Bird Box (2018) – Film Review

‘Bird Box’ is based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, which mostly aims to be a dark horror/thriller with an original and twisted story as well as a few other interesting aspects in regards to its filmmaking. Unfortunately however, the film soon falls into a pit of disappointment which it really struggles to escape from, resulting in ‘Bird Box’ becoming nothing more than another generic Netflix fright-fest.

Plot Summary: In the wake of an unknown global terror, a mother must find the strength to flee with her two children down a treacherous river in search of safety. Yet due to the unseen deadly forces pursing them, the perilous journey must be made blind-folded…

As the film jumps back-and-forth between the two different time-periods, the film’s structure can become very frustrating at points. As I personally found the initial chaotic event far more entertaining than the other time-period the film provides, yet this was always cut short as the film continuously cuts between the two at unusual points. The film also chooses to wrap the majority of its story in mystery, never really exploring what the monsters actually are, or how their abilities work. The film even chooses to never actually show the creatures on-screen at all throughout the runtime, and although I agree that not everything has to be explained within a story, the way ‘Bird Box’ presents it makes it noting but frustrating, as the film introduces questions without answers.

Sandra Bullock portrays a struggling mother alongside Danielle Macdonald, Trevante Rhodes and John Malkovich who all portray people attempting to survive in a brutal world, and they do their best considering the weak characters they had to work with. The majority of the supporting cast are also decent, with Sarah Paulson even having a short appearance within the film. However, I actually found she was incredibly wasted in the small (and mostly pointless) role she had within the narrative.

In spite of the film’s many Wilderness scenes being shot on the Smith River in the far northern part of the state. Nearly the entire visual presentation of: ‘Bird Box,’ is extremely dull, as the cinematography by Salvatore Totino and editing Ben Lester never really excel beyond ‘okay.’ Usually having scenes consist of many boring shots which never really add much to the tension or atmosphere aside from the occasional moment, this of course also alongside the extremely bland grey colour palette.

This is also the case when it comes to the original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, coming off as nothing more than your standard score for any modern horror/thriller with a slight technological twist, which is very surprising, considering these composers did excellent work on the soundtrack for: ‘The Social Network’ back in 2010.

Although the novel obviously came out before last year’s ‘A Quiet Place,’ I also couldn’t help but notice many similarities between the two films. Such as the lack of a certain sense, the apocalyptic setting, a theme of family and the eerie atmosphere/tone (despite the idea of the monsters making you kill yourself being very original). I also couldn’t help but feel the film never made enough use of its concept of simply witnessing the creatures drives characters to suicide, as this is a terrifying idea, and could’ve provided some very gory and truly shocking moments.

‘Bird Box’ is one of those few films that gets a large amount of attention for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, as personally, I thought the film was nothing but bland and forgettable in many aspects. Aside from perhaps the main performance by Sandra Bullock and the original idea of its story. There wasn’t much I enjoyed about this adaptation. Maybe give it a watch if you’re really interested, but personally, I feel there are many similar films which explore this idea with a much better execution. Final Rating: 3/10.

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Ghost Stories (2018) – Film Review

Based on the West End play of the same name written by Jeremy Dyson. ‘Ghost Stories’ is a British horror directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, featuring many tension-filled scenes and plenty of clever story elements throughout, it’s not quite the cliché horror you might expect. As the film definitely takes a unique approach with its storytelling and ideas, and I would say I enjoyed the film quite a bit due to this, although I feel this may not be the same for every viewer.

Plot Summary: Sceptical professor: ‘Phillip Goodman’ embarks on a trip into the terrifying world of the paranormal, after he is given a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions to investigate…

Whilst nothing incredibly original for a horror narrative, this story does allow the film to have almost an anthology-like structure in a way, with the three separate case files all being their own contained story. The film also takes a very interesting direction for the majority of its runtime, mostly focusing on the paranoia and imagination of the human mind, and how certain tragic events throughout life can lead the mind to wander. Whilst I personally think this is a very creative way to explore paranormal encounters and the horror genre in general, I can definitely say not every horror fan would enjoy this element, as I can see many hating this film mainly due to its exploration of these ideas. This concept even plays-into title of the film, which was misspelled as ‘Ghost Storeis’ in much of the pre-release media. This was done to accord with the film’s tagline: ‘The Brain Sees What it Wants to See.’

