Summary: A father named Roy (Michael Shannon) goes on the run with his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), after the boy’s special powers attracts the attention of a cult who believes he delivers messages from God and also the CIA.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st April 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Lynn Berry (herself), Sean Bridgers (Fredrick), Kerry Cahill (Linda), Bill Camp (Doak), Adam Driver (Sevier), Kirsten Dunst (Sarah Tomlin), Joel Edgerton (Lucas), Lucy Faust (Caroline), Sharon Garrison (Jane Adams), Dana Gourrier (Sharon Davison), Nancy Grace (herself), Scott Haze (Levi), David Jensen (Elden), Allison King (Hannah), Sharon Landry (Merrianne), Jaeden Lieberher (Alton Meyer), Michael Shannon (Roy), Sam Shepard (Calvin Meyer), Paul Sparks (Agent Miller)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Jeff Nichols has really announced himself as one of the best modern day filmmakers over the past few years. To be honest Nichols is yet to make a bad film, and his features which have included Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud have been gems that have regularly made my Top Ten films lists of the years they were released. Hell, I would go as far as to say that Mud is right up there as one of the best modern day films made. For that reason alone when I heard that his new film, Midnight Special, was a dark edged sci-fi that just happened to star two of my favourite actors, Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, I was just as excited as I was about the release of Captain America: Civil War or Batman vs Superman.
Midnight Special begins with Roy (Michael Shannon – Man Of Steel) on the run from the law after he and his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton – The Gift) snatched his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) from a cult where it is expected that Alton and his supernatural gifts will continue to be the cult’s bridge between themselves and God.
But as Roy and Lucas rush to get Alton first of all to his mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia), and then to the co-ordinates that he has been sent, the journey is made dangerous by the fact that they are pursued by henchmen sent by cult leader, Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd – Mud) and law enforcement agencies led by Sevier (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Then there is the fact that Alton’s supernatural powers seem to be changing all the time, sometimes with catastrophic results.
There is no doubt that Midnight Special is going to frustrate some audience members. The film begins with an amazing opening as Nichols has the courage not to let the audience be able to figure out too much. In fact for the first 20-30 minutes you are led to believe that Alton has been kidnapped and you have absolutely no idea who Lucas is. The film keeps you completely in the dark to key information and that just adds to the suspense as you try to piece everything together like a jigsaw puzzle. That works remarkable well for the beginning of the film but what is annoying is when Nichols decides to do the same thing with the ending the film. There are so many unanswered questions in the end that it almost drives you crazy. In fact there are so many things left open that this is the one time I wouldn’t be angry if they decided to make a sequel to the film just to finish it off.
For the most part though Midnight Special works sensationally well. The way the film drifts from the cult storyline to a road-thriller shows that Nichols has the maturity to be a filmmaker that doesn’t shy away from throwing all the traditional filmmaking styles right out the window to get his story across. The fact that Nichols also manages to mix tropes from road trip and thriller movies into a film that ends up being a sci-fi also shows why he is one of the most exciting filmmakers of the modern generation.
Nichols’ well written screenplay also allows his cast to shine. As you would expect Edgerton and Shannon at their usual brilliant best while the film also allows Kirsten Dunst to remind audiences that she is still an actress who can really deliver when she is given the right material to work with. The script also lets Adam Driver show those who have been critical since his performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens just how good he has always been in the indie filmmaking society. But the star here is clearly Jaeden Lieberther who like he did in the Bill Murray film St. Vincent shows the world how is destined to become one of the finest actors Hollywood has ever seen.
Midnight Special is the kind of film that has the potential to frustrate cinema goers who like a simple linear story, but if you like your sci-fi a little left of centre then you are going to adore this film. In fact this is the kind of movie that you’ll go to see and then urge your friends to see because you’ve loved it so much. Sure Midnight Special is not as good as Nichols’ previous films but it is still well worth a look.
Summary: High ranking British officials Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) and Lt. General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) think that their hard work is finally paid off and they have been able to track the location of a number of terrorists in Kenya. When it is determined that all the terrorists will be in the same building for a meeting a plan is put in place to use drones to watch their movement and pounce when the time is right.
But when things start to go wrong and Powell and Benson realise that they are going to have to use American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) for a kill mission, the whole case becomes political. That then esculates when a young girl innocently goes into the ‘kill zone’ to sell bread.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016
Australian DVD/Blu-Ray/On Demand Release Date: 20th July
Director: Gavin Hood
Screenwriter: Guy Hibbert
Cast: Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah), Mohamed Abdirahmaan (Abdi), Ahmed Mohamed Ali (Omar), Carl Beukes (Sergeant Mike Gleeson), Babou Ceesay (Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq), Bob Chappell (Simon Powell), Francis Chouler (Jack Cleary), Monica Dolan (Angela Northman), Kim Engelbrecht (Lucy Galvez), Sonia Esguiera (Esther Alvarez), Daniel Fox (Tom Bellamy), Phoebe Fox (Carrie Gershon), Iain Glen (James Willett), Armaan Haggio (Musa Mo’Allim), Abdullah Hassan (Shahid Ahmed), Dek Hassan (Abdullah Al-Hardy), Faisa Hassan (Fatima Mo’Allim), Jon Heffernan (Major Harold Webb), Gavin Hood (Lt. Colonel Ed Walsh), Graham Hopkins (Nigel Adler), Jessica Jones (Kate Barnes), Tyrone Keogh (Sammy), Liz King (Susan Danford/Ayesha Al-Hady), Vusi Kunene (Major Moses Owiti), Warren Masemola (Agent Atieno), Richard McCabe (George Matherson), Roberto Meyer (Rasheed Hamud), Helen Mirren (Colonel Katherine Powell), Ali Mohamed (Khalid), Ma Mohamed (Osman Abade), Jeremy Northam (Brian Woodale), Michael O’Keefe (Ken Stanitzke), Abdi Mohamed Osman (Amadu Mukhtar), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Lt. General Frank Benson), Laila Robins (Ms. Jillian Goodman), Zak Rowlands (Second Crewman – K. Moore), Monde Sibisi (Muhammad Abdisallam), Abdilatief Takow (Ali), Aisha Takow (Alia Mo’Allim), Lemogang Tsipa (Matt Levery), Luke Tyler (Robert Powell), Ebby Weyime (Damisi), Meganne Young (Lizzy)
Runtime: 102 mins
OUR EYE IN THE SKY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Director Gavin Hood seems like he has a lot to say about the military and Government officials. Over the years he has delivered movies such as Rendition (which looked at CIA interrogation techniques), X-Men Origins: Wolverine which despite its blockbuster appeal was critical of military experiments on soldiers and his big journey into the sci-fi genre was Ender’s Game a film that was extremely critical about warfare and its involvement with children. Now Hood explores the notion of how politics can interfere with modern warfare with his latest offering, Eye In The Sky. Of course the importance of this film takes another big step forward after the sad death of Alan Rickman, this is his final performance on screen.
