Movie Review: Scream (2022)

My friends, it is finally here. The reason for my content output the last two weeks. It’s finally here and I can talk about it. And after this, you’ll be free of me rambling about this franchise… until the next inevitable one in 5-10 years. But for now, this is the last one you’ll hear me talk about. So let’s see if it’s another worthy entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream”, which is also “Scream 5”.

25 years after the original Woodsboro murders, everything is seemingly nice and quiet in the small California town. But this peace is brought to a halt when a new masked murderer starts stalking a group of teens, seemingly with the intention of drawing out the town’s darkest secrets. The story of “5cream” is really strong, and talking about it is difficult. Of course we see a lot of the familiar meta/characters aware of horror tropes stuff come back, but it doesn’t just feel like a retread of what’s come before. While it’s here to poke that sort of fun at horror tropes, it also takes its time to satirize lovingly legacy movies and so-called “elevated horror”, while als taking some absolutely brutal stabs at toxic fandoms. And all of that helps make for a strong, pertinent, funny, tragic, and quite well written satire narrative, while still of course also indulging in a bit of violent carnage. It’s a damn good story that I liked from start to end, but can tell will piss some people off.

The characters in this are all pretty good. Do I think all of them carry the same memorability as some of the cast from the older movies, not quite. But out of the core cast, there’s none that felt like they didn’t belong or like they were outright poorly written. And as for the actors, there’s not a weak link. Of course you have the old trio of Arquette, Campbell, and Cox coming back, all slipping beautifully back into these roles, once again delivering top notch performances. And within the new cast you have people like Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mikey Madison, and more, all great in their respective roles.

This is the first one in the series not to be composed by Marco Beltrami, with Brian Tyler instead taking on that task. And lucky for us, Tyler killed it. His score hearkens back to Beltrami’s scores with a lot of similar musical tricks and stylings, without ever feel like he’s just rehashing what came before. From brash, intense brass to more subtle, emotional tracks, it’s all here, and it all works wonderfully. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and those work well in the movie too.

Unlike previous ones, “Scream 5: The Fifth Screaming” wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson or directed by Wes Craven (R.I.P). Instead writing duties fell on James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, with direction being handled by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also gave us the wonderful “Ready or Not”). Aaaaand, they knocked it out of the park. The direction here is really suspenseful and intense, never really letting the viewer feel at ease, even during seemingly safe scenes. This really helps keep the whodunnit element relevant and exciting, while also making sure that when Ghostface appears, it actually feels scary. Speaking of the ol’ mouthgaper, Jesus Christ, the kills in this are savage. Not that the other killers in the series weren’t violent psychos, but there’s something about the violence in this that just feels extra mean-spirited and brutal, which does fit with the story and tone of this movie, and helps make el spookerino feel like more of a threat than ever. So yeah… this movie’s well crafted.

At the time of writing, this movie been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

I think it’s pretty clear that I think “Scream: Another Scream” is another fit for the franchise. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ooga booga*. My final score for “Scream” is a 9.76/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream the Fifth” is now completed.

Let’s end this on a classic question, because it’s fun and I genuinely wanna know… What’s your favorite scary movie?

Movie Review: Scream 4 (2011)

My friends, this is it. The final movie in this franchise… until I see the new one on Saturday. But for now, this is the final “Scream” movie. I’m finally caught up (woo!). So without further ado, let’s talk about it and see if it’s a good one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 4”!

15 years have passed since the Woodsboro murders, and we see Sidney (Neve Campbell) return to her old hometown as the first stop on her book tour. However, what should be a simple visit soon turns into a complex nightmare when people start getting murdered by another masked killer. Right from the get-go, “Scre4m” shows that it’s not fucking around, giving us arguably the most clever and expectation-subverting opening in the series. And from that point on, it doesn’t let up with its meta nature. The entire series has had a very meta approach to telling its stories, but this one leans into it the most, while also being a surprisingly prescient takedown of fame and social media, all while subverting and indulging in slasher tropes to great effect (as it has in the past), creating possibly the most intense, fun, and clever narrative in the series. Yeah, I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are all really solid, either through being well written and nuanced, or through being fun and colorful. But what does also help is that they all have some level of self-awareness, perfectly befitting the story told, which does also make it really tricky to identify who can be trusted and who can’t, keeping me on my toes from start to end. And the entire cast is terrific, featuring returning people like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox, along with newcomers like Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Roger Jackson, Alison Brie, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Erik Knudsen, Adam Brody, and more.

