The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre Review

It’s time for a very old school supernatural type film that works really well. It’s definitely one of the biggest examples of a slow burner that you will see so I definitely suggest keeping that in mind. That said, if you really enjoy the slow build up and anticipation then this will be right up your alley. Particularly in the first half there is a lot of walking around and examining the backgrounds as the hero has to decide whether or not this adventure is supernatural or not.

The movie opens up with Nelson being hired by a lady named Vivia. Basically her husband believes he is being haunted by a ghost and Vivia needs Nelson to either get rid of the ghost if it is real or prove that it is all in Henry’s imagination. This is right up Nelson’s alley so he agrees but no worries he won’t charge anything if it turns out that the whole thing is a scam. That’s awful generous of him at least. Nelson is incredibly confident but is this confidence really earned or is he about to be in for a rude awakening? Only time will tell here.

I do love how sure of himself Nelson is though. You really do need to have that kind of confidence in this business or you’re going to be in trouble. No mind games are going to work on him, that’s for sure. This guy has been around the block a few times after all. If anything his only weakness is that he can be extremely slow to react to things. Like if a door is closing it will absolutely close all the way before he really notices. Still, he will be ready for a fight and that’s what counts although in his line of work things will rarely get physical. What’s a ghost going to do here right?

The first half of the film is when the movie is at its strongest as we walk through a rather huge crypt and the whole thing seems very spooky. It doesn’t go very well for Vivia as she is seemingly attacked by a ghost and panics but it is hard to deal with the supernatural so I’ll cut her some slack. Vivia is confident in her own right as well like when she declared that she would go back into the room by herself just to prove that she wasn’t scared. It may have backfired but the intent was on point. She’s a very mysterious character as well and the instant she appears a part of you absolutely has to write her down as a suspect. Surely she would be in a good position to be fooling Henry into thinking ghosts were around right?

Then you have the maid who is rather frightening. So much so that even though she works for Vivia, she scares her just by approaching. That scene near the beginning was probably the funniest moment in the whole film because out of context it just seems so crazy. Presumably the lady has been here for a while so why should her appearance startle Vivia so drastically? It’s not like she ran into the room either, she just calmly walked inside. I guess those things just happen sometimes. The maid actually gets a whole origin story taking place in the village with a case that could have been its own movie.

Basically Nelson was there as well on a prior case and the village wanted him to find out what evil sprit was there and to exorcise it. Unfortunately he determined that there was nothing supernatural there and it was a human behind the poisonings and trouble. This didn’t fly very well in the village and so Nelson was considered to be a scammer and the maid certainly felt that way to this day. So Nelson has to work at a slight disadvantage with Henry here since his reputation is partially shot. Unfortunately Henry is also completely convinced that there is some kind of spirit going on here and doesn’t give Nelson a great chance to make his case.

One detail I should add here is that the spirit appears to be Henry’s dead mother so that’s another wrinkle to consider. Why should she want to haunt him? Still there are a lot of things going on that are hard to explain conventionally. He receives calls from the phone installed by the dead mother’s grave and nobody should have the code for this line to work. Additionally the ventilators make sounds and then Vivia seems to get possessed at one point.

Yeah there may be more to this than meets the eye. There is also a lady who randomly shows up at one point and talks with Nelson but she vanishes soon after. I suspect if this series had kept on going as a TV program or a movie series she would have been a recurring character because otherwise that was the most random part in the movie. The writing is on point and the pacing is good so you have all the makings of a solid movie right here.

I would say the film’s only weakness is that after the first half it never captures that same spooky atmosphere that it did in the original. See, at first you’re jumpy like the leads because everything is cloudy and mysterious. Vivia waiting for Nelson in the dead of night while in the middle of the cemetery is spooky in itself because clearly she isn’t nervous about being out that late at night. The cars also get conveniently stranded fairly far out from the estate so if Nelson has to leave at any point then it will be more difficult than expected.

Then in the second half it’s more about the info dumps and while we still get strong dialogue from all the characters, it’s not very spooky. A lot of the scenes are in the daytime now and every character slowly loses their mystique. Maybe this was inevitable as we started to close out the case but I dunno it would have been cool to have kept this going just a little bit longer. Honestly having them get trapped in the crypt during the initial scenes could have been great and you have the whole film take place down there. That would be absolutely terrifying since nobody wants to be trapped in a crypt like that with someone they don’t even know.

Overall, The Ghost of Sierra is a pretty fun film. I do stress that you need to enjoy the slow burn kind of horror film here because it is fair to say that not a whole lot happens for a while. So there are going to be decent stretches of time where you’re sort of just waiting for something to happen and in a way the whole point is that you’re enjoying the atmosphere rather than the events that are going to happen. In that sense I feel like the second half fumbles a bit but it doesn’t lower this from being a pretty solid film either way.

Overall 7/10

The 39 Steps Review

The 39 Steps is definitely an interesting movie but it is one that is held back by the main character. He’s annoying to watch the whole time and will just grate on your nerves. The guy isn’t the nicest fellow that’s for sure and leaves the worst possible first impression with the main heroine so while you expect that the romance is still coming, you are just hoping that it won’t. Just skip it….so I enjoy the story in the film and how everything is really mysterious but the film also has a lot of unnecessary moments and a weak lead that distracts from this.

The movie opens with Richard enjoying a show where a guy called Mr. Memory confirms that he knows everything. Ask him any serious question and he can get you the answer on the spot. It’s really quite impressive to be honest. Well suddenly a lady runs into Richard and asks him to take her home. He agrees but the whole thing is rather odd. She says that she is being chased by a bunch of ruffians who want to murder her and while Richard doubts this at first, she is promptly murdered. The only clue he has left is a paper she was holding with a map. He is now the primary suspect in her murder so he has to find the real villains and solve this case quickly.

So far so good. It’s a pretty interesting plot. One unique thing about the movie is also that this guy is completely out of his depth for the entirety of the movie. Yes, not just the beginning of the movie or for part of it but the whole thing. This guy really has no clue what he is up against and even we as the viewer don’t know a whole lot. This is done effectively since we’re seeing the world through the lead’s eyes. There is no time for info dumps or twists about what is going on. Yes, we get some answers by the end but not a whole lot of them. The majority of the film is Richard running around and getting himself into trouble.

For example one of the best parts there is when Richard finally makes it to his destination and meet up with a Mr. Jordan who he thinks can help him. Unfortunately this guy turns out to be one of the main villains so not only is he not going to get any help from this guy but it’s actually the reverse and he might be in trouble now. I like how Jordan plays along for a bit before just dropping the act. The film also has that retro style of talking where everyone is being super polite even when talking about how someone is going to get murdered. Jordan says Richard has to die but gives him some options and tries to be nice about the whole thing.