As a film itself Eye In The Sky holds its own but the similarities between it and a movie that surfaced last year called Good Kill (starring Ethan Hawke) are alarming. Surprisingly the two films would actually fit together as a good companion piece (take note those who program the films at The Astor), while Good Kill explored the effects that drone warfare has on the pilot that has to deliver the ‘kill’ Eye In The Sky looks at the dangers that occur when politics and modern warfare come face-to-face together.
To Hood’s credit Eye In The Sky would not have been an easy film to direct as the film is almost like two different films in one. While the shots on the ground in Kenya call for chases and action the scenes set back in England call for tense maybe dialogue driven scenes. To Hood’s credit he pulls off both equally as well as each other and it is absolute credit to him that some of the scenes set in the political offices are just as tense as the moments of action in Kenya. Ender’s Game taught as that Gavin Hood was a director to watch and Eye In The Sky shows audiences worldwide that he is a director that at the top of his game can produce a sleek military thriller.
To give the film credit though it really does explore the issue of politics and public relations getting in the way of modern warfare remarkably well. The film’s theory is probably best described by a masterful piece of screenwriting by Guy Hibbert (who also wrote Five Minutes Of Heaven) who at one point has the politicians debating whether it would be better PR for them if they let the terrorists do their terrorist attack or whether they kill an innocent child along with the terrorists. It’s just one bit of writing that will stick with me for a long time.
When your two leads are Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren of course the acting is going to be top notch, and while Mirren once again puts in a brilliant performance you can only wonder whether or not she is miscast and it seems implausible that a woman of her age would still have a military career. Rickman again also puts in a good performance but just seems to breeze through in a role that doesn’t call for him to do anything special. And for those wondering if this is a time that Aaron Paul gets the chance to put his teeth into a meaty role, think again because he like Rickman just seems to get a dream run without having to do much.
While Eye In The Sky is not as good as Good Kill it is still a film that is worth taking a look at if you want to see a film not afraid to raise some questions about modern day warfare. Gavin Hood brings just the right amount of suspense to the film while Rickman and Mirren and predictably good in their roles. Not quite an Oscar worthy film… but not far off either.
Summary: A remake of La Piscine from 1969 A Bigger Splash sees rock-star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), who has lost her voice after recent surgery, on a vacation on the beautiful Italian island of Pantelleria, with her recovering drug-addict, filmmaker boyfriend Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts).
Their enjoyable times of lazing in the sun however is cut short when Marianne’s manager and ex-lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his new-found daughter Penelope Lanier (Dakota Johnson) turn up unexpectedly and cause a range of issues to arise.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: Italy, France
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenwriter: David Kajganich, Alain Page (story)
Cast: Elena Bucci (Clara), Aurore Clement (Mireille), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Hawkes), Corrado Guzzanti (Maresciallo Carabinieri), Dakota Johnson (Penelope Lanier), Lily McMenamy (Sylvie), Matthias Schoenaerts (Paul DeSmidt), Tilda Swinton (Marianne Lane)
Runtime: 124 mins
OUR A BIGGER SPLASH REVIEWS & RATINGS:
If you don’t like slow burns and films a little on the alternative then A Bigger Splash is not the film for you. On the other hand if you like me and like a film with a little bit of an edge to it then you might be right in your element with Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s latest offering – a film that certainly keeps its audience guessing right up until the final credits.
Now I would be lying if I sat here and said that A Bigger Splash is the perfect film because it isn’t. While Guadagnino does use the island’s beauty and perils brilliantly well the film does drag at times, especially early on. Of course anyone who can cope with that slowness is then rewarded handsomely with a second half that sees the character’s loyalties tested and even a massive amount of crime injected into the storyline, and it is those moments that will have the audience on the edge of their seat as even though some of the characters are unlikable you do actually find yourself caring what happens to them in the long run.
A Bigger Splash is really a film told in two halves. The first half of the film is brought to life with some good acting performances that will be loved by those who like serious cinema. Tilda Swinton is at her usual best despite being put to the test by playing a character that can barely say a word. To her credit Swinton instead lets Marianne put all her emotions across powerfully for a range of looks and normally aggressive forms of body language.
Swinton is well supported by Ralph Fiennes who seems to enjoy play the eccentric and very bossy Harry Hawkes. No matter how slow the film is at times Fiennes completely steals a lot of the scenes that he is in, especially one in which he strangely dances for nearly five minutes, a scene which it seems he had a lot of fun filming. His later menacing scenes with both Swinton and Schoenaerts are also standouts that really bring the film to life as well.
Cast wise the audience also gets to see a very different side to Dakota Johnson that what we have not seen previously as well. While audiences got to see her as sweet and demure in Fifty Shades Of Grey and shy and reserved in How To Be Single here Johnson is completely transformed into a sultry and seductive blonde and shows that she is more than capable to match it with her much more experienced cast.
The second half of the film is where Guadagnino really brings the film to life though. As tension reaches a boiling point and a good crime story moves to the fore (don’t worry you won’t read any spoilers here) the film moves up several gears and takes a turn to the dark side. The infusion of glimpses of Europe’s refuge crisis all throughout the film also enhance the latter parts of the storyline as well, which shows that despite the films meandering style early on there was some form of structure there all along.
While A Bigger Splash may not be enjoyed by those who enjoy their normal popcorn movie, this is a film that will be loved by those that love their films a little left of centre and a good dose of darkness.
An erotic psychological drama starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash is a loose remake of Jacques Deray’s seductive 1969 film called La Picerne, which starred Alain Delon. Director Luca Guadagnino (better known for the gorgeous and visually sumptuous I Am Love) and writer David Kajganich (the dire Nicole Kidman sci-fi thriller The Invasion, etc) give the material a more contemporary flavour as they work in some topical issues with a mention of displaced migrants and refugees who are flooding into European countries by the boat load.
