Thursday, February 25, 2021

Take Me To Tarzana Review: An Office Space Style Craziness

Maria Conchita Alonso	...	Juanita Samantha Robinson	Samantha Robinson	...	Jane Avant Jonathan Bennett	Jonathan Bennett	...	Jameson Doheny Oliver Cooper	Oliver Cooper	...	Charles Kahyun Kim	Kahyun Kim	...	Vanessa Andrew Creer	Andrew Creer	...	Miles Jones Owen Harn	Owen Harn	...	Liev Giorgio Kent Shocknek	Kent Shocknek	...	Kent Shocknek Chris Coppola	Chris Coppola	...	Morgan Schmeltz Betsy Hume	Betsy Hume	...	Jenny O'Reilly Henry Brooke	Henry Brooke	...	Hank Bob Wiltfong	Bob Wiltfong	...	Gordy Kimberly Joy McBride	Kimberly Joy McBride	...	Teleplex Worker Desiree Staples	Desiree Staples	...	Eileen Johnson Emanuel Hernandez	Emanuel Hernandez	...	Javier

Release date: February 19, 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Samantha Robinson, Jonathan Bennett, and Andrew Creer
Directed By: Maceo Greenberg

“Take Me To Tarzana” is a comedy that follows Miles (Creer) and Jane (Robinson) as they struggle to survive in the corporate jungle at Teleplex, a top data-mining company. After they learn their lecherous boss has been secretly recording the women in the office—they hatch a plan to take him down, enlisting the help of Jameson (Bennett), a trust fund party-boy and occasional friend of Miles. Their mundane 9-to-5 becomes much more than an HR headache as they come into possession of Teleplex's true nefarious business model and are forced into a climactic showdown with its maniacal, Tarzan-obsessed CEO. 

Produced by  Jake Bloom	...	associate producer Aaron Brenner	...	producer Maceo Greenberg	...	producer Reaya Investment Group	...	executive producer Cameron Hahn	...	co-producer Kevin Harding	...	producer Paris Herbert-Taylor	...	assistant producer Roberta Marie Munroe	...	co-producer Reiko Napier	...	producer John Neu	...	associate producer Denny Nolan	...	co-producer Laura Picklesimer	...	co-producer Desiree Staples	...	producer Clayton VanNortwick	...	producer (as Clayton Van Nortwick)Music by   Directed by  Maceo Greenberg	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Maceo Greenberg
Take Me To Tarzana has a definite Office Space vibe, but with more crude humor and some crazier characters.  The film has a horrible boss, some employees that are just beaten down at their jobs, and an ultimately crazy situation.  But the film goes much further than the classic comedy, with a scheme and situation that goes into far more ridiculous territory.  And although the film does try to take Office Space to the nth degree, a lot of the look and feel of the movie do feel similar.  You have the somewhat boring but hard working Miles, who is the most relatable of the crew.  Robinson does a good job as Jane, who has to deal with some pretty questionable situations.  And then you have Miles's friend Jameson (Bennett) who adds several layers of ridiculousness to the movie.  He is a little intense at first but definitely grows on you as the film progresses.

However, it feels like Take Me To Tarzana pushes the envelope in some ways, but the humor just didn't hit with me.  A slacker comedy relies on its craziness and characters to get you to laugh and although there was plenty of craziness and some over the top characters, I just did not find the jokes that funny.  Maybe it is because of the smaller cast of main characters, or that the crazy friend is mostly limited to one friend, but I just didn't laugh like I thought I would.  And the plot kind of goes off the deep end, as you would expect from this type of a film, but I didn't want to follow it along for that.  It might just be my sense of humor, so don't instantly write this off on my account.  There were many ridiculous situations and funny jokes, but overall I just didn't enjoy this movie as much as I expected to.  And I will say that the film became more enjoyable as I was watching it, and all the characters endeared themselves to me.  But overall I was expecting laugh out loud hilariousness.  

Take Me To Tarzana has an Office Space feel with the ridiculousness of the story and characters kicked up several notches. 

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Take Me To Tarzana is available digitally and on demand on February 19, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Night of the Kings Review: Throwback Storytelling At Its Finest

Bakary Koné	...	Roman Steve Tientcheu	Steve Tientcheu	...	Barbe Noire (Blackbeard) Jean Cyrille Digbeu	Jean Cyrille Digbeu	...	Demi-Fou (Half-Mad) Rasmané Ouédraogo	Rasmané Ouédraogo	...	Soni Issaka Sawadogo	Issaka Sawadogo	...	Nivaquine Abdoul Karim Konaté	Abdoul Karim Konaté	...	Lass Macel Anzian	Macel Anzian	...	Lame de Rasoir (Razor Blade) Laetitia Ky	Laetitia Ky	...	The Queen Denis Lavant	Denis Lavant	...	Silence Zunon François Lopez	Zunon François Lopez	...	Police Officer Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Narcisse Aféli	Narcisse Aféli	...	Queen's Soldier Drabo Arouna	Drabo Arouna	...	Lascar Chief Jean Marcel Brou Daboiko	Jean Marcel Brou Daboiko	...	Lascar Chief Sandrine Digbeu	Sandrine Digbeu	...	Policewoman Lago Woroka Gilles	Lago Woroka Gilles	...	Cook (as Lago Woroka)

Release date: February 26, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Starring: Koné Bakary, Steve Tientcheu, Digbeu Jean Cyrille, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Issaka Sawadogo, Abdoul Karim Konaté, Anzian Marcel, Laetitia K
Written and Directed By: Philippe Lacôte

A young man is sent to “La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn.