Then while they’re in the middle of talking he just shoots Richard out of the blue. I just like how nonchalant the whole thing was. He just shot him in the middle of the living room and walked away. Now granted, this also leads to the cheesiest part of the film which is that he didn’t check to make sure that Richard was actually dead. Cmon now that’s the first thing you have to check. It turns out that the bible he stole from a domestic abuser saved his life. Richard’s luck gets no better as he runs off to the sheriff who doesn’t believe his story at all and things continue to escalate.

So yeah Richard is doing a lot of running here which is why we don’t have time to learn much about the two factions of secret agents going at it with each other. You just need to know the key facts here which is that one side has some intel that they shouldn’t and they will get away unless the cops get involved. By the time the film is over Richard may be safe for a bit but I feel like nobody’s actually going to stop the 39 Steps because where do you even begin with that? We don’t even know how big the organization is or how many members they have. The possibilities are really endless.

If this was the extent of the film then it would all be swell but one of the weakest aspects of the film is the whole subplot with Pamela. So they first meet on a train where Richard tries to use her as a disguise when being chased by the cops. His bright idea here was to go all the way for a kiss instead of a hug or something. I was glad when she ratted him out because if a random person shows up and does that this should absolutely be your first reaction. He holds that against her though and the whole scene is just wild because it also doesn’t feel like something the hero would do. I thought that was a really weak scene.

She tries to get him into trouble for a long while after that but eventually they get handcuffed together and now she really has no escape. He forces her to pretend to be married to him and whenever she tries to yell for help he’ll just grab her by the neck so she can’t talk or threaten to shoot her. This is the hero? Now it’s not like the film is portraying him to be demented or anything and the scenes aren’t meant to be crazy but they’re not exactly played for laughs either. I think he just goes way too far in trying to scare her. He fears for his life but making her fear for hers really isn’t helping matters in the slightest. He still takes time to flirt and start a relationship as well so he needs to get his priorities straight.

The guy is all over the place and so by the end you have no sympathy for him. It’s a shame that people think he is a murderer but he’s starting to act like one anyway so that’s maybe just how this will end up going anyway. The film also has a very random pitstop near the middle where he bumps into a rather shady guy who prays a lot but seems like a phony and his poor wife who doesn’t really know what to do. Things get dicey for her after Richard leaves and it’s like…did we need to see this? Yeah it’s generally understood that this guy seems like he may get abusive and has a chip on his shoulder but it’s a bit of a dark element that has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

This film feels really unfocused which is fine for the story but it also just means that any bad elements which show up also feel like they have no real point in being here. The film would just be better off without these moments being included at all and there is no real incentive to watch this over another thriller. I’d recommend most of the other retro titles I’ve seen higher than this one. The ending is pretty clever and ties in well to the intro but ultimately this film barely breaks even. That’s quite the feat considering that with the solid writing and tone this would usually be guaranteed to be a 7 at least so you know the title definitely did something wrong.

Overall, That main character just needed to be arrested after a while and you feel worse for the heroine who gets swept up into all of this. If this ever gets a remake I think we just need to have a bigger focus on The 39 Steps and what they really do. They certainly have a lot of plans going on and operatives around the world but what is their end game really? I just want to see more of how they operate in this world while living double lives as millionaires having fun in society. Those questions are the most interesting parts of the film.

Overall 5/10

Scream of Fear Review

It’s time for a very retro thriller that was definitely pretty solid. There are a good amount of twists here and you could even call the film part mystery. Everything seems rather shady in this household and Penny needs to get to the bottom of it or she could be doomed. Is it even possible to solve all of the weird happenings in this house though or should she just forget it all and get out of here?

The movie starts with Penny receiving an invitation from her father to come back home. She has been by herself for a while now and can no longer walk so it has been a hard life. Unfortunately when she gets home her father has gone somewhere on business so all that remains is the step mother, the local doctor and the family chauffer. Penny figures she can manage at first but then her father’s body appears at different points around the house. It would appear that he has been murdered but who could have done it? Also Jane (Step-Mom) insists that he is still alive and even has Penny’s father call over the phone and explain that he still exists in this realm. Robert the chauffer seems to be keeping their secrets as well but says he will help Penny get to the bottom of this. Doctor Gerrard is mainly busy trying to convince Penny that she is completely crazy which doesn’t really help her much at all.

Now this movie could have easily gone in the annoying direction with the first half. While she is being gaslit the whole time you feel like Penny should have more agency. Get out there and get some wins! You know things like that. Now I cut her a bit more slack compared to most leads since she can’t walk so it’s not like it’s the easiest thing in the world to go out there and do some sleuthing. In fact she nearly drowns when she falls into their pool while doing detective work at night. So it ends up taking a lot of bravery and effort to try and really do something that would normally be easy.

It’s just still annoying when Jane and Gerrard are talking down to her the whole time and she just sits there and takes it. Additionally she tends to handle the appearances of her father’s body rather poorly each time as they will always take her eyes off of it and then of course it disappears in the next scene. Not her best moment without a doubt. She does get better as the film goes on though and by the end I liked her quite a bit. She started sticking up for herself more and even coming up with some plans to dish out some counter strikes. Ultimately one of these plans was a bit too risky for me since there are so many ways it could have absolutely backfired but either way I have to give her some true credit. She is one of the better heroines I’ve seen in these old films.

Jane is about as petty as you’d expect here and she is a character who gets worse the more the film goes on. She can be a bit wishy washy and intentionally dense when it suits her. I think if you’re going to be a mean character then you need to commit and go all the way with it. Anytime a character tries to straddle the line I usually won’t like her as much because it’s just not a great position to be in. In whatever you do you have to be bold and just keep on pushing. Otherwise what are you really doing? In the end she made her choice and shouldn’t have any regrets.

Doctor Gerrard is your classic doctor character here to explain how the stress is too much for Penny and all of that. It’s nothing that you haven’t heard before so you’ll probably be rolling your eyes at all of his dialogue. Whenever a character tries to convince someone that they’re crazy I can’t help but think that it should have no effect at all. Like if I know that I did or said something then I know it and no amount of people trying to convince me otherwise will ever work. I know what I know and at the end of the day that’s what counts.

Then we have Robert who tries to be really helpful the whole time. Naturally this almost immediately turns into romance so you start to doubt how noble he’s really being. Can’t he just try to help out normally without having to turn on the charm? As the only one not trying to say that Penny is crazy it’s nice to at least have one ally around. Since he is the chauffer he needs to be careful about how he handles this though or Jane can sack him real quick. This guy will have to be a little more subtle than how he is always hanging around her.

