Movie Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Are my eyes deceiving me, or is this another Month of Spooks post? Well it is! And what’s the deal today then? Exorcism? Interesting, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.

When a priest (Tom Wilkinson) is accused of causing the death of a young woman (Jennifer Carpenter), lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) takes his case, soon finding herself diving into deeper, and more complex waters than she ever could have expected. If you read the title of this movie, you expect a straight up horror flick, right? Well, that’s not quite what we have here. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is actually for the most part a courtroom drama, with some flashbacks interspersed throughout that are mor horror-focused. And I personally liked the courtroom stuff quite a bit, as they provided a thematically and dramatically interesting debate on science vs. religion. But then we have the flashbacks to what happened with the character of Emily, and I kind of tuned out of those, because they leaned too much into typical horror tropes, without generating any actual scares. There’s decent atmosphere in those bits, but there’s no actual tension or terror, and I was uninterested in the storytelling in those bits. So yeah, the story here is a bit of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting, and I like the way they’re used throughout the movie. Even when the storytelling loses me in those flashbacks, the characters are still decently engaging. And a lot of that comes from the spectacular cast, containing people like Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter (who steals the show), Colm Feore, Campbell Scott, Henry Czerny, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young, and I think he did an alright job with it. Some of the track resonate decently, creating some good emotion. But some just feel a bit overbearing as they just try to create this droning horror-y sound. So the score can feel like a mixed bag at times, even though I can’t blame Young himself.

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson, and I think he did a really good job with. Derrickson is a director who’s work I’ve enjoyed before, and this was his cinematic debut, so it was exciting to see where it started for him. And he definitely has a style and skill that was well beyond his years. Even though I didn’t find the horror bits scary in this, Derrickson’s direction still kept it slightly interesting.

This movie has not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 44% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it is a bit of a mixed bag, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” can still be recommend for its courtroom drama and electrifying cast. The story is alright, the characters are okay, the performances are fantastic, the music is okay, and the direction is really good. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a 6.97/10. So while it’s very flawed, it’s still certainly worth a rental.

My review of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is now completed.

Your honor, I will exorcise my rights to plead the fifth.

Movie Review: Happy Death Day (2017)

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spooks content. So what do we have on our plate today? A slasher of sorts? Neat.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spoo- wait… deja vu… Um, Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Happy Death Day”.

College student Tree (Jessica Rothe) has managed to find herself in a bit of a predicament. Not only has she woken up hung over in a strange dorm room, but later that same night she also finds herself murdered… only to wake back up in the strange dorm room. She must now figure out what the hell is going on and she can end it. TIME LOOP! Of course, time loop stories have existed in film many times before time. But “Happy Death Day” is a little different in that it takes the time loop idea and mixes it with a slasher, while also being “Groundhog Day” inspired comedy. And the mix of the three styles works surprisingly well, leading to a narrative that is fun, fast paced, and fucking hilarious, all without sacrificing the suspense of the mystery and horror. It’s a highly enjoyable narrative that had me glued from start to end.

The characters in this are all colorful, unique, fun, flawed, and entertaining. Let’s talk about our protagonist Teresa “Tree” Gelbman. What I like about her as a character is that she has quite a substantial and enjoyable arc. Because when we meet her she’s kind of a manipulative, selfish, bratty mean girl. But as we see her get taken out and go through the loop, she develops quite a bit, making for one hell of an enjoyable arc. And Jessica Rothe is absolutely fantastic in the role, as she sells the drama, the horror, and the comedy masterfully. We also get supporting work from people like Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, and more, all doing really well in their respective roles.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Mont- Damn it, AGAIN!? Anyhow, the score for this movie was composed by Bear McCreary, and I think he did a great job with it. Heavy brass hits, fun strings, some electronics, it’s McCreary playing around to create a highly energetic score that just fits movie really well. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they fit really well with their respective scenes.

“Happy Death Day” was directed by Christopher Landon, and he really killed it here. His direction has so much energy and snappiness to it, leading to a frenetic and fun vibe that keeps everything engaging. He also plays around a lot with the camera, especially during montages and chases, which made those stick out even more, making them insanely entertaining. Yeah, this shit’s well crafted.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.6/10.