Andy Nyman portrays the main protagonist of the film (Phillip Goodman), and I’d say he does a pretty great job with the arrogant character he is given, especially being a mostly unknown actor. Then, of course, we also have Phil Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman as the various victims of the cases, who I also quite enjoyed watching. All the performances here are also backed-up by the writing in the film, as I feel the writing is pretty on point here. Having many elements of dark comedy along with giving some development to the various characters and having some little pieces of information hidden within dialogue for later in the narrative.

The cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland is pretty impressive throughout, only having a few shots throughout the runtime which I thought were a little bland. ‘Ghost Stories’ also utilises many wide-shots throughout the film which really lend themselves to the eerie atmosphere, alongside the hauntingly beautiful original score which also lends itself to the film. This time being handled by Haim Frank Ilfman, a composer who I actually hadn’t heard of before this film. But I do hope to see his name in credits more following on from this, as the soundtrack works perfectly throughout the film. Changing from emotional to tense, to chaotic, without ever feeling rushed.

My main criticism of the film is the usual issue I have with modern horrors, as while I do feel this film builds-up a lot more of an eerie atmosphere than many other horrors. The film is still littered with jump-scares, and while I do believe jump-scares can work if used to a minimal extent, here I felt many of them were just thrown in a points without much reason, the film does have plenty of visual horror however which I appreciate. Another small issue I have is the design of one of the creatures we see in the film, as to me it’s design felt very out-of-place when compared to the other paranormal entities we see within the story, but again this is only a small issue.

In conclusion, ‘Ghost Stories’ is a very distinct horror film, as while I don’t think the film is perfect, I did find it pretty entertaining for the majority of my watch. Having an original story and great direction as well as many attractive shots along with some great writing and a terrific original score, I’d say the film is a definite watch for someone seeking something a little different from the horror genre. Final Rating: low 8/10.

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Bumblebee (2018) – Film Review

Serving as both a prequel to Michael Bay’s iconic ‘Transformers’ franchise as well as a kind of soft-reboot for the film series as a whole, ‘Bumblebee’ is a fresh take on the sci-fi/action film series. But going-off the back of its outstanding reviews and director Travis Scott’s other film: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ on my initial watch, I was expecting a little more.

Plot Summary: On the run from his alien home-world of: ‘Cybertron’ in 1987, ‘Bumblebee’ manages to find refuge through a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Where ‘Charlie,’ on the edge of turning eighteen and trying to find her place in the world, discovers him, battle-scarred and broken.

Whilst the film is definitely an improvement over Michael Bay’s other various attempts at the shape-shifting machines, ‘Bumblebee’ isn’t overall anything outstanding. Mostly been a very comedic sci-fi action-adventure with a few emotional moments thrown in. This version almost seems to be leaning more towards the iconic cartoon series from 1984 to 1987, as many of the ‘Transformer’s designs are ripped straight from the beloved TV show, even featuring a few cameos from classic characters.

Hailee Steinfeld and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. both portray young characters who attempt to help ‘Bumblebee’ finish his mission throughout the film, and while their characters: ‘Charlie’ and ‘Memo’ only really get a basic amount of development. They are likeable and serve their purpose within the story. A member of the cast I wasn’t aware of at first however, was the infamous John Cena. Who actually portrays one of the main antagonists of the film, aside from the ‘Decepticons’ themselves, and despite his mostly decent performance throughout the film, I simply just couldn’t take seriously. Mostly due to his ‘meme’ status and internet reputation.

Luckily the colourful visuals throughout the film definitely add to the cinematography by Enrique Chediak, as although the cinematography isn’t bad by any means, the cinematography is mostly generic for an action flick like this. But due to the great lighting and colour palette, ‘Bumblebee’ is easily the most visually appealing entry in the blockbuster franchise, ditching the ugly Michael Bay blue and orange colour palette in exchange for more of a summer-like feel for nearly the entirety of its runtime.

