REVIEW: THE ENDLESS (2018)

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THE ENDLESS (2018)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Brothers Justin and Aaron (directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) escaped a strange cult ten years ago and their lives have never been the same since. Despite Justin’s negative suspicions about Camp Arcadia, Aaron suggests they go back for a visit to say goodbye and get closure. Soon after arriving, the two start to experience some very strange phenomena and begin to wonder if the mysterious deity the cult worships might actually be real and this outwardly serene place may hold some unearthly secrets.

Fans of Benson and Moorhead’s first feature Resolution may be happy to know their latest collaboration is set in the same universe and is almost a sequel, as familiar characters do appear and Benson and Moorhead play the same cultists from that film. If you haven’t seen that flick, this one plays just fine, as those elements aren’t necessary to appreciate the subtly unsettling story here. The film is it’s own thing, though if you enjoy this chiller, you might want to check Resolution out. While well written, if there is any part of Justin Benson’s script that was a bit hard to accept, it was that two people would want to go back to a cult they escaped for a visit…though Aaron seems far more eager to revisit than the cynical Justin. There is some creepy stuff here as Aaron starts to question why he left, especially when reunited with the pretty Anna (Callie Hernandez) and Justin starts to believe that this “thing” they worship has those in it’s domain in a kind of continual loop. It gets really weird and it actually works that we aren’t spoon-fed any answers and left to ponder things a bit as the credits roll. The directing duo gives us some interesting…and unsettling…imagery on a small budget, much like they did with their last film Spring and Jimmy Lavalle wraps it in an atmospheric score.

The cast are solid. The directors play the main characters and are effective with Benson playing the cynical and somewhat paranoid Justin and Moorhead as the quieter and more accepting Aaron. One believing Camp Arcadia is a place of unseen danger and the other thinking it’s not so bad as their life isn’t going well after fleeing. Callie Hernandez is charming as the sweet and pretty Anna and Tate Ellington is effective as the cult leader, who never seems quite trustworthy despite his calm exterior and gets escalating-ly creepy as the film progresses. Lew Temple (recently scene in Feral) also has a small part as a mysterious cult member. A good cast.

Benson and Moorhead keep making intriguing films on a low budget and as much as one would like to see them get the attention they deserve, maybe they should stay independent of the studio system. Their Spring was a wonderful horror tinged romance and their follow-up is a spooky and sometimes trippy little flick. It may have been a bit hard to swallow that anyone would return to a cult they once fled, but as there are definitely supernatural elements present, maybe they had no choice. There are some unsettling and strange things going on and the directing duo give it some nice atmosphere. Sure, not everything is explained or spelled out for you, but it is an intriguing and spooky little movie nonetheless and ambiguity sometimes works better than answers.

-MonsterZero NJ

  Rated 3 moons…sometimes all at once. (You’ll have to watch the movie!)

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW: INCREDIBLES 2 (2018)

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INCREDIBLES 2 (2018)

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Sequel finally arrives after fourteen years and picks up right where the original left off, with the crime fighting Parr family battling…and unfortunately not catching, the “Under-miner”. Despite their failure being another blight on the name of superheroes, millionaire entrepreneur Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his inventor sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), contact the Parr’s and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to join them on an endeavor to bring superheroes back to a positive light and legality. He believes they should start with Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) due to her causing the least collateral damage in her crime fighting career. While his wife is out fighting crime, this leaves Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) to play stay-at-home house-dad to Dash (Huck Milner), Violet (Sarah Vowell) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who is developing some superpowers of his own. When the mysterious villain Screenslaver starts to wreak hypnotic havoc, Elastigirl finds herself in a stretch of trouble. Will this family reunite and save the day once more?