For the fourth time in a row, Marco Beltrami came in to do the score, and once again he did a damn good job. You get some familiar note progressions, some more typical horror stings, and some subtle, creeping tracks. It’s a solid score that works really well for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes. It is a bit of a shame to not have “Red Right Hand” back in this one, but it doesn’t completely ruin it for me.

“Scream 4” saw Kevin Williamson come back as screenwriter, with Wes Craven once again directing (THE DREAM TEAM IS BACK, BAYBEEEE!). And the craft behind it is once again top tier. Intense, creepy direction once again manages to build a fair bit of suspense, it’s Craven at the height of his powers. Also, there’s a lot of really intense violence and gore in this. And while I don’t necessarily think more gore = scarier, I do think it adds a certain unrelenting intensity to this movie that makes it a bit more disturbing and scary. It’s just really well made.

This movie’s gotten a bit of a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

I might get severely shamed by people for this, but “Scream 4” might be my favorite of the bunch. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score.  *AAAAAAAAAH*. My final score for “Scream 4” is a 9.80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream 4” is now completed.

Alright… let’s hope the Radio Silence dudes can do this franchise justice.

Movie Review: Scream 2 (1997)

Hi there friends! Let’s continue through this franchise!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 2”.

Two years after the traumatic events in Woodsboro, Sidney (Neve Campbell) has moved a few states over and seems to be doing fine. She’s going to college, she has friends, and she has a sweet, caring boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell). But this nice quiet life will soon be interrupted when a copycat killer starts stalking Sidney and her friends. Much like the first movie, “Scream 2” takes familiar slasher tropes and turns them on their head in fun, sharp-witted ways, while also gleefully embracing them when needed. It’s a story that cleverly plants seeds of doubt about anyone and everyone within. Combine that with the relentless pace and you get a strong narrative that never bores. Do I think it’s as strong as the first movie through? No, not quite. Like I said, it’s strong, but the increased scope of it can make it feel a bit more unfocused than the first at times, which does keep it from being as strong as it could be. But overall it’s still a damn solid, highly entertaining story.

The characters in this are fun, charming, layered, and overall just highly interesting. The ones returning from the first movie have seen major developments since then, and I really like that, as it adds some extra depth and clever character drama to proceedings. And even the new guys are really good too. And I think the entire cast, containing people like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Jerry O’Connell, Jamie Kennedy, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and many more, do fantastic work in this.

As with the first movie, the score for this was composed by Marco Beltrami, who I think did a really good job with it. He very much brings back a lot of the stylings he used within the first movie, and then refines them to make for a more polished and more nuanced sound. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Scream 2” was once again written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, and once again the craft is top notch. The direction’s slick, intense, energetic, and a bit more creative with how it frames the action and violence. Speaking of which, my god, there’s some grisly stuff in here. Not that the violence in the first movie was “clean”, but there’s definitely a bigger focus on brutality in this… and I dig it, as it does fit with the whole “sequel = bigger” satire they’re going for. ’tis good shit.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While it lacks some of the focus of the first one, “Scream 2” is still a damn good sequel that entertains from start to end. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Scream 2” is an 8.81/10. So while not as strong as the first, it’s still most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Scream 2” is now completed.

2 down, 2 to go.