The film is set on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, which lies off Sicily, and centres around four self destructive characters caught up in a complex and complicated relationship. There is rock star Marianne Lane (Swinton), something of a cross between Bowie and Chrissi Hynde, who is recuperating following throat surgery. She is enjoying a nice holiday with her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Belgian hunk Matthias Schoenaerts), a recovering alcoholic. Both Marianne and Paul are psychologically wounded and carry mental scars.
Then their idyllic holiday is interrupted by the arrival of flamboyant record producer Harry Hawkes (Fiennes) and his estranged daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson, from the Razzie award winning Fifty Shades Of Grey, etc). Marianne and Harry share a past history. Indeed it was Harry who introduced Marianne to Paul in an effort to get out of the relationship, and he is now full of regrets over that decision. And the sexually precocious Penelope sets her sights on seducing Paul. The atmosphere is charged with suspicion, jealousy, and personal revelations, and there are palpable undercurrents of sexual tension, lust, temptation.
This is a juicy role for Fiennes. This is Fiennes like we haven’t seen him before on screen – lively, brash and flamboyant – and he chews the scenery with his manic performance. He normally has such an intense screen persona, but here he is such an ebullient character who also strips off and dances and swims naked and shows off rare comic timing. It was his performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel that convinced director Guadagnino that Fiennes was suited to the character here.
Swinton has the more challenging role as Marianne, who is largely a silent participant in events. Her character is unable to speak, so Swinton has to convey a wide range of emotions through gestures and facial expressions. Schoenaerts has plenty of charisma and is solid as the brooding Paul.
Johnson’s breakthrough role was as the ingenue introduced to the world of sexual games and b&d in the risible Fifty Shades Of Grey, and here she plays an outrageous, sexually aware Lolita-like adolescent, but her character is a little underdeveloped.
The film features an eclectic soundtrack that includes The Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson and Captain Beefheart. And Fiennes’ character narrates a wonderful anecdote about working with the Rolling Stones during the 80s, telling an apocryphal story about the recording of the track The Moon Is Up for their Tattoo You album – the story is apparently true, but the Harry Hawkes character and his involvement is not.
A Bigger Splash has been shot on location on Pantelleria by Guadagnino’s regular cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who gives the material a sunny, washed out, burned look that complements the setting. The swimming pool itself almost becomes a nother character in the carnal edgy drama. The title is also deliberately evocative of David Hockney’s 1967 painting of the same name, and also recalls Francois Ozon’s film Swimming Pool. The itself has something of a European sensibility in its approach to sex and nudity. Guadagnino’s regular editor Walter Fasano uses abrupt cuts to give the film an unsettling and disjointed feel.
But it remains to be seen whether A Bigger Splash will connect with an audience and make a splash at the box office.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment A Bigger Splash reviews: Nil
Summary: Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 1st June 1955
Australian DVD Release Date: Out Now
Director: Joseph M. Newman
Screenwriter: George Callahan, Franklin Coen, Raymond F. Jones (story)
Cast: Spencer Chan (Dr. Hu Ling Tang), Faith Domergue (Ruth Adams), Lance Fuller (Brack), Russell Johnson (Dr. Steve Carlson), Karl Ludwig Lindt (Dr. Adolph Engelborg), Jeff Morrow (Exeter), Robert Nichols (Joe Wilson), Rex Reason (Dr. Cal Meacham), Douglas Spencer (The Monitor), Lizalotta Valesca (Dr. Marie Pitchner), Robert Williams (Webb)
Runtime: 87 mins
OUR THIS ISLAND EARTH REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This Island Earth is a technicolour movie released by Universal International, directed by Joseph M. Newman and produced by William Alland. It was written by Franklin Coen and Edward G. O’Callaghan, based on the novel by Raymond F. Jones.
The story follows Dr Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) as he works on electronic applications of atomic research. After mysteriously being saved from crashing his jet, his laboratory receives new components for his equipment that are more advanced than anything he’s seen before, along with a catalogue of further products. He orders more of the strange components to build a previously unheard of device, the Interocitor Machine. The parts arrive with no request for payment and upon building the machine he receives a communication from a man named Exeter (Jeff Morrow) who invites him to join a secret research and development group. Curious, Cal accepts the request and soon finds himself in a world of suspicion and interplanetary events, aided by Dr Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue).
What begins as an engaging mystery leads further and further into a story that eventually goes nowhere, with questions and plot threads somewhat left unanswered. As an adventure in its own right the film is enjoyable, but not enough was made of the ultimate events of the film – especially the journey to the alien world of Metaluna.
We are engaged enough to follow our protagonists into their mystery and then into an intergalactic journey, but in the end the conclusion is rushed to the point of the whole trip being pointless. Having not read the original novel I do not know how this film stands against the original story, but I will be interested to find out.
As we progress through the story we find that an apparent enemy is, instead, someone we’re supposed to sympathise with; a hard task after they have just murdered several people to cover their tracks and hunt down our protagonists (who they were also about to kill but suddenly do not). These flaws are a shame as the film really builds the mystery, suspense and tension well.
The direction and cinematography are strong, with lighting and colour effects added to imbue alien qualities to otherworldly environments and enhance special effects. I am happy to say that the special effects were not over-used as some of the death-ray beams, while nicely styled to convey motion and impact, might eventually detract from the overall cinematic quality.
Some of the earlier scenes could have used tighter framing of shots in order to cut-up the, then-typical, mid-shots. This is forgiven when we see the filmmakers’ use of epic wide-shots to convey space and describe new environments, such as the war-ravaged surface of Metaluna and the interior of the giant flying-saucer.
The design and effects teams should be applauded for the creation of Metaluna, both from space and on its surface. The ‘ionization-layer’ around Metaluna helps to create a splendid looking planet (far better than the ‘plastic-looking’ planet Earth we leave behind). On the battered surface of Metaluna we get a sense of scale and a smoking, barren land of rock over some well-achieved alien cities. The painted backdrops and interestingly-framed shots help to convey an exciting new world which was, unfortunately, underutilised in the end.
The design of the Metalunans’ mutant servitors was another success, creating something new and wholly alien and increasing the immediate sense of threat for the protagonists and audience. Perhaps the only let-down was the actors’ somewhat awkward attempts to move in the costumes, but thankfully the shots were edited economically to maximise the presence without damaging credulity. It is a shame more was not made of these ‘monsters’.