Christopher Kaké	Christopher Kaké	...	Lascar Chief Gbazi Yves Landry	Gbazi Yves Landry	...	Sexy Umar Aïcha Lola	Umar Aïcha Lola	...	Albino Woman Ange Eric N'Guessan	Ange Eric N'Guessan	...	Guetteur Sozehoué Ninon	Sozehoué Ninon	...	Rocky Marie-Josée Néné	Marie-Josée Néné	...	Hélène Stéphane Sebime	Stéphane Sebime	...	Koby Ismail Traoré	Ismail Traoré	...	Lascar Chief Cissé Vadieneka	Cissé Vadieneka	...	Konan Produced by  Delphine Jaquet	...	producer Ernest Konan	...	producer Yanick Létourneau	...	producerMusic by    Directed by  Philippe Lacôte	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Philippe Lacôte
Night of the Kings is nothing like what I expected.  The film is set almost entirely in La Maca, and I expected a film that mostly took place inside prison walls would not be able to keep my interest.  But the movie does a great job of showcasing the brutal prison conditions right from the start.  And it also shows some of the anarchy that this inmate run prison has.  The film starts with a masterful use of sound to show the chaos, confusion, and brutality of a new fish coming into this strange place.  

But after the jarring initiation into La Maca, the movie takes a decidedly different tone.  When Roman begins to to tell his stories, the film really comes alive.  Roman is hesitant at first, but when he beings to find his voice, the movie becomes much more compelling.  Roman's stories are accompanied by an energy and excitement from the other inmates that is palatable.  They react to his every word, and a core group of inmates help to act out the events of his story in an imaginative, fluid style that makes them come alive.  And the story is accompanied by impromptu, beautiful, acapella songs from other inmates that again, help to sell the story and keep your imagination firing.  The reenactments, songs, and inmate energy add several layers and nuance to the storytelling, and helps to keep the audience engaged on this special night.  The film does have cuts to recreations of scenes in the story, which are enjoyable to really frame the events, but the real draw are the scenes within the prison.  These are similar to Scare Me, where a story is sold purely on the magnetism and abilities of the storytellers.  It is a classic throw back that I wouldn't expect in a modern movie, and a welcome change of pace that lets you sit back and enjoy the story.

The storytelling is also accompanied by internal drama within the prison that adds a layer of tension to Roman's night.  Much happens around him but the circumstances add pressure to this young story weaver, and force him to focus on the story telling despite everything happening around him.  And although the storytelling in the prison feels so special, the recreations themselves are also very well done.  They provide a pop of color and light that you don't get in the prison scenes.  It also adds vivid imagery and imagination to the overall story.  However, the recreations do suffer from a use of CG that is noticeable but not too distracting.  It just feels like it wouldn't have been needed, and the scene that it is used for could have been recreated with the other storytelling techniques.  But overall the use of CG is a minor complaint to this otherwise wonderful film.  Additionally, the ending of Night of the Kings does not feel like a complete conclusion to this overall experience.  But as with most storytelling, the journey to the end is more important than the actual ending.  

Night of the Kings highlights the power and magic of storytelling, with a palatable energy and excitement accompanying this compelling, imaginative story.

Watch it.

Ivory Coast Cote de Ivory Storytelling Stories Prison Prisoners Magic Arabian Nights
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Night of the Kings is available in theaters on February 26, 2021 and on Premium On Demand on March 5, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Donna : Stronger Than Pretty Review: An Inconsistent Drama Of Someone Finding Their Inner Strength

Release date: February 23, 2021
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Kate Amundsen, Anthony Ficco, Catherine Daddario, Sandy Bainum, Steve Barkman, Mikel Butler, Kiera Capitanio, Anthony Coppola, James Cribbins, and James Aronson.
Co-written by Donna Martino and Pat Branch

Donna; Stronger Than Pretty is a romantic tragedy, an unlove story, that spans three decades in the life of a gentle young woman, Donna, as she tries to live up to the traditions and expectations of her Italian roots and of the “American Dream”. That dream becomes a living nightmare and nearly breaks her until she finds the silent force of her inner voice and breaks free from a husband who refuses to be responsible to her, himself, their family, or even his own dreams.

Donna: Stronger Than Pretty has a classic opening and style that sets the timeline for this film perfectly.  It is set in the 70s or 80s and has an older setting that really gets you into this film.  But it is not just the setting, the overall film looks and feels like it's from an older time.  It is a nice touch that really gives makes the classic look of the movie pop.  And along those lines, the film also has a classic sound track that has songs that are either right out of the time period or would be at home there.  From the fashion, to the setting, to the cars, this movie feels ripped right out of another time.  And you are introduced to some of the main characters pretty quickly, as Donna (Amundsen) meets Nick (Ficco) early in the story.  Their budding romance and later issues form most of the conflict of this film and seeing Donna tackle life's challenges is daunting and empowering at the same time.  And I also really liked how Nick bucked your expectations at the start of the film, seeming like a very different person than I thought.  

However, Donna tells a story of a woman who is a victim of domestic physical and emotional violence, and the experiences she has to endure are difficult to see.  The film piles on the drama to good measure, but sometimes the dramatic delivery just doesn't hit quite right.  It feels like the characters are over exaggerating the drama, which makes the line delivery and situations not feel quite right.  It is a shame because the film definitely has emotional situations, and this distraction caused some of the emotion to be lost on me.  The drama is not bad, but it just does not feel earned; like the emotion that should be there just didn't get built up correctly.  Additionally, although the main conflict of the film is Nick's terrible treatment of Donna and their family, Nick turned a little too quickly in the film.  It feels like there was not enough groundwork laid before he did a complete 180 for his character.  I would have liked a little more build up to this, but it seems like they just didn't have the time.  Additionally, the film has large jumps in the timeline without much to tell the viewer what happened.  Occasionally the film would jump ahead and one of the kids would look much older (despite the parents looking the same) or an additional child would just be in the scene.  It made some of it confusing to follow and made me wonder what else happened in the interim.  

