The Wall

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+The Wall

Directed and Produced by: Doug Liman

Written by: Dwain Worrell

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena.

A taunt psychological thriller set in 2007 when President George Bush declared the War in Iraq over.

Rebuilding the country, contractors are brought in to build pipelines across the desert.

After been radioed for assistance, two soldiers, Sergeant Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) an Army Ranger who serves as a spotter to Sergeant Matthews (John Cena), lie amongst the rocks, camouflaged, waiting for movement.  All they see on the dusty ground is the bodies of dead contractors, all head shots, and one marine holding a radio in his dead hand.

All is quiet, yet they wait, watching, trying to figure out the story behind the dead and if there’s still a threat.

As the story unfolds, so do the men as they’re stripped, piece-by-piece by the faceless, hidden sniper who pins Sergeant Isaac behind a crumbling wall, to then speak into his earpiece, to burrow like a worm into his mind.

Although, The Wall is about soldiers, this isn’t a movie about war, this is suspense created through stretches of quiet: a patient relentless waiting of a killer who plays with his intended kill like a cat with a mouse.

The soundtrack is the wind whistling through the bricks and the distant clap of metal sheeting and the crackle of voice; of men fighting and hiding behind words.

Director, Doug Liman (Mr & Mrs Smith, The Bourne Identity) has taken a solid script from first-time screenwriter Dwain Worrell and made a low budget film into a simple yet very effective suspense thriller.

Dwain Worrell researched the daily life of soldiers extensively, including PTSD.  Creating a story of strangers murdering each other.  About legendary Iraqi snipers creating a paranoia that comes to life.

The Wall

Adam Taylor wrote an article in, The Washington Post, in January 2015: “There were similar legends of Iraqi insurgent snipers.  Probably the most famous was that of ‘Juba’, a sniper with the Sunni insurgent group Islamic Army in Iraq, whose exploits were touted in several videos released between 2005 and 2007.  Some attributed scores, even hundreds, of kills to the sniper, and accounts from the time suggest he got deep under U. S. troop’s skins.”

The idea of psychological torture reminded me of the original, Saw film (2004), similar in that the characters are trapped and tormented through the words of a faceless enemy.  And dang it, after the film finished and I was walking out of the cinema, I overheard another critic saying they had the same feel as the, Saw Franchise, because that feeling of being trapped is there.  Yet, The Wall is more about the suspense then the gore.  Giving a glimpse into those suffering from PTSD: the tense waiting for the bad to happen, the waiting being the torture.

A seemingly simple film: two characters, one wall set over the course of one day.  Yet, The Wall was a thoroughly absorbing story handled by the sure hand of smart director.

If you like your suspense, this is a well-paced journey with a well-thought ending.  Much better than expected.

Products from Amazon.com

NERVE

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MNerve

Directed by: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Screenplay by: Jessica Sharzer

Based on the novel by: Jeanne Ryan

Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Colson Baker, Kimiko Glenn, Marc John Jefferies, Brian Marc, Samira Wiley and Juliette Lewis.

NERVE is a thrill ride with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman putting the audience in the middle of the action.  Shot in New York, the camera work and streetscapes made the film more entertaining and better than expected.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is living in the shadow of her best buddy, Sydney (Emily Meade).  Always the cautious, wilting violet, Vee is terrified of putting a step wrong until she’s had enough of being a loser in love and life.

Sydney, being the dare devil, has managed to make it to the Top 10 of a new online game, NERVE, where the Players earn money and fame by completing dares given by the Watches.

And Vee, sick of towing the line, feels a wave of reckless youth and takes the plunge into the world of being a Player.

Knowing that she’s pushing her limits but finding a part of herself that she likes, Vee meets the hunky Ian (Dave Franco).  Loving the couple, the Watches dare the partnership on more challenging dares until the dare becomes a sinister reflection of mob mentality – where being anonymous allows behaviour that borders then becomes that of a sociopath.

It’s all about the moment recorded via the Watches’ camera phones; information about the Players taken from social media and everything available online: purchases made, banking details.  The film highlights how much information is available and how easy it is to take over a person’s life via the internet.

NERVE makes the point it’s no longer Big Brother we need to be afraid of, it’s us who are recording and sharing with each other.

Based on a young adult novel written by Jeanne Ryan, teens living adolescent lives leads to the expected awkward moments of unrequited love and the usual we’re-best-friends behaviour.  Thankfully, I was happily absorbed into the action of the online game rather than the film dwelling on the drama.

The character Vee had cringe-worthy moments, but only a few.  And the adolescent aspect was overcome by the creative camera work; where the audience was taken along for the ride.

NERVE was a lot of fun but I found it hard to take seriously when the story turned into the realm of giving a lesson.

Tapping into the teen angst of wanting to break free was still present and this was shown with unexpected edge.  I enjoyed the ride but the attempt at depth gave the film more meat not more meaning: we’ve already heard about the dangers of social media, right?

But drawing the audience into the world of NERVE and being given the feeling of taking those dares along with the characters made a suspenseful and entertaining film.

Products from Amazon.com

The Conjuring 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: James WanThe Conjuring 2

Writers of Screenplay: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan and David Leslie Johnson

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Francis O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney and Franka Potente.

Similar to the original (The Conjuring (2013)), Paranormal Investigators, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren reflect on a past case (those of you familiar with The Amityville Horror (2005) will understand the need to reflect) and worry about their future in a world that’s quite literally hell on earth.

With a call from the Catholic Church to investigate a haunting of the Hodgson Family in Enfield England, Lorrain’s premonition of Ed’s death could put her fear of the future firmly in the present reality.

Director James Wan (also director of the original ‘Conjuring’ and a favourite of mine, Insidious (2010)) uses a vision filled with archetypes to bring demons to life.  Bringing old fears into a new world by combining a great narrative with a perfectly matched soundtrack (Joseph Bishara) to keep the audience on the edge of their seat; keeping the story and characters held in suspense and letting beings not of this world to enter.

There’s a flavour to the Wan films – a true talent who creates horror without gore.

The story taps into a deep-seated fear of archaic evil our grandparents were scarred of and their grandparents before them.  This is biblical.  To the extent that 20% of the audience left a quarter of the way through the movie because they were too scared (I’m not kidding!).  So be warned, this is a pretty scary movie – but seriously people, if you’re scared you always have to watch to the end, otherwise you’re just left hanging…  Anyway…

Joseph Bishara was also the composer of the film Insidious, the success of both The Conjuring 2 and Insidious lying largely with the suspense created by the creepy soundtrack.

Wan is genius in his use of not only the soundtrack, but also the trickery of shadows, slips in time, old toys; a focus on the eyes or a terrifying portrait brought to life.  Seemingly simple devises, but used so well.

And the two characters that make the couple, The Warrens, are likeable.  The audience is with them, all the way, all through the terrors.

There’s a journey here.  An invitation to take hold of a hand  – a, Gotcha, then I’ll let you go a bit… then, I gotcha againThis time, I gotcha good.

James Wan is creating his own brand of horror thriller, and I’m very much enjoying the show.

Products from Amazon.com