Friday, May 28, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: Cruella, A Quiet Place, Deliver Us From Evil, Welcome Matt, Women, Chaos Walking, Emma, Blue Miracle

For A Stylish Origin Story: Cruella (Theaters and Disney+ Premiere)
Cruella is a stylish, bold origin story and an unexpected surprise from Disney, with a marvelously wicked performance from Stone and a darker, more fashionable film from the House of Mouse.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Quietly Good Sequel: A Quiet Place Part II (Theaters)
A Quiet Place Part II continues the Abbott's story with the same amazing sound effects and trademark muffled horror that made the first movie such an auditory treat.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Korean Man on Fire: Deliver Us From Evil (Digital and Physical)
Deliver Us From Evil has exciting action, a booming soundtrack, and a gritty story that starts as a slow-burning crime thriller and ends as a raging action inferno.  For more information, check out the review

For Those Wanting To Stay In: Welcome Matt (Digital)
Welcome Matt brings together a very funny all black cast for a hilarious and human story about life, love, success, and overcoming obstacles.  For more information, check out the review!

For The True Crime Fans: Women (Digital)
Women is a slow building crime drama with a well realized world, good character build up, and a dramatic, slow burning story that will capture your attention.  For more information, check out the review!

For Those Who Can't Hear Themselves Think: Chaos Walking (Redbox)
Chaos Walking's interesting premise, great chemistry between Holland and Ridley, and unusual story will invade your thoughts in this new sci-fi epic.    For more information, check out the review!

For Those Looking For Something Happy - Emma (HBO)
Emma brings the Jane Austin classic to life with a colorful style, a stellar cast, and an absolute charm that will capture you from the first scene.  It is leaving HBO after this weekend so make sure to catch it before it's gone.  For more information, check out our review!

For A Feel Good Film: Blue Miracle (Netflix)
Based on a true story, this feel good film reels you in with its balance adventure, characters, and feel good spirit.  It is not a deep film, but it is one that will at least pull at your heartstrings in all the right ways!

Welcome Matt Review: A Hilarious and Human Film About Conquering Fear

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Tahj Mowry, Deon Cole, Jazsmin Lewis-Kelley, Dorien Wilson, and G.G. Townson
Written and Directed By: Leon Pierce Jr 

Matt (Tahj Mowry) is a twenty something year old up and coming filmmaker that encounters a traumatic experience on the verge of his big break into the film industry. As a result of suffering this traumatic incident, he finds himself developing agoraphobia and is now unable to leave his home. Feeling compelled to stay inside where he believes it to be safe, but still wanting to create art, he decides to write, direct and star in a feature film project that no one believes in! As a result of this, his girlfriend breaks up with him, he finds himself being broke and facing an eviction and his only saving grace is to take a movie deal to get back on his feet. But in order to do so, he must overcome his fear of going outside. So, with the help of an in-home therapist, Matt makes an effort to overcome his fears and go outside, in hopes of living a better and much more fulfilling life.

Welcome Matt has a funny, approachable style right from the start.  The film starts with a clip of Matt's breakout film before then showing the world that he has since retreated to.  But Matt is not a total recluse, he communicates with his fans via online chatting and his friends / girlfriend when they come over.  These make the film feel very modern and relatable as I'm sure many people have been communicating and interacting with their friends this way during the last year.  But just the nature of this film means that a lot of screen time is devoted to Tahj Mowry, and thankfully he can carry this load as the funny and somewhat broken Matt.  His character is good natured and complicated, and a lot of the humor is in his reactions to the strange situations his friends and significant others place him in during this film.  And the other main standout is Deon Cole as Matt's impromptu mentor Norman, who adds some much needed life perspective to this film.  And the other main player in this film is the house that Matt stays in.  This film could have been more depressing but a smart set and bright colored walls make sure that Welcome Matt keeps a light tone even when dealing with some serious subject matter.

But Welcome Matt is first and foremost a comedy.  The movie is very funny especially when Matt is reacting to the craziness around him.  There are some hilarious jokes and some very sharp writing.  And because the movie also deals with a screenwriter, there are several very good film references as punch lines.  And each of the very distinct characters offers somethign to help with the levity.  Some of Matt's friends hilariously won't take no for an answer, and some of his new acquaintances try to use him to break into the film world.  All of these interactions are fun to see and give some variety to Matt's day to day.  Welcome Matt is also a drama, but thankfully it is a comedy first.  The film does a good job with Matt's agoraphobia, but the dramatic elements sometimes feel a little tacked on to the overall comedy.  But these elements do strengthen as the movie progresses and the film does conclude with a satisfying ending that wraps up the overall comedic and dramatic elements of the story.

Additionally, Welcome Matt has a great soundtrack.  The film uses some very good music to accentuate the comedy and emphasize the drama when needed.  It sets the mood perfectly and makes sure that the light hearted scenes stay light hearted.  And it can't go without mentioning that this film also has a pretty much all black cast playing characters with very diverse backgrounds and interests.  It is great to see the variety of characters and personalities on screen and this variety keeps the film moving along.  The film has a few minor rough edges but overall, this is great indie drama / comedy that touches on something that a lot of people are dealing with right now. 

Welcome Matt brings together a very funny all black cast for a hilarious and human story about life, love, success, and overcoming obstacles.

