Double Jeopardy 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

It’s time to look at a murder thriller from a little while back. The concept of Double Jeopardy is definitely an interesting one. I get the feeling that there is a little more to it than what the film would have you believe, but it certainly works for the premise. Of course, that’s part of the problem. The film keeps building up to this but we ultimately don’t really get to see it in action. I was expecting the heroine to use it to her advantage but in the end it feels like more of a red herring/missed opportunity.

The film starts with Libby and her husband Nick finally getting ready to take the voyage they had been planning for a while. Unfortunately after Libby goes to bed she wakes up to find that he is seemingly dead. (No body tho) The cops arrest her and blame her for the murder. There’s way too much evidence for this to be an accident and that’s when Libby finds out that Nick faked his death so he could go live with her best friend. Libby’s kid is also with them naturally so she swears revenge against him. Another inmate lets her know that because of double jeopardy she can go destroy Nick now since she already did so once and can’t be tried again. After 6 years Libby is out of prison and ready to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, officer Travis is on her tail so Libby’s really gonna need to hurry here.

Naturally it’s tough to track someone down when you haven’t seen them in years and there’s no handy Google to check things out. Fortunately Libby is pretty good at social engineering and quickly begins to break the human element that always fails the various computer systems and works her way to Nick. She’s definitely very determined in that goal and makes for a fun lead. Libby’s tough and to the point, definitely well ahead of her time as far as protagonists go. She does get a bit iffy towards the end though which is where the writing drops the ball. So at one point she finally finds Nick. At this point there is no reason why Libby shouldn’t just shoot him. Keep in mind that she’s not a super hero or anything like that. Libby’s here for her kid and could care less about the rest. The justice system failed her so she wants to make things right. By that logic shooting Nick is the quickest way to end things. She can easily prove that he was her old husband after that through photos and then she would get her kid.

I suspect that her kid is the only excuse as to why she wouldn’t do that, but logically it would all work out. Just take Nick down and you’re good. Instead she falls for one of the most obvious tricks in cinema and then gets tricked a second time in the climax. It was hard to watch this because she had been looking so good for quite a while to slip up like that. It’s a shame, but I guess the character couldn’t be perfect. She’s far and away the best character in the film despite this though as you can only be so hard on her for making these mistakes.

Then you have Travis who certainly isn’t having a fun time. He gets beat up by his own captive and then is playing catch up for the rest of the film. He’s a bit slow on the uptake but ultimately does try to look into the situation so I’ll give him some credit there. He is a fun character and while the characters give him a hard time for not giving someone a second chance, he made it crystal clear from the start that they were already on their last shot. Miss the curfew and it’s back to prison for you. He’s also pretty sloppy towards the end of the film though. I guess maybe the lighting messed with them all or he popped off too soon thinking the case was over.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Nick. He’s pretty much your average rich villain. The guy switched identities twice which is impressive enough and goes farther than you’d expect. Still, nothing much to like about his character. He just wanted to escape the taxes and all of his excuses are pretty fake. I do also have to wonder how he was able to escape so smoothly in both cases. I get that everything was more lax back in the day, but in all 3 identities he kept the same exact job and status. Didn’t anyone in those fancy art circles recognize him? You’d think that they would.

Before Nick’s death the film tries to sell you on what a good guy he is, but you’d likely know the premise of the film so it doesn’t work. Even if you don’t, the film lays the seeds of doubt early on as he jokes with the friend that Libby won’t like the truth when she finds out. There’s a lot of dialogue between the words hinting at his cheating the whole time. As such, we could have cut down on the romance scenes early on as they don’t add to anything. If the film was determined to try and show us that Nick was a good guy for a while, maybe show scenes with people in the neighborhood saying what a great guy he was. Otherwise he just seems like a corrupt rich guy from the start.

Overall, Double Jeopardy is a pretty decent thriller, but really missed the whole point of its title by not actually utilizing Double Jeopardy intentionally by the main heroine. She should have shot him in the middle of the big parade to prove the point or something like that. Instead the law never really gets taken into effect as the ending can still be considered self defense. Still, that aside it’s solid. The opening is a bit slow but things pick up once she’s on the hunt. The story of the lone vigilante is always an enticing one and this film handles it well. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend checking it out once it’s on TV again. Once she’s in jail the film really starts.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

Swamp Thing Review


It’s time to look at an old school DC film. This movie doesn’t really feel like your average comic book film and could easily be mistaken for just being another horror film. That would probably be the best outcome for all parties involved since I doubt anyone wants to take credit for this movie. It just isn’t good and does so many things wrong that you’ll end up wondering what the film was thinking. The characters aren’t very smart and so it’s hard to root for anyone.

