Movie Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Well, well, well, look what we have here… someone reading a blog post during the Month of Spooks, ain’t that fun. Anyway, what do we have on the menu today? Wolf stuff? Neat.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Wolf of Snow Hollow”.

When a series of gruesome murders start occurring each full moon in the mountain town of Snow Hollow, the people start speculating that some monster might be on the prowl. Skeptical Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings) on the other hand is set to prove who might’ve done it, all while trying to care for his teenage daughter (Chloe East) and his ailing father (Robert Forster). “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” mixes elements of procedural cop drama, horror, and dark comedy, and I think it blend together really well. It’s nice and heartwarming, while also being decently suspenseful and even quite funny at times, and I admittedly never really saw where it would ultimately end up. I guess my only issue with it is the short runtime. I am a big proponent of movies that don’t exceed 90 minutes, but here I feel like it hurts the movie a little bit. It makes it feel like it’s rushing through certain sections a bit. Had they had another ten-ish minutes to let certain bits breathe a little more, it would’ve definitely improved it. But as it stands I still enjoyed my time with this story.

The characters in this are all quite colorful, flawed, fun, and pretty nuanced. Jim Cummings (not the Winnie the Pooh one) plays Officer John Marshall, our main protagonist, a troubled man going through a lot of stressful stuff. He’s an interesting character who makes for an excellent lead, with Cummings giving a great performance. Riki Lindhome plays Julia Robson, John’s (much more competent) colleague, and I really like her, she’s a good character, played really well by Lindhome. We also get some damn good supporting work from people like Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Will Madden, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Lovett, and I liked it. When things need to be more atmospheric and suspenseful, Lovett gives us some brooding and quite eerie tracks and really helped set the mood nicely. But he also creates these frumpy and kinda bouncy tracks for scenes that are meant to be a bit more comedic. And I think he did a really good job on both styles. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they’re implemented quite well.

“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was written and directed by its star, Jim Cummings, and I think he did a really good job with it. You can tell that he’s improved a bit as a filmmaker since his debut feature, “Thunder Road”. Not that his direction in that was bad, but there’s a definite step up with this one. It’s kinetic, it’s fun, it’s a bit suspenseful, Cummings just nails it with his direction here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While its brevity does hurt it a bit, I still found “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” to be a really enjoyable little horror-dramedy. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Awoo*. My final score for “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is an 8.45/10. So while it does have flaws, Id’ say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is now completed.

Awoooo, Wolf of Snow Hollow

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.

Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 6 (2021)

Anyone who’s followed this blog for an extended amount of time knows what a big fan of this show I am. So obviously I was quite excited that it had returned this year, despite delays due to covid. And now I’ve finally watched through this latest season, I’m ready to share my mad ramblings about it.

Fellas, ma’ams, and bent coppers… “Line of Duty” season 6.

Following in the murder of a journalist,  AC-12 get tasked with looking into DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and her potential mishandling surrounding the situation. Meanwhile we see Steve (Martin Compston), Kate (Vicky McClure), and Ted (Adrian Dunbar) are dealing with the consequences of the previous season. So season 6 is not only acting as a new case for our favorite anti-corruption officers, but it’s also attempting to address what’s come before as well as try to tie the bow on a lot of the threads set up throughout the show. It basically acts as a full on final act for the entire show. And I honestly found the narrative in this season to be really solid… with a few caveats. To be quite honest, I wasn’t a giant fan of the first two episode. They weren’t bad per se, as far as overall quality goes, they’re good. But something about them didn’t quite hook me as much as I expected. Previous seasons could have me clutching my legs almost immediately, or by the end of episode 1 at the latest. Here it took until episode 3 for my body to even feel the tingle of suspense. But when that point hits it just gets better and better, and it finally feels like we’re sucking diesel. And without getting into spoilers, let’s talk about the controversial final episode for two seconds… I don’t mind it. I feel like the revelations and events within it, while not exactly what I expected or had in mind, fits quite well for the show and ultimately serves as a very thought-provoking and logical end to this saga.

The characters, both new and old, this season remain as unique, flawed, complex, and interesting as always. Steve, Kate, and Ted’s bond has morphed a little bit since the end of last season in ways that are interesting, and it makes for some excellent bits of interaction and character development throughout. And I think I don’t need to say much about Compston, McClure, and Dunbar who are all as terrific as always. Then there’s series newcomer Kelly Macdonald as Jo Davidson, the DCI under investigation from AC-12 this season. She’s a decently interesting character whose development I enjoyed following throughout this season, with Macdonald being really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Perry Fitzpatrick, Nigel Boyle, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Tommy Jessop, Gregory Piper, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Carly Paradis, and as with those aforementioned seasons, she did an excellent job. Tense, emotional, and exciting, her score is just great.

