Tag Archives: thriller

Split (2016/17) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


split_red-692x1024From the director who brought us ‘The Sixth Sense‘, ‘Signs‘, and 2015’s ‘The Visit‘, M. Night Shymalan returns with a suspense thriller that stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. When Casey Cooke and her friends are captured by somebody with multiple personalities, they must race to find answers as to whom they’re dealing with and whether or not escape will even be possible. After coming off of a mediocre effort in Shymalan’s last movie, are we continuing to seeing a revival of the director’s career? Let’s find out.

**For the purposes of the film, I will be referring to McAvoy’s character as Kevin.**

This was definitely an unsettling movie and not in the way of violence but more so in how great of a performance we get from James McAvoy. His characters suffers from a condition called Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) and portrays over 23 personalities that all came to be over a dark past. With this in mind, it takes us to the plot which is evident in the trailers as Casey and her friends are captured by Kevin and are then placed in an undisclosed location. We then see the different personalities come to light and in which Casey tries hard to piece together a way out. But a repetitive reference to “The Beast” raises alarms as to whether or not a deeper more menacing figure looms in the shadows.

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Having said everything thus so far and with what little is known, it’s best not to give any more details without possibly spoiling the film. All that will be said is that James McAvoy puts on a challenging performance; especially when you’re encompassing 23 characters in one body. There were moments when you felt fear for Casey, who’s played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who comes face to face with him and you never know who you would be talking to next. What also caught my attention was to the story behind Casey and how her upbringing was met with a dark past herself that I thought would later play out in the movie. But it didn’t go the way I expected.

We’re also introduced to Dr. Karen Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, who is the psychiatrist that Kevin goes to visit. She was very good and I liked her role as this person who truly cares about him. You could sense it from the start and it wasn’t like she was meant to be written off very quick. We’re able to get a bit of exposition as to why Kevin is the way he is when the two characters are together. Their chemistry was awesome; although later on I will get into issues that I had when certain things would happen. Overall, Buckley did a great job.

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If you’re getting the hint that things didn’t pan out as I had expected while watching the movie then most likely it’s because of the direction of the script. The movie started strong but by the third act that’s when the wheels on train begins to fall apart. As seen in the trailer when McAvoy begins to climb on the walls and is running around like a demon in distress, it left me still trying to piece together how this entity breaks through the sound barrier. Because everything that involved the DID made it seem believable that a person could be this way. There was a believability factor that existed and that was one of the reasons that made everything else that was happening that more terrifying. But once “The Beast” as they say appears it sort of ruined it for me because it felt like we entered into another dimension. It could’ve been handled better.

Now let’s get to the elephant in the room which is in regards to the twist. Every M. Night Shymalan has some element of a twist in his movies and for ‘Split’ it is no different. I will not however go into detail about what that twist may entail because it is something for the audience to stumble upon for themselves. As far as my reaction to the twist I thought it was an interesting decision by the director and that’s all I will say to that.

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Where does ‘Split‘ stand against Shymalans’ other projects is that it’s a hit or miss but is definitely one of his better efforts. It’s directed with care and has good performances by the actors. Again, it goes back to the script and the direction the movie is trying to head towards can sometimes get lost in translation. The movie reminds me a lot of ‘Identity‘ (2003), where from a psychological point of view you’re not sure who’s character is really screwed up. For a January release, the movie is surprisingly fresh and forgoes the dump machine that many studios rely on.

Rating: 7/10

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Are you planning on watching ‘Split‘? Which M. Night Shymalan movie is your favorite? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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The Disappointments Room (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


v1-btsxmjixmteyottqoze3mta2ozeymda7njqxozk0oqFrom Relativity Media comes the story about a family who move into their new home in the country side. When a room is discovered on the attic floor it reveals the grueling details of the secrets families kept as it regarded kids with disabilities or deformities. Soon after, Dana must find a way to keep her family safe as a vengeful entity terrorizes her and her family. The film is directed by D.J. Caruso and stars Kate Beckinsale.

Based on true events we follow Dana, an architect, as she stumbles upon a room in the attic that leads to a disappointments room where children were put in when families tried to secretly deny their child’s existence who has a deformity. The concept and loose tellings about such events caught my attention when a trailer was released and didn’t give away too much about the plot. With that said, this was such a disappointment as the title of the film suggests. There apparently weren’t any early screenings for critics nor are there many reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes which suggests an embargo may have been put in place. Even without going into detail so far, you’re probably thinking where this review is headed.

