REVIEW: Upgrade [2018]

Permission granted. Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) was having a good day. An old school mechanic living in a high-tech world, his latest commission is roaring like a lion and ready to be handed off to its owner. Knowing his wife (Melanie Vallejo‘s Asha) would be interested to meet his benefactor being that she runs a robotics firm and he (Harrison Gilbertson‘s Eron Keen) practically is her main (and objectively better) competition, Grey takes her along in the muscle car with their automated vehicle in tow to return them home. A…

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REVIEW: The Bye Bye Man [2017]

“Don’t think it. Don’t say it.” A horror movie slated to open in October means buzz and solid expectations. It used to be you didn’t see the genre at any other time—back before studios discovered how cheap they were to produce and how palatable they were to teens looking for something to do on a Friday night whether it proved enjoyably worthwhile or not. Securing this coveted spot was therefore a win for STX Entertainment and their film The Bye Bye Man, either through hard work or sheer luck. Watching…

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REVIEW: The Mule [2014]

“Who doesn’t want a veranda, eh?” Directors Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson‘s The Mule is not at all what I expected. The marketing materials draw it up as a B-movie romp, something the involvement of Sampson and Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell (they co-wrote this one together from a story by Jaime Browne) helps corroborate. Besides a couple gross-out moments due to the excremental nature of the plot, however, the film proves differently. It’s instead a rather slowly paced true-life thriller spanning two weeks while the authorities wait on their captive…

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REVIEW: The Conjuring [2013]

“There’s usually always some rational explanation” After watching the cinematic account of the Perron family’s plight in 1971 during James Wan‘s The Conjuring—alongside a brief view at Annabelle, the creepiest little possessed doll ever—it’s hard to believe paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s most infamous case of demonic insanity was Amityville. Described as the story that couldn’t be told until now via an opening text-based screen crawl reminiscent of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the events that occurred in Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn’s (Lili Taylor) Rhode Island home are…

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REVIEW: Insidious [2011]

“Last night I watched myself sleep … then I flew away” Ever since James Wan and Leigh Whannell collaborated on what became a franchised sensation in Saw, expectations for the two were high. I haven’t seen their second film, Dead Silence, but I do remember press being positive and the creepiness of dolls—a motif the two seem to champion, (look at the chalkboards for an Easter Egg here)—quite unnerving. So, with the buzz on their newest horror film, Insidious, almost universally great, I became excited for what could be an…

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REVIEW: Saw 3D [2010]

“If I’m lying, take me to the quarries” Could it be the final installment in the increasingly convoluted saga that is Saw? I’ll admit that I checked out somewhat after episode four, to me the last really strong story formed from the surprisingly intelligent and creative Jigsaw mythology. After that it all rapidly devolved to merely a series of traps loosely tying one innocuous poor soul to the big picture, trying hard to make it relevant but only futilely stretching the whole thing thin. The seventh entry, forgoing the roman…

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REVIEW: Saw IV [2007]

“Cherish your life” Besides a misstep with episode II, I have to admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed the Saw saga. From the get-go, I was intrigued by what these young upstarts, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, were bringing to the horror genre. While the original had its moments of bad acting and campiness—sorry Cary Elwes, I’m still a big fan—it was unique, uncompromising, and began a new genre of film coined torture porn. While the two gents decided against creating a series on their own, they did stay on…

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