The special and film effects were done well and the additions of lighting and Technicolor work really helped to make the effects eye-catching. The decay effect of a dead mutant was well achieved this way, overlaying different filmed layers with effects; as were the effects of the special pressurisation tubes the protagonists used to prepare them for the pressure differences of Metaluna (textured overlays, with some images of the human skeletal structure for good measure).
Unfortunately, the threat of the Zagon invaders bombarding Metaluna is never fully realised by showing them up-close. All we see are starships guiding meteors for use as missiles to bombard the planet. This feels a little bit wasted as we are expected to sympathise with the Metalunans, but the only constant threat seems to come from them and not the Zagon, whom they need help against.
This is a technically impressive and visually appealing adventure film, but would have benefited from further plot and character development (especially to show where Exeter stands in the conflict and to how Ruth and Cal empathise, or not, with their captors).
Overall, I give this film 3 out of 5 for high production levels and entertainment.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment The Finest Hours reviews: Nil.
Summary: It should be one of the happiest days of Bernie Webber’s (Chris Pine) life. Becoming engaged to his girlfriend, the beautiful Miriam (Holliday Grainger), Bernie’s aim is to go to work at the Coast Guard station where he is stationed and go through the ritual of asking his boss, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), if he can get married.
As fate would have it though one of the worst storms to ever hit the United States strikes on that very day. Offshore two oil tankers split in half and while the Coast Guard rushes to save the crew of one they have no idea that another is in difficultly until the alarm is raised much later. As Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) battles to keep his crew alive Bernie finds himself being sent on a mission to rescue them, with a crew of his own –a crew that doesn’t trust him as his last rescue ended in the loss of life.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Craig Gillespie
Screenwriter: Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Casey Sherman (book), Michael J. Tougias (book)
Cast: Casey Affleck (Ray Sybert), Savannah Rae Allen (Eliza), Eric Bana (Daniel Cluff),Abraham Benrubi (George ‘Tiny’ Myers), Rachel Brosnahan (Bea Hansen), Danny Connelly (Dave Ryder), Alexander Cook (John Stello), Ben Foster (Richard Livesey), Jesse Gabbard (Domingo Garcia), Kyle Gallner (Andy Fitzgerald), Holliday Grainger (Miriam Webber), Beau Knapp (Mel Gouthro), Benjamin Koldyke (Donald Bangs), Keiynan Lonsdale (Eldon Hanan), John Magaro (Ervin Maske), Matthew Maher (Carl Nickerson), Graham McTavish (Frank Fauteux), John Ortiz (Wallace Quiery), Chris Pine (Bernie Webber), Michael Raymond-James (D.A. Brown), Angela Hope Smith (Catherine Paine), Josh Stewart (Tchuda Southerland)
Runtime: 117 mins
OUR THE FINEST HOURS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Sometimes when a film is released you just have to shake your head at what the distributors think they are doing with the film. Disney’s choice to release The Finest Hours in Australia with no media screenings and only in limited cinemas is a baffling one. Traditionally, disaster films always do well in Australia and not only that The Finest Hours is certainly not the kind of film that should be kept away from the film loving public as it is a film that has a lot going for it.
So often when a director and screenwriter team together to make a disaster film they fall into a familiar trap of trying to make the audience like the characters so much they pile a heap of back story into the film and the result is the disaster itself starting way too late into the film. That certainly isn’t a trap that Craig Gillespie and his team of screenwriters fall in to. Gillespie as a director is someone that certainly can’t be peg holed into a style of filmmaking. From the thought provoking Lars & The Real Girl through to the horror frights of Fright Night Gillespie seems to just make whatever film he damn well feels like and here with The Finest Hours he shows why he is a director that should be added to your list of ‘exciting directors in modern day filmmaking.’ He doesn’t muck around with tons of back story with The Finest Hours, instead the storm itself hits within the first half hour of the film, which means that Affleck and co and in peril before the ice in your Coke has even started to melt.
Surprisingly The Finest Hours also manages to raise the stakes on a number of levels. Not only are the crew of the oil tanker in great peril but Gillespie also makes in known in no uncertain terms that Bernie is being sent on a mission that he has badly unprepared for with a boss that has no clue what he is doing… he is being sent to certain death. Just to raise the stakes even more Gillespie then has the events happen not only through the eyes of Bernie and Ray but also from the perspective of Miriam, an innocent bystander who is forced to watch as the man she loves is being sent on an impossible mission.
It’s for that reason that The Finest Hours is a must see for those people that love good cinema. The suspense never lets up and Gillsepie masterfully directs intense scenes which sees Bernie’s small Coast Guard boat become a submarine as it plunges through the waves in front of it and the even more suspenseful scene during which Ray’s crew have to face the hard decision of whether or not to jump into the wild sea that has just claimed their tanker.
The team of screenwriters also have done enough with the screenplay to make the key characters here likable. You instantly care what happens to the likes of Bernie and Ray, while they even steer well clear of making Mirian a whiny character, something that you feel a lesser team may have accidentally found themselves doing. The screenplay and Gillespie’s directional style also allows the cast to have a little bit of free reign as well. A look between Chris Pine and Ben Foster as their characters race towards the wild sea says more than one ten pages of script ever could. Likewise watching Casey Affleck sit in the corner and calmly think while the rest of his ‘crew’ panic says more about his character than any back story ever could. While both of done some great work in films over the years The Finest Hour is the one film that really shows that Affleck and Pine are so much more than what we have seen from them in the past.
Through no fault of its own The Finest Hours is one of those films that is going to be overlooked by a lot of film goers simply because of the fact that it hasn’t been promoted properly. That’s sad when you realise that in a lot of ways this is a far superior film to something like The Perfect Storm… yes Craig Gillespie has somehow managed to create a classy disaster flick that demands a viewing by serious film lovers.
Summary: When young Detective Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is moved into a tough squad of the Atlanta Police Department he is unaware that his new partner, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), is corrupt and working with a group of criminals including Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) and another corrupt officer, Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jnr.).
