The Invisible Man, 2020 – ★★★

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Elizabeth Moss is getting to be a force to reckon with in Hollywood. I’ve loved her stuff for years, the earliest I recall being “The One I Love” with Mark Duplass. That’s a crazy sci-fi movie too though nothing on the gigantic scale of Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man.” I liked Moss in this and that’s what made the over 2 hours palatable. Unfortunately the cool stuff was saved until the end and anything else awesome was glittered few and far between.

The story has nothing to do with the 1933 classic version other than the man’s last name. It waits over half the film to show anything “invisible.” Moss’ expressive eyes keep us happy but hungry on the journey. When the shit goes down it’s pretty fun but not amazing. I really have no more to say about this film. It’s a fun ride but nothing like what it could have been.

I was hoping for a scoundrel out doing mischievous acts. Instead we have an invisible stalker messing with his woman for no apparent reason other than the fact that she has the balls to disagree with him (?) Leigh Whannell could have done much better in the screenplay chair. I must dissent from the masses on this one. You could miss this one. 6/10

The Loft

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“The people you love, they’re the only ones who can hurt you.” -Anne Morris

According the “The Loft” movie, it’s every man’s dream to have a cave or a loft where he can do whatever he wants, including cheating on his wife (or girlfriend). I say no thanks, even in a movie. The idea of cheating is only somewhat interesting to me. “The Loft” explores it. Then again, maybe the movie is meant to show us the consequences of such actions.

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The Loft (2014)
Cast
Karl Urban

as Vincent Stevens

James Marsden

as Chris Vanowen

Wentworth Miller

as Luke Seacord

Directed by
Erik Van Looy
Written by
Bart De Pauw (based upon the film written by), Wesley Strick (screenplay)
Other Info

Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Rated R
1h 48min

My favorite aspect of this movie isn’t the subject matter but rather the mystery woven through. In the first scenes we see a body fall out of the loft onto a car. The viewer is given clues but the key to the mystery about that body takes a real sleuth.

For me, this was almost a good tv movie but it shouldn’t be a cinema film. It had all the trappings of an Zach Galafinakis/Bradley Cooper drunken comedy ony there aren’t any jokes and we certainly aren’t meant to shake our fists and say “Hell yeah, have another shot.”

While I’m on that subject of men partying, I want to share with you I feel so disenfranchised from films like this. I don’t have friends who are pouring vodka down my throat and hooking me up with centerfolds. Why do we see this so much in movies like this?

The concept here is that a group of men share the rent on a secret loft penthouse style apartment. The understanding is that they can cheat on their significant other without being caught. Well, there is a murder and seemingly another death that may be suicide (the falling body onto the car). You get a lot of clues, some are obvious the others more cryptic. Nonetheless, it is a well woven mystery and I would recommend it on that basis alone. The characters, their lines, the story besides the mystery, unbelievable for me anyway. I don’t know what kind of dudes you run with but these ‘aint my peeps. If you liked it, let me know why? Like I said, it was an alright mystery.

Psycho 2 5/10

I will respect any movie with the Psycho name attached … up to a point. The movie should be connected to the original in cohesive ways and this one is not.

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For starters, Norman Bates is released from the insane asylum after demonstrating his sanity. That wouldn’t just happen. Second he is released back to all the old triggers including the hotel. No psychiatrist on the case would allow that.

At his job (he looks and acts very wooden in the film) he meets Meg Tilly’s character and they hit it off. This also feels forced and unrealistic. This film could have been so great! I haven’t yet seen III so perhaps they got closer to Hitchcock in their conventions. II looks like a cheap TV movie or lampoon on the original. When someone is murdered it’s serious but not so in this film universe. The sheriff gives a knowing laugh when recalling Norman’s story. There was no verisimilitude, it was not entertaining in the least. Worst of all, none of it was logical. 5/10

Insidious

This is one of my favorite horror films of all time. It still gives me the chills when I watch it and I have seen it numerous times. Director James Wan uses clever practical effects and a very minimum number of CGI effects to make this film look and feel like a house of horrors you pay a dollar to see at a spooky off-the-path carnival. It’s amazing and I recommend it to all people interested in horror. Oh, and it’s all that AND guess what it’s rated? Only PG-13. Goes to show you a film doesn’t have to be super gnarly to scare the bajeezus out of you. Let’s hear the trailer then look at the plot to see if you agree with me about what makes this horror film work.

