Tag Archives: thriller

Saw II (2005) Review

MV5BOTRjMDNmNjctNjg4ZC00N2ZkLThkMzMtOWRmYTFhMzA1ZDZlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Jigsaw is back and this time a new game is being played in the sequel to its predecessor. As Detective Matthews discovers the body of a close friend/informant he is thrust into a game of survival. And this time his patience is tested as his son, Daniel, is trapped. Can Eric Matthews find his son in time before it’s too late? Or does Jigsaw have something up his sleeve that turns the game upside down?

The director this time around and who would go on to direct the next two sequels is Darren Lynn Bousman. Being a first time director may not have been the only challenge going into ‘Saw II‘, but moreso asking how do we follow-up to such a smart and visceral original idea. Focus this time around was putting the villain out there on center stage. Actor Tobin Bell returns to play John Kramer (a.k.a Jigsaw) who now has the opportunity to show who he really is about versus lying on the floor for an entire first film.

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What I really enjoyed about ‘Saw II‘ was not only how we’re watching the chaos unfold but rather seeing through the eyes of Jigsaw himself. Instead of Jigsaw being this escapable superhuman character we get a deep and telling account of a terminally ill individual whose agenda is to help heal the wounds of the lost through unorthodox methods. Taking into account the things we take for granted in life and those who we hurt in the process all plays into how John Kramer spends his limited time left before his eventual demise.

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This time around our main player in the game is Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Eric Matthews and his involvement in the police force. His relationship with his son Daniel is shaken to its core and Jigsaw takes note of it. By capturing his son, Eric must play a game with John Kramer in order to see his son again. The game itself is centered around Eric’s weakness and his unwillingness to listen. With time ticking away you watch Eric Matthews get more and more desperate and thus falls into his old habits that has got him into this situation in the first place. Very few movies had the courage to bring the villain out into the open. Give credit where credit is due  however as Darren Lynn Bousman steered the carnage and suspense through the lens.

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There are two separate events happening at the same time and we shift between the two story arcs in intricate fashion. One in the which we’ve already spoken about in Jigsaw and Eric Matthews but the other is centered around eight individuals who awaken in a room where they have limited time to locate serums before a deadly toxin poisons them. Included in the group is Daniel Matthews, son of Eric, as he becomes the link to everyone in the group as to why they’ve assembled there. The group dynamic is interesting because everyone is in the same situation yet everyone seems to turn on each other.

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Now it’s time to discuss the traps in the film because after the original movie audiences remembered the inventiveness of some of the obstacles characters found themselves in. This time around the traps are more intricate yet relatively simple as compared to the reverse bear trap as seen with Shawnee Smith who played Amanda. Probably the most memorable trap that made everyone squirmish was the needle pit. When Amanda was thrown in against her will and fell onto the needles it just brought a reaction by audiences that would terrify them if they ever saw a needle again. Other mentionable traps included a furnace where only the devil could help you out and a box in which a certain person puts their arms through it leads to a miserable time.

The sequel not only solidifies the traps in the franchise but also the twists as well. In ‘Saw II’ we get a twist that not only sets up for the sequel but also gives a revelation on what Jigsaw’s master plan is. Not only is the sequel a great one but it sets the mark that Saw is a legitimate franchise with a memorable character in Jigsaw who has more story to tell. Tobin Bell plays a character  who is eerie yet resonates with audiences as it relates to how society treats the terminally ill. Composed as a fictional character he resonates on many levels as future installments will explore. If you thought the sequel was terrifying just wait till we talk about ‘Saw III’ as it will open the world of Jigsaw to a whole other level.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw II‘? How does it compare to the original and was this the jumping point for the Jigsaw character? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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Saw (2004) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMjE4MDYzNDE1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY2OTYwNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_From the creator who has brought us the Conjuring and Insidious franchises began his career with a little gem that put Lionsgate on the map. Both James Wan and Leigh Whannell came together in introducing a new thriller that involves a killer who puts his victims in unimaginable situations of life and death. The difference this time around is that the victims are guilty of taking life for granted and are put in traps that revolve around their own personal sins. Not your usual psycho killer scenario but near the philosophical prowess of Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter. So let’s jump right into it and delve into the film that started it all.