Watch it.

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Deliver Us From Evil Review: A Slow-Burning Crime Thriller That Turns Into A Raging Action Inferno

Jung-min Hwang	...	In-nam (as Hwang Jung-min) Jung-jae Lee	Jung-jae Lee	...	Ray (as Lee Jung-jae) Jeong Min Park	Jeong Min Park	...	Yoo-Yi (as Jung-min Park) Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Hee-Seo Choi	Hee-Seo Choi	...	Youngjoo (as Moon Choi) Hakuryû	Hakuryû	...	Sensei Hiroaki Hirakawa	Hiroaki Hirakawa	...	Bank Clerk Ito Keitoku	Ito Keitoku	...	Sensei's Subordinate Ken Kurahara	Ken Kurahara	...	Sensei's Subordinate Atsundo Maruyama	Atsundo Maruyama	...	Sensei's Subordinate Tomonori Mizuno	Tomonori Mizuno	...	Gondo Park Myeong-hoon	Park Myeong-hoon		 Dae-hwan Oh	Dae-hwan Oh		 Vithaya Pansringarm	Vithaya Pansringarm	...	Ran So-yi Park	So-yi Park	...	Yoo-min Young-chang Song	Young-chang Song	...	Kim Chun-sung Kosuke Toyohara	Kosuke Toyohara	...	Goreda

Release date: May 25, 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by Hong Won Chan
Starring: Hwang Jung-min (The Wailing, The Spy Gone North), Lee Jung-jae (Tazza: One-Eyed Jack, Along with the Gods franchise), Park Jeong-min (Svaha: The Sixth Finger), Park Soi (Parasite), and Choi Moon (Anarchist from Colony, Okja).

After the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent (Hwang) is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui (Park), he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher (Lee) learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing that even he will never be able to forget—or forgive.

Produced by  Chul-Yong Kim	...	producerMusic by  Mowg	Cinematography by  Kyung-pyo Hong	Film Editing by  Hyung-ju Kim	Production Design by  Hwa-seong Jo	Art Direction by  Seong-Hyeon So	Stunts  Gun-Moon Lee	...	stuntsCamera and Electrical Department  Il-Hyuck Bae	...	gafferMusic Department  Hyukjin Chang	...	additional composer
Deliver Us From Evil is a gritty film with a rough opening and plenty of style.  The movie is a hard nosed crime thriller that is evident from the very beginning.  The style permeates this film, from the dark story to the dramatic events that push the agent to do what he has to do.  And this heavy weight is accentuated by some brooding music that will keep you engaged.  And the movie has some really interesting characters that add some heart to a mostly hard nosed film.  It is not your standard crime thriller, although a lot of the characters do fit in your standard tropes.  Although there is the reluctant hero and the eccentric, untouchable antagonist, the film also prominently features a transgender character.  

But what sets this film apart is the cinematography.  The film has a yellow tinge that makes it feel like more of an action film.  It also puts you on edge slightly which you should be as this movie really drives home the gravity of this kidnapping situation.  Think a look in the same vein as the phenomenal film Extraction.  And although there isn't a lot of action until later in the film, that action is intense and fast-paced.  The movie has excellent use of effects to emphasize what is happening, with slow motion sequences to highlight the action when needed.  The film also has subtlely accelerated pieces of the action to make it have more impact and be a little faster pace.  The effect overall is a film that starts slow-burning and ends absolutely raging.  And the sound is really something to hear, with heavy, bass-filled effects that let you know when the action is heavy.  If you have a good sound setup, this movie will shake your room.  

The story of Deliver Us From Evil takes a long time to develop, but when it does it is exciting and weighty.  The plot can feel a little convoluted at times, especially at the start when there are multiple threads going on at once, but if you stick with it the movie becomes a bit more linear.  And when this happens it lets the action shine through, which is the main draw of this movie.  

Deliver Us From Evil has exciting action, a booming soundtrack, and a gritty story that starts as a slow-burning crime thriller and ends as a raging action inferno.

Watch it.

Directed by  Won-Chan Hong	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Won-Chan Hong   Korea Korean Crime Thriller Gangster Gangs Yakuza Cartel
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Deliver Us From Evil is available on VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray on May 25, 2021.

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Cruella Review: A Stylishly Fashionable Origin Story

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel FryPaul Walter HauserJohn McCreaEmily Beecham
Directed By: Craig Gillespie

A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.

Cruella really feels like an origin story that does not need to happen.  The villain in 101 Dalmatians is just pure evil, and we did not need to know where she came from.  But thankfully, Disney did not listen to me and went ahead with this film.  The first bits of the movie do feel out of place; again like something that we don't need to see.  It tries to humanize this villain and forces in references to the source material.  But just get past that and this film will really start to shine.  First off, Emma Stone does a wonderful job as Cruella.  It is a tough role for her as she has to play a cocky, confident, and not beloved Disney character but she puts her own spin on this person.  She gives Cruella a rebellious streak that matches the white streaks in her hair.  Stone's Cruella is a strong lead who knows what she wants and plans 20 steps ahead to get there.  Cruella is joined by some friends / henchmen in Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser, who help her along in her schemes.  They provide a lot of the heart, humanity, and humor in this film and the balance between them makes the film that much more enjoyable.

