Straight Time Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

When you’ve got a film about a ex-convict attempting to turn his life around, you have to wonder if he will make it through to the end or if he’ll go more Ocean’s Eleven style where the message he learned was just not to get caught next time. Well, no matter how you slice it, Max wasn’t quite ready for the journey that was to follow here. The movie ends up fumbling relatively early on and is never able to get up again.

The movie starts with Max being released from prison. He’s been in and out of prison a whole lot over the years but maybe this was his last time. His parole officer is Earl and he reminds Max that there are a whole lot of strict rules and regulations that Max will be expected to follow. Max decides to break those rules immediately as he picks his own place to sleep and basically tests Earl’s patience.

Later on Max is finally able to get a job and starts complying but also immediately asks out a girl named Jenny. She agrees to go out with this man she has only known for 5 minutes and things are looking good except that Max goes back to hang out with his friend Willy who does a lot of drugs. This naturally ends up putting Max back in jail temporarily through a mix-up. Now Max is wondering if he will ever truly be free or if maybe he should just go back to his life of crime.

That’s the dilemma he finds himself in, but Max really doesn’t do himself any favors. For starters, he should have been following the rules of his parole pretty seriously. Messing up on day 1 is pretty bad. Then you have the whole trying to get back into the romance game so quickly. At least give yourself time to try and get used to the swing of things right? He jokes about dining and dashing immediately which isn’t a good idea.

Max gradually deteriorates throughout the film and I can definitely say that I wasn’t a fan of the guy. It didn’t seem to be like he really made an honest effort to try and turn over a new leaf. He definitely shouldn’t have allowed his friend to do drugs in his room and then he was very quick to just decide to start robbing places again. The instant you turn to a life of crime you’ve lost any sympathy points you might have had.

You’re rooting for the cops to capture Max as soon as possible. The guy’s just unhinged and is a danger to society. Based on how often he has been captured though, I don’t expect that he will be on the loose for long. As for Earl, he is the kind of guy who definitely doesn’t like to be shown any disrespect. Max starts defying him early on which leads to a very quick breakdown in their relationship. As a result he goes pretty tough on Max. He seems like he would have probably been a decent parole officer otherwise.

As for Jenny, my main issue with her is that she just seems way too at east with the whole situation. She meets up with Max and within minutes she is prepared to go out with him. Then she gradually learns that he’s a criminal and has a very minimal reaction to it. He starts getting rather rough about this as he yells that he can do what he wants and that he won’t change who he is. Jenny just accepts this as well.

It’s nice that she is so dedicated but you never really understand why she is. It’s like she just woke up one day and decided that Max must be a good guy. At least she’s a positive influence compared to his other friends Willy and Jerry. Willy and his household just seemed really messed up when Max got invited over. The whole place just didn’t have a good feeling and part of the tension is likely because of the drugs. I would have cut out the whole visiting scene entirely.

Meanwhile Jerry is probably the smartest character here in terms of when they’re actually going through with the heist but at the same time, he had a pretty good job and was making good money so deciding to go back on a life of crime wasn’t very smart. He didn’t put himself in a good position at all. If your partner isn’t leaving the crime scene in time then it’s definitely time to ditch him and escape before it’s too late.

Aside from the unlikable main cast, the movie just isn’t super interesting. It’s more frustrating than anything when you have to follow a bad main character. You see him making all of the wrong decisions time after time and can only shake your head. This is one of those films where it feels like Max creates all of the problems for himself.

Additionally, the romance in the film is just way too rushed and unrealistic. It goes too far in such a short amount of time and the film really didn’t need to include it. The way Max acts all defensive and treats Jenny despite him causing all of the trouble just makes him even more unlikable. They have a one night stand in a scene that goes on for way too long and definitely shows more than it should. All of these elements bundled together show that the film was trying to be a lot more gritty and intense than it needed to be. As a result, it wipes away any good parts that it might have had.

Overall, Straight Time won’t leave much of an impression so you’ll probably forget about it before long. I think it’s a story that could have been handled a lot better but the execution wasn’t on point. To a large extent the film just feels dirty. Every house/landmark in the film is as old as can be. The prison is deteriorating, the motel hasn’t been kept up to date, etc. The characters are morally bankrupt and it feels like the whole town is living in a bad neighborhood. Even the light hearted scenes never quite get all the way to being happy scenes as you feel a sense of dread. With some good characters that can be an effective combo but with nobody to root for, it just adds to the dragging experience of making it to the end here. I’d definitely say to give this one a hard pass.

Overall 1/10

Buried Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Being buried underground is definitely something that would be tough to deal with. In most situations if you’re stuck somewhere you figure that there has to be a way out. If you’re underground though then you’re really stuck. If you try punching your way out then the dirt will fall in and crush you. You have limited air so you can’t stay underground and going through the sides will have the same effect as going higher up. In a way your best bet is going down and hoping there’s some kind of tunnel but the odds of that are incredibly low. So…it’s a pretty tough situation to deal with.

The movie picks up with Paul waking up in a coffin underground. He is unable to escape and really has nowhere to go. The only items on him are a pen, glowstick, cell phone, knife, and a small carton of water. He will have to try and think of a way to get out here but it won’t be easy. He was a truck driver who went on a mission to Iraq in order to help people. Unfortunately his men were all shot and then he found himself here. The person holding him hostage says that he will only free Paul if he gets the guy millions of dollars by the end of the day. That’s going to be a hard sell but Paul will have to try and make some calls.

Now, usually in situations like this I say you can’t give in to the demands because they’re not going to save you anyway. Like in this film the guy tells Paul to make some videos and injure himself in the hopes of being let go. You feel like the guy is going to leave Paul to rot anyway so why give in to the demands right? If someone holds you at gun point and tells you to get into the car I’d say your best bet is to run. Worst thing that can happen is he shoots you like he was going to anyway after all.

