May 2019

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The Hidden Room [1949]

aka Obsession

               
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 88
Personal = 6.6


A psychiatrist plans to commit an elaborate, perfect murder against his wife's lover. This was a pretty good examination of obsession and the arrogance of a higher intelligence, who thinks he has all the answers, and a Scotland Yard Inspector who reminds him that all murders are amateurs and the inspectors are the professionals when it comes to murder. And what about the guy locked up in a room? ...and the dog? Entertaining and quite enjoyable for a film that 70 years old.

Mr. Jones [2013]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 19
Personal = 3.9

Links Updated 8/29/19
A couple, living out in the middle of nowhere, discover they're neighbors with a well-known but extremely reclusive sculpturist known as Mr. Jones and they decide to try and make a documentary about him. Things go downhill from there ...both for them and for us viewers. This movie had my attention in a major way and then picked away at it with characters that weren't particularly likable, far too much reaction footage rather than show us what they're seeing, long, extended nightmares that were incomprehensible and ultimately, angrily frustrating.

Overlord [2018]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 67
Personal = 7.4

Links Updated 8/29/19
Ordered to take out a radio tower before the Normandy invasion, a small group of U.S. soldiers discover horrors well beyond what they were expecting. The film took its sweet time getting to the jest of the problem and I was getting extremely impatient waiting for something significant to happen. Once it did, though, things took off on a frantic pace that didn't let up. Good characterizations, good war action, excellent graphics and seriously demented spec fx and a very high level of tension made this a very entertaining roller coaster ride.

The Suspect [2013]

aka Yong-eui-ja

                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 72
Personal = 6.2

Links Updated 8/29/19
An ex N. Korean special ops mercenary, now a defector into S. Korea and driver for a high-ranking politico, is framed for murder. Let the chase begin. Way too long but certainly not for being slow. Too many characters, plot points, back story, interrupted by extremely long action sequences, with very few exceptional moments, all delivered at a break neck pace by folks who can't hold a camera still and editors with chainsaws. It felt like someone running around my house, frantically screaming, and waving their hands in the air. Geez, guys... relax!

Paranormal Activity [2007]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 57
Personal = 7.3

Links Updated 8/29/19
A man uses a camera to record what may be paranormal activity going on in his house ...even though he doesn't believe it. This film is proof that you don't need a huge budget of special effects to make a scary movie. Reminiscent of one of the scariest films ever made, The Haunting, only sounds (including subsonic), a few cheap practical effects, and the disintegrating psyche of the characters involved make this one uncomfortably creepy ride. I wasn't thrilled with the boyfriend for being such a skeptical jerk but overall, good flick for late at night.

Monsters [2010]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 53
Personal = 4.9

Links Updated 8/29/19
When NASA discovered life in our solar system, they sent a ship up to get samples. The ship crashed on the return trip dumping monsters in Mexico. 6 years later, two Americans are trying to get back to the US through the infected zone ...and that's it. Nothing else happens. Calling the film monsters and establishing this major premise around them is incredibly misleading as it is not about the monsters (they only have about 5 mins of screen time). It's about tagging along with a pair of folks who are generally likable but rather dull.

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night [2010]

aka Paranomaru akutibiti: Dai-2-sho - Tokyo Night

   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 30
Personal = 5.6


A brother must take care of his sister, who's just returned home from a vacation where she's had a accident and broken both legs, and they begin to experience hauntings similar to the first film. The US has been pretty big on remaking Japan horror movies so it's only fair they do the same. However, about halfway through this one, I learned this wasn't being presented as a remake but rather an actual sequel to the first film. It that, they didn't do a bad job. I think there was far more down time than the first but they managed to maintain that creepy sense of dread.

Screamers 2: The Hunting [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 16
Personal = 5.2


Several years after the commander from the first film killed himself entering earth's orbit, earth receives a distress signal from Sirius 6B and launches a rescue mission. This is pretty standard fare for a low budget, direct-to-video sci fi with weak dialogue, bland acting and a story neither very complex nor original. The action was passable and despite it's faults, it was fair, escapist entertaining as long as one does not expect it to be anything more than that. The ending twist was expected and they went out of their way to make a bit too silly. I enjoyed it, though.

Triple Frontier [2019]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 56
Personal = 6.8

Links Updated 7/27/19
5 ex-special forces buddies plan to raid a drug lord's residence in Brazil, killing him and taking his multi-million dollar fortune. The film is a great example of how quickly and badly things can go wrong amidst sudden irrational greed. The action was exceptionally good but the film is far more a struggle for survival and a study of the men and their constant conflict between their moral ambiguities and their personal demons. Although the ending was very sweet and noble, I felt it was really quite unrealistic. But, overall, good acting, good story, good film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [2018]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 97 / 93
Personal = 7.6

Links Updated 8/29/19
Miles Morales, student and graffiti artist, gets caught up in a battle involving Spider-man, Kingpin and a rip in space-time resulting in Spider-man-like heroes from several parallel universes ...and Miles must save the day. Truly outstanding fun and exciting animated feature with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. They did a wonderful job of making the characters very human and totally outrageous at the same time. The extended battle around the collider was a bit much, making my wife and I a little nauseous, but otherwise, no complaints.

