While “Heavy Trip” may not be what we call horror in the conventional sense, Jukka Vidgren, and Juuso Laatio’s dark comedy musical has a lot of the DNA of a horror movie, right down to satanic worship, blood baths, and plenty of vomit. It’s not often you get to see an underdog tale of a band struggling to make it set to the tune of death metal, but Jukka Vidgren, and Juuso Laatio tap in to a distinct crowd that’s gone woefully overlooked. “Heavy Trip” will definitely stand out in the memory of their audience who are in the mood for something wholly unconventional but surprisingly crowd pleasing.
Eva Vives’ drama comedy about a fracture comedienne is one of the most honest and engaging dramas of the year, and “All About Nina” is a success mainly because of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s stellar performance. Winstead is one of the most underrated and overlooked actresses of modern cinema. She’s mostly been relegated to playing supporting characters and final girls most of her career, but given the right material she’s shone in roles that should have earned her awards notice. She was immense in “Smashed” and she’s remarkable in “All About Nina.”
Writer-Director Miguel Duran’s “Monsoon” is one of the most beautiful dramas I’ve seen all year. In a sub-genre that’s often either overly exploitative or tends to be silly, “Monsoon” is a restrained and very subtle tale about loss, love, and trying to find the need to move on with your life. I knew very little about “Monsoon” going in, so suffice it to say I was taken completely by surprise. Miguel Duran really delivers a gem that audiences confronting the death of a loved one would be wise to see. “Monsoon” is a riveting and just downright heavy drama about death and the beauty of life, and I was sucked in from minute one.
The spin off for the “Barbershop” movie is a good idea on paper. On paper. I mean Queen Latifah is better at acting than Ice Cube, so it seemed like a slam dunk. The attempted launch of a new series within the “Barbershop” franchise is not only one big misfire, but it’s dead on arrival from minute one. “Beauty Shop” isn’t a prequel, or a sequel, but mainly just a movie that’s set in the universe of “Barbershop.” When we see Gina Norris from “Barbershop 2” again, she’s working at an upscale salon in Atlanta and she has a picture of the gang from Calvin’s shop hanging on her mirror. Beyond that there isn’t much at all to “Beauty Shop.”
People are often surprised when they learn that “Tag” was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, mainly because the premise looked so creative. The comedy genre is pretty much a wasteland as it is, but the movie seemed to have a ton of potential. Plus the fact that it was inspired by a true story is also a plus that kept me anticipating its release. “Tag” ends up being a fun comedy about friendship, tradition, and life, and while it doesn’t fully realize the concept, I had a good time with it, and I don’t mind adding it to my collection. “Tag” brings with it a pretty stellar ensemble cast, all of whom manages to bring their A game and also seem to be having a good time.
Some horror movie premises are just ripe for comedy gold. Cockneys vs. Zombies, strippers vs. zombies, Brits vs. Zombies, et al, but “Ahockalypse” which pits hockey players against a zombie apocalypse is a swing and a miss. It’s not a complete miss overall, but in the end there was just so much that could have been done with the premise. The hockey themed horror comedy’s lack of budget is one of the elements that hinder an otherwise clever idea, as well as a clear lack of tonal consistency through and through.
The thing about RKSS’s latest eighties inspired genre offering is that it’ll poke all the right nostalgia cords with audiences. There’s so much eighties ephemera, that it’ll be difficult not to be charmed by it. But deep down beneath the “Cruel Summer” music cues, and giant camcorders beats the heart of a vicious, mean spirited and dark murder mystery that was often unpleasant and kind of dull. To admit that isn’t easy as I loved RKSS’s “Turbo Kid” and anxiously wanted to see what they would do with a murder mystery. But while you might get shades of “Stranger Things” here and there, the movie itself is pretty crappy.