With the group running a series of robberies for Russian Mafia boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) they find themselves stretched to the limit and it is decided that the only way to pull off the hardest of the robberies is to have Triple 9 (Police officer down) call put across the airwaves. Their chosen target is Chris because they know his uncle, respected Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) will pull every officer onto the case.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: John Hillcoat
Screenwriter: Matt Cook
Cast: Terri Abney (Leah Green), Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Armando Alonzo (Emilio), Michelle Ang (Trina Ling), Carlos Aviles (Fernando Rivera), Alexander Babara (Ben Feldman), Anthony Belevstov (Yussel Gotlib), Ian Casselberry (Gomez), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Franco Rodriguez), Luis Da Silva Jnr. (Luis Pinto), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Gal Gadot (Elena Vlaslov), Michael Harding (Walter Sims), Woody Harrelson (Jeffrey Allen), Karen Kaia Livers (Shanice), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Blake McLennan (Felix), Valiant Michael (Sergio), E. Roger Mitchell (Smith), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Terence Rosemore (Joshua Parks), Labrandon Shead (Sgt. Pete Nelson), Christiana Simonds (Christina), Michael Kenneth Williams (Sweet Pea), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)
Runtime: 115 mins
OUR TRIPLE 9 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Yes it might be a year when we are getting films like Batman vs Superman and of course another Captain America film but one of the films I was most excited to see this year was Triple 9. Triple 9 looked like it would be interesting watch, not only did it have a stellar cast involved including two of my favourites Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet (who never normally chooses a bad script) but was also directed by John Hillcoat whose filmography contains films like TheProposition, The Road and Lawless all films that have revealed that he is gritty director certainly worth watching the work of. Throw in a healthy dose of Police corruption and this was well and truly on the road to becoming one of my fave films of the year. That was until I sat down and watched it.
To be honest Triple 9 isn’t a bad film, in fact many elements of the film do in fact work. Hillcoat is at his normal gritty best with some realistic action sequences in which a normal cops and robbers chase across Atlanta becomes something of violent beauty, while some of the urban shoot-outs will have the audience on the edge of their seat. The problem with Triple 9 though is that it tries to do too much and is sadly let down by a script that needed just a few more re-writes.
It’s not surprising to learn that Triple 9’s screenwriter Matt Cook is a first time feature writer. The idea behind Triple 9 is sound but still the screenplay itself has some very big holes. First of all there is way too much happening and too many of the characters are too similar, so similar in fact that some of the critics at the Melbourne media screening were turning to each other and asking ‘who the hell was?’ after the screening… never a good sign.
As a screenwriter Cook seems to created quite a good world with a massive amount of back story that just doesn’t come through during the film. Just how did Michael start having a relationship with Elena, what ended etc are just never fully explained. Then there are huge plotholes like if all the team need is for a Triple 9 call to go over the airwaves do they really need to shoot a cop or can they just ‘pretend’ a cop has been shot? A seasoned screenwriter would have known to have ironed out things like that during the writing process but sadly that is something that Cook has overlooked. Hillcoat does all he can to make the screenplay watchable but just falls short of making this a decent film.
Likewise the weak screenplay also leaves some of the cast floundering as well. Luckily Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet are there to save things. Affleck does a more than admirable job playing the fresh faced Chris, but it is Winslet that really excels herself. Casting Winslet as a Russian Mafia boss was a risky pick. A pick so risky that if she had failed she could have been looking at finding herself in Golden Razzie territory, luckily though she is up to the task and Winslet delivers another fine performance… this time showing that she can pretty much handle anything that is thrown at her.
Also up to the task is Harrelson who seems to borrow a little bit from his role that he had in Rampart. Those suffering though are the likes of Antony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor who in roles where they are severely hampered by the fact that their characters are dangerously clichéd. Then there are poor Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer and Michelle Ang whose characters just seem to go missing for huge chunks of the film.
There is no doubt that with a little bit more work on the screenplay Triple 9 could have been a brilliant film. The poor screenplay unfortunately though leaves the audience asking too many questions and dumps this film right in the middle of a heap of other average films. While it may appeal to fans of The Shield don’t expect the writing of Triple 9 to ever lift it to anything near as brilliant.
Australian director John Hillcoat makes visceral, violent, dark and aggressively masculine thrillers, ranging from the bleak prison drama Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead through to the gritty outback western The Proposition, the apocalyptic journey into a heart of darkness with The Road or the prohibition era crime drama Lawless. And he seems to be able to attract A-list actors to work with him. Hillcoat’s latest film is another gritty and morally murky crime drama that is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. Triple 9 features a strong cast, some strong action sequences and a high body count. But it is also something of a disappointment given his body of work.
Written by first time writer Matt Cook, Triple 9 is set on the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia, a lawless city full of crime and corruption where the gang and gun culture seems out of control. But the script itself raises too many questions and there are some gaping holes in the plot. Some of the dialogue is cliched, and the characterisation underdone.
When the film opens a carefully planned bank robbery is in progress. The thieves rob some money but their prime interest lies with a safety deposit box that holds some important documents vital to a Russian gangster incarcerated in a Siberian gulag. The thieves turn out to be a couple of former special forces operatives and a couple of corrupt cops. They have been blackmailed by the powerful Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet, cast against type), the wife of the Russian gangster, into working for the Kosher Nostra, a criminal gang of Russian Jews. But Irina welshes on paying them, instead she forces them to break into a Homeland Security safe house, an even more secure location, to steal further incriminating evidence. The thieves plan to distract the police by killing honest cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck).
On the trail of the daring brazen thieves is veteran detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be Chris’s cousin.
The title comes from the police code for “Officer Down,” a code that sees police officers everywhere stop what they are doing and respond immediately to the distress signal. The film itself is full of some violent action, double crosses and revenge. But this contemporary heist thriller is also a morally empty film, and its seedy air of corruption and desperation reminds audiences of Training Day and the films of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, etc).
Hillcoat certainly directs with energy and he maintains a fast pace throughout. He effectively ramps up the action with a superb urban shootout that imitates Michael Mann’s superb Heat, and an exciting adrenaline charged car chase on the city’s freeway.
Belgian cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis (the moody crime drama The Drop, etc) gives the film a grimy authenticity as he has shot the film largely using a restless handheld cameras to take us into the action. This is particularly effective in a couple of tense scenes. He has also shot in muted colours, lots of reds and blacks that is meant to intensify the mood, but the colour scheme also sometimes renders it hard to discern what is happening. The film has also been edited in that rapid, kinetic style by Dylan Tichenor (who has worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson) which sometimes renders the action incomprehensible. And too many of the characters seems too similar and we never really get a handle on them and what makes them tick.