Cruella has the goal of being a fashion icon, and as such, the film is much more stylish than any Disney movie I have seen.  Cruella is an edgy designer with a bold look and this translates onto the screen.  The film should appeal to young adults who are searching for who they are, and Cruella gives them a strong and slightly dark vision of what that can be.  I really appreciated the fashion scenes as well as the character's spirit of getting what she wanted.  Again, this is something I completely did not expect, to be rooting for Cruella, but Disney delivered.  And another thing I greatly appreciated from a Disney film is that the movie featured a prominent gay character.  Although the movie doesn't reveal that he is gay, it is pretty obvious from the context.  I know that this shouldn't be a big deal and should be more common, but I am still glad that gay characters are featuring in movies that are geared towards young adults.  Representation matters more than ever so kudos to Disney for recognizing this.

If there are criticisms of Cruella, it is that the movie feels overly long.  The film felt like it didn't need to fully explore her young life and some of her struggles, but Cruella is never boring.  It also doesn't really come together until later in the movie, but make sure to stick it out because some of the later stylish scenes are a joy to watch.  Additionally, as I've mentioned, it feels like this movie didn't need to exist.  Disney could have created its own rebellious fashion icon without using the branding of Cruella, and maybe made it a stronger movie.  But then again, Disney wants tried and true for its live action films so working with an old franchise makes sense.  And finally, this film does feel like some parts of the origin are hamstrung onto it to give it a hook to 101 Dalmatians; but that being said I did really enjoy it.

Cruella is a stylish, bold origin story and an unexpected surprise from Disney, with a marvelously wicked performance from Stone and a darker, more fashionable film from the House of Mouse.

Watch it.

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Endangered Species Review: An Important Underlying Message That Is Lost In The Wild

Rebecca Romijn	...	Lauren Halsey Philip Winchester	Philip Winchester	...	Jack Halsey Isabel Bassett	Isabel Bassett	...	Zoe Halsey Michael Johnston	Michael Johnston	...	Noah Halsey Chris Fisher	Chris Fisher	...	BIlly Mason Jerry O'Connell	Jerry O'Connell	...	Mitch Hanover Brenda Ngeso	Brenda Ngeso	...	Ndiliswa George Glenn Ouma	George Glenn Ouma	...	Charlie Aseem Sharma	Aseem Sharma	...	Aya Pritul Raithatha	Pritul Raithatha	...	Dirk Venter Stephen Adogo	Stephen Adogo	...	Lucas Danica Davis	Danica Davis	...	Medic #1 Kirk Fonda	Kirk Fonda	...	Nuru Isaac Naiganya	Isaac Naiganya	...	Uniformed Guard Matthew Owiti	Matthew Owiti	...	Car Guy

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Rebecca Romijn, Philip Winchester, Isabel Bassett, Michael Johnston, Chris Fisher, Jerry O'Connell
Written and By: M.J. Bassett
Directed By: Isabel Bassett, M.J. BassettPaul Chronnell

ENDANGERED SPECIES is an intense, action packed survival-adventure about a wealthy American family who travel to the vast African wilderness of Kenya hoping for a dream vacation filled with excitement, bonding and a chance to fix the growing rifts within their family. But when their safari vehicle is attacked by a rhino protecting her calf, the family is left stranded miles from help and their dream vacation turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival in a world where they are the bottom of the food chain.

Kyle Ambrose	...	executive producer Delon Bakker	...	executive producer M.J. Bassett	...	producer Barry Brooker	...	executive producer Kwesi Dickson	...	producer David Haring	...	executive producer Molly Hassell	...	producer Brett Hodgkinson	...	co-producer Paul Hornsby	...	co-producer Julie Kroll	...	co-executive producer Scott Mann	...	co-executive producer Jade Manuel	...	co-producer Christian Mercuri	...	executive producer Yolisa Pahle	...	executive producer Hemal Shah	...	line producer Jim Shamoon	...	production executive for blue sky films kenya' Lorna Soonhee	...	co-producer Allan Sperling	...	executive producer Jay Taylor	...	producer Roman Viaris-de-Lesegno	...	executive producer Stan Wertlieb	...	executive producer Philip Winchester	...	co-producer
Endangered Species throws you for a loop.  It starts as a seemingly family friendly vacation film but early on some cracks start to appear.  The family argues a lot and there is some less family friendly language, which lets you know that this family vacation may not be a trip to paradise.  Overall the family is a nice collection of very distinct personalities.  Each character adds a facet to this group and I really liked the rebellious children.  The daughter Zoe (Bassett) is very opinionated and argumentative with her father, which is grating at times but it was nice to have an outspoken daughter character.  And the son Noah (Johnston) was a more dutiful child that is trying to please his father but also be true to himself.  And it was definitely great to see Jerry O'Connell back on screen who plays a complicated but charismatic character.