Paranormal Activity 2 [2010]


         
       
Rotten Tomatoes = 59 / 48
Personal = 6.8

Links Updated 8/29/19
A family, the mother of which is the sister of the girl in the first film, sets up CCTV cameras in their home after an apparent break-in and records some spooky stuff. With the timing of events split in two, this is mostly a prequel that takes place within the month prior to the first film but ends as a sequel. Both are prequels to the Japanese independent film, Tokyo Night. Does well to maintain the level of creepy although the impact isn't as great ...probably because it's no longer new. But it is exceptional at bridging the two stories together. Good stuff!

Revolt [2017]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 40
Personal = 6.1

Links Updated 7/28/19
A soldier, with amnesia, and a woman wake up in the middle of a wasteland caused by invading aliens. This was a rather good, low budget film considering there's not much to it. Like Monsters, we tag along with the likable couple on their journey to a radio dish in hopes of finding a military outpost. Unlike Monsters, their travels were quite interesting with a variety of characters met, a few alien encounters, and a pretty dangerous situation or two keeping the pacing moving along at a nice, brisk pace with a finale that was logical and exciting. Nice, despite it cliche moments.

Paranormal Activity 3 [2011]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 51
Personal = 7.3

Links Updated 8/19/19
This one takes us back 18 years prior to the first two films and chronicles the events surrounding the sisters when they were kids ...and their imaginary friend, Toby. Just as creepy as the previous films, I'm not really sure what the attraction is. They're extremely slow paced. In fact, down right uneventful for semi-long periods of time. Maybe it's the insidious nature of the haunting coupled with the voyeuristic viewpoint. Whatever it is, it keeps me glued to the screen in a constant state of dread. The twist ending of this one was quite a bit different and brutal.

The Prophecy 4: Uprising [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 43
Personal = 6.3


This time, the feuding angels are tracking a woman who has a book containing the unwritten verses of Revelations. Surprisingly good drama that, beyond the feuding angels, has no connections with the previous films. Taking place in Bucharest, this film has no Chris Walken, but has Sean Pertwee putting in an excellent performance as an angry and morally ambivalent cop and good performances from John LIght, Kari Wuhrer, and Doug Bradley. The film is mostly dialogue that is rather poetic and well written making this a strong film despite its lack of action.

Aquaman [2018]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 65 / 76
Personal = 7.4

Links Updated 8/29/19
Details the origin of Aquaman and how he became the King of Atlantis. Grand in scale, this exquisitely gorgeous display of action and spec fx is mesmerizing ...certainly an equal to any Marvel Cinematic Universe production. However, as wonderful as it is, I still can't place it in the same echelon as the MCU. I think it has to do with the MCU's brilliant knack for casting just the right person in just the right role making them iconic. Here, the acting is great but I just don't feel that extra level of identity. Regardless, this is a definite must see film for comic fans.

Paranormal Activity 4 [2012]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 24 / 34
Personal = 6.5

Links Updated 8/29/19
The first true sequel, this one takes place about 5 years after the others where a new family becomes unwittingly involved in previous events. Although it did a fair job of maintaining that intense Jack-in-the-Box feel, it started getting a bit long in tooth after awhile and the characters were more annoying than usual. The infrared tracking lights were very cool and I wish they would have done more with the gimmick. The last half hour certainly paid off the sometimes suspenseful, sometimes frustrating wait to get there. A lesser effort overall but, I'm still a fan.

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 74 / 67
Personal = 8.3

Links Updated 7/28/19
The six members of a small militia group hideout in their HQ, a lumber warehouse, when there's reports that a militia member shot up a cop's funeral. Then the group figures out it's one of them. Let the finger pointing begin. This is an exceptionally well-written, psychological thriller that had me totally absorbed the entire time. It's rare to have a film that's this intense, and intelligent, when it's basically all dialogue. It keeps the viewer constantly guessing until the surprise ending that changes everything. Found a new entry for Doc's Profoundly Twisted list.

Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones [2014]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 39 / 34
Personal = 6.5

Links Updated 8/29/19
Seemingly unconnected to the previous films, at first, this one involves the slow possession of a young man while his family and friends try to figure out what's wrong with him. As an individual film, it's not a strong entry in the franchise ...although it still holds up rather well. But, it's obviously clear that all the films are firmly in the same universe and probably should be rated on how well it fits in. In this case, the film does a very interesting job of weaving itself into the current time line and hits us with another slam ending that all the films are noted for. Nice!

