Sequel opens with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) now living in the White House. Columbus asks Wichita to marry him and unfortunately it causes she and Little Rock to leave. Little Rock then strikes out on her own with stoner musician Berkeley (Avan Jogia) and when Wichita returns to ask for help in getting her back, she finds Columbus is now with ditzy blonde, Madison (Zoey Deutch), whom he found hiding in a mall. If that doesn’t add tension enough, there is apparently a new faster and deadlier type of zombie on the prowl.
Ruben Fleischer returns to direct from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham. As such it’s a fun sequel, though completely unnecessary as it’s basically just more of the same. There is a fun bit with Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch as Albuquerque and Flagstaff, two travelers who are amusingly like Tallahassee and Columbus, but nothing much is done with it and it is over too quickly. Rosario Dawson is a welcome addition as Nevada, an Elvis loving love interest for Tallahassee, but even her character disappears for a while till joining the last act action. The climactic battle in a pacifist commune with the evolved zombie horde is entertaining and the four leads interact together very well, as they did last time. Aside from the fun of seeing the characters together again, there isn’t much to this sequel, which follows the template of the first film a little too closely to feel like anything more than a redo. Still, it’s an entertaining movie while it lasts, mostly because of the cast, but nothing that lingers after the credits have rolled. If you are a fan of the first film, you’ll probably have a good time with this one, even if it never accomplishes more than being an amusing, nostalgic reunion.
Final Girl is an entertaining and stylish thriller about a girl named Veronica (Abigail Breslin) who lost her parents when she was eight and is taken in by a man named William (Wes Bentley). She’s trained for the next twelve years to be an efficient killing machine and then unleashed on her first assignment. There are four young men, led by the charismatic Jameson (Alexander Ludwig), who like to lure young women in the woods and then hunt them for sport, while wearing tuxedos. Veronica is to set herself up as their next victim and then find a way to take these serial killers out…but the odds are against her. Tyler Shields’ directorial debut is a bit too stylish for it’s own good at times, but overall this is a fun flick as we watch Veronica play a dangerous cat and mouse game deep in the woods with these four arrogant killers. There are some good fight scenes with petite Abigail Breslin holding her own quite well and making an impression once again. The rest of the cast are good with Ludwig being a detestable villain and Bentley making a mysterious figure as Veronica’s handler, William. A simple story and script written by four people that might have been a bit more fun had they kept us in the dark for awhile about Veronica’s origins, but it does entertain and still photographer Shields does give it an intriguing visual style. Not great, but fun and an interesting debut for Shields. Also stars Cameron Bright, Reece Thompson and Logan Huffman as Jameson’s fellow frat boy killers.
THE STRANGER (2015)
Written and directed by Guillermo Amoedo and produced by Eli Roth, this flick is a strange and somber take on the vampire genre. A stranger (Cristobal Tapia Montt) arrives in a small town and stops at the home of Peter (Nicolás Durán) and his mother (Aleesandra Guerzoni) inquiring about a woman, Ana (Lorenza Izzo) who died around the time Peter was born. An encounter with a group of thugs leads Peter to believe this stranger, Martin, is something more than an average man. Now as Peter becomes fixated wit this man, he begins to learn there is something very unnatural about him and his reason for being there and Peter may be involved closer than he would like. The film certainly has some very effective moments and there is some effectively gruesome violence, too, but the film was a bit too somber to really draw one in. Even with the subplot of a vicious thug (Ariel Levy) and his dirty cop father (Luis Gnecco), who complicate things for Peter and Martin, the film is a little dull at times and never rises about moderately intriguing. The vampire aspects are treated more like a disease than a curse and the reveals are seen coming miles away. Not really a bad movie, but nothing overly memorable or thrilling.
Maggie is a poignant, powerful and heartbreaking film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin both giving the performances of their careers.
Drama starts out in a world being stricken by the Necronambulist Virus which is affecting crops and humans alike. Crops die while humans become vicious and violent with cannibalistic tendencies. In the middle of it all, teen Maggie Vogel (Abigail Breslin) runs away from her farm home to the city and is bitten by one of the infected. Her father Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) pulls some strings to get his daughter out of hospital quarantine to bring her home. With maybe only days, Maggie is slowly turning into one of the infected and despite the danger she may soon become, Wade is determined to be by his daughter’s side…even if it means defying the authorities that would see Maggie back in quarantine and destroyed.
