great moments here especially with a solid cast and decent writing that may not break any new ground, but it is entertaining enough to warrant a watch.

Vengeance is available on all VOD Platforms.

7/10 B

2022 Movie Catchup: Hypochondriac, 13: The Musical, Alone Together and Cave Rescue.

Will has a loving boyfriend and a good life, but when his mentally ill mother reemerges after a 10-year absence, he descends into a dark spiral of madness, haunted by the manifestation of his childhood trauma.

Hypochondriac had everything it needed to be a solid movie it’s the way it was executed that really held it back. There was some genuinely decent moments that actually tackled mental illness in a surprisingly realistic way during the first half of the movie. It did a genuinely good job of building Zach Villa’s character and brought many ideas to the table that I was very interested to see how the movie would develop them during the rest of the movie. Unfortunately the rest of the movie completely abandons the realistic approach to mental illness and instead trades in for a very over the top cliched way that a lot of movies commonly do, a lot of the story is replaced with trying to be a slow burn that uses trippy visuals which I don’t have an issue with the idea itself. The problem is it has to at least make some sort of sense and can’t just come right out of nowhere and sadly that’s the case here, heck the trippy visuals didn’t even look that great so the payoff was really not worth it in this case. It’s a shame because the acting was pretty decent and there were a handful of moments from the writing that really delivered, if you really fixed up the second half of the movie and put it more in line with the first half. You would have a very strong movie that could be seen as a hidden gem, but as it stands Hypochondriac is unfortunately a huge missed opportunity.

Hypochondriac is available on all VOD Platforms.

5/10 C

After moving from New York City to Indiana, a 12-year-old navigates his parents’ divorce, his impending bar mitzvah and his new school’s social circles.

From what I’ve read about 13: The Musical it absolutely butchers the Broadway musical it’s based on, cutting several songs and replacing them with new ones is one of the main criticisms I’ve seen. Which at that point why make the movie in the first place? But that’s honestly the least of this movie’s issues because some of the songs here aren’t bad, a lot of them sound the exact same unfortunately but I don’t think any of them are terrible. Mainly due to the cast having great singing voices and definitely try to give it their all, the main issues here are mostly the story being the most below average coming of age story you could think of. And the style of the movie that just comes off as an old navy commercial (particularly a back to school commercial) the choreography is great and as I said the cast truly tries to make the film work but they just aren’t given a lot to really work with. Outside of a few moments that are genuinely touching the movie’s themes go about as deep as a bad Disney Channel Original movie.

13: The Musical is available on Netflix!

3/10 D-

Two strangers wind up double-booked in the same upstate New York rental during the start of COVID-19. Exasperating the situation, the lockdown forces them both to stay and confront the unexpected feelings that develop between them.

Oh joy another COVID-19 related movie, I was honestly considering skipping on this one but Katie Holmes in the director’s chair caught my eye. Talk about tone-deaf and self centered, the movie attempts to show two strangers bonding and slowly having romantic feelings for each other during the pandemic. While having this state of ignorant bliss when the rest of the world was suffering, with Language Lessons and 7 Days were aware what they were talking about, they were actual great films and the movie wasn’t just about the main character’s issues. With Alone Together you get nothing but the main characters constantly being ignorant about the rest of the world while acting like they have it the absolute worst, Katie Holmes, Jim Sturgess and Derek Luke do a fine enough job here but there really isn’t anything to get excited over. It’s emotionally hollow and very dull in it’s execution, there’s a couple moments with Melissa Leo which are genuinely sweet. But it’s not enough to save this movie from being a huge mess.

Alone Together is available on all VOD Platforms.

2/10 F

Twelve boys and their football coach become trapped in a northern Thailand cave by flood waters, and an international team of rescue workers scramble to save them.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there has never been a two movies that have been released on the same day that are about the exact same thing in recent years at least (it probably has happened before I just can’t recall it ever happening). Thirteen Lives (which I already reviewed) and Cave Rescue are about the exact same thing which is about the Tham Lung cave rescue, Cave Rescue is the definitely the weaker of the two it does have great filming and there are some claustrophobic moments that are done pretty well. But a lot of this movie feels like a much weaker version of Ron Howard’s version, the acting is not as good and the writing is just not there when it comes to powerful moments. It’s just more of the same thing as Thirteen Lives only worse.

Cave Rescue Is available on all VOD Platforms.

3/10 D-

2022 Movie Catchup: Hypochondriac, 13: The Musical, Alone Together and Cave Rescue.

Will has a loving boyfriend and a good life, but when his mentally ill mother reemerges after a 10-year absence, he descends into a dark spiral of madness, haunted by the manifestation of his childhood trauma.

