Tag Archives: thriller

Vic’s Review – Crush (2013)

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“Crush”

Directed by Malik Bader

7 out of 10

“Crush” from director Malik Bader (Street Thief) and writer / producer Sonny Mallhi is an efficient and practical little thriller that is peppered throughout with a touch of Hitchcockian flair. It uses the daunting theme of the sexual stalker as it’s story and this time, much to my surprise and delight, Bader’s film is both involving and eloquent. Much of it is standard fare as with all movies about someone being stalked and followed. What Bader does here though is establish the characters and has us feel for each and everyone of them . He also consequentially delivers the creeps and displays that in this day and age some directors can still produce a twist and shock the viewers. When that happens and happens successfully, “Crush” becomes a film with some cred. It doesn’t happen until late in the film but what comes before it is interesting and smart. Bader manages to lift the movie beyond it’s “Teen Obsession” flick. It’s crafty and tricky and it is able to pull the wool over your eyes more than once. The movie opens with a disturbing sequence involving a boy and an innocent looking girl on top of a modest home’s rooftop and after shocking us in it’s brutality, Bader continues to build his story in a relevant and worthwhile way.

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 Bader cast Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf) as Bess. A teen loner who is quiet, meek and a bit lonesome. She works at a local music store and apparently has a secret crush on a local school athlete named Scott, played by Lucas Till (X Men First Class). Scott is recovering from a knee injury he suffered and is in the middle of his therapy and trying to get back into shape to continue playing sports in school. He lives with his Dad, Mike, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club). As he tries hard to get better he deals with a love affair with his on and off again girlfriend named Jules (Sarah Bolger). Meanwhile it seems that Bess herself may have a secret admirer as well in Jeffrey played by Reid Ewing (Fright Night). He dotes over her and continues to make excuses for spending more and more time with her. She takes no notice of him at first since she is obviously concerned with what seems like a torrid obsession with Scott. There are weird e-mails, pictures and occurrences surrounding Scott and his girlfriend Jules that gradually increases to the boiling point. Scott knows he is being followed and being watched that he eventually becomes very paranoid and even gets blamed for posting lewd pictures of Jess. It seems that Bess, while ignoring Jeffrey, has been up to no good and making her crush on Scott literally unbearable. His life begins to unravel and his Father ( being out of town )  is not around to help him with Bess. He confronts her several times and is even told by Bess’s co-worker, Andie (Caitriona Balfe) to back off and Scott’s teammates also picks up on Scott’s odd behavior. Bader weaves all of these characters and a few more into an intricate web of deceit, confrontations and frightening suspense. It’s all very old school and as we are kept guessing as to all of the motives and actions of all these characters, Bader continues to tighten his grip. He and his writers add some gravity and depth to the movie with a very capable cast and well placed suspense.

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 There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to “Crush” It has a suspenseful peculiarity to it and it relishes in keeping us guessing. It is hard to review the film without spoilers because there are some twists and turns that are not telegraphed way ahead of it’s resolution. The cast are all young and compelling even though the actors all seem like they really couldn’t be high school students but I digress. What’s important is that Malik Bader’s “Crush” is an intriguing slow burn ( I just keep using that damn phrase, don’t I?) that explores the themes of every angst ridden teen regarding  jealousy, obsession, fringe behavior and the handsome and refreshing production values make “Crush” a magnetic stalker flick. It is no “Play Misty For Me” or “Fatal Attraction” only because those films came first and this entry can be very reminiscent of earlier movies of it’s ilk.  It’s touching, exciting and riveting especially in it’s third act and the twist is completely well timed. My only gripe is it’s procedural and derivative flashback sequence. Why do we have to sit thru flashbacks of things we could pretty much have figured out without the visual flow chart. It does not spoil the film but I did roll my eyes a bit. I hope you guys get a chance to check out “Crush.”  It is a mature effort that can appeal to teens and adults. It was a pretty pleasant surprise. Recommended!

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Looper

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce WillisIn the year 2042, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, a hired assassin for the mob who kills people sent from the future. But what will he do when the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination?

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

I expected more from this movie. The concept rocked.

Bad people from the future send people back in the past they need killed through a time machine There is a person waiting for them, called a looper, who shoots them and collects some gold strapped to them. OK, I’m game.

