Thoroughbreds


Viewed – 19 November 2018. online rental

What attracted me to this was actress Anya Taylor-Joy who first impressed in the unsettling horror The Witch and was also one of the better aspects of Split. She’s quickly grown to be a go-to actress for me. So sitting down to this I was also pleased to discover that Olivia Cooke was also in this, who was great in the Bates Motel television series as well as Ready Player One.

Two high society girls, Lily & Amanda who are brought together after a time apart rekindle an unconventional friendship and soon conspire to do something that may just improve their disaffected lives. This takes it’s cue from similar mean-spirited movies like Heavenly Creatures and Heathers and portrays two troubled girls with subtlety and solid performances. Although a tad slow at first, the direction, complete with effective use of what is pretty much a single location, is what excels. One scene especially plays out with a threat of violence thats almost unbearable, and it’s brilliantly done as is a final act that left me rather shaken. It’s not a showy movie but plays cleverly with anticipation and gradually getting to know two characters, and as a result for a slow burner this packs the required punch.

I’d have liked a little more back story and the motives behind certain actions were vague at best, causing me to lack sympathy. The oddball soundtrack is also a little too bizarre to be all that effective. However, for one of those movies you may not be aware of, this is well worth checking out.

Verdict: 3.5 /5

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Green Room


Viewed – 21 January 2017  Netflix

I’d heard some good things about this and so when it appeared on Netflix I jumped at the chance.  A low-rent punk band nearing the end of their tour take up an offer to play at remote rural roundhouse, but soon discover it’s run by a gang of neo-Nazis.  After witnessing a stabbing, the band find themselves battling for survival against a murderous group of thugs lead by Patrick Stewart.

Green Room

A familiar but none-the-less intriguing concept, I found myself quickly on board for this. Yet once the shit hit the fan, some issues rear their head, like how the band jump to the conclusion that their lives are in danger after discovering a stabbed girl.  Also, not one time do any of the band enquire what happened and proceed to provoke the thugs by calling the cops instead.  Add to this a mumbling, rather underwhelming Patrick Stewart who really should have stolen the show here and this soon turned into something a little less compelling than expected.  Thankfully there’s some very good stuff toward the end when events turn into a life and death battle of wits, and the late Anton Yeltchin (Star Trek) proves why he’s one young actor who will be sorely missed in the industry.  A spunky Imogen Poots (Need For Speed) as a girlfriend to one of the thugs also proves a welcome surprise.  Add to this some shocking violence that doesn’t cut away or go gentle and this at least delivers as a bloody horror-thriller even if its otherwise formulaic.  The fact some of the plotting is needlessly convoluted (the reason the girl gets stabbed) is another reason this falls short of future genre classic status.

As it stands though for 90 minutes of tense, violent thrills … I guess this still did it’s job, even if similar plotted movies like Eden Lake or Frontiers did it better.

Verdict:  3 /5

From Up On Poppy Hill


Viewed – 04 January 2014

So the first movie of 2014, and it’s a Studio Ghibli release.  This most recent offering from the famed Japanese animation house tells the tale of Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger) and Shun (voiced by Anton Yelchin).  Set in 1963 in Yokohama during the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Umi is a student who becomes involved in the protests of a group of students to prevent the demolition of their club house.  Along the way she meets the cool and popular Shun and together the two development a friendship that gradually turns into love.

From-Up-on-Poppy-Hill

This well observed and utterly charming movie has a strong central love story and plenty of the studio’s quirks and humour, with a real-world backdrop that fascinated me.  Every ounce of emotion and personality is so well done that believing in these characters and their story isn’t difficult … and at times as twists and turns take place, I actually felt quite emotional.  Ghibli’s movies away from what you get with Disney, can concentrate on things that other major studios gloss over, and as this isn’t the usual fantasy, Japanese mythology based fair of Spirited Away and the like … I was surprised just how entertaining this managed to be.  It’s a very simple tale at heart, and lacks action or a big event, but this is a character piece and in that respect it works brilliantly.

Again Ghibli’s hand-drawn animation is a treat, very detailed and full of vibrancy and beauty – it’s quite a work of art, and so sad to see such traditional techniques losing out to CGI these days, no matter how pretty the likes of Toy Story are.  So a gentler, less showy effort from Studio Ghibli but still one that’s well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Fright Night


Viewed – 23 February 2012  Blu-ray

I was a big fan of the original Fright Night, which if I am correct starred William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon and the late Roddy McDowall.  It was a great concept, that of a kid who is obsessed with a TV show hosted by vampire hunter Peter Vincent (McDowell) and then finds out his new neighbour is a vampire.  So naturally, as with Hollywood’s growing trend for remaking classic horror movies of late, we come to this … and to be honest, I quite liked the idea of revisiting these characters.

Anton Yelchin plays school kid Charley Brewster, currently dating the hot girl and leaving his nerdy past behind him, by ignoring former best friend Ed (the wonderful Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is convinced that Charley’s new next door neighbour Gerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.  Of course this turns out to be true, and before long Charley is turning to renowned magician and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for help.  This sticks fairly close to the original story (no shock as its penned by Tom Holland, who wrote the original) but deviates in several areas, perhaps to make it more up to date by having Peter Vincent as a Vegas magician than a TV show host, and by having the character of Ed the paranoid vampire obsessive.  Charley is portrayed somewhat more heroic than in the past, which surprised me, as this pretty much makes David Tennant’s character pointless, who as a result seemed mostly in the way.  Thankfully Farrell delivers the goods as charismatic vampire Gerry, and although much of his actions are a little stupid (such as killing two teen guys in a car in the middle of the neighbourhood) and with no actual depth (he’s a vampire – that’s it), he still made for a great villain down to pure screen-presence.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse naturally steals the show every time he appears, and he continues to be one of my favourite young comedy actors.  I didn’t like how quickly Gerry was accused of being a vampire though, and a throwaway line connecting him to Peter Vincent was clearly tacked on.  Thankfully such shortcomings are masked well with quality vampire effects, lots of blood and several memorable lines (watch out for the reference to Ebay).

Overall then, this was an enjoyable ‘tribute’ to one of the best horror movies of the 80s, and even if the script has its limitations and some of the casting doesn’t exactly nail it – I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5