The original score by Dario Marianelli is your generic score for an action flick, with some heroic tones alongside it. The soundtrack isn’t really anything memorable, and despite also not being anything amazing, I think I still prefer the original score for the 2007 ‘Transformers’ film by Steve Jablonsky, which has since gone down in film as the main theme for the ‘Transformers.’

The action throughout the film is fun for the most part, not simply being another constant barrage of explosions and actually trying to utilize the various ‘Transformers’ abilities in different ways. However, it still doesn’t quite reach the level of fun the original cartoon series had, always feeling a little toned down. One compliment I can give the film however, is the comedy. As again whilst not landing every joke, the film does have it’s fair share of funny moments, which did give me a short chuckle at times, and not simply just a sigh or a cringe as many of Michael Bay’s extremely poor attempts at humour did.

It’s definitely a pleasant surprise to have an entry in the ‘Transformers’ franchise that isn’t just explosions and loud noises from start-to-finish, with a great visual appeal and plenty of humour throughout, I could see most having a lot of fun with this film, especially families. However, it might be that I simply don’t have a huge love for these characters, but I although I found it enjoyable whilst watching, it wasn’t super memorable for me personally. Final Rating: 6/10.

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Pyewacket (2018) – Film Review

From director Adam MacDonald (Going to Kansas City, Home Sweet Home, Blackfoot Trail) ‘Pyewacket’ is a very character-focused indie horror. The film mostly being a small-scale narrative, having a very refreshing look and feel for a modern horror, complete with an eerie location and a brilliantly tense atmosphere. Containing very little jump-scares or gore, more in favour of eerie silence and well-written dialogue.

Plot Summary: A frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl (Leah) awakens something in the forest near her new home after she naively performs an evil ritual in an attempt to kill her mother.

Although I’m personally not a huge fan of jump-scares, and I do very much appreciate the film’s draw towards creating an eerie atmosphere. I do feel one or two scattered throughout the film wouldn’t have done any harm, as I feel they would’ve done a great job of scaring the audience when they least expect it and would’ve broken-up some scenes of tension nicely. The film does succeed in creating tension in other ways however, as MacDonald manages to incorporate darkness extremely well throughout the film, using dark lighting and colour palette to focus on the audience’s paranoia of what lurks in the dark corners of the screen. However, the scenes are never overly dark to the point of obscuring the audience’s view, and this works very effectively.

Nicole Muñoz portrays the main protagonist: ‘Leah,’ as a mostly unknown actress, Nicole does a fantastic job of playing an angry teenager dealing with a broken family. Laurie Holden from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ is also surprisingly great as her mother, which I definitely wasn’t expecting as I never really cared much for her character in the TV show, believing her to be very annoying and unlikeable. But it’s clear to me now that this was mostly an issue with the writing on the show, and not with her performance, as here she really does a well with her character.

Alongside the use of darkness and great performances, the film also has amazing cinematography by Christian Bielz. As the film always uses the camera to the best of its advantage to create fear and tension. One shot in particular was a fast-paced P.O.V. shot, which reminded me very heavily of the classic: ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy, and really sent a shiver down my spine when it first encounters one of the characters. The original score by Lee Malia is unfortunately nothing too memorable however, coming-off as a mostly cliché horror soundtrack with the odd emotional tone mixed-in. 

My main issue with the film is the pacing, as the film is actually a slow-build, it can sometimes drag. The film mostly does a good job at keeping the audience invested with that brilliant horror atmosphere and great character drama. But some of the scenes set at ‘Leah’s’ high school can really feel very bland and drawn-out. Especially when you compare these scenes to the scenes in the forest surrounding ‘Leah’ and her mother’s home, as these are always brimming with tension and are incredibly fun to experience at any-point during the film’s runtime.