Strong performances from Affleck, Winslet and Harrelson bolster the film. Winslet steps into a role originally intended for Cate Blanchett (who wisely said “nyet”), but she adopts a convincing Russian accent and a cool icy demeanour. Affleck delivers one of his best perfomances yet as the fresh faced cop unaware of the corruption surrounding him. Harrelson is also good as the seedy and jaded veteran cop with an addiction problem, a role that has some similarities to his recent work in True Detective and the gritty drama Rampart.
Unfortunately, talented players like Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clifton Collins jr, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus find themselves stuck with cliched, one-dimensional characters ands do not leave much of an impression.
With its convoluted plotting and cliched characters, Triple 9 is unfortunately just another police action thriller that doesn’t really offer anything particualrly new or surprising.
John Hillcoat has an impressive back catalogue to show off. All of them tapping into a vein of masculinity being tested. Whether it be Ray Winstone saving face in The Proposition, Viggo Mortensen going above and beyond fatherly duties in The Road, or literally every cell mate in Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead. Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 lets Hillcoat return to these themes and, well, triple them. Not always to great effect.
In Atlanta, Georgia, three professional criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) join up with two corrupt lawmen (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jnr) to rob a bank at the behest of a Russian mob wife (Kate Winslet). She stiffs the group on their reward, politely and violently asking them do one last robbery for the sake of her incarnated husband.
Each of the man has a lot to lose, financially and personally, if they don’t steam ahead. Ejiofor, for example, will lose custody rights to the kid he’s fathered with Winslet’s sister. So, realizing that the robbery is impossible unless they come up with a big enough distraction, the decision is made to kill a cop on the day. With Atlanta’s police searching for a cop killer, they should have plenty of time to get in and out unnoticed. Enter Casey Affleck as Mackie’s new partner, who he clearly doesn’t care for.
Triple 9 is bolshy, angry and suffers from excess in all departments. With such a pedigree of cast on display, I haven’t even mentioned Woody Harrelson yet, it’s understandable the film wants to get plenty of bang for its buck.
This should be an ensemble piece, but it feels like Triple 9 can’t decide who its focus is. Is it Affleck stumbling around naively? Is it Mackie wrestling with his subconscious? Perhaps it’s Ejiofor battling to see his son. Triple 9 wants it to be all of them. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t achieve its goals.
Meanwhile, Hillcoat’s direction paints a suitably sweaty, gritty world lit in blue and red. At it’s best, it’s a reminder of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. At it’s worst it’s Heat as directed by Michael Bay, where men are real chest beating men and women have minimal dialogue or clothing. That’s not an exaggeration as Triple 9 ensures that anyone remotely female is saved for background or wifely duties. It’s only really Winslet that manages to rise above the heap and she does so with an outrageous accent.
There is still a lot to enjoy here, with some breathtaking set pieces that suggest Hillcoat could be eyeing up an action movies as his next gig. But this is then clouded by overripe dialogue, undercooked characterisation and so much backstabbing it makes Wild Things blush. Please understand, this isn’t a bad film. It’s perfectly serviceable, but it is not what we expect from Hillcoat, who has proven in the past he can play with restraint. Enjoyable, but a bit of a misstep.
Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat and containing a decent cast consisting of Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and many more. Personally I am not one who is into all the Police and crime films but after seeing Triple 9 I must say that is a film that is definitely worth watching. The film opens with a bang consisting of a bank robbery and from that point on the film is non-stop action. There aren’t any big defying scenes of the film that consist of car chases and explosions but the film is very confronting when it comes to the criminal side of things. The film has a lot of graphic scenes which really gives the film a very dark feel to it. Some of the things I liked about the film was the story and the acting. The story itself had many twists and turns that you don’t see coming and it adds so much to the film when you see something you don’t believe would happen. The acting in the film from all the actors was incredible. The pure emotion that was seen on screen was great to me.
If your a fan of the Police and crime films this is a film that you really should go see.
Summary: Based on the hit novel by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave sees teenager Cassie Sullivan’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) world get turned upside overnight. One moment she is your typical partying High School student who has a crush on classmate Ben Parish (Nick Robinson) and the next moment everything changes as an alien race known as The Others begin four waves of attack on Earth.
Soon Cassie finds herself in a desperate bid to survive while trying to find her brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur) who has become separated from her and is now in the so-called safe hands of the military. But Cassie knows that nobody or nowhere is safe anymore and she will do anything to get back to her brother.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 14th January 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: J Blakeson
Screenwriter: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Rick Yancey (novel)
Cast: Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan), Cade Conan Ball (Oompa), Talitha Bateman (Teacup), Michael Beasley (Major Bob), Maria Bello (Sergeant Reznik), Bailey Ann Borders (Julia), Faneal Godbold (Trooper Fay), Nadji Jeter (Poundcake), Adam C. Johnson (Sergeant Webb), Scott Ledbetter (Officer Henry), Charman Lee (Ms. Paulson), Ron Livingston (Oliver Sullivan), Gabriela Lopez (Lizbeth), Alex MacNicoll (Flintstone), Flynn McHugh (Tank), Maika Monroe (Ringer), Chloe Grace Moretz (Cassie Sullivan), Johnny Otto (Dr. Osborne), Tony Revolori (Dumbo), Derek Roberts (Private Barker), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Nick Robinson (Ben Parish/Zombie), Liev Schreiber (Colonel Vosch), Terry Serpico (Hutchfield), Maggie Siff (Lisa Sullivan), Parker Wierling (Jeremy)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR THE 5th WAVE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner – there’s been no shortage of teen utopian flicks coming out the last few years and now there is a new kid in the playground – The 5th Wave, and boy does this kid have some bite. The 5th Wave doesn’t mess around, as some unsuspecting parents discovered in the screening I was in when they had to rush their kids from the cinemas after Chloe Grace Moretz gets shotgun friendly within the opening moments of the film. Yes this film’s a winner, but I just wish I’d had a better and longer time to get to know the characters.
Don’t get me wrong The 5th Wave delivers on all cylinders, in fact it has everything that a movie like this needs. The problem is that the story and the characters are so interesting I wanted to spend longer in their world. Instead of a two hour movie I would much rather have seen Cassie and her family put through trials for a longer period of time and had this become a television series that I could enjoy alongside The Walking Dead and Under The Dome. The first four waves of the attack happen so quickly in the film it seems the only way to do it true justice would be to have it happen over two or three seasons of a show.