Donna: Stronger Than Pretty's message of strength and hard work is an important one that highlights this amazing woman's journey with an emotional story and great style. 

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Paranormal Prison is available in select theaters, digitally, and on demand on February 19, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

The Vigil Review: Old School Horror Steeped In Jewish Tradition

Release date: February 26, 2021
Running time: 90 minutes
Stars: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, and Lynn Cohen
Written and Directed by Keith Thomas

Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, THE VIGIL is supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn's Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov (Dave Davis) reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante (Menashe Lustig) to take on the responsibility of an overnight "shomer," fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed's dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.

The Vigil has an old school horror feel with a limited setting, good practical effects, and a text that evokes the 80s classics that influenced this film.  Much of the film takes place in the dilapidated house, and much of it is in a single room at night.  The house is an old style house with lighting that leaves plenty of unknown space and shadows.  The film masterfully uses these to keep you on edge, with little visions here and there and sometimes no visions.  It forces you to look at every nook and cranny to see what is and isn't there, keeping the viewer constantly on edge.  And this makes sense due to the subject matter of the film.  Having a corpse in the room at all times at night just makes for an unnerving experience, before all the tricks that the filmmakers used to heighten that.  

The Vigil is just a well constructed horror film.  I loved the smart use of paranoia, where you are not certain what exactly is going on and the film smartly introduces plenty of doubt throughout the night.  Was that voice that you just heard someone in the house, or something otherworldly?  And the Vigil is steeped in Jewish tradition, which makes for an interesting setting.  I really liked the lore that was introduced as well as the fact that the characters freely switched between Hebrew and English.  It made for a much more natural feeling film with bilingual characters speaking as they normally would.  On top of the great sound effects, the film also occasionally has some otherworldly music to accentuate what occurs on screen.  It is a nice touch and helps to bridge the gap between the older, classic setting, and the younger protagonist.  And the story of The Vigil just builds and builds towards a climactic conclusion.  The film is a wonderfully done, self contained throwback horror film.  

The Vigil takes a wonderful, old school horror style and steeps it in Jewish tradition, with a masterful use of light, shadows, sound, and suspense.

Watch it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
The Vigil is in select theaters, on digital platforms, and VOD on February 26th.

For showtimes, click here.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: Nomadland, Mafia Inc, The Violent Heart, The Swordsman, Carmilla, I Met A Girl, I Care A Lot, Gladiator

For Those Longing To Go Outside: Nomadland (Theaters)
Nomadland highlights a different, beautiful lifestyle with a very human performance by McDormand, amazing cinematography, and a wonderful sense of community.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Offer You Can't Refuse: Mafia Inc (Virtual Cinema)
Mafia Inc.'s strong mix of brutality, intrigue, business, and family—fueled by stellar performances from Catellito and Grondin—make this film an offer you can't refuse.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Slow Burning Love Story: The Violent Heart (Theaters and Digital)
The Violent Heart will capture your heart with its interesting characters, surprising revelations, and slow burning story.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Understated Action Movie: The Swordsman (Digital and Physical)
The Swordsman is an understated historical dramatization, with exciting but not over-the-top action sequences and a perfectly cast reluctant hero and charismatic villain.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Beautifully Shot Gothic Vampire Movie: Carmilla (Shudder)
Carmilla is a beautiful piece of cinema, with fantastic cinematography, a moving, weighty soundtrack, and interesting, conflicted characters.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Colorful Celebration Of Life And Love: I Met A Girl (Amazon)
I Met A Girl has a moving performance by its charismatic lead, a wonderful bright style, and plenty of highs and lows in this story about love and mental illness.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Dark Comedy About Capitalism: I Care A Lot (Netflix)
I Care A Lot gets high marks for its dark comedy and Rosamund Pike's amazing performance.  If you're looking for a stylish satire, then this is the one for you.

For A Classic Action Film: Gladiator (Amazon)
The classic action film about Marcus Aurelius and his quest for revenge is now streaming on Amazon Prime.  If you haven't seen this, you'll be blown away by the imaginative action scenes and the overall story.

The Violent Heart Review: A Slow Burning Story With Surprising Revelations

Jovan Adepo	...	Daniel Grace Van Patten	Grace Van Patten	...	Cassie Lukas Haas	Lukas Haas	...	Joseph Kimberly Williams-Paisley	Kimberly Williams-Paisley	...	Helen Jahi Di'Allo Winston	Jahi Di'Allo Winston	...	Aaron Jordan Preston Carter	Jordan Preston Carter	...	Young Daniel Cress Williams	Cress Williams	...	Lee Rayven Symone Ferrell	Rayven Symone Ferrell	...	Wendy Markus Silbiger	Markus Silbiger	...	Bradley Jeff Pearson	Jeff Pearson	...	Nathan Nick Cimorelli	Nick Cimorelli	...	Kent Carrie Tillis	Carrie Tillis	...	Senator Massey Mykie Fisher	Mykie Fisher	...	Lt. Col. Kane Rebecca Lines	Rebecca Lines	...	Abigail Laurie Pallotta	Laurie Pallotta	...	Srta. Ginsburg

Release date: February 19, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Starring:  Jovan Adepo, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Grace Van Patten, Mary J. Blige, Lukas Haas, Cress Williams, Jahi Di'Allo Winston
Written and Directed By: Kerem Sanga

Fifteen years after the murder of his older sister, Daniel finds himself falling for Cassie, a vivacious high school senior.