In addition to this, without spoiling anything, the ending of the film is also very memorable. As the film truly leaves the audience on a dark and shocking note, which is sure to stick with you long after the credits have rolled, and genuinely helps the film become far more of a standout when compared to similar film’s in its genre. The film also has many small details, one being the title of the film itself, as the name ‘Pyewacket’ comes from the 1647 British pamphlet: ‘The Discovery of Witches,’ in which author Matthew Hopkins claims to have interrogated witches in Essex County. One witch names many familiars, including the spirit: ‘Pyewacket’ which appeared to her as some sort of animal.

Although ‘Pyewacket’ probably isn’t one of my favourite all-time horror flicks, it is one I would recommend to most. Although the slow-pace and lack of jump-scares may frustrate some viewers, the film does build up an amazing atmosphere, with great performances from the small cast and some decent dialogue to back it up. The film isn’t perfect but it does mostly contain what I personally desire from a modern horror film, and I think ‘Pyewacket’ can be a great watch for a ‘different’ kind of horror fan. Final Rating: low 7/10.

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Truth or Dare (2018) – Film Review

Blumhouse Pictures is a well-known production company, they mainly focus-on producing cheap generic horror flicks that appeal to younger audiences, and although there is the occasional gem in their collection such as: ‘Sinister’ or ‘Get Out.’ It’s definitely few and far between, with ‘Truth or Dare’ being one of their most recent entries, and easily one of their worst to date.

Plot Summary: After a group of young friends play a harmless game of truth or dare during their trip to Mexico, they soon discover their game has turned deadly when someone (or something) begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse to do the dare they are given.

This now dull concept has been seen a thousand times before, as the idea of a group of teenagers playing an evil game is nothing new, as films such as: ‘Oujia’ prove. As the story plays out almost exactly as you would expect, making it extremely predictable throughout its runtime. The film is also one of Blumhouse’s least scary entries to date, focusing entirely on jump-scares without any attempt to build tension or create an eerie atmosphere. The film also chooses to use a ‘terrifying’ CG smile effect on the character’s faces to replicate them being possessed, and due to the low-budget of the film, this effect looks laughably awful.

Unfortunately, the characters and cast that portray them are no better than the cliché narrative, as the entire cast of Tyler Posey, Violett Beane and Sophia Taylor Ali are extremely bland. As all the performances throughout the film feel like nothing more than attractive models attempting to be afraid, with Lucy Hale as ‘Olivia’ being the obvious standout here, purely by elimination, which is more than likely why she was cast as the main protagonist to begin with.

When it comes to the filmmaking, sadly there’s no improvements here either. As each shot from cinematographer Jacques Jouffret is boring and uninspired, with the editing also being very quick choppy at points. All alongside the original score by Matthew Margeson, which is easily the most disappointing element of the film for me, as the soundtrack amounts to nothing more than your usual horror score, with the film’s composer having worked on many great films in the past such as: ‘Kingsman: ‘The Secret Service’ and ‘Eddie the Eagle.’

Of course, it probably goes without saying that the majority of the writing within the film is dreadful, with the script being overflown with cheesy dialogue, over-the-top scenes and stupid character decisions. One character in particular I hated was: ‘Brad’ portrayed by Hayden Szeto, as I disliked this character purely due to the way he was represented, as ‘Brad’s characterisation is purely built entirely around his homosexuality. Without giving him any further development beyond this, which could not only be seen as pandering to some, but also just simply bad writing.

Another issue I have with the film is the extreme lack of violence due to the film’s low age rating, as the film constantly shines away from graphic violence, always cutting to another shot to avoid showing barely any blood or gore. This is a huge mistake for a horror film like this in my opinion, as although implying violence can sometimes be more effective. In a film about a group of unlikeable teenagers getting killed-off, having some creative deaths is at least a great way to satisfy your audience.

In conclusion, ‘Truth or Dare’ is one of the worst films of 2018 for me, this overdone plot with annoying characters has little charm or entertainment to offer. As it’s bland execution and overall lack of anything interesting feels as if the film is truly nothing more than a complete cash-grab for Blumhouse Pictures. Overall, I’d definitely recommend you give ‘Truth or Dare’ a miss, as I honestly believe any viewer would find paint-drying a more enjoyable experience than this one. Final Rating: 1/10.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Film Review

A superhero film like no other, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is an extremely entertaining animated adventure, filled with plenty of humour, heart and exciting action scenes throughout its runtime. All displayed through some stunning illustration-like animation which looks as if the audience was thrown straight into the colourful pages of a ‘Spider-Man’ comic book, giving every location, character and even movement/action it’s own unique visual flair.