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The premise of the film caught my attention and what I wanted to learn more was why or how such rooms were constructed and the families involved. Unfortunately, very little is told in the movie and what’s even worse is how hollow the story involved with the home Dana and her family move into. We then get into the movie itself that is unsure what it wanted to be as it goes from being a mystery to a drama and then at times goes into a thriller. This reminded me of ‘Cold Creek Manor‘ back in 2003 as far as the pacing and where the movie was headed. A promising start just spirals into chaos and just gets worse and worse and worse.

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Let’s talk about Kate Beckinsale because her character is a mess. She’s a caring mother who suffers from depression after a traumatic events that persuades her husband in moving the family to the countryside. Dana starts seeing things and eventually you as the viewer aren’t sure what you’re seeing which then leads into bigger problems as the movie progresses. And how the movie handles her past to dealing with the room and the ghosts that follows is mind-boggling numb to watch. There is no clear connection between her depression and the ghost that is terrorizing her nor is it cohesive from a narrative sense. Many times her performance was cringeworthy; especially during the times when she is confronting her husband when something happens to her.

It’s hard to continue on bashing the film because there’s just so much to talk about without giving away any spoilers. Again, the premise got my attention and what I wanted to get was a story – thriller or horror- that would build up the suspense as the lead character pieces together the clues that would make you want to care for them. Unfortunately, ‘The Disappointments Room‘ is packaged in mystery but once you dig into the film it becomes a jumbled mess from story to character development to the resolve at the end. If you want to do justice it’s best to research the disappointments rooms rather then paying for something that you’ll get very little in details.

Rating: 3.5/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘The Disappointments Room‘? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Morgan (2016) Review

MV5BMjA1MjYyNDkxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTgxODAwOTE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_From 20th Century Fox and Producer Ridley Scott is a science fiction thriller about a young girl named Morgan who isn’t as she seems. When a government official, Lee Weathers, is sent out to investigate a string of mishaps with Morgan and whether or not she is a danger to anyone she comes in contact with. The film is directed by newcomer Luke Scott who’s been involved in previous films such as ‘Exodus: Gods & Kings’ (2015) and one credit in 1977’s ‘The Duellists’. The movie stars Kate Mara, Boyd Holbrook, and Chris Sullivan.

There are only two things that are going for this movie and that is Ridley Scott being attached as producer and the lead actress in Kata Mara. If the trailer was any indication it has the same vibe and feel of 2015’s ‘Ex Machina‘ where a scientist creates a synthetic organism that struggles to understand the qualities of a human being as it explores the feelings of sadness or anger. So for ‘Morgan‘ it’s the same set up where a group of scientists create a number of synthetic beings as each one fails to live up to expectations. That is until the third attempt where Morgan was able to develop properly with no health issues and has grown into a five year old. The only problem is that Morgan has tendencies to exhibit violent behavior that brings into question her validity as someone who can learn right from wrong.

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My initial reaction to the film is that it had a lot of potential as it pertained to the idea of creating artificial life with the ability to express emotions like a human. And with the addition of Ridley Scott producing the film it brought into question the ethics of science and knowing the boundaries between right and wrong. Scott is great with science fiction as he’s shown us with movies like ‘Blade Runner‘ and ‘Alien‘ that have remained intact for almost 37 years. What I also enjoyed was the performance by Kate Mara who played the role of Lee. Her character came off as secretive by not divulging any kind of information that would disrupt the investigation.

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This leads us to my issues with the film as I’ll start off by saying that at some point in the movie there is a twist. I cannot say much without giving too much away but once the movie hits its peak we then get a generic sci-fi picture. And partially some of it has to do with Kate Mara’s character which becomes evident when Morgan and Lee have some kind of interaction with one another. It actually bothered me because we’ve seen this direction before in other movies and it leaves you asking ‘what was the point’? The mystery that was building all the way up to that point ends up being for nothing.

As far as the performances goes besides Kate Mara is that there wasn’t anyone that stood out. Boyd Holbrook plays a chef who gets introduced to Lee when she first arrives to the property which gave us potential for a love interest. Thankfully that wasn’t meant to be but it’s unfortunate because the movie leads you to believe he’d play a bigger role by the films end. There is a small cameo with Paul Giamatti who plays as Dr. Alan Shapiro, which actually was one of the better parts of the movie. It was great seeing him in the movie but I had wished we could have seen more of him.