Two men awaken in a dilapidated bathroom unknowing of how they got there. With little time they must work together to figure out who put them there and why. When we learn of a serial killer named Jigsaw through the viewpoint of Dr. Gordon both men begin to realize why they are there and that escape may be more complicated than they thought. And in a stunning series of events everything builds up to a shocking finale.

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What many people may not know is that the film was made on a $1 million budget and everything was filmed in one location. And with such a budget we were able to get Danny Glover and Cary Elwes. The big mystery that would eventually reveal itself at the end is the emergence of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw himself. Jigsaw himself wasn’t given away through exposition but instead it fools the audience into thinking who’s pulling the strings the whole time. Even the ending has a gratifying result because soon as we discover the perpetrator it leaves the viewer wanting to see more. It also worked to a point that if the studio decided to not move forward with a sequel it would leave a mark in cinematic history.

There were two memorable scenes in the film and one of them would go on to be iconic in the entire series. The scene involves Amanda, played by Shawnee Smith, as she awakens with a reverse bear trap on her head. She must retrieve the key from her supposedly dead cell mate before the timer goes off. Simplicity is what made the film original and frightening especially when it comes to the traps. As the series progresses the traps get overly complicated but the reverse bear trap remains one of the most terrifying sequences and became the staple in the franchise.

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We may not have gotten a lot of background into Jigsaw but Tobin Bell would be revealed to be Hollywood’s next horror icon. Though little is known about his character we begin to discover the psyche in how Jigsaw works. And what’s different compared to the likes of ‘Friday the 13th‘ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street‘ is that we get a character that has a motivation besides just killing for the sake of killing. Jigsaw finds flaws in his victims and puts them in traps with hopes that their experience will change their perspectives on life. Again, this is not your typical horror thriller where someone goes after people with revenge in mind. Rather in a twisted sort of way it puts everyone in the city on edge.

As far as the acting in the film it is not groundbreaking nor Oscar worthy. There are moments when the lead character, Dr. Gordon, does come off a little over the top. We can’t even judge the performance by the villain because he’s lying on the floor the whole time. The only reasonable performance we see is with Danny Glover who is the detective that’s put on the case as he searches for the suspect behind the murders.

The movie is not perfect as there are far fetched scenarios sprinkled throughout. But the overall reaction to the film when it came out in 2004 was that of praise and raised moviegoer eyebrows. With the success the studio immediately moved forward with greenlighting a sequel that would come out in a year’s time. It was the dawn of a new franchise and would go on to become one of the most successful horror franchises in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw‘? Would you consider the original film to be groundbreaking in the horror franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Life (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


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First thing that comes to mind when I first saw a preview for ‘Life‘ was how familiar it was. And it’s coincidental that this movie comes out two month before one of the most eagerly hyped films of the year in ‘Alien: Covenant‘. If you thought going into the movie you were going to see something fresh and unused compared to years past then you are terribly mistaken. But what the movie does have going for it are the involvement of its stars. And believe it or not the acting isn’t all that bad. As a matter of fact, the movie is competent for most of its duration. Yet in the end the movie is just there.

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Getting this out of the way, the movie does give call-backs to Alien and many other franchises; almost to the extent of embarrassment. One of which is shown in the trailer where Ariyon Bakare’s character is seen having hand difficulty when the organism grabs hold. It immediately brought me back to Ridley Scott’sPrometheus‘ (2012) when a biologist gets his arm snapped by an alien worm. And once the organism grows to a certain point it resembles something we’d see in ‘The Faculty‘ where high schoolers fend off against parasites taking hold of there teachers.

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Looking back I regret even seeing the trailer because beat by beat you see major spoilers that lessens the events that transpire. And upsettingly the conclusion is spoiled with a lackluster twist. What I hoped to get from the movie was some form of character development to where we can care about the people we watch. To a point they succeed with one of the astronauts who’s welcoming a baby girl. And another who’s length of time in space is taking a physical toll on his body but emotionally he is not too ready to return to earth because of space’s tranquility. Yet as a whole the script doesn’t succeed in making us care for them when turmoil ensues.