Plot Summary: When Brooklyn teen: ‘Miles Morales’ one day obtains strange new abilities, he soon finds himself in an unusual situation. Encountering the famous superhero: ‘Spider-Man,’ alongside many other spider-people from multiple different dimensions, as New York City begins to collapse in on itself when a super-collider attempts to merge the other dimensions into its own.

From the opening scene of the film through to its closing credits, it’s very clear that the filmmakers behind ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ have a great love for this character. As the attention to detail throughout the film as well as the sheer amount of references to ‘Spider-Man’s long history and his enormous list of villains. The film feels like it was made for the fans, by the fans, and overall does a great job at expressing it.

When it comes to the cast, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and Mahershala Ali are all fantastic as their respective characters. Whether they are the villainous antagonists, or the iconic heroes we all know and love, they all give very charismatic and ranged performances, with Liev Schreiber personally being true stand-out for me, portraying the villain: ‘Kingpin’ almost as brilliantly as Vincent D’Onofrio did before him. Soon becoming one of the most intimidating antagonists ‘Spider-Man’ has ever faced on film. I also have to give the hilarious ‘Spider-Ham’ portrayed by John Mulaney an honourable mention, purely for the cartoonish and over-the-top nature of his character, which always had me laughing many times.

The animated cinematography within the film also helps back-up the incredible animation, as the film is brimming with beautiful shots throughout, many of which contain large amounts of movement as characters soar across New York City. The original score by Daniel Pemberton is also fantastic, as the soundtrack (similar to the film itself) is very unique and filled with style, blending tracks that sound as if they should be from different films entirely into one modern-day superhero flick, which is surprisingly very effective.

Even though the animation style is without a doubt one of the best elements of the film purely through its striking visuals, the action scenes throughout the film are also very impressive. Matching many of the actions scenes you’d see in your standard live-action blockbuster perfectly combined with the film’s varied colour palette and comic book style, creating many memorable and exciting moments. My personal favourite being the action scene in ‘Aunt May’s house, containing a variety of characters all in one singular small room. This is also when it becomes very clear that each version of: ‘Spider-Man’ has their own completely distinct design, movements and personality, with the clear example of this being: ‘Spider-Man Noir’ portrayed by Nicolas Cage, as the character is always seen in black and white and delivers all his dialogue very intensely, almost like a parody of: ‘Batman.’

My only issue with the film is the lack of time some scenes are given within the narrative, as for example, some characters not from ‘Miles’ reality discover that certain people are alive/dead in the universe they have now arrived in. As this could’ve been a really interesting piece of characterisation if done well, as well as adding another emotional scene to the film’s story. Unfortunately however, most of these moments are skimmed over, mostly due to the film’s very fast-pacing.

Altogether, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is some of the most fun I’ve had in a cinema, an absolute visual treat for the eyes alongside its original story, phenomenal animation and fantastic original score. The film truly becomes an amazing experience for any comic book or film fan. I highly recommend this one, especially if you’re a ‘Spider-Man’ fan like myself, as this is without a doubt the web-head’s best film to date. Final Rating: 9/10.

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Winchester (2018) – Film Review

Although slightly better than some other modern horrors, ‘Winchester’ is nothing incredibly memorable. Despite the film’s story being based on true events and having some decent performances throughout, the film still suffers from mostly a bland atmosphere and enormous overreliance on jump-scares. Resulting in a mostly boring experience.

