The entire “John Wick” series is something of a surprise seemingly out of nowhere. What might have been a weak vehicle from Keanu Reeves turned in to a pretty groundbreaking and exciting action series where Reeves is able to re-invent himself once again for a new generation. You wouldn’t figure Reeves would be believable as one of the deadliest assassins in the world, but he handles the role of John Wick so proficiently. Wick has become something much more than the titular anti-hero of his film series. He’s become the key in to a very unique cinematic universe.
Touted as “The Expendables” for horror fans, “Death House” is a huge missed opportunity that revels in its painfully derivative and clumsy premise. Ripping off “Alone in the Dark,” “Cabin in the Woods,” and yes, even “Jurassic Park,” Harrison Smith manages to do absolutely nothing with the plethora of horror stars that show up for the film. Most of the people that are promoted in the opening credits only show up for thirty seconds at a time with glorified cameos, while folks like Kane Hodder take a back seat to the bland, forgettable protagonists we’re supposed to be rooting for. By the time the movie ended I couldn’t even tell you what their names were.
I’ve always been and will continue to be a staunch defender of John Carpenter. He’s one of my all time favorite filmmakers and even his weakest outputs have some great creativity to them. “Vampires” is fun in all its schlocky nonsense, and “Ghosts of Mars” is a fun remake of “Assault on Precinct 13” for a contemporary audience. Eighteen years later, “Ghosts of Mars” is fine C grade science fiction redeemed by Carpenter’s sharp direction, and the absolutely gorgeous Natasha Henstridge.
I love the idea of indie filmmakers taking their various horror short films and turning them in to anthologies, especially now with the horror anthology hotter than ever with audiences. “Blood Clots” has a lot of great intentions, but in the end it’s just an okay anthology with seven pretty okay horror shorts. I was never blown over by anything I saw here, but I appreciated the effort, and I liked the variety, overall. There are zombies, mutants, monsters, and werewolves, and that’s basically the only overarching theme for audiences.
It’s tough to believe that The Asylum is behind “Black Summer.” It’s definitely one of the biggest surprises of 2019 as I’ve made it no secret about my disdain toward the company and “Z Nation.” I thought the show was insanely dumb and boring, but I was very much open to “Black Summer.” Keeping my expectations rock bottom (because The Asylum has done horribly with zombie entertainment consistently) I was stunned to very much enjoy “Black Summer.” In fact if it continues its course and settles down a bit in season two, it might end up being one of the great zombie TV series.
It says a lot about an actor’s abilities and skill to compel an audience in a movie that’s based almost solely around them and on them. Mads Mikkelsen has always been one of the most underrated actors of my generation and in “Arctic” he proves why. Much in the realm of “Castaway,” and “All Is Lost,” director Joe Penna sets down on a man who has lost just about everything and bases much of the dramatic and emotional weight on how he responds non-verbally. Mikkelsen is up to the challenge, suffice to say, and that’s what helps make “Arctic” a worthwhile outing for fans of survival thrillers. “Arctic” surely doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but it’s compelling enough to warrant at least one viewing.
Adam Mason’s “I’m Just Fucking With You” is about business as usual for Hulu’s “Into the Dark,” the anthology horror series that’s given viewers a new episode every month. Like all episodes before this April entry, there’s a slow build up, a very good hour, and a final twenty minutes that drag in to a luke warm climax. All in all it’s another mediocre episode that never quite recovers once the second act is introduced. I think it’s time worth spent, don’t get me wrong, as one of the fun things about anthology films is the ability of the authors to convey social commentary. “Into the Dark” has covered social commentary in droves, whether it’s rabid consumerism (“Pooka!”) or the Me Too movement (“The Treehouse”), they’ve covered some interesting bases for the modern generation.