Directed by  Kerem Sanga	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Kerem Sanga	...	(written by)   Produced by  Max A. Butler	...	executive producer Dan Cohen	...	producer P. Jennifer Dana	...	producer David Hunter	...	executive producer Ross Jacobson	...	executive producer Shawn Levy	...	producer Tobey Maguire	...	producer Edward L. McDonnell	...	producer Padraic Murphy	...	co-producer Tony Pachella	...	co-producer Matthew Plouffe	...	producer Ross Putman	...	executive producer Richard Weinberg	...	executive producer
The Violent Heart has a really dramatic setup with a good combination of beautiful cinematography and music to let you know that this film is something special.  The music especially at the start is wonderful and helps to get you invested in the opening sequences.  It has a dramatic, dreamlike quality to it that goes perfectly with the softer, often idyllic camera work.  And then the film sets up the major event and that takes you down a whole different path.

The drama in The Violent Heart is brought to life by the complicated cast of characters.  Jovan Adepo is a revelation as a conflicted young man trying to make it but haunted by his past.  He has to be both reserved and vulnerable, careful because of people's perceptions of him based on his past actions and traumas.  Grace van Patten is an outspoken high schooler that has a lot of charm.  She can get a littler overbearing at times, but it is all in service of the story.  And the two of them have a wonderful chemistry that really shines through in this film.  The movie is about their cautious, star-crossed love and the pair are magnetic on screen.  Their relationship starts off innocently enough but they lean on each other as their bond--and the drama happening around them--grows stronger.  It is a sight to see that even when there is no dialog, you can feel the chemistry on screen.  And I also can't forget to mention the wonderful performances by Jahi Di'Allo Winston (who we saw in Charm City Kings) and Mary J. Blige, both of whom showcase their serious acting talents and add drama to this already dramatic story.

Nick Cimorelli	Nick Cimorelli	...	Kent Carrie Tillis	Carrie Tillis	...	Senator Massey Mykie Fisher	Mykie Fisher	...	Lt. Col. Kane Rebecca Lines	Rebecca Lines	...	Abigail Laurie Pallotta	Laurie Pallotta	...	Srta. Ginsburg Gary Willis	Gary Willis	...	Jeff Cory Scott Allen	Cory Scott Allen	...	Ross Kenneth Garner	Kenneth Garner	...	Rick Dean Shortland	Dean Shortland	...	Bartender William Ryan Watson	William Ryan Watson	...	Assistant to the Battalion Commander Josefina M Boneo	Josefina M Boneo	...	Young Woman (as Josefina Boneo) Ashley Shelton	Ashley Shelton	...	Nurse Rachel Pelletier Justin Goldsmith	Justin Goldsmith	...	Police Officer Allison Shrum	Allison Shrum	...	English Student Nevaeh Burns	Nevaeh Burns	...	Spanish Student Paulina Moon	Paulina Moon	...	Young Cassie Clayton Jones	Clayton Jones	...	Rider
And the story of The Violent Heart is mixed bag.  It has some really surprising revelations that occur in the movie, some that put the whole movie in context and some that appear to come out of left field.  But in service of this, the film does not do a great job of explaining some aspects of the story and family at the start.  I felt like I didn't really know what was going on until the very end, which allowed me to enjoy these great revelations, but also left me confused at the start.  It also does not do a great job of setting up the main conflict, as a character's attitude towards another changes fairly abruptly, in service of the story but still it didn't feel earned.  Perhaps there is a longer cut of this film where more of that is revealed, but as it stands, some thing just seem to happen without much setup.  But they do help to set up some truly shocking revelations that tied the whole story together.  

And through these characters and stories, The Violent Heart seeks to explore a variety of important and very human themes.  It tackles loss, love, family, and dreams very well.  I really loved Daniel's conflicted character, and the egg shells he has to walk on and the realistic view he takes of his life due to his past actions.  And I also loved the overall theme of the story, about the circle of violence and how somethings can affect you that are outside of your control.  And finally, this film is just a well made movie, an indie that was made with passion and love that comes through on the screen.

The Violent Heart will capture your heart with its interesting characters, surprising revelations, and slow burning story.

Watch it.

Drama Love Romeo and Juliet Fate Actions Violence Violent
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
The Violent Heart is available digitally and on demand on February 19, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Paranormal Prison Review: A Spirited Cast and Creepy Location

Todd Haberkorn	...	Matthew Paris Warner	Paris Warner	...	Sara Don Shanks	Don Shanks	...	Mannequin Corynn Treadwell	Corynn Treadwell	...	Ashley Sarah C. Patterson	Sarah C. Patterson	...	Self Brian Telestai	Brian Telestai	...	Jacob Django Laighleis	Django Laighleis	...	Man talking about 'cool kids' at prison Scott Beals	Scott Beals	...	Man confused about family Easton Lay	Easton Lay	...	Park Ranger Hoot the Owl	Hoot the Owl	...	Self Zion Gomez	Zion Gomez	...	Teen Marcia Warne	Marcia Warne	...	Woman who worked at prison Amanda Fitch	Amanda Fitch	...	Mary Beth Flake Audrey Gough	Audrey Gough		 Aaron Neel	Aaron Neel	...	Prison Admin