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Hello there, hope you’re having a good weekend. Only a few days until “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is released, which means it’s time for me to cover the second (and final) movie in the previous reboot. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) life is a bit of a hectic one, trying to balance being Spider-Man with being a regular New York teenager. But this is going to get way tougher when a series of new villains emerge and start causing chaos. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a curious case of occasional good ideas getting absolutely crushed by the overabundance of superfluous plot threads. First is the Peter/Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) romance, fine. Then there’s the introduction of Electro (Jamie Foxx), fine. But then there’s also the backstory involving Peter’s parents. And a plot involving Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan). And then there’s a few more threads throughout. There’s so much shit going on that it really messes with the pacing. First act is fine, and even has some great shit going on. But as the film goes on, it just becomes an overstuffed, underdeveloped, sluggish mess that is hard to engage with. There are moments of quality in the storytelling, but the overall narrative is just… ugh.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. Our two leads, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, they’re both charming, fun, engaging, and just overall a great pair, with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both delivering top notch performances. Next we have Max Dillon/Electro, who is at first set up as our main villain. His characterization is bizarre, and I don’t completely get why they wrote him the way they did. And Jamie Foxx… it’s a mixed bag of a performance. On occasion I do enjoy it, but it often just didn’t click with me. Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn? Decent performance, undercooked writing. Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich? Unnecessary, but very amusing. I’ll at least say that the rest of the supporting cast is solid, featuring people like Sally Field, Colme Feore, Marton Csokas, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Junkie XL, Johnny Marr, Steve Mazzaro, and Andrew Kawczynski… FUCK, that’s a lot of composers. But they acted as sort of a supergroup to make the music for this, and I think it mostly paid off. It’s an interesting mix of styles and genres, making for a unique and slightly eclectic score that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing throughout the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they are a bit of a mixed bag. Some work pretty well, some less so.

As with the first one, “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was directed by Marc Webb (HA!), and I think he did a solid job. Despite the script being a complete mess, Webb’s direction is sound, flowing beautifully and bringing some nice energy to proceedings. It especially shines in action scenes, which are all generally quite enjoyable. And that’s something I can say, on the technical side of things, this movie is solid.

This movie has gotten some very mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Despite a lackluster and overly messy script, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” still has enough bright spots in it to keep it from total failure. It has some good story moments, it has a few good characters, the performances are (mostly) great, the music is really good, and the direction is really solid. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a 6.23/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

*thwip*

Guest Post: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Hello there, friends, I hope you’re having a great day. Once again, I get to take a slight break today (slight bits of editing and image searching doesn’t count as work, shut up), and lean back as my wonderful and amazing friend Mary gives us a third (and final) guest post for this Month of Spooks. So without further ado, let’s see what she has to say about “Bride of Frankenstein”.

Four years after audiences were delighted and horrified by Boris Karloff’s first outing as the Monster in James Whale’s Frankenstein, the director followed it up with a sequel. In this, he promised to find the lab-made man a bride. Whale was not interested in directing a sequel and Universal toyed with the idea of pursuing one without him, until he was finally persuaded to come on board.

The horror sequel drifts even further from Mary Shelley’s source material and – sadly – from the tone and emotion conveyed in the original movie. Nevertheless, it introduced audiences to a female horror icon, complete with startled eyebrows and lightning bolt hair.

The title credits roll and, whilst Karloff is given top billing this time, the actor playing the Bride is simply left as a question mark as a way to build suspense and keep your interest.

In a similar vein to having Frankenstein introduced by a bow-tied MC, Whale opens his sequel with a conversation between Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon), Percy Shelly (Douglas Walton) and, of course, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester in a dual role). Mary insists that having her Monster die in a flaming windmill was not the ending she had in mind for her story – there are flashbacks to the original movie here in case you had forgotten what happened. Instead, she had planned for … cue wavy screen transition into the start of our new movie. It’s extremely twee and rather out of place.

The score is far more lively this time around, with sweeping violins and thunderous percussion in almost every scene. The expressionist inspired shadow techniques are once again prominent here – but only for the male characters in their laboratory. The females tend to get that soft focus close-up effect that makes everyone’s face look like a glowing moon.

Colin Clive is relegated to a relatively minor role in this sequel, owing to a broken leg (you’ll notice he’s sitting in most of his scenes) and his ongoing battle with alcoholism (making him increasingly unreliable on set). Valerie Hobson replaces Mae Clarke as the love interest, Elizabeth, and is given about as much to do as her predecessor.

Two new characters are introduced in prominent roles. The first is quite possibly the most annoying character to ever grace the screen. Minnie the maid (Una O’Connor) is seen – and heard – long before Henry or the Monster. She’s a gossip, scuttling around, over enunciating her Estuary vowels. Prepare to roll your eyes every time she appears on screen. Part of this is the poor, two dimensional “maid roles”, the other part of this is terrible overacting.

In contrast, we have the nefarious Doctor Pretorious, brought to life with a maniacal laugh by Ernest Thesiger. He is shot most beautifully, practically from his ankles to create a looming sense of doom and lit like something from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. He takes on his own quest for creating new life, goading Henry back into the lab once more to stitch together some other poor soul. Thesiger barely blinks in the role and has a rich, deep Vincent Price-esque voice, making him the perfect villain of the piece.

Karloff has a far more to do in this film and we get to see even more of the Monster’s tenderness. The scenes with the blind violinist (O.P Heggie) are so touching. The violinist the only character to befriend him because he literally cannot see that he is a “monster”. The scene where he tucks him in for the night – resulting in a tear rolling down the Monster’s cheek – is a bit overdone, but rather sweet.

And, as the exclamation point on the promotional materials promised, we get to hear the Monster speak, giving the famous “Alone … Bad … Friend … Good” line. Karloff is alleged to have argued with the studios as he didn’t want the Monster to speak at all, but he was clearly overruled. And he was right – it turns the Monster into almost a comedy figure as he chomps away on bread and cigars, pointing out the new words he has learned.

Rather disappointingly, in a film called The Bride of Frankenstein, we do not get to see this ravishing creation for any longer than five minutes – and not until the very end of the film, either. It’s a shame that what could have been a very early prominent female horror role is reduced to nothing more than a gimmick for the finale of a film dominated by men and their desires. That being said, Lanchester looks truly resplendent in the role. Although she is not given too much to do, her jolting head movements, hissing and startled eyes convey all that they need to – she does not want to be there.

In fact, the gender politics are more prevalent than ever, here. Female characters are seen to be gossips or hysterical; fainters or screamers. It is the men who are brave and strong; daring and scientific. Yes, it’s the 1930s but it all feels a bit two dimensional. No female character is given any depth or, quite frankly, anything to do that doesn’t involve a male.

This definitely feels like one of these sequels that almost didn’t need to be made. It does look and feel relatively similar to the original, but tonally it’s all over the place, veering wildly from comedy maids to cackling villains. It’s clearly trying to capitalise on the popularity of the Monster by giving him more screen time but, in doing so, it almost changes the way you perceive him.

However, Karloff is once again excellent in the role and – despite the brevity of her screen time – Elsa Lanchester makes for a fantastic woman of horror.

Written by Mary Palmer

Movie Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)

I just love that header image. My amazing buddy The Craggus took the first poster that was released for this movie and added a little of my shenanigans to it. Anyhow, let’s talk about a belated sequel.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Doctor Sleep”. The director’s cut.

A little over 30 years after the horrifying events at the Overlook hotel, a now grown up Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) tries to get his life back together. While doing this he befriends a young girl (Kyliegh Curran) who also can Shine. But these powers also makes her the target of a dangerous cult that tracks down kids who can Shine, and then kills them and steals their power. So yeah, it’s a little bit of a departure from the claustrophobic thrills of “The Shining”. But that’s okay, because I found the story on display utterly enthralling. It’s a slow, contemplative burn of a narrative. Going in-depth with the effects that the Overlook incident’s had on Dan’s life, the story really gets to the heart of a lot of stuff, and it’s wonderful to follow… even made me cry at a point. But it’s not just heartfelt drama here, as this is also a horror movie. It’s not the scariest one I’ve seen, probably wouldn’t even crack the top five in terms of pure scariness. That’s not to say that there isn’t any creepy shit here. There is some good, subtle creepiness and suspense going on throughout, occasionally punctuated by some decently grim shit. And I think it works quite well here. Again, not the scariest, but I still enjoyed the horror elements of the narrative.

