REVIEW: Depraved [2019]

You brought the war home with you. So much of what we do in our lives comes down to a matter of could versus should. Many of us want to prove ourselves worthy by doing something nobody has ever done before, yet the hubris of such a desire often leaves us paying a price we neglected to realize had to be paid. Even if “should” factored in, however, the end result still wouldn’t be guaranteed because good intentions aren’t enough to offset that cost. Just because the pain and suffering…

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REVIEW: The Ranger [2018]

Coming here was a really bad idea. With punk rock blasting from the stage of a hole-in-the-wall venue that’s probably not actually open to the public considering an eventual police raid shutting it all down, Chelsea (Chloe Levine) is introduced looking the part if not quite one hundred percent committed to this zero consequence, wild lifestyle those around her have embraced as their core identity. Her friends consider themselves a family who do everything together whether getting wasted, stealing drugs at knifepoint, or stabbing cops to get away. They protect…

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REVIEW: Like Me [2018]

Tell me a story. While it may do a better job at depicting the nihilistic depravity of living through social media at the detriment of “real life” than Ingrid Goes West, Robert Mockler‘s Like Me still fails to capture the psychological prison this artificial life creates beyond its surface chaos. We watch Kiya (Addison Timlin) with a voyeuristic relish much like the viewers of her YouTube page—craving insanity as though it’s all an act because it very well could be exactly that. What we watch online isn’t inherently “real.” There…

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REVIEW: River of Grass [1995]

Murder is thicker than marriage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kelly Reichardt‘s debut feature River of Grass considering I’ve never quite been able to appreciate her films’ glacial pacing. It’s never made me hate anything of hers that I’ve seen, but it definitely had me checking out of Wendy and Lucy too often and deciding that the short story triptych construction of Certain Women perfectly suited her style. So how would her first foray go? Would we see the blueprint for what was to come? Or would it…

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REVIEW: Psychopaths [2017]

Evil’s a straight and simple ‘just because’. It’s hard to reject a film as having no substance when its narrator apologizes for that very fact. Was its hollowness therefore an intentional commentary on the empty nihilistic void that we call life or was the filmmaker throwing us for a “meta” loop with a tongue-in-cheek laugh that knowingly commends our having sat through it in its entirety nonetheless? In this vein Mickey Keating‘s Psychopaths could be profound or worthless. It could be a full-fledged movie that seeks to entertain in its…

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REVIEW: In a Valley of Violence [2016]

“I stopped listening to men like you a long time ago” Ti West‘s western In a Valley of Violence might have been great if it allowed itself to become the serious revenge thriller it sporadically proves. A dark drama able to embrace the weight of its characters’ turmoil appears once you remove Karen Gillan‘s over-the-top dullard in distress theatrics, James Ransone‘s cartoonish villainy, and the pinball piñata that is the penultimate body to fall. Denton, a virtual ghost town run empty by its corrupt Marshall (John Travolta) with a self-proclaimed…

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REVIEW: We Are Still Here [2015]

“The house needs a family” Sometimes the spirits clinging to your old home prove the least of your worries. Just ask the Sacchettis (Barbara Crampton‘s Anne and Andrew Sensenig‘s Paul). Attempting to restart their lives after the tragic death of their son months earlier, the couple moves to Aylesbury for peace, quiet, and a former mortuary turned residential property with a price-tag they couldn’t resist. She’s the spiritualist of the two, feeling a presence that could only be her boy Bobby comforting her. He’s the pragmatist, responding in kind with…

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REVIEW: You’re Next [2013]

“Will you just die already? This is hard enough for me!” Disappointment that the hype surrounding director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett’s film You’re Next was proving impossible to achieve set in about halfway through. I expected what many called an entertainingly fresh horror thriller with comedic flourishes, but all I saw was the usual home invasion tropes and by-the-numbers carnage courtesy of animal-masked predators and their unsuspecting, family weekend attendee prey. Then something happens to change its tone completely as attractive Aussie plus-one Erin (Sharni Vinson) rolls away…

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REVIEW: The Battery [2013]

“Like rain on a tin roof” It’s hard to give any new film about zombies the benefit of the doubt. What started as a politically charged venue to comment on society has pretty much been warped into an entertainment franchise providing viewers copious amounts of guilt-free blood and gore in the name of survival. Every once in a while something fresh arrives—a comedic romp like Shaun of the Dead, the small screen writing clinic of “The Walking Dead”, enhanced mythology for more authentic thrills a la 28 Days Later, or…

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