“Happy Death Day” is a hella entertaining horror-comedy that I could see myself watching over and over (Sorry, Tree). It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, great direction, and very funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Happy Death Day” is a 9.78. Which means that it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Happy Death Day” is now completed.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spook- SON OF A BITCH, GET ME OUT OF THIS LOOOOOOOOP.

Movie Review: Blood Red Sky (2021)

Welcome back. Time for more Month of Spooks content. So let’s just get into it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Blood Red Sky”.

When a group of terrorists hijack a transatlantic flight, Nadja (Peri Baumester) does everything she can to make sure she and her son make it through the night, even if it means embracing a dark secret she’s been harboring for years. So it’s basically “Die Hard”, on a plane, but with a supernatural twist. And for a lot of the runtime they play around with that in a fun way, finding interesting ways of constantly escalating the predicaments of the characters. But I will say that I didn’t fully love it, and one of the reasons for that is pacing. This movie, despite having a fair few set pieces, feels really slow, really dragging its ass at times. And while a slow pace, if done well, can lead to a creeping tension, that’s not what happens here. When shit’s going down, it’s fun, but otherwise this is a bit of a slog.

The characters in this are fine. I enjoyed some of them, and others were just… meh. They try to give a little depth to a few of them, and those characters are probably the most enjoyable.  At least the cast is consistently solid, featuring people like Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Graham McTavish, Kais Setti, Alexander Scheer, Dominic Purcell, Roland Møller, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Dascha Dauenhauer, and I thought it was good. Some sad strings, some heavy horror hits, the usual fair for a lot of spooky movies like this. I don’t know what else to say, it’s a perfectly passable score that works for the movie, even if it doesn’t stand out in any real way.

“Blood Red Sky” was directed and co-written by Peter Thorwarth for Netflix, and I think he did a solid job with it. The man has a good eye for composition, and his action scenes are well put together. I even think that when things are properly going down, he has a great sense of energy and momentum. If only the script or final edit was tighter, then we’d have a cracking thrill ride on our hands. But as it stands, this is still solidly put together, with some really good action. There’s even a bunch of really solid practical gore and makeup effects, so that’s nice.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 43/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

While it does feel a bit too long and slow at times, “Blood Red Sky” is a perfectly enjoyable little horror flick. It has an alright story, okay characters, really good performances, okay music, and really solid directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blood Red Sky” is a 6.78/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth a watch.

My review of “Blood Red Sky” is now completed.

Ich bin ein flugzeug

Guest Post: Frankenstein (1931)

Hey there, friends, hope you’re doing well on this spooky October day. So today we’re doing something a little different. For once, you’re not putting up with my terrible opinion(s). No, instead this piece is written by my dear friend Mary, who is the first proper guest writer we’ve had on the blog, so that’s exciting. Anyhow, I won’t dawdle any longer.
Let’s just sit back and enjoy as Mary takes us through the 1931 classic “Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is one of the most culturally impactful monster movies released by Universal Studios. The appearance of the Monster and the notion of a “creator” has influenced everything from TV comedies (such as The Munsters); to fantasy cinema (such as Edward Scissorhands); to sci-fi horror (such as Ex Machina). It’s not just about the flat top head and the neck bolts, it’s about our desire to understand life and, most crucially, what makes us human.
The Monster made his first outing in 1931, in a movie directed by James Whale, who went on to direct The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein as part of Universal’s original horror canon. The very image of the Monster that we see to date is influenced specifically by this movie, and not the Mary Shelley novel on which it is – very loosely – based.

The film opens with a bow-tied Master of Ceremonies warning the viewers that what they are about to see is both disturbing and horrifying. The feels like an unusual move for a horror movie but, perhaps, back in 1931 it was deemed necessary before introducing the Monster to movie-goers who had never seen such a character before. The cast list roles up, with every player’s name listed apart from the actor playing the Monster. It’s a neat little marketing hook.

Centring around Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his lab assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), Whale’s adaptation of the gothic horror novel really homes in on the titular character’s God complex and his quest to create new life without the aid of a higher being. A mix up at the university sees Fritz steal an “abnormal, criminal” brain – as opposed to a “normal, good” one – and thus the Monster is born. Boris Karloff – who had been a farm hand and a truck driver as well as a bit part player – brings the Monster to life in his first outing in the role.