The writing here is pretty good as you would expect. These retro films always tend to have strong dialogue and this one is no different. The pacing is good and you will stay engaged all the way through the adventure. That said, what really makes the film is the second half where things start to get real interesting. I think if the film was played straight then it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable or enjoyable. It would have been one of those dime a dozen flicks that you watch once and then forget forever. So I was really glad that this was not the case and instead the film decided to go into a very bold area.

Now with the twists while they are great, I would say that in hindsight some scenes can still be a stretch. Mainly I’m thinking about a certain car ride here since even if it was part of the plan it feels a little too risky. Things could have easily gone sideways there and then there would be no escape. You can actually take this for the entire film as well. At any point the villains could have made their move and didn’t need to wait nearly as long as they did. That would have ruined the plan as well so in essence what I’m saying is that a whole lot of massive risks were taken the some characters probably got off lucky.

Overall, I was quite entertained though. This was a very fun film that had quality writing and a solid story the whole time. I would certainly recommend checking it out to just about anyone since you’re really watching this for the quality story. Despite the title this isn’t a film about a lot of screaming or jump scares. Now there are jump scares to be sure but it’s more about the atmosphere and how mysterious everything is. You have to wonder if Penny might be crazy or what else is going on and that suspense will carry you all the way through to the end.

Overall 7/10

Super Smartphone Review

Super Smartphone is a title that really didn’t last very long. I suppose 23 chapters is still enough to cross the 20 mark but even still it’s a shame. It had a ton of potential and could have really ended up being a great title. It starts off trying a little too hard to be like Death Note. You have the really quirky detective like L but one who comes off as eccentric for no real reason and then Kyu as the rational genius who is lacking in emotion. Gradually the series started to find its own identity and even got a whole villain group…but then the series just ends. I’ll give the author credit for this though, he didn’t throw in any time skips or a rushed ending. It just ends as the battles are about to start although it mentions they will eventually come up with more chapters in the volume release to be scanned at some point.

The series begins by introducing us to a genius named Kyu who is super depressed. His younger brother went missing when they were kids and is presumed dead at this point. Now Kyu struggles to find the energy to do anything and just sleeps through life. One day he finds a special phone in his bag, a super smartphone if you will. It tells Kyu that it can search for anything in the world so on a whim Kyu uses it to search for a little girl who had been kidnapped recently. The phone is able to find her and Kyu manages to save her life just in time. Naturally he uses it to try and find his brother but mysteriously an error message prevents him from looking anything up about the brother.

The phone is cryptic about why the brother can’t be searched but does say that Kyu should start earning points. You earn points by using the smartphone and morality isn’t considered. For example using the phone to hack into someone else’s phone will grant you points and doing other things that a normal phone couldn’t possibly do. Kyu then uses his genius intellect to figure out that this implies other people have smartphones as well and it’s a race to the top. Whoever gains an unknown amount of points first will win. Earning points also unlocks new features of the phone like the ability to shield yourself from electronics and scanners. The downside to this is that this can also make it obvious who you are if you shield yourself too much. Kyu is also a a disadvantage because he doesn’t aim to commit any crimes with it while the others will without a second thought. Can he pull this off?

So like I mentioned earlier, I believe what hurt this series and got it cancelled is that it’s trying too hard to be the next Deathnote at the beginning. For example you get long conversations with the phone saying something cryptic and Kyu going off on a speech about how the phone let a lot of things slip with that one sentence. Yeah it can come off as smart but often times it also feels like he is making massive jumps in logic that only just so happen to turn out to be correct. It doesn’t hurt him as a character, I actually like his confidence quite a lot. It just feels like the author is taking shortcuts in making this a very cerebral series.

So what changes in the second half? It becomes a bit more of a thriller series. It’s still about the mind games of course but now we’re getting active battles between geniuses like in Phy Brain as opposed to the classic game of cat and mouse. This works for Super Smartphone a whole lot better than the former approach and really gets things moving in the right direction. The concept of a smart phone battle against others who can hack everything as well is just really interesting. The series does a good job of exploring the ins and outs of that too as each character has to be careful in how they attack. One user may be physically strong like a body builder, one might be rich and have a company to protect him. Others could be kids who never really use the smartphone and this makes them difficult to detect.

It should go without saying but you can’t tell anyone about the smartphone either or it will vanish and you are out of the competition. As long as you have the phone it is easy to get rich and achieve all of your desires but at the same time it also means you will be a massive target so that’s something that you will have to really think about. I’d say you could have made this a fairly long 100+ chapter series with the hero trying to find each owner every 20 chapters or so until you’ve found them all and had a big climax. I’d also expect them all to be fighting each other a lot and making for some good 3 way battles. You can’t really trust anyone with a smartphone after all so that would make for some really fun battles.

The art here is pretty good. It’s actually better than I would expect for an initial series like this. Unless the artist already did another series which is very possible, I tend to forget kind of quick who drew what but this looks like an experienced veteran. The chapters are really easy to read at least. The writing is good too. It may use some shortcuts but on the whole it does capture my attention which is important. I wasn’t bored during the read at all and it makes for a really good marathon.

Kyu is a good lead. He’s confident in his deductions and wants to find his brother which makes for a good character motivation. He does tend to get depressed quickly and while he usually bounces back sometimes it takes longer. It feels like this would have become a longer character arc if the series kept going. Like the way he represses his emotions on a daily basis makes the outbursts worse or something. In the end he starts to learn that sometimes you also need physical power in addition to your mind which is an important lesson. Yeah it would have been fun to see how he did in the battles to come.

His childhood friend Yuika doesn’t get a huge role but I bet she would have been appearing more if the series went on. She’s nice enough and always tries to help Kyu out. She’s just kept in the dark on the smartphone business so there is only so much that she can do. Then we have Nagi who is the L of the series. She’s got a bit of a temper and doesn’t believe in playing nice with people. She’ll jump into her statements right away and delivers them bluntly. She is unable to keep up with any of the smartphone holders at all though. We know she is a genius as they keep saying this a lot but it would be nice for her to get some wins. It’s understandable that she would be at a disadvantage for now so maybe they would build it up as her getting more wins down the line. Perhaps it’s realistic but she was a big underwhelming the whole time.

The main villain of the series is Zenichiro. He’s the first enemy smartphone user to make a move and the fun part about him is that he’s a rich millionaire celebrity. So even without the smartphone he had a lot of power. Just think of everything that he can do now that he has one? The possibilities are near endless and it makes things interesting for the battle with Kyu because beating him intellectually just won’t be enough. You’re going to need some muscle to get past his bodyguards as well. Zenichiro is also super confident in himself as well and it makes him a tricky opponent. The guy has a good amount of character development and was a lot of fun here.