The film starts off with the main character, Alice heading over to the Swamp. She is here to fix some sensors, but the broken sensors were sabotaged by terrorists so she isn’t allowed to go near them. Since she has nothing else to do she hangs around the pair of scientists who are trying to make some breakthroughs and insults them the whole time. The main guy is married, but seems to forget this all the time so all scenes with him are cringe worthy. That’s when the villains come in and murder the two scientists in the hopes of getting their research. Alice managed to snatch one book though so their collection won’t be complete. The villains don’t like that and decide to give chase, but they have one more obstacle to try and get past, The Swamp Thing!

The film doesn’t exactly hide the Swamp Thing’s identity, but I won’t allude to it in case you need that reveal. Needless to say, The Swamp Thing is here to help. “This is My Swamp!” should have been his opening line but he’s a creature of action as opposed to words. As the film goes on he does start to get a little more chatty though so I guess that’s a good thing? Unfortunately, he isn’t quite as intimidating as the average creature. In most of these horror films you see the monsters just destroying everybody until they die in the end. Since the Swamp Thing is a heroic creature, he doesn’t get the same treatment. He gets captured and beaten by the crooks. He doesn’t do a good job of taking the villains out of the equation so they always pop right back up to give him some more grief. He isn’t opposed to murder as we see him do it several times, he is always in just too much of a hurry to get away. He’s just not a very likable character. His abilities also don’t seem all that impressive in this film. He was nerfed all the way into the ground.

Alice isn’t a bad main character although she can also be a little iffy at times. For the positives, she is a fighter. Alice does put up a struggle whenever she appears and even lands in some good hits. On the other hand, she is rather slow on the uptake. Even when seeing the Swamp Thing mowing down her opponents she keeps telling him to back off. She’s certainly safer with him than without. She also has an unfortunate tendency to trip over just about everything. She probably hit the ground at least ten times. Cmon Alice, you can do better than that!

Then I have to quickly rewind to the beginning of the film to explain why the normal joe characters always fall below expectations. So you have a guy running through the swamp when a few guys with guns walk up to him. He quickly lets them disarm him and then runs. What’s the point? They’ll just shoot him down. He’s dead either way so he may as well have held on to his gun and taken one of them down with him. This is preferable for many reasons. One of which is that by firing right away you at least have the slimmest of chances to survive. Second, at least they’ll be forced to gun you down right there which is a far less painful death than the alternative. Third, you get to die with some dignity. Trying to run away in a swamp when you’re outnumbered like that won’t work. Even if it was just one guy he could shoot you once your back was turned. These hostage situations always drive me batty.

This film is a little on the violent side with people getting snapped and crunched. The main villain’s transformation scene was also shown to be as grotesque and violent as possible which is a little on the rare side for transformations. Usually you expect those to at least be a little pleasant right? The violence isn’t extremely over the top but certainly is high enough that it’s noticeable. There isn’t really animal violence if you look at the film casually, but it’s there when you drill into the specifics. The unlikable main characters were running experiments on the animals which is a no go. These animals don’t care about the science so why should they have to be used like this? The animal certainly didn’t look like it was having fun being all wet like that.

Swamp Thing also goes out of its way to make the villains unlikable. A good villain should command respect but also be fun to root for/against. None of that is here with these villains. At the most the main villain isn’t bad. He’s one of those random rich guys who wants to see the world burn. The main villain is really one of his subordinates though who chases Alice around quite a lot. Naturally he is shown to be rather depraved and of course he couldn’t just be a professional trying to earn a paycheck. I get that guys like him will typically end up being the villains since it makes sense, but it doesn’t make any of his scenes work any better.

The best character in the film is definitely the kid who owned the gas station. He was on point and could sniff out danger a mile away. It’s a shame that his gun was defective but there’s no way he could have known that. Even though he was just a kid he did a lot of work and helped get Alice to a safe place. He brought the film a level of charm and wonder that it didn’t have previously. Not enough to save the film or anything like that, but it was still neat.

