In 50 Words… Circle (2015)

CIRCLE (2015)

Directed by: Aaron Hann, Mario Miscione

Starring: Julie Benz, Mercy Malik, Carter Jenkins

Taggart Productions, Votiv Films

A group of fifty strangers wake up in a dark chamber, unable to recall how they got there. One by one, they are executed by a bolt of electricity that emanates from a sphere in the center of the room. The victims are not chosen at random, but by the captives themselves through a strange voting system. Strategy and prejudice will determine a lone survivor. Circle is an interesting film and would make a great game show. The concept; How much do we value another persons life in comparison to our own? As the film progresses, it unfortunately becomes somewhat predictable. This is a dialogue driven film, which takes away from the suspense. A little action would have gone far. Pretty well written with some good acting. Tries to keep us guessing but falls a little short, but I do admire the concept.  3/5 Bloody Moons

T.

In 50 Words…Ash Vs. Evil Dead Series Premier

Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Premier Episode, 2015)

Production Company: Renaissance Pictures, Starz!

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Jill Marie Jones, Ray Santiago

Five minutes into the first episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead, I had already decided that this was my new favorite television show. Everything you need if you love horror/comedy is packed into this forty minutes of pure joy. Thirty years after the events of Evil Dead 2, Ashley ‘Ash’ J.Williams has been hiding in fear, living in a trailer park. While intoxicated and trying to impress a woman, he reads from the Necronomicon. This summons the Deadites, and they are looking for some revenge. A real ladies man, Bruce Campbell is brilliant as the cheese-ball department store clerk turned Deadite-destroyer. This show is refreshing and nostalgic all at once. If the rest of the series is as good as the pilot, I have one word; Groovy!

T.

In 50 Words…Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak (2015)

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain    Legenday Pictures

Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is visually amazing, with great cinematography and set design. The special effects are really well done. If you are looking for something scary, this film will not satisfy. Essentially a love story with ghosts, Crimson Peak lacks the chills, although there are defiantly some cringe worthy violent moments. Tom Hiddleston (Thor) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) are great, but for me, the rest of the film fell a little flat. Still not a bad way to kill a couple hours. 3 / 5 Bloody Moons

In 50 Words – LATE PHASES (2014)

Late Phases (2014) Directed by: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest
Dark Sky Films
A tough, but blind Vietnam veteran prepares for a month, until the next full moon to get revenge on the werewolf that killed his faithful seeing-eye dog. An original, offbeat horror film. Sometimes far-fetched, but has quality acting and special effects. Damici is convincing as the seeing impaired hero, but some spots he comes across more like Marvel’s Daredevil than a former Marine. A good addition to the werewolf genre.  3/5 Full Moons
T.

Marvel’s Ant-Man

Typically, I would use this space to share my opinion on the darker side of cinema, but today I figured I would briefly touch on something different. Tonight I went to the cinema to watch Marvel’s Ant-Man (directed by Peyton Reed, written by Edgar Wright and starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas). When I first heard that Marvel was going to do a live action adaptation of Ant-Man, I was fairly surprised. Out of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, why choose a character that is relatively obscure to the general public. Then I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and my expectations went up. Unless you are a fan and reader of comic books, you probably had no idea who Star-Lord and Groot where. Unless I’m wrong, this was Marvel and Disney‘s first attempt at taking a B title and giving it the big screen treatment. Guardians was an amazing movie, and has made this rag-tag group of adventurers a house hold name. I have to give Disney and Marvel all the credit in the world. They know how to do it right.

Scott Lang (Rudd) is a down on his luck ex-con who can’t seem to catch a break.  All he wants his to make his young daughter proud. Before he knows it, he becomes involved in a struggle between the science company Pym Tech, and their founder, the now retired Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).  Dr. Pym recruits Lang ( a master burglar) to retrieve a weapon that has been developed by the corrupt head of Pym Tech, Dr. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Cross has plans to sell the technology to an infamous terrorist organization. With the help of Pam and others, Scott Lang becomes the Ant-Man.