Then there is Moura who is the worst villain in the series. He’s the classic not very smart guy who tends to get into trouble and is being manipulated because of that. I like the idea of not every owner being a genius but can’t we have a villain who is just of normal intelligence? I know they would probably get wrecked quick but it would be better than someone like this. Yes Moura gets a sob story and a lot of emotional character development but I never really ended up caring about the guy at all. He just came and went in an instant. He’s gone and then it’s time to move on.

Imura is super devoted to Zenichiro which is his whole gimmick so I can’t say that I was a big fan either. I mean it’s great that he’s loyal but the guy comes across as super desperate the whole time. You roll your eyes when he’s on screen because Zenichiro is so mean to the guy and doesn’t hide his disgust but Imura doesn’t realize this. I guess he’s not a genius in the situations that count.

The series ends as two of the other smartphone characters are introduced in Boken and Rei. Rei is a really timid character so she’s going to have a tough time in these battles so it’s good for her that Boken is here. Boken is smart and also a good fighter so physically he’s ready for anything. It’s safe to say that he’s not a super genius like Zenichiro and Kyu but he knows enough to get around and is used to using his phone. I expect he would have been a fun friend/rival to have around. He had a good first impression with me at least.

So in the final chapters we see that there are 12 smartphone users in all and we’ve only bumped one of them off. That means there are still 11 and the series was gearing up for some kind of round table elimination game. It’s all vague so we don’t know what it was but they mentioned something about voting others out. If it was an Among Us type game where they had to vote people out in each round that could have been really interesting. Almost like a Liar Game setup but the conditions and win criteria weren’t explained yet. We only just met all of these guys in quick one shot panels before the series ended. Then suddenly there were also aliens involved in the mix which was an interesting wrinkle.

I love the idea of aliens and such just running in to cause trouble and mess with humanity but it is an odd thing to add so suddenly at the end. They seem to have super powers that make them way too much for humans to deal with too like the ability to possess others and freeze people in an instant. Maybe this was actually going to take a really unexpected route and be an action series instead. One thing’s for sure, there was a lot of potential here so hopefully it gets a sequel series soon. If not, maybe the last few chapters will do more with this but at least it’s an epic cliffhanger to end things off with. This is the kind of ending you want to see as it keeps on building your hype for a sequel.

I do think the twist about what the smartphones are at the end was really lackluster though. I don’t think it was thrown in at the end because it was cancelled. To me this was planned from the start but eh….I wasn’t really into it. It could make things more personal in a way but since the A.I. are pretty much emotionless and just serve as devices the twist doesn’t enhance the story. I think doing it more like Wixoss would have been a lot more effective in having each device really feel truly unique. Who knows maybe that would be an upgrade once you got enough points, it’s hard to say.

I’d also like to see more 3 way conversations like the first battle with Zenichiro if we get a sequel. With 12 users out there or at least 6-7 left that we haven’t seen there should be ample opportunity for that. I did like the phone conversation quite a bit and that was before the series really hit its stride. So focus on fun dialogue battles like that in a tournament type setting and you’re all set. You could even structure it in a debate sense like how this one was about convincing the detective on who to trust. Do that in a battle where you have to convince the other smartphone users on who to vote out and we’d be seeing a lot of great dialogue.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this title out. It’s got a lot of detailed dialogue to really get you interested in what’s going on and the premise is unique. A super smartphone is a cool invention and I would like to see Shonen Jump try more cerebral series like this. With how successful Death Note was you’d think more series would be trying to give that type of story a big push and yet it doesn’t really happen. I guess it’s hard to not just jump in with another action series and of course I won’t complain about that since I love my battle titles but you could still do more like this. Of course it’s always a debate on if you should check out a series that’s been cancelled but I always recommend it. You’re seeing a story that didn’t make it all the way through and it’s nice to try and figure out why people didn’t like it and what it could have done differently. For the record, they should have introduced the 12 owners right away to set up this grand battle of wills right off the gate. It would have totally removed the Death Note comparisons and it’s also the most interesting part of the story so you would get everyone hooked immediately. At least if you ask me that’s the right way to go about it.

Overall 7/10

Shadow on the Wall Review

Shadow on the Wall is definitely a pretty intense noir film although it doesn’t follow the characters I expected it to. It takes the interesting approach of focusing on the kid and the trauma she gets after a pretty big experience rather than the main character. It’s a different approach but not a bad one although I don’t think it would work to do this too often. Either way as long as you’re ready for more of a slow burn experience then you will do well here.

The movie starts off with David finally getting home after being away for a while at work. His daughter Susan is happy to see him and he’s glad to be back but unfortunately he finds out that his second wife Celia is having an affair with another man. He confronts her about this but she knocks him out with a single swing. Her sister Dell then shows up but is upset at Celia stealing her man so she destroys Celia and runs off. David figures he probably shot Celia when he wakes up and is crushed at court and sentenced to death. Dell feels like she’s pretty safe at first since nobody was in the room except is turns out that Susan may have seen everything. Dell figures she has to murder this little girl and quick but how can she get past Dr. Caroline and the rest of the hospital staff overseeing Susan’s trauma?

Dell is definitely a cold customer and a true villain through and through. She does not hesitate when thinking about murdering Susan which is something you could only do if you are a true psychopath. You definitely do not want to get on Dell’s bad side. It’s clear that there is no line which she will not cross. She will do whatever it takes to get her way. The crazy thing is that she’d probably have been fine if she just left well enough alone and minded her business. Keep in mind that David is to be executed fairly soon and Susan is barely in a state to talk about anything. Even if she suddenly says that she saw Dell, there would need to be some convincing reason to believe her over all the evidence that suggests David did it. I don’t see any plausible way for Dell to lose if she just stayed quiet the whole time.

Of course villains do always tend to be quite nervous and overthink everything so at the same time it’s not too surprising that Dell made this mistake. It’s also something to see her quick descent into madness. Murdering a kid is no small thing, it’s something reserved only for some of the most evil and vicious villains out there. Dell definitely does not come across as sympathetic in the slightest and you’re rooting for her to go down the whole time. She was quite manipulative the whole time too.

David is mostly okay here. He definitely gets emotional about his wife cheating on him but I don’t think he would have ultimately pulled the trigger. He was looking pretty shaken and ominous at the same time but ultimately he would have backed off. It’s annoying to see him getting tricked by Dell but at the same time he has no reason to suspect her or any context so there’s no way he could have known that he was making a mistake.

Celia is portrayed as a pretty bad character from the jump. She certainly isn’t afraid to talk really tough the whole time. Ultimately I was expecting her to finish David off at first but at least she didn’t go that far. It’s hard to feel all that bad for her in the end though, it seems like she had a long history of being a full antagonist and wasn’t planning on changing that anytime soon. So when you put that all into perspective then she would have kept doing more damage in the future too. Possibly even more damage than Dell if she was really cut loose onto the world.