Still credit needs to be paid to The 5th Wave as a film. Director J. Blakeson knows how to deliver suspense, he did it by the bucket loads in the haunting The Disappearance Of Alice Creed and here he teams up with a talented screenwriting team that among others features the talented Akiva Goldsman (yes the genius that brought us I Am Legend). Together these two set about making this film enjoyable for the same reason we loved Maze Runner… because they don’t hold back and as a result the story is more believable. Believability was really on their side as Cassie isn’t based in some far off world, her world is our world just with some alien attackers added. Blakeson and co then brilliantly have her face decisions that many of us would struggle to comprehend and the result is a film that has you on the edge of your seat throughout. Once the twists and turns start occurring in the plot you never know what is going to happen next.
The other thing that makes The 5th Wave work so well is that all the characters are relatable. Cassie isn’t your superhero archetype, instead she is the girl next door who suddenly finds herself having to fight for survival. Her instinct of wanting to protect her family is something that we all identify with and the audience very quickly finds themself ‘barracking’ for her. Sadly that same feeling takes a bit longer to generate with Ben as he missing for a huge part of the middle area of the film… still he is likable enough for it to come back and it would have been nice to have been able to spend more time getting to know him as a character.
The well written script and good direction from Blakeson also allows the young stars to shine. Chloe Grace Moretz is her usual stand-out best but unlike her role in Kick-Ass we do get to see a much softer side to her this time around as well. She is well supported by Nick Robinson and also Alex Roe who both announce themselves as stars of the future. A gruff performance by Liev Schreiber is also worth mentioning as he is at his menacing best.
One of the saddest things about writing this review is that I can’t tell you the real reason for why I loved The 5th Wave so much and that is for the twisted elements that exist due to the film’s plot turns and revelations. The 5th Wave is a good action sci-fi that has a little more bite than some would predict. Easy-to-warm-to-characters and an interesting storyline means the audience quickly feels part of this new world… so now we can only hope that this spins off into franchise so we can spend a little more time watching Cassie and co go up against The Others. Bring on number 2 please.
The 5th Wave, Directed by J Blakeson is a film adaptation from the popular novel written by Rick Yancey.
Chloë Grace Moretez (Cassie Sullivan) is the star of the film accompanied by a variety of young actors. Nick Robinson (Ben Parish), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan) and Maika Monroe (Ringer) all play leading roles in the film.
The 5th Wave is the story of an alien race, known as The Others, coming to Earth and trying to claim the planet as their own. The Others attack Earth in a series of waves. The 1st Wave, lights out. All electrical appliances and vehicles are terminated from being able to be used by mankind. The 2nd Wave, Surfs Up. This wave involved tsunamis and flooding to occur all over the world and killing millions. The 3rd Wave, Pestilence. The Others increased the effects of the bird flu and infected the whole planet ridding Earth of those who were left, those who caught it at least. The 4th Wave, They Arrive. In this wave The Others come to Earth in human form and try to gather up the last remaking human’s by impersonating the Army. The 5th Wave… This is what the whole film is based around. Trying to stop the 5th wave from happening.
During the film I loved the acting by some of the cast members and I loved the aspect that Humans are so delicate and vulnerable to so many things and how the aliens used our vulnerabilities to kill us. The story itself was a good story. I felt as though it was dragging on a little bit towards the middle of the film but that’s just my personal opinion. Once a few plot twists were presented to the audience things really picked up in my opinion. Being the School holidays this is a great film to take the whole family to. Action, drama and romance are all included writhing the film so I think there should be an aspect of the film that everyone will enjoy.
Summary: Traumatised by a series of losses in her life the recently divorced Caroline (Lanna Olsson) finds herself suddenly living in a strange apartment alienated from everything she once took for granted. Surrounded by peculiar neighbours and with disturbing, inexplicable events increasing in frequency, Caroline struggles to make sense of her new circumstances. Is her mental illness getting the best of her? Is she just struggling to adapt to living alone? Or is there something more sinister at hand?
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Christian Hallman
Screenwriter: Christian Hallman, Mans F.G. Tunberg
Cast: Norah Andeson (My Jansson), Karin Bertling (Vera Brandt), Boel Larsson (Elsa Ullman), Harald Leander (Frank Mandel), Alida Morberg (Emma Trelkovski), Lanna Olsson (Caroline Menard), Rafael Pettersson (Johan Steiner), Linnea Pihl (The Girl)
Runtime: 81 mins
OUR SENSORIA REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Scandinavian film industry has delivered some brilliantly hard edged movies over the past few years – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let The Right One In spring straight to mind – and now horror fans are about to start raving about the release of a brand new film from Sweden with Sensoria certainly deserving to be described as one of the horror films of the years.
Directed by first time feature film director Christian Hallman (who is mainly known for his involvement with several film festivals across Europe) Sensoria is the kind of film that keeps you guessing while you are watching it and then stays with you for a long time after the final credits have rolled. Hallman sets up so many David Lynch like characters in the apartment building that when things first start happening to Caroline you can’t help but wonder is it the strange bossy lady, the blind man who quickly learns way too much about Caroline or the creepy Steiner who has date-rapist written all over him. About the last thing you actually expect is the twist that Hallman delivers, a twist that is so good that Sensoria deserves to be put into the truly memorable horror films category.
Sensoria really does show that Christian Hallman is a director to watch over the years. While many carry on about the fact that films like The Conjuring or Insidious have you on the edge of your seat, the weak amount of suspense that those films generate is nothing compared to what Hallman manages to create with Sensoria. Even better is the fact that he manages to do it without falling into that whole found-footage genre or having to rely on blood and gore to do what he wants to do… and that is send some chills down the spine of the audience.
Teaming up with Hallman here is cinematographer Janssen Herr who also helps give Sensoria the look and feel that makes it so special. Very few filmmaking teams in the world can make a simple thing like water dripping from a tap so eerie, but that is something that these two manage eerily well. Together Hallman and Herr actually make the apartment building a character in itself and at times you are left wondering whether it is the actual building that is the horror that is taunting Caroline.
