Number 37 (2018) [Fantasia Fest 2018]

I’ve seen the frame work for “Rear Window” tacked on to a lot of genres, from murder mysteries, vampire movies, werewolf movies, Bigfoot movies, and so much more. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” turned in to a gangster thriller before. Director Nosipho Dumisa definitely has her eyes aimed at Alfred Hitchcock’s murder mystery masterpiece, but thankfully while the film is pretty much an homage (or remake, perhaps?), “Number 37” definitely manages to stand on its own as a stellar thriller in its own right.

Continue reading

Pledge (2018) [Fantasia Fest 2018]

Director Daniel Robbins’ survival college thriller is a pretty typical horror film that surprisingly takes a lot of its beats from “Hostel.” At times it almost felt like a cheap rip off. Despite some interesting ideas, “Pledge” is a pretty crummy horror offering with no real pay off to the climax and lacking any kind of protagonist during its entirety. In fact I was left with a lot of questions when the movie came to a sudden end rather than with a sense I’d been dropped in to a nightmare.

Continue reading

Laplace’s Witch (Rapurasu no majo) (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Following a mysterious death, a scientist is brought in to hopefully rule it as an accident. As he does his research, a police detective desperately wants to rule it as a homicide. Mixed up in the middle of it all is a teenager with what looks to be psychic powers and her friend who has disappeared. What will they all find once all is said and done?

Continue reading

Desolation (2017) [Blu-Ray]

No matter what the tragic back story the writers feed us it’s impossible to root for characters when they make consistently stupid decisions. “Desolation” is heavy on clunky symbolism, and comprised of three characters that do nothing but make bad choices when they’re in the middle of a bad situation. Anyone with common sense probably could have made it out of the situation director Sam Patton presents, but there’s more concern with doling out goofy poetic irony than any kind of chills or suspense.

Continue reading

Our House (2018)

I’m always a sucker for a very good ghost movie, and “Our House” is not one of them. The problem with it is both narrative and tonal, where it’s much too melodramatic to invest in the horror elements, and too horror to appreciate it as a tale of a grieving family struggling to keep it together. What we’re left with is a pretty crummy, rather monotonous supernatural drama that we’ve seen a dozen times in the past. Anthony Scott Burns seems to be aiming for a genre entry in the vein of “We Are Still Here,” but it ends up feeling more like a tame sequel to “White Noise.”

Continue reading

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

I can safely say that among the long running action franchises out there, “Mission Impossible” might just be my favorite. Not only has the series managed to re-invent itself time and time again, but Tom Cruise continues to impress and compel as series hero Ethan Hunt. He is a classic hero, a man who is bound to his work, or else the world literally falls apart at the seams. He’s a daring, bold, and clever force of nature, but he’s also one chained forever to the IMF, forced to confront not only terrorist threats, but the fall out of his past enemies that have come back to finally haunt him.

Continue reading

Knuckleball (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Following a death in his father’s family, a young boy is dropped off at his maternal grandfather so that his parents can go to the funeral. Once there, grandpa puts him to work and shows him a few things about baseball. As this happens, the odd neighbor comes and goes on the property. As things advance, young Henry has to go get this neighbor for assistance and things go from bad to worse, forcing him to fend for himself and fight for his life.

Continue reading

Knuckleball (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

It’s disheartening when you’re watching a very good movie from a group of people you love, and then as the film reaches its home stretch you can see the wheels slowly coming off. That’s what “Knuckleball” was like. It’s a great idea, and a twisted premise with some great performances, but by the final twenty minutes it gets unnecessarily weird with a twist that feels tacked on and absolutely out of left field. Which is not to say “Knuckleball” is a bad movie, since right up until the final twenty minutes, I’d highly recommend it as a wrenching of the “Home Alone” formula that also kind of feels like a spiritual companion piece to M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit.”

Continue reading