The best character here would have to be Pike. I thought he did a great job of defending David’s interests. Moreover he was the kind of guy who would actually listen to advice and didn’t take anything for granted. He thought Caroline was grasping at straws later on in the film and told her as much but he wasn’t sarcastic or belittling about it. He would calmly try to talk things out each time and that’s what I liked about him. He was a very respectful guy but also a firm one. If he didn’t agree about something then he would say that to your face instead of beating around the bush the whole time. Someone like that is who you really want to have on your side when the chips are down.

Then Dr. Caroline also did great the whole time. Rehabilitation isn’t easy and she keeps going through with it to get Susan better. While I think the sleeping bath is super dangerous all on its own, presumably it’s considered to be safe in the movie verse. If not for sabotage it would have been fine. Caroline trusts her gut instincts a lot which is good since it makes it tougher to really deceive her. Caroline handled herself in a professional manner the whole time and got results.

Now the bulk of the film follows Susan and that’s where things can get a little stretched out. She’s super traumatized over what happened so she’s lost all her emotions and just does everything without energy. It’s definitely a tough situation to be in and you feel bad for her but it doesn’t always make for the most interesting scenes. As I mentioned earlier it does make for a fairly unique perspective but you’re more interested in the thriller aspects and what is going to happen next as opposed to her recovery process. Caroline was clever in how she used the dolls to help Susan communicate though.

Still even if I wasn’t quite as engaged in the Susan scenes I would say that the film held its own the whole time. Even though you know who the murderer is you are focused on how the heroes are ultimately going to catch her. That’s the main objective of the film and so since everything is riding on Susan’s testimony that adds a little more weight to her plot. Then of course you have Dell squirming the whole time as she is waiting for her chance to turn the tables and finish Susan off which is still what puts her in a losing position.

Overall, Shadow on the Wall is a pretty good movie. The dialogue and script are solid as you would expect. The pacing is mainly good although I would have substituted Susan’s scenes for more screen time of David in jail or perhaps a longer court scene to show how the deliberations went. I imagine it was fairly one sided particularly since David didn’t remember what he had done but I like court scenes a lot so stretching it out to have everyone voice what they were thinking would have been nice. Part of why I was surprised to see Susan’s plot take the lead at first is I expected a whole lot of the film would be about David’s lawyer trying to get to the bottom of things but that’s not how it was to be.

Overall 7/10

The Leopard Man Review

I have to say that this movie would have been a bit more suspenseful with a different title. It sort of takes away from the mystery you know? Now in some ways maybe originally they weren’t sure what angle to take with the film but most of the film plays up the experience as a suspenseful mystery so calling it “The Leopard” would have been much more effective if you ask me.

So the movie starts with a leopard being brought in to spice up a rather boring nightclub scene. It certainly draws some attention but not what Jerry had planned as it ends up murdering a lady named Teresa and escapes into town. Now everyone is terrified that they could be next and the thing is…they could be. The bodies start piling up and so the heroes have to find this leopard but it’s proven to be difficult. It’s also odd that the leopard would hang around town for so long and not be seen.

So the mystery here of course is to find the leopard…but then that title is rather interesting now isn’t it? Hmm…really makes you think. Really….well yeah so there is a human villain running around too. It does stretch my disbelief a bit that each victim could be murdered in such a realistic way as to mimic a leopard without anyone noticing. Yes he would always wait until the women were alone but it seems like this would take time and cause a lot of noise so you’d think someone would be around. It’s pretty rough that there’s no night traffic in this city.

It’s definitely a rather grim movie with everyone getting bumped off by the serial killer. The leopard does work well as a solid red herring because he actually does claim a victim as well. If not for the title I don’t think you would assume that this is a human until rather deep in the film when one guy keeps on insisting that it wouldn’t be possible. This is where some characters start to get really annoying though.

First off is the leopard’s owner Charlie who defends his pet but then Dr. Galbraith starts to suggest that maybe Charlie is murdering people after he gets drunk at night. And Charlie actually starts to believe this. Look, if you’re drinking so much that you black out and seriously think you could be murdering people then that means you have drunk way too much. There’s just no way around that, it’s the only logical conclusion here. I would have preferred if Charlie was a little stronger than that.

Meanwhile Clo-Clo is warned by Maria that she is in danger and something dark is approaching. Considering that there have already been murders by this point you’d think this would be serious but instead she runs off in the dead of night to reclaim her $100 and things don’t go over very well. She wasn’t the nicest character so you were expecting her to die the whole time but it’s still really tragic. Cmon the fortune teller did her best!

Not that I would pay Maria much mind myself but I wouldn’t go out of my way to test out the fortunes either. Maria probably could have been more helpful instead of constantly hiding the results and asking for a redo but in the end it doesn’t seem like it would have done a whole lot of good. Jerry is okay I guess but kind of forgettable. I don’t blame him for bringing in the leopard since by all accounts this should have been fairly safe. I do blame him for pretending he doesn’t care much to keep up appearances while worrying later on. Just be frank with everyone that this is a pretty bad situation.

Kiki is the main heroine here and the whole thing is pretty rough on her as well. So much for being the next sensation at the disco club with everything going on. She does decide to take a bold approach in helping to find the murderer so that was brave of her. She seems like a good person all in all. As for the murderer, well he’s rather crazy so there isn’t a whole lot to say about him. He just went looney and used this as an excuse to start taking names. It feels like it’s inevitable that this would have happened at some point with how quickly he cracked though and he just would have had a different gimmick. You’re glad things don’t end up going well for him.

There’s really not a whole lot to this film being the murders. It’s really short so the film has to go fast and just start bumping everyone off. The most tragic murder is easily the first one since the girl’s family were just so over the top mean about the whole thing. You’d think they would open the door when she’s begging for her life and in clear terror. Even from the start sending her out in the dead of night when there is a beast on the loose is crazy. Yeah you don’t want to be in that household, that’s for sure.

I will say that the film has good writing though. I did enjoy the exchanges between all of the characters and the dialogue style is something that’s hard to recreate compared to these older films. They just had a very distinguished air about them that always worked really well. Mix that in with the short length and at least it is a silver lining here. It would be nice if the characters had more time to do some serious investigating as opposed to being spoonfed the information needed to solve the case though.

Overall, The Leopard Man is definitely a skip. It probably wouldn’t have gone much better if the leopard was the main villain either to be honest since the climax would probably get a bit sketchy in that case. This doesn’t make for a very fun film in large part due to how tragic the deaths are. They’re described in decent detail here and while it’s inevitable that a bunch of people will die in a film like this, there aren’t a lot of light moments to really help you enjoy the film despite them. It’s not super violent or anything but the villain gets away with a whole lot before being caught.