This one is unique so Buried did a good job of limiting the options here. Paul is already buried when he wakes up so there is absolutely no escape for the reasons I mentioned in the intro. His only hope is making a phone call. To his credit, I can’t say that there are any things to really have been done differently. He calls a ton of people but he’s somewhere in Iraq and has no idea where. He’s underground as well so the odds of anyone finding him are pretty slim. His best chance is to keep on calling but that can get tiring.

The only thing I could call him out for was keeping his lighter on so much. That will definitely get rid of the air extremely quickly. It’s a high pressure situation of course but I’d like for him to have kept it off to at least buy himself some more time., He does tend to fly off the handle quite a bit as well. The people on the phone were usually not very helpful either.

This movie is very serious to be sure but there were a few callers that were so outlandish you almost felt like the film was trying to throw in a little humor. You had some people who couldn’t understand a fairly simple recount by Paul who was explaining how he got buried in here and then a lawyer calling him from Team Corporate with some bad news. There’s even a scene where as Paul is explaining things the screen keeps on zooming in on him. It felt like a parody moment but I suppose the idea was to show how many times he has to repeat the same exact story and each time nobody is very helpful. So that was definitely pretty intense.

Now, while I give the film points for originality and thinking of a new scenario, I have to take away points for almost the same reason. First of all, Paul is stuck in a coffin for the duration of the movie. That means there isn’t really anything happening for large portions of the story. It’s pitch black when he isn’t using the lighter or the phone. There’s a lot of time with him just rolling and trying to make a call to someone. As a result the film is very slow paced. It’s interesting but you can forget about it having any replay value.

Additionally, if I were the film I would have kept it as more of a suspense thriller and kept the hostage situation out of it. Things escalate once the calls start coming in and this becomes a much darker movie with the realization that Paul isn’t the only one in a predicament like this. The whole situation is out of his hands and just gets progressively worse and worse as the movie goes on.

Buried’s ending is also pretty awful. It was bad enough where the film nearly lost everything but I’ll keep it at a point for at least trying something new. I do think the idea is interesting but honestly it would be better with two people. They can be in separate coffins with walkie talkies or just a slightly bigger one but it would help for banter and dialogue. I don’t think you can really effectively have a film with just one person. The people on the phone help in terms of dialogue but it does get old very quickly.

With two people you can still have a whole lot of banter or at least the ability to bounce ideas off of each other. Otherwise you’re just too limited in what you can do and that’s something that happened to this film really quickly. If you threw Paul a bone like some kind of tangible hope he could grab onto that would be good but as you listen to the guys taking his calls you don’t expect he is in a great spot. If I were Paul I would have answered the corporate call very differently by the way. A bunch of well placed “No” answers would have really wrecked their plans at the very least.

As a main character Paul is good. He seems like a reasonable character who was just trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it ultimately ended up costing him big time. He really has to go through a lot during the movie and never really gets a chance to rest.

Overall, Buried has an interesting premise but I wasn’t a fan of the execution. The whole movie feels just like that…a slow execution. Paul is slowly watching as his time is running out with the air getting low and help always seeming so far away. Death by suffocation is definitely a really tough way to go. It’s not as bad as drowning in my list but it’s all relative once you get to the grisly deaths like that. He has to go through the whole movie with that fear in the back of his mind as he doesn’t know if he’ll live or not. Throw in the random snake, Terrorists, and having to watch other people die on the phone and you’ve pretty much got Paul under torture for the entire film. Buried isn’t a pleasant watch and I’d say to skip it until they announce some kind of reboot or remake which may be able to change things up and give you a better experience.

Overall 1/10

Thunderhead: Son of Flicka Review

Uh oh, it’s time to go back to the adventures of good ole Flicka. Let me tell you, this is not a story for the faint of heart. It has drama, intensity, and a lot of other horses. While the film is going for a much more dramatic vibe than the first film, it ultimately fails due to the same faults. As I said in my earlier review, perhaps this is just something that is extremely difficult to escape for any film based around a horse.

Many years have passed since the first film and Ken is not much more ready when it comes to having another horse. Time isn’t going to wait now though as Flicka has a kid named Thunderhead. Thunderhead is extremely wild of course and doesn’t want to live inside the farm cage. He wants to be a free spirit who can just run around as he pleases. Ken is determined to break-in Thunderhead which has always been a rather odd term but effectively it means to get him trained. The problem is that Ken isn’t very strong so he has to be careful not to injure himself.

In the more dramatic subplot, we learn that there was once a stallion of incredible power. He was as white as a sheet of snow and would often visit the various ranches/farms in order to steal a bunch of horses and have a bunch of kids. This guy even gets villain music and has a pretty unique design for a horse. For years he has continued to haunt the main characters but nobody could ever catch him. If they don’t do something soon, there will be no more horses to protect.

So as you can see, this is going to be a very difficult situation for the characters. It’s also a sub-plot that should raise a lot of red flags because for the horses who fight back against the Stallion, they can never win. Some brave horses try fighting back but are all promptly murdered by this beast. It’s a shame because they were just trying to do the right thing and paid for it.

I was surprised that the film had so much action. Naturally this even leads to a big climax battle with Thunderhead. Here’s the issue of course, you can’t have big animal fights without animal violence. It’s not going to happen and these fights get pretty brutal. At one point you even have Thunderhead stomping another horse to death. It’s off screen as you can only see the stomping and not the other horse but that was pretty brutal.

This installment definitely ramps everything up compared to the first film. So right off the bat this one couldn’t be salvaged but at least it is easier to find some silver linings here compared to the first. I liked the idea of a big race with the horses. It actually felt like this movie had more of a central focus compared to the first one as a result.

The main race is fairly quick but it made for a pretty intense scene. Ultimately it does show that Thunderhead is the fastest horse but being the fastest doesn’t always mean you will claim victory. As a main character while Ken may be ever so slightly improved from the first film, I still don’t like him. He quits rather easily and gets really upset at his horse the whole time. He’s not a very good leader nor is he someone you would want to follow. He wasn’t ready for another horse and is basically just a cheerleader in the climax as he watches the two horses fight.