Long awaited follow-up is again written and directed by Brad Bird and while it is a fun time, one expected a little more “POW” and “BAM” in this long enticipated superhero opus. The flick certainly entertains, yet felt like it needed a bit more super energy. It is fun to see Elastigirl out on her own and poor Incredi-dad trying to handle parenthood, but it takes quite a while for the film to really get going and hit it’s stride. Bird certainly gets good use out of Jack-Jacks multiple powers and there are a lot of fun bits, but the story never really feels like something worth waiting this long for. Once revealed, the villain is a bit bland and doesn’t have the same over-the-top diabolical villainy of the first film’s Syndrome. The Parr family are endearing as ever, as are supporting characters like Frozone and Edna and there are a couple of new characters that are likeable as well. The voice acting by the cast, both veteran and new, goes a long way to keeping this bunch lovable and the Pixar animation vibrantly brings them all to life. It’s just a sequel that’s not quite an equal.

So, maybe it’s not as awesome as we’d hoped for after such a long wait, but it is still fun and the characters are as lovable and lively as ever. The story wasn’t quite that super, nor were the villains, but Jack-Jack’s antics and an action-packed last act makes this a satisfying sequel, even if it’s not quite as “incredible” as we wanted. Considering how long it took to get this second adventure and that a few cast members aren’t getting any younger, let’s hope we get an Incredibles 3 sooner than later.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Jack-Jacks.

 

 

 

Anyone else think that after 14 years, Elastigirl is still kinda hot? 😍😉😜

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 22-24

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” $150 Million

2. “Incredibles 2” $80.9 Million

3. “Ocean’s 8” $11.6 Million

4. “Tag” $8.2 Million

5. “Deadpool 2” $5.2 Million

6. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” $4 Million

7. “Hereditary” $3.8 Million

8. “Superfly” $3.35 Million

9. “Avengers: Infinity War” $2.4 Million

10. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” $1.9 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

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JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The latest installment of the franchise takes place three years after the disastrous opening of Jurassic World. A volcano on Isla Nublar has become dangerously active and the U.S. government declines to save the animals still there. John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) asks Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to join a rescue mission to save the dinosaurs from the doomed island and to convince her ex-boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join them. Once on the island Claire, Owen and their team are betrayed and they discover that this “rescue mission” has a far more sinister purpose.

Fallen Kingdom is directed by J.A. Bayona, the Spanish filmmaker behind the atmospheric and spooky haunted house flick The Orphanage and the bittersweet fantasy A Monster Calls. His script is by previous installment director Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connor, who co-wrote the last one, as well. The result is a more Gothic feel to the proceedings, especially when the location switches to Lockwood’s old mansion with genetics lab and creature holding cells in the basement a la Dr. Frankenstein. From here It becomes a tale of man’s greed and trying to play god…again. The Indominous Rex taught these greedy corporate types nothing and now we have the genetically created dino-soldier the Indoraptor to serve as our predator of choice for this flick. After the escape from the burning island…which is a very entertaining set-piece in itself, the flick becomes more of a James Bond movie with dinosaurs. The second third finds Claire and Owen sneaking around the castle-like mansion with Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), trying to find a way to stop the sale of and genetic tampering with the last survivors of Isla Nublar. It’s not quite as fun as the last flick, but at least they are trying to take the series in a new direction and we actually get off the island. The last act has the skilled director Bayona going back to his haunted house roots with a cat and mouse chase through the dark and cavernous mansion between our heroes and the Indoraptor, with a very exciting and very Gothic rooftop finale. Overall it is an entertaining flick, though a bit darker, a bit more violent and somewhat less fun than Jurassic World.

The cast is fine, even if the bad guys are complete two-dimensional stereotypes. Pratt and Howard still have that chemistry as Owen and Claire and having them broken-up gives us a chance to experience their combative banter and then having them fall for each other all over again. Young Isabella Sermon is endearing as Maisie, Lockwood’s young granddaughter with some secrets of her own. Rafe Spall, Ted Levine and Toby Jones are the trio of bad guys as Lockwood’s conniving assistant, a soldier for hire and a black market dinosaur dealer respectively. While the characters are familiar and stale, the actors give it their best. Cromwell is charming as the elder Lockwood, who is having his dream corrupted right out from under him. Rounding out the main characters are Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda playing Claire’s IT tech Franklin and dinosaur veterinarian Zia, respectively and they are fun characters well portrayed. We also get a nice cameo with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm and B.D. Wong returns as slimy Dr. Wu. A good cast though some characters are better written than others.