Insidious (2010)
PG-13 | 1h 43min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 1 April 2011 (USA)
Insidious Poster
Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
5 VIDEOS | 25 IMAGES
Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins

Director James Wan Probably needs no introduction to my audience, however if you don’t know much about him, let me read his BIO for you, because I think in this case, the director makes the film work (among other things):

James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013) and Furious 7 (2015).

Before his success in the mainstream film industry, he made his first feature-length film, Stygian, with Shannon Young, which won “Best Guerrilla Film” at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in 2000.

Prior to 2003, Wan and Leigh Whannell had begun writing a script based for a horror film, citing inspiration from their dreams and fears. Upon completing the script, Leigh and James had wanted to select an excerpt from their script, later to be known as Saw (2004), and film it to pitch their film to studios. With the help of Charlie Clouser, who had composed the score for the film, and a few stand-in actors, Leigh and James shot the film with relatively no budget. Leigh had decided to star in the film as well.

After the release of the full-length Saw (2004), the film was met with overwhelming success in the box office both domestically and internationally. The film ended up grossing 55 million dollars in America, and 48 million dollars in other countries, totaling over $103 million worldwide. This was over 100 million dollars profit, over 80 times the production budget. This green-lit the sequel Saw II (2005), and later the rest of the Saw franchise based on the yearly success of the previous installment. Since its inception, Saw (2004) has become the highest grossing horror franchise of all time worldwide in unadjusted dollars. In the United States only, Saw (2004) is the second highest grossing horror franchise, behind only the Friday the 13th (1980) films by a margin of $10 million.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Movie Guy

Now let me walk you through the most terrifying house and show you the way Insidious scares the hell out of people! It’s done simply through its story and well made horror. Married couple Josh and Renai Lambert, their children Dalton, Foster, and infant daughter Cali have recently moved into a new home. One night, Dalton is drawn to the attic when he hears creaking noises and sees the door open by itself. He falls from a ladder while investigating and sees a figure in the shadows. Hearing his terrified screams, Renai and Josh rush to his aid. The next day, Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma. The Lambert family is what the beginning is all about. There are no jump scares, just some eerie wandering around. In fact, the movie only has a few scant jump scares and even those are more like letting your eyes adjust to the light and seeing something that startles you. They aren’t overly ambitious and in a way I think of them as … respectful? Yeah, it’s like Wan is respecting the viewer. In this early segment, we do see Renai walking into an attic, exploring dark areas of the house. It’s certainly creepy. I take issue with Josh at one point, he doesn’t take very good care of his wife. She has her hands full with the kids and he is always running out the door, working late, etc. Maybe he makes up for it later? Yeah, he does.

After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh are allowed to take Dalton home. Soon after, paranormal activity begins to occur; Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali’s room. Foster says that Dalton sleepwalks at night, Renai sees a frightening figure of a man in Cali’s room, who vanishes when Josh comes and the burglar alarm is repeatedly triggered for no reason. After Renai finds a bloody hand print on Dalton’s bed, she questions Josh about the house, but he ignores her. That night, Renai is attacked by the figure from Cali’s room, and the Lamberts decide to abandon the house and move elsewhere. This is pretty huge. I’m not sure if you’ve ever uprooted and moved but there is a lot to carry. Even with help, which they have hired, you’re stressing all the time, trying to get your shit moved. In short, it sucks. I hope I don’t have to move again for many many moons. But them again, these folks have a demon stalking them. If he’s in the house, they can escape, so I get why they do. Houses work to scare people. You can do so much with hinges, alarms, hideaway beds, fire escapes, cellars, attics, and the like. AND let me tell you, James Wan fucking uses the house in a way I have not seen. I got more scared by things that weren’t there than by things that surprised me were there. HIgh five on the spooky house work Mr. Wan! I recall one example vividly when the camera pans through one window showing a scary silhouette into another and the figure is gone. I would love to know how he did that. I have a feeling it was a practical non cgi effect. Mr. Wan, I’ll buy the coffee lol let’s hang dude.

In the new house, Renai sees the ghost of a dancing boy who leads her to Dalton’s room. Josh’s mother, Lorraine, visits them one day, and says she had a dream in which a dark figure in Dalton’s room replies “Dalton” when she asks what it wants. At the same time, she sees the same dark figure, a monstrous red-faced demon standing behind Josh and screams, while Dalton’s room is ransacked and Dalton himself is found lying on the floor. Lorraine is played by Barbara Hershey and her looks and moodiness is so perfect for the role. As a well known famous and award winning actress, it would be possible for her to wreck the buzz we have going in favor of thoughts about “Beaches” and Bette Midler but thanks to her incredible belief in the movie that you can feel, that doesn’t happen. Our Insidious universe is only enhanced.