Overall, Swamp Thing is definitely not a film that I would recommend. The characters aren’t all that smart and Swamp Thing himself looks quite weak. I’m glad he kept in his healing powers, but being able to fight a little more would have been great too. The film drags on a bit and the only good character got a really small amount of screen time. This is definitely one of those movies that you should skip and I’d advise you to check out some of the classic Godzilla films instead if you want to see how a creature should be portrayed. I can guarantee you that at the very least he wouldn’t go down easy like the Swamp Thing.

Overall 3/10

Stranger on the Third Floor Review


It’s time to look at a really old noir film. This one deals with the court system which is always fun and the heroes have to wonder if the Jury is really paying attention. After being on the jury I can say that this film was actually super realistic both in how the jury absolutely doesn’t care in with the judge who has already made up his mind. The film is a pretty solid thriller throughout and while a certain character can be rather annoying, it’s a fun package overall.

The movie starts off with Mike finally getting his big break. He noticed someone talking tough about murdering another guy and shortly afterwards we find out that the person was stabbed. The suspect is taken into court and thanks to Mike’s testimony he is taken to prison to await the chair. Mike’s friend Jane isn’t thrilled about all of this and decides to guilt trip Mike. She basically says that he should have just pretended not to notice and then the guy would have been caught. She believes that he is innocent and this gives Mike nightmares. A similar situation occurs in his house and now the cops think he is the murderer of a different case. How will he get out of this one?

In case you didn’t guess, the character I didn’t like here was definitely Jane. I definitely don’t think she was in the right with guilt tripping Mike so much. Once he was on the stand he was obligated to tell the truth after all. If her issue was that he let the cops know in the first place she should have specified that a little more. Even so that would be morally dubious as well.Maybe it was the fact that Mike seemed to take a little joy in all of this for his promotion. Either way she just didn’t handle the situation well and then showing up in court only to make a scene and run off didn’t help either. She shouldn’t have gone if she was going to be that excitable. She just didn’t really contribute much until the very end. At that point her plan also could have sued some serious work as she needed to call the cops right away or force herself into the house. Walking around with a murderer just usually isn’t going to end well. She also looked bad in the dream, but I guess I won’t count that since it wasn’t technically her.

Mike is a reasonable main character even if he tends to overthink things quite a bit by the end. Especially after the whole gloves thing he probably shouldn’t have just grabbed the door so casually. Beginning to pack was also sketchy since he knows that it didn’t really help the other guy’s case all that much. Phoning it in to the cops was definitely the right move at least even if it came close to backfiring. Mike just didn’t really think these things through. He was a fun character for the first half, but he just wasn’t very smart and got maybe too distracted by romance as well. Then we see his flashbacks where he constantly flies off the handle and is tempted to murder someone multiple times so I think the guy was just unhinged. It would explain his dream sequence as well.

The dream was quite good though. Also, while I wasn’t a big fan of the main duo, this was still a very solid film. The writing is on point and the court scenes are fun. It’s a quality thriller that builds up the tension and doesn’t go for any crazy shock value. That’s the kind of film that you want in your corner. The pacing is on point and even though it seems to be made on a fairly small budget you never feel confined to any one backdrop. The core characters have enough personality to keep you entertained.

I was getting mixed signals from Jane the whole time though. The scene inside Mike’s apartment was just odd as she kept moving away from Mike and denying him the whole time. She would do that, but didn’t actually leave and came across as half flirting. I thought the film was going to have her admit that she didn’t actually like him, but the movie never goes there. It just feels like a random plot point.

This film made sure to make the neighbor rather unlikable, but he wasn’t too terrible I’d say. The guy was rather annoying, but not completely unreasonable in some areas. If the rule really is not to have any guests over then he’s not technically wrong. The type writer part is tricky but it did seem rather loud so maybe Mike could have done something to be quieter. I don’t think he was ever intended to be a sympathetic character though.

The dream sequence is rather long, but certainly well done. It’s a nice look at what could have happened and the whole situation almost came to pass. I have no doubt that Jane would take the stand against Mike and the Jury probably wouldn’t believe his story. Especially since Mike was intent on mentioning his dreams and pre-cog abilities. Since he is a reporter you’d think that Mike would realize how crazy that all sounded. Again, he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

As for the actual villain in this film, I can’t say that he was very smart. He was constantly tempting fate by staying near the scene of the crime. It’s hard to even say what his goal was here. I assume he is murdering people to get some money and he doesn’t want to go back to prison, but once he has the money what is he doing with it? You’d think that he would have skipped town or something. He also doesn’t even have a home despite robbing 2 people successfully. I think this guy wasn’t very good at budgeting.