Season 6 of “Line of Duty” was completely written by series creator Jed Mercurio, with direction of the seven episodes split between Daniel Nettheim, Jennie Darnell, and Gareth Bryn. And I don’t know what to say here that I haven’t rambled about before in my other reviews, the craft here is superb, finding a nice balance between looking really sleek and still retaining a lot of grit throughout. And while it takes a bit to get genuinely suspenseful for me, when it actually does, it is really fucking tense. Yeah, I got nothing new to add here.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.7/10 and is ranked #106 on their “Top 250 TV shows” list.

While the first two episodes are a little less engaging than I would’ve liked, there’s no denying that the sixth (and potentially final) season of “Line of Duty” ends up being another tense, exciting, and highly watchable run of AC-12’s antics. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 6 of “Line of Duty” is an 8.94/10. So while that slow start does hurt it a little, I’d still definitely say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 6 is now completed.

If this is indeed the last we’ll see of this show, then I must say that it’s been great following it and I’m gonna miss having it around.

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.

Series Review: Des (2020)

Been a while since we covered a tv show, so I’m a bit excited right now. Also, don’t murder people.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Des”.

The year is 1983. Police have arrested Dennis “Des” Nilsen (David Tennant) on suspicion of homicide after human remains are found near his home. And throughout the show we follow the cops a they try to identify the various victims, as well as trying to get information out of Nilsen regarding everything he did. This is an interesting little crime drama. Now, it does fall back on a lot of tropes from these type of true crime murder mystery type stories, which is possibly the show’s biggest fault. It’s not outright bad, but the sometimes formulaic nature does take away some from it. But with this said, I did still find the story here decently interesting. It has this sort of eeriness that I feel we don’t necessarily get in similar things. I don’t know how to explain it, but the whole vibe around it just makes it a bit more interesting. And I do still think the investigation around Nilsen and his victims is a pretty interesting one, especially as we learn more about him as a person. There is also some stuff set around the bureaucracy of the investigation, which does add a decent bit of drama. On the whole I do think the story here is solid enough, just a little familiar in its structure.

The characters in this are pretty interesting. Especially our main two, who are both really compelling. First up we have Daniel Mays as Detective chief inspector Peter Jay, the man leading the investigation into Nilsen’s murders. He’s a man of principle, someone determined to see this all through, even when the higher ups try to get in his way. He’s a compelling lead, and Daniel Mays gives a really good performance. And then we have David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, AKA Des. He’s a really frightening character. But not in a Hannibal Lecter or Annie Wilkes kinda way where they’re made to be frightening. Nilsen is frightening in how blunt and forward he is. Right from the start he’s like “Yeah, I killed them” and has no problem telling how it happened, like how you might tell your friends about your trip to Spain. He’s frightening because he is so… human. And Tennant is fantastic in the role, giving one of the best performances of his career. We also get supporting work from people like Jason Watkins, Barry Ward, Jay Simpson, Bronagh Waugh, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Sarah Warne, and I think she did a pretty good job. It’s very low key, going for a somewhat eerie, almost droning sound to add to the atmosphere of the show. It really helps create an engaging soundscape within the show.

Based on the book “Killing for Company” by Brian Masters, “Des” was created by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Arnold directing, and Neal serving as lead writer. And I think the craft here is really strong. One thing I really appreciate about the directing and such here is how remarkably restrained they are. So many other people would probably give us the gory, graphic details of the entire situation, but the crew here didn’t. They hold back quite a bit, just giving us the explanations of everything that happened. And while too much exposition can be a bit bothersome, I feel that they found the right balance here. I must also commend Mark Wolf on his cinematography, because it’s really frickin’ good and fits the story being told really well.

This show has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

While its formulaic nature does bring it down a little bit, “Des” is still a pretty compelling crime drama. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Des” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Des” is now completed.

Symphony of Des-truction…

Movie Review: The Rental (2020)

Have you ever just wanted to get away for a weekend? Just sort of get out of the house and have some fun, recharging a bit. Yeah, maybe don’t. Or do, I’m not your mother.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Rental”.

The story here follows two couple (Dan Stevens/Alison Brie and Jeremy Allen White/Sheila Vand) as they rent a nice, big, fancy cottage for the weekend, as a way to unwind and celebrate a bit. But not long after they arrive they discover some sinister stuff going on around, which not only may threaten their lives… but also forces some dark secrets to come out. I like this setup, it takes elements of both a slasher and a domestic drama, which could make for a really interesting narrative… shame it doesn’t live up to that though. Because for most of it I wasn’t interested in what was going on. The story beats themselves are actually pretty interesting, but the way they were handled was just so dull. What’s even more egregious is that when the plot felt like it was picking up for its second act, it ended like four minutes later. So the ending feels very abrupt. And when you combine that with the overall execution of everything else being subpar, you get an overall poor narrative.

The characters in this, like the plot before them, have interesting setups… but in the end I don’t care. They don’t have much going for them in terms of personality, and I’d probably mix them all up if I wasn’t already familiar with some of the actors. I mean, you have Dan Stevens (who I love), you have Alison Brie (who’s good in things), you have Jeremy Allen White (who I’ve heard good things about), they all do fine, even though they got very little to work with. Sheila Vand does fine with her role. And Toby Huss who shows up briefly is alright too. It’s a good cast that does the best they can with very subpar material.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and I think they did an okay job. It is dark and droning and very reminiscent of their other scores in those ways. So yeah, their score here is fine. Not their most original or well composed, but solid enough.

“The Rental” was co-written and directed by actor Dave Franco, and I think he did an average job. His directing here is fine, passable, serves its purpose in an average manner. This is a bit of an issue when it so clearly wants to be a creepy, suspenseful thriller, and at no point did I ever really feel uncomfortable or tensed up. I do commend his directing in that it has some snappiness to it, no shots feel like they drag or like they rush, I think that stuff is handled decently enough. But good shot composition and half-decent editing doesn’t really make me spooked, despite the movie clearly wanting me to be.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite a solid setup and a good cast, “The Rental” is sadly a bit of a miss. It has a poor plot, uninteresting characters, good performances, okay music, and mediocre directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Rental” is a 4.60/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Rental” is now completed.

That title is kind of ironic, because this movie isn’t really worth renting.

Movie Review: Rashomon (1950)

Not too long ago I bought a box set featuring six movies from acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And today I decided to finally start getting through it. And I thought that it could be fun to talk about each movie as I get through them. Sound good? Cool. Let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rashomon”.

Kyoto, Japan. We follow a group of people as they recount the various perspectives on the tragic events that transpired between a bandit (Toshiro Mifune), a samurai (Masayuki Mori), and the samurai’s wife (Machiko Kyo) that happened in the woods on one fateful day. Perspective is the name of the game within “Rashomon”, as each retelling of the events changes some minor details to make the momentary narrator seem like the better person, which does present some interesting ideas about truth, lies, and how we perceive people telling us about things they’ve seen and done. And the way it’s used within “Rashomon” is actually pretty clever and interesting, often making for really compelling drama. Admittedly it doesn’t always hit bullseye with its various sections, as there are times where the storytelling feels like slightly weaker than in others. But overall I can’t say that there’s anything outright bad in the story of “Rashomon”, as it’s still an ambitious and interesting piece of psychological drama.

The characters in this I found to be pretty interesting. Seeing how they either react to the different retellings or even how they are the one being the teller makes for some interesting character studies that aid the storytelling in really compelling ways. And with actors like Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, and Minoru Chiaki all delivering top notch performances, you get one hell of a compelling cast of characters.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and it’s great. It often plays into the whole unreliable narrator aspect of the story, having this unsettling vibe that helped in putting me on edge whenever it was heard within a scene. But I also appreciate that it isn’t overused. There was a lot of restraint shown in how it was used as sparingly as it did, giving it a much great effect whenever it popped up. It’s just really solid and works very well for the movie.

Based somewhat on a pair of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” was co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. And I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that his direction here is top notch. His framing, his movements, everything about his directing is just superb, adding so much to the storytelling. His direction manages to be big and bold, while also having a lot of subtle nuances to it. It’s just great stuff, yo.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic is has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10 and is ranked #130 on their “Top 250” list. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best art direction. 

So yeah, “Rashomon” is a really good psychological drama that, while not perfect, still manages to engage for its runtime. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Rashomon” is an 8.80/10. So I’d say that it’s most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Rashomon” is now completed.

Feels good finally getting ’round to Kurosawa.

Movie Review: The Kid Detective (2020)

I’ve always found the idea of private investigators a fascinating one. Whether they’re investigating missing cats, potentially cheating spouses, or other things that are too petty for the police, these detectives are interesting to me, and often help make for some great fiction. So let’s talk about a detective story.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Kid Detective”.

When he was a kid, Abe Appelbaum (Adam Brody) was a famous detective, solving cases left and right, being celebrated by everyone around him. Now in his thirties, he’s grown cynical, jaded, and often hungover, still scraping by on petty cases. But one day a high schooler (Sophie Nélisse) walks into his office, with the offer of his first “proper” case: Solving the murder of her boyfriend. Detective fiction is tricky to pull off in a way that feels fresh, often stumbling into very familiar tropes and clichés. But “The Kid Detective” is that rare gem that manages to stick out a bit. While it does allow itself to indulge in some of the tropes of detective fiction, it also does a lot to play around with and subvert most of them, delivering a take on the genre that feels very refreshing and unique. Meanwhile it also acts as an interesting and darkly comedic character study about someone with a bright future who ultimately stumbled. And when you mix these two elements you get a very compelling whole that went to places I never expected from it.

The characters in this are all very colorful, entertaining, and interesting. First up we have Abe, the titular dick. Once a bright young mind beloved by all, now cynical and not taken seriously by anyone. Seeing how far he’s stooped from that original splendor is really interesting, and is further complemented by a small glint in his eye that shows the old Abe might still be in there. He’s a really compelling protagonist, and I think Adam Brody is terrific in the role. Next is Caroline, the girl who seeks Abe’s assistance with investigating her boyfriend’s murder. She could best be described as wide-eyed and naive, being an innocent observer to Abe’s antics. But I also think she makes for a nice counterbalance to Abe, creating an interesting dynamic there. And I think Sophie Nélisse does a good job in the role. We also get supporting work from Jonathan Whittaker, Wendy Crewson, Peter MacNeill, Tzi Ma, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jay McCarrol, and I think he did a really good job with it. One thing I really appreciate about it is how it actually incorporates instrumentation and some thematic elements from all kinds of detective fiction. You get some more noir inspired stuff, like out of the 40s and 50s. You get some stuff that sounds like it’s out of the 80s. And even some more modern flourishes appear too. And it all makes for a really nice whole that works really well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed songs used throughout, and those work pretty well too. The music’s just good, yo.

“The Kid Detective” was written and directed by Evan Morgan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He shows that he has a knack for keeping a scene flowing nicely at a good pace, without making anything feel rushed. He lets moments breathe, allowing scenes to simmer a bit in the viewer’s mind, giving us the intimacy and breathing room necessary for the story to work as well as it does.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“The Kid Detective” is a subversive and refreshing take on the detective formula that I loved. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Kid Detective” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Kid Detective” is now completed.

Between this and “Ready or Not”, Adam Brody is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)

Trauma, we all experience it in one form or another. Aaaaaaand with that, you should be aware that the jokes won’t be flowin’ throughout this post. So let’s just get one out of the way right now, before shit gets serious. What do you call in Aussie actress who fetches her paycheck? Toni Collect.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hereditary”.

After the death of one of their relatives, the Graham family does their best to move on. But that isn’t so easy, as increasingly strange and disturbing things keep happening around them. Talking about the narrative of “Hereditary” without getting into too many details is difficult, as I feel it is one best left experienced knowing as little as possible. Because it’s not some typical horror narrative, and don’t worry, I’m not pulling out that whole “elevated horror” bullshit. I’m just saying that if you’re expecting spooky jumpscare fest number gazillion, then you’re gonna be sorely mistaken. “Hereditary” is mostly a slow burn family drama that also happened to get under my skin thanks to some bone-chilling imagery, tragic and believable writing, and an eerie atmosphere. It’s been a while since I watched a scary movie that got under my skin this much, while also keeping me emotionally invested in the drama.

The characters in this are flawed, damaged, nuanced, and simply enthralling to watch, and a lot of that comes down to the stellar cast. Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, and Ann Dowd are all fantastic in their respective roles. There’s not a single weak link in this entire cast.

The score for the movie was composed by one Colin Stetson, and I think he did a great job with it. It’s eerie, it’s emotionally charged, it’s tense, and it just generally fits the movie quite well, often elevating some already stellar moments throughout. It’s not one of those I’m gonna find myself listening to in my spare time, but I did think it was good.

“Hereditary” was the first feature film written and directed by Ari Aster, who also did “Midsommar” (which I talked about last year). And holy fucking shit, this dude knows what he’s doing. Whenever someone gets to make their first feature, there’s something that might feel rocky about the craft… but not here. Aster shows skill far beyond his years, building an unsettling atmosphere and suspense seldom seen in modern horror. And when mixed with Pawel Pogorzelski’s often symmetrical and very rigid cinematography, you get a movie that is both beautiful and unsettling to look at. Speaking of unsettling visuals, I should warn that there’s some incredibly distressing visuals at a few times. I can stomach violence and gore and stuff… but some of the stuff here managed to get a strong reaction from me. So consider yourself warned.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Hereditary” to me is a visceral and haunting horror-drama like no other. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and excellent directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hereditary” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Hereditary” is now completed.

Give Toni Collette an Oscar, you cowards.