Hypochondriac had everything it needed to be a solid movie it’s the way it was executed that really held it back. There was some genuinely decent moments that actually tackled mental illness in a surprisingly realistic way during the first half of the movie. It did a genuinely good job of building Zach Villa’s character and brought many ideas to the table that I was very interested to see how the movie would develop them during the rest of the movie. Unfortunately the rest of the movie completely abandons the realistic approach to mental illness and instead trades in for a very over the top cliched way that a lot of movies commonly do, a lot of the story is replaced with trying to be a slow burn that uses trippy visuals which I don’t have an issue with the idea itself. The problem is it has to at least make some sort of sense and can’t just come right out of nowhere and sadly that’s the case here, heck the trippy visuals didn’t even look that great so the payoff was really not worth it in this case. It’s a shame because the acting was pretty decent and there were a handful of moments from the writing that really delivered, if you really fixed up the second half of the movie and put it more in line with the first half. You would have a very strong movie that could be seen as a hidden gem, but as it stands Hypochondriac is unfortunately a huge missed opportunity.

Hypochondriac is available on all VOD Platforms.

5/10 C

After moving from New York City to Indiana, a 12-year-old navigates his parents’ divorce, his impending bar mitzvah and his new school’s social circles.

From what I’ve read about 13: The Musical it absolutely butchers the Broadway musical it’s based on, cutting several songs and replacing them with new ones is one of the main criticisms I’ve seen. Which at that point why make the movie in the first place? But that’s honestly the least of this movie’s issues because some of the songs here aren’t bad, a lot of them sound the exact same unfortunately but I don’t think any of them are terrible. Mainly due to the cast having great singing voices and definitely try to give it their all, the main issues here are mostly the story being the most below average coming of age story you could think of. And the style of the movie that just comes off as an old navy commercial (particularly a back to school commercial) the choreography is great and as I said the cast truly tries to make the film work but they just aren’t given a lot to really work with. Outside of a few moments that are genuinely touching the movie’s themes go about as deep as a bad Disney Channel Original movie.

13: The Musical is available on Netflix!

3/10 D-

Two strangers wind up double-booked in the same upstate New York rental during the start of COVID-19. Exasperating the situation, the lockdown forces them both to stay and confront the unexpected feelings that develop between them.

Oh joy another COVID-19 related movie, I was honestly considering skipping on this one but Katie Holmes in the director’s chair caught my eye. Talk about tone-deaf and self centered, the movie attempts to show two strangers bonding and slowly having romantic feelings for each other during the pandemic. While having this state of ignorant bliss when the rest of the world was suffering, with Language Lessons and 7 Days were aware what they were talking about, they were actual great films and the movie wasn’t just about the main character’s issues. With Alone Together you get nothing but the main characters constantly being ignorant about the rest of the world while acting like they have it the absolute worst, Katie Holmes, Jim Sturgess and Derek Luke do a fine enough job here but there really isn’t anything to get excited over. It’s emotionally hollow and very dull in it’s execution, there’s a couple moments with Melissa Leo which are genuinely sweet. But it’s not enough to save this movie from being a huge mess.

Alone Together is available on all VOD Platforms.

2/10 F

Twelve boys and their football coach become trapped in a northern Thailand cave by flood waters, and an international team of rescue workers scramble to save them.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there has never been a two movies that have been released on the same day that are about the exact same thing in recent years at least (it probably has happened before I just can’t recall it ever happening). Thirteen Lives (which I already reviewed) and Cave Rescue are about the exact same thing which is about the Tham Lung cave rescue, Cave Rescue is the definitely the weaker of the two it does have great filming and there are some claustrophobic moments that are done pretty well. But a lot of this movie feels like a much weaker version of Ron Howard’s version, the acting is not as good and the writing is just not there when it comes to powerful moments. It’s just more of the same thing as Thirteen Lives only worse.

Cave Rescue Is available on all VOD Platforms.

3/10 D-

Camping Trip is a trip not worth going on.

In the summer of 2020, two couples go on a remote camping trip after months of a mandatory COVID -19 lockdown. At a nearby drop-off point, two goons decide to go rogue, inadvertently implicating the unwitting campers. What started as a fun-filled vacation turns into a test of loyalty and survival. Suddenly, the pandemic is the least of their worries.

With a poster like this you would think Camping Trip might be a slasher film. That’s not the case here, instead it’s a group of friends who bump into some goons and you can pretty much guess what happens from there. Camping Trip is really nothing special as far as thrillers or horror movies go, it’s a movie that takes place during Summer 2020 where COVID-19 is mentioned outside of that the pandemic really doesn’t do or cause anything significant to happen. There’s a few moments that have pretty okay atmosphere but those are so far and few in between that it doesn’t even matter at one point.

Camping Trip releases tomorrow on all VOD Platforms.

3/10 D-

Bodies Bodies Bodies a wonderfully crafted fun film with a spectacular cast.