Lorraine calls demonologists Elise Reiner, Specs, and Tucker. Elise senses a presence in the house and upon entering Dalton’s room sees something on the ceiling. Specs draws the demonic, red-faced figure Lorraine saw. At this point we are all in the dark about what it happening but the edges of the plot are starting to become clearer.

Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to travel mentally to the astral plane, and had been doing so in his sleep, believing his abilities to merely be dreams. He had traveled too far and became lost in a purgatory realm called “The Further”, a place inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead. Without his mental presence, Dalton’s body appears comatose and spirits can use it to enter the physical world. Josh is skeptical until he realizes that drawings in Dalton’s bedroom hinted at his astral projection abilities and the same red-faced demon Lorraine had seen.I’ll call him “Red.” The Red demon is no longer a mystery. He starts to be in scene after scene. He is the dude you want OUT of your home. As if it was that easy. The jump scare where a crescent sliver of his face is sticking out from Josh’s is the stuff that great horror images are made of. I am scared of this guy but I want Red to come back to send chills up my spine and he does, just enough, not too much. Again, the genius of James Wan at play.

Elise performs a seance to communicate with Dalton, but they contact the demon who uses Dalton’s body to attack them until it is stopped by Elise. Elise reveals that her acquaintance with Lorraine is decades old, because she previously performed the same service on Josh when he was eight years old. Josh was terrorized by night terrors that always included the parasitic spirit of an old woman. Lorraine dismissed his nightmares until the spirit showed up in her photos of Josh, progressively getting closer each time. Josh also possesses the ability to astral project, though he had suppressed his memory of the ability years prior with Elise’s help. Dalton has inherited this trait from him. Elise tells Josh that the only way to rescue Dalton is for him to go into the Further. This is the best part of the movie for me. The scares work because the dead and the killer are still. We do hear a gunshot but the creepy people in their living room. one ironing, others bringing food, simply remain still. The face of the female shooter is the essence of horror to me. I really love this part they call “The Further.” Again, I want to reiterate and remind you this got a PG-13 rating. I find it scarier than some R’s.

Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project himself to their previous house. He goes to the attic, but is attacked by the same figure that attacked Renai. After defeating him, Josh enters the Demon’s lair, where Josh finds Dalton chained to the floor. Josh frees him, but they are caught by the demon while the spirits of the Further invade the real world and terrorize Elise, Renai, and the others. After managing to escape, Josh confronts the old woman that haunted him as a child. The old woman dissolves into darkness after Josh shouts at it to leave him alone. When Josh and Dalton return to their bodies, they wake up in their new home and the spirits seem to disappear.

As they celebrate the apparent end of their ordeal, Elise starts packing her equipment with Josh, when she senses that something is wrong, noticing Josh’s hands look old and dirty, she takes a photo of him. Josh, enraged by this, strangles Elise to death. Renai is horrified when she discovers Elise’s dead body and searches for Josh. Renai picks up the camera and sees that the image Elise took of Josh is the old woman that haunted him as a child, implying that Josh has been possessed. Josh suddenly puts his hand on her shoulder, says “Renai, I’m here”, and she turns around and gasps.

So now, we are set up for sequels and prequels which for me does not make a film work. This one works as is and I sort of wish as I do with Star Wars, they would never have made a prequel or sequel. …

Secret in Their Eyes

Jess: Life Sentence
Ray Kasten: For you as well.”

When you catch murderers for a living, it must bite that much harder when they murder your child. When you know the wheels of justice grind slowly, it must be hard not to take the law into your own hands.

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Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
Cast
Chiwetel Ejiofor

as Ray Kasten

Nicole Kidman

as Claire Sloane

Julia Roberts

as Jessica Cobb

Directed by
Billy Ray
Written by
Billy Ray, Juan Jose Campanella
Other Info

Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Rated PG-13
1h 11min

Secret in their Eyes is a mystery thriller that started advertising far before it was released. The Julia Roberts factor was likely the reason there. Her movies almost always draw in the minions but sometimes they do fail to convince them. I wonder if her being listed at #3 on the IMDB cast page has to do with that. In the days of “Erin Brokovich,” “Pretty Woman,” et. al. the list goes on, she would likely have appeared first. Now, the two above her are a much hotter commodity.

It’s a great thriller! I don’t understand exactly why the critics have been so hard on it. It has a strong backbone of a story that was adapted from a 2009 Argentine film, “The Secret in Their Eyes.” That film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards. As I watched this film I felt empathy, revulsion, anger, and so much more. I felt I was among the characters, not just in the audience. I think it’s a universal theme of revenge.