The use of light and shadow throughout is straight out of German expressionist films. The creeping shadows up the spiral staircases are straight out of Nosferatu. It feels dreamy in its grandiose at times – the sheer scale of the windmill laboratory or the wedding celebrations – and often tapers this with close ups so tight you can see the stage make up. The only thing that prevents all of this from truly drawing you in is often the furniture and backdrops. At times, it looks like most pieces could be knocked over with a strong cough and you can see the paint brush marks on the “clouds” or “village” in the background. It feels cheap in contrast to the spiraling violins and ominous organ music accompanying it.

However, it’s not all corny. Colin Clive is excellent as Henry Frankenstein, his desperate cries of “Now I know what it feels like to BE God!” neatly summing up everything you need to know about his character. He believes himself to be a man of science; a discoverer; a creator. Yet he’s also bound by social expectations of marriage and children. Clive does well at conveying this conflict. In such a short run time, he is probably one of the most nuanced characters and, as such, you’re able to flit between empathising with and condoning his actions.

But it’s Boris Karloff you’re really here to see. The “big reveal” is teased, slowly, and he doesn’t actually appear until just around the halfway mark. His Monster is misunderstood – trying to make sense of his place in the world, acting on impulse and frightened by human behaviour. This all-but non-verbal performance is incredible to watch. The child like joy he expresses upon seeing flowers float is so sad. The close ups of his tear-filled eyes and curious expression are stunning. His appearance was achieved through practical hair and make-up effects, as well as having Karloff remove his dental bridgework to create a sunken in face.

Dwight Frye is good in his short amount of screen time as Fritz – a lab assistant who has no doubt faced his share of cruelty (owing to his own appearance) and, yet, it is he who treats the Monster the worst. Frederick Kerr, as Baron Frankenstein, is supposed to bring some comic relief but is just rather annoying. Mae Clarke, as Elizabeth, doesn’t really have much to do other than scream or look doe-eyed but, hey, it was the 1930s. That’s what blondes did in pictures, right?

What’s so interesting watching the movie now is the themes and imagery it throws up. Just years after the movie’s release, all across Europe, many were being rounded up and driven out as people became afraid of “the other”. Windows were smashed and fires were set then, too. What right to we have to say who lives and who dies? And, of course, it asks the question “What makes us human?”. Are the braying mob, bullish and jeering, any better than the Monster? Where is their humanity?

Frankenstein feels more like a melodrama-come-morality tale, as opposed to a horror (even if it does introduce us to the Monster for the first of many outings). The surprisingly nuanced performance from Boris Karloff is what makes this movie really worth watching. And, despite the ropey sets and even ropier acting, it is a classic and absolutely worth checking out this spooky season … just don’t expect to be too spooked, despite the pre-film “warning”.

Written by Mary Palmer

Movie Review: I Sell the Dead (2009)

Greetings, friends. It is time for more Month of Spooks content. Ain’t that exciting? Let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “I Sell the Dead”.

Grave robber Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) has been captured  by authorities, awaiting his end. And in his final hours he tells a priest (Ron Perlman) about the various crimes committed by him and his friend (Larry Fessenden). I like the story of “I Sell the Dead”, it’s a fun and breezy batch of stories that explore an oft neglected theme within horror (grave robbing). And while it gives us that gothic horror angle and an interesting exploration of it, it also gives us a lot of goofy humor, and it all somehow comes together beautifully and makes for one of the most fun and enjoyable narratives I’ve experienced in a while.

The characters in this are all weird, colorful, charming, and really interesting. I don’t know what to say about them without getting too much into spoilers, so I’ll just stick to surface level stuff. First I want to mention Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden as our two lead grave robbers. The two on their own are a lot of fun, but together they’re an absolute riot, with the actors sharing some fucking incredible chemistry. Ron Perlman’s a lot of fun as the priest taking Monaghan’s confessions. And throughout the movie we see supporting work from people like Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney, John Speredakos, Daniel Manche, Joel Marsh Garland, and more, all giving really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace (hell yeah), and I think he did a really good job with it. He uses a lot of strings and some woodwind to capture a really eerie vibe that adds to the gothic feel of the movie. But he also creates a fair bit of whimsical tracks for the more comedic scenes in the movie, and those tracks work really well too. Grace is a composer whose work I’ve enjoyed a good amount of times through the years, and this is honestly one of my favorite scores of his, it’s so good.