Overall, The Stranger on the Third Floor was pretty interesting. The title is almost a little odd though as the stranger doesn’t show up for a very long time in the film and technically doesn’t even appear all that much. I guess it will help you stay alert for when he pops up though. If you haven’t seen a quality Noir film yet then this is the way to go. It’s basically the complete package so you can’t go wrong here.

Overall 7/10

Elevator To The Gallows Review


It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane Review


Time to take a look at the film with the little girl down the lane. From the title you may think of a light hearted comedy type film but this one’s actually a horror title. Time to let the warning bells commence. This one falls into the pitfalls you would expect from a horror title and then throws in one that most wouldn’t add. It’s a gritty film that is really no good.

The film starts off with an old house that the Rynn is living in. Some neighbors come over at various times, but her father is never around to greet them. Rynn claims that he is sleeping or working but this excuse can only work for so long. One of the neighbors is unfortunately a villain who wants her and while the rest of the town knows about it, they can’t lay a hand on him since his mother is the most powerful person in the town. Fortunately for Rynn, another guy drops by and serves as her guardian and partner. Can she still survive in this tough world without parents to back her up.

Right off the bat, the opening scene threw this film out the window. It’s a terrible scene and one that is dragged out for way too long. Any duration for this plot wouldn’t be good though as a villain going after kids for reasons you can probably guess is not a theme you ever want to have in a film. When a film goes down that route, a 0 is all but guaranteed. It barely even matters how the plot ends as far as the score is concerned but fortunately he does get destroyed by the end of the film and there are large gaps where he does not appear.

Then we’ve also got the animal violence. The main villain destroys Rynn’s pet hamster and the instant you saw the animal show up you knew this would happen. It’s an unfortunately predictable trope that horror films use all the time. They already don’t tend to have any class so it makes sense why they wouldn’t care after a while. The main romance plot is also rather bad and unnecessary. Naturally the guy who goes over to help Rynn ends up romantically involved. This is totally unnecessary and destroys whatever character he had. Why couldn’t he just be protecting her as a friend? Losing to the flu so easily is also pretty bad considering he knew what would probably happen if he didn’t head back to Rynn.

This film also went down a different route than I had expected going in. I figured it would be about Rynn murdering everybody which would also be bad and dark in its own way but preferable to this plot. What other impression could you get from the poster seen above? It’s a total bait and switch as Rynn is rarely an intentional murderer. If it had gone that route, it would be sad for the nice people who enter her house, but the plot still wouldn’t be as shady as this film. During the whole opening scene I was waiting for Rynn to destroy the guy or do something, but when she didn’t and he walked out without a scratch, that was when I knew that the film wasn’t going with that angle. Instead she never seems all that ready for the danger in front of her. She only had one trick up her sleeve and if that didn’t work then she was basically toast. She talks tough, but doesn’t even carry any weapons on her person. Her friend has to do all of the work when the villain breaks in because she doesn’t life a finger to help. Realistically, she is a little kid so there’s not much she can do, but if she is really ready for the world like her father taught her to be, she should certainly have a knife.

Alternately, the main character just shouldn’t have been a kid. That would have helped the film immensely. I suppose I can use this film as another example for why having a kid as the main character is never a good idea at least. There aren’t really any positives to the film that I can think of either. The landscapes are bland and since the whole town is corrupt it’s not as if there is anyone to root for. If the “good guys” are content to do nothing, then it makes sense why evil took over the town. There’s even a whole saying about it.

Overall, This film was absolutely horrible and another one for the trash bin. This movie starts out dark and continues with that theme for quite a while. The film even makes it clear that this isn’t the first time the villain has gone after kids just to really hammer it home that the villains always win in this town. There’s never a really happy scene here. The romance ones are just hard to watch, especially in this context and so you’ll just be glancing at your watch every 5 seconds. I highly recommend avoiding this one and going to Dunkin Donuts for a bagel instead of something. It will save you a lot of time and only for the cost of a dollar. It’s just a bargain when you think about it.

