BARE BONES: THE NEW MUTANTS (2020)

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THE NEW MUTANTS (2020)

The New Mutants takes place in the X-Men film universe with a young Native American girl, Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), being admitted to a clinic for young mutants. She’s there with four other youths, Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), Rahne (Maisie Williams), Sam (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto (Henry Zaga), under the “treatment” of Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). They initially think they are being taught to control their mutant abilities to become X-Men, but when their fears and inner pains begin to manifest against them, they unite under the belief that there is a more sinister purpose in store for them.

Flick is directed by Josh Boone from his script with Knate Lee. Initial shooting supposedly ended in 2017 and then the film spent three years in post production hell with a lot of tinkering and reshoots. As such, the result is basically A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, meets The X-Men and not nearly as fun or interesting as that sounds. It’s not really a bad film, though it’s not an overly good one either. We’ve seen the X-Men elements done better in those movies and if you’ve seen ANOES 3, there really isn’t much new here on that front either. The characters are a bit cliché, but the cast is good, with Blu Hunt making a likable lead and heroine as Dani, and Braga making a suitable villain as Dr. Reyes. The FX are well done, the hospital location atmospheric and there is some effective action and violence. After a somewhat more grounded first half, the climax does get a little bloated and overloaded and comes quite close to getting silly. The flick tries to be a bit more of a horror movie than a comic book movie, but it is still a PG-13 one, once all is said and done. All in all, it’s an entertaining enough 94 minutes, if there is nothing else to watch, but nothing memorable or impactful. A lackluster end to the 20th Century Fox film series, as now Disney and Marvel have the rights to the X-Men, and they’ll be joining the MCU at some point.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: MARROWBONE (2017)

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MARROWBONE (2017)

Film takes place in the late 60s and finds an ailing mother (Nicola Harrison) traveling, with her four children, to the United States to her ancestral home to escape her husband. When the mother dies, eldest son Jack (George MacKay) decides to hide her death till he turns twenty-one and can take custody of his three siblings (Matthew Stagg, Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth). Now alone in the house, the four must deal with something that dwells in the abandoned home with them…is it something supernatural, or a dark secret that has taken a life of it’s own.

Written and directed by Sergio G. Sánchez this is an atmospheric mystery/thriller in the spirit of flicks like The Others and The Orphanage. We know something isn’t right in the house as the kids cover up mirrors and little Sam (Stagg) is convinced it is the ghost of their father, a cruel man who they say is now dead. We also have seen enough flicks like this to have our own suspicions, as to who or what lurks in the bricked-up attic. Once the credits role and the secrets are revealed, it is effective, though we have already figured out parts of it and aren’t exactly surprised at the rest. The very ending itself also doesn’t quite sit well, either, as we question a certain character’s choices. An atmospheric mystery, though one that doesn’t quite take us by surprise as we would have liked and does leave some questions as it concludes. Also stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) as pretty neighbor, Allie, who takes in interest in Jack.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: VOODOO and SHUT IN

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VOODOO (2017)

This is a terrible found footage flick that has a young woman (Samantha Stewart) traveling to L.A. from her home of New Orleans after an affair with a married man provokes his voodoo practicing wife. She’s filming her trip, hence the found footage format and her footage catches the escalating pursuit by evil spirits till she is literally dragged to Hell…camera still filming, of course!

Flick is awfully written and directed by Tom Costabile and the only reason it gets the extra star is for having the audacity of being the first…at least I think so…found footage movie to take place in Hell. It is laughably bad for the most part, though it’s depiction of Hell does hit Baskin levels of offensiveness with newborn babies being eaten alive and our heroine being raped by Satan himself…or one of his muscular horned demons, I can’t really tell. It’s disturbingly graphic, though wears out it’s welcome quickly, but in terms of legitimate chills and thrills, it’s completely void and Costabile seems to know little or nothing about actual voodoo. At least pretty lead Samantha Stewart and co-star Ruth Reynolds were appealing.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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SHUT IN (2016)

Moderately amusing thriller has widowed child psychologist Mary (Naomi Watts) caring for her catatonic 18 year-old step-son (Charlie Heaton) after an accident that also claimed her husband’s life. At the same time, she is concerned about a young patient of hers (Room’s Jacob Tremblay) that has run away into the Maine woods with a massive snowstorm approaching rapidly. As the snowfall traps Mary in the house, she starts to feel there is something strange going on and soon believes she is possibly being haunted by the now feared dead boy’s spirit.

Flick written by Christina Hudson and directed by Farren Blackbum is a completely generic and routine thriller with Watt’s solid performance being the only thing that keeps us entertained. She is a veteran actress and handles the weak material well, adding some emotional depth to the mundane goings on and making Mary very sympathetic and likable. The big reveal isn’t exactly a surprise and actually adds a creepy and uncomfortable sexual element to the proceedings, though one the filmmakers aren’t daring enough to go too far with as they shift the focus off it rather quickly, returning to the safer stalking about a dark house finale. If nothing else is on, it’s not a complete waste of time and the 48 year-old Watts still looks quite fetching in the buff. Also stars Oliver Platt as a psychologist friend of Mary’s.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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