Trance, 2013 – ★★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

Trip out on this one. I really liked it for many reasons but in the end, it was far too complicated for what it needed to be. I know most liked Inception, but I didn’t for the same reason: it was just too out there. I like stuff that I can grasp. This is above my pay grade.

I did like it though because it didn’t need to make sense. Once I gave up trying to read Wikipedia and figure it out, I was able to cruise through it and it was highly enjoyable. It’s the story of a heist gone bad. McAvoy loses his memory and can’t recall where one of the paintings is. He goes to a hypnotist to refresh his memory. Rosario Dawson is sexy as hell in this. There are a few full frontal sequences. That brings me to my main point (?) it was a highly visual treat. I do recommend it.

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(Podcast) Cashback

This one is rated R most definitely. I imagine this film will appeal most to males 14-45 especially but to any and all interested parties. Listening to me talk about it may not be as good as rewatching? You can listen to my show on “Cashback” below. It appeared first on the DRP

The Masque of the Red Death, 1964 – ★★½

Vincent Price is good at spooky. In this, I learned he is good at evil too! Picking out a husband and a father from a crowd and forcing them to fight to the death in front of the daughter/wife … that’s one example.

I found this movie highly engaging and certainly it kept my attention. Unfortunately though it had the look of a Shakespearean play and not a horror movie. I would recommend this as an adventure/drama but as a horror it doesn’t stand up. That is, in today’s arena.

The story is great and as I said, Price takes no prisoners with his acting. If you’re looking for an old school Machiavellian play with extremely good acting and characters, this might be for you. Otherwise, I’d pass.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin was Directed by Lynne Ramsay, known for Morvern Callar (2002).  It’s a macabre tale of a child school shooter and killer. I also feel it is a masterpiece. I have championed it for MOTM on the LAMB 6/2019, I hope I can get your vote!

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
R | 1h 52min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 21 October 2011 (UK)

Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay), Rory Stewart Kinnear (screenplay)
Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

It was produced by a multitude of people but the name best known to me on the list is Steven Soderbergh, known for Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic. The movie stars Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian/Kevin’s mother, John C. Reilly as Franklin/Kevin’s father, and Ezra Miller as Kevin as a Teenager and a cast of others. The age old question of nature vs. nurture is a fitting discussion topic after watching this film. Are kids born bad or do we make them that way?

In We Need to Talk About Kevin, we see a mother going back over the events of her life trying to determine what caused her son to commit a mass murder. It is a series of flashbacks. We learn the events of a child’s life that led him as a teenager to commit mass murder at his high school. The main character is the mother through whose eyes we see the flashbacks. She is trying to understand why her child committed the mass murder. In the end we are left with no real answers but lines that get us thinking. John C. Reilly is the mostly absent father who seems to think the problem is the mother and exalts the son as a very good kid. There is a lot of dark and frightening imagery of blood and sorts of 1970’s style psychedelic spinning rooms. Once all this calms down, the stark, ominous truth of what has happened appears. It isn’t remotely pretty.

I liked this movie a lot. In a world where Columbine happened, we still ironically have many people who choose to hide their heads in the sand on this issue. Instead of seeking answers they blame the devil. Rather than blaming the devil, we ought to be talking about kids like Kevin who threaten to kill and kill again all throughout the land. This movie doesn’t show us what went wrong with Kevin but it opens the door we need to enter.

The cast is perfect for their roles. You will likely hate Kevin’s character as I did, I hope they paid Ezra well! You will want to shake John C. Reilly when he acts like there is nothing wrong. I don’t mean to sugar coat this movie, it was uncomfortable to watch. At the same time, I feel it should be watched. From the dream sequence of a mosh pit of blood to the final chilling words of Kevin, this movie is a study that will most certainly keep brave viewers entertained. What’s more, it is a topic for discussion about another one of societies taboos. I have put this up as movie of the month on the LAMB. Please vote and help this movie win

What Keeps You Alive

Here we have a lesbian couple getting away into the woods to celebrate their one year anniversary. They have access to a large cabin home that has been in Sarah’s family. In fact, it appears she grew up at least part of her youth in the house and woods. When a seeming stranger shows up knocking at the door, we find out Sarah has an old childhood friend still living across the woods. There is some discomfort as Sarah’s new wife starts to get suspicious. Is it warranted? That’s what the film sets out to discover. This is Mystery/Horror done well!

I love movies like this where things are not quite as they seem. This film peels back the veneer exposing reality. It’s a thriller and probably a horror though I think it excels far more as a thriller.