The supporting characters have less of a role this time compared to the first film. For example the parents are still around but don’t do much. The Mom helps Ken by getting him a uniform and the Dad ultimately relents to him entering the race but that’s about it. Not a whole lot would change if they weren’t even in the film. Likewise the sister is mainly here to call in the grownups when Ken is messing up but that’s about it.

Thunderhead was a good horse though. He’s pretty tough and ultimately has some heroic traits like how he charged into battle. Thunderhead is quite free willed but I wouldn’t say he ever makes the wrong call except for randomly running into the field at one point instead of following the path. That felt pretty random and maybe even a bit forced but otherwise he was on point. Definitely a leader that you could follow into battle at any time.

As mentioned, the more interesting plot is with the mysterious Stallion even if you know that it’s not going to end well. I’ll give the film credit for having a real soundtrack this time. It’s not every day that you have a hype villain theme like what this film had. The writing is okay as well I suppose. It was nice seeing more of general society like the race track betters. I’d like to see more of that in future installments. Perhaps a change in scenery would do the film good. I’m not sure how you would squeeze the horses into a city plot like that but maybe you don’t. Make this more of a human based story instead.

Overall, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka ultimately loses to the first film. While it wins in some areas like the soundtrack and story, it ultimately doubles down on the horse deaths and showing that they live in a very dangerous world. I was rooting for Thunderhead to escape while Ken was trying to tame him the whole time. Thunderhead knows that he is destined to be a King and needs space to move around. In that way he is a lot like Spirit, king of his herd. Surprisingly Flicka barely has a role here at all. The whole jumping out from the water is probably her last big scene in the film. I suppose she already had a complete movie experience but I was expecting more moments. Either way you’re going to want to give this one a skip.

Overall 1/10

What’s the Matter with Helen? Review

What’s the matter with Helen? Is one of those films where you know from the jump that it’s probably going to be bad. You’re hoping that maybe it’s still decent or something, but the odds aren’t in its favor. It goes for the usual extreme amounts of shock value the whole time and throws in some animal violence for good measure. The film may not be particularly long but you will be shaking your head the whole time without a doubt.

The movie starts with showing us Adelle and Helen who are the mothers of two kids who became murderers. The world is blaming them for not raising the kids properly and so they have to discard their old identities and go into hiding. Unfortunately, someone seems to have followed them. They get calls from a mysterious man who says that he will be murdering them later on. Helen is terrified of this and wants to just stay home in hiding with Adelle. Adelle isn’t taking this as seriously and says they should just move on with their lives. Both of them are rather extreme in their views but Adelle is taking it a little better.

So, Adelle is right in the sense that you should not live your life in fear. I’m totally cool with that but she takes it pretty far when she starts forgetting to close the door behind her. Now that’s just common sense, why would you forget to do that each night? It’s even worse when someone is threatening your life as well as your roommate’s. It’s a lack of common sense on Adelle’s part.

Still, at least Adelle is trying her best to move on. She started her romance with Lincoln rather quickly but that may have been another way of coping. If she married him and they move off somewhere, perhaps she will be truly safe. Towards the end of the movie she is a bit slow on the uptake though. Lets face it, Helen’s been quite unhinged for a while at this point. Adelle continues to turn her back to Helen though even when things don’t seem to be in a good spot. Rule number 1 of any film even if you’re not a horror title…don’t give your back to someone when they are standing right next to a conveniently placed butter knife.

Now for Helen….I’ve got a lot of issues for her. She starts turning crazy very early on in the film to the point where the movie may have tipped its hand a little too early. You’ll be tempted to think that there never was a phone call if Adelle hadn’t heard it. You’ll be considering how Helen could have faked the call or if she hired someone. Neither option makes a lot of sense though so then you have some potential here.

I forget the exact name of the movie, but it might have been the Crow. Basically the plot is that there’s a villain who has decided to rob a bank and next he is going to murder Vincent Price. If you’ve seen any old film you’ll know…you don’t just bump off someone like Price without a fight. What the murderer didn’t count on was the fact that Vincent was also a criminal and he turns the table in an instant. The would be victim has now become the villain himself. I still remember thinking that was a brilliant twist. It’s why Willie’s Wonderland always looked fun in that sense.

There are so many horror films where the villain is just an ordinary person and yet they’re murdering dozens and dozens of people. After a while you hope that there will be a film where this killer runs into the wrong house and has to deal with someone just as crazy. You probably can’t do this plot too often or it would get old but once in a while? Absolutely that’s an excellent twist and a good way to subvert expectations. Now this might seem to be unrelated but here’s what I’m getting at.

The film could have had a really interesting dynamic with the mysterious caller breaking into the house only to find that Helen isn’t some powerless old lady. That would have made for a great confrontation. Instead the film doesn’t go that route and it’s unfortunate. The route we do go through is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the very beginning of the film. Helen gradually goes more and more insane as she consistently raises the body count.

It’s not a cool kind of insane either so she’s not exactly a villain you could root for. No, she’s still crying a lot the whole time and isn’t intimidating in the slightest. She only claims victory against others who were not expecting a battle or animals who couldn’t possibly fight back. It’s not entertaining at all and is just annoying to see everyone go down so easily. The cast is also pretty small so it’s not like supporting characters could save her. Lincoln is probably the only other real character here and he’s just around for the romance. You shouldn’t be trying to romance a teacher the first time you meet so I didn’t have a great first impression on him.

To wrap this up, it’s a very classic horror type film. It gets rather violent as Helen imagines dead bodies in front of her and stabs people quite a lot. There’s a surprising amount of blood in these murders as well. Then you’ve got the animal violence which really comes out of nowhere and is pretty awful. The film doesn’t have any particularly good scenes to bring it back up either. There’s no line of dialogue that impressed me or a sub plot that was interesting. It’s a movie that flops from start to finish.

Overall, What’s the Matter with Helen is a film that I would highly advise staying away from. Just take a look at the poster so you know how the film will end and then you can save yourself the full experience. A slow decline into madness is the kind of plot that may be easy to show in a film but it’s hard to execute well. This one just went through the motions with no real soul and as a result it was doomed to fail.