There’s a twist at the end some may not see coming. The movie is made very well but it was a little predictable for me. Some viewers will enjoy the thriller aspect of this film as it unfolds while others will find the locations limiting and the events unbelievable. Takes on face value, this is an excellent thriller. I definitely enjoy watching it to the credits even though there were times I could clearly see what was going to happen next. After all, Jess Cobb’s daughter is brutally murdered and she becomes a basket case. I knew for sure some sort of retribution would happen, and it does. The manner and details of that retribution are what they hope you’ll go to see after the trailer. It’s a very cool thing, I recommend it!

The Wailing

A small village is the setting for this terrifying horror movie from South Korea.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 are borderline spoof films based on the Karate, Kung Fu, and Samurai films of the 50’s, 60’s. and 70’s. If you’ve seen these two films, you ay enjoy listening along as I give my reactions. If you haven’t seen them, I don’t reveal too man spoilers but I encourage my listeners to see the films I cover and then tune in after to compare notes with me.

In my next episode (68), I am watching and commenting on the film “American Splendor” with Paul Giamatti. I hope you can watch this along with me before the next show and tune in to compare notes. It has an 81/100 score on Metacritic. Enjoy your day.

At well over two hours, it plays with its viewers and weaves clues to a mystery revealed brilliantly in the final scenes.

Not Rated | 2h 36min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery | 3 June 2016 (USA)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.
Director: Hong-jin Na
Writer: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak

Another Korean film from the same year, Train to Busan, offered us a father/daughter relationship that touched our hearts. Both are slightly different in their journeys and plot but it is a powerful force of fatherly love that bonds these men together with their little sweethearts. The evil force that threatens the policeman’s daughter here is shifty and hard to understand. It takes the father on a quest of love that promises to harm his physical body and perhaps his soul. Will his daughter be saved? That’s the question that keeps coming up.

The policeman is the star of this film. There are a few scenes with his that are definitely Oscar worthy. In a horror film you sometimes need a voice of reason to identify with. But what about when that voice you’re following starts losing touch with reality? That can be a scary thing.

Then, there is this evil force. Who is it? A ghost as the shaman says? This film is not just horror but also a mystery to be guessed at which, if you like mysteries as I do, makes it a lot of fun. This mysterious, sleepy horror mystery tale should not be spoiled. If you have not seen it and these themes interest you, I encourage you to watch it. If you have seen it, I think you’ll agree it is one of the more powerful horrors of its year (2016). I hope to connect further through a podcast outlining my thoughts on this film. Stay tuned.

10/10

The Gift (2015)

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The Gift (2015)

 

Cast

Jason Bateman as Simon
Rebecca Hall as Robyn
Joel Edgerton as Gordo

Directed by

Joel Edgerton

Written by

Joel Edgerton

Mystery, Thriller
Rated R for language
1h 48min

The gift isn’t much of a gift at all. The gift to me was when I discovered Joel Edgerton is not only Gordo, the creepy stalker in the film, but also the writer/director of the piece. Wow! He certainly does a great job. Most directors might gravitate toward a role in their film that is endearing to the audience, Gordo couldn’t be any further from that sort of character. Things that go bump in the night can usually be explained away. If you were in Simon and Robyn’s case, you might find out your explanations are incorrect months or years later. So what were those creepy bumps for Simon and Robyn? Edgerton’s script shows they are part of a larger, much darker, horrific beyond an R rated gift. You’ll be surprised at the twist.

Robyn and Simon have just moved in to a posh 60’s retro home and are settling in as a married couple. They receive numerous visits from Gordo who says he knew Simon in High School. We get the feeling their relationship was more ominous in nature than it appears to Robyn, who Gordo starts to form a platonic relationship with. Through a course of events, the film becomes a typical stalker thriller but eventually sets itself apart as a very clever, well written, and telling “human nature” account of who everybody “really” is (not just Gordo).

I really liked “The Gift” because I enjoy psychology. As the tale unravels we actually see perspectives we aren’t meant to see. The obvious hero is far from it and the villain, while never a hero, becomes someone we can empathize with, though never fully. I thought the cast was amazing and the story really stays with you because of their performances. Jason Bateman does a great job in this thriller whereas he usually plays comedy parts. He can do a variety of roles. It’s a perfect thriller but I thought it did take too long developing the story. I think it’s over 2/3 of the way through before the typical stalker thriller stuff ends and you get into the genius of the film. For that reason it lost a star with me. Watch this creepy fun movie, I recommend it.