And the beginning of Endangered Species is a lot of fun.  I loved seeing the shots of the African landscape and wildlife.  It was a treat to experience and it definitely made me want to visit the continent to see what it has to offer.  However, Endangered Species's story is kind of a mess.  The film just does not really know what it wants to be.  It is at various times a humorous family trip, a survival thriller, a heartfelt vacation, and a rebellious drama.  The family makes some pretty terrible decisions that seem slightly out of character with what we know for them.  And when the movie turns into more of a survival thriller, it starts to show more cracks. For one, the animals that are shown are computer generated, which was probably a requirement given what they do, but it just looks off.  It broke the feeling of disbelief to see a majestic animal that moved just a little to robotically or stood out against the background.  And during the thriller parts, some characters get injured seemingly randomly and other characters have turns that just seem strange.  And underlying all this is a message that comes clear at the end, but the film just doesn't seem like a good vehicle for this.  I feel like there were the components of a good movie here but they got muddled because the film tried to do too much.  It feels like had the film come on one side or the other--either be a family friendly daring adventure or a survival thriller--it might have done a better job.  But the way it ended up is a confusing safari that might not be a trip worth taking..

Endangered Species has an important underlying message that is lost in the strange family dynamics and inconsistent thriller storyline.  

Pass on it.

Directed by  M.J. Bassett	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Isabel Bassett	 M.J. Bassett	 Paul Chronnell	...	(story by)
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Thursday, May 27, 2021

News: Check Out The Trailer for OLD, A New Chilling Thriller From M. Night Shyamalan

Old is a Blinding Edge Pictures production, directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, from his screenplay based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters. The film is also produced by Ashwin Rajan (Glass, AppleTV+’s Servant) and Marc Bienstock (Glass, Split). The film’s executive producer is Steven Schneider.


Genre: Thriller 

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abbey Lee, Aaron Pierre, Kathleen Chalfant, Alexa Swinton, Nolan River, Kylie Begley, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen, Alex Wolff, Emun Elliott, Thomasin McKenzie

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Written by: M. Night Shyamalan, based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters

Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan, Marc Bienstock

Executive Producer: Steven Schneider

Women Review: A Slow-Building Crime Drama With Complicated Characters

Anna Marie Dobbins	...	Jennifer Anna Maiche	Anna Maiche	...	Hailey Denise Gossett	Denise Gossett	...	Nancy Kylie Delre	Kylie Delre	...	Rose Anthony Del Negro	Anthony Del Negro	...	Ej Heather Fusari	Heather Fusari	...	Norma Cindy Hogan	Cindy Hogan	...	Mandy Victor Rivera	Victor Rivera	...	Aaron Adam Dorsey	Adam Dorsey	...	Detective Hawk Christian I. Noble	Christian I. Noble	...	Gregory Kristin Samuelson	Kristin Samuelson	...	Sharon Darius Devontaye Green	Darius Devontaye Green	...	Officer Rivans David E. McMahon	David E. McMahon	...	Robbie Tara Warren	Tara Warren	...	Registration Woman Christi Cawley	Christi Cawley	...	Amy Hunter O'Harrow	Hunter O'Harrow	...	Officer Slattery Michael Simon Hall	Michael Simon Hall	...	Bradley Gilmore Susanna Matza	Susanna Matza	...	Hawk's Sister

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: Michael Simon Hall, Anna Marie Dobbins, Anna Maiche, and Adam Dorsey.
Written and Directed By: Anton Sigurdsson

How far would you go to survive? Hawk (Dorsey), small town detective investigating the disappearance of a local woman comes across an unassuming Sociology professor (Hall) who lives a double life.  And Hawk continues to investigate, he comes across a string of disappearances that appear to all be related.  

Erinn Jones	...	Patty Shea Stewart	Shea Stewart	...	Olivia Ebony Mason	Ebony Mason	...	Sales Associate Kelly Schwartz	Kelly Schwartz	...	TV Host Isaak Wells	Isaak Wells	...	Robbie Isabel Ferrand	Isabel Ferrand	...	Student Evan Standard	Evan Standard	...	Student Jaimee Barton	Jaimee Barton	...	Bartender Edward Hubay	Edward Hubay	...	Jeff
Women starts with a suspenseful opening that introduces the predicament and the dire consequences of escaping from the kidnappers strange house.  After that, the film turns into more of a slow burn as Detective Hawk investigates this murder and a string of disappearances in this town.  The movie does a good job of interspersing Hawk's investigation with the events in the kidnappers house, and the film doesn't keep you guessing but at least slowly reveals more and more about this twisted world.  Life inside the house is rigid with a constant sense of dread.  The movie will be perfect for true crime fans and fans of police procedurals for its slow pace and serious subject matter.  The villain has a Toy Box Killer feel, although in a much classier establishment.  In that respect, this film is similar to Do Not Reply for its protagonist and his twisted views of women, but this film has a darker, more gritty feel whereas Do Not Reply had a little bit of camp mixed into its situation.  

Women is an indie film that does not feel budget at all.  The movie has a high quality feel despite what I can only imagine is a low budget.  The film and camera work are great giving you a great sense of this world.  And the setting is perfectly done, with a small town feel where it seems that everyone knows everyone.  The film also has really good make up effects; there is an early scene with a dead body that had you cringing at what happened to this young woman.  And the film smartly uses its budget and doesn't try to do too much.  The movie is all about the characters and the acting, which reflects in the final product.  As I mentioned, the film is a slow burn and that is shown in how it develops the characters and their situation.  I enjoyed seeing more of Hawk as the movie progressed, and seeing the kidnapped girl deal with her situation was another interesting journey to take.  And the acting all around convincing, with plenty of drama and good dialogue. 