Release date: February 19, 2021
Running time: 71 minutes
Starring: Todd Haberkorn, Paris Warner, Don Shanks, Corynn Treadwell, Easton Lay, Brian Telestai
Directed By: Brian Jagger

The impending demolition of an abandoned prison has the paranormal investigation team “The Skeptic and the Scientist” rushed to spend a locked-in night within the prison’s walls before the wrecking balls start swinging turning the now state historical building to condos.  Knowing their channel needs views, team leader Matthew (Todd Haberkorn) funds one last-ditch effort in hopes the device science expert Sara (Paris Warner) has invented will be their ticket to fame and fortune. Along with their sound technician Ashley (Coryn Treadwell), cameraman Jacob (Brian Telestai) and guided by their assigned park ranger, the team recorded everything, hoping to capture elusive spirits. What they captured instead will change paranormal investigation forever, and may have even solved a long-standing mystery.

Produced by  Bryan Heath	...	co-executive producer Crit Killen	...	consulting producer Catrine McGregor	...	producer Arthur Moore	...	executive producer Kirk Uhler	...	co-executive producer Madalyn VanValkenburgh	...	associate producer    Directed by  Brian Jagger	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Brian Jagger	 Randall Reese
Paranormal Prison has a lot going for it.  It is an indie found footage style film that focuses on the paranormal investigation side of things.  The setup is clever, with a camera crew coming to investigate paranormal activity in an abandoned prison, which lends itself perfectly to the found footage style.  The film also uses filters and other effects to demake the footage to look like it was filmed on older camera equipment.  And the actors that come to the prison are fun to watch.  They give spirited performances and do the most with the limited resources in the film.  And I also liked the setup with a paranormal believer and a skeptic together.  It was a nice back and forth, especially at the beginning when the paranormal investigation is being setup.  And you can't beat this location for an atmospheric horror film.  An abandoned prison is a great place to film a found footage haunting film, so smart choice on their part.

But Paranormal Prison is let down by the effects, the short duration, and the overall story.  The effects were not scary, despite the good attempts by the actors to sell them.  They mostly consisted of spliced scenes, some strange happenings, and some digitized effects.  But they just did not look that authentic, more like something you would see at an amusement park.  And the film did not even get to this level of scaring quickly.  I appreciated the build up, but when the movie itself is just over an hour there needs to be more paranormal happening earlier on.  The story itself was nicely interconnected, with a good twist at the end, but again was too short in duration to really walk away feeling fulfilled.  You get some backstory for the characters that felt unnecessary for the overall movie, and I wish that had been used to more effectively include early scares or footage from past investigations.  If you want a similar style film, but one that has better effects and a more over the top experience, check out Followed or The Cleansing Hour.

Paranormal Prison's spirited performances and creepy setting make this found footage film entertaining, but be skeptical of some of the effects and the short duration.

Pass on it.

Ghosts Ghost Haunt Prison Prisoner Scary Tense Tension Haunting Haunted Paranormal Scary Spirits
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Paranormal Prison is available in select theaters, digitally, and on demand on February 19, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Mafia Inc. Review: A Brutal Mix of Business and Family

Sergio Castellitto	...	Francesco 'Frank' Paternò Marc-André Grondin	Marc-André Grondin	...	Vincent 'Vince' Gamache Gilbert Sicotte	Gilbert Sicotte	...	Henri Gamache Mylène Mackay	Mylène Mackay	...	Sofie Gamache Donny Falsetti	Donny Falsetti	...	Giacomo Jr 'Giaco' Paternò Vittorio Rossi	Vittorio Rossi	...	Ricardo Galati Gerry Mendicino	Gerry Mendicino	...	Giacomo Paternò Mike Ricci	Mike Ricci	...	Patrizio Paternò (as Michael Ricci) Domenic Di Rosa	Domenic Di Rosa	...	Donato 'Toto' Russo Luigi Saracino	Luigi Saracino	...	Roberto 'Birdie' Russo Antonio Iammatteo	Antonio Iammatteo	...	Tommaso 'Tommy Yap-Yap' Volpi Benz Antoine	Benz Antoine	...	Sergent Brassens Paul Karl Farah	Karl Farah	...	Caporal Pierre Marois Roman Pagliaro	Roman Pagliaro	...	Caporal Mario Puglisi Toni Ellwand	Toni Ellwand	...	Anna Paternò

Release date: February 19, 2021
Running time: 134 minutes
Cast: Sergio Castellito, Cristina Rosato, Marc-Andre Grondin, Mylene Lackay,
Donny Falsetti, Vittorio Ossi, Gerry Mendicio, Mike Ricci
Directed by: Daniel Grou (Podz)
Written by: Sylvain Guy (Screenplay) Andre Cedilot, Andre Noel (Book)

Based on the non-fiction bestseller “Mafia Inc: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada's Sicilian Clan” by André Cédilot and André Noël.  In 1994, Frank Paterno (Sergio Castellitto), a Montreal mafia boss, hopes to legitimize his criminal operations by investing $180 million in an ambitious bridge project that would connect Sicily with southern Italy. First, however, he has to recover the necessary funds from his Greek creditor. Frank entrusts this mission to his protégé Vincent (Marc-André Grondin), the son of tailor Henri Gamache (Gilbert Sicotte), who has been dressing the Paternos for three generations. But after Vincent executes a ruthless plan to smuggle millions in drugs out of Venezuela, his reprehensible tactics ignite a war between the two families.