I will keep this short and sweet. Marvel’s Ant-Man is full of pleasant surprises. There is a perfect balance between action and comedy relief. Paul Rudd has his trademark dry sarcasm, but the best comedic performance comes from his best friend Luis, played by Michael Peña. I really hope his character returns. The fact that Ant-Man can shrink adds a whole other world for the action to take place in. The use of actual ants throughout the film is pretty cool as well. Unlike a lot of other superhero movies, the action is not distracting and does not take over the film at all. Also, please stay until after the end credits role, as in typical Marvel fashion, there are a couple “hidden scenes”.  All in all, Marvel’s Ant-Man ranks up amongst my favourites with Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I can only hope that the next Marvel adaptation to be released, Deadpool (Feb 2016), is as clever and fun to watch as Ant-Man.

I highly enjoyed Marvel’s Ant-Man. Go see this film if you like fun movies, but that is just my opinion.

T.

THE GALLOWS – One man’s thoughts…

The Gallows (Production Company Blum House Productions, Distributed by Warner Bros.)

Release date: July 10, 2015

Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing

Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford

Brief Synopsis: In 1993, tragedy strikes a town when a high school play called “The Gallows” goes terribly wrong. In an attempt to honor the twentieth anniversary of the incident, the present day students of Beatrice High try to recreate the production.  Needless to say, things don’t quiet pan out  the way most of the students anticipate.

My Take:  Studios will release a trailer or two, run some T.V. spots prior to a films release to drum up interest and create a hype so people will go see their film. Some movies live up to the hype created by these two-minute miracles of editing. Some films, however,  do not. The Gallows looked really good after I watched the theatrical trailer. Seemed like it would be creepy, some decent atmosphere and at the very least, nooses and hanging, to me, are freaky. Good horror films are far and few between. This particular scare fest (or lack of) falls far, far between. I am not one to spoil a film for anyone, so I will not give away any plot twists or anything of that nature.

Here is a real basic rundown of The Gallows. Student Charlie Grimille is accidentally hung to death during a high school stage production in 1993. Twenty years go by, and Charlie’s death is part of school folklore. For some reason (which sort of makes sense by the end of the film), the current students of Beatrice High School attempt to honor the tragedy by holding a performance of the same play, “The Gallows”, for one night only. Three students, Reese, Ryan and Cassidy (all played by the actors of the same first names) plan to break into the school to sabotage the play by trashing the set. This plan is hatched in the name of a crush that leading man Ryan has on his leading lady Pheifer. It is a really forced reason as far as the writing of the movie goes and makes it hard to take the whole thing seriously. Anyways, the four main characters end up getting trapped in the school by mysterious forces, which leads to supernatural events and a lot of shaky camera work. Although it is a “found footage” style movie, I still found it kind of bouncy. Usually with found footage stories you get a few good jump scares, some creepy images and some tension build up. Unfortunately with The Gallows, I got eighty some minutes of distracting dialogue, telegraphed and predictable startle scares and a lot of questions. Questions like ‘why are these kids filming this whole thing?’. Put the damn camera and cell phones down, come up with a plan, and run. Why go down the weird secret corridor? You know it is just going to lead to trouble. Also, are you aware that the supernatural can control your cellular service? No matter who your provider is!

In case you don’t know what gallows are, it is a structure used to hang criminals. A noose is placed around your neck and the floor falls out, leaving you to hang. It’s not cool, and quite frankly it is something that gives me chills. The thought of hanging by my neck, suffocating is horrible. This way of murdering teenagers should have been more primal and disturbing. It was actually more of an after thought once you have to sit through the rest of the nonsense. Predictable and cliche. The acting was decent enough, with the actors being relatively unknown by Hollywood standards. The Gallows did mark a milestone in cinematic history though. Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Cathy Lee and Frank Gifford, made her major motion picture debut. To be honest, she was far from the worst thing in this film. She did a good job of acting terrified. Scream Queen in training?

My friend Scott (moviedrivel.com) counted 4 or 5 people leave the theater halfway through the screening, and I don’t think it was because they found the movie terrifying.

To conclude, please do not be fooled by the trailer television spots for The Gallows. It is not as startling and scary as the ads would make you believe. I can recall being more scared during episodes of Ghost Adventures. And we know that isn’t very scary at all.  I am aware that found footage, low-budget films are a profitable cash grab for studios, but The Gallows falls a mile behind its predecessors like Blair Witch Project, REC, and even Paranormal Activity. Alas, like in all things I discuss, I will let you decide for yourself.

T.