But despite Women's great build up and high quality feel, the film has an unsatisfying ending to it.  It almost feels like the movie was going for a surprise ending, but then threw on an extra twist.  And the movie ends abruptly after this, without much overall world resolution.  The ending did not feel like it meshed with the well-realized characters that we had gotten to know and caused the movie to end abruptly and in an unconvincing manner.  I wish the film would have chosen one twist or the other and given the audience a little more at the end.  Additionally, despite the film being a police procedural, some of the police antics did feel a little unrealistic.  And some of the events leading to the conclusion also feel a little too convenient.  But all that being said, Women is a different type of crime drama, with a slower build up and more true crime feel than I would have expected.

Women is a slow building crime drama with a well realized world, good character build up, and a dramatic, slow burning story that will capture your attention.  

Rent it.

Joi Bjornsson	...	co-producer Nicole Bradberry	...	associate producer Tracy Buck Buchanan	...	associate producer Erlingur Jack Gudmundsson	...	line producer / producer Denis Krupnov	...	producer Anna Krupnova	...	executive producer Gregory Sherad Martin	...	producer Anton Sigurdsson	...	producer
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Skull: The Mask Review: A Violent, Blood-Filled Slasher Throwback

Tristan Aronovich	...	Nobuto Ivo Müller	Ivo Müller	...	Tack Waelder Micas Carvalho	Micas Carvalho	...	Scientist Guta Ruiz	Guta Ruiz	...	Galvani Volta Natallia Rodrigues	Natallia Rodrigues	...	Beatriz Obdias Beatriz Severo	Beatriz Severo	...	Bianca Elder Fraga	Elder Fraga	...	Oswaldo Eduardo Semerjian	Eduardo Semerjian	...	Herr Schädel Gilda Nomacce	Gilda Nomacce	...	Delegada Bruna Tristão Greta Antoine	Greta Antoine	...	Lilah Lívia Inhudes	Lívia Inhudes	...	Mari David Wendefilm	David Wendefilm	...	Günther Jena Thiago Carvalho	Thiago Carvalho	...	Cleaning Technician Raphael Borghi	Raphael Borghi	...	Policeman flashback Laerte Késsimos	Laerte Késsimos	...	Pablo Fernanda Fraiz	Fernanda Fraiz	...	Extra Ricardo Gelli	Ricardo Gelli	...	Padre Vasco Magno Rurik Jr.	Rurik Jr.	...	Skull

Release date: May 7, 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring Rurik Jr., Wilton Andrade, Natallia Rodrigues, Ivo Müller, Ricardo Gelli Guta Ruiz, Gilda Nomacce and Tristan Aronovich
Written and Directed By: Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman

In this splatter-filled supernatural slasher, a Pre-Columbian artifact contains the spirit of Anhangá, the executioner of the god Tahawantinsupay. Whoever wears the masked is possessed by Anhangá and compelled to commit sacrifices to resurrect his god. It’s up to a museum assistant and a policewoman to stop the slaughter before the ritual is completed. A throwback treat for fans of ‘80s slashers and gory practical effects.

Alexandre Tigano	...	Sgt. Koff Adriana Paulini	Adriana Paulini	...	Extra Wilton Andrade	Wilton Andrade	...	Manco Ramirez Eizabeth Carvalho	Eizabeth Carvalho	...	Extra Che Moais	Che Moais	...	Pajé Iratinga Eric Bortolato	Eric Bortolato	...	Henchman Luciana Stipp	Luciana Stipp	...	Forensics Lucas Simões	Lucas Simões	...	Extra Nelson Aparecido	Nelson Aparecido	...	Extra Ana Clara Prado	Ana Clara Prado	...	Woman Nightclub Ace	Ace	...	BWF Fighter Luis Alberto Muniz Navas	Luis Alberto Muniz Navas	...	Extra Lucas Elias	Lucas Elias	...	Extra Vanessa da Silva	Vanessa da Silva	...	Extra Zeca Mallembah	Zeca Mallembah	...	Joaquim Douglas Luz	Douglas Luz	...	Policeman Big Boy	Big Boy	...	BWF Fighter Emílio Phoenix	Emílio Phoenix	...	Drug Dealer
Skull: The Mask bills itself as an old school, 80s throwback slasher and it definitely lives up to that in many ways.  The movie has an old film feel to it with exaggerated colors.  And in some of the earlier scenes, there is an extra film filter that is used to give it the feel of archival film with warping, artifacts, and tearing.  And the movie also has over the top acting and a plot that is overly dramatic and apocalyptic. 

But one of the main draws of Skull: The Mask is the over the top gore.  Those looking for an old style film with plenty of practical effects and gallons of blood will definitely enjoy this.  The blood and body parts fly freely as the supernatural executioner continues his seemingly unstoppable rampage.  And the kills are well varied, with some imaginative implements of death utilized by Anhangá.  They all fall into your typical slasher grouping, but there are some very gruesome ways that the executioner does his business.