Overall 3/10

The Comiq Review

It’s time for a murder mystery title. This oneshot starts out more with the feeling that it’ll be a title about creating manga but quickly escalates from there. The art wasn’t my favorite, it’s going for a retro look but it’s still very clear and easy to read. You’ll be taken through a lot of twists and turns, I feel that some make previous scenes feel a bit odd but the manga encourages you to read it a second time at the very beginning so I suppose this is intentional. It’s a good manga in the end even if it could be more solid.

The series follows Ryota, an up and coming manga creator. His series is more of a classic Shojo title but the ratings aren’t great. He even cringes when he hears people reciting the lines out loud. I dunno, if you’re writing something shouldn’t you be proud of people talking about it? I would have thought he would have been more thrilled even if the lines are a bit cheesy. Well, one day his sister Mihana submits one of his chapters to the legendary author Seiya for review but the guy panics and shuts down the livestream.

It appears that something set him off and Ryota then starts to pick up the pieces. See, in this world there is a program where prisoners get to draw the backgrounds for your manga and so this guy named Baba seemed to have put in an element that looks eerily similar to a calling card left at the scene of a murder. Now the cops are interested in Ryota as well so Ryota is really in the middle of this. He can request a new artist or stop writing the manga but he thinks that Baba may be innocent and this is a last ditch effort to save himself. Baba cannot speak so he can only communicate through artwork. Can Ryota solve the puzzle or is he about to step into something much bigger than himself?

So you’ve got the direct case here and the objective on how to solve it but the series could have benefitted from being an actual series. It took a full two paragraphs to really describe the plot because it’s fairly involved and then the manga throws in a whole villain group near the end. This could have absolutely been a 4-5 volume series as Ryota gets closer and closer to the truth. Because it’s so short everything has to move fast so the pacing is really good but it also relies on the villains making some extremely sloppy mistakes in order to get caught.

One really nice thing about the way Ryota solves the case involves background noise which I thought was a clever way to tie everything together. Baba was giving hints through background art after all so background noise being the deciding factor was a good parallel. I’m not sure if that was intentional but I like to think that it was. Ryota’s also a solid character the whole time. He’s quick on his feet and ready to help out. If his gut instinct was wrong and he was helping out a murderer then that would be dicey but it’s important to follow your intuition and he doesn’t hesitate.

Ryota is able to hold his own when talking to the villains too and doesn’t back off. A character who isn’t nearly as good is his editor Mr. Aimochi. My problem with Aimochi is not just that he’s unhelpful but he actively hurts Ryota in the case by constantly getting in his way. He doesn’t want to give any info and practically threatens Ryota to stop talking about the whole murder case. I really don’t think Ryota was overstepping in those scenes and it is a shock to learn that your artist is a convicted murderer. You’d think Aimochi would have just been a little more understanding.

The detective meanwhile was a lot more reasonable. Yes he’s still got to follow protocol and is also a bit of an obstacle for Ryota to get past but at least he will listen once Ryota has his attention. Ryota’s sister Mihana is good even if she can be a bit harsh with his manga. When she submits it on the air and Seiya mocks it she turns on Ryota so fast. Cmon now that’s when you have to side with family over a celebrity. Seiya was clearly shook so she should have interpreted it as his being jealous instead. Now that would have been a good moment. She does help him out later on though.

As for Baba, I think he could have handled the whole thing much better. It’s great that he drew something but what were the odds of anyone really noticing it? That was like a hail mary with a 1% chance of working. Yes at this point it’s one of the only things he could do but before jail he could have made a move. It’s a bit hard to get too into this without spoiling the twists at the end but part of the issue is that Baba was very passive about the whole thing. If he had quickly told his side of the story through writing or something that would have helped a whole lot.

The whole villain group is also really crazy and out of the blue. They act really threatening and just feel a bit out of place here. When Mihana enters the group hideout it’s like a base right out of Shonen Jump. You’ve go several members and the big bad but how does nobody know about this place? Then the sort of blackmail/hold they have on Seiya is weak at best. I don’t really get why he was hanging around and still being a part of this. It’s like everyone was just trying to move on from the past but you’d think that he would have wanted big time revenge on the main villain right? Actually I think it’s time to jump into spoiler land a bit so skip the next 3 paragraphs if you haven’t read the volume yet. It’s time for a bit of a semi deep dive.

So basically there is no “Seiya” and that’s just the code name for the members of the Pumpkin Club. The leader is a rich girl who liked the “Seiya” we know in the present so she murdered his father and forced him to work with her. She also implanted chips into everyone’s heads to send them pain jolts whenever she wanted. Eventually he fell for one of the girls in the club and they tried to run off but the leader foiled the plan and forced the heroine to jump off the building and commit suicide. So…..Seiya then began to work for her again and covered it up while using Baba as a scapegoat.

Here’s where the tiers fall off the truck for me. Why would Seiya possibly not just murder the leader right then and there? She has two bodyguards yes but that’s it and they weren’t there at the scene of the crime. If you don’t want to be a vigilante then you go to the cops and try to convince them. The only thing you cannot do is continue to work for her and pretend that nothing has happened. Right through to the end Seiya is still doing her dirty work and threatening Baba.

I feel like the twists weren’t very well thought out. Sure, it’s intense to have a whole villain group running around and zapping people but did it really make a whole lot of sense? I don’t think so and even with a re read I don’t think that would change. Seiya’s actions don’t match up with the flashback at all. It just makes him look even worse as a character to be honest because he doesn’t stand up for himself at all. If you won’t even make a stand to avenge your friend then you’re probably never going to make a stand.

Well, we’re back from the spoilers. On a final note, as I mentioned the art isn’t great. The retro style makes for an interesting angle but I think it all could have still looked a bit more streamlined. The art is still very clear and easy to read though so you will have no problems breezing through this one. The writing is also sound enough to keep you engaged. I may not agree with some of the twists and the way things played out but you still want to read all the way through to get to the answer of the mystery and that only happens when you’re really engaged with what you’re reading.

Overall, The Comiq is a story that doesn’t go down the path you’re expecting it to go. This does mean you will be at the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next but the conclusion won’t quite live up to the hype. I think this just should have been an ongoing series instead of a oneshot, particularly with the group around. Otherwise I’d say that the best thing to do would be to not introduce the group at all. Play the climax straight with one person and it would flow a little better. Either way I would recommend checking this one out though, it’s certainly a quick read as it is.