Overall 1/10

When A Stranger Calls Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

I can’t say the premise for this film filled me with any real hope after the disaster that was Black Christmas but maybe it would actually be good right? Unfortunately that was not the case. When A Stranger Calls is another film that you will want to absolutely avoid at all costs. It’s got a pretty bad villain and the main characters can be annoying. The main character from the opening segment certainly could have explained more on the phone but lets go back to that in a minute.

So the film starts with a babysitter, Jill, looking after two kids. She then starts getting a ton of calls from someone telling her to go check on the kids but 1. she isn’t getting paid enough for that and 2. this seems a little sketchy. So she calls the cops and when they ask her if anyone is threatening her, she says no. She’ll probably say that the caller is threatening the kids next right? Unfortunately she does not. She basically denies everything and just wants the cops to look into it. They tap the line at least but either way they’re too late to save the kids. The kids are murdered and the crook escapes into the wild.

I still can’t get past Jill not actually saying that the caller was making threats. Ah well, I suppose it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway at that point. Duncan is the guy we now know to be the murderer. He’s on the run in the streets after escaping an asylum so Clifford has made it his personal mission to take the guy down even if it costs him his career as a cop. He searches around the city for clues but of course this won’t exactly be easy. Tracking one guy down in such a huge crowd will not be easy. Meanwhile Duncan has found his next victim, a lady named Tracy. Will she be able to escape before he makes his move?

This film’s going for a different approach than most horror films like this. Usually you either don’t see the antagonist until the very end of the film or he only pops up when bumping off the main cast. Duncan is a bit different as the film actively follows him around a lot of the time. We see him attack other characters who have nothing to do with the main plot. So that’s a fresh take on the genre. It may not have even remotely saved the film but I will give it props for trying something different. Of course the downside of this approach is that Duncan’s an awful character so having to follow him around like that is pretty brutal.

At least in the bar someone stands up to him which prevents things from potentially escalating. Unfortunately he was still able to follow Tracy to her home. Duncan’s basically one of those obsessive serial killers who is completely insane but plays the victim card all the time. There’s nothing remotely redeemable about him and he’s not even a mysterious figure because of this since we see him constantly. On the whole the cast isn’t great. Tracy’s certainly a brave heroine at least. She is out at night a lot and all by herself but manages to keep her head held high and keeps on going. A lot of the other characters wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

As for Jill, if you take away her messing up on the call I guess she was decent. As for Clifford, his drive was solid. He did keep his word on sticking around which helped Tracy out at the end. It would have been nice if at least someone would have tried to stop Duncan when he was running away though. Clifford was super close to catching him there but ultimately he just needed another step or two to actually make it. Close but no dice that time.

While the film isn’t all that violent for the most part, it goes out of its way for grit later on as we’re given a very descriptive account of what happened to the kids. Needless to say the film wants you to know that these murders were quite gruesome with a lot of unnecessary detail. We also get a flashback showing the aftermath of this later on which really comes out of the blue since I thought we were going to at least avoid the visual. I don’t see why we needed the extra shock value at that late stage in the game but it’s how it goes I suppose.

There aren’t really any fun scenes in the film. Even some of the more intense horror films like the ones with Jason or Alien usually try to squeeze in either a party scene or some character competition moments but you don’t really have any of that here. You have the first murder, then a brutal bar fight, then nearly a second murder, a final struggle and then the climax. The film really keeps a tight grip on the plot which does make sense to an extent but it means that the film keeps up a very dreary atmosphere throughout. There’s just no time for you to enjoy a scene before shaking your head at whatever fatal moment is next.

Overall, When a Stranger Calls is definitely a film I would recommend avoiding. The film is going for too much of a shock value vibe and the main villain’s pretty terrible. The idea of following him and the cop in random locations is interesting but following a villain around almost never works either. So at the end of the day what you have is a pretty unwinnable situation where the film has planted itself in the corner. It’s doomed to come out on the losing side there almost as soon as the first 20 minutes are up with what happens to the kids. If you want to watch a good film with some scary moments then I would recommend watching Dragon Ball Z: Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan instead. Now that’s a film that will probably get you a little scared while watching because of how intense Broly is.

Overall 1/10

Shut In Review

Sometimes when you boot up a movie you can tell that it’s going to stink within the first few moments. Other times it takes seconds and then you have the occasional film that won’t show its true colors until near the end. I wouldn’t say this one had a solid start by any stretch of the imagination but at least it wasn’t totally awful initially. It’s more like a film that kept getting worse and worse as it went on until there was nothing left.

The movie starts off with Mary watching her step son Stephen and her husband Richard driving off. Stephen quickly throws the car off track into a truck though so Richard dies while Stephen is thrown into a coma. Mary now spends her days taking care of him since Stephen is essentially a vegetable now. A neighbor named Doug shows up though and wants to be Mary’s rebound romance. As she starts to consider this, strange things begin to happen in the house. She sees people moving, a kid who should be long gone a state away, and things like that. Can Mary escape the house or is she doomed to die here?

There’s a ton of issues with the entire story here. Characters act in the most unintelligent ways so that the film can progress which suggests a weak story premise to begin with. Thing is, there’s not much you can really say about the film here without talking about the main twist since it’s integral so this is now going to head into spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen the film yet then you can now skip to the final paragraph. Keep in mind that this is a film you absolutely want to avoid at all costs because it’s just pretty bad to be honest. There’s nothing really good to say about it.

Okay, so the big reveal here is that Stephen actually wasn’t in a coma. The last 6 months he has been completely awake and aware of what is going on. He just waits until Mary isn’t looking or asleep to move around. Are we really supposed to believe that he kept this up for 6 months? There’s a whole lot you have to buy into here for this to make sense. First off, this means none of the doctors noticed any kind of fidgeting or anything while working on him. Stephen was perfectly able to not react in the slightest when he was being hit with the needles, studied, bathed, etc. Really? I can’t buy into this being the case for a week much less 6 months.