Overall 0/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review


It’s time for a mystery thriller from Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is still her best work as it’s a perfect example of how a murder thriller should go. While this one couldn’t quite match that master piece, it’s a very solid film and one that you should add to your repertoire. With all of the suspects boxed in on the train, it’s the perfect scenario for Detective Poirot. Still, he’ll have to work fast since the snow won’t last forever.

Poirot was enjoying a very peaceful train ride and was off duty for a change. He hadn’t expected to have any problems, but then a dead body is found. He quickly begins to deduce that there was something more to the victim than it would appear. Poirot also decides to interview all of the suspects and there were certainly a bunch. First is Harriet, a bold woman who loves to voice her opinions and is constantly chattering. She has something to say about everything so it is difficult to actually find out what she knows. Next is Hector, the secretary of the deceased. He is fairly mild mannered and always nervous. Then there’s Beddoes, a seemingly perfect butler who is always ready to answer politely. He was close to the deceased and delivers the nightly wine. Princess Natalia may be rather old, but that would also make it easier for her to do something while staying inconspicuous. She has a maid named Hildegarde who has served the master faithfully for many years so maybe it was all for this moment. Diplomat Rudolf and his wife Elena appear to be rather quiet for most of the journey. Rudolf does blow up whenever someone talks to him though so are his nerves cracking or are they both quiet because they know something? Mary, the teacher is around as well and her scholarly knowledge could be sinister. The Missionary Greta always seems rather timid and doesn’t know English too well, but is it all an act? There’s also Antonio, a car salesman and one of the only reasonable people here. He’s loud and bold and certainly isn’t nervous like the rest of the passengers. He’s ready to help the country and that could be suspicious. Finally, there’s the actor Cyrus. He always seems to fade into the background and that may not be an accident. We also can’t forget Poirot’s friend Signor. Sometimes friends aren’t as innocent as they appear to be. Poirot has a lot of suspects to flip through so this’ll be tough.

I love a good mystery and the whole film is about that. Poirot’s interrogation of every member is pretty fun as he grills them. Since most of the riders are either lying or hiding something, it really does make his job very difficult. The only co-operative guy was the car salesman who also happened to be the best character in the film. It’s no coincidence as I was glad to see someone being at least a little co-operative. Perhaps he was a little too eager so that makes him suspicious as well, but something to think about for sure.

The pacing is pretty tight here. The opening which shows a crime in progress is fairly short. It just gives you enough time to see each of the characters and then we are quickly taken to the train. Once at the train, it never feels like the movie is dragging on. While the mystery doesn’t start immediately, it gives you a chance to learn about each of the characters and gauge the reactions of each when things finally start. Naturally in any good thriller, you know not to pay too much attention to the reactions though. The guilty party is typically an expert and can feign any reaction somehow.

I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It’s not really a cop-out or anything like that. It’s probably not an ending I would want to see all that much as it would then start to feel like one, but done sparingly like this it works well enough. We’ll see if you can end up guessing what happened.

The underlying story in the prologue is fairly dark, but fortunately the film doesn’t go into it much. It was handled optimally as you know enough to understand the situation, but the film doesn’t go over details or try too hard for the edgy angle. It’s something that I hope the modern remake is taking notes on. The writing is quite good as you likely have suspected. I don’t know how strict of an adaption it was from the book, but I suspect that the writing is rather similar. All of the characters are sophisticated and it makes for multi layered dialogue as a characters says one thing and means the other. It results in everyone trying to manipulate one another.

If there’s one character who’s rather annoying (Aside from the guy who died rather instantly) it would be the missionary who has a hard time speaking English. Her scene dragged on for quite a while and it can be hard to get what she is saying. Moreover, it feels like what she is saying doesn’t actually matter. I’m sure it was relevant in some way as Poirot explained everything at the end and went into great detail with each member. It was probably relevant, but it didn’t feel like it was and I forget what part of it helped solve the case. I would have chopped that scene a little. Still, that’s really my only complaint with the film so you can tell that this is quite a solid one.i

Overall, The mystery genre is a tough one. I personally think it is one of the toughest ones to write and maybe it is The toughest one. Coming up with a good mystery sounds difficult and that’s probably why I enjoy reading them so much. It may be the best genre next to action, but it’s one that has to be handled delicately. Case Closed is an example of an excellent one. The only pitfall that they have is that the mystery only works once. They don’t have much replay value because when you watch it again, you already know the ending. It’s why the remake coming up should tread carefully. Granted, you won’t actually know if it’s the same ending until you’re at the end of the film so maybe it won’t matter all that much. Regardless, if you haven’t seen this film, I’d suggest changing that right away. It’s aged quite well and makes for an engaging watch.