When a group of 20-somethings gets stuck at a remote mansion during a hurricane, a party game gone very, very wrong ends with a dead body on the ground and fake friends at every turn as they try to find the killer among them.

The horror genre like all genres has evolved over the years, however no matter how much time goes by I always find horror to be the most interesting mainly due to so much talent and ideas being thrown into the ring. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a prime example of just that, it takes the whodunnit genre and completely makes it’s own in so many different ways. For starters the cast is quite incredible, Rachel Sennott once again does a fantastic job her performance in last year’s Shiva Baby was huge breakout performance and here it’s just as fantastic. Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg and Myha’la Herrold were other standouts who truly did a fantastic job. What’s even better is how well the cast connected with one another, there’s this chemistry that absolutely worked between all of them and absolutely felt as natural as possible. Which leads into the Gen-Z satire elements of the film which is the first time I can say that a movie captured effortlessly, for the longest time in several films I’ve reviewed and talked about I always end up asking “did the writers even know how Gen-Z talks or acts?” But here I don’t need to ask that question because it’s very spot on and it’s hilarious as well, Sarah DeLappe did a fantastic job with the screenplay not only does she capture the whole Gen-Z humor but she further expands elements on the whodunnit genre. The same can be said for director Halina Reijn who creates a thrilling atmosphere that also has a large humorous feel to it, The gore and kills are so much fun here combined with a lot of the dramatic moments between the cast truly pushes this movie to another level. The filming is very well done with a close and tight shots it truly gives the film a much more grounded look, lastly Bodies Bodies Bodies is an example of a fun summer film that is also wonderfully crafted, hilarious and thrilling. Overall Bodies Bodies Bodies is one of the best films of the year, the cast and crew truly take the horror genre and the whodunnit genre and completely make it their own! Be sure to see this one!!

Bodies Bodies Bodies is currently in theaters!

10/10 A+

Prey brings new life to the Predator franchise.

A skilled Comanche warrior protects her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against wilderness, dangerous colonisers and this mysterious creature to keep her people safe.

I can’t think of such a huge turn for a franchise in a good way more than the Predator franchise, for awhile The Predator franchise has been struggling to get a really solid film out. Outside of Predator and Predator 2 (depending on who you ask, I personally find it to be quite fun) the series is very lacking and was in dire need of another really good film. Luckily that was the case with Dan Trachtenberg’s (10 Cloverfield Lane) Installment Prey, Prey takes the series back to it’s roots and brings everything back that people loved about the series in the first place. For starters Amber Midthunder was truly brilliant here and gives a breakout performance that completely captures the spirit the film is going for, the same can be said with the rest of the cast Dakota Beavers in particular does a really fantastic job. The film itself is visually stunning and the cinematography is captivating, one of the main criticisms I’ve had with the franchise is that a lot of the films visually don’t look very great. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see Prey take advantage of it’s setting and go all out with it. Especially when you combine it with the atmosphere that Dan Trachtenberg creates, like in 10 Cloverfield Lane the atmosphere here is horrifying and suspenseful it grabs the viewer’s attention and never let’s go. Everything that Trachtenberg did masterfully in 10 Cloverfield Lane is present here and it’s just as effective. The action scenes are well shot and the kills are quite brutal and a lot of fun as well, the combination of campy like feel of the kills with a serious tone actually works quite beautifully with the film. What’s very interesting about Prey is that it’s a franchise film that has the visuals and the character’s actions tell the story which is not something you see in a lot of franchise films. It’s truly fascinating and is pretty straightforward, overall Prey is the best film of the franchise since the first movie. Amber Midthunder is truly a star that I hope to see a lot more of and I’m excited to see what Dan Trachtenberg does next.

Prey is available on Hulu!

10/10 A+

Emergency Declaration misses it’s mark.

While investigating a terrorist threat that goes online, Korean authorities discover that a suspect has recently boarded a flight bound for the United States. When a healthy passenger on the same plane suddenly dies, panic erupts both in-flight and on the ground. With steadily decreasing fuel and international refusals to offer aid, the captain and crew take unprecedented emergency measures to save the lives of all on board.

Emergency Declaration is definitely one of the more disappointing films so far this year, while it does have some very solid acting all around and there’s some very well captured shots, plus the first half of the movie does a pretty good job of establishing and introducing it’s characters quite well (really reminded me a lot of Train To Busan). The major problem here is the second half of the movie when the plot quicks in, the writing becomes very bare bones which is huge problem since this is actually based on a true story in which an airplane declared high alert and demanded unconditional landing. The script is very surface level and while does have a few strong moments during the last half of the movie, outside of those moments there’s really nothing there to standout from a lot of other disaster movies. The running time doesn’t do the movie any favors either being 2 hours and 18 minutes combined with dreadfully slow pacing really makes the movie a chore to watch. Overall Emergency Declaration is well made and has it’s moments but it’s very disappointing.