What Keeps You Alive (2018)
R | 1h 38min | Horror, Thriller | 24 August 2018 (USA)
Trailer 2:16 | Trailer2 VIDEOS | 8 IMAGES
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From $12.99 on Prime Video

Majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
Director: Colin Minihan
Writer: Colin Minihan
Stars: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha MacIsaac

The director is Colin Minihan who is known for the popular series “Grave Encounters.” He also directed: “It Stains the Sands Red” and “Extraterrestrial.” I intend to watch all three of these soon. When people say Horror is dead, they need to look at directors like Minihan. I think he shows it’s alive and kicking.

There are many twists in this film. the ones toward the end are the most fun in my opinion, though some may disagree. I like how it presents as a lesbian lover film and then completely changes the theme. Some may be surprised at the direction this same sex married couple goes. After all, we should consider they have only been married a year when the conflicts begin to rain down in this plot.

Podcast: “The Others”

Creepy wood carvings open the mood during the credits. Creepy victorian house 1945. Nicole Kidman is screaming in bed. Nightmare perhaps? The servants come to the door. They are old and one is young but mute.

She is very demanding as their boss. She seems to be a mean parent as well. She urges them to not let the children thump away on the piano as it sets off her “migraine.” Each door in the house is part of an elaborate system of locks and keys. She might have Munchausen’s disease. She keeps the kids hidden and believes they have a deadly sensitivity to light.

The servant that stopped by were actually previous servants in the house. They were hoping to be taken in as servants. Gothic houses in fog with a chimney sweep. The kids are talking about denying Christ if they were ever in danger of death as a result of believing. Kidman’s character hears a young child crying. The daughter tells her a crying boy named Victor was there. 

When more odd events occur at the house, Grace begins to fear there are unknown “others” present. Anne claims to have seen a group of people in the house several times: a man, woman, an old woman and a child called Victor, who have claimed that “the house is theirs”. After Grace hears footsteps and unknown voices, she orders the house to be searched. Grace finds a 19th-century so-called “book of the dead”, which is a photo album of mourning portraitphotos of deceased family members, with some missing pages. Grace asks Mills about when she last worked in the house. Mills says that many were evacuated due to an outbreak of tuberculosis.

The jump scares are subtle yet effective. Old houses remind us of our mortality. So do ghosts. So far, cgi is not needed. Less is more.

At night, Grace witnesses a piano playing itself and becomes convinced that the house may be haunted. Convinced that something unholy is in the house, Grace runs outside in search of the local priest to bless the house. Before leaving, Grace instructs Tuttle to check a small nearby cemetery to see if there was a family buried there who had a little boy named Victor. Tuttle covers the gravestones with fallen autumn leaves, under the orders of Mills, who comments that Grace thinks the house is haunted. Outside, Grace discovers her husband Charles, who she thought had been killed in the war. Charles greets his children after a long absence, but is distant during the short time he spends at the house. Later, Grace has a vision of an elderly woman and attacks her. Grace discovers that she has actually attacked Anne, who retreats to her father. Anne tells Nicholas that Grace went mad in the same way that she did “that day”. Nicholas denies recollection of such, and says he must leave for the front, even though Grace claims that the war is over. The two embrace and lie motionless together in bed.

The next morning, Charles is gone and the children are screaming as all the curtains have disappeared. Grace accuses the servants of removing the curtains and banishes them. That night, the children sneak outside and discover the servants’ graves from years past. Simultaneously, Grace finds a photograph of the corpses of her servants, who have been dead for 50 years. The servants appear and try to speak to the children, who retreat. They hide upstairs in the bedroom, where they are discovered by the elderly woman. Mills tells Grace to go upstairs and talk to the intruders. Grace discovers that the old woman is in fact a medium in a séance with Victor’s parents, who discovers via automatic writing that Grace smothered the children to death with a pillow in a fit of rage before committing suicide. 

Grace realizes that the “others” are the family that has just moved in, and that she, her children and servants are the spirits. Following the display of spiritualistic activity, Victor’s family is convinced to vacate the house and leave it in the occupancy of the six ghosts

The Lazarus Effect (2015) ★★★

This film is a great horror watch, but not perfect. If it weren’t for its central theme of fear being a bit overused, and zombie fans weren’t therefore jaded, it could have done really well. Despite it’s low critic ratings however, I’d say it was worth the watch for horror fans.