Overall 6/10

Detective Pikachu Review

I watched the movie for Detective Pikachu a long time ago and it was definitely a lot of fun. It’s taken me long enough but I finally got to buy the game as well. I do like the idea of the game with solving mysteries and cracking puzzles but in this case I think the premise far outstrips the execution. It’s aimed a bit younger than I expected in terms of the gameplay so it’s a true cakewalk. You aren’t going to die here and at most you may just take some time on some of the chapters because you have to talk to everyone so much. There is very little dialogue here compared to the text you’re reading. It almost becomes a visual novel at some points.

The story follows a kid named Tim who is trying to find out what happened to his father. Tim’s father was working on a very dangerous case when there was a car crash and then he was never seen again. Tim is confident that his father still lives since the body wasn’t found but in order to dig up any clues he is going to potentially have to cross paths with a very powerful criminal underworld. These guys don’t play nice so that means a single mistake can really have you in a jam. Fortunately Tim meets up with an interesting Pikachu who wears a detective’s cap and Tim can even understand him. This Pikachu acts a whole lot like a human too and even drinks coffee. Unfortunately he has a case of amnesia and won’t be able to help out much in uncovering the truths through what he recalls but apparently he was Tim’s father’s Pikachu so at least he was close to the situation. Perhaps his memories will come back later on.

Along the way you meet up with a reporter and her friend as well as their boss and then a bunch of other characters. The cops are here to help and before long you have a lot of suspects to work with. There are 9 chapters in the game and they all help you build up some clues and they each get you closer to finding the mastermind behind the operation. One thing’s for sure, this won’t be easy for Tim.

Now the main issue with the game is that all of the chapters start to feel very similar because there is no variety in the gameplay or the structure. Basically the flow is that you will talk to everyone once and get some ideas/clues for the case that you’re working on. This triggers a new idea/clue and then you have to talk to everyone again. You rinse and repeat until you’ve solved the case at which point Pikachu will start recapping it. Then you get a quick time event to wrap up the chapter and start the steps again. The weakness to this style is that if you solve the case ahead of Tim and that’ll happen often, you still can’t proceed until you officially get the clue.

This happened to me quite a few times but the most intense was in the final chapter where I missed one character to talk too and that was enough to prevent me from moving forward in the case. It would help if you didn’t have to talk to everyone each time. Additionally whenever you talk to a Pokemon for the first time you get a whole intro for that Pokemon which can get a bit repetitive. The game likes to recycle animations. Also Pikachu will occasionally call to you and usually it’s to give you advice for a case but sometimes it’s just for a little skit. The problem is that it’s impossible to know which is which and some of these clues are required for you to move on so it’s always a guessing game.

Meanwhile I enjoy the quick time events but it would still be nice if there were more I could do on my own. Let me fight as well because otherwise all I can do is move around in the game. A fun tribute to the franchise would have been if it turned into a turn style based combat for the final level of the game. You have to admit that would have been super awesome and it could have helped make things feel special. Instead the final chapter is just like any other.

Now there is still a good amount to like bout the game and that makes sense since the score is still going to be positive here. The game has voice acting at times and fully animated cutscenes. That’s always a lot of fun and makes the game feel more special. You can tell that a good amount of budget was put into this one without a doubt. The graphics hold up really well. The soundtrack also gets surprisingly intense during the quick time events. Suddenly there is a decent amount of rock and roll music going on. It’s nice and fast paced and helps to really take the music to the next level.

In terms of length I wouldn’t say it’s great but it’s long enough. It’ll take some different batches to defeat it for sure. Maybe around 10-12 hours would be how long the game takes. There isn’t any replay value as the game just stops and then you can’t go through a level select or anything like that. There’s no collectibles or anything so it makes sense. You’re playing this one for the mystery and that’s it. The ending does leave a lot of room for the sequel though since they don’t actually wrap everything up. You could say that the adventure is just getting started.

Tim is a decent main character. He wants to save the day and find his father. There admittedly isn’t a whole lot more to him than that but it’s enough to at least use as a starting point. Then you have Pikachu who is very confident in himself and he deserves it. He is actually a really good detective here and lllcan hold his own on any case. That’s exactly the kind of character I like to see. The reporter is good as well and you’ve got a fun cast here. If they ever do make the sequel and just add some more interactive gameplay then I’d say we will certainly have a winner here. I like to see the Pokemon games trying new things but I just think you have to give people a little more than this. I got it for a great price but at full price it just ends too soon and wouldn’t have given you the big experience you were expecting.

Overall, This game wasn’t quite as good as I expected but it was still a good game. It’s fun to see how different it is from the movie. They have a lot of common elements but also really ended up doing their own things in the end and the nice part about that is you don’t have to relive the same story twice. Instead you get to see the characters again but in some new settings. If you’re looking for a fun little Pokemon adventure that is more of a book than a game then this is the one you will want. If that doesn’t sound quite energetic enough for you then you should probably get something like Pokken instead and keep this one on the bench for now.

Overall 6/10

Crossfire Review

It’s time for a big mystery film where the dots have to be connected before time runs out. Classic noir mysteries like this always tend to be quite solid and this one is no exception. There are quite a few guys running around and a lot of names to keep straight but you’ll probably have a good idea on who the culprit is early on. I wouldn’t say that the film is trying to hide this from the audience for very long, it’s more of a mystery for the characters within the film as they only have bits and pieces of the story.

The movie starts with someone beating an elderly Jewish man to death. We don’t know who this is but there are a few soldiers who are suspects. Basically this platoon is in between missions right now and a few of them had been hanging out with this guy for most of the night. There was apparently some kind of argument so this may have led to things being rough. The reason why it’s noted that this man was Jewish is also because the murder may have been a hate crime based on this. The cops are treating this very seriously and Mitch is the primary suspect but his friend Keeley doesn’t think this is likely so it’s time to investigate the crime personally. The tough part will be that he may find out some answers he didn’t want to know.

This is one of those films where a huge part of it could have been avoided if Mitch didn’t get drunk. Part of the issue here is that he was drinking a whole lot along with the rest of the characters so his memory is spotty at best. There are large parts of the day that he just doesn’t remember at all and this really costs him big time. Instead of being able to give definitive answers he always sounds nervous and hesitant about everything so that doesn’t help to clear his name at all. Most of his “friends” end up making Mitch sound more and more guilty.

Additionally I have to say that I just didn’t like Mitch. He’s married but still followed another lady up to her apartment and it’s fortunate that she had to leave for most of the night because it seemed like he was really close to making a mistake that you can’t come back from. At the very least I think it’s already a mistake to put yourself in a tricky position like that. It just so happened that this would make him look more suspicious as well but that’s more of a side effect.

