REVIEW: John and the Hole [2021]

I was blue in the blue. Adolescent angst. That’s the impetus behind John (Charlie Shotwell) drugging his family (Michael C. Hall‘s Brad, Jennifer Ehle‘s Anna, and Taissa Farmiga‘s Laurie), dragging them through the backyard, and depositing their bodies in an unfinished bunker according to the synopsis of director Pascual Sisto and writer Nicolás Giacobone‘s film John and the Hole. Adolescent angst. I guess you can get away with it too when you declare the result a “fable” as opposed to a nightmare. We aren’t supposed to look so closely at…

Read More

REVIEW: Ailey [2021]

Sometimes your name becomes bigger than yourself. As someone who knew nothing about Alvin Ailey before watching Jamila Wignot‘s documentary Ailey, it surprised me how relevant the film proves to what’s happening today. How can you watch this man’s trajectory towards the height of his profession and subsequent fall towards a stay in a mental institution without thinking about the mental wellness conversations surrounding Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles? He lived in a time where strength as an outward appearance became a crucial piece to success whether it was a…

Read More

REVIEW: Jungle Cruise [2021]

Pause for dramatic effect. The first thing you hear at the start of Jaume Collet-Serra‘s Disney theme park ride film Jungle Cruise is the melody from Metallica‘s “Nothing Else Matters.” We hear it again later during a flashback as if composer James Newton Howard thought the hard rock ballad somehow perfectly encapsulated the age of conquistadors enough to recruit the band himself. That’s obviously not the case. Disney President Sean Bailey apparently always wanted to collaborate with them and thought this property would be the best fit regardless of the…

Read More

REVIEW: Prom Night [1980]

The killers are coming. Built upon a story by a film student (Robert Guza Jr.) that director Paul Lynch knew, Prom Night delivers a grounded slasher focused on revenge. Written by William Gray, the script begins six years in the past as four children play hide and seek in an old, abandoned building without adult supervision. They play rough with chants about killers to try and spook each other into giving up their location—a style that might scare someone unfamiliar with the tone being set like young Robin Hammond. She…

Read More

REVIEW: Naked Singularity [2021]

Shouldn’t that ‘we’ be us? The title is a metaphor. Naked Singularity. It’s what makes the conceit behind Sergio De La Pava‘s novel so intriguing (the criminal justice system in America is a black hole consuming everything in its path, but, unlike in general relativity where an event horizon shields the act from outside observation, we are helplessly watching as it happens) and why director Chase Palmer and his co-writer David Matthews‘ cinematic adaptation leaves a lot to be desired. Because while the concept remains sound as the backdrop for…

Read More

REVIEW: Nine Days [2021]

Pull the chair. Will (Winston Duke) is one of an unknown number of interviewers at the edge of existence: men and women who were once alive that now have the power to choose which newly created souls are worthy of the same opportunity. The interview period lasts nine days and is composed of philosophical quandaries, observations, and hypotheticals meant to better understand who these protohumans are and will remain if their consciousness is transferred to a baby ready for its first breath. Will tests their resolve, their strength, and their…

Read More

REVIEW: Lorelei [2021]

I make my own chances. They had a plan. Wayland (Pablo Schreiber) would make as much money as he could running drugs for his local motorcycle club until he and high school sweetheart Dolores (Jena Malone) had enough to drive to Los Angeles and make their dreams come true. An undercover police officer changed all that, though. Instead of watching the sunrise over the Pacific together, Wayland found himself in jail for fifteen years while Dolores sought to make do on her own en route to having three kids from…

Read More

REVIEW: Old [2021]

Stop wishing away this moment. The first mention I heard about M. Night Shyamalan adapting Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters‘ French graphic novel Sandcastle was a tweet that more or less stated how he knew he had to try turning it into a film the moment he put it down. It’s not hard to imagine why since the book is almost tailor-made for the Shyamalan treatment with its mysteriously secluded locale; ensemble cast mired in a tense, supernatural scenario seemingly outside of their control; and a science fiction writer walking…

Read More

REVIEW: F9: The Fast Saga [2021]

Things change. One familiar name reenters the franchise as another leaves (or, more accurately, shifts laterally) with director Justin Lin returning to helm the first Fast and Furious film not written by Chris Morgan since before the two took control of the franchise in 2006. A welcome is therefore in order for Kin scribe Daniel Casey as he stewards the saga towards an endgame star/producer Vin Diesel stated has been in the works for some time now. Whether he’ll continue to steer the ship forward remains to be seen, though,…

Read More

REVIEW: Maximum Overdrive [1986]

It turned itself on and it bit me! To read Stephen King‘s short story “Trucks” (from the compilation Night Shift) is to get embroiled in a nihilistic nightmare along the lines of a “Twilight Zone” episode. A few people are left stranded at a truck stop while diesel vehicles gain cognizance and begin killing any people they see until fuel stores run low and a truce must be met to acquire their victims’ pumping services. There’s little room for hope as the new order of things appears destined to continue…

Read More

REVIEW: Settlers [2021]

No one’s gonna mess with you, kid. The thing about withholding plot information is that you must generally divulge that which you’ve held back at some point. To simply ignore that your audience is in the dark as far as the big picture is concerned is a sure-fire way to lose interest. Because what’s the point then? What are we really watching if the endgame leaves its characters in the same exact place they were before? I think writer/director Wyatt Rockefeller hopes that his feature debut Settlers will succeed for…

Read More