It gets a whole lot worse though. So the whole film Mary keeps noticing strange things like a literal kid gagging her and then running off only for her to go back to sleep and sorta think this was a dream. So, it turns out that Stephen has been drugging her with his medicine. So….how did he do this? Did he have a needle he would inject her with while she was asleep and hope that she didn’t notice, or slip medicine into Mary’s tea/coffee during the day? Both of those options aren’t exactly realistic since there’s a huge chance she would wake up or notice.

Even more practically, Stephen was using his assigned drugs from the doctor. That means it is a limited supply, one that is carefully calculated at all times. Anyone who’s ever had an operation and gets medicine knows that they only prescribe you a certain amount of tablets and to get any more you have to go through a whole request process. How did Mary not notice that Stephen’s supplies were dramatically being reduced? He was using a whole lot of drugs on her based on the bloodwork so this does not make any sense.

They certainly gave her rather odd dreams that’s for sure. It doesn’t help with us buying into her just going to sleep and ignoring all the craziness the whole time. Tom is also annoying the whole time. Instead of being reasonable and asking Mary for help he runs off multiple times. I’m not sure if he or Stephen broke the hole in the car window but we know Tom got in somehow. He basically keeps on hiding which makes it a lot easier for Stephen to catch him while Mary is left in the dark the whole time. Mary looked pretty bad the whole time as well but at least she had more excuses than the others. She certainly should have run off with Tom into the cold though instead of staying in the house. It’s definitely the safer option and the odds of being found in the dead of night are pretty slim with all the trees around. Better to risk freezing than hiding in a defenseless position.

Another character who’s just not very smart is the doctor. So, he knows that someone’s drugging Mary and sees someone moving firsthand. So, in light of this he drives on over and naturally crashes his car in the ditch. He then walks through the front door just asking what’s going on and why Mary won’t show herself…when he knows there is a crazy killer in the house. Naturally he gets bumped off real quick like nobody’s business and you’re left wondering if he was smart at all. He didn’t exactly race to call the cops either. So much for this guy being a professional because nothing about him made you think that the guy was an expert.

Stephen’s also a terrible villain. His whole motivation is basically that he wants to be with Mary in a rather twisted sense. Any scene with him will definitely make you cringe. Particularly his opening reveal as the villain. That scene in the bath takes forever and every second drags on and on. Any scene involving his obsessions with Mary ends up being a lousy one. Stephen also gets hit with a whole lot of sucker punches but unfortunately Mary never finishes him off so he always gets right back up. The worst instance of this is Mary knocking him down and then giving her back to him while having an entire conversation with Tom before….naturally getting blindsided. What was she expecting was going to happen? Stephen also seems rather strong for someone who wasn’t able to move around freely for 6 months but we can also balance that out with Mary being in a drugged state I suppose.

Overall, Shut In is definitely a terrible film. There’s really nothing to like here The reveal about who the villain is makes for a terrible second half and the execution seems like it was focused more on shock value than logic. The whole thing just doesn’t add up no matter how you slice it. You have to suspend an incredible amount of disbelief as the film goes on and after a point it just isn’t possible anymore. The romance in the film, what little we got was pretty bad. The villain’s awful and none of the characters are very smart. The film has a whole lot of shock value but none of it has any substance. Ultimately this is a film you should stay far away from. There just isn’t anything here to really give the film a win in the end.

Overall 1/10

Happy Birthday To Me Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This movie definitely has one of the more disturbing posters you’re likely to see around that’s for sure. Right away you can probably tell that this film is not going to end well and you’d be right. It’s your classic slasher title as the villain takes everyone out one by one. The main draw here is figuring out who the murderer is as there are plenty of suspects. All of these guys feel like people who may be guilty so no character is innocent here. We’ll see if you can figure out who did it.

So the movie starts by introducing us to a nice little town. In this town there’s a school with the Big 10, the students who are destined for greatness. Some of them got this status through money…well just about all of them to be honest and a few with good ole fashioned hard work. They like to mess with people as a clique by harassing people and showing a general disregard for public safety. Someone clearly doesn’t like this because members of the Big 10 keep getting murdered one after another. Some of them start suspecting foul play while others treat it all like an elaborate joke. There’s a whole lot of plot convenience here as well I should add.

The main character here is Ginny. She’s a member of the group but is fairly new to the town and is still getting used to being a rebellious person. She has just recovered from a traumatic event involving the death of her Mother but is finally ready for society again. Unfortunately these murders are having a pretty bad effect on her psyche. In fact, Ginny believes that she may be the one doing these murders but can’t find a way to prove it. The whole thing is driving her insane and her “friends” only seem to care about how they can use this momentary weakness to get together with her as a rebound. With nobody to turn to and her father away on another business trip Ginny is definitely in a pretty bad spot here.

One of the big problems with the film is just how unlikable everyone is. Part of this is the film going out of its way to make everyone suspicious but because of that there is nobody to root for. One of the big 10 for example has a creepy fascination with wax modes as he even creates some based on the girl who just went missing and did it in a violent fashion. Not exactly the kind of guy you want as a friend right? Another guy is a player who gets together with everyone all the time. Everyone is constantly trying to manipulate the others or just hooking up with everyone one after another. Ginny isn’t exactly removed from that either and doesn’t look much better. These are all deeply flawed characters to the point where none of them are even remotely likable. It’s just unfortunate.

Ginny also doesn’t put herself in a great position to try and keep some distance from the murders. She keeps on meeting up with different guys by herself. Not exactly the best plan. Of course it’s not hard since all the guys seem to like her but she should be the one avoiding these scenarios. It’s one of those films where you feel like it may not have made a difference to be honest but it still would have been nice to see her trying. Even the scene where she runs into the graveyard by herself is kind of suspect. Why distance yourself from the group like that when it’s so late at night? The fact that she lives in the middle of the forest is also pretty crazy. I suppose it’s one of those things where it probably looks better when you’re not watching a horror film but it doesn’t help here.