Plot Summary: In 1906, ‘Sarah Winchester’ the firearm heiress mourning the loss of her family. Begins to believe she is being haunted by the souls of people killed by the ‘Winchester’ repeating rifle. So ‘Doctor Eric Price’ is sent by order of her company to her ever-growing home in California in order to inspect her sanity…

A story like this isn’t anything new for sure, we’ve all heard the ‘based on a true story’ or ‘haunted by my past’ storyline a thousand times before. However, they were a few elements of this story I did enjoy, the main two protagonists of the film, that being: ‘Doctor Eric Price’ portrayed by Jason Clark, and ‘Sarah Winchester’ portrayed by Helen Mirren both give decent performances and their characters are given some depth. The same cannot be said for the side characters of: ‘Marion Marriott’ and ‘Henry Marriott’ however, as these characters are given no characterisation barley and do so little within the narrative I was constantly questioning their inclusion.

The film overall has an extremely bland look, as the dim grey colour palette alongside the mostly still and uninventive cinematography by Ben Nott make the film very dull visually. The original score by Peter Spierig also doesn’t benefit the film much, as the soundtrack is you usual horror score with nothing really interesting about it, other than the occasional moment when it becomes uncomfortably loud. There is the occasional pleasing shot or interesting idea here, but it’s definitely few and far between.

Despite the location and the time-period of the film actually being some of the main draws towards it (considering most horrors are usually set within modern-day) and with the ‘Winchester Mansion’ being a real haunted attraction in America. I was very disappointed to find the location barley utilised, as aside from one short scene in the film where the doctor explores an eerie dark hallway, the mansion is mostly confined to a few different rooms throughout the runtime.

The film also (as usual) has a heavy-reliance on jump-scares, which means the film barley even makes an attempt to build tension. The film seems more in favour of fading out all of the audio before leading into a loud screeching sound while a ‘terrifying’ face appears on-screen. This is an issue with many modern horrors in all fairness, and feels like nothing other than laziness on the filmmaker’s part.

In conclusion, ‘Winchester’ is certainly not one of the worst horrors I’ve ever seen. However, it is a big waste of potential, as I feel a story set within the walls of the ‘Winchester Mansion’ could have been really interesting if the film would’ve gotten inventive with the iconic location they had at their deposal. But as is, the weak characters, bland visuals and dull atmosphere add-up to a very forgettable modern horror. Final Rating: 3/10.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) – Film Review

The western genre used to be extremely popular back in the golden age of Hollywood, but in recent years however, westerns have mostly died-off, as aside from a few honourable mentions such as: ‘True Grit,’ ‘The Sisters Brothers’ and ‘Django Unchained.’ The western genre as a whole has run mostly dry, until now that is. As iconic directors Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (The Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men) return to the silver screen for this brilliant western anthology.

Plot Summary: Consisting of six different stories of life and violence in the Old West, including the tales of a singing gunslinger, a bank robber, a travelling impresario, an elderly prospector, a wagon train and a perverse pair of bounty hunters.

This diverse set of stories and characters really keep the film engaging from start-to-finish, as the film constantly jumps between characters and locations all whilst ensuring that it keeps its decent pacing and usual Coen Brother’s dark sense of humour intact. Resulting in the film feeling extremely refreshing, as superhero blockbusters and jump-scare filled horrors have really taken over the film industry in recent years. So revisiting an old yet classic genre (especially with this modern spin) is truly a breath of fresh air. Especially with the Coen Brother’s brilliant direction.

The performances by every member of the enormous cast are pretty excellent all around. As Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Thomas Waits, Zoe Kazan, Jonjo O’Neill and Brendan Gleeson (just to name a few) are all brilliant when portraying their varied and interesting characters, with Tim Blake Nelson definitely being the clear stand-out for me with his extremely funny and charming portrayal of the title character: ‘Buster Scruggs.’

Throughout the runtime, the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is almost flawless, as the film utilizes a variety of beautiful shots which perfectly capture the visual appeal of classic westerns. The original score by Carter Burwell is also great, as the soundtrack uses slow guitar stings and an enormous list of classic country songs to build-up atmosphere, with the best of these definitely being: ‘When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.’

One aspect of the film I absolutely adore is the Coen’s usual style of writing, as every character throughout the film is given plenty of comedic moments and memorable lines, which really helped make many of the characters with slightly-less development more likeable. Another element that also really drew my attention during my first viewing was the incredible sets and costumes the film had on full-display, as considering the locations/costumes are some of the main factors of engaging the audience into the story and it’s time-period. It was clear they were pulling-out all the stops. As every location always felt very real and lived-in, with the character’s clothes being no different.

