Social media influencer Madison (Emily Tennant) is on a trip in Thailand to post for her vlog. While there she meets the free-spirited CW (Cassandra Naud) and the two young ladies bond, especially after Madison’s room is robbed and without a passport, she’s forced to stay longer than planned. CW however has plans of her own and the deranged woman strands Madison on a deserted island, takes over her social media and finances, and begins her search for her next victim.
Flick is directed by Kurtis David Harder from his script with Tesh Guttikonda and is nothing new story wise. Someone meeting a psycho while on vacation is nothing we haven’t seen before, despite the social media commentary. CW is a stereotypical deranged individual who chooses a certain type to prey on, though a good performance by Cassandra Naud, makes her effective in spite of the character familiarity. All the clichés for this type of flick are present, including an unanticipated individual appearing to start asking questions and unraveling things. Here it’s Madison’s boyfriend Ryan (Rory J. Saper) who puts CW on the defensive. There is a fun twist at the climax and overall, it was entertaining enough despite the heavy been-there-done-that vibe with it’s often told story. Kurtis David Harder directs well enough and somewhat stylishly, which also helps make the movie work as well as it does. Now streaming on Shudder.
Flick is a remake of the 2014 Last Shift
by the original film’s director for the purpose of expanding upon the scope and story with a somewhat larger budget. Again, rookie second generation police officer Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula) on her first assignment, volunteers to watch over the last shift at the closing Lanford police station. A year earlier her police officer father (Eric Olson) raided a cult compound, rescuing hostages and killing its leader, one John Malum (Chaney Morrow). Soon after, in that very station, Captain Wil Loren committed multiple murders than suicide. Jessica wants to get to the bottom of what actually happened with her dad. As the night progresses, rhe station and city fall under siege by deranged cult members and Jessica finds that the station is haunted by the malevolent spirits conjured by that bloody-thirsty cult…spirits that may now be coming for her.
Remake is again directed by Anthony DiBlasi (Cassadaga
, Last Shift
) and co-written by him and Scott Poiley, and is basically an unnecessary redo of a really scary and effective flick. Diblasi wanted to expand upon the story and broaden the scope, but only proves the old adage that sometimes less is more. Bigger isn’t always better. The more intimate setting and some of the ambiguity is what made Last Shift
work and work so well. The combination of intense scares, isolation and some really disturbing and effective imagery made that film a very scary ride. This remake does have a lot of its own spooky moments, disturbing imagery and gore, but adding back story, subplots, more characters and expanding the scope outside the station somewhat, doesn’t make it any scarier than the original…though some of the cult compound flashback footage is disturbing. It’s also not different enough to make it feel fresh or really worth sitting through the story again, save out of curiosity. At least Malum
does prove Diblasi is still an effective filmmaker, even if we have seen the story before, though this film is never quite as scary as last time. It even drags in a few spots despite only a 92-minute runtime and the gloominess and bleak tone get a bit tiresome towards the end. Make-up and gore FX are top notch and quite plentiful making this quite a gruesome sit as well.
Maybe if there was no original than this would have been far more satisfying. As a remake, it’s an unneeded reboot from a filmmaker that has shown imagination, originality and diversity in his films, as well as some legitimate scares. He didn’t need to retread old ground. Now that Diblasi has gotten this out of his system, hopefully he will continue to show, moving forward, that he is a filmmaker horror fans need to be talking more about.
Finish action adventure takes place towards the end of WWII with German soldiers on the run in Finland. Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila) is a Finnish goldminer who has struck a large vein, just in time to cross paths with a squad of fleeing Nazi soldiers. Their commander (Aksel Hennie) wants the gold, and they soon are pursuing Aatami across the countryside. But who is hunting who, as Aatami is no humble goldminer, he is a former soldier called “The Immortal” and renown for killing hundreds of Russian soldiers.
