If you’re going to watch “Species” for any reason, you have to see it for Natasha Henstridge. Surely, the cast is dynamic with the likes of Michael Madsen, Forrest Whitaker, and Ben Kingsley respectively, but Henstridge is a pretty great scene stealer rivaled only by Marg Helgenberger. I vividly recall “Species” grabbing a ton of attention back in 1995 mainly for the fact that “Species” was such a unique and erotic bit of horror and science fiction, and for the most part, it’s an okay movie. But what saves it is Henstridge and the great effects.
Jim Wynorski’s “The Return of Swamp Thing” is one of my bonafide childhood favorites, and a favorite of the rental places. “The Return of Swamp Thing” was my introduction to the character when I was a child and it’s a definite favorite that’s become more about sentimental value than quality. I admit that viewing “The Return of Swamp Thing” through nostalgic glasses helps improve the campy direction Jim Wynorski takes for this second outing.
“Hell to Pay” is chapter two in what is one of the more under appreciated animated DC series currently in stores. While DC mainly focuses on Batman and Superman, we’re given a second shot with “Suicide Squad” who DC is thankfully not above sharing for the home entertainment audiences. After the very good “Assault on Arkham,” the team known as Task Force X return with a premise that—let’s just say it—should have been the premise for the live action movie. It’s a small covert team, they should do small covert operations that involve the DC Universe, for crying out loud.
It’ll take more than a bad movie to bring the “Suicide Squad” down. Deep down there’s still a great movie to be made with this concept. “Assault on Arkham” showed it, and “Hell to Pay” proves it. You don’t have to make this group the center of the DC Universe fighting massive gods. They can just be super powered thugs doing the slimy stuff like stealing Lex Luthor’s chunk of Kryptonite, or breaking in to Batman’s fortress to steal incriminating evidence he has to bring down Amanda Waller. Something neat in the same vein happens in “Hell to Pay” when the group are assigned to track down a maguffin that is both silly and clever.
This dry as a bone “horror” entry is part “Dream Warriors”, part “The Ring”, with neither of the characters is developed beyond your basic concepts upon which they’re established. And there are also your usual under-developed back stories that Bell limps along with for no reason. Here’s the hero who has a fear of fire. Why? Well—who cares? Look! A ghost! How can we root for characters whom are basic morons? Perhaps it’s Bell’s allusion that gamers in general, are morons. Not that hard to believe, when you think about it. The characters that are supposed to die die.
Sony and everyone else are probably going to compare “The Shallows” to Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” but oddly enough “The Shallows” is nothing compared to it. In the end after all is said and done, Jaume Collet-Serra’s “The Shallows” is a fairly simple and very tense survival thriller in the vein of “Open Water” and “127 Hours.” Rather than someone stuck in a rock crevice with their arm wedged between rocks, we follow a young surfer whose leg is wounded and is stranded on a rock looking out on to land. She can easily try to swim back to shore, but the predator she’s face, a man eating shark, is so much faster and swifter than she can ever hope to be. Jaume Collet-Serra has really come up in the film world as a director who offers up tense and exciting films. “The Shallows” is very much in his wheelhouse as a film that’s action packed and knuckle biting, also sneaking in contemplative undertones about life and grief.
Late at the salon, a stylist works on a regular customer. As she is almost finished, things take a turn for the unusual. As this film is better enjoyed with as few spoilers as possible, its plot will not be discussed any further. Written by Eric Havens based on a story by Jill Gevargizian and directed by Gevargizian, a stylist herself, the film explores a stylist’s obsession with hair and how far she goes in a beautiful manner.
Ana and her friends head on the road for a weekend in the countryside. After breaking down and getting help from a delivery driver who warns them to not stay in the area, they keep going and come across a bloody, hurt, and scared woman on the side of the road. As Ana insists on helping the woman, things go very, very wrong. Writer/director Lucio A. Rojas creates a horror story that starts off more than a little reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, then as the group of friends are taken to a big country house, it turns into something more reminiscent of “Frontière(s)” with a crazy with crazy family, humans turning into prey if they do not meet a certain series of criteria with many suffering gruesome injuries and deaths.