Cristina Rosato	...	Vicky Di Renzi Guy Thauvette	Guy Thauvette	...	Juge Guido Grasso	Guido Grasso	...	Maître de cérémonie Randi Katz	Randi Katz	...	Chanteuse Ralph Santostefano	Ralph Santostefano	...	Lino Russo Nick Skokos	Nick Skokos	...	Salvatore 'Mad Sal' Scarpa Pina Di Blasi	Pina Di Blasi	...	Catarina Paternò   Produced by  Marleen Beaulieu	...	executive producer Antonello Cozzolino	...	producer Valérie d'Auteuil	...	producer Louise Lantagne	...	executive producer André Rouleau	...	producer Patrick Roy	...	executive producer Richard Speer	...	executive producer   Directed by  Daniel Grou	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   André Cédilot	...	(Based on the book ''Mafia Inc.'') Sylvain Guy	...	(screenplay) André Noël	...	(Based on the book ''Mafia Inc.'')
Mafia Inc. drops you right into the brutality of this world with a scene that shows the cunning and ruthlessness of Vincent (Grondin).  It is a stark reminder of just how cold this business is, and the lengths that the protégé would go to make sure his plan would succeed.  Grodin is energetic as Vincent, and his 90s style and business moves show just how far he will go to please the family.  But the film is not all brutality.  It mainly follows the charismatic leader Frank Paterno (Castellito).  And Castellito does a wonderful job as the mafia boss, balancing the charisma needed to keep everyone in line along with a cold ruthlessness to get what he wants.  I was often on edge watching him because I just didn't know if he would be beneficial or severe in his interactions.  But aside from these two powerful figures, the film is just well cast throughout.  The entire family and surrounding crews are believable and make this mafia world come to life.  The strong cast of character and true events behind it give this film an air of authenticity that can be missing in some Hollywood crime films.

The movie has a high energy style that belies the intrigue in the film; the strong performances really propel this forward.  From the setting, to the commitment to the time period (I really loved Grodin's large mustache and overall style), this movie really comes to life.  And don't worry, there is plenty of action and excitement in this film, but what I really loved seeing were the family interactions and business dealings.  It lets you see how this business operated and the mix of love and callousness that flowed from it.  And these slower parts really give you a chance to get to know everyone in this family drama, so when big events and decisions happen, it is more impactful and hits home.  Mafia Inc., like any good crime movie, has a solid mix of brutality, intrigue, business, and family. It feels at home with any of the other great crime family dramas, and should not be missed.  

Mafia Inc.'s strong mix of brutality, intrigue, business, and familyfueled by stellar performances from Catellito and Grondinmake this film an offer you can't refuse.

Watch it.

Mafia Crime Family Sicily Italian Mob Mobster Violence Drama Action Brutal Brutality

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Mafia Inc. is playing in virtual cinemas across the country.  For more information and for showtimes click here.

Nomadland Review: A Beautiful and Very Human Movie

Frances McDormand	...	Fern Gay DeForest	Gay DeForest	...	Gay Patricia Grier	Patricia Grier	...	Patty Linda May	Linda May	...	Linda Angela Reyes	Angela Reyes	...	Angela Carl R. Hughes	Carl R. Hughes	...	Carl Douglas G. Soul	Douglas G. Soul	...	Doug Ryan Aquino	Ryan Aquino	...	Ryan Teresa Buchanan	Teresa Buchanan	...	Teresa Karie Lynn McDermott Wilder	Karie Lynn McDermott Wilder	...	Karie Brandy Wilber	Brandy Wilber	...	Brandy Makenzie Etcheverry	Makenzie Etcheverry	...	Makenzie Bob Wells	Bob Wells	...	Bob Annette Webb	Annette Webb	...	Annette Rachel Bannon	Rachel Bannon	...	Rachel Swankie	Swankie	...	Swankie David Strathairn	David Strathairn	...	Dave

Release date: February 19, 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writers: Jessica Bruder (based on the book by), Chloé Zhao (written for the screen by)

After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

Produced by  Mollye Asher	...	producer (produced by) Jessica Bruder	...	consulting producer Emily Jade Foley	...	co-producer Dan Janvey	...	producer (produced by) Geoff Linville	...	co-producer Frances McDormand	...	producer (produced by) Taylor Shung	...	line producer Peter Spears	...	producer (produced by) Chloé Zhao	...	producer (produced by)   Directed by  Chloé Zhao	...	(directed by)Writing Credits   Jessica Bruder	...	(based on the book by)   Chloé Zhao	...	(written for the screen by)
Nomadland is a slow, but wonderfully crafted drama about a life style that many people have probably never seen in such an intimate setting.  It deals with modern day nomads, people that live for the open road rather than being tied down to a single place or locale.  But the movie also deals with broader themes, such as dealing with changing life circumstances, trauma, and our human sense of community.  The film highlights the beauty of the world around us, as it follows Fern along her nomad life.  The cinematography is just stunning, and will let you appreciate why people decide to pack up and take on a van-dwelling life.  And the cinematography is complemented by some subtle music that at times is hauntingly beautiful.  

This film is made by Francis McDormand's amazing, nuanced portrayal.  I love how authentic she felt and how she completely personified Fern.  And her care is so important for telling this story because of how human her character is.  She has issues, but they are never really overtaking her.  It doesn't feel like her character is tragic, or pitied, or flawed; she is just a person living the life that she has chosen to live.  And David Strathairn is also amazing as Dave, another person who lives a nomad life.  I love how different these two were yet their lifestyles were similar.  And aside from the big names, Nomadland brings together a collection of interesting actors and fresh faces to make this very lived in, authentic world come alive.  