Gruesomely violent movie is written and directed by Jalmari Helander and is a solid action flick if you can suspend disbelief quite often. Many times, the German soldiers have the opportunity to simply shoot Aatami, but instead go hand to hand, send dogs after him, or stand there fully armed watching him slaughter their comrades. He’s also shot, hanged, set on fire and like Arnie’s Terminator, he just keeps coming back. Helander makes up for all this nonsense with some very well-choreographed and extremely violent action scenes that win you over and have you rooting for this Finnish Rambo, even if the film technically should have been over in five minutes had the German soldiers acted with any sense. The cast are good with Tommila making a believable badass and Hennie a worthy opponent as the German commander Bruno Helldorf. The FX are quite good and gore plentiful as guns, grenades, knives and landmines all take their toll. Ever seen a horse blown up by a tank…yikes! Sure, all the war movie/super soldier clichés are all there, but the director uses them very effectively and we’re enjoying this enough to not be overly critical. Despite having to cut it a lot of slack in believability, it is a violent and entertaining ride and Helander shows some really good potential.
MZNJ TRIVIA: The title Sisu is a Finnish word meaning tenacity and determination.
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V (2023)
Faux lost horror flick sequel takes place in 1994 and finds Jakkariah Harding (Antonio Woodruff) returning to town after seven years to stalk a new set of innocent victims. This current bunch to be slaughtered are youths gathering at a house for the traditional college football game.
Flick is again written and directed by Jay Burleson and this time he really drops the ball…pun intended….as the film nary resembles a 90s horror. It’s far sillier than the first installment and the film still looks and feels like a late 70s/early 80s flick despite taking place in 90s. If he wanted to have fun with the self-aware 90s horrors like Scream
, then that’s what this flick should resemble. It really throws the film off not having the look or feel of the decade it takes place. The killer is still dull and the kills not very impressive and the acting and dialogue still purposely terrible. In a way maybe it is a part V as this retro faux franchise is already running out of gas quick much like the later entries of some of the real classic franchises. It does succeed in showing the laziness and repetitiveness those later franchise entries suffered from…and not in a good way. This faux franchise was a good idea that just wasn’t handled nearly as well as it could have been.
Read the review of the first flick HERE!
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER (2023)
Faux lost horror flick takes place in 1979 and is presented to us as the forgotten first installment of a fictional slasher franchise from the 80s. It takes place on the day of a long-time college football rivalry, hench its name, where a killer is on the loose. The killer is Jakkariah Harding (Antonio Woodruff) who seems to have risen from his grave after being executed by electric chair. His target is a house full of co-eds, including sweet local girl Heather (Allison Shrum). In hot pursuit is Ricky Dean Logan (Darius Willis) the father of one of his previous innocent victims.
Flick is written and directed by Jay Burleson and is, on a certain level, a very faithful recreation of a low budget slasher from the late 70s/early 80s. Burleson perfectly captures the look and feel of one of those flicks, from the grainy film and faded colors to the moderate pace and cheesy make-up FX. Even the wooden acting and bad dialogue perfectly fits a lower-tier horror from that era. What brings it down is that it imitates a lesser-level slasher, and much like some of those forgettable Halloween
cash-ins, it’s actually kind of dull. The kills are few and far between and don’t carry much suspense or impact. The characters are kind of flat and some, like the local sheriff, are too silly for the film’s more straightforward tone. The pace is a little too slow for its own good and the film drags along even at slightly over 90 minutes. Worst of all, Jakkariah Harding is a dull villain. Yes, it is much like one of those second or third level slashers from that period but it’s simply not that entertaining as a movie. Neither were some of those, but that doesn’t help here. One can appreciate Burleson’s obvious love for flicks from that time, but his loving homage simply could have been a lot more entertaining. We can still commend the effort and that the filmmaker’s heart was in the right place, but we just wish The Third Saturday in October
was simply more fun.
Horror/comedy takes the classic characters of Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his manservant/familiar Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) and brings them into modern day New Orleans. Our film opens with Renfield seeking help from a support group to finally be rid of his bloodsucking and overbearing boss. While trying to find the strength to destroy his master he bloodily crosses path with traffic officer Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina). The two join forces to take down the Price of Darkness, while also running afoul of a mob boss (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and her thug son Teddy (Ben Schwartz) who murdered Rebecca’s father.