But Skull: The Mask's throwback style also hurts it.  For one, the story does not make much sense and is tough to follow.  This might be by design, but it also leads to a movie that just felt like one gory set piece after another.  And the film's exaggerated acting leads to some corny situations, again, which might be by design but hurt my overall enjoyment.  Additionally, Skull: The Mask loads on some side stories to the main film, leading to a movie that is complicated  and overly long when it should be relatively straightforward.  The throwback style of the film also leads to some scenes having unnecessary camera shake that was just distracting.  Again some of these might be by design but they can lead to a film that feels like a throwback no one asked for.  That being said, the film will satisfy genre fans with its violent deaths and old school style.  

Skull: The Mask's over the top deaths, gratuitous practical effects, and old school 80s slasher feel will satisfy genre fans looking for a little more blood and body parts in their films. 

Rent it.

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Skull: The Mask is available to stream on Shudder starting May 27, 2021. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Spare Parts Review: A Stylish Grindhouse Film

Julian Richings	...	The Emperor Michelle Argyris	Michelle Argyris	...	Amy Emily Alatalo	Emily Alatalo	...	Emma Kiriana Stanton	Kiriana Stanton	...	Cassy Chelsea Muirhead	Chelsea Muirhead	...	Jill Ryan Allen	Ryan Allen	...	Driller Jason Rouse	Jason Rouse	...	Sam Kathryn Kohut	Kathryn Kohut	...	Lea Erin Noble	Erin Noble	...	Doctor Kevan Kase	Kevan Kase	...	Biker Earl Josh Maloney	Josh Maloney	...	Biker Dudley James Eddy	James Eddy	...	Biker Zeke Geoff Scovell	Geoff Scovell	...	Biker Lou Joseph Richards	Joseph Richards	...	Bearded Groupie Matt Connors	Matt Connors	...	Bartender Tim Kraft	Tim Kraft	...	Randon Fan Lewis Hodgson	Lewis Hodgson	...	Sheriff

Release date: June 1, 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Julian Richings (Chaos Walking), Michelle Argyris (“General Hospital”), Emily Alatalo (Mother!), Kiriana Stanton (“The Expense”) and Chelsea Muirhead (“Slo Pitch”)
Directed By: Andrew Thomas Hunt
Written By: David Murdoch and Svet Rouskov

Spare Parts is set in a godforsaken bar in the middle of nowhere where an all-girl band – Ms. 45 – rips the stage apart with their punk spirit. But their performance impresses an enthusiastic fan who lures the girls into a trap, sedates them, and starts...customizing them. Slowly they begin to gain consciousness and, in total shock, realize their arms have all been replaced with axes and chainsaws to fight gladiator-style in a junkyard arena owned by a sadistic “emperor," forcing them into the battle of their lives with one prize in mind – their freedom.

Spare Parts Movie Still
Spare Parts is less about the story and more about the experience.  The setup makes little sense but starts with a high energy performance by the rockin girl band.  This introduces some key aspects of spare parts, namely the all girl band, the pumping rock soundtrack, and the high energy style of the film.  The members of Ms. 45 are a lot of fun to see on camera; they have a kick ass attitude and a punk spirit that permeates the film.  It is fun to see a group of strong female leads on camera, especially when they start to deal with the adversity of their situation.  And Spare Parts has an amazing soundtrack.  The rock and punk are flowing almost as freely as the blood during the arena battles, making them extra exciting.  And during these scenes you also get a junkyard style and plenty of colored lights to give this film a sort of near future apocalypse vibe.  The film presumably takes place in the current times but the style makes it seem like a mad max type movie.

However, despite all the good that Spare Parts has going for it, the film just doesn't make much sense.  I think this is by design as the movie has a grindhouse feel to the overall setting, but it does make for a series of events that just seem like an avenue for blood and rock and roll.  And that's not a bad thing, but those hoping for a more serious, coherent story might want to look elsewhere.  And the setting, as can often be the case with post apocalyptic settings, makes the film lack variety.  After the initial events, the film takes place in the junkyard around scrap metal and junked out cars.  But despite this overall setup being a strange one, in the end Spare Parts provides a vehicle for an imaginative micro world, gory kills, and plenty of fighting and strange props.  

Spare Parts tells a strange, grindhouse story fueled by pumping music, plenty of gore, and a badass group of female rockers.  

Watch it.

James Fler	...	executive producer Matthew Guthrie	...	co-producer Andrew Thomas Hunt	...	executive producer Bruno Marino	...	producer Michael Paszt	...	executive producer Pasha Patriki	...	producer Svet Rouskov	...	executive producer Melissa A. Smith   Grindhouse Horror Rock Metal Punk
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Spare Parts is available on VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray on June 1, 2021.

