Movie Review – The Boy (2016)

Movie Review – The Boy (2016) Rated PG-13 : Directed by William Brent Bell

Starring Lauren Cohen, Rupert Evans, and James Russell

Greta Evans arrives at the home of a wealthy English couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire, to take on her duties as a newly hired nanny to their son, Brahms, so they can go away on holiday. There’s only one problem.  Brahms is a life-sized doll made in the likeness of their son who was killed in a fire years ago. At first Greta treats the doll as an annoying joke and does none of the duties assigned to her by the couple. Brahms quickly convinces her to follow the rules.

The concept behind “The Boy” isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination. There have been a lot of haunted doll books written and movies made. The doll in this one is, from my understanding, roughly based on Robert, a supposedly real-life haunted doll that is now housed in a museum in Key West, Florida.

brahms

Brahms the Doll

robert

Robert the Doll

There were some genuinely creepy moments in this movie, though it fell short of truly freaking me out.  But then, it is only a PG-13 so maybe they had to tone it down for that audience instead of the hardcore horror fans like me. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I can easily assume why things went the way they did and why the parents did what they did in part, but the ending was not a surprise and there were no twists that I wasn’t expecting.

Great potential, but terribly, terribly predictable.

Two Ravens out of Five

Movie Review – The Woman In Black (2012)

Rated PG-13. Directed by James Watkins. Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Misha Handley, Jessica Raine, and Alisa Khazanova.

London-based lawyer and widower, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent to a small, isolated village in the English countryside to orchestrate the sale of Eel Marsh House and go through the papers of its deceased owner Alice Drablow. Arthurs’ job is on the line. If he fails to complete this job, he will be sacked. Kipps leaves behind his four-year-old son, Joseph, (Misha Handley) with the nanny (Jessica Raine) and they plan to meet at Eel Marsh House three days later. Kipps’ arrival is anything but welcoming. Numerous people beg, warn, and even threaten him about going to the property, but the lawyer is determined. He’s barely in town a day when the deaths begin. The locals blame The Woman In Black, believed to be the now dead Alice Drablow, who somehow enthralls the children into self-destructive behavior. The people of the village take great lengths to protect their children, but their efforts are repeatedly thwarted.

While going through the papers, Arthur begins to unravel the story behind The Woman In Black and the revenge she’s sworn to extract for all time and why. Arthur comes to believe he has found the answer to stopping the hauntings and the horrific deaths. With his son on the way, Kipps frantically employs the help of wealthy land owner, Samuel Daily (Ciaran Hinds), and together they put Arthur’s theory into practice. Will it work or will Alice’s hatred and the curse remain intact forever?

Based on the 1983 Susan Hill novel of the same name, The Woman In Black was produced, in part, by Hammer Films, the same company that brought you Christopher Lee as Dracula back in the last 1960s and early 1970s. If you’re familiar with Hammer Films, as I am, you’ll definitely see the similarities in colors, filming angles, and textures. It’s very atmospheric, but not quite as dark as I’d hoped. There are plenty of creepy moments, sudden startles, along with a slow build-up of tension as Kipps gets closer and closer to the truth and the pure, insatiable evil that is The Woman In Black. The ending was amazing and I didn’t see that coming at all. Well done! What a twist.

Although I really enjoyed the film and do recommend it, for me it wasn’t quite as creepy and mysterious as I would have liked it to be. Perhaps more scenes done at night, or having Kipps wander the house and grounds a bit more, seeking out the woman would have helped. The suspense and psychological tension could have been more deeply done were the film rated for an older audience. The PG-13 rating toned down what could have an even more awesome adaption of the novel.

All in all, though, well done and an excellent film for budding horror film neophytes. Had I seen this as a teenager, I probably would have ranted and raved a whole lot more about it. Well worth the watch if you’re of a certain age.

Jaded old woman that I may be, I still give The Woman In Black 4 out of 5 stars.

