Ouija: Origin of Evil

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MOuija: Origin of Evil

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan; Jeff Howard

Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas; Parker Mack.

Feeling weary after a heavy day, I wondered if it was the right night to watch Ouija: Origin of Evil.  But, what the hey, I thought I’d perk up once I got there, then I’d get into it…  The start would get me there… Or maybe, by the end…  I guess you can see where this is going – there was no perking up!

Sure, Doris Zander (Lulu Wilson), the possessed little girl, was scary; all freaky-eyed and way too enthusiastic about all things occult.  There just wasn’t enough of a hook.

I liked the 60s style of the clothes and the house of the Zander family, the style somehow adding an authentic flavour.  The characters were all believable and the story was decent.  And that’s what the film was, decent.  There was no zing for me.  The story felt like a formula which reminded me of other films but without the punch because I could see what was coming:

A story of a fortune teller selling closure to people who’ve lost someone.  The fact that Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser), the widowed mother of 2 girls, was a sham doesn’t matter.  It’s all about looking after her daughters, Doris (Lulu Wilson) and Lina (Annalise Basso) while feeling like she’s helping others, even though she’s making money out of grief.

It didn’t ring true to me, the idea of Alice sending her kids to a Catholic school and the priest, Father Tom, being ever so obliging to someone working in the occult.  The religious aspect didn’t quite fit.

Playing with a Ouija board isn’t a new horror narrative, and Origin of Evil had a fresh feel; the look of the film itself depicting the ‘cigarette burn’ in the corner of the picture on screen, my thinking, on purpose and timely, making the 60s setting more authentic.  And the transformation of the little girl, Doris, was sophisticated in the reveal of possession.

But I felt there was a holding back.  Not that I want gore or to be disgusted.  I prefer a suspenseful horror.  I just wasn’t shocked or surprised.

I’m always looking for that ultimate horror thriller that gets past the seeing, past the eyeball and burrows its way into the brain, to the place of imagination, and Origin of Evil didn’t do that for me.

There was a quality of execution and I believed all the characters, but the scare factor that gets under the skin just wasn’t there.

The Girl on the Train

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+The Girl on the Train

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Screenplay by: Erin Cressida Wilson

Based on: ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramírez; Lisa Kudrow.

Alcoholism, restlessness; hurt – The Girl on the Train is a film about the possibilities, the capabilities of someone lost.

The focus of the film surrounds the mystery of the main character, Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) watching the world go by through the window of a train.

Sure, Rachel’s got her problems: she drinks, she lies, she has blackouts, and she wants what she can’t have.  And the audience, watching the world with her, sympathise: her heart’s in the right place – right?

But the slow reveal of Rachel’s unravelling makes us wonder just what she’s capable of.

And there lies the mystery.  What is really happening here?  Just how lost is Rachel?

The Girl on the Train is a movie of perspectives.  Of what people see compared to what goes on behind closed doors.  This is a film about what’s revealed to the audience and when.  And I think the mystery was handled well by director Tate Taylor (who won a BAFTA Award for best adapted screenplay for, Help (2011)).

I’m just going to say it – I found the book a slow read.  So for once and a rarity for me to say, the condensing of the story into a movie length narrative made for a more dramatic reveal.  The film concentrated on the main thrust of the story, of Rachel, of her illness, about her blackouts; about what actually happened on that fateful day.

No one can say that Emily Blunt can’t act, and indeed, her acting kept The Girl on the Train firmly on track.  Blunt is phenomenal in Sicario (2015), one of my favourites and I recently re-watched Looper (2012) – another fantastic movie starring Blunt.  I like her authentic, down-to-earth style and think she’s fast becoming one of the greats.  And her performance here is to be commended.

Also to note was the performance of Haley Bennett as the saucy Megan Hipwell and Justin Theroux as Rachel’s ex, Tom Watson.

In conclusion, I have to say there’s no real punch here and I wasn’t on the edge-of-my-seat, but The Girl on the Train is an absorbing mystery, shown well.

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Deepwater Horizon

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Action/Drama           Rated: MDeepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Screen Story: Matthew Sand

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson.

Based on the article written by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephani Saul: ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours’, Deepwater Horizon is about one of the largest man-made disasters to have ever occurred.

Ultra-deep-water drilling off the coast of Louisiana, the rig suffered a massive blowout after pressure caused oil to explode up the pipeline.  The oil then caught fire destroying the rig.  The disaster killed 11 people and leaked 50,000 barrels of oil into the ocean for 87 days.

Deepwater Horizon is about putting the audience in the midst of the disaster, about pressure from the depths hard to fathom.  In fact, the whole scenario is difficult to get my head around because I’m not an engineer nor a deep sea drilling technician that understands drilling and pressure and the forces of rotting dinosaurs from a previous millennia.  And there isn’t a requirement to have this knowledge as the film shows the staff, doing what they do, without dumbing it down for the audience.

The story is shown in a way where you get it.  That the mud is used to contain the pressure of the oil, so that if it’s oozing up the pipes onto the rig, that’s a bad thing: the mud isn’t stopping the pressure.  And if that dial goes to a psi in the red area of the dial, that’s a very bad thing.

That’s what I liked about the film.  Being right there with the people working on this monstrous rig.

Mark Wahlberg as the Transocean chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, gives a great performance as an everyday guy doing his job.  And Kate Hudson as the wife waiting at home keeps the cheese to a minimum – it’s all about down-to-earth folk just dealing with it.

Wahlberg and director, Peter Berg, have worked together previously in the film, Lone Survivor.  Another survival story about making tough decisions. Berg doesn’t use cheap tricks to tug the heart strings, he just tells a tale with an authentic flavour and Wahlberg plays the no-nonsense hero well.  And the simplicity and straight forward telling of Deepwater Horizon gave the story more impact and power.  It was left to the audience to feel the emotion.

I love a good techy film and Deepwater Horizon filled the bill with great camera work to show the scale undertaken to drill into the depths of the ocean; and the explosion and visual spectacle of the disaster was totally believable on screen.

There was a glossing over of the politics of dealing with BP, but covered by the interaction between Donald Vidrine, the BP company man played by John Malkovich (he plays a villain just so well) and Kurt Russell as Mr. Jimmy who was the offshore installation manager.

Rather than the politics or emotional drama, Deepwater Horizon was more about the confrontation of the disaster itself.  And I liked that.

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