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Port Authority Review: A Beautiful And Modern Love Story

Fionn Whitehead	Fionn Whitehead	...	Paul Leyna Bloom	Leyna Bloom	...	Wye McQueen McCaul Lombardi	McCaul Lombardi	...	Lee Louisa Krause	Louisa Krause	...	Sara William Dufault	William Dufault	...	Nix Stephen Cavalieri	Stephen Cavalieri	...	Fats Eddie Plaza	Eddie Plaza	...	Eddie McQueen Taliek Jeqon	Taliek Jeqon	...	Taliek McQueen Devon Carpenter	Devon Carpenter	...	Tekay Azza Melton	Azza Melton	...	Azza McQueen Christopher Quarles	Christopher Quarles	...	Mother McQueen (as Christopher 'Afrika' Quarles) Max Kpoyour	Max Kpoyour	...	Max McQueen Precious Ebony	Precious Ebony	...	Precious Lawrence Snookie Taylor	Lawrence Snookie Taylor	...	Snookie (as Lawrence 'Snookie' Taylor) Jari Jones	Jari Jones	...	Naima Courtney Marie McCotter	Courtney Marie McCotter	...	Cindy

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Leyna Bloom, Fionn Whitehead and McCaul Lombardi 
Written and Directed By: Danielle Lessovitz

After getting kicked out of his home in central Pennsylvania, Paul (Fionn Whitehead) arrives to NYC's dizzying central station with nowhere to go.  A momentary encounter with Wye (Leyna Bloom), a trans woman of color, leads him to seek her out. Transfixed by her beauty and confidence, a love soon blossoms. But as the two learn more about each other, Paul's false narratives begin to surface and the double life he lives must be reconciled.

Brett Smith	...	Samson Christopher Bizub	Christopher Bizub	...	Jackson Sasha Morales	Sasha Morales	...	Mrs. Hernandez Rao Rampilla	Rao Rampilla	...	Cashier Jon Trosky	Jon Trosky	...	Davey Drew Leary	Drew Leary	...	Franklin Paris Warren	Paris Warren	...	Kiki Ball Voguer D.J. Tariq Nelson	D.J. Tariq Nelson	...	Kiki Ball Voguer (as Tariq Nelson) Justin Torres	Justin Torres	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Isaiah Wilder	Isaiah Wilder	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Derrell Bolling	Derrell Bolling	...	Kiki Ball Voguer (as Derrell Relish Boling) Skye Adrian	Skye Adrian	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Lina McBride	Lina McBride	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Taylor-Raye May	Taylor-Raye May	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Deandre Dre Jefferies	Deandre Dre Jefferies	...	Kiki Ball Voguer (as Deandre Jeffries) Octavia Renae Kinard	Octavia Renae Kinard	...	Kiki Ball Voguer Vincent Beard	Vincent Beard	...	Lee's Worker
Port Authority has you following Paul down to rock bottom right from the start of the film.  It opens with a brutal introduction to Paul's predicament and also introduces you to Lee (Lombardi) who takes him under his wing.  This film is all about the characters and the character development and the leads all do a great job in this respect.  Whitehead has a charm to him that is tough to explain and although his character is at times unlikeable, he does a great job as a young man coming of age and starting to have new experiences and mature.  But the real star of the film is Leyna Bloom for her confident character who is attracted to--but uncompromising--with Paul.  Her character is such a strong force in this film and it was great to see a strong, represented female lead in a film.  And McCaul Lombardi as Lee is another complicated facet of this film.  His character is likeable at times and downright horrible at others, but Lombardi does a great job in each of these portrayals.  

And the story of Port Authority is a pretty unique one despite the tried and true general idea of following a young man coming of age.  But this film has a different twist as the movie is more about maturity than some other coming of age tales.  Paul is wrestling with what type of life he wants to live and who he feels comfortable with; with the two choices being polar opposites of each other.  And his character has facets of both, making the film a slow burning look at figuring out what you want in life and who you want around you.  The film is a beautiful love story at times and a complicated life story at others.  However, the movie does have a certain idling aspect to it because it seems like Paul doesn't know what it is he wants.  There are some scenes that appear pretty awkward because he is trying to come to terms with himself, but this leads to scenes where not a lot happens.  Additionally, the scene where Paul and Leyna meet is not one that I was familiar with and can be a little confusing if you haven't been exposed to this.  I still did not fully understand after watching the movie, but I was able to get enough of the structure from the context.  And although Port Authority is beautifully shot, the film can sometimes feel more art than substance.  There are some very beautiful scenes involving dance that also don't feel necessary. They have great colored lighting and intricate dances, but they also tend to linger longer than I thought it was needed.  However, what Port Authority does offer is a unique coming of age and love story that feels very modern.

Port Authority is a thoroughly modern coming of age story with complicated lead characters, great acting, and a story that will challenge you.

Rent it.

Directed by  Danielle Lessovitz	Writing Credits   Danielle Lessovitz	...	(written by)  Lesbian Trans Transgender Love Relationship LGBT LGBTQ Dance Dancers
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Port Authority is available in theaters May 28th and on demand and digitally on June 1, 2021.

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News: Amazon Buys MGM for $8.45 Billion

Confirming rumors that have been swirling for the past week, Amazon has officially purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) for $8.45 Billion.  This gives Amazon control of some major new releases and some very well loved intellectual property including the Bond Series, Lord of the Rings, Rocky, and Silence of the Lambs.  According to its press release: "Amazon will help preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films, and provide customers with greater access to these existing works. Through this acquisition, Amazon would empower MGM to continue to do what they do best: great storytelling."