Those expecting to see the Austrian Oak wading into armies of zombies with some huge caliber weapon will be sorely disappointed. As written by John Scott III and directed by Henry Hobson this is not a horror movie, but a quiet story of a father’s unending love for his daughter under the most horrific of circumstances…and as such is a poignant and utterly heart-wrenching tale. Hobson sets up the desolation and hopelessness of the situation quickly with some impressive and effective shots of burning crops and deserted city streets. This establishes the pervading atmosphere as we meet Wade Vogel in the hospital trying to get his runaway daughter and bring her home. He is sending his younger children away and he and Maggie’s stepmother (Joely Richardson), bring her back home, prepared for the worst. Hobson then delivers a subtle yet powerful tale of a young woman changing into something out of a nightmare and a father who is already in that nightmare but refuses to give up on his little girl. It is one of the most heartbreaking films I had seen in some time as we are shown the torment young Maggie suffers, as she knows what she is becoming and what she will be capable of, while her father suffers the anguish of watching it happen to one of the people he loves most. It is a story usually set for chills and thrills…though we get a lot of those…but instead is about unconditional love and sacrifice… and there is a subtle beauty to the emotional story at its core, despite the outer horror film trappings.
On a technical side the film is moderately paced and that works perfectly with the nature of the story. It also knows not to waste time or hang around too long at slightly over 90 minutes. The cinematography by Lukas Ettlin is perfectly moody, the make-up portraying Maggie’s slow and tortuous transformation are excellent and there is a simple and atmospheric score by David Wingo.
As for the cast…wow! Arnold Schwarzenegger gives the performance of his career. He is simply amazing, especially in comparison to the type of movies we are normally used to seeing him in. He has a smoldering intensity that is mixed perfectly with the pain and sadness of a parent watching his child slowly become something inhuman. He is absolutely haunting. Abigail Breslin is borderline brilliant as a young woman facing a horrible fate yet doing it with strength and dignity. She knows what she is to become, and she conveys the fear, confusion and terror perfectly, yet not without compassion towards the ones she loves…as she knows full well what danger she will soon be to them. Equally haunting is that she is trying to enjoy the warm embrace of the people she loves and take solace from it as long as she can…even though it ultimately won’t help…and she knows it. Schwarzenegger and Breslin also have an onscreen chemistry together that is simply magic. As for the rest, Richardson is also strong as the stepmother who wants to be there, but whose love is becoming more overwhelmed by fear each day. Also really effective is Jodie Moore as Wade’s sympathetic doctor Vern, who buys time for the Vogels with the looming authorities and Douglas M. Griffin as the sheriff, who is an old family friend and also tries to give Wade the time he needs to say goodbye.
I was blown away by this movie. Not only are there some wonderful performances and direction, but the film carries an emotional intensity that is powerful and effecting. Maggie packs a punch despite operating in subtly and is all the more refreshing for it. This is not a zombie movie, nor an action movie, but an intimate portrayal of a slow and horrifying transformation and the effect it has on the subject and those around them. It’s a powerful and emotionally draining film with a movie icon, as we have never seen him before…and more good work from a star on the rise. A great indie movie with some remarkable performances. Henry Hobson is a filmmaker to watch for sure! One of the best movies of the year and I can’t recommend it enough.
Interesting looking Schwarzenegger flick has the Austrian Oak playing a Midwestern father trying to protect his daughter (Abigail Breslin) who has been infected during a zombie outbreak. Film is directed by Henry Hobson and written by John Scott 3. Maggie opens 5/22/15.
Despite the interesting concept of taking a haunting/possession story and playing it from the ghosts’ point of view, Haunter is actually a bland and dull supernatural thriller with elements of Groundhog Day and The Others mixed in. After the repetitive first act, it seems that director Vincenzo Natali just starts making things up as he goes along in order to stretch the meager story out to a feature length film. Star Abigail Breslin tries very hard to carry the flick on her young shoulders but, the material and direction just isn’t there to support her. An un-spooky mess. Also stars Stephen McHattie as a dark and malevolent spirit.
Horror anthology features three separate stories about three separate patients at a sanitarium presided over by a Dr. Stenson (Malcolm McDowell) who frames the stories. Each story is directed by a different director, yet all fit together in terms of style and when all is said and done, Sanitarium is a fairly well made and entertaining horror. Nothing special but, horror fans could do far worse for an evening of entertainment on the couch. Also stars John Glover, Lacey Chabert, Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund.