Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Final Girls

The Final Girls Poster

As I have been with the family this Christmas and entertaining my nephews I haven’t had much chance to watch anything new. So here is a review I did originally for YA Love Magazine back at Halloween. I enjoyed it so much I put it on my Xmas list and Santa happily obliged. Happy reading!

Halloween is coming, so that means all the scary movies are coming out. Most of them can be a bit generic, by the numbers slashers. The Final Girls however offer a fresh twist on the tale.

Max (Taissa Farmiga) is a teenager whose mum Amanda (Malin Akerman) died four years ago. She’s persuaded to go to a screening of a slasher movie her mum appeared in during the 80s-Camp Bloodbath. When a fire gets started at the screening Max and her friends get accidently transported into the movie, where she’s reunited with her mum who believes she’s her character, camp counsellor Nancy. Can Max and her friends survive the movie and save Max’s mum from her on screen death?

If you enjoy horror movie that tackles the genre clichés head on a la Scream or Cabin In The Woods then you should enjoy The Final Girls. Having modern day teenagers transported into a 80s slasher film allows the writers to comment on the tropes expected in such movies. So the characters know they must avoid having sex or taking drugs and they also know which characters are likely to get killed and who is Final Girl material. The film is obviously made by people who love the genre so while they are making fun of the clichés they do so with a warm smile.

Surprising the movie also has an emotional undertone that you don’t normally get with the slasher or horror/comedy genre. Max gets the chance to reconnect with her dead mum, who has no idea who she is. Farmiga and Akerman both sell the relationship well and it gets pretty heartfelt towards  the end. As well as the leads the whole cast seem to be having fun and former The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev seems to enjoy playing the mean girl with a heart Vicki.

The film is not particularly scary so for anyone hoping for an equal amount of horror and comedy will be disappointed. However for those looking for a knowing and funny take on old slasher movies then this one is worth watching.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

It was the night before Christmas…and Lauren is watching movies in bed and racking her brain trying to remember if she got everyone’s presents!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

 

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The Gift

The Gift

Despite the title and this being the week of Christmas The Gift is not some lovely, warm Christmas movie. Instead The Gift is the directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton, who also produces, writes and co-stars in this thriller.

Relocating from Chicago to Los Angeles married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) hope to settle down and have a family. After running into an old classmate of Simon called Gordo (Joel Edgerton), the couple find that Gordo keeps appearing in their lives with small gifts that make Simon feel uncomfortable. Are Gordo’s intentions malicious?

Films like The Gift work better the less you know about it. Which makes it difficult to write a review on. What I will say is that the film is less like a horror as depicted in some of the trailers and more of a psychological thriller. My attention was constrantly gripped throughout the movie as I was trying to figure out what exactly Gordo was up to and try to piece together the clues on screen. While some expectations are subverted at it’s heart the film does not have the most original of ideas, but Edgerton’s direction is strong and creates a creepy atmosphere for the characters to live in.

While Joel Edgerton impresses as Gordo and pulls quadruple duties on this movie, his co-stars Rebecca Hall and Jason Batemen get more screen time as the couple who are the focus on Gordo’s attention. Hall once again is strong as the vulnerable Robyn and it’s interesting to see Bateman in a non-comedic role and one that he seems to revel in playing.

So if you are sick of lovey-dovey films this festive season and want something a bit more darker then try this psychological thriller.

Rating 3.5/5 – a smart directorial debut for Edgerton

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

After three books and four movies we are finally coming to the end of The Hunger Games series. But does Katniss and co get a fitting end?

Struggling after seeing a tortured and brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) decides to take the fight to President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and kill him herself. However she is not prepared for the dangers in the Capitol or the scheming behind the scenes of District 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore).

Full disclosure-this is probably my least favourite out of all The Hunger Games movies. Unlike the other movies I actually felt the running time dragged, some of the deaths didn’t have the emotional impact I was expecting and it has more false endings then Return of the King.

Having said all that it’s still a terrific movie. Lawrence’s perfromance has been a highlight across all the series and as expected she’s excellent in her final outing as Katniss. Katniss has been a fantastic character, flawed, three-dimensional, inspirational and The Hunger Games success has shown Hollywood that female-led films and franchises can bring in the audience. It’s also nice to see the wonderful supporting cast once more, even if for some of them it’s very fleeting. It’s also bittersweet to see Phillip Seymore Hoffman in his last performance.

The film also delivers on something that Mockingjay Part One lacked which is action. While it takes it’s time building up, when Katniss and her ‘Star Squad’ bring the fight to Snow the pace quickens dramatically as Snow uses the Captiol as his own personal Hunger Games with various traps being used against the heroes. Whether out in the open or traveling underground Katniss and co are being hunted and dispatched before they can complete their mission and it’s exciting stuff.

The Hunger Games series has always had a dark edge and Mockingjay Part 2 is no different. The stakes are high and much loved charcaters get killed. The film doesn’t hesistate to comment on how war changes people and encourages criticism of leaders and the tatcis used to win said wars. It’s great that a popular and commerical movie deals with these major themes and doesn’t alienate fans.

It’s sad to see The Hunger Games come to an end, but it ends on a good note that stays faithful to themes and characters of the books.

Rating 4/5 – a final and fitting farewell to the Mockingjay and Panem

 

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Krampus

Krampus

Are you in the Christmas Spirit? You better be otherwise Krampus will get you!

It’s 22 December and Max (Emjay Anthony) finds his parents, sister and extended family are all arguing, causing tension and detsroying the holiday spirit. Upset Mex rips up his letter to Santa, inadvertidly bringing to town Krampus -a demonic spirit who punishes those who are bad at Christmas. Can the family survive Christmas?

I didn’t know much about this film apart from it featured an evil Santa type figure terorising Toni Collette (how did she end up in this movie!) and family. It may seem a rather odd plot for a Christmas themed movie but Krampus is a little Christmas gem, a dark comedy horror to go up against the sugary chessy Christmas films you normally see this time of year.

At first the movie seems like a normal Christmnas movie as the family gets together and then fall out leaving poor, adorable Max to finally give up on Christmas due to their bickering. Then suddenly the film changes into black comedy with lots of horror filled moments. Gingerbread men are denomic (and annoyingly sound like Alvin and The Chipmunks), there’s something hiding under the snow and someone is on the roof and it ain’t Santa. Considering the film isn’t gory it manages to provide some good jump scares and deaths that are both horrific and funny at the same time. I don’t think I can look at a Jack in the Box the same way again. I also liked how the film flashbacks one’s character previous horrific encounter with Krampus in stop motion. It’s creepier than it sounds.

While their characters acknowledge how ridiculous the whole thing is, the actors themselves take the film seriously enough so that you feel the peril they are in. Toni Collete and Adam Scott are strong as Max’s parents who have to learn to fight back against Krampus, while the extended family including David Koechner as the redneck uncle and Conchata Farrell as the blunt Aunt Dorothy are a hoot in their broad roles. Even the kids aren’t annoying-except the ones who are meant to be.

This will not be the top of everyones Christmas list and some may find the whole thing a bit too silly to take seriously. The ending was also a bit underwhelming considering all thats gone before it. But for those looking for an alternative Christmas movie you could do a lot worse than Krampus!

Rating 3.5/5 – don’t upset Krampus this Christmas, go watch this darkly funny horror

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