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

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone a lackluster Stephen King adaption.

Craig, a young boy, befriends the elderly billionaire John Harrigan. Craig then gives him a mobile phone. However, when the man dies, Craig discovers that he can communicate with his friend from the grave.

Well at least Mr. Harrigan’s Phone has the brag rights of that it’s the better of the two Stephen King adaptions that came out in 2022 (other being Firestarter), but that doesn’t mean much when the movie itself is still not good. Outside of Jaeden Martell and Donald Sutherland who both give solid performances and do the best they can to work with a script that is very uninspired, the rest of the movie has the energy of a giant after school special that says “phones are bad”. I liked the idea of the ringtone being “Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette and the first time it’s used it’s genuinely creepy. The problem is the movie uses it way too often and starts to become very tiring after the third time, the other biggest problem is the movie never really goes anywhere there are moments where it seems like the movie is going to talk about a certain character but quickly moves on without giving much information. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone isn’t the worst Stephen King adaption but it’s definitely one of the most unremarkable ones and quite forgettable ones as well.

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is available on Netflix.

4/10 D+

The Visitor is a cliched movie about a cult.

When Robert and his wife move to her childhood home, he discovers an old portrait in the attic of a man who looks just like him. He soon travels down a frightening rabbit hole as he tries to discover the true identity of his mysterious doppelgänger, only to realize that every family has its own terrifying secrets.

The newest of the Blumhouse and EPIX collaborations and the best compliment I can give The Visitor is that it’s one of the better ones (Rebel Hearts is still the only good one), the movie has a decent atmosphere that actually starts the story off decently well. The acting isn’t great but there has definitely been worse plus Finn Jones definitely tries his best as the lead, the major problem kicks in when the third act rolls around with it’s horrible twist. It turns a movie that had genuinely decent atmosphere that was a bit creepy into a forgettable movie about a cult, the movie doesn’t do a really good job of talking about the cult or why they were formed, who are they and what is their goal. This might be okay if you have never seen a movie about a cult before, but even then there are far better options out there.

The Visitor is available on all VOD platforms.

4/10 D+

Hellraiser (2022) a breath of fresh air in the best ways possible.

A young woman must confront the sadistic, supernatural forces behind an enigmatic puzzle box responsible for her brother’s disappearance.

The Hellraiser series is one of those horror series that went completely downhill after the first two movies and never regained the quality it once had…until now. Hellraiser (2022) is the eleventh film of the franchise it serves as a reboot and when I mean reboot I mean a HARD reboot. It changes quite a lot from the original it keeps a lot of the main idea of the series but changes it into a more slasher like film (sure it can be argued that the series is a slasher series but this one there’s no denying it is) which the film completely nails. First off Odessa A’zion is absolutely fantastic here, she gives such a strong and hard hitting performance that really builds her character quite well, Jamie Clayton gives a hauntingly beautiful performance as Pinhead, she takes the character and makes it her own while keeping the haunting atmosphere that Doug Bradley’s version of the character had, she truly steps up the series and brings back the atmosphere of the character that’s been missing in the last several movies. David Bruckner does a wonderful job in the director’s chair the same techniques he used to make The Night House so haunting as well as beautiful are applied here, he truly knows how to create an atmosphere that’s both haunting and beautiful, while making the characters matter a lot more. It’s a night and day difference between the characters in this film and the ones from the last several movies. The ones in this movie have development and are actually very well written (outside of Nora), they have goals and character arcs as well. The characters in the last several movies are just there to be killed off or aren’t very interesting at all. Riley (Odessa A’zion) is such a well written character that there are a handful of scenes that are genuinely touching. The cinematography although at times is a bit too dark, is for the most part very well done and again captures the atmosphere of the original film. Overall Hellraiser (2022) is not only the best film of the franchise since the first two movies, it’s a genuinely really strong film that I do hope we see a follow up soon!

Hellraiser is available on Hulu.

9/10 A

Raven’s Hollow is another Edgar Allan Poe movie.

West Point cadet Edgar Allan Poe and four other cadets on a training exercise in upstate New York are drawn by a gruesome discovery into a forgotten community.

Edgar Allan Poe horror movies aren’t a new concept, they have been around forever but often times it feels like the filmmakers want to do way too much with the subject rather than tell a simple story that scares the viewer or make a eerie atmosphere. Raven’s Hollow tries to do way too much, while there are some strong folklore horror elements as well as the setting becoming a bit haunting due to the atmosphere. The characters are very one dimensional and have very little to no character development, the creature itself is pretty neat and there’s some surprisingly gruesome deaths. But there really isn’t anything of substance to the movie, the movie actually reminds me of a weaker version of The Cursed a movie that came out earlier this year that I wasn’t a huge fan of. But at least that movie used it’s elements in more creative ways, Raven’s Hollow is just another Edgar Allan Poe movie that does nothing to standout.

Raven’s Hollow is available on Shudder.

4/10 D+