What this means for the future of those beloved franchises is anyone's guess, but it does probably mean that Amazon prime members will soon have an injection of new streaming content!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Funhouse Review: A Twisted Reality Competition With Deadly Results

Valter Skarsgård	...	Kasper Nordin Khamisa Wilsher	Khamisa Wilsher	...	Lonni Byrne Gigi Saul Guerrero	Gigi Saul Guerrero	...	Ximena Torres Christopher Gerard	Christopher Gerard	...	James 'Headstone' Malone Karolina Benefield	Karolina Benefield	...	Ula La More Amanda Howells	Amanda Howells	...	Cat Zim Mathias Retamal	Mathias Retamal	...	Dex 'El Shocker' Souza Dayleigh Nelson	Dayleigh Nelson	...	Nevin Evensmith Jerome Velinsky	Jerome Velinsky	...	Nero Alexander Kylee Bush	Kylee Bush	...	Darla Drake Debs Howard	Debs Howard	...	Gilda 'The Mad' Batter Bradley Duffy	Bradley Duffy	...	Pete Sake Michael MacKinnon	Michael MacKinnon	...	Jode Nash Dave Peniuk	Dave Peniuk	...	Chuck Thorn Ben Heidi	Ben Heidi	...	Botis

Release date: May 28, 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Written and Directed By: Jason William Lee
Starring: Valter Skarsgård, Khamisa Wilsher, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Christopher Gerard, Karolina Benefield

When 8 celebrities from around the globe are invited to compete in an online reality show, they soon realize that they are playing for their very lives, as those voted off suffer horrific consequences, broadcast live to the entire world.

Scotty Mac	...	Vapula / MMA Fighter (as Scotty Schnurr Mac) Aron Olaf Johnson	Aron Olaf Johnson	...	Orobas Sean Scott	Sean Scott	...	Sabnock Behtash Fazlali	Behtash Fazlali	...	James Whitehat Victoria Cruz	Victoria Cruz	...	News Anchor I Ben Dextraze	Ben Dextraze	...	News Anchor II (as Ben Detraze) Kimi Alexander	Kimi Alexander	...	News Anchor III Brian Johnson	Brian Johnson	...	News Anchor IV Abby de Forest	Abby de Forest	...	Interview Host (as Abby DeForest) Jeff Cooper	Jeff Cooper	...	Wes Gray Jason William Lee	Jason William Lee	...	Jack Burton Gabriella Klein	Gabriella Klein	...	Mira Fuentes Norah Campbell	Norah Campbell	...	Norah Frédérique Roussel	Frédérique Roussel	...	College Girl 'Adrianna' Panta Mosleh	Panta Mosleh	...	College Girl II Devin Kotlowski	Devin Kotlowski	...	College Dude I Lou Ticzon	Lou Ticzon	...	College Dude II
Funhouse pits eight celebrities against each other in a global contest for likes and audience approval.  And this format is an interesting one as it is essentially a reality TV show where the voters don't know what will happen to the least popular.  It sets up a nice scenario where the celebrities are pandering to the crowd and then begin pandering that much more.  And the international aspect of the cast is fun to see; Funhouse is occupied by celebrities from around the world, which makes for some culture clashes on top of the personality clashes.  I liked the cast a lot in this film, despite many of their characters being cliched.  It is a fun group of young actors and each brings a very different persona to this twisted game.

But what sets Funhouse apart are the brutal consequences for being voted last.  The film starts to show its horror skin in these instances, with brutal practical effects and plenty of gore.  There are some CG effects in here, but overall they are done nicely.  And some of the challenges are downright twisted, which will have you cringe as these social media influencers are forced to fight for likes and their lives.  

However, Funhouse has a really good start and brutal effects, but the film sort of devolves towards the end.  It isn't bad, but some of the characters go through some strange character shifts fairly abruptly.   And the film hides the main villain behind a CG generated panda, which is by design for the film, but makes him looks a little ridiculous.  The voice is also altered so it is tough to take the film seriously when this character is threatening.  Funhouse tries to make him look scary during those instances, but that effect falls flat.  Additionally, the film tries to have a surprise twist ending that just didn't seem necessary.  It spoiled some of the fun and felt like it was put there for shock value rather than story value. 

Funhouse earns a lot of likes for its brutal effects, campy internet style, and fun cast of international influencers in this brutal social media survival game.

Rent it.

Jerome Yoo	...	College Roommate Alan MacFarlane	Alan MacFarlane	...	SWAT Leader Barry Nerling	Barry Nerling	...	SWAT I Richard Thompson	Richard Thompson	...	SWAT II Randy Rafuse	Randy Rafuse	...	SWAT III Hartley Holmberg	Hartley Holmberg	...	SWAT IV Jeff Gonek	Jeff Gonek	...	Panda Captain / Reporter I Shane Martin	Shane Martin	...	Panda Helper I / Losing Chessmaster Michael Gyori	Michael Gyori	...	Panda Helper II Raynor Shima	Raynor Shima	...	Panda Helper III Sonny Svärd	Sonny Svärd	...	Man in Park I Nicklas Dahlin	Nicklas Dahlin	...	Man in Park II Diego Ortíz del Gaiso	Diego Ortíz del Gaiso	...	Man in Mall Christian Bitar	Christian Bitar	...	Man Sitting by Fountain Jonas Santi Einarsson	Jonas Santi Einarsson	...	Man Standing on Street (as Jonas Einarsson) Kamran Fulleylove	Kamran Fulleylove	...	Riley Jordan Kirk	Jordan Kirk	...	Kirk
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Funhouse is available digitally and on demand on May 28, 2021.  For a list of places to watch, click here.

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