Though the movie started with promise and exposition as to what life-form they’re dealing with, I was hoping they’d go into more detail. The movie just rushes to move ahead rather then venture into what the organism is capable of or what its endgame would be. It’s obvious that it can’t get to earth because doing so would put the fate of mankind at risk. So where’s the suspense? There really isn’t any. From Gyllenhaal to Reynolds to Ferguson, they all were fine with some gripes to be made on some of their decision making. It’s not a terrible movie. It’s not a game-changer. ‘Life‘ is sadly just there.

Rating: 6.5/10

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How do you feel about ‘Life‘? Are you planning on watching it? How does it compare to other sci-fi movies in years past? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Get Out (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


get-out-2017-2In an age of reciprocal storytelling and an audience that clamors for something new there sometimes comes a breakthrough. The writer and directorial debut of Jordan Peele presents a fresh concept with a thrilling take on social commentary. Not only is ‘Get Out‘ a thriller but it also has a mix of comedy and a great ensemble cast. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and LilRel Howery. As the story goes, Chris is about to meet the parents of his new girlfriend, Rose. What starts as a warm welcome then turns to bizarre events as Chris realizes he may be caught in a sinister plot.

We’ve been fortunate to have seen some great work from new and upcoming directors from these last couple of years. And this is no different as Jordan Peele takes risk in using social commentary of interracial relationships and injecting a bit of horror. After watching ‘Get Out‘ the one thing I appreciated most was how simple the concept was and didn’t overcomplicate itself. Many times movies can bombard itself with plot twists and then lose focus as to what made the movie effective in the first place. Credit also has to be given to the cast because they didn’t over do themselves nor did they fall victim as movies tend to do.

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I’m not going to go into detail as to what happens in the movie because everyone should go in with a fresh set of eyes. All I will say is that there was a great use of suspense that managed to carry all the way through the film. Not once are you looking at your watch and asking yourself if the movie is over. And again, the movie runs with great pace that allows the audience to stay on their toes. Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Chris, on many occasions was paranoid considering he was black and if you put yourself in his shoes you would be just as freaked out. That’s what made the movie unique and many people from all walks of life could connect with his character.

This was a great film and one that took me by surprise. Jordan Peele is on the right track and has a bright future in his film career. Could we see another project down the line that mirrors a similar plot? It’s too early to tell but I hope we get more of these because original features seems too much to ask now-a-days.

Rating: 8/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Get Out‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

A Cure for Wellness (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


cureforwellnessposterComing from the director who brought us ‘The Ring‘ and the first three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Gore Verbinski returns to direct a psychological thriller in ‘A Cure for Wellness‘. The film stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth as the movie centers around a representative of a company, Mr. Lockhart, who is sent to retrieve a fellow colleague, Mr. Pembroke, who is staying at an institution due to health reasons. However, once he arrives and discovers that the institution is keeping their motives and methods of operation in the dark, Lockhart scrambles for answers before he himself gets stuck there forever.

The trailer got me interested in seeing the movie mainly because Dane DeHaan was in it and the startling imagery that gave me the impression that the story was going to be good. Gore Verbinski is a great director and can find ways in getting under the audience’s skin. This is why his latest film, although had some decent performances out of DeHaan and Isaacs and some creepy visual effects, struggled from a narrative point of view and wasn’t always in focus.

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One of the things this movie reminded me of was of ‘Shutter Island‘ (2010) and how Dehaan’s character, Lockhart, is sent to a location that’s isolated and gets caught up in a scheme. Of course, the main characters of each film had different motivations but they did share similar character traits. And just as we saw in ‘Shutter Island‘, there is a girl involved but only this time she is an innocent who unbenounced to her is in danger. So given there were similarities between the two movies I did enjoy some aspects nonetheless by Verbinski.

