Truth Or Dare

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MTruth Or Dare

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow

Screenplay by: Michael Reisz and Jillian Jacobs & Chris Roach & Jeff Wadlow

Story by: Michael Reisz

Produced by: Jason Blum

Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sam Lerner, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Sophia Taylor Ali, Nolan Gerard.

Like the college students who thought it was a good idea to go to Mexico, party-on and pick up a stranger (Carter (Landon Liboiron)), to follow said stranger out to the middle of nowhere to an abandoned convent to play, Truth or Dare – I’m sure the premise of making a movie based on a deadly version of Truth or Dare seemed like a good idea.

But the story just did not hold up.

There was some shocking horror in the film – as one-by-one the group of friends who seemed like they’d be friends-for-eva were forced to play the game, or die: coupled-up Penelope (Sophia Taylor Ali) and Funk (Nolan Gerard) the beauty and the doctor (AKA the alcoholic and the drug dealer), Ronnie (Sam Lerner) the duffus who was the only genuinely funny one out of the them all; super cute lover-boy, Lucas (Tyler Posey) and girlfriend Markie (Violett Beane) forming a love triangle with best buddy and main character, Olivia (Lucy Hale), destined to be the beard of gay buddy Brad (Hayden Szeto): it’s a classic teen formula of kids on vacation that goes horrifically wrong; I hate to say it, reminding me of the Final Destination franchise.  The bad late ones.

The idea of a trickster demon, Callux, possessing the players making them play either Truth or Dare and digging under the belly to secrets and hidden humiliations of the kids should have been interesting, but I lost interest because the characters seemed soft: the lead-up to each character forced to take their turn weak because the dialogue didn’t stand up so the actions weren’t believable.

With new horror films pushing the boundaries of the genre, Truth Or Dare felt like a repeat of what’s been done before, even a backward step because previous releases like Scream or Final Destination felt fresh.

Sure, the idea of Truth or Dare was new, but there was too much going on to make the most of the idea – and the many complications of the many relationships felt superficial ‘til in the end, it was hard to believe any of it:

‘You’re such an idiot.’

‘What can I say, you do that to me.’

It was a push to get to the end.  And watching, you could feel the drifting.

Cut the whole story in half, spending more time on half the characters would have made a better film as there was good material and good ideas but truthfully, in the end, you couldn’t dare me to believe – wow, see how bad?!

I would have thought killing off annoying college students would have been more fun – it wasn’t.

Winchester

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MWinchester

Directed by: The Spierig Brothers

Written by: Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers

Produced by: Tim McGahan, Brett Tomberlin

Starring: Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey, Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson, Eamon Farren.

Inspired by true events at the most haunted house in history.

Based on the true story of widower, Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), Winchester explores the haunting of a many-roomed house, seven stories high, comprising 500 rooms and stairs that lead to no-where: built, torn-down, to be built again; all orchestrated by the designs of the widower.

It’s enough to question her sanity.

Sarah communes with the dead to make their spirits grow stronger in the rooms she builds, under their instruction; through her visions; through her remorse – to then release them.

Many have died from the firing of a Winchester – the instrument of death the source of her fortune.  And the source of her guilt.

Being the majority holder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, (and a multi-millionaire) the company employs a psychiatrist to assess Sarah’s mental capacity in the view of taking control of her share in the company.

A request agreed upon by Sarah’s niece Marion (Sarah Snook) but only if the psychiatrist conducting the assessment is Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke).

After Marion’s husband dies suddenly, she moves in with her aunt with her 8-year-old son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) – an indication in Sarah’s mind that a curse is spreading through the family.

Dr. Price is also a grieving widow, addicted to Laudanum, amongst other substances; anything to numb the pain – and out of desperation and financial difficulty takes the job.  Only to question his own mind when he witnesses the spirits inhabiting this strange house.

All the elements of an interesting story but I didn’t find the film to be a poignant one.

The suspense was weak, left to fall flat off cliff hangers that felt more like an accidental step.

And the over-editing of characters such as builder, John Hansen (Angus Sampson), to the extent of what sounded like dubbing over what was once comic, to be diluted to suit the tone of the film added to the quiet and dry dead like the musty smell in old houses.

All old houses have a presence, particularly those inhabited by the grieving.

When Dr. Price enters the house it just adds another unstable element, throwing doubt on the truth of the story as Dr. Price is also a grieving man, self-medicating and taken from the depths of a sabbatical dedicated to a life of hedonism and clearly desiring anything but clarity: is it any wonder he sees ghosts too?

The flash of spectres was well spliced into the dark recesses of shadows and reflections of mirrors.  But the build of suspense and meat of the story lacked substance so rather than inspiring belief in the supernatural, the film became more a story of a 19th century larrikin sobering up to insanity.

Products from Amazon.com

Black Panther

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MBlack Panther

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Based on the Marvel Comics by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Produced by: Kevin Feige p.g.a

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis.