Sensoria also allows some acting talent to burst onto the scenes as well. Lanna Olsson really reveals herself as an actress with great range as she plays the traumatised Caroline very well. Whether it be a suspenseful moment in a bath tub, a freaky encounter with a neighbour or even a dramatic scene in which she pours her heartache out to her best friend Olsson’s range allows her to never fall below par. She is also well supported by child actress, Norah Anderson who writes herself into horror film folklore and steals a lot of the scenes that she is performing in.
While it may have flown under the radar for many horror fans Sensoria is a film that needs to be checked out. Christian Hallman reveals himself as a horror director with a big future ahead of him while the films mash of Scandinavian horror and J-horror creepiness makes it a complete stand-out.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Sensoria reviews: Nil
Summary: Young filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her wannabe rapper brother Tyler (Ben Oxenbould) decide to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time when their mother (Kathryn Hahn) decides to take some time out and go on a cruise.
At first the pair are excited about their visit and Becca decides that the trip would make a good subject for a documentary. However, things start to become creepy for the two when their grandparents start acting strange and they are forbidden to leave their bedrooms after bedtime. Is something sinister occurring?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
There is no doubt about it the once promising career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is on the rocks. He burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense but then came average films like The Happening which were quickly followed by some of the worst movies ever made – The Last Airbender and After Earth. Well it seems as though Shyamalan listened to the public and the critics because he has decided to do something very different with his latest film The Visit. He goes right back to the drawing board and has decided to make a low budget film with a cast of virtual unknowns.
Now that might be enough to make some people groan, but it seems to be the right decision for Shyamalan as returning to the basic style of filmmaking has meant that he has had to rely on a good script to impress the audience rather than millions of dollars worth of special effects. And I’ll admit it to my surprise he manages to pull it off very well with a film that has now even seemed to win horror fans… some of the hardest film lovers to impress.
Early on The Visit did have me wondering what the hell I had walked into as the character Tyler started to rap… yes rap like a poor man’s Eminem. After a while though I realised that Shyamalan had just inserted this to get some laughs from the audience or even to make this film a little bit different, no instead this was something that had been lacking from his films for quite a while – characterisation. With the important aspect of a screenplay welcomed back Shymalan then takes his audience on a journey that provides a more than enough scares along the way, with the odd chuckle and then delivers its payload with a twist that actually drew sounds of amazement and fear out of the audience I was sitting with. Yes Shymalan has not only managed to deliver a horror with a mix of comedy, but also made that a damn good horror film at the same time.
It does feel that The Visit’s fairytale style story allows Shyamalan to take a journey make to his childhood and he mostly seems to do this through the character of Becca who you can easily imagine is the female version of what the wannabe-filmmaker teenage Shymalan would have been like. Maybe it’s because of this personal touch or perhaps because the film actually works but this was one time when the ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking didn’t make me want to leave the cinema.
Of course one of the dangers of making a low budget film with no names acting is that the acting is going to be below par but that certainly isn’t the case here. Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan bring a brilliant level of creepiness to this film while the young Australian stars Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge put in mature performances well above their ages. This is something that fans of Australian television series Puberty Blues have come to expect from Oxenbould and he continue to shape himself to be one of the big international stars of the future.
Well its official people, it has taken a few bombs along the way but M. Night Shyamalan is back with one of the most impressive horror flicks of the year. The back to basics storytelling approach that Shyamalan takes with The Visit results in a horror flick with an amazing twist that is guaranteed to provide a few scares for its audience.
The following is David Griffiths’ second The Visit review which originally appeared in Heavy Magazine
While it may have been bombarded by the amount of blockbusters that have been released recently new horror thriller The Visit is actually a film that has a lot riding on it – the most important thing being the career of its writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Shymalan was once the talk of Hollywood thanks to the fact that his film The Sixth Sense was classed as a classic, but since then Shyamalan has never reached those heights again and his past two films The Last Airbender and After Earth saw him get crucified by critics and film lovers so badly he now needs a hit film to get some credibility back.
The Visit is a brave choice for Shymalan. It has a small budget, stars virtual no-names and decides to mix comedy and horror together – two genres that sometimes meet to create little more than a car crash. Shymalan’s The Visit presents itself like a fairytale. A mother (Kathryn Hahn – We’re The Millers) reluctantly allows her children, budding filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge – The Sisterhood Of Night) and wannabe rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould – Puberty Blues), to go and stay with her estranged parents. But then when the two kids arrive they find that Nana (Deanna Dunagan – Have A Little Faith) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie – Lincoln) behavior is strange to say the least.
The great news horror fan is that The Visit sees Shymalan back at his creepy best. He takes some huge gambles with this film and luckily they all pay off. Sure early on when young Tyler bursts into some pretty ordinary rapping you might groan but stick with it because that is just setting up his character and soon you find yourself embedded in an old style horror film that actually has enough scares to have you jumping in your seat. Oh and there is one hell of a twist that will leave you screaming WTF!!! Yes, it is such a surprise you will actually say it out loud.
Even the fact that this is largely a ‘found footage’ film doesn’t hold it back and for once a screenplay actually manages to include a few humorous parts into what is actually a pretty frightening horror film. Young stars Olivia DeJone and Ed Oxenbould do Australia proud and once again cinema fans can start to get excited about a film with the name M. Night Symalan attached to it.
Summary: Set in Melbourne in the mid-1970s, Cut Snake tells the story of Sparra Farrell (Alex Russell), an ex-con in his twenties trying to make a life for himself in a new city. He has found honest work and becomes engaged to the beautiful Paula (Jessica De Gouw). But the prospect of his new life is challenged when the charismatic, dangerous Pommie (Sullivan Stapleton) tracks him down. Sparra finds himself drawn back into a world that he thought he had left behind.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Tony Ayres
Screenwriter: Blake Ayshford
Cast: Ricahrd Anastasios (Wayne), Syd Brisbane (Ben), Christopher Bunworth (Mr. McGrath), Jessica De Gouw (Paula), Luke Elliott (Bruce), Megan Holloway (Yvonne), Graham Jahne (Len), Catherine Larcey (May), Paul Moder (Carl), Robert Morgan (Duck), Alex Russell (Sparra Farrell), Jim Russell (Neil), Sullivan Stapleton (Pommie), Brett Swain (Boss), Rosie Traynor (Mrs. McGrath), Antonius Verlaan (Bear), Kerry Walker (Mrs. Farrell)