Overall 8/10

Calling Dr. Death Review


This review has been on the blog back burner for a very long time so it’s good to finally get it out. It’s a retro murder mystery with hypnosis in it. The latter isn’t all that common so it gives a pretty original hook to the plot. I don’t really buy into hypnosis myself as every time I’ve experienced it in real life, it’s been a fraud. Naturally, as this is a film, it is exaggerated as well. Still, it’s a fun concept and if it was real, it would certainly be a very dangerous tool.

Mark is a pretty well known neurologist. He has done a good job of helping people over the years, but unfortunately his private life is a bit of a mess. His wife has been openly cheating on him and Mark can’t go for a divorce without her consent. As he drowns in his sorrows, Mark wakes up one morning to find that the cops have arrived. They tell him that his wife has been murdered and Mark is the main suspect. Mark doesn’t remember murdering her, but he can’t really remember anything. The only chance is if he hypnotizes himself, but what if the murderer is closer than he thinks?

It’s safe to say that this film would have probably lost some points if Mark had actually destroyed his wife. A good murder mystery should never revert to having the main lead actually turn out to be evil. On the other hand, there aren’t a whole lot of suspects here so you have to try and make your guess right away. The wife isn’t a suspect even if she was a very unlikable character. There’s the rebound guy I suppose. Bob is another unlikable character and like Maria, he is married as well. I guess both of them wanted to cheat so they just met up together. Apparently it seems like Bob was doing it for the money or something. There were some twists about that, but it didn’t really matter much and I didn’t care for the subplot.

If we can count him as a suspect, there’s also Officer Gregg. He’s a detective who comes over to Mark with this revelation. I may as well say that he is the best character in the film by the way. He has a pretty good idea of what’s going on and at the very end of the film, he admits that he knew who the guilty party was the entire time. He had basically just been playing the entire cast like a fiddle because he knew that he could. He needed the hard evidence and this was the best way. Gregg just stole the show as far as I’m concerned.

We’ve also got Mark’s secretary, Stella. I can’t say that I was a fan of Stella either. Granted, Mark wanted to get a divorce from Maria, but he didn’t yet and it felt like these two were trying to make a connection anyway. Stella was pretty quick to lie to the cops in order to protect Mark so that’s a good thing I suppose. This does give her a motive for taking out Maria, but is it a red herring?

As for Mark, I can’t say that he’s a great character either. He didn’t handle the whole situation all that well at all and if his memory were better, everything could have been a little different. He wasn’t a terrible lead or anything like that and did ultimately make the right decision in not letting someone get the death penalty for a murder that wasn’t his. I don’t like the guy, but he at least had some decency.

Now, it probably sounds like this film is pretty bad based on the cast. Gregg’s the only character that I liked after all, but granted..this film had a very small cast so maybe that’s understandable. I’d still say that this film was decently good. It was an interesting film first and foremost. It was easy to stay interested in the plot and it never dragged on for a very long time or anything like that. The hypnosis angle didn’t happen for too long so it didn’t get boring and it was a decent way of looking at flashbacks. Hearing the main character talking in a bored voice was a little boring, but the scene wasn’t all that long either.

Overall, Calling Dr. Death is a fairly short film that is straight to the point. The cast is very small so there aren’t a lot of guys running around and as a result, there’s not a whole lot to say about it in the end. It doesn’t go for cheap shock value or anything like that. The way that the wife died was a little violent, but it’s never shown or anything so it’s not as bad as it could be. I’d recommend this to people that like a slow burner mystery thriller. It’s not going to be as high octane and nonstop excitement as a modern thriller like Taken, but it works pretty well within the budget that it had. At the very least, it’s still fairly memorable so the film did something right. Just be on the lookout for Gregg, you’ll see why he completely outshines the rest of the cast. It’s also another cautionary tale for people who are rich and don’t suspect a thing as they marry someone super quickly. As in this film, sometimes the person is just after the money.

Overall 6/10