The best character here is definitely Keeley. While he may not co-operate with the police captain Finlay too much, Keeley is trying his best to solve this and make sure everyone is okay. He just doesn’t know who to trust at first and so he keeps everyone at arm’s length. He’s got a sharp wit and a lot of good comebacks. Keeley knows how to push the envelope as far as it will go without crossing a line and that’s always important. He puts in a whole lot of work and once he is on the same page as Finlay they are able to cover a lot of ground.

Meanwhile Finlay does a really good job as well. He isn’t able to cover quite as much ground as Keeley for a while there and you could say that it’s partially on him that they didn’t work together a lot sooner but from Finlay’s perspective Keeley was still a suspect as well so his hands were tied. He was reasonable all the way through and made for a solid character here. Then you have Monty who is one of the main guys here. He is always very eager to talk to the cops and try to set things straight but every time he talks he seems to put Mitch in a tough spot….

He definitely makes for an intense character and you aren’t likely to forget Monty as you finish the film. Monty is definitely not a likable character and of course he’s not meant to be. The film does a good job of still making him strategic so there are a lot of mind games going on here and battles of wits. You actually don’t get many seems of him and Keeley in the same room which keeps the plots separate for a while. Floyd is unfortunately very weak willed and of the soldiers he is the easiest one to manipulate for sure. A lot of the time they say if you don’t make any decision then that was automatically the wrong one and that’s what happens for this guy a lot. The window to act gets smaller and smaller until it’s too late.

The oddest character in the film was Ginny’s husband Tremaine. It’s hard to get a read on him since he is constantly lying. After each of his speeches he will say that everything he just said was a lie and this keeps on repeating. He seems chronically depressed and yet he is trying to poke fun at his own expense. Mainly I just wondered what the point of this character was aside from adding some unintentional humor into the film. I was a bit interested in whatever his story was. The guy has clearly been through a whole lot over the years. At least he tried to be helpful unlike Ginny who was determined to stay quiet and not be involved in everything going on.

Mitch’s wife Mary shows up as well to try and help get to the bottom of this. Her role isn’t very large but it’s a fairly pivotal one. She helps Mitch to really get a better understanding of the stakes and that he needs to step up or she’ll be in trouble as well. There are certainly a lot of moving parts here and the film’s got fast pacing so it all works out. The mystery is sound and the writing is good. I can’t say that I had any real issues with the movie and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good thriller.

Overall, Crossfire may not be a title that you would immediately associate with this film but it works well enough. There isn’t a lot of gun action here as this is more of a mental battle of wills but you can bet that there is a little intensity as we get closer to the end. There are some very smart tricks used here to corner the villain. A satisfying ending is absolutely necessary for a title like this and it all wraps up nicely.

Overall 7/10

Obsession Review

Obsession is a pretty interesting mystery/thriller. Things get a little trippy at times and there’s a whole lot going on. It’s got a very unique vibe to it where you just don’t know if you’re expecting a happy ending or not. It’s got that retro atmosphere to it that works well and while the final twist is big and yet not, I wasn’t sure how to feel about that one. It makes some earlier scenes a bit iffy. So all in all….this film is all over the place and you won’t be forgetting it at least.

The movie starts with Michael going through a big tragedy as his wife and daughter are kidnapped. There is a ransom but the police tell him not to pay it so he grabs a suitcase of plain paper and tries to fool them. This doesn’t go well as there is unfortunately no good plan here at all. The cops follow the villains to the base but beyond yelling “Hands in the air” don’t seem to know how to protect the hostages. The wife is murdered in the car crash while Michael’s daughter Amy was left in the house and then vanished. She is presumed to be dead though.

Many years later Michael is trying to restart his life and things are going well on the job at least. On a trip to Italy he meets a lady named Sandra who looks a lot like his old wife. He figures that this is a perfect chance to go on the rebound so he asks her out and the two are getting along really well but is this almost too good to be true? He starts to get obsessed into turning her into his wife as he searches for the part of his heart that is still missing.

You could maybe go deeper into the plot but I like to think of this as the general synopsis before then plot goes deeper or any twists in there. One thing I liked about this one a lot more than Vertigo which had a similar plot was that the main character doesn’t seem as deranged. Yes Michael starts to really go off the deep end here as you can see with him asking Sandra to start walking and talking like his late wife did. The difference is that it doesn’t seem as threatening. In Vertigo you felt like the guy would snap at any second while here I didn’t get the impression that he was downright dangerous. It’s a thin line of course but I don’t think he crossed it.

It does make him look bad regardless though. Michael is clearly still going through a lot of trauma and this is how he’s coping but it’s not a healthy way to go about it. Then of course he also has a lot of regrets about how he handled the original kidnapping case by not bringing the money and wants a chance to do it right this time. The climax gets really intense for him in this angle. He makes a lot of mistakes but you can sympathize with how rough things got for him as well. If he could have kept more of a clear head then the movie would have likely gone very differently for him.

Then you have his business partner Robert who is doing his best to keep the company afloat. He wants Michael to move on and hopes this trip to Italy can help. He’s always rather understanding even when Michael is starting to go crazy but Robert does put the company first. He gets a fairly big role in the film and makes for a very intense character. I would say he is one of the standouts here. The guy does very well in his role.

Finally you have Sandra and of course she is a pivotal player here. The romance may seem a bit easy and she definitely gives Michael too much leeway in ordering her around though. At first things were okay so the instant he started to be a little off she needed to call him out and put a stop to that immediately. You can’t let things escalate and then you’re on a good path. She barely even knows this guy too so letting him take too much control would put things in a really bad place.

Now of course the twists at the end of the film can change some or a lot of what I’ve put in below as far as context goes. I won’t give away the big twist here but basically it was a very longshot plan. Things had to happen just right for this film to really happen. One character in particular had to look very bad unfortunately. I’d say the romance itself also got very iffy by the end of this. The ending is memorable with more explosions and tension than I was expecting though. The film really ended up having a grand climax.

In general deciding whether to give the kidnappers the money or not is always tough because if things go sideways then you will wish you had done the other thing. No matter what option you pick, there is no guarantee that things will go well and that’s what makes it a tough choice. So throughout the whole film you have that undercurrent of regret. The movie is well written and my only real issue would be the weak romance and how Michael starts to quickly deteriorate as a character. On the whole it’s good though.

Overall, What you think of the twist will likely impact how effective the film is for you. Personally I do think the movie tipped its hand to the twist really early on if you pay attention to the opening scene but the good part of that is the film isn’t pulling this twist out of a hat. So it really makes sense both in the moment and in hindsight. The writing there is solid and at the end of the day you will be intrigued by what’s going on. There was a lot of planning here in the movie and it would help in a re-watch as something to think about. Maybe not the greatest thriller out there but I would recommend it to see what you think. It’s a cautionary tale on why you don’t want to ever get to obsessive over anything or anyone.

Overall 6/10