The characters in this are quite nuanced, flawed, and highly interesting. Ewan McGregor plays Dan Torrance, former tricycle enthusiast and currently broken man. Seeing the low point his life has come to after you-know-what is fascinating in itself, but it’s what comes from that that makes it even more interesting, as he has a really great arc in this movie. And McGregor does a great job with his performance. Kyliegh Curran plays Abra, the young girl that Dan befriends. She’s a smart, funny, and charming little kid who I think made for a good foil for Dan. And Curran is fantastic in the role. Next we have Rebecca Ferguson as Rose, a hat wearing lady who loves meeting new people… oh, and she’s also an immortal who kills people who can Shine, just so she can keep being immortal. Yeah, she’s our main villain, and she’s so mesmerizing and intense, with a lot of that coming from Rebecca Ferguson’s spectacular performance. We also get supporting work from people like Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Carl Lumbly, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, Jacob Tremblay, Carel Struycken, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by The Newton Brothers, and I thought it was great. It’s an emotionally charged and eerie score that, while taking a lot of familiar horror cues into certain tracks, manages to feel somewhat unique to this movie. They also utilize some familiar notes from the original “Shining” film on occasion, and it never feels overly intrusive, but rather works as a nice tie-in to that. So yeah, there’s some good music here.

Based on the “Shining” sequel of the name name written by Stephen King, “Doctor Sleep” was written and directed by Mike Flanagan, and I think he did a fantastic job with it. His direction is bold, confident, and manages to create a good amount of suspense throughout. There’s something otherworldly about it, which helps add a good amount of eeriness to proceedings. And Michael Fimognari’s cinematography certainly helps add a lot to that, giving us a lot of gorgeous, dynamic shots that add to the atmosphere of the movie. It’s just really well crafted.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Doctor Sleep” (director’s cut at least) is a fantastic horror-drama that manages to both entertain and deeply engage. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doctor Sleep” is a 9.90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doctor Sleep” is now completed.

Three hours seldom fly by so fast for me.

Movie Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Our journey through the Universal Monsters blu-ray set  continues, with the first (and only) sequel within it. So let’s put our neck-bolts on and get ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bride of Frankenstein”.

Set immediately after the horrifying events of the first movie, we follow the Monster (Boris Karloff) as he makes a daring escape, trying to just be left in peace. All while the somehow still alive Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) once again is in the business to create life. This movie is a little falsely advertised. The bride does technically exist in this movie, but spoiler alert, she’s barely fuckin’ in it. She only shows up for a minute right at the end, barely playing any role in it. The story leading up to that is excellent, and I don’t mind the bride scene either… but when your movie is named after something that’s only there for a minute, then you kinda fucked up, I feel. It’s like if you took “Fight Club” and named it “The Harassment of Raymond K. Hessel”, yes it happens in the movie, but it’s such a minor element that it’s not worth naming the movie after it. Wow, I spent a lot of time on that one thing… but I guess I can justify that with “the movie is very mismarketed”.  Anyway, the rest of the story is great, they get some excellent drama of the Monster being on the run from the mob of scared people. There is a lot of nuance within the narrative, it is emotionally engaging. But man, that title snafu really bugs me.

The characters in this are colorful (ironic, given the monochrome) and entertaining. Let’s start with Boris Karloff as the Monster. He’s a tender creature, someone who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but is sometimes forced because he’s trying to survive. He has such a beautifully tragic arc in this movie, and Karloff’s performance is fantastic. Colin Clive returns as Dr. Frankenstein, and he’s a little more reserved this time around… and Clive does a good job with his performance. And the supporting cast, containing people like Valerie Hobson, Ernest Theisger, Elsa Lanchester, Dwight Frye, O.P. Heggie, and more, all do quite well in their respective roles. Theeeeeen there’s one cast member I don’t like. That is one Una O’Connor. She was also in “The Invisible Man”, in which she was kinda fun. Here however she doesn’t fit. Her performance doesn’t work with the serious tone of this… and she has a lot of screen time. Do you see the problem with that one? But yeah, one really big sore thumb in an otherwise great cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Franz Waxman, and I think he did a good job with it. It’s fun, it’s decently emotional, and it overall does fit the whole mad science/gothic vibe for it. It just works for this movie pretty well.