Jurassic World gave this series a bit of revived energy and while this installment is a bit less fun, it does take the series to some new places and Bayona gives it a darker and more Gothic tone, as well as, his trademark visual artistry. On the negative side, the whole predator du jour chasing our heroes is getting stale, as is genetically whipping up new creatures like ordering a pizza. The dinosaur auction was interesting, but one wonders where the authorities stand on black market dinosaur flea markets. Guess it’s too soon to approach that side of the story. It was fun to see Clair and Owen and company playing James Bond in this massive Victorian Mansion, as we also enjoyed the film leaving us at a point where we wonder if mankind’s meddling might get us slapped back to the stone age. Stay through the credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

  Rated 3 T-Rex

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IT FOLLOWS’ MAIKA MONROE RETURNS TO HORROR IN NETFLIX’S TAU!

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It Follows star Maika Monroe returns to our favorite genre in the Netflix sci-fi/horror thriller Tau. Monroe plays a young woman kidnapped by a scientist (Ed Skrein) to be used in experiments to test an A.I. (voiced by Gary Oldman) of his own creation. The film premieres June 29th! Check out some stills (from Maikamonroe.us) and the trailer…

 

Production stills: maikamonroe.us

 

 

Sources: Youtube/Netflix/maikamonroe.us

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 15-17

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “Incredibles 2” $180 Million

2. “Ocean’s 8” $19.5 Million

3. “Tag” $14.6 Million

4. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” $9 Million

5. “Deadpool 2” $8.8 Million

6. “Hereditary” $7 Million

7. “Superfly” $6.3 Million

8. “Avengers: Infinity War” $5.3 Million

9. “Adrift” $2.1 Million

10. “Book Club” $1.85 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: ALI WONG-HARD KNOCK WIFE (2018)

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ALI WONG-HARD KNOCK WIFE (2018)

Last we saw actress, writer, comedienne Ali Wong she was seven months pregnant and dishing out some raunchy and quite funny comedy on stage for her first Netflix comedy special. Her second special finds her pregnant again with her second child and sharing her witticisms on birth, new motherhood, marriage, and sex. It’s naughty fun and motherhood hasn’t dulled Wong’s sharp wit or muted her energetic delivery. As with last time a few bits go on longer than they should, such as her description of how she would sexually favor a hot, young male nanny, but overall Wong is a bitingly funny comedienne who hopefully will be back on stage once this child is delivered.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: DEATH WISH (2018)

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DEATH WISH (2018)

Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis), a surgeon in crime ridden Chicago, turns vigilante when his wife and daughter (Elisabeth Shue and Camila Morrone) are victims of a home invasion gone bad. Now he roams the streets hunting the perps down and killing other criminals becoming a media sensation known as “The Grim Reaper”.

Awful remake is directed by Eli Roth from a terrible script by Joe Carnahan. Film has none of the effectiveness of the Charles Bronson classic and is sometimes downright stupid, such as in the way Kersey gets his first gun, or in the blatant convenience of his first clue in finding the men who broke into his home. Film takes away the dynamic of a man frustrated and angry and simply taking it out on random criminals, by having Willis’ Kersey able to hunt down the actual men who killed his wife and severely wounded his daughter. He does kill random criminals in between, but this version gives Kersey his revenge on the actual perpetrators, thus granting him the satisfaction of that vengeance. It was more effective that Bronson’s Kersey was robbed of that satisfaction and thus the lack of closure fuels his attempts to clean up the streets…kinda like Batman. It also put’s names and identities on the gang who committed the crime, when in the original they were random street punks representing the almost lawlessness of a city out of control. It gives Willis specific people to hunt where Bronson was as random as the thugs he killed. It becomes just another revenge flick. Film also changes the location of the story from New York to Chicago…where Bronson’s Kersey went after being asked to leave NYC…but that is the least of it’s problems. Finally, Willis is simply starting to look too old for this kind of stuff.