This is a visually appealing film to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed a scene that shows Lockhart arriving to the institution by car. Just that scene alone and the locations in which the movie was filmed took my breathe away. From an aesthetic point of view everything looked amazing. We then get into the performances by Dehaan and Isaacs who individually held their own up until the very end which is where there were problems in the narrative that needed to be addressed.

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When watching the film it really took its time building the narrative and for subsequent events to occur. Sometimes the movie dragged on a little bit too much and there were times when I wondered when something would happen. A lot of the suspense scenes you see in the trailer is unfortunately given away and thus makes the movie feel even more of a drag. As we approach the climax of the movie and after all the talk about the townspeople and how there’s been fear of the institution it leads up to a big ball of confusion. And that’s where the narrative failed to weave the needle in a coherent way that eventually fails in its own mess.

It’s not to say the movie is terrible because Dane DeHaan was great along with Jason Isaacs. And as mentioned earlier the locations in which the film was made are stunning to look at. However, with the narrative mess and inconsistencies throughout I just couldn’t appreciate it as much as I could have. I’d say this not as good as ‘Shutter Island‘ nor does it succeed as a whole from an entertainment point of view. Go into ‘A Cure for Wellness‘ with low expectations and just enjoy the visual appeal that it presents.

Rating: 5.5/10

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What do you guys think of ‘A Cure for Wellness‘? Are you planning on seeing it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Rings (2016/17) Review

mv5bnju1ndaxntg0mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzuxmjewmti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Following the footsteps of Hollywood as it continues to revisit long lost franchises, we get the third installment in ‘Rings‘. The film is directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, who was only involved in one other film and is fairly new to Hollywood. It has been 12 years since we’ve seen a sequel to ‘The Ring Two‘ and what begs the question is why now? That can be said for many properties in the horror genre as not only this month, January, but for the remainder of 2017 as well. So let’s dive into ‘Rings‘.

When Julia suddenly loses contact with her boyfriend Holt as he attends a University, she goes on a search to only discover that not all is as it seems. Soon after Julia watches a video she then gets the message that she has seven days to live. This sends her on a wild goose chase to locate the remains of Samara before it’s too late. The film stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe.

In my last review with ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘, I spoke about how the series has been around for 15 years and that by this point it was more of a fan affair. So with ‘Rings‘ you look at it and wonder if it is even relevant to the fans of the original back in 2002. Coming off of a very disappointing sequel in 2005 one stops to think if there’s a purpose on moving forward. The trailers leading up to its inevitable release were cringeworthy alone as you can sense that the lore and greatness of Gore Verbinski’sThe Ring‘ was all but non-existent. This leads us to three minutes of footage that was put out by the studio which saw a doomed flight for a couple of passengers. At this point nothing could save this movie.

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Do not think after 12 years that resurrecting this franchise was going to be amazing. There’s an epidemic going around with these properties where continuity doesn’t mean anything anymore. The troubling aspect of this is that the fans of the original will hate the direction on which the movie takes; whereas the general audience most likely will not notice. Just from what I’ve seen it felt like the studio deliberately made it into a stand-alone from its predecessors. There wasn’t even a nod or mention of Naomi Watt’s character from the previous films.

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The acting in this debacle was below average and the couple that we follow of Julia and Holt, both played by Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe, were cringeworthy. I do have to say that from the beginning when Julia first came on screen she didn’t bother me at first and I was going along with it. But there’s a certain moment when logic is supposed to kick in that she does the inevitable and lost my interest soon after. And we have Alex Roe who’s only there because of good looks and cause he’s the person that puts Julia in her predicament in the first place. We also have to mention Johnny Galecki who plays Gabriel who for the most part I thought would play a bigger role just by how the movie started. He gets wasted and written off by the half-way mark which by that point nothing was going right so he was smart to leave in that sense.