The Lazarus Effect (2015)
PG-13 | 1h 23min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 27 February 2015 (USA)
The Lazarus Effect Poster
Trailer 0:30 | Trailer22 VIDEOS | 61 IMAGES
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From $2.99 on Prime Video

A group of medical researchers discover a way to bring dead patients back to life.
Director: David Gelb
Writers: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Stars: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters

I love Mark Duplass’ writing and direction but for some eason, when I saw he was behind this, it became too familiar to be very scary. Olivia Wilde looked great in this. She has an evil stare and I hope she does more horror in her career. Still, it all has been done before: “Back from the dead, but NOT THE SAME.” This is the basis for every zombie and Frankenstein based film. Duplass would have done better to not hang the raisk on a clever biblical title. It ends up feeling like a bait and switch: ie; “I have something new for horror fans, wait no, it’s just a back from the dead retread.” It’s not really worth watching unless you’re easily scared on a Saturday night with chemicals. 6/10.

Missing Link (2019)

I had high hopes for this one, I had read it was getting good reviews. Unfortunately I found it rather dull. Galafinakis is great as the Sasquatch but not enough to make this a compelling cartoon. It’s not bad though.

PG | 1h 34min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | 12 April 2019 (USA)
Mr. Link recruits explorer Sir Lionel Frost to help find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, this trio of explorers travel the world to help their new friend.
Director: Chris Butler
Writer: Chris Butler
Stars: Hugh Jackman, David Walliams, Stephen Fry

Fans of Jackman and Galafinakis may enjoy this film. IT doesn’t seem catered enough to children to be a big hit with them. Because I couldn’t see a larger purpose in this film, I found it plain and ordinary. I enjoyed the Yeti film “Smallfoot” much more a few months back. With me, it scores a 6/10.

Angel Heart (1987) ★★★★★

Robert DeNiro comes on screen very quickly. His fingernails are sharpened like demonic claws. There is another religious theme that shows itself right away, the “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel. This draws us in to this mysterious horror film. As of 4/26/2019 Angel Heart was streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The rest of this review contains spoilers. You can read on or listen to the podcast at the player below.

Mickey Rourke’s character is a private investigator. He’s been retained by DeNiro’s character, “Mr. Cypher” to find Johnny Favorite. He has to determine whether he is alive or dead. Sounds easy enough? I think it’s clear at the get go Cypher is not of this world. I originally suspected he was the devil. It was pretty neat to see Kathleen Wilholte as the records clerk. I recalled seeing her as Luke’s sister on Gilmore Girls.

Rourke’s character “Harry Angel” interrogates a poor of addicted doctor in his own home. You can see right away Rourke is used to dealing in unorthodox methods. After getting some info on Johnny Liebling (Favorite) , he locks the old man in his room. He is a quite brutal interrogator. Upon returning, he sees the old man has committed suicide. He was an addict but it seems somehow implausible that he would do it. Angel tries to get out of the job and Cypher lures him in with $5000. He was previously making $120 a day. Although he is spooked and possibly a murder suspect, Angel reaffirms himself to the case.

He discovers Johnny Favorite is some kind of deceiver. He’s had facial reconstructive surgery and paid off a doctor to claim he is still in the hospital when he is out and doing things. Just what he is doing we don’t know at this point. Continuing the journey, Angel meets up with his informant girlfriend. She strips naked while talking to him and they make love. This is all despite his almost hallucinatory visions he starts having about wheels and fans and shady places. Rourke looks so cool in this film. It’s a gumshoe film noir.

He proceeds down to Coney Island and has a conversation with a woman who once knew Johnny Favorite. He finds out there was some witchcraft associated with the guy. A lady from the carnival was introducing him to it. His character just gets more and more mysterious from that point.

Angel tracks down a fortune telling woman played by Charlotte Rampling and rings her doorbell. The New York buildings and antique interiors are beautiful. They serve to entrance you. There is a supernatural vibe throughout. All the familiar faces here are very young. After all, it is from 1987. She tells Angel Johnny is dead and seems offended. She kicks him out. He wants his palm read but she says, “I don’t think you’d like what I see.”

He goes into a Cajun Voodoo shop and asks about a woman named Evangeline Proudfoot. He rents a car to venture out to see her. She is dead but her daughter is played by Lisa Bonet, most will remember her as one of the daughters on the Cosby Show. She looks great soaking wet, t-shirt and all. Soon she’s in a scene writing to a drumbeat naked pouring chicken blood on her chest. Times have changed I guess, especially if you think about how Cosby is in jail for feeding ruffees to women and raping them.