But what happens during this film is a lot of nothing. It’s boring, with unneeded characters who flush out what should have been a short, more action oriented movie. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but yes, it’s true. Looper drags. I expected more from this film, because it got rave reviews. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis a lot. And while they both are good in the film, it suffers from a slow-movie script and a director that was over thinking it a bit. It’s also way darker than I anticipated — maybe I shouldn’t have, based on the premise — but it was.

Not a terrible film, but it drags at parts and left me wanting something different.

Mama

mama
Two girls left to fend for themselves in the forest for five lonely years after the death of their mother find refuge in the home of their uncle. But it soon becomes clear that the girls have not arrived alone in this woodsy supernatural chiller.

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

I really liked the premise of Mama. It sets up extremely well. The opening scenes are the tragic end of a family and how two little girls survive with the help of a paranormal mother figure.

The film is shot very well by director Andres Muschietti. There are a number of chilling scenes. In one, a character is in a dark room, pitch black, with nothing but a camera. He uses it for light, flashing shots to illuminate his surroundings. You’re forced to sit there, waiting for worst of things to happen. I also like that Mama never pulls back. The film takes some dark routes, which left some people I watched the movie with upset. There’s no happy ending.

Mama does, however, drag. But the moments of intense frights, combined with excellent performances by the two children and Academy Award-winning Jessica Chastain, hold the movie together well. Not the best thriller I’ve ever seen, but certainly entertaining and worth a watch.

Top Ten Horror Movie Villains

Talk about a killer list! This was a tough Top 10 to create. So many great horror movie icons didn’t make the list — Norman Bates, zombies, Frankenstein, the wolfman, Ghostface, and so many more! Enjoy this haunting list of baddies, just in time for Halloween.

10. Chucky
Great character made even greater by the excellent voice acting of the Academy Award-nominated Brad Dourif.

9. Alien
Based on the artwork of H.R. Geiger, this moving falace with acid blood and razor teeth has haunted many a sci-fi fan’s nightmares. The sequel is even better than the original.

8. Jigsaw
Legendary baddie by default based on the sheer amount of sequels. The first in the series is the real gem and they get progressively worse as they go — as is the case with most horror movies. But he’s always creepy.


7.
 Leatherface
The first film is considered by many to be the greatest grindhouse movie ever made. I can’t disagree. The fear is all the more palpable because of this terrifying character based off a real serial killer named Ed Gein.

6. Jason Voorhees
A derivative character that shares more than a few characteristics with Michael Myers: slow, brooding, speechless, and psychotic. The only problem is he’s not the original killer in the series and he didn’t obtain his distinctive look until the third film. Also, these movies are of inferior quality to the other slasher films.

5. Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal The Canibal is certainly one of the most iconic and chilling characters. He’s dastardly, wicked, smart, disgusting, perverse and vile in every way. And Anthony Hopkins played him to perfection in his Academy Award-winning performance. A sinister, evil character to the core.

4. Dracula
Dracula has been portrayed in countless ways and featured in films made throughout the world, from an axe-wieding Abraham Lincoln to the chilling silent German film “Nosferatu.” He’s an icon of horror that has chilled audiences the world round, and his tale will live on eternally.

3. Freddy Krueger
Freddy is an incredible concept — a demon-like man who haunts your dreams, a child molester who transformed into something greater after being burned alive by angered parents. He’s a bad, bad man who has taken many forms in countless sequels, and Robert Englund brought great energy and charisma to this unique villain that will forever stand as one of the greatest.

2. Satan
He’s the source of all evil, and Satan has been portrayed in countless films. He’s not the first baddie that pops in your mind when it comes to horror, but think about it — The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Angel Heart, The Devils, and the list goes on. The definition of evil and a source of material that will forever inspire filmmakers.

1. Michael Myers
Worse than Satan? Well, maybe not. But he is the king of all slasher movie killers. Michael Myers was born evil and killed from his youth and was one of the first characters to explore the concept that some killers are just born that way. The first two Halloween movies stand as the best slasher movies of all time and Michael Myers is the reason. He’s a ruthless killer and the face of horror movies.

House at the End of the Street

Moving to a new town proves even more stressful for a teenage girl when she learns that the house next door was the site of a double murder. But after making friends with the victims’ son, she realizes there may be more to the story.

