REVIEW: ‘The Black Phone’ is a frightening delight

Hauntings are fairly common in horror films but “The Black Phone,” thankfully, puts a new twist on the concept.

The movie follows middle school student Finney (Mason Thames), a kid who lives in mid-size Colorado city with his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) and father Terrence (Jeremy Davies). The community where Finney resides has been in a state of terror lately as several children have gone missing in recent weeks.

The suspect is only known as the Grabber (Ethan Hawke), and eventually, Finney becomes a target. Now kidnapped and locked in a basement, Finney has to try to survive, and ends up getting help from the spirits of the Grabber’s other victims, who speak with the protagonist through a disconnected black phone.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Black Phone’ is a frightening delight”

REVIEW: ‘Firestarter’ is a faulty King adaptation

Stephen King is an iconic writer but the adaptations of his work have a tendency to be hit or miss. This new “Firestarter” movie is definitely one of the latter.

Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon play parents of a daughter with a unique ability in the film. Their child, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), has the ability to spontaneously create fire with her mind, although she can’t manage to fully control the power.

While her power is unique, though, her having an ability isn’t, as both her parents are also able to control things with their mind. This has put a target on the family by an organization set on controlling people with special powers. With Charlie’s powers more based on high emotions, it puts her family in a dangerous position, as their cover of being normal residents may be blown.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Firestarter’ is a faulty King adaptation”

REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Outfit’ bogged down by plotting issues

The Chicago crime scene of years gone by is brought to life on a small scale in this bottle film.

Graham Moore makes his feature directorial debut with “The Outfit,” which centers on Leonard (Mark Rylance), an Englishman who owns a tailor shop in Chicago. The film’s protagonist runs an honest business, with the help of his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch).

However, he has also set up a post box at his establishment used by crime organizations to communication. One night, this decision becomes a problem, as mafia members who’re customers of Leonard’s store begin using the shop as a place to go during a gang war. Leonard is then placed in a tense situation with dangerous men.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Outfit’ bogged down by plotting issues”

REVIEW: Take a stroll in ‘Nightmare Alley’ for quality noir

A title like “Nightmare Alley” may inspire thoughts that this film is about fantastical monsters.

But director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is about how ordinary men can be just as monstrous as fabled beasts.

Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton in the film, a man who’s clearly on the run from his past at the start of the movie. As the film takes place during the later years of the depression and Stanton needing work, he ends up taking an offer to work at a carnival.

There, he meets a husband and wife duo who have an act where they perform as a pair of psychics, although, their mind games are actually just coded words to make it appear that they have powers. Still, Stanton sees an opportunity for himself and decides he would like to do such an act, but his efforts to do so leads to dangers and conundrums.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Take a stroll in ‘Nightmare Alley’ for quality noir”

REVIEW: Quality is clear in ‘Titane’ but enjoyment can be modest

“Titane” is the French term for “titanium,” one of the strongest metals on Earth.

With that in consideration, the title “Titane” makes sense, as metal and strength are often tied to masculinity, which plays a major role in this feature.

The main character of the movie is Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a young woman who works as an exotic dancer at a car show. Alexia seems mostly closed off, and has been so since she was a young girl, when a serious car accident resulted in her needing metal plates inserted.

As the first act reveals, though, Alexia has a dark hobby outside of her main dancing, job. This aspect of her life, as well as a sexual encounter she has one night after work, forces her to make a major change in her life, to the point where she has to assume a different identity. However, this action only leads to more complications.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Quality is clear in ‘Titane’ but enjoyment can be modest”

REVIEW: ‘Last Night in Soho’ sadly falters after strong start

Soho looks like a pretty fun place to visit in London, but if the main character in this movie is around, things might get a little to intense.

This film, directed and co-written by Edgar Wright, stars Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise. The young woman has recently moved from the country-side to a section of London to earn a degree in fashion. Immediately, Eloise finds herself fed up with her partying dorm roommate and decides to move into an apartment at an older building.

While it seems perfect at first, Eloise soon finds herself having visions of another young woman, named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who lived in the same apartment and wanted to be a lounge singer during the 1960s. While the visions start off fascinating, they soon unveil a dark mystery from the past.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Last Night in Soho’ sadly falters after strong start”

REVIEW: ‘Antlers’ succeeds as a horror but let down by drama

It’s almost deer season in Minnesota, but those expecting a movie about hunting with “Antlers” should look elsewhere.

Instead this film is a horror about a mythical beast known as a Wendigo. The main character in “Antlers” is Julia (Keri Russell), an elementary school teacher who recently moved back to a rural Oregon town, where her brother is the sheriff.

Early on in the movie, Julia notices one of her students, Lucas (Jeremy Thomas) has been rather troubled. It turns out Lucas is having issues because his father was attacked in an abandoned factory recently by a shadowed figure and now appears to be changing into something monstrous.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Antlers’ succeeds as a horror but let down by drama”

Halloween Adventures in B-Movie Horror 2021, Part 2

This edition of Adventures in B-Movie Horrors offers some throwbacks. On top of them being decades old, they also all feature things of a time gone by.

One of them takes inspiration from the classic “Frankenstein” story, another is a callback to 50s monster flicks and the third includes horror retellings of old fairy tales.

Continue reading “Halloween Adventures in B-Movie Horror 2021, Part 2”

REVIEW: ‘Halloween Kills’ crushes momentum from 2018 installment

Lightning struck in 2018, with that year’s “Halloween” feature, as it was a return to form for the long-running franchise.

Unfortunately, it appears to have been just a lightning in a bottle scenario.

The movie picks up just minutes after the end of the 2018 picture. Despite the efforts of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her family, the killer Michael Myers survived the trap set for him and is back on the loose.

As Myers emerges from the fire started in the first picture, reports of his actions begin spreading throughout the town. Many of those who learn of Michael’s actions had run ins with the killer when he first attacked in 1978. Intending to bring an end to Myers, they decide to take the law into their own hands, causing even more chaos in the city of Haddonfield.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Halloween Kills’ crushes momentum from 2018 installment”

REVIEW: Maniacal third act makes ‘Malignant’ worth watching

“Malignant” may not be the scariest movie of the year, or of the past few years, but what it leads up to certainly makes it a memorable horror experience.

The flick follows the story of Madison (Annabelle Walis), a woman with an unclear past who lives in Seattle with her Husband. It’s clear from the get-go that their marriage is strained and the film opens with them having a fight.

That night, Madison’s husband is murdered and she has a vision of it happening. From that day on, more murders begin taking place and each time Madison has horrible visions of it taking place. As this happens, Madison begins to dig more into her past to see what the connection is.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Maniacal third act makes ‘Malignant’ worth watching”