Posts Tagged ‘Thriller’

susan_sarandon-the_callingSusan Sarandon is a wonderful, accomplished actress, capable of a broad range of roles, but the one thing she cannot do at this stage of her career is convincingly play the part of a small-time cop investigating a series of gruesome murders. The Calling does not fail because of the casting of Sarandon as the tin badge in a one-horse, two-detective town in eastern Canada, who steals prescription pills from crime scenes and washes them down with Jim Beam, but the glacial pace of the story gives ample time to dwell on the mistake.

Sarandon plays Detective Hazel Micallef, a back surgery survivor who lives with her mom in Port Dundas – 82-year old Ellen Burstyn, who, like the 68-year old Sarandon, is an Oscar winner. The Calling stockpiles so much underused talent that it resembles the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield. Burstyn’s big scene in the film is when she falls asleep in the living room chair, leaving Sarandon and the audience to believe for a moment that she’s fallen victim to the film’s serial killer. (more…)

AFTERMATHThey don’t make movies like Aftermath anymore. Full-scale nuclear war has fallen out of favor as a source of cinematic anxiety, reflecting the real world changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago. Oh, Hollywood will never swear off nukes all together, any more than they would give up Nazis. But now, it’s the suitcase device or the rogue nation warhead in the wrong hands. Get James Bond or Jack Bauer on the job, and badda bing, badda boom, all’s right in the world in a couple of hours, although there may be a teeny bit of collateral damage. (24 did nuke part of LA in season six, but it was just strip malls and warehouses; no good restaurants were lost in the filming.) (more…)

Beneath-movie-imageLet’s begin with a bit of clarification. We’re talking about the film Beneath, not Beneath (2013 – teens on a rowboat avoiding man-eating fish) or Beneath (2007 – car accident victim in a scary house) or Beneath The Dark (2010 – young couple checks in for motel weirdness) or Beneath The Darkness (2011 – Dennis Quaid as a creepy small-town mortician) or even What Lies Beneath (2000 – Michelle Pfeiffer losing her mind thanks to Harrison Ford).

Our Beneath is about a group of people trapped underground, but it’s not The Descent or The Cave or The Descent 2 or The Cavern or Underground or In Darkness We Fall.

And so we establish that the film in question is not the most original in either its title or its subject matter. Beneath is not half bad, but, unfortunately, it is not good enough to make a name for itself.


Cold-In-July-2Jim Mickle and Nick Damici.

Remember these names. Write them down if you need to. Set up a Google alert. The pattern of cinematic excellence these two have established warrants constant attention for what will come next from the duo. Cold in July, the fourth feature film film from this creative team, is a solid kick in the balls of conventional fare, a tricky, tough, violent carnival ride put together by a couple of carnies whom you just can’t trust to have followed the safety code.


Anna-Mark-StrongHollywood is in the business of expectations – creating and controlling them. Studios need to generate enough interest for a film to guarantee ticket sales without overhyping the movie and having it labeled a failure.

Lucky is the moviegoer who can watch a film without any preconceived notions of the product. For those fortunate few who see Anna with low-to-no expectations, the hybrid horror/science fiction/thriller provides an entertaining diversion that benefits from stylish atmosphere and a strong central performance. Director Jorge Dorado uses a steady pace and a few sleight-of-hand tricks to divert the viewer’s attention away from some significant logical gaps in the narrative. (more…)

MALIGNANTEXCPOSTERRELFEATWhy, Brad Dourif, why? You are one of the most original, idiosyncratic, and talented character actors of the last 40 years. Your credits extend from the unforgettable portrayal of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for which you received an Academy Award nomination to your Emmy nominated turn as Doc Cochran in Deadwood. You’re been the voice of pure evil for decades as the serial killer kid’s toy in the Chucky movies.

That’s a lot of good will to flush down the drain, but your latest movie is almost a big enough toilet to dispose of such a sterling reputation. Why would you do it? If it’s money, next time start a campaign on Hatchfund with a goal of raising enough to cover your bills until a decent role comes along. (more…)

the-sacrament-joe-swanberg-in-un-immagine-dal-set-283325Ti West’s new work, The Sacrament, is a surprisingly good movie that uses the events of the infamous Jonestown Massacre of 1978 as the basis for a faux documentary that investigates a commune which the elderly, poor, and disadvantaged have established in the jungle of an unidentified country under the direction of a charismatic preacher they call Father. Generally, the material is not handled in an exploitative manner nor does the final result belong in any way to the horror genre, although the movie has been incorrectly characterized by some as such.

And for those reasons, the film is unlikely to attract the audience it deserves.


favor_111The last twenty minutes of a thriller are like the last two minutes of an NBA game: no matter how good the action has been up until then, it all comes down to the closing moments. Paul Osborne, director and writer of the new feature film Favor, gets this. He nails the last twenty minutes of the movie with a couple of well-timed twists, which make up for a few shortcomings and elevate the effort into a solid little flick that is worth a watch.

The premise is simple and established immediately. The paths of two childhood friends have diverged. The successful one shows up at the house of the other in the middle of the night to ask a favor. His lead-in to the request: “You once said, ‘You can tell how good a friend is by whether or not they’ll help you move a dead body.”

Okay, guess what the favor is.


1397895448_33There are two things working against 13 Sins, the new thriller in which a man becomes an unwitting contestant on a game show that compels him to engage in increasingly antisocial behavior. The first is the film’s own weaknesses, beginning with uneven performances, implausible assumptions, and threadbare plot points. The second disadvantage – and the one over which the filmmakers had no control – is the recent wide release of Cheap Thrills, a far superior entry in the “What would you be willing to do for a buck?” genre.