It goes without saying that the movie is definitely very violent. Each of the characters are murdered in very violent ways. Nobody gets what you’d call a simple death here, they all have to really go through the wringer so you can tell that the murderer really doesn’t like these guys either. They just can’t catch a break. It does raise some questions later on when you actually know what’s going on though. It also reminds you why you need to keep your guard up at times. In the very first murder, I don’t care who it is but you were just being choked by someone with black gloves and then someone with the same pair appears to help you…..suspicious right? This character didn’t think so until it was too late unfortunately. Not every murder was careless like that but another one involving weights was pretty suspect. This character is literally not saying a word the entire time you’re talking. Isn’t that kind of odd?

So of course the writing is going for the classic moments like this. I’d have to give it a thumbs down though in large part to how bad the cast was. I think you can definitely try to make this kind of film without making the characters that unlikable. It was a bit excessive at times. The only good characters were some of the supporting characters like the headmaster. At least she was trying to get a handle on things and keep people out of trouble. She may not have been very successful but at least she tried.

The movie’s big reveal at the end will either be a genius move for you or you’ll roll your eyes. As I said, there are a lot of plot conveniences for this to work that’s for sure. The actual reveal I’m cool with because it’s a lot more interesting than the other routes but you do feel like the writing doesn’t hold up. One character looks pretty terrible the whole time though as he just panics and doesn’t do anything the whole time until it’s too late. It’s too bad because in the present he seemed good even if the flashbacks got tricky. Ultimately at least you don’t get the feeling that he was a bad person, it’s just that things would come up suddenly. The villain just took things way too intensely and ultimately there’s no excuse there. Villains will be villains I suppose.

Overall, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this. Happy Birthday to Me is really just your classic teen slasher. If I had to compare it to a film it’s probably most like I Know What You Did Last Summer in terms of how bad the main cast is. Whenever you have a film with no likable characters you know that things are not going to end well. You need some good characters or your film’s going to fall through just like this one did. No amount of shock value is really going to help to cover that up. As soon as members of the Big 10 were all getting bumped off though I would have moved away if I were the rest of the kids. We’ve already established that they’re rich so that’s the best thing to do. Just jet out of there! I’d also ask for Police Protection, the last thing I’ll do is head to the graveyard by myself again in the dead of night…..

Overall 1/10

Cats Review

I remember this film getting a ton of buzz when it first came out but all in a negative way. The cat costume CGI looked really bad and the trailer did not look promising. The film does not disappoint in that it is pretty terrible. This movie just didn’t really have much of a chance from the beginning and it’s really not surprising. The whole concept of the film is about cats that look like people singing a lot of songs. It’s just not a very enticing storyline and the film doesn’t focus on story much at all anyway.

The movie starts off with someone throwing away their cat. Her name is Victoria and she doesn’t seem to know about much in life in general. She’s very confused and the neighborhood cats don’t seem to appreciate newcomers much. They start singing a lot of nonsense at her but eventually she’s able to glean a few things from their ramblings. Cats are supposed to all have 3 names yet all of these guys have only 1 name so Victoria safely disregards this useless information. Next up there is a competition where the Cats perform in the hopes of getting out of this place. The only way out is to be chosen as the winner so everyone does what they can to win. Victoria has been here 5 minutes and she’s ready to leave so she gets ready to enter. The only tricky part is that the rules are never really explained and there isn’t much of a bracket system either. Just run on stage and do what you can. It’s the only way to possibly win here.

Fortunately we do have a villain to give us some reasonable moments. His name is Macavity and he has the ability to turn people to dust and then transport them places. The teleportation seems to knock you out temporarily which is convenient for him. One by one he begins kidnapping all of the cats so it’ll be easier for him to win the tournament. He doesn’t have much of a point to his plan after this though. He was really hoping that they would suddenly make him the champion for doing this but unsurprisingly the cats aren’t sold. I would still have to put this guy as the best character though. He sings less than the others and makes the rest of the cats look like suckers a lot of the time which is always nice. They fall for every trap and the worst part is that Macavity can clearly just teleport you at any time. Yet he likes to troll the characters by pretending he needs an autograph and things like that.

The best part was when he is talking to Victoria and naturally she doesn’t know who he is. He drops some hints like talking about how scary he looks but she has that same puzzled expression on her face that is present for 85% of the movie. He has to literally point at the wall of wanted posters with his face on it. Keep in mind that this was present for the entirety of the scene. The gears finally click into motion for Victoria and she runs away while Macavity laughs. At least that part was funny although I’m not even sure how intentional that scene was.

When you boil it down to what’s wrong with the film, a lot of it comes back to the cat costumes. If you’re going to do a film about cats then use CGI ones or something but not people acting like cats. The whole thing is disturbing from the start and never gets any better. You’ll be wanting to roll your eyes throughout. There just doesn’t seem to be a point to most of the scenes beyond just being surreal. The designs are all rather unpleasant to look at and the backgrounds during the songs aren’t great either. So you’ve got some of the worst character designs I’ve ever seen and even the songs are weak? That’s a recipe for disaster.

The film goes for some crude scenes with the cats eating roaches and such during the early songs. Did the film really need to go there? All the scenes of them eating stuff can be pretty grotesque. For the songs the most tragic part of the whole thing may be that at times the background music isn’t all that bad. Sometimes the tunes can actually be fast and catchy. Usually it’s the lyrics that just don’t work. This musical is just a flop even as a musical because the songs won’t keep your interest. It’s all like a super long music video that isn’t interesting and the “story” of the music video doesn’t do it any favors either. That’s a really bad combination.

Cats is also just a very boring movie. With no characters to actually get invested in that already puts the movie at a huge disadvantage. Macavity doesn’t appear a whole lot compared to most so he can’t hold things up. Veronica has no real character to speak of and all the other cats seem rather shallow and mean spirited the whole time. They basically forced one cat to stay outside the whole time until Veronica saved her and helped her have a happy end to that subplot. The cats would probably be a lot happier in this place if they actually did something to improve the conditions. Instead they seem happy to mess everything up and there’s even a song about how they sabotage one family’s dinner every night. How heroic of them….