Even though ‘Morgan‘ didn’t hit it on all cylinders it did provoke intrigue about the ideas of science. The ending had problems and the performances were generic at best. You can see the potential but ultimately it fails to make you care for what you are watching.

Rating: 5.9/10

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What do you guys think? Do you plan to watch ‘Morgan‘? Comment below and share your thoughts on some of your favorite science fiction films.

Nerve (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Nerve-2016From the directors of Paranormal 3 & 4, are Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s take on a game that takes a person to their limits and once you start you’ll have to finish, or else. When Vee is pressured to take risks for a change by her best friend Sydney, she takes part in a viral game called Nerve. What starts as an innocent game of truth or dare soon takes a turn towards danger as complicated scenarios are thrown Vee’s way that could mean between life and death. The movie stars Dave Franco and Emma Roberts.

This movie reminded me a lot of ‘13 Sins‘ (2014) which has a similar premise when it came to making money and how someone is thrust into a deadly game with everything to lose. It worked as a thriller as the main character had to complete a series of tests but with each one being more dangerous as the last. But as for ‘Nerve‘ we get a more modern take on how the game utilizes social media to thrust people into uncharted territory and even to the point where it turns players against each other. Another way of looking at it is how so many people have embraced Pokemon Go and hearing how far people would go in catching all of the Pokemon, from getting into accidents or walking off cliffs. Now most of the events were unintended  but the gist of it is in the fact that it created a social media storm.

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Let’s start with the performances by Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as they each participate in Nerve but also finding attraction for one another at some point along the way. This in many ways was Franco’s first stand out performance, coming off of the Now You See Me franchise and ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising‘ that came out earlier this year. He did a good job and was likable as a character who ends up playing a pivotal role along the way. Same can be said for Emma Roberts who at times can make it not seem believable; especially when she’s known for playing it safe to then jumping into being a risk taker. You do get a sense of understanding though for Vee as someone who wants to better herself and wants to move out of her mom’s home. By participating in Nerve it not only breaks her fear of risk but she can also make money along the way as a means.

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Without giving away spoilers as it’s implied in the trailer is how focus was put on the use of social media and the consequences that could follow. The game requires both watchers and viewers which after the movie you’ll understand to the extent of what I am saying. It brought to light how influential social media can have on people, good or bad, and how being a watcher is just as powerful. The ending to the movie is where I’m making my point and it reminded me of how feeding into an event or participating in something that you’re not so sure about can be just as dangerous as to those behind the lens. Things that came to mind were bullying or even the political climate where the media can influence viewers in ways we don’t even know and can sometimes determine the outcome.

Some of the problems I had with ‘Nerve‘ stemmed from the lack of origin of how the game came to be. It’s given some explanation of how the game exists but is treated as a game that doesn’t have an origin. However, what got me the most was how illogical and irresponsible watchers could be when it came to daring people. Some of the challenges were downright dangerous and made you think that the watchers were the real villains as they watch people die from dares they all agreed to. The love component between Vee and Ian is unrealistic and always makes me wonder why that’s thrown in because they easily could’ve turned into good friends. It’s almost as if the filmmakers were trying to appeal to the female audience when in fact the movie was advertised as an action thriller. Last but not least, this is a one trick pony and doesn’t have a re-watchability to it which may as well have been put straight to Video-On-Demand.

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There is fun to be had with a premise that isn’t so original and some good chemistry between James Franco and Emma Roberts, but ultimately the thrills go over the top and becomes illogical as the movie progresses. Without making comparisons, ‘Nerve‘ is definitely better then Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s found footage projects in horror. That said, it is entertaining enough and has some jaw dropping camera work especially if you have a fear of heights.

Rating: 6/10

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

The Purge: Election Year (2016) Review

PG3_UncleSam1Sht_0518_1SM.0This is not a test. This is the commencement of the annual purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government. With Universal successfully coming off of the sequel with ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ after a rocky start to the franchise, audiences bare witness to the next event. From the director who brought us the first two Purge films is James DeMonaco, who surprisingly has  only directed four movies including this one. As America enters into election season, a Senator running for office threatens to suspend the annual tradition if elected as President. This catches the attention of the founding fathers as they set out to eliminate any threats that would bring an end to their agenda.

It’s not ironic that with an election coming up we’d see Universal take advantage by returning with their eye catching property ‘The Purge‘ while adding their own message to the mix. Frank Grillo returns for ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ and is Senator’s Charlie Roan’s  (Elizabeth Mitchell) protector when the annual purge slowly approaches. Coming off the last film where Leo Barnes was going to go after the man responsible for the death of his son, returns here in a role where he too wants to see the purge come to an end. While the Senator is put in a safe house it soon is found out that it’s all a set up from the inside to kill the Senator. This sets both Leo and Roan on the run while danger awaits them on every corner.

