The Night House


Viewed – 13 November 2021 Disney+

After a woman’s husband commits suicide under mysterious circumstances, she finds herself experiencing strange visions and creepy goings on during the night in the lakeside house where they lived together.

A fairly typical premise granted, but with effective atmosphere and a few genuine chills along the way. Rebecca Hall stars as Beth and is convincing as a woman struck by grief who begins to uncover a secret life linked to her husband. As the movie progressed it began to develop from standard haunted house fair to something more disturbing and I began to think – this was getting interesting. However a final act seemed to disregard much of what gets suggested in dreams and visions, instead choosing not to give the viewer any real answers.

Hall is very good however and the concept was an interesting take on a cliched setup. I just wished it had delved further into the more creepier ideas that may or may not have been real. I guess the director wanted to leave it ambiguous, but all I was left with was disappointment and frustration.

Verdict: Poor

The Guilty


Viewed – 26 October 2021 Netflix

Jake Gyllenhaal is probably my favourite actor at the moment, so anything he stars in will grab my attention. This latest has him as a troubled LAPD cop doing a night shift at a 911 call centre. When he receives a call from a frightened sounding woman giving the impression she’s been abducted, he decides to make it his mission to save her.

Your call is important to us…

This is one of those single location movies, and I have often felt despite the limitations of the concept, these can be more engrossing that you might expect. The same can be said here, with a focused, intense script cleverly putting the viewer into various situations where they have to picture a scene or characters only going by a voice or how Gyllenhaal’s character interacts with them. It’s very effective and I’m guessing will be different for each viewer, with them having different ideas of what certain characters look like etc. It’s a way of telling a story that lives or dies based on how much attention you pay and how you picture events you don’t get to see. Thankfully, Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) squeezes every ounce of tension and drama out of the idea, so that the your efforts are worth it.

Jake Gyllenhaal is very convincing, delivering a character with more than a few problems of his own. I certainly sympathised with him even if some of his actions were occasionally questionable. So I came away from this rather impressed … and quite emotionally exhausted. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended

Censor


Viewed – 02 October 2021 online rental

Enid, a woman working for a British censorship board in the early eighties discovers a movie that strongly resembles her own childhood memories of when her younger sister disappeared. So begins an investigation into the movie and it’s mysterious Director, as the boundaries between reality and the movie start to blur.

Video nasty…

This British horror has a great initial concept, and explores a time in the U.K. when many violent or gruesome movies were getting banned as well as occasionally linked to real life crimes. This explores that period, which delivered movies that went onto become classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However the viewpoint here is one dimensional, with that era of horror being looked at as sleazy and only worthy of disdain. It generally works in the context of the story however and the mystery surrounding Enid’s sister is an interesting one.

Shame then that any mystery or investigation is soon discarded in favour of increasingly surreal imagery and a focus of Enid potentially losing her mind. Visually this echoes the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, especially in the more nightmarish sequences, and is on a whole imaginatively filmed. Niamh Algar as Enid proved compelling with one bit towards the end particularly heart-breaking. Just a shame then the movie lacked closure, at times felt rushed and kind of disappeared up its own ass. Worth a look for its visuals and its lead actress, but ultimately disappointing.

Verdict: Poor

Worth


Viewed – 28 September 2021 Netflix

The attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, still shake and disturb me, even now 20 years later. Several movies exploring what happened on that day have come out since, and this latest offers a look at an aspect that’s not as well known … that being the unenviable task of offering compensation to the relatives and families of those that lost their lives.

Michael Keaton stars as the lawyer who takes it upon himself to head up such a massive task. The movie, based on true events tries to explore what price you put on someone’s life, and is that effected by their status, from a company CEO to a cleaner, for example. This was fascinating and is held up by several decent performances, most notable Keaton but also Stanley Tucci.

For such a drawn out case, the movie remained interesting. It doesn’t go that nitty gritty into the attacks themselves, and the breadth of the tragedy is kind of glossed over. However focusing on only certain people and their stories was a wise move and at times proved powerful. It does drag a bit towards the end, whilst conveying the struggle to convince the public to back the compensation fund’s plans. Overall though, a very interesting drama that’s well acted and done with sensitivity.

Verdict: Good

The Father


Viewed – 11 September 2021 online rental

The subject of Alzheimer’s disease is certainly going to be difficult viewing. This awfully cruel illness is hard to explore but in the hands of French novelist turned Director Florian Zeller and an actor of the calibre of Anthony Hopkins … I found myself heavily drawn into this powerful drama.

Hopkins plays ‘Anthony’ an ageing man who is looked after by his daughter (The Crown’s Olivia Coleman). The approach here is at first hard to follow as the setting and characters keep changing with no explanation, and even the time line jumps back and forth. Yet when it clicks and you realise such a confusing narrative is purposely due to Anthony’s perspective, you realise you’re witnessing what it might be like to suffer from this disease. It’s very cleverly done and I recommend just going with it until it’s final scenes – because trust me, it’s worth it.

Olivia Coleman is very good like always, convincingly playing a daughter struggling to care for her father. There’s also appearances from Mark Gattis, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams. However at the centre of it all is an incredibly layered and it has to be said, heart-breaking performance from Hopkins, who deserves every inch of that Oscar. A powerful, surprisingly amusing at times yet also very authentic drama that gripped me as much as it got me teary eyed. A must watch.

Verdict: Essential