My personal favourite narrative of the six would most likely be the opening story, sharing the same name as the title of the film: ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.’ This opening was just such as joy to watch, balancing dark humour with a classic western set-up brilliantly, in addition to the fantastic performance from Tim Blake Nelson as already mentioned. However, this is also where my biggest criticism of the film comes in, as although they definitely aren’t awful, the last two stories are easily the weakest of the film. As although we do get some great character moments and fun scenes within these stories, I couldn’t help but feel they simply weren’t as memorable or as charming as the others leading-up to them. Perhaps if these two stories we’re placed earlier in the film it wouldn’t be such an issue, but it simply leaves the viewer with a bad taste in their mouth afterwards.

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ proves once again that westerns are far from gone when it comes to film, as the Coen Brothers once again take the audience for a trip into the wild west with complete success. As this anthology is just as hilarious as it is visually impressive and well-acted, regardless of whether or not the stories are quite on the same level. Final Rating: low 8/10.

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A Quiet Place (2018) – Film Review

John Krasinski’s directorial-debut quickly puts him as one of the most intriguing upcoming directors currently working, as he directs himself, his real-life wife Emily Blunt and two very talented child actors, in this incredibly tense and original horror flick. Taking on a unique story that’s sure to spark an interest in any horror/thriller fan by its concept alone, and yet ‘A Quiet Place’ also manages to elevate itself over many other films within the horror genre through its attractive cinematography and great sound design.

Plot Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world where noises can kill, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after terrifying creatures that hunt by sound threaten their very survival. But with a pregnant wife soon to give birth, now more than ever, the family must remain unheard…

Continuously throughout the runtime, ‘A Quiet Place’ builds on the concept of its story perfectly, focusing on the various ways the family has adjusted to their new way of silent life. As everything from the family not using cutlery anymore, to the children using pieces of cotton pieces rather than wooden pieces for a board game, to even having the father place down paths of sand everywhere the family walks. All displaying the clear understanding director John Krasinski has for this fleshed-out world. Of course, with an idea such as this one, many of the film’s scenes can be nitpicked in small ways, but with a plot as unique and as engaging as this one is, I personally don’t feel these tiny issues take-much away from the overall experience.

Emily Blunt and John Krasinski both give amazing performances as: ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Lee Abbott,’ with Emily Blunt being the true stand-out of the cast, mostly due to her intense performance during one of the film’s most memorable scenes. In which, ‘Evelyn’ attempts to stay quiet whilst going through the agonising pain of child-birth, all the while one of the creatures stalks the nearby area. The two children within the film are also brilliant, being portrayed by Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Millicent Simmonds’ character: ‘Regan’ is deaf, similar to the actress herself in real-life, which actually benefitted the rest of the cast enormously with helping them learn sign language, as there is actually very little dialogue spoken throughout the film due to the family’s restriction on making noise, so sign language is their main form of communication.

Charlotte Bruus Christensen handles the cinematography for: ‘A Quiet Place,’ and does so extremely well, as the gorgeous shots really compliment the beautiful yet eerie and isolated locations of this new apocalyptic world, with a majority of shots containing large amounts of movement alongside the bleak yet still appealing colour palette of the film, which surprisingly allows more colour than many other modern horrors that rely mostly on dark greys and blacks.

Throughout the narrative, the film’s tense atmosphere never dies-off. As Krasinski uses the fantastic unsettling original score by Marco Beltrami and the effective sound design/sound editing to the best of its advantage, resulting in a compelling watch for any viewer. As the film almost feels as if it’s placing its audience in the position of the protagonists themselves, dreading even the slightest sound. However, as great as the tension building is, the film does have quite a heavy-reliance on jump-scares, similar to most modern horrors today, which does sadly drag-down the film with how frequent they soon become.