Matt
Rating: 5 out of 10

This is a decent little suspense movie. I thought it was going to be a total teen flick, like Jennifer Lawrence did with “The Hunger Games.” But it was slightly better. Not great, but OK.

New girl moves to town, there’s a creepy kid at the end of the street and they become friends. She’s intrigued by him, he’s mysterious, sensitive and they develop a friendship and romance. But things start going awry. He has a sad past, his sister killed their family and he still lives in that house. But dark clues start to bloom up around him.

The movie’s really not all that bad, but it suffers from a majorly slow period mid-way through the film and the ending is a little predictable. Lawrence is very solid as the lead, and she’s a talented actress who has great range. But in the end, this is a forgettable flick.

The Hunger Games

In a dystopian future ruled by a totalitarian regime, resourceful Katniss and her partner, Peeta, represent their district in the lethal Hunger Games — a televised survival competition in which teenage contestants fight each other to the death.

Brian
Rating: 3 out of 10

Have you ever sat and thought about what you thought the future might be like? Will we be driving flying cars? What kinds of video technologies and modern conveniences will change our daily routines? Will we travel to distant planets?

I’m pretty sure your idea of the distant future wasn’t a split society where one half was the “Grapes of Wrath” where poor people hunt their dinner with bow and arrows and the other half was a technologically advanced group of drag queens that all wear makeup and can’t wait to watch young people kill each other in a boring game of “Lord of the Flies.”

The ideas in this film are so derivative of other, more original films and books that executed their material better. It takes the games of survival from “Battle Royale,” the split societies from “1984,” and the TV audience from “The Running Man.” It’s all wrapped up in a package that is completely devoid of any suspense, interesting characters, or drama. I was also shocked at just how bloodless it is. Here we have a gladiator game of survival put together as some form of half-ass peace treaty between two societies that had a war. The idea is to put different members from tribes into a survival game in a world that looks like the dome from “The Truman Show” — another film that Hunger Games rips off. The Truman dome in this film is populated with explosives, bows and arrows, knives, and spears. But somehow, we almost never see any blood. This film is so cowardly and money driven that it sanitizes the material to earn a PG-13. Instead of having a dramatic game of “survival at all costs” we end up with a stupid love story without chemistry. Why?!?! Did the writers not realize that every man for themselves was interesting on its own? Did they also not realize that a sense of danger could have been created by upping the violence? I’m not saying gratuitous violence, but make me feel the hopelessness and despair that this situation would cause. It also doesn’t even get to the games for almost an hour and a half!!! We spend time watching the characters walk around their poor town, talk, get recruited for the games, talk some more, hear about their mission in the games, talk, and talk and talk…….ABOUT NOTHING! There is not ONE piece of memorable dialogue in this crap fest.

I would rate it even lower but the director does execute what’s on the written page well. Also, Jennifer Lawrence is a very capable actress and has a wonderful screen presence. It’s a shame that they weren’t given better material to work with.

Sinister

After moving to a new town, a true-crime writer discovers a cache of videotapes depicting brutal murders that took place in the very house he just bought. As he tries to solve the mystery behind the crimes, a sinister force threatens his own family.

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

When my wife and I went to opening night, we each were worried our movie experience was ruined before it began. The theater was full of chatty teenagers. But two minutes into this movie, the audience was dead silent — no pun intended. To me, keeping teenagers quiet is the mark of a great horror movie.

To say this is simply a horror movie is selling it short, though. It’s loaded with mystery and breathtaking suspense that is well paced and intelligent. This movie could make some noise at the Golden Globes — but probably not the Oscars. Ethan Hawke propels the movie with a very strong performance of a man whose ego and drive for success puts his family in danger. There are plenty of jump-out-of-your skin moments, but they’re set up with excellent patience by director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose). Derrickson shows maturity in directing a truly chilling story that never takes the cheap way out. It’s gruesome at times, but it’s smart. It never shows every bloody detail, which makes it far more frightening.

This is a horror movie, I believe, that crosses genres and appeals to a much wider audience than the teenage crowd who filled the theater where I saw “Sinister.” Think of this movie more like “The Others” or “Seven” than a traditional slasher flick. It’s a fresh new horror tale that’s anything but typical.