And what is so special about this film is that in a time when so many people are divided, Nomadland highlights an amazing sense of community.  Fern will be taken in by all sorts of people she meets on the road, and everyone treats each other with love and compassion.  She meets people from all walks of life, with all different lifestyles, and yet everyone is connected by this love of the road and a very human connection.  It is a bright, beautiful spot in this beautiful movie.  And it is a careful, focused, and nuanced look at a life style that is often denigrated in modern society.  And through this experience, it lets you appreciate both natural beauty and the beauty of the human condition.

Nomadland highlights a different, beautiful lifestyle with a very human performance by McDormand, amazing cinematography, and a wonderful sense of community.

Watch it.

Nomad Nomadic Drama Drifter Moving Traveler World Traveler Transient Love Humanity Human Compassion
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Nomadland is in theaters on February 19, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

Interview: Keith Thomas and Dave Davis from The Vigil Julian Kim Horror Film Based Steeped in Jewish Tradition

Keith Thomas and Dave Davis discuss The Vigil, how they filmed the amazing atmospheric sound, and what they personally brought to the film. They also discuss their own experiences with dead bodies and how they respected the traditions and culture in this film! So give it a watch and make sure to check out The Vigil, in theaters, digitally, and on demand on February 26, 2021! Stars: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, and Lynn Cohen Written and Directed by Keith Thomas Synopsis: Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, THE VIGIL is supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn's Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov (Dave Davis) reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante (Menashe Lustig) to take on the responsibility of an overnight "shomer," fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed's dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.

Please subscribe to be updated on the latest videos!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Shook Review: A Social Media Saw-like

Release date: February 18, 2021
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring Daisye Tutor (Guest House), Emily Goss (Snapshots), Nicola Posener (The Bold and the Beautiful), Octavius J. Johnson (Sleepless), Stephanie Simbari (Here and Now) and Grant Rosenmeyer (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).
Directed by Jennifer Harrington (Housekeeping). 

A Shudder Original.  When Mia, a social media star, becomes the target of an online terror campaign, she has to solve a series of tests to prevent people she cares about from getting murdered. But is it real? Or is it just a game at her expense?  

Shook feels very modern with its take on influencers and technology. I like how large portions of the film took place via text message, voice chat, and other social media platforms.  And the movie has a nice trick of projecting the events and information from the phone into the real world.  Either through text messages projected on the walls, or pop ups with messages or videos, the film keeps you in the social media world without forcing you to spend the entire time staring at a phone.  And it uses an Alexa / Siri clone to also add some interaction outside of the normal phone and internet options.  And the overall premise is an interesting one, a cat and mouse type saw-style movie with more of a modern, social media setup. Mia (Tutor) is put through a series of challenges, each more difficult than the rest.  And Tutor does a good job of keeping your attention despite the limitations imposed by the film taking place mostly in her house.  

However, despite the exciting start of the film, Shook starts to drag on a little after the initial scenes.  It tries to keep the audience guessing and keep them in suspense, but it just feels like not much happens for large portions of it.  And part of this is due to the nature of how the story is told. Although the film does a good job of making a social media / phone majority film feel less tied to the phone than I would have expected, it still requires a lot of time alone with the protagonist focusing on things occurring outside of their area.  It is exciting for a few challenges, but as they continue the sameness of the setting starts to wear on you.  And when the big twist occurs, it was a surprise but also didn't make a ton of sense.  As with many horror films, the journey to the ending is more of an experience than the ultimate conclusion.  But if you want a Saw meets Unfriended film, then like and subscribe to Shook.

Shook's takes on social media with smart tricks to help tell an online focused story will have you like and subscribe to this social media Saw-like film.

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Shook is available to stream on Shudder starting February 18, 2021. 

Death Trip Review: A Stylish Suspenseful Trip

Kelly Kay	...	Kelly (as Kelly Kay Hurcomb) Tatyana Olal	Tatyana Olal	...	Tatyana Garrett Johnson	Garrett Johnson	...	Garrett Melina Trimarchi	Melina Trimarchi	...	Melina Zoe Slobodzian	Zoe Slobodzian	...	Megan Kinglsey Bruce Watts	Bruce Watts	...	Bruce Kingsley Brad MacDonald	Brad MacDonald	...	Brad David Kuyek	David Kuyek	...	Dave Joseph Simmons	Joseph Simmons	...	Joe Brett Howie	Brett Howie	...	Glenn Tara Desmond	Tara Desmond	...	J.C. Amy Goldberg	Amy Goldberg	...	Cici Rufina Ip	Rufina Ip	...	Nina James Watts	James Watts	...	Country Party Host

Release date: February 16, 2021
Running time: 102 minutes
Stars: 
Kelly Kay, Tatyana Olal,  Garrett Johnson, Melina Trimarchi, Zoe Slobodzian, Bruce Watts, and Brad MacDonald
Directed By: James Watts
Written By: James Watts and Kelly Watts

Four friends take a cottage trip in the dead of winter. During their stay, they discover dark details about the neighboring cottagers. After one of the friends is found mutilated, the group worries they're being targeted by angry locals.