Carnival of Souls [1962]


             
           
             
Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 73
Personal = 3.9

Links Updated 8/29/19
A woman miraculously survives a car plummeting off a bridge into a river. Afterwards, she encounters one troubling event after another. I'm apparently not the norm as I really disliked this film. I figured out the whole story in the first 10 mins so there was absolutely no mystery here. The main character was unlikable and worked hard to make herself that way. The acting was totally amateurish, the dialogue was grade school level, and much time was spent filming mundane activities. It felt like a badly made Twilight Zone episode stretched out to 80 mins.

Paranormal Activity 6: The Ghost Dimension [2015]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 15 / 27
Personal = 6.7

Links Updated 8/29/19
A family is haunted by a demon when they move into a house built over the site of the house from 1988 in PA3. They also find a camera that films ghostly activity making this film far more active than the slow-burn, wait-for-it style of the previous films. It's not as insidious and relies more on jump scares but they were done effectively, it has some really clever moments involving a time shift and, watching all the films in order, I found that this one did a good job of bringing everything full circle with an ending that was, once again, excellent.

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings [2011]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 26
Personal = 2.1

Updated 7/2/19
The origin of the inbred, cannibalistic freaks in the series, takes place in a sanatorium that they've apparently taken over without anyone noticing. Enter some really, really stupid young people who are forced into the building due to a storm they knew was coming but decided to get lost in it anyway. The acting was so bad, they couldn't even effectively portray the morons that the mega-amateur, immature writing forced upon them. This movie was just awful. I don't consider myself a writer but I know I could have written this one better ...hell, anyone could've.

Avengers 4: Endgame [2019]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 91
Personal = 10.0

Links Updated 9/5/19
This is it! After 11 years and 21 movies, 2 seasons of Agent Carter and 5 seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., everything boils down to this one film. I knew they were certainly up for the task but I did not expect it to be this good! Truly epic in scope, it has absolutely everything; action, spec fx, deep human drama, time travel, heartache and tears, cheers, laughs and the most incredible cast of characters ever assembled for one film. Even at 3 hours, not a minute was wasted. The perfect comic book adventure and a masterpiece that I will not soon forget.

Look Away [2018]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 61
Personal = 5.6

Links Updated 8/29/19
A bullied and generally miserable girl finds her alter ego within mirrors. It's never quite clear whether the mirror Maria (aptly named, Airma) is a paranormal personification of Maria's stillborn identical twin or if Maria is mentally fracturing. Regardless, India Eisley (who is actually 25) does a covincing job of portraying both sides of the high school student's personalities. The film is intended to be a slow burn but I found myself waiting for something to happen quite often. Could have been faster, scarier, more dramatic but, overall, pretty good.

The Town [2010]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 85
Personal = 6.5

Links Updated 8/29/19
Reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Heat, we have a group of thieves committing bank and armored car robberies in Charlestown and some FBI guys trying to stop them. In that, it was great ...well depicted with exceptional characters, great action and a well told story. The problem for me was the main plot line of one of the thieves starting an intimate relationship with a hostage from the first bank robbery in the film. Try as I might, I just could not get by how ludicrous that is. Maybe I'm too logical but that makes no sense. Still a good movie, though.

Take Point [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 67
Personal = 5.6

Updated 8/4/19
A band of mercenaries enter a bunker to kidnap a high ranking, North Korean leader and end up in a fight for survival. This film ratchets the tension level up to 10 and leaves it there from start to finish with non-stop kinetic chaos and panic that's almost too much too bear ...in fact, it starts to lose it's appeal and impact after a while. The broken English employed by most of the characters is irritating making everything somewhat difficult to understand. The characters weren't particularly compelling, either. You certainly won't be bored with this one, though.

Dead Trigger [2017]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 0
Personal = 3.4

Links Updated 8/29/19
5 years after the start of the zombie apocalypse, a special zombie extermination squad must go on a rescue mission. A great disservice to the video game of the same name ...I doubt that anyone who saw this would want to play it. Practically no budget with probably the bulk of the money spent on make-up, Dolph Lundgren and as much hokey as would fit. Grade school writing, unimaginative story and one contrived moment after another. Don't blame the actors. They had no material to work with. It's so laughably bad, it's nearly entertaining to watch.

Bird Box [2018]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 63 / 58
Personal = 6.0

Links Updated 8/5/19
Seemingly without explanation or purpose, malevolent beings appear worldwide and anyone who looks upon them are compelled to commit suicide or driven mad, forcing others to look upon how beautiful they are. Sticking true to the premise, as viewers, we are never shown the beings (except in drawings) making them all the more mysterious. However, not all that much happens with much of it being rather repetitive making the whole thing rather dragged out. Compressing the story by 30 mins would have gone miles in giving it some needed energy. Not bad, though.

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