Tag Archives: thriller

The First Purge (2018) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


the first purgeIt’s the one night America gets to celebrate and unify as a nation. No it’s not the Fourth of July but a new tradition that sparked attention around the world, the Purge. After three films the franchise goes back to its roots and explores the origins of the night that changed the country forever. This marks the fourth entry in the series by Universal and stars Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, and Marisa Tomei. Will you survive the night?

The Purge franchise is unique in the sense that when it first arrived to audiences in 2013 it caught many people’s attention. Though it stumbled in execution the one thing it had going for it was the concept. It being that for one night a year, for 12 consecutive hours, citizens are allowed to commit any crime; including murder without penalty. The movie however cheated itself by staying confined within a home as a family fights off intruders and an un-welcomed guest. The sequel, Purge: Anarchy would take full advantage of what didn’t work for the first film and turned into a fun action thriller. Then finally, ‘Purge: Election Year‘ delved into the politics behind purge night and saw a battle for survival as an appointed candidate races to end the night of the purge. It leads us now to the origins of the purge and how this yearly tradition came to be.

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As a new party rises to power an experiment is introduced to showcase the benefits of American citizens acting out. With a monetary reward citizens of Staten Island are given the opportunity to participate in this controlled experiment. But as the night descends upon the island its citizens are in a fight for survival and the real motives behind the event begins to unravel.

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With anticipation I went into the movie with low expectations and the possibility of being let down. The marketing didn’t sell me completely as the trailer led me to believe it was a purge movie but also felt like it could be a street drama. And as one could expect my fears became reality as the movie was a little unbalanced. So much has been speculated regarding the New Founding Fathers of America and how the party rose to power; along with the idea behind the purge itself. What started out as promising very early on in the opening of the film it later descends into familiar territory. And that’s where it became a wasted opportunity.

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So much of the film is focused on character development and each of the story lines that it slows down the movie. If we had to compare films it would have to be that ‘Purge: Anarchy‘ did a much better job in managing three or four story arcs without sacrificing the pacing. The main focus in ‘The First Purge‘ should have been on the people behind the purge and not of the citizens of Staten Island. Because we have already been exposed to a purge night in the previous films it defeats the purpose in repeating a similar plot but with different purge victims. This answers my initial problem with the marketing of the movie and the trailer as it focuses a lot on the victims and not the origins aspect.

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Let’s focus now on the people behind the scenes as we’re introduced to the lead architect of the experiment, Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei). When the movie focused on her character and the motive behind the purge as it was unfolding was fascinating. Unfortunately, the movie decides to do something at the mid-way point and it cheats the audience which to me wasn’t cool. Again, the focus is unbalanced and felt wasted when characters just suddenly disappear.

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By the films end the movie concludes the night of the purge with the survivors of the experiment. And to make matters worse the movie decides to forgo the aftermath as to enacting the purge as an annual event. However if you stay for the credits there is a quick snip it of how the purge is born. Again, the movie suffers from a wasted opportunity in focusing on the perpetrators behind the purge.

To rank ‘The First Purge‘ it would come 3rd or 4th in the series behind 2013’s ‘The Purge‘. The movie was such a disappointment and was foretelling in the trailer as already explained. It’s not to say there’s nothing to enjoy but you walk out of the movie wanting more. Maybe the television series will address the New Founding Fathers in more detail. As a fan of the franchise I would recommend to go watch because of the origins component. But for the general audience I would wait till it comes out on demand or DVD.

Rating: 6/10

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Are you planning on watching ‘The First Purge‘? How would you rank the films in the franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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A Quiet Place (2018) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


a-quiet-place-movie-posterA family taking refuge in the outskirts of town are surrounded by creatures that hunt by sound. Their new way of life becomes challenged as obstacles begin to mount with survival on the line. The film is directed by actor John Krasinski and stars himself with fellow actress Emily Blunt.

There has been an uptick in actors turned director in the last few years; a good example, Joel Edgerton who made his directorial debut with ‘The Gift‘ in 2015. The film was met with praise by critics and was favored by audiences. A promising start that would make way for other actors to get their fair chance. With ‘A Quiet Place‘, actor John Krasinski takes a rather simple idea and turns into a suspenseful and smart piece of work.

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From a cinematic perspective the film was gorgeous to look at with amazing cinematography. The attention to detail also made the movie that more rewarding as you truly felt what was at stake given the circumstances the characters had to live through. For a good majority of the movie there was little to no use of background music thus replaced by natural sounds. Doing so allows the viewer to stay in suspense while hammering in the idea of what can be taken for granted in the everyday life of humanity. As creatures seem to be taking over the world they are attracted to sound. By committing noise it gets their attention and thus leads to an attack. To live in a new age of silence will challenge everything you once lived and the new reality that comes with it.

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The acting is top notch with both Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as their chemistry makes the viewer believe everything that is happening throughout. Never was there a moment when you questioned their motives because of how careful they were to prepare for if or when a threat was imminent. The children in the film, played by Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, were great as each of them had their own personal struggles; especially during the opening sequence as a loved one suffers an early demise. From that event it carries on throughout the movie and eventually brings closure by the film’s end.

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Some of the best moments came from when the wife, Evelyn Abbott, had to bare a child while chaos ensued. The suspense kept building and building and wouldn’t let go. More importantly however never did the film feel like it had to go out of its way in exposing what or where the creatures came from. A typical cliche that many movies fall victim to and thus destroys the mystery behind their existence. No exposition or voice-over from any of the characters at any point during the film. It was just a matter of living in that moment of time and experiencing the disruption of life that befall the family. The ending also brought a little bit of laughs with much satisfaction as credits began to roll.

From an actor turned director, John Krasinski is well on his way to becoming a much appreciated asset. ‘A Quiet Place‘ is an example of cinema done right and that continues to prove that less is more.

Rating: 8/10

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Are you planning on watching ‘A Quiet Place‘ in theaters? If having seen the movie, what did you think of it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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.

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.