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The first Purge movie was met with mostly negative responses and was in due part to the action taking place in one location. As a viewer we weren’t able to take in the concept which is that a country would for 12 hours see an event where all crime is legal; including murder, and the carnage that would follow. Later we’d see the sequel in 2014 where it made up for what lacking while also adding more to the founding fathers and why the purge was created. And with a standout performance by Frank Grillo as the Sergeant, he takes in survivors of the night while trying to lead them to safety. So it brings us to the third installment where it’s for all the marbles and the country’s soul is on the line.

Let’s start by saying that seeing Frank Grillo return was a great call and seeing him in this movie brought us back to how great he was in the last outing. He doesn’t stop a beat when insider’s turn bad and he has to escort Senator Roan to safety. This leads us to Elizabeth Michell’s performance as the Senator who believe it or not wasn’t a distraction. You were sold into her character who was running to end the violence and tradition that was only fueling the agenda’s of the elite. There are instances where people are uncertain of her true motives as she can be seen like all other politicians.

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It would be crazy for me not to deny there wasn’t a political tone to the movie when it comes to rich versus the poor and is how the tradition of the purge helps to eliminate a certain class. A more disturbing take was how we see tourists from other countries coming to participate in the purge. This brings to light the ongoing fight in today’s world where terrorism is arriving or showing up all over the world. But for the sake of the film it works to it’s benefit and shows how powerful a voice can be if one or not all takes action. Of the three films thus far, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ is the most politically telling of them all and may leave you with mixed reactions.

As was the case with the last two films, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ has it’s fair share of problems. The concept still has holes that it can’t manage to overcome considering the scale of such an event. No matter how hard the movie tries focusing on the political aspects of the event, it ends up cheating itself from being a more thought provoking idea. The violence is surprisingly little, yet we see a lot of blood and death if that were to make any sense. There’s plenty of ammunition to be spent here and is what we see most of. In the end, it struggles between being a horror film or an all out action feature. One last thing I’ll say is that in the last films we’d see a time frame of the purge taking place. In this one the movie doesn’t place too much attention to how much time has passed from once the purge starts to when it ends. Though it may not make a difference it does feel absent and leaves you wondering why that decision was made.

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With that said, the ending does leave with potential for another sequel and will ultimately depend on the returns at the box office. The production budget for this movie was $10 million* so it can easily make a profit. As Universal and Blumhouse productions continue with a winning track record, it’s safe to say their trilogy is a success. And when I mean success, it’s in regards to the concept that is the purge and how it caught the attention of movie-goers since its inception in 2013. Give it to Director James DeMonaco as he not only made a franchise but also isn’t shy in making a statement as well.

Rating: 6.8/10

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Source: Box Office Mojo

Do you plan on watching ‘The Purge: Election Year‘? What do you think of the franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Triple 9 (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


UnknownA group of crooked cops are under pressure by a Russian Mob to pull of a heist. But not everyone is in on the job as Chris Allen is partners with Michael Atwood who has relations with the boss’s family. When the IA gets closer to the bandits and the walls begin to close in, everyone is on their own and trust soon turns to betrayal. The movie is directed by John Hillcoat with stars Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Woody Harrelson.

From the same person who brought us ‘Lawless‘ and ‘The Road‘, John Hillcoat delivers an action packed drama that wasn’t promoted or advertised. Not having seen the trailer I went into ‘Triple 9‘ with low expectations because of the lack of exposure in theaters and on television. So how did the movie fair? Although it kept my attention with the story and action sequences the film is far from perfect but it managed to stand on its own two legs for most of the runtime.

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What this movie reminded me a lot of was Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed‘ and Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Training Day‘. In this film we find Michael Atwood lead a group of men in a series of heists while working for a Russian Mob. Along the way he struggles to please his bosses while trying to see his son whenever possible. It gets to a point where Michael has to make drastic decisions in order to stay alive. At the same time we follow Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) as he is partnered with Michael unknowing of his involvement with the mob. This leads to a heist that is near close to impossible where the only solution is to call a triple 9 and lure police away from the police station in order to steal from The Department of Homeland Security.