“I Sell the Dead” was written, directed, and edited by Glenn McQuaid, who I think did a really good job with it. McQuaid has this really fun and snappy style that I think really fits with the tone of the movie, complementing both the horror and comedy beautifully. This especially shines in his editing, which is incredibly fun. And yes, there are some hokey green screen/background effects at times, but I don’t mind, I think they add to the wacky charm of the movie. It’s good stuff.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

I kind of loved “I Sell the Dead”, it’s an insanely funny horror-comedy that I had fun with from start to end. It has a good story, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing/editing, and hilarious humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “I Sell the Dead” is a 9.87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “I Sell the Dead” is now completed.

Hellboy as a priest… huh.

Movie Review: Triangle (2009)

Hellooooooooo! The spooktacular festivities continue! So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, don’t be square, because this is… “Triangle”.

After a storm strands them during their boating trip, a group of people soon find find a bit of hope when they manage to board a passing yacht. But as they explore the big boat, they find themselves in a situation even worse than they could’ve ever imagined. Talking about the story of “Triangle” without revealing too much is tricky. But I’ll try my best. I find the story of it to be quite interesting, as it takes some of the hallmarks of supernatural/slasher films and twisting it into something that feels fresh and quite unique. It’s tense and unpredictable and quite fun. I’m sorry for the vagueness, but I’d rather someone who’s never heard of it going in as blind about the narrative as possible, as I feel that it’d make for a much better experience. But yeah, it’s really enjoyable.

The characters in this are alright. Development among them is not necessarily equally distributed, but I can at least say that I didn’t hate any of them… okay, one of them was a bit of a bitch, but there were none I just wanted to throw to sharks ASAP. Cast’s really solid too, featuring people like Melissa George, Michael Dorman, Henry Nixon, Liam Hemsworth, Rachael Carpani, and Emma Lung, all delivering really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Christian Henson, and I really liked it. It’s a nice mix of strings, synths, piano, and even some vocals, making for a really eerie and emotionally charged score that really helped in elevating the various scenes it was used in.

“Triangle” was written and directed by one Christoper Smith, and I must say that I think he did a really good job with it. Smith has a really energetic style that gave the movie a decently snappy and tense feel, which kept it from ever getting stale. It was constantly crackling with energy, which really added to the intensity when something needed to happen. I also really like the editing here. Admittedly a few cuts feel a little quick, but most of them work really well in building intensity and a sense of unease. It’s just a solidly crafted film, yo.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

Yeah, “Triangle” is a really enjoyable little horror movie that puts some nice spins on familiar ideas. It has a really good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Triangle” is an 8.87/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying,

My review of “Triangle” is now completed.

I should make a sequel to this and call it “Rhombus”, just for the hell of it.

Movie Review: The Conversation (1974)

Surveillance, something that’s part of our society, and we often don’t think about it. Sometimes it’s done for our safety and sometimes it’s perhaps used for less savory purposes. Anyhow, let’s talk about a movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Conversation”.

The story follows Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), a surveillance expert who recently got tasked with following and recording a young couple. However, as he proceeds with this job, he starts growing paranoid about the entire situation. What we have here is a slowly burning conspiracy thriller with a lot of character drama interwoven throughout, and I found it to be utterly fucking engrossing. Right from the first shot the movie gives off this really uncomfortable vibe, creating a really fascinating and frankly eerie mood that doesn’t let go until it’s over. And the way it tackles theme of paranoia, morality, and various other themes through its storytelling is just superb, making for a really nuanced and engaging conspiracy thriller.

The characters in this are all really interesting, because you never know who can be trusted or if anyone really is on Harry’s side. It helps in adding to the film’s overall sense of paranoia, which just made me even more tense. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a long time surveillance expert and our protagonist. He’s a fascinating man that I found really engaging to follow. Part of this is due to the writing, but most of it is of course down to Hackman who is absolutely superb in the role. And in the supporting cast we see people like John Cazale, Frederic Forrest, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, and more, all of which are great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Shire, and I think he did a really good job with it. Some of it has a little bit of basis in lounge jazz, bouncing around a lot on higher notes, having a bit of fun with itself. But soon enough you start hearing it shift in tone a bit, going down on the lower keys a lot more, creating this eerie and intense vibe that borders on horror-esque at times. Really helps sell the increasing paranoia of the narrative beautifully.