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One of the big caveats that I had with the film was the pacing because there were times when characters were jabbering and nothing was happening. Which then leads me to the plot of the movie which has to do with Samara. She was watered down compared to what we’d seen in the previous films to a point where I didn’t find her terrifying at all. One of the plot devices had to do with characters showing the tape to other people and in which would pass death down the line. No spoilers there but how many times have we seen this used? We’ve seen this in ‘Final Destination‘, ‘It Follows‘, among others. And yes, given the opening to the film you get a Final Destination vibe. There’s even a scene that takes place towards the latter end of the movie where you sense ‘Don’t Breathe‘ and was a complete ripoff from that.

If you’re going into ‘Rings‘ as a fan of the original you are going to loathe this movie. There is nothing redeeming here and even for the general audience who go to see this will regret it just by the acting and pacing. Forget what you had remembered in the other films because it just won’t matter since Samara seems to have multiple variations of her story. Try not to get sucked into the theater because if you thought watching the video was going to get you killed, then believe me this movie actually will.

Rating: 4.5/10

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What do you think of ‘Rings‘? Do you plan on watching it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


resident-evil-the-final-chapter-posterWith a five year delay, and after countless sequels, it looks like Milla Jovovich is hanging her artillery up for good. Paul W. S. Anderson returns to direct ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘ and looks to bring the franchise he started back in 2002 to a close. All the lingering questions everyone’s had about the Umbrella Corporation and if and what can stop the T-virus from whipping the face of humanity into extinction will be revealed. For over 15 years, it’s a franchise that many gave up on as the series dragged on with Jovovich at the helm. Some may argue the sequels gave a clear identity of what it wanted to be, as we’ve seen in other franchises such as in the Fast and Furious series. It all comes to an end and much of the production is more of like a thank you to everyone that stayed the course, for good or indifferent.

Alice (Milla Jovovich) arises to find out that much of humanity has now been deceased. However, with a little help from the Red Queen, she discovers that an anti-serum exists deep within the hive’s location. And with Dr. Isaac (Iain Glen) on the hunt to stop Alice in her tracks, his master plan is in jeopardy. It’s a race to Raccoon city with the true fate of humanity resting in Alice’s hands.

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I was a fan of the Resident Evil video games back in the 90s and it was announced that a film adaptation was in the works everyone was intrigued; especially with Milla Jovovich being attached to the project. Once it hit theaters it was drawn with a mix bag with some liking it and others thinking it was mah. Though not a complete transfer from the storylines we’d seen in the games it had an appealing premise and action sequences to entertain. Thereafter, the series became a thing on its own and eventually giving us that videogame feel with ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife‘ (2010). By this point, the series seemed like a cash grab and became a huge appeal to audiences overseas where much of the revenue came in.

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One thing you could take from the recent and supposedly “final” chapter is that you could tell it was made for the fans; whichever how many are left that is. It went away from a level by level game mode to more of what ‘Apocalypse‘ brought. Story elements were thrown in to tie up the loose ends of the series, including the backstory behind the Umbrella Corporation and why the T-virus was created in the first place. We’d even get a philosophical explanation by Dr. Isaac that really takes the originality of the premise into familiar territory. But what would you expect from the last and final film?  Aside from the beginning and end, everything in between is exactly what fans come to pay and see. And rightfully so.

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The movie promises to come full circle and for the most part we get a conclusion to Alice’s character. But to argue that the movie is the best in the series is a tough argument to make. There were moments when the effects looked cheap and the acting was never top notch either. Some of the plot points had me scratching my head at times when there was talk about the anti-virus. I could’ve sworn the anti-virus was mentioned in the very first movie and thus had me wondering why it was supposed to come as a surprise that one exists. But again, we’re not here for story so it doesn’t even really matter.

With the series coming to a close and Milla Jovovich bowing to her fans for one last time (let’s hope) I sincerely hope it is the end. After a five year break it’s a little surprising Paul W. S. Anderson would even return given the lack of interest in the U.S. market. ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ does have action for everyone as one would expect by now. As a sendoff to a franchise that fans have come to endure it does leave you with some satisfaction. And that’s being nice coming from someone who lost interest after the original.

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Rating: 5.5/10

What do you think of ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘? If you had to rank the films in order from worst to best, how would you rank them? Comment below and share your thoughts.