Flick is directed by Chris McKay from a schizophrenic script by Ryan Ridley based on a story by Robert Kirkman. The film never mixes its elements well enough, be it horror, comedy, or cop buddy flick, so it just appears that it simply can’t decide what it wants to be. The elements are there for an entertaining mash-up, abundant gore, vicious kills, comic bits and plenty of action, but it never gels well enough to be completely successful. The mob boss plotline is convoluted at best and never feels like it fits in with the rest of the movie. Awkwafina’s foul-mouthed traffic cop with a grudge also doesn’t have much chemistry with Hoult’s Renfield, and as the movie’s whole story revolves around their relationship, it’s a weak point. On the plus side there are some ridiculously over the top gore sequences, some nicely done nods to the original Bela Lugosi film and Nicolas Cage has a blast hamming it up as Dracula. He really is a lot of fun to watch, and the veteran actor does bring some menace to the role as well as laughs. Hoult on the other hand is a bit bland and Awkwafina is simply playing Awkwafina. A shame as she is capable of so much more as her wonderful performance in The Farewell
proves. Overall, much like Cocaine Bear,
it is a moderately amusing 90+ minutes that in more capable hands could have been a real blast of a good time. Also features cameos from horror film favorites Caroline Williams and William Ragsdale along with footage of Helen Chandler and Edward Van Sloan from the 1931 Dracula
Action adventure opens on the distant planet of Somaris where pilot Mills (Adam Driver) accepts a two-year space mission, as the pay will help him get treatment for his ill daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman). Tragedy strikes while on the way home when a rogue asteroid belt collides with his ship. He crash-lands on a distant and primitive planet with only one other survivor, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) a young girl, about his daughter’s age, who doesn’t speak his language. The planet he has landed on is Earth in the time of the dinosaurs and he must lead Koa through miles of dangerous land to reach the escape ship that was separated from his craft in the crash. Worse than giant predators, quicksand and hostile insects is that the asteroid belt is on a direct collision course with Earth with only hours until catastrophe strikes.
Dinosaur movie is written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place, Haunt) and is a routine but solid sci-fi adventure. All the clichés for this kind of movie are present and it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It’s well made and moves quickly with some very good SPFX and a strong and likable hero in Driver’s Mills. Ariana Greenblatt is sweet and resilient as Koa and must convey emotion and communicate without use of English. This adds a little tension between Koa and Mills, but you know they will bond and become a team as they wade through all sorts of prehistoric beasts on the way to a possible escape. Driver gives the film emotional resonance by taking the film and his character seriously, which is why he is such a good actor. The dinosaurs have menace and the action sequences with them are entertaining. Overall, it may be an unremarkable movie but for the 90+ minutes you’re watching it, it entertains and keeps you occupied and interested, even if you know how it’s going to end from the moment it begins.
MZNJ NOTE: Flick reminded me of the similar and fun 1978 stop motion monster indie Planet of Dinosaurs which is streaming free on Tubi!
THE TANK (2023)
Flick is set in 1973 with family man Ben (Matt Whelan) finding out his mentally disturbed mother has passed away and that she has left him an old, abandoned cottage with a sizable property around it, overlooking the ocean. He travels up to the long empty house with wife Jules (Luciane Buchanan) and daughter Reia (Zara Nausbaum) and soon finds he’s also inherited the hungry monsters that live on his land.
Monster movie is written and directed by Scott Walker and is a solid creature feature. The flick is atmospheric and looks good as Walker seems to have a strong visual eye. He also builds some tension and some spooky moments when our charming family starts to realize something is wrong with this quaint old property and its large underground water tank. Once our vicious, amphibious creatures arrive they are simply designed but effective and there is some gore and bloodshed to establish they are very lethal. His small cast make for a nice, likable family with pretty Luciane Buchanan being a resilient heroine when she has to go all Ripley in the last act. He also gives the film a little emotional resonance as Ben starts to learn the truth about the death of his father and little sister. Walker’s simple but effective script also offers a vague but serviceable explanation as to where the beasties came from and by making Jules an animal knowledgeable pet store owner, we get just enough exposition on how these mysterious critters work. All in all, a solid and entertaining monster movie from Scott Walker that uses its clichés well. Now streaming on Amazon Plus. Watch the credits for an extra scene.