The director of the first movie, James Whale, came back to direct “Bride of Frankenstein” as well, and once again his direction is spectacular. This man was very much ahead of his time, giving scenes a lot of exciting camera movements and angles that almost felt ahead of their time. Whale’s direction is electrifying, and when you combine that with the cinematography of John Mescall’s cinematography, you get a movie that is beautiful to look at.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 95/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie even was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Sound.

So yeah, I don’t love “Bride of Frankenstein” as much as most people. It has some flaws within its title-story ratio, and also one painful performance… but it’s still a solid flick. It has a good plot, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *ahem*. My final score for “Bride of Frankenstein” is an 8.11/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Bride of Frankenstein” is now completed.

The film twitter people are gonna kill me for me… and then reanimate me so they can kill me again.

Movie Review: False Trail (2011)

The Summer of the Swedes continues, this time with the sequel of a film we covered a few weeks back. So that’s fun.

Ladies and gents… “False Trail” (Original title: Jägarna 2).

Stockholm policeman Erik Bäckström (Rolf Lassgård) reluctantly gets called in to help out with a murder investigation in his old hometown in Norrbotten. However, as Erik looks into the case he soon finds that it isn’t as simple as first assumed, all while trying to connect with his estranged nephew (Kim Tjernström). So at first glance it seems like a retread of the first movie. And with it being a 15-years later sequel, you’d be forgiven for not having high expectations. But I’ll be damned, the story here is actually not bad. In fact, I’d say it’s good. It uses a similar blend of police thriller and family drama to the first movie, without ever feeling like a complete retread of it all. It feels like a proper sequel that builds upon the world set up in the first one while also working as its own film. Yes, it ties into the first one a lot, but it recaps enough within its own runtime that would help anyone feel mostly welcome. But yeah, the story here is compelling and dramatic and a little suspenseful too. That said, the pacing does drag a little bit towards the middle and maybe also a little towards the second half, which does drag the experience down a little. But I can still happily say that the narrative here still works quite well.

Much like the story, the characters surprise by having an unexpected amount of depth, making them quite compelling to follow. Rolf Lassgård of course returns as Erik, the big, burly, but sensitive cop returning to his home. We have the layers of the first movie’s setup, while also adding some of the trauma from the end of that one to make for an even more nuanced individual. And Lassgård is fantastic in the role. Next we have Peter Stormare as Torsten, a fellow policeman who lives in the area Erik comes back to. He’s an interesting individual in that you quickly learn that he is one complex son of a bitch. There’s a lot of surprising nuances to him that makes him not only a good character on his own, but also a great foil for Lassgård’s Erik. And Stormare is fantastic in the role. And the supporting cast is great too, with people like Kim Tjernström, Annika Nordin, Lo Kauppi, Eero Milonoff, and more all giving damn good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I must say that I might prefer it a bit over the first film’s score. Not that the one in the 1996 film was bad, but the music here relies a little less on the melodramatic sounds of the first one, giving us a score that manages to resonate a bit more, create a much more interesting soundscape.

“False Trail” was directed by Kjell Sundvall, the man behind the 1996 original. And yeah, the dude has stepped up his craft quite a bit. His directing is more intense, being able to create a lot of tension in a scene, all without sacrificing the emotional intimacy that’s so integral to the experience. It helps make for some really investing scenes.

This film has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Pacing issues aside, “False Trail” is a the rare unnecessary sequel that builds upon the first film and makes for another engaging experience. It has a good story, good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “False Trail” is an 8.77/10. So while hampered by those pacing issues, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “False Trail” is now completed.

Crazy bastards did it.

Series Review: Watchmen – Season 1 (2019)

That’s right, it’s not just christmas contrivances you’ll get. Regular reviews will show up too, I ain’t forgettin’ my roots. So, let’s talk about a comic book thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Watchmen” season 1!

Set in an alternate version of 2019, “Watchmen” follows a whole bunch of people, as they try to navigate the strange and intense happenings of this world they live in. And that’s pretty much all I’ll say in regards to explaining the core plot, because it’s such a weird and unique experience that if explained further, it would risk kinda ruining it. But I’ll say that the ways it ties into the classic comic book are really neat, and even looking at it without really knowing much (if anything) about the comic, it’s still a highly entertaining and unique journey that has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and just really interesting. Regina King plays Angela Abar, an undercover police officer who more or less serves as the main protagonist of the story. She’s tough, but she does also have a vulnerable side that makes her feel more human and relatable. And King is great in the role. And that’s all the cast I’ll go into, as some reveals are better left experienced (kinda like the plot). But I can say that the cast is filled out with people like Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Sara Vickers, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and good god damn, they did a phenomenal job with it. They do some tracks that are quite exciting and cool-sounding, while also providing some tracks that are a bit more dramatic and emotional. They have created a score that not only covers every emotion one needs created for a show like this, but also fits the weird and unique style of everything else in the show. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the classic DC Comic by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, “Watchmen” was developed for HBO by Damon Lindelof, who also served as lead writer, while giving directing duties to a whole bunch of other people. And the craft on display here is absolutely superb, creating a world that is familiar (thanks to it technically still being earth), and yet a bit alien, thanks to its awesomely off-kilter tone. The directing is energetic, but also suspenseful, fun, and engaging. The cinematography too is stunning, giving us some great lighting and framing. And with all this said, episode 6… some of the best craft in a tv episode this year, from the shots, to the editing, to the directing… it’s fucking spectacular.

This show has been 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.

“Watchmen” is one of the best new shows of 2019. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Watchmen” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Watchmen” season 1 is now completed.

I know I called this season 1, but I sincerely hope there are no more seasons. This is a perfectly contained package.

Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

During last year’s Month of Spooks, I reviewed “Night of the Living Dead”. Now in 2019, we’re moving on to its legendary pseudo-sequel. To be honest, I didn’t even plan this sequelization, it just happened. SERENDIPITY, HO!

Brainies and gentleflesh… “Dawn of the Dead”.

The world has gone to shit. Zombies are rapidly taking over everywhere. And in all this chaos we follow a small group of survivors as they seek shelter inside of a shopping mall. It’s a solid enough premise for a zombo flick, and the overall execution of it is damn good too. It works because it’s not only about some people trying to survive, but also because there’s a healthy dose of social satire strewn throughout the movie, giving the movie a bit of an edge over most zombie movies out there. Now, while I praise it for going in a unique direction with its story (for the time), I do have some issues with it, mainly in regards to pacing. It takes a bit for the main part of the plot to get going, and there are then moments throughout where the pacing drags ever so slightly. But for the most part, the plot here moves at a good pace and is overall a well written, fun, and surprisingly nuanced take on the zombie sub-genre.

If you asked me what the characters’ names were, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can see the characters and recognize them, but I have no real clue about who they are beyond “Oh yeah, you’re a guy in this”. Despite this, I found them quite interesting as subjects of this satirical zombo story. The way they interact and handle various situations is quite interesting. And the performances are all quite solid.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Argento, along with Italian rock group Goblin. And it’s an interesting score. At times big, at times a bit more somber, it is an unusually unpredictable score that overall just really fit the movie well. It often adds to the enjoyment of the various scenes.

Just like with its predecessor, “Dawn of the Dead” was written and directed by George A. Romero, who I think did a solid job with it. You can tell that he’s gained a bit more confidence as a director between movies, as he very cleverly creates a unique mood with his direction, a mood that is often uneasy, but still enjoyable.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

While I don’t necessarily adore it as much as some people, I still think “Dawn of the Dead” is a damn fine movie. It has a really good plot, okay-ish characters, really good performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Though as mentioned earlier, it is brought down a bit by some mild pacing issues. Time for my final score. *Braaaaains*. My final score for “Dawn of the Dead” is an 8,78/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Dawn of the Dead” is now completed.

Yup