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 8-10

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “Ocean’s 8” $41.5 Million

2. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” $15.1 Million

3. “Deadpool 2” $13.65 Million

4. “Hereditary” $13 Million

5. “Avengers: Infinity War” $6.8 Million

6. “Adrift” $5 Million

7. “Book Club” $4.2 Million

8. “Hotel Artemis” $3.1 Million

9. “Upgrade” $2.2 Million

1o. “Life of the Party” $2.1 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HEREDITARY (2018)

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HEREDITARY (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Story finds an eccentric family, whose lineage has a history of mental illness, experiencing strange occurrences and tragic events after the death of it’s matriarch. Her surviving daughter Annie (Toni Collette) slowly begins to believe something supernatural is attached to her family, something evil, while her husband feels it’s all in her head. Is Annie losing her mind, or is she about to find out she inherited more from mom than just some mental issues.

The hype machine has been working overtime for weeks on this flick being an instant classic, but much like 2016’s The Witch, which received the same pre-release praise, this one has some merit, but is far from the traumatizing experience it’s being sold as. Hereditary is atmospherically directed by Ari Aster from his own script, has some very unsettling moments and the eccentric family members are enough to give you the willies themselves. From Collette’s Annie who relives traumatic events in her life by building miniature dioramas of them and daughter Charlie, who likes to cut the heads off dead birds, this is an Addams Family in the making. From a distance, the post funeral events could be the result of traumatic events, mixing with some bad DNA, but we slowly discover there might actually be something malevolent stalking this family. There are some creepy moments and Aster gives us some initial doubts whether this is elemental or simply mental, till a last act where we finally open the flood gates to hell and get what we came for…and that’s the flaw here. The film is very slow paced and while it seems to be intentional, it’s a bit too slow paced for it’s own good. Much like The Witch there are some very spooky sequences and visuals, but there are also long stretches that are just tedious. Some of the supernatural hocus pocus comes off as a bit silly, too, and the really scary stuff doesn’t happen until the last few scenes. It’s a long stretch till the film really delivers and while there is plenty of unsettling things to keep us occupied, there are also quite a few moments where you might find yourself checking your watch. The film does go somewhere that was very effective, had some chilling developments, but sometimes felt like it was rambling at times before getting to it’s Rosemary’s Baby-esque finale. On a strictly production level, the cinematography is very effective from Pawel Pogorzelski, as is Aster’s visual eye and a lot of the atmosphere comes from Colin Stetson’s goosebump inducing score.

Aster did perfectly cast this somewhat mixed-bag. Toni Collette is near brilliant as a woman with her own issues dealing with not only the trauma of two deaths, but the belief that there is some sort of curse or malevolent entity stalking her family. It’s an opinion her somewhat clueless husband doesn’t share, which isolates her. Gabriel Byrne does a wonderful job as husband Steven, a man who is sometimes too calm and emotionally detached to be of any help. He believes it’s all in her head and refuses to see there is something very odd going on. Milly Shapiro is downright creepy as the introverted and odd daughter Charlie. The young actress gives us goosebumps with just a look and a tilt of her head, not to mention carrying out the script’s extremely weird behavior for her. Rounding out the family is Alex Wolff as teen son Peter who already has a tenuous relationship with Annie thanks to her trying to set him on fire while sleepwalking at one point. He is very sympathetic, especially in the second half when things escalate. There is also a small part portrayed by Ann Dowd as Annie’s friend from a loss support group, who is a little off-kilter herself after losing her grandson.

In conclusion, the sum of it’s parts are greater than the whole. There are too many stretches where the film gets a bit tedious and borders on outright dull to be the modern horror classic PR hype wants us to believe. Ari Aster shows he has a nice touch for providing atmosphere and unsettling visuals and while it takes a bit too long to get to them, he can produce outright scares, such in the last act. The final ten minutes alone make up for some of the waiting. His characters were disturbing without the supernatural goings-on, though some of those those goings-on weren’t always as effective as they should have been, to keep the tension consistent. The director loses his grip here and there as his pace is a little too meandering for the movie’s own good. There is a lot of potential shown here for Aster as a filmmaker, just too soon to be calling him a master…or this a masterpiece. Despite being extremely over-hyped, it is worth a look for all the things that do work.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 cans of lighter fluid which should be kept away from sleepwalkers at all times.

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