Despite not having an enormous amount of screen-time, the creatures within ‘A Quiet Place’ are also quite memorable. As from even their first appearance, the film’s monsters are always both incredibly menacing and enthralling. This is not only due to the tense atmosphere they create whenever on-screen however, but also due to their other-worldly design, which actually shares many similarities to the inside of a human ear, which is obviously very suitable for creatures that hunt only by sound. Interestingly, the film’s director John Krasinski actually portrayed some of the creatures himself whilst on-set through motion-capture, if only for a few scenes.

To conclude, ‘A Quiet Place’ is surely one of my favourite films of 2018, as the film manages to take its audience through a tense yet still emotional story of parents attempting to protect their children in a newly dangerous world, all whilst featuring some visually pleasing cinematography and scenes brimming with tension whenever it can. The film even manages to contain a decent character-arc for a few of the family members, propelling the film even further forward over you’re standard horror flick, and although there is a bit of an overreliance on jump-scares, as well as the odd narrative-nitpick that stops the film from being flawless, ‘A Quiet Place’ is still an excellent choice for anyone looking for a gateway into this genre. Final Rating: 8/10.

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Mom and Dad (2018) – Film Review

I was very disappointed upon my initial watch of: ‘Mom and Dad,’ as I originally went into this one anticipating an extremely funny, gory and over-the-top dark comedy. Featuring an equally over-the-top performance by the infamous Nicolas Cage. However, I soon found out this wasn’t the case at all, as the film didn’t deliver enough on most of the elements I was expecting, resulting in an extremely weird film for the wrong reasons.

Plot Summary: When a teenage daughter returns home after a day at school, she and her younger brother must try to survive a twenty-four hour period in which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to violently kill their own children.

Although it’s never fully explored, I personally feel this strange yet unique idea for a narrative is one of the best elements of the film. But with a plot sounding this insane, and of course featuring Nicolas Cage (a man known for his crazy and very memorable performances) I expected something truly special for the comedy-horror genre. But I was very underwhelmed. As the film didn’t really deliver on any of it’s best aspects for me, with the story is very simple and barely getting any development beyond the initial idea, with the same sadly being said for the characters.

The film also gives nowhere near enough screen-time to Nicholas Cage, as although he does have a few memorable moments throughout the story. It’s his co-star Selma Blair who takes up the majority of the scenes, and considering his name is all over the marketing, and his over-the-top style of acting would suit a film like this perfectly, it’s not unfair to have expected more from him. The children in the film portrayed by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are both decent but very forgettable.

In regards to the actual filmmaking, the film is nothing too impressive. As film contains mostly bland cinematography by Daniel Pearl, relying on large amounts of shaky-cam for the majority of the runtime. The editing in the film is also very distracting, as aside from the opening title sequence of the film which is framed very similar to the opening of a family sitcom, which I found quite amusing. Unfortunately, everything after this intro I did not. As the film’s editing comes off as very messy and out-of-time at points, as it feels to me like director Bryan Taylor was trying to capture a similar tone to his ‘Crank’ series of films. With the film feels very energetic and fast-paced, but it simply comes off as unusual to me.

One of the element of the film I did sum-what enjoy however is the original score composed by ‘Mr. Bill.’ As the film’s soundtrack does help to build tension during many of the chase scenes. However, although I do like this score for its’s originality, it doesn’t always fit within the film or it’s pacing. Alongside this, the film also seems to shy away from more violent scenes, as we only see a few actual deaths on-screen. The remainder of the violence is usually off-screen, only showing small bits of blood to the audience now and then, for a fun comedy-horror like this, I believe that’s a huge mistake. As I feel the film should have gone all-in on the gore/fun factor.

All in all, I wasn’t very impressed with ‘Mom and Dad,’ I feel a film like this would’ve been extremely entertaining if done correctly. But the film really falls short of being the fun gore-fest it set out to be. If the film was more along the lines of something like: ‘Shaun of the Dead’ or ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’ I think it could’ve been something really enjoyable. As I do believe director Bryan Taylor is somewhat talented, being both the director and writer of this film, I could see him directing another strange comedy like this in the future (hopefully one a little better though). Final Rating: high 2/10.

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