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Review: Split (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

What’s it about?
Split follows a man named Kevin (McAvoy) who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). One of his alternative identities kidnaps three teenaged girls in an effort to sacrifice them to “The Beast.” The three girls must find their way out while Kevin’s other alters work to either help or hinder the alter responsible.

What did I think?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I had no idea this was an M. Night Shyamalan movie until my boyfriend and I went to go see it opening weekend. I’m not on my game lately. I have to tell you, though, my assertion in my review of The Visit is still true: M. Night Shyamalan is back.

The acting was superb. James McAvoy’s ability to switch between Kevin’s alters within seconds is just astounding. Anya Taylor-Joy also brings an amazing performance to the table, which can only be expected after her excellent acting in The Witch.

The premise is terrifying, even if problematic. In a time when society is struggling to end the stigma against mental illness, M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie where the villain is a villain because he has DID. This can be harmful to the perception of mental illness in this country. If not for Kevin’s well-meaning psychiatrist, Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who asserts that those with DID have ascended to a higher plane than us mere humans, it would be completely problematic.

Overall, though, the movie was scary and filled with an amazing amount of suspense. And the twist ending, which I’m sure you all already know about, is amazing. And, more good news, M. Night Shyamalan is going to make another one to complete his trifecta!

Do I recommend it?
Yes, despite its problems, it’s still an amazingly well-made movie. M. Night Shyamalan is definitely back… Let’s just hope he doesn’t revert back and try to make another Avatar

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Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Justin Haythe
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

What’s it about?
After being implicated in a crime by his employers, Lockhart (DeHaan) is recruited to travel to a sanatorium in Switzerland to bring back Mr. Pembrooke (Harry Groener), a former board member, so that he can sign papers that will allow for a merger to go through before said employer goes out of business. Here, Lockhart gets into a terrible car accident and is admitted to the sanatorium under Dr. Volmer (Isaacs). The longer he stays, and the more water he drinks, Lockhart begins to notice strange things happening.

What did I think?
The premise for this movie was unbelievable. If Mr. Pembrooke needed to be admitted to a sanatorium, he would have forfeited all rights to the company, leaving it to the other board members to complete the merger themselves. Lockhart would never have needed to go to Switzerland in the first place. It was implied that Mr. Pembrooke was supposed to “take the fall” for something, but that was not explained and the other board members could have used his admittance to the sanatorium to imply that he was not mentally fit to continue to run the company.

That being said, the rest of this movie was amazing. The history behind the sanatorium is enough to make you think that one thing is going to happen, but as the story unfolds, it’s something completely different. Justin Haythe (screenwriter) and Gore Verbinski (director) did an amazing job at building suspense and creating a twist.

I didn’t think the acting would be as good as it was. When you’re introduced to Lockhart, Dane DeHaan seemed like he was going to be a monotone actor who couldn’t get emotion across. Oh, how wrong I was. He captured Lockhart’s trauma like the pro he is. Jason Isaacs, of course, did an amazing job as Dr. Volmer. Let’s not forget about Mia Goth’s perfect portrayal of Hannah, a young woman who’s been at the sanatorium for as long as she can remember.

If Lockhart could have gone to the sanatorium under different circumstances, the overall experience of the movie would have been better. As it is, the movie is a mix of The Wolf of Wall StreetCrimson Peak and Shutter Island.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I highly recommend you go see it. There’s violence, intrigue and a bit of a psychological component that makes any horror movie make your skin crawl. Not to mention forcefully feeding someone eels… Don’t ask.

Review: Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dir. by: Brad Andersonposter
Written by: Joe Gangemi (screenplay), Edgar Allan Poe (based on a short story by)
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis

This was another movie that sat on my Netflix queue for far longer than I am willing to admit. Of course, the amount of names in this movie is a draw, but throw Edgar Allan Poe at me and I’m nearly salivating to see what lead someone to invoke his name.

An hour into Stonehearst Asylum and I’m curious to see what brought such big names to the script. The names that I didn’t notice were rather large, to me at least. Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Jason Flemyng… hell, I almost expected Harry Potter to pop out at one point.

We follow Dr. Edward Newgate (Sturgess) as he enters the Stonehearst Asylum to study under Dr. Salt (Kingsley). He encounters Eliza Graves (Beckinsale) who is a patient there. Of course, not everything is what it seems. Edward is infatuated with Eliza, who begs him to escape and never come back, but he won’t leave without her. It is quickly revealed that Dr. Salt is a patient. The real Dr. Salt (Caine) is locked in the basement with the rest of the staff as the inmates have taken over the asylum.