Growing up, black panthers were my favourite animal.  I remember whispering to my cat, asking to bring one of their cousins home for a visit.  Probably a good thing the wish never came true as a super hero I am not.  Nor have I been a big fan of super hero movies.  But Black Panther is a powerful and rich story that is beautiful and unique.

And yeah, there’s some pretty cool action as well.

The character, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) made his debut on film in, Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Well received, we now have the story of the Black Panther; a script based on the Marvel comics written by Stan Lee (who’s making a habit of popping up in films based on his characters) and Jack Kirby.

This is a story of T’Challa, the son of the African King of Wakanda who becomes the Black Panther after his father is murdered by Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis).

It’s a unique tale of the tribal nature of Africa combined with futuristic technology made from the hardest metal on Earth – Vibranium.  There’s also the mystical here with a black panther showing the Wakanda ancestors where to find the Vibranium, and how eating an herb of blue flowers enhances abilities making the Black Panther super-human.

See an informative and interesting article here describing the history of the comic of Black Panther written by: David Roach and Peter Sanderson.

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed 2015), Black Panther the movie is filled with colour, expansive landscapes (Rachel Morrison) and strong, layered characters.

There’s a lot of elements brought together by an emotive soundtrack (Ludwig Göransson) that soars and causes that swelling in the chest you get when the characters are doing right no matter what the cost.

It’s not often you get such a visual, action-packed sci-fi that causes such an emotional response.

The politics and message of the film could have turned the tone saccharine, but the careful handling of director Coogler and strong acting from the cast made the message poignant and thought-provoking.

It was a pleasure to embrace the beauty of the colourful nation of Wakanda – the costuming (Ruth E. Carter) of the inhabitants also a standout.

And the layering of characters with good and bad in all; where people can be the products of circumstance, allowing an understanding of why people behave the way they do.  Where integrity and the strength and clarity to make the right choices are needed to make any change worthwhile.

There’s a reason this film has been so successful as the appeal is wide and the message runs deep.

What a fantastic story and what a successful adaptation to the big screen.

Black Panther is not only exciting and beautiful to watch, an emotional chord is struck, provoking thought of what it is to be human.

 

Insidious: The Last Key

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MInsidious: The Final Key

Directed by: Adam Robitel

Based on Characters Created by: Leigh Whannell

Written by: Leigh Whannell

Produced by: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, James Wan

Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, Aleque Reid, Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Bruce Davison, Javier Botet.

Set as a prequel to the original, Insidious: The Last Key begins with parapsychologist, Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) growing up in 1954, living in an abusive home: 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys.

Elise has the gift, she was born with the gift.  And her father hates her for it.

She lives with her brother, Christian (Pierce Pope) who’s understandably afraid of the dark, and is given a silver whistle to call his mother if he ever feels scared.

But when their mother dies, Elise finally leaves home at 16, leaving her little brother and the terrors of her childhood behind, including Key Face (Javier Botet), a demon who convinced her that setting it free would bring her more light.  Key Face wants Elise to set them all free from The Further, because she’s the only one who can.

A phone call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), the current inhabitant of her childhood house, brings her back to all those bad memories.  Haunted, Ted asks for help.  And reluctantly, Elise returns with her new family, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson): The Spectral Sightings crew.

There’s a different feel to this fourth instalment, with new director, Adam Robitel bringing a more human drama to this otherwise suspenseful, supernatural franchise.

There’s less reliance on the soundtrack, the suspense built on silence broken by footsteps on floorboards and the squeaking turn and fixing of a light bulb.  It’s a slow burn that builds into a surprisingly sinister tale.

But I had trouble with holes in the script – OK, maybe not holes.  Everything was there, but there wasn’t enough weight given to the why and backstory of Key Face.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the death of Elise’s mother felt superficial to me, not supernatural.

And her death is an important part of the film as the story relies on this essential part of the fable and the power of Key Face.

The object of the whistle gives the supernatural a touch-stone of reality.  And restraint makes the ghosts from The Further all the more believable.

So, there’s thought about the detail here which makes the glossing over the essential annoying.

Lin Shaye as Dr. Elise Rainier continues to bring authenticity to the difficult role of a parapsychologist who can commune and see ghosts.  And the humour of Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker works in this instalment; the humour given more time to work unlike the over-editing in Chapter 3 (where Leigh Whannell was also the writer), which rendered the jokes mis-timed and inconsequential.

As producer Blum says of writer Leigh Whannell: “There is a real relationship that has evolved between the audience and the characters in the movie.  Leigh understands that what makes a good scary movie is not the scares, but what comes in between them.”

And seeing Spectural Sightings together in their van, AKA, The Winnebaghost, with Tucker sporting an impressive mullet, was a definite highlight.

Insidious: The Last Key manages to create a unique tone and story to the previous instalments.  A more adult and suspenseful drama with some good humour to break the tension with a few scares that could have been so much stronger with better understanding of the Key Man and his power.