Movie Review – Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Written & directed by S. Craig Zahler. Rated R

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, & Lili Simmons

The deserts of the American Southwest were, and still are, very scary and dangerous places, even more so when two bumbling idiots named Purvis (David Arquette) and Buddy (Sid Haig) stumble their way upon the hunting grounds and the sacred stone circle of something not quite human living out there. Eleven days later, Purvis arrives in the small town of Bright Hope and is confronted by Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) after Purvis is seen burying luggage out in the desert by Assistant Deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins). Purvis is shot trying to escape. While he is being treated for the wound late that night in the jail cell by Samantha O’Dwyer (Lili Simmons), whatever attacked him and Buddy kidnaps Samantha, Purvis and, Deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit) as well as stealing six horses from a nearby stable and killing and gutting the stable boy.

Samantha’s husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson), is suffering from a broken leg but insists on joining the search and rescue for his wife. Sheriff Hunt, Chicory, Gentleman John Broody (Matthew Fox), and Arthur O’Dwyer head out. The remainder of the film is devoted to tracking down the beings which we are told are a tribe of troglodytes by a local Native man. He’s willing to show them on a map where they can find the cave of these creatures, but he’s unwilling to go with the posse to rescue anyone.

Oh, the potential! I really enjoy a good western and it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, but this. Ugh. This was not a good western nor was its potential to be an amazing horror film at all met. The scene with the Mayor and his wife was farcical and irrelevant. Way too much time was spent dwelling on the very, very dull trek to the cave itself. Zahn McClarnon’s role as Native known as The Professor could have been so much more interesting, instead it was brief and brushed aside, used as a mere information dump instead of actually having any depth and meaning to it. It could have been used to heighten the suspense, to give us an idea what sort of evil madness our intrepid team was walking into. Instead, no, we’re merely told they will be facing dangerous, inbred cave dwellers.

When we finally get to meet our gruesome enemy, they just wander about their caves, call to each other in what appears to be some sort of paranormal howling-scream, go out and kill or capture for their own heinous reasons whoever happens to come along, and to steal horses. We never do find out what happens to all the horses they are taking. There is one particularly nasty scene in the cave in which Deputy Nick meets his demise which is not for the squeamish.

Even with its simplistic plot, this film could have been done better, A LOT better. It wasn’t dark enough (in a psychological way), it dragged on needlessly, too many questions were left unanswered, and the character roles were shallow and uninteresting.

1 out of 5 stars for Deputy Nick’s shocking death scene!

Movie Review – The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight (2016) directed by Quentin Tarintino . Rated R.

Shortly after the end of the U.S Civil War two bounty hunters, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Ruth (Kurt Russell) chance to meet along an isolated and snow-covered stage coach line on their way to Red Rock, Wyoming to turn in their bounties. Warren’s are dead. Ruth likes to take his alive. They pick up a third person who claims to be the newly appointed sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Coggins), though there is reason to doubt this man is telling the truth.

As a blizzard quickly approaches, the three men, their driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks) and Ruth’s captive, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) find refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge. Inside, three others; Oswaldo Mobray, Joe Gage, and General Sanford “Sandy” Smithers have also found respite from the storm. However, the owners of the haberdashery, Minnie and her husband Sweet Dave, are nowhere to be seen and they’ve left a Mexican man, who goes by the name of Bob, in charge until they return from visiting Minnie’s mother.

The close quarters and hot tempers of those who fought on opposing sides during the War soon starts to wedge itself between parties along with things not quite seeming to fit into place when it comes to the whereabouts of Minnie and Dave and quickly escalates into an every man (and woman) for himself situation.

When I realized this film clocks in at 167 minutes long, I was a bit wary, but those minutes flew by. The slow, but not lethargic, build-up of the tensions between the characters was not in the least bit cumbersome. It gave one time to consider all that was going on, take it all in, remember what was said by whom and you’re going to need that if you have any hopes of figuring out what’s what and who’s who in this semi-murder mystery Western.

There are plenty of backstories and alibis to consider and plenty of gun shooting, blood squirting, brain matter spraying, and yes, in all that some great one-liners and humor, to keep a person amused for the duration. We walked away feeling quite satisfied in what we’d just seen and heard. The language was authentic without being overly profane. I really have no use for the F-bomb being dropped by every character in every other sentence and Tarintino kept that all down to a very reasonable and believable level even amongst a group of eight people who clearly hate each other.

I’d give it 5 stars except I think Tarintino could have cut back slightly on some of the scene lengths without undermining anything in the plot depth or action scenes.

4 out of 5 stars.