There is a beauty in the dance that Dr. Newgate performs to keep Silas Lamb (Kingsley) and the rest of the staff unaware that he knows. Eliza helps him perform it with grace. Going forward, you realise that Silas had the best of intentions for the inmates and wanted to do nothing more than stop the barbaric things (truly barbaric and sadly true to life) that happened to mental patients in the late 1800s. He saw that insisting people are broken only breaks them. Embracing, accepting and accommodating many of the mental illnesses that are present causes most of the patients to thrive and grow, but horrors still lie beneath it all, as not all illness is so easily handled.

Going much further into the story will give away so very much and I don’t want to ruin all of the twists. The acting was as incredible as you would expect it to be from this caliber of talent. Some names took much smaller parts than I would assume from them, but at the end it was an amazing story and a good movie.

I’m finding it hard to put thoughts onto paper in regards to my issues with the movie. Everything about it was absolutely stunning: the acting, the sets, the beautiful wardrobes… all of it. However, this movie was more drama/love story/horror and even that felt like a bit of a stretch. Yes, there was one gory scene and the way that mental health is treated is an absolute horror but… it lacked the same feeling; it lacked any fear for the actual characters and so much of the emotion that I associate with a horror movie. At the end of the movie, I felt it was more akin to a thriller.

Now, that all being said, it is a fantastic movie that I would recommend anyone watch who is into thriller/drama/love story type movies. Again, the talent alone is enough to draw you in and even though I found myself questioning the choice of movie mid-way through, those questions were not based on the movie but my own first impressions. As I stated, horror, to me, feels like a stretch and several actors had much smaller roles than I anticipated.

Watch it. Tell me if I’m wrong. Tell me what category you would put it under. Tell me where to buy Kate’s wardrobe.

WintersOver4

Review of Knock Knock (2015)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2015 by Xander Woolf

This is the third installment in my Eli Roth Triple Feature Review. In this post, I will discuss the movie Knock Knock.

Dir. Eli Roth; Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ana De Armas, Keanu ReevesKnock Knock Poster
Release Date: October 9, 2015

Like The Green Inferno, I had trouble locating a theater in LA that was showing Knock Knock. This shocked me, since it was just released this past Friday and Eli Roth isn’t exactly a small named director. Having seen The Green Inferno just the day before, I was so excited for this movie that I was willing to drive anywhere within reason to see it. Thankfully, it was playing at Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood.

What’s it about?
Evan Webber (Reeves) is a happily married family man. When his wife and two children take a long weekend and go to the beach, Evan is stuck at home working. Two young women, Genesis (Izzo) and Bel (De Armas), knock on Evan’s door in apparent distress. He lets them in and calls them an Uber to take them to their destination, but the girls are more interested in seducing him. When he succumbs to their feminine wiles and gives in to a night of passion, Genesis and Bel wreck havoc on his life, both emotionally and physically.

Here’s the Trailer:

What did I think?
Knock Knock was funny and well written. One thing I like about this film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Another reason to like this movie is that it doesn’t have Eli Roth’s signature gore-happy style. While I love gore, it was interesting to see a change of pace. This movie focuses more on the psychological impact of a hostage situation, as opposed to to physical impact, which I respect immensely.

The storyline and the imagery were both excellent, but the acting fell short. Lorenza Izzo was amazing, as usual. Ana De Armas was terrifyingly adorable, which enhanced her character beyond belief. Aaron Burns (another of Roth’s go-to actors), who played Louis, Evan’s wife’s art dealer, was hilarious.

Keanu Reeves, however, was just awful. There was not one second during this movie that I believed his performance. He was awkward with his family, lacked passion during sex scenes, was emotionless when he spoke and just screamed in really weird ways when he was in danger. I found it extremely difficult to feel engaged in his character. I didn’t care as much what the women were doing to him because I didn’t care that much about Evan Webber. If I could recast this movie, I would probably go with someone like Edward Norton. He does tortured very well.

Despite the fact that everything else was perfect, Keanu Reeve’s performance brought the whole movie down for me. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Keanu’s role in a movie has done this for me. I’m still waiting for the day when he proves that he’s a good serious actor. If you ask me, he should stick to stoner comedies.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I do. Keanu Reeve’s performance may have brought everything down for me, but there are still a lot of amazing things about this movie that deserve to be seen. If you have any trouble finding a theater that’s showing Knock Knock, you can stream it on Amazon Instant Video for $6.99.

Tell me what you think in the comments!

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