Tracy Butler	...	Tracy Kingsley Marilis Cardinal	Marilis Cardinal	...	Megan's Friend #2 Zoe Christmas	Zoe Christmas	...	Zoe Alexis Cuthbert	Alexis Cuthbert	...	Megan's Friend #1 Matt Marotti	Matt Marotti	...	Country Party Flirt #2 Jordan Minkoff	Jordan Minkoff	...	Bottle Breaker Cameron Nixon	Cameron Nixon	...	Kissing Boyfriend Ariana Sauder	Ariana Sauder	...	Kissing Girlfriend Matt Smith	Matt Smith	...	Sander Node Derrick Vilim	Derrick Vilim	...	Country Party Flirt #1 Olivia Whittick	Olivia Whittick	...	Country Partygoer #1 Produced by  Kelly Kay	...	co-producer (as Kelly Kay Hurcomb) Iain MacNeil	...	field producer Zoe Slobodzian	...	co-producer
Death Trip gets a lot of the components of good horror spot on.  The film has a wonderful suspenseful start that lets you meet all the characters and introduce you to some of the stranger situations in the movie.  And this start and the film are made all the more disturbing by some truly great sound.  The film has a classic horror feel with perfectly timed instrumental notes when the tension needs to be ratcheted up.  On top of this, the film uses natural creaks and groans to put you on edge when you are wondering what will happen next.  The sound combines with some wonderful suspenseful camera work that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Smart shots and use of light make it so you are always wondering what is just off screen or outside the beam of light.  These scenes are frankly stunning in how suspenseful and well composed they are.  It really shows the level of talent that this indie film had behind it.  The entire composition of the film seems designed to put you on edge and I loved it. 

It is important that Death Trip lets you meet all the characters early on because the film tells the story in an out of order manner, meaning that you will see consequences and later situations that the characters put themselves into.  However, it is often unclear if these are premonitions, flash forwards, or dream sequences.  They are unsettling and suspenseful, but I just could never tell what was part of the story and what was not.  And the story itself seems inconsistent.  It started off very strong, then dragged in the middle as the story caught up tot he wonderful premonitions / flashbacks at the start, then ramped it up in the end.  But the ending also left something to be desired.  I appreciated the desire to have a twist and catch the viewer by surprise, but it felt like it came out of nowhere with little explanation or justification.  But I have to hand it to this team and their excellent horror composition.  Death Trip has so many great components to it that I can forgive a few issues with the story.

Death Trip's suspenseful sound and wonderful use of light and camera will keep you on edge throughout this ill fated vacation. 

Rent it.

Directed by  James Watts	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Kelly Kay	...	(as Kelly Kay Hurcomb) James Watts
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Death Trip is available digitally and on demand February 16, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Swordsman Review: An Understated and Exciting Historical Slice of Life

Jang Hyuk	...	Tae-yul Man-sik Jeong	Man-sik Jeong	...	Min Seung-ho Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Angelina Danilova	Angelina Danilova	...	Westerner Hyun-Sung Jang	Hyun-Sung Jang	...	(as Hyeong-seong Jang) Seung-Hyeon Ji	Seung-Hyeon Ji	...	Inuchi Choi Jin-ho	Choi Jin-ho	...	Lee Mok-yo Hyeon-soo Kim	Hyeon-soo Kim	...	Tae-ok Min Hyuk Lee	Min Hyuk Lee	...	Gyeom Sa-bok Na-Kyung Lee	Na-Kyung Lee	...	Hwa Sun Jae-hwan Shin	Jae-hwan Shin	...	Reaper Joe Taslim	Joe Taslim	...	Gurutai

Release date: February 16, 2021 (Blu-Ray)
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Jang Hyuk (Empire of Lust), Kim Hyeon-soo (Be With You), Joe Taslim (The Raid: Redemption, Fast & Furious 6), Jeong Man-sik (Beasts Clawing at Straws), Lee Na-kyung (Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite) and Lee Min-hyuk (A Love to Kill)
Written and Directed By: Choi Jae-hoon

After being blinded in a coup against the king, Joseon’s greatest swordsman (Jang Hyuk) goes into hiding, far removed from his city’s anguish. But when traffickers kidnap his daughter, he has no choice but to unsheathe his sword once more.

Directed by  Jae-Hoon Choi	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Jae-Hoon Choi	   Produced by  Ahyoung Park	...	producerCinematography by  Won-ho Son	Visual Effects by  Jinhee Kim	...	visual effects producer Sung-min Alvin Yun	...	visual effects supervisor
The Swordsman is based on true historical events but the film is definitely a dramatization of them.  And that is not a bad thing as the movie is able to balance historical drama with exciting action sequences.  Those sequences have some minor effects to speed up the action and give the fighting more impact on screen.  Thankfully these effects are minor enhancements that don't go over the top. The Swordsman has well choreographed action and exciting fights, but you are not going to see fighters flying around and performing superhuman feats.  The action sequences, like this film, are generally well crafted and understated.  Similar to the main character, the action sequences are able to hold their own but they are not overly flashy.  In fact, the film overall has a nice, muted style that doesn't feel overdramatized.

And the characters are well cast and entertaining to follow.  Jang Hyuk as Tae-yul does a great job as the reluctant swordsman.  He is able to channel both a hesitance to fihgt but also an inner calm when called upon to do so.  And Joe Taslim is likewise entertaining and unpredictable as Gurutai, a rebellious leader who is challenging the established rulers in this region.  He is charismatic and scary, a great combination for a villain.  And these characters occupy a well crafted recreation of historical Korea with realistic sets and costumes.  The story of The Swordsman is a slow burning one that has a series of events building up to the action.  And ultimately, the reluctant hero fights his way to a fittingly exciting conclusion.

The Swordsman is an understated historical dramatization, with exciting but not over-the-top action sequences and a perfectly cast reluctant hero and charismatic villain.  

Watch it.

Korea Swordsman Fighter Samurai Ronin Hero History Historical Drama Dramatization Movies Moive
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
The Swordsman is available physically, digitally, and on demand on February 16, 2021.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.  

ShareThis