“The Conversation” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. And quick little sidenote: This came out the same year as “The Godfather Part II”, so Coppola really had one busy year. Anyhow, I don’t think I’m claiming anything unexpected when I say that he did an excellent job with his direction. He manages to keep us close and intimate with Harry, while still somehow making us feel somewhat distant, almost like we’re surveilling him. Really helps in building a sense of unease around the whole situation, just making me insanely uncomfortable. And Bill Butler’s cinematography really helps sell this too. It’s just excellently crafted.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound.

While its sloooooow pace might put some off, I found “The Conversation” to be an electrifying thriller that I won’t soon forget. It has a fantastic story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Conversation” is a 9.91/10. So I’d say it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Conversation” is now completed

If anyone wonders why I’m choosing to stop talking to people, know that I blame Francis Ford Coppola.

Movie Review: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Women are great. That is all. ONWARDS TO THE REVIEW!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Gunpowder Milkshake”.

15 years after her mother (Lena Headey) disappeared on her, Sam (Karen Gillan) has ended up becoming an assassin, just like her mom. But after a job goes wrong, she finds herself doubting her loyalties when stuck choosing between following the organization that raised her, or helping a little girl (Chloe Coleman) that’s been caught right in the conflict. There are a lot of elements here that we’ve seen in various other action/thrillers before, but I feel like “Gunpowder Milkshake” puts enough of a unique spin on them to not just feel like a derivative. But I’m also not gonna sit here and tell you that this is one of the freshest feeling narratives in recent action efforts. It’s a perfectly enjoyable Friday night popcorn feature story that serves as a solid enough thread to justify the action scenes. I know it sounds like I’m ragging a bit on it, but I swear I’m not. It’s a decent story with enough charm and flair to make it stand out somewhat in the world of action-revenge-going rogue type movies.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and overall pretty entertaining. Karen Gillan plays Sam, our main protagonist. She’s a tough assassin with a bit of emotional baggage from events in her past. She’s a pretty interesting character and I really enjoyed following her. And Gillan was really good in the role. And the supporting cast, featuring people like Lena Headey, Chloe Coleman, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino, Ralph Ineson, Paul Giamatti, and more, are all really fucking good.

The sore for the movie was composed by Frank Ilfman, and I think he did a good job with it. Ilfman blends a few different styles within his score here, most notably a little bit of synthwave, some typical action orhestration, and a fair bit of Morricone-style western tunes. And it makes for a very fun soundscape that really helps elevate each scene within the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“Gunpowder Milkeshake” was directed and co-written by one Navot Papushado, and I’d say he did a good job with it. His directing has a fair bit of energy to it, and when blended with a lot of stylish lighting and editing, makes for quite the electrifying watch. And this especially comes through in the action scenes, all of which are slick, violent, and a ton of fun. It’s just a stylishly crafted flick.

This movie just came out, so these ratings will likely change after this review comes out (and my lazy ass ain’t editing shit over time). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 64% positive rating. On Metaritic it has a score of 47/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Even though “Gunpowder Milkshake” doesn’t do anything to reinvent the wheel, it’s still a fiercely entertaining action flick that I can happily recommend. It has a pretty good story, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Gunpowder Milkshake” is an 8.41/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Gunpowder Milkshake”.

A gunpowder milkshake sounds like a terrible dessert. Sounds like it’d be really gritty and also put you at risk of igniting your entire mouth. Think I’ll stick to regular milkshakes, thank you.

Movie Review: Regression (2015)

Is there a devil? Fucked if I know, so let’s talk about a movie, which is something I do know about!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Regression”.

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is tasked with finding the culprit behind the traumatic events in a young woman’s (Emma Watson) life. And while investigating, evidence starts pointing towards a satanic cult potentially being involved. I’m gonna be honest, I like the premise of this one. It is interesting, it has potential to be a really fascinating thriller. And credit where it’s due, I did find the first half of the film kind of enjoyable. Admittedly a bit rote in what was going on, as we’ve seen similar shit in other procedurals, but it was still a decent take on familiar story territory (terristory?). Buuuuut when we entered the second half the train started to derail a bit. The pacing started dragging, and things started to get convoluted and messy. It all felt like it was in service of trying to shock its viewers with weird twists and revelations rather than make something that feels coherent and satisfying in any way. It also has a habit of getting a bit silly at a few points, which would be fine if the rest of the movie didn’t take itself so god damn seriously all the time. So yeah, solid premise, decent first half, trainwreck second half.

The characters in this, much like the premise, have solid enough setups. The foundations for them is strong, and could make for some intriguing character dynamics. However, much like a chicken that gives you salmonella, they are a bit undercooked. Ethan Hawke plays detective Bruce Kenner, our skeptic lead character whose stance is constantly shifting. He’s probably the closest we get to an interesting arc at times, but then in the end I felt very unsatisfied by it. Hawke does a damn good job with his performance, but the character isn’t quite as interesting as he clearly could be. And in supporting roles we see people like David Thewlis, Emma Watson, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, and more, all doing pretty well in their roles, but just like with Hawke’s detective Kenner, their characters don’t feel fully fleshed out. And when you have a top notch cast like this, it gets to be a bit of a shame when the characters themselves feel so undercooked.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and he did an alright job. It’s a fairly standard thriller score with some mildly eerie strings and piano, with the occasional bit of brass to increase intensity in certain scenes. Not saying it really succeeds at that (sadly), but I recognize what he was going for. And all things considered, it was an alright score in itself.

“Regression” was written and directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, and I think he did a fine job. There are times when he creates a decent atmosphere, however it seldom lasts long enough to really elevate the messy narrative. And even in scenes that are meant to be less atmospheric and more investigative, you know, the procedural stuff, Amenábar’s skill never really manages to help much beyond a “I guess this scene is well constructed in the technical sense”. Speaking of which, to be slightly positive for once, I have to say that Daniel Aranyó’s cinematography does look nice, it is pleasing to my eye. Again, it doesn’t really do enough to save the narrative or characters, but it’s at least something I can be nice about.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it hs a 15% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 32/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite some promising elements, “Regression” sadly fell short for me. The plot felt like a mess, the characters are uninteresting, the performances are really good, the music is fine, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Regression” is a 4.23/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Regression” is now completed.

Damn it.

Movie Review: The Mustang (2019)

Horses, wonderful creatures. Absolutely astonishing beasts. Also, huge and terrifying and able to crush a dude like a bug. So you know… try to not annoy a horse. Also, don’t annoy people. Just a bit of advice from Uncle Markus.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mustang”.

While doing time in prison, Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) soon gets involved in a rehabilitation program where convicts learn to train wild mustangs. And we follow him as he struggles with this new task, as well as the struggles he faces when confronting himself and his violent past. If you are an impatient individual, you might not enjoy the storytelling of “The Mustang”. It’s a slow burn, taking its time to really let moments simmer, let us get into the heads of the characters and their situation. Of course there are moments where shit gets real and things become less calm, but on the whole this is a movie that is in no hurry to tell its story. And I appreciate that. It helped immerse me in the story presented to me. And in the end I found it to be an insanely heart-wrenching and engaging story.

The characters in this are all pretty engaging, and all work very well in making the story and world therein to feel more lived in. They all feel very real in that sense. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roman, our main character. He’s a man who clearly has a bit of a troubled past (to say the least), and the way we see him developing and confronting himself throughout the film is insanely engaging, with Schoenaerts delivering a masterful performance. And then in supporting roles you have people like Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart, Thomas Smittle, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and I think he did a terrific job with it. It very much fits with the contemplative vibe that the story goes for, brought to life beautifully by a mix of guitar, piano, and various other stringed instruments. It really finds a nice middle ground between the dusty Nevada setting and the eerie, soul-sucking confinement of prison. It’s a mesmerizing score that really elevated the movie beyond the already high quality.

“The Mustang” was the first film directed and co-written by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and I think she did a fantastic job with it. Just seeing the skill and level of control she clearly has over each scene is mesmerizing. When I was watching I thought she’d made  whole bunch of movies, but no, this was her first. And if she shows this level of skill with her debut, I am excited to see what she could bring in the future. Anyhow, back to the movie itself. The direction like I said, it’s great, beautiful, just superb. The direction really brings you into the world in a way that feels very raw and real. And the cinematography by Ruben Impens is just gorgeous. So yeah, the craft in this movie is terrific.

“The Mustang” has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

The slow burn of “The Mustang” may put some people off, but I personally found it to be a highly engrossing and heart-wrenching drama. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, terrific music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Neigh*. My final score for “The Mustang” is a 9.90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mustang” is now completed.

Schoenaerts not getting a best actor nomination for this is just criminal.