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The movie keeps the viewers attention with the drama and crime scenes that are genuine to what we see with cartels and inner-city violence. There’s one scene that got a reaction from the audience that hits close to home that involves a car and head trophies sitting on the hood of the trunk. And the performances by Affleck and Ejiofor were what stood out from everyone else. Everyone contributed in their own way including Woody Harrelson who played the IA detective and father of Chris. One of the disappointing things that took me by surprise was the sudden death of one of the characters. Without spoiling it all I’ll say is that I really thought this character would have had a leading part in the movie.

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There wasn’t necessarily a bad performance throughout the movie; however, what did hurt the film was the pacing. After starting strong with a bank heist we then get introduced to the mob. It’s soon after that we learn of the heist that’s to take place in the near future. But until then the movie takes its time leading up to the heist that a good twenty minutes could have been removed to quicken the pace without hurting the story. And where the movie also suffers is in the quick and sudden resolution between Michael and the Russian mob. The movie could have better intertwined the crooked cop narrative along with the mob’s narrative. It felt at times the two were separate from each other yet people were referenced by each side. Aside from these issues, your entertained till the end with decent performances from everyone involved.

Although the narrative could’ve been a little tighter with less of a runtime, ‘Triple 9‘ is good enough to leave audience members satisfied. It may not have that effort as compared to ‘Training Day‘ or ‘The Departed‘ but it follows the same twists and turns each were able to offer. Casey Affleck and Chiwetel Ejiofor are the leads who did a great job along with Woody Harrelson. Having not been advertised enough it’s disappointing this movie won’t do as good financially had it been the other way around.

Rating: 6.5/10

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What do you guys think? Have you heard of ‘Triple 9‘ and are planning to watch it? Comment below and click the like button if you enjoyed reading this post.

The Witch (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


The_Witch_posterSet in the 1660’s is the story about a family who after leaving their plantation goes out to live in the outskirts of New England. When their baby, Sam, is taken from their parish an unruly force takes over the family that begins to slowly tear them apart. The film is directed by Robert Eggers and stars Kate Dickie, Anya-Taylor Joy, and Ralph Ineson.

It’s been a long while since watching a film that is genuinely unsettling but to also find it refreshing at the same time. This time around we’re talking about ‘The Witch‘ and having viewed the trailer this past month I was eagerly looking forward to seeing it. To describe this movie is nothing but unsettling and the credit goes out to the director who was able to hone in the suspense not knowing where the movie would go next. Now I have to warn everyone in saying that this isn’t your typical horror film with big budget effects and cheap jump scares forced down your throats. Instead you are treated to a time piece that sets the tone with events that took place in old folklore and a time where witchcraft was believed to exist. So for some viewers this may not rub off so well and could turn them away if your not knowing what to expect. With that said, this is not one to be overlooked.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this film not only because it went away from the typical tropes of a horror film but the background and history that was put into the making of the film. There were scenes in ‘The Witch‘ that were genuinely terrifying; especially with the background music to go along with it. One could even look at the film as a piece of art where dialogue isn’t totally necessary as the events and images are what drives the movie. There are a couple of scenes that stood out to me and one of them had to do with the taking of the baby. It’s what happens after the baby is taken that we are introduced to the witch herself. We’ll just leave it at that and everyone will have to see it for themselves. The other scene happens towards the middle of the movie where it involves a sick child that you truly sense that the evil is present.

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We get to see Kate Dickie play the role of the Katherine who reels from the loss of her baby. She does an exceptional job along with her co-stars who battle to stay united as evil lurks the grounds they live on. Anya-Taylor Joy, who plays the adopted daughter Thomasin, does an amazing job as she is the one character who everyone suspects is a witch. She does everything she can to prove everyone wrong but in the end takes a turn for the worse. The very last scene we see of Thomasin is one that will have everyone talking and is terrifying all in itself.

From a technical standpoint the movie is gorgeous to look at as the director put in a lot of the effort to making this a time piece. Along with the dialogue and setting you really get the sense of what it was like for New England as they battled the talks of witches. The score accompanies the movie with tension and terror when something horrifying takes place. Having been his directorial debut, Robert Eggers does an excellent job with promise that he can produce good quality horror movies should he go that route. This is by far one of the best horror films we’ve seen thus far this year. If you are a looking for a horror film that will get under you skin this will surely do it. It’s a time piece that can’t be overlooked.

Rating: 8/10

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What do you guys think? Do you plan on watching ‘The Witch‘? Comment below and share your thoughts. If you enjoyed reading this review please click the like button to show your support.