Overall, Cats is a terrible film. There’s really no question about that. The music is no good and the story is basically nonexistent. It’s a pretty basic plot. You have to win the competition and there’s a villain who wants to cheat his way to the top. There’s not much to it but the songs are the only thing keeping this from being a 20 minute film. It’s just hard to believe that this is actually a real movie, it’s no wonder that the movie lost so much money. I guess it just be like that sometimes. I would recommend watching just about any other musical over this one. Check out High School Musical instead and you’ll have a much better time.

Overall 1/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Well here’s the sequel to the first Elm Street. Naturally you can’t expect good things from this one. In fact, it’s even weaker than the first film. It makes pretty much all of the same mistakes only this time it also adds in some animal violence to keep things dicey. You’ll be shaking your head the whole time and once it’s over only then can you relax and hope that the next films will surpass this one. There’s only so far up you can go in this genre of course but the attempt is the important part right?

So the events of the first film are left rather ambiguously here but my headcanon is that the twist ending was real and then Freddy quickly managed to fudge the story a bit. Our new main character is a boy named Jesse who has been having nightmares of Freddy murdering him every night. That’s got to be pretty rough since it keeps happening. I do have some questions here though like why he isn’t actually dead yet. It’s not a plot hole though as you can easily explain it as Freddy choosing not to make the damage real since he wants Jesse as a host body. It’s definitely a different plan this time. Freddy wants access to the real world and this is the easiest way to do it. Can Jesse resist his influence or will be start going around murdering everyone in his path? Either way there is no easy way out for Jesse so he’s going to be in for a rough ride.

As always the film goes all in with the over the top violence. Freddy definitely isn’t playing around here as he murders a ton of people in the real world. More so than in the dreams this time. His powers have also improved now that he has a physical body to the point where he is able to manipulate reality such as when he created dogs with human faces or when he caused the birds to go crazy and attack the main characters. Of course this was just a cheap way to rope in some animal violence into the film. I knew the film was getting desperate to be edgier than the first film but I didn’t think it would go this far.

The idea of Jesse being possessed by Freddy here is also unfortunate since it means that his character goes down as well. At least he was able to stop himself from taking out the sister and the rest of his family though. That would have definitely been another step too far. As it is the film tries to give us the classic kiss of life near the end which is pretty gruesome to watch especially thanks to the design. It makes for a really painful climax on top of everything else going on. The film is certainly not opposed to having you cringe as things go on. You can probably guess that the characters weren’t very good here.

For starters, Jesse is not as good as Nancy from the first film. He panics and yells a whole lot but doesn’t actually do much of anything to try and stop Freddy. Panicking is really all that he does and he never accepts help from anybody. This leads to a cycle where he is just doomed from the jump. Then you have Lisa who likes Jesse but it’s all extremely sudden. Does she really know him enough to try and save him after watching the guy murder a bunch of people and lose control like this? She shows a whole lot of devotion at the end to the point where you’d figure that they had been together for many years. I dunno, I had a pretty hard time buying into any of this.

Then you’ve got Grady and I’m not 100% on what the film was going for with him. I suppose he’s just meant to be the more confident guy at school who loves teasing everyone but is actually a good guy deep down. He seems nicer than Jesse in some respects as the lead would usually be the one to panic. You also feel bad for him at the end because there really isn’t anything that he could have done to escape his fate. The whole Xenomorph type entrance for Freddy there was also pretty crazy. Of course in a film like this you’ll always be seeing a lot of tragic deaths. Then you’ve got the Coach who was almost cartoonishly mean to everyone. Especially the main two although he would always catch them slacking off.

The scene with him at the bar was so surreal I thought it was one of the dreams though. So, Jesse runs out of the house and goes a long distance til he suddenly finds himself at a shady bar in the middle of nowhere? From there he is forced to go to school where he runs a bunch of laps until Freddy shows up again. The whole ting was just really out there and the biggest twist was the fact that it was real. Well, I suppose that’s one advantage to being a film that goes into both worlds, after a while you can’t trust anything you see which is the big thing here.

Naturally there is a twist ending here as well. It’s not nearly as powerful as the first film’s ending though. I guess it’s still got the same kind of conclusion but the execution was off. Maybe it’s because the scene takes a while and since it’s obvious that something is going to happen it’s not as suspenseful as the film thinks it is. Still, it’s definitely a pretty crazy ending that’s for sure. I would make the case that the opening scene is a lot more powerful so instead of trying to use a similar type scene the movie should have gone in a different direction. That’s my take on it at the very least.

As for Freddy himself, he definitely talks a lot more here. It doesn’t do anything to make him a more likable character though. At the end of the day he’s still just a really twisted individual who only seems to care about dishing out a lot of pain to everyone. He’s widened the scope of opponents he wants to take out though so now he’s more of an indiscriminate murderer. I couldn’t believe that the heroes missed him at point blank range with the shotgun though. How do you miss at that range? To think that may have been it for Freddy’s host body. Realistically it wouldn’t even slow Freddy’s murders down as he would go back to dream land but still, it was a start at least. I don’t know what the one kid at the pool was thinking with slowly walking up to Freddy and pulling the whole “We don’t have to fight thing”. Was there any way that would end without him getting promptly murdered?

Overall, Freddy’s Revenge is pretty one note and basically the same as the first. Only with even weaker characters and some animal violence thrown in. The writing’s definitely no good and I wouldn’t say the pacing is solid either. The violence is so excessive that you’ll be taken out of the movie pretty quickly each time as well. There are just no real positives to say about the film. I don’t think there’s much you could do to save the franchise at this point so all I can say is better luck next time. If you want a spooky film with more of a memorable villain then I would recommend watching Mask of the Phantasm instead. Now that one will have all the thrills you are seeking!