To make a long plot shorter, we end up finding out that Angel was being paid by the devil himself (DeNiro) to investigate and reveal his own misdeeds. The end of the film is a revelation to Angel that he is indeed Johnny and he’s been living in someone else’s memories. I don’t really get the very end of the film. It’s spooky and creepy but doesn’t make a lot of sense. That babies yellow eyes? WTF. This is an incredible film from 1987. It gets 10/10 stars from me. Over and out.

‘Small Town Hero’ – Charismatic Portrayal of One-Man-Justice in a Village

Can a vigilante exist in a small village as a beneficial star or hero? Yes and no. Find out why and why not when you see this film.

I sat down and enjoyed Small Town Hero today. It had the thrills of a vengeance film but with a dark comedic element. Having said that, some scenes are dead serious.


Small Town Hero (2019)

Simon Cassidy, Millie Reeves, Moir Leslie

Directed by

Darren Bolton

Written by

Darren Bolton

Other Info

Rated PG-13
1h 30min

When punk street fighter kids get old they sometimes make it in society. By “making it” I don’t mean they become famous actors or musicians, but rather, they sometimes make it as members of a small village leading lives of quiet desperation. I use the word “sometimes” because they don’t always make it and more often than not, they end up in jail or dead. The ones who do make it, often add a lot of value to their hometown. I had my prediction early on in this film that “Pep” (Simon Cassidy: Labrats, North and South) was not going to be one of those. I won’t reveal if I was right or wrong here though.

Pep starts out as an unemployed, relatively young guy in his 30’s who has to pick a fight with just about anyone he sees. The director, Darren Bolton, who is known for Scent and a short film also called Vigilante on which the film is based, chose to shoot the film in documentary format. This works well to create suspense and it draws the viewer up close to the Pep. He is a sort of small town hero but I use that word loosely. Not everyone in the village is a fan and they let him know in scenes ranging from the coffee shop to their front doors when Pep comes by to do his “service calls.”

Pep sets out immediately in the film to clean up the streets of this village he is in. In many ways, his actions are that of an out-and-out asshole. In other ways, he is a charismatic figure who can exact justice when he sees the chance. But despite small town fame, there is something not right about Pep and we watch in high suspense as we wait for him to mess up. There was a time in the film when I was proven wrong, surprised he was correct about a perpetrator of a burglary. Other times, it was clear he was wrong about who he accused. Unlike most people though, Pep doesn’t seem to show remorse or ever apologize when he does have the wrong person. This sets up a lot of tension as he continues to seek his own reckless vigilante justice.

vigilante1There are several actors that captured my attention but the one most worth mentioning I think is his ex-wife Becky (Millie Reeves). Since Pep is always hamming it up with his camera crew, it’s difficult to see what he is really like. Becky doesn’t buy into his newfound local stardom. She is downright annoyed every time he comes around to see his son. We get lots of hints from peoples’ reactions about Pep’s character but ultimately, not much concrete is revealed so we have to make our own conclusions. Becky has a bit of love and lot of hate and resentment for Pep. He’s a charismatic character you love to hate certainly. He also represents the animal inside all of us that doesn’t want to wait for cops and courts. When we are wronged, we want justice now. That’s why Pep appeals to us.

vigilante-2This is not a particularly violent film, though it has a few shocking depictions. The confrontations are not as bloody as Dead Man’s Shoes for example but both films carry a theme of vigilantism. Simon Cassidy is an actor I have not seen before this. He is a very charismatic, quick actor and was a pleasure to watch in this role. I like films like this because I can feel imagined vindication without going to jail for it. These movies usually draw a large audience because people enjoy the catharsis of vigilante films. From credits to credits, these elements are present and it’s my hope a lot of people will be able to see and enjoy this film as I did. The way it ends up for Pep is not predictable but it does make sense. Discussing it with my wife over coffee, I could hear she had some of the same feelings I did about Pep. This is a thinking man’s (woman’s) film or sure to be discussed with a date or a friend at length. I will certainly discuss it on some future podcast.

There are many remarkable particulars about this film but I think one of the most noteworthy is the editing. I imagine editing for any feature film is a bitch but when you look at the hundreds of cuts that are made in this quasi biography, the task appears gargantuan. David Brook does an elegant and commanding job telling this story through its editing.

All in all, this new film Small Town Hero is a masterpiece that achieves what it sets out to do. Bullseye. For that reason, I give it a 10/10.