Emergency Declaration releases in theaters August 12th

5/10 C

Quick Review: Bring Him Back Dead (2022)

A violent gang of criminals is ordered, after a botched heist, to track down and eliminate the man who betrayed them and ran off with their loot.

Bring Him Back Dead is a very nothing special about it low budget action movie, there’s some fine enough action scenes that are at least fun. But that’s all there really is, the acting isn’t as bad as you would expect but it just mainly comes down to “seen that and it’s been done better” really not a whole lot here.

Bring Him Back Dead is available tomorrow on all VOD Platforms.

4/10 D+

Quick Reviews: Infrared and The Prey: Legend Of Karnoctus.

A paranormal investigator and his production crew gain access to a mysterious, abandoned school but when the thrilling haunt turns deadly, the team must race to uncover the terrifying truth before they become the school’s next victims.

Feels like nowadays whenever a new found footage movie comes out it always ends up being one of the three….either really good and one of the best in a very long time, very bad or very forgettable and does nothing to help the genre grow. Infrared falls into the third category, it’s not terrible as it does have the atmosphere that it’s going for but the main issue like a lot of modern found footage horror movies is it takes forever for something to happen. Half this movie is waiting for something remotely interesting to happen which doesn’t until the last 15-20 minutes or so, the idea itself actually led to a few moments that heavily reminded me of Grave Encounters which I thought “oh cool so that means this movie is going to do something more with this right?” Unfortunately the movie does barely anything with it and just continues building the very bland characters. Overall there really isn’t much else to say here Infrared is not the worst found footage movie out there but it is one of the most forgettable.

Infrared is available on all VOD Platforms.

4/10 D+

A platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan become trapped in a cave and are hunted down by a deadly creature.

Honestly The Prey: Legend Of Karnoctus isn’t as bad as expected, it’s just a very bland “group of characters (in this case soldiers) have to survive against some monsters” type of movie. There’s a Danny Trejo and a Adrian Paul (Highlander series) cameo which are kind of neat and don’t over stay their welcome. Outside of that there really isn’t much else to this movie, the acting is not that bad, the cave setting is actually a really good idea on paper it’s just not executed as well as it could have been. There’s some fun moments here that are entertaining enough, but this isn’t the type of movie I would recommend unless you are a die hard fan of these types of movies.

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus is available on all VOD platforms.

4/10 D+

Nope is a perfect blend of several genres in a large spectacle.

Two siblings who run a California horse ranch discover something wonderful and sinister in the skies above, while the owner of an adjacent theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon.

Jordan Peele continues to show how he can take the horror genre in several different directions, Nope is Peele’s third film having Get Out and Us under your belt is truly fantastic but how on earth do you top all of that? By creating something that may seem straightforward at first but is quite expensive and massive when you get into it. For starters the cast here are brilliant, Daniel Kaluuya is once again fantastic here and is a absolute powerhouse of an actor as usual, the exact same can be said for Keke Palmer. I believe I have said this before in one review but it needs to be said again, whatever role Palmer is in she always ends up delivering a fascinating performance and here is no different, in fact I would go far as to say this is her best performance yet. Steven Yeun is also quite great here even if he isn’t really a major character here, there’s a lot of moments with his character Ricky that are truly some of the best moments in the film and really expand his character. Lastly there’s Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott who are also really great as well, both play really fun characters and are actually quite hilarious as well. Nope is Peele’s biggest film yet it’s a massive film that explores quite a lot from the setting that the film takes place a horse ranch near a theme park in a desert, the atmosphere is masterfully done. It constantly has the viewer looking around for clues as to what’s going to happen, in fact while the movie does of course have a huge script there’s a lot of moments where the filming tells the story. A ton of quiet moments really put the film in the viewer’s mind to digest it all, the score is incredibly booming especially during the final act that really shows just how powerful the score is. Peele also does a fantastic job of combining several different genres and other directors as well as films like Jaws. Such genres include horror, sci-fi, western and thriller it’s not easy combining so many different genres but Peele and everyone involved do it effortlessly. The sci-fi elements are far different than what is usually done with the genre it’s impressive, as far as director styles or director inspirations there’s a huge mix of Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, M.Night Shyamalan, Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Spielberg mainly comes from the third act being a huge spectacle and the creature of the film sharing lots of similarities to Jaws. Hitchcock and Carpenter come in with the suspense of the film (some could argue the score is partly Spielberg and Carpenter), Shyamalan comes in with some of the characters and a few of the shots, finally there’s Kubrick who is definitely the cinematography (beautifully done here). But what makes this even better is Peele took each of those genres and directing styles I just mentioned and made every single one of them his own, that is something that is so hard to do. Overall Nope is truly a fantastic film that really reminds me on why I love film so much, it’s such a well done film that will keep you on the edge of your seat! See this film!!

Nope is available in theaters.

10/10 A+