Overall 1/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

This is definitely an iconic horror film. It’s quite possibly one of the 3 most well known slasher films of all time. It’s certainly had a wide amount of influence and people just don’t forget Freddy that’s for sure. Of course it’s pretty much doomed from the jump because slasher films like this make all of the big film mistakes. The violence is excessive and the characters range from annoying to terrible. Surprisingly this film doesn’t have any real animal violence although the sequel makes sure to fix that. Either way, this is definitely not a movie that I would recommend.

The movie starts with Tina on the run from Freddy and she manages to survive by waking up. She heads to school where her friends try their best to cheer her up. She then has a sleepover but unfortunately that is the last thing you want to try against Freddy so he destroys her and framed Rod. Nancy believes that he is now after her and the rest of her friends. The problem is that he is pretty much unstoppable in the world of dreams and getting him to the real world will be difficult. Nobody believes her so Nancy is effectively on her own. Can she outwit Freddy and put an end to his evil plans once and for all?

One thing that took some getting used to here was that everyone would just call him Fred. I’m always used to using the full name of Freddy Krueger but I suppose I’m just used to that from seeing it spelled out all the time. Beyond that the film really plays out exactly how you would expect. The characters even insult your intelligence the way you’d expect them to based on the stigma of horror characters not being very smart. I’ll definitely get into that in a second because they’re just really bad here. Lets get the obvious negatives of the film out of the way first though.

Naturally the film is incredibly violent. The characters die as violently as you would expect. Freddy takes them all out in different ways. Honestly Rod got off incredibly easy compared to the others. For the other characters Freddy likes to toy with them a lot before finishing the job as well. He even injures himself just to show the characters how insane he is. The self inflicted injuries definitely don’t help Freddy’s case as being an imposing villain either. Once he’s in the real world the characters land a lot of big shots on him. Parts of the climax I wasn’t sure were supposed to be serious or comedic. It’s a bit like Home Alone where Nancy had a bunch of traps laying around and would keep slamming Freddy with each one. It was pretty surreal to watch. The ending still gets tense once she runs out of traps though.

Then you’ve got a subpar character roster holding the film back as well. You’ve got Rod who really makes it easy for Freddy to frame him. He pulls a knife on his friends and even threatens to do things to them. It’s not exactly the best dynamic you could want. Of course you’re meant to know that he’s not a bad guy deep down…I guess. It doesn’t really work though. He and Tina are also pretty inconsiderate to Nancy and Glen who are just trying to have a good time downstairs. The nightly affairs are another slasher trope as it usually serves as a death flag to the characters. You have to stay strong and they did not. The characters are just really irresponsible. Only Nancy manages to hang in there.

Lets look at her parents for example. When the dreams get worse her mother takes her to a place to analyze them. We then see that the computer screens go haywire and she even manages to grab Freddy’s hat. So, in context Nancy just woke up from a dream with a bunch of cameras watching her as well as the main doctor and the Mom watching through the glass. They know that she didn’t get up or do anything beyond struggle there. When they see the new wounds appear out of nowhere and a hat generated from oblivion which belonged to someone the Mom personally murdered a while back…they don’t suspect anything? It’s got to be one of the craziest moments out there.

Usually you may be annoyed when the characters don’t believe the lead but at least they have decent reason to. Whenever there’s an alien invasion or a monster attack you may have someone not believe that it’s going on, but fine you have some excuses there. They didn’t see it, government conspiracy, etc. Here this is literally happening in front of their eyes and they aren’t doing anything. It’s hard to buy. Rod’s version of events was also pretty shifty as he saw Tina getting murdered in front of her by an invisible force but sticks with the “I didn’t get a good look at the guy” story.

Now my problems with Glen are different. His issue wasn’t that he didn’t believe Nancy. The problem is that he consistently lets her down every single time. He has one job, to stay up a few hours. That’s it. Nancy has had to stay up for several days in a row at this point and she’s still doing her best to get to the bottom of this. For her plan to work she needs Glen to wake her up at the right time. Instead he falls asleep on the job….2-3 times in a row. The worst time is the final moment because his Mom wakes him up and he sees that it’s only 10 minutes until he is supposed to go find Nancy. Instead…he goes back to sleep and is promptly murdered. He really didn’t do a single thing to help Nancy and you’d think that he really would if he cares about her as much as he said he would. Falling asleep that many times is inexcusable especially since her safety is a concern here. He fell asleep the first time she asked him to help, the second time, and then the third. If I were her that relationship would be over on the spot.

Nancy really has to do everything on her own but it’s just an issue that it got to that point. Freddy is a lot sloppier than most villains so he leave behind so many clues. It would have been nice if someone could have actually helped out. Nancy’s father also fails her at the end of the film when he gives her his assurance that he’ll be there and then promptly leaves because he didn’t mean it. It’s all pretty rough for her. It makes for a lot of tense moments since she’s really running for her life but it all just feels like a big betrayal.

Freddy Krueger gets a dark backstory as you would expect to cement the fact that he’s definitely a cheap villain. He only picks on the weak and that’s how he has built his whole empire. Think about this, the parents are the ones who murdered him and he’s still going after the kids. He’s definitely an awful villain no matter how you slice it. As always the film does have a twist ending so you’ll want to prepare yourself for that. It’s a staple of the horror genre and you really need one if you want to compete with the others. It was pretty fun I’d say. Definitely rather sudden so it comes out of nowhere and really leaves you hanging. The execution was absolutely on point.

Overall, Nightmare on Elm Street is exactly what you would expect. The plot plays out just like any slasher with the villain bumping everyone off until the lone heroine finally thinks up a plan to put an end to the madness. The violence is through the roof and you’ve got a very weak cast of characters. There aren’t any real positives to say about the film except that it does keep things pretty intense throughout so it fulfills its role as a thriller. Freddy’s design is certainly grotesque to make him scary but it’s not a design that I’m personally a fan of. Give me the Scream costume any day. If you want to watch a spooky film then I highly recommend checking out something like the House on Haunted Hill instead.

Overall 1/10