BARE BONES: SPONTANEOUS (2020)

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SPONTANEOUS (2020)

Offbeat and darkly comic flick finds students at a small town high school spontaneously exploding for an undetermined reason. In the middle of all the bloody chaos, rebellious movie nerd Mara (Katherine Langford) finds love with fellow student Dylan (Charlie Plummer), despite the looming danger that either could be next.

Spontaneous is written and directed by Brian Duffield (who wrote Underwater and Love And Monsters) from a novel of the same name by Aaron Starmer. It can be very clever at times, heartfelt at others and darkly funny, without loosing sight of the very sweet love story at the core of it’s blood-spattered tale. These kids are dealing with mortality, loss and death for the first time and each of the characters reacts to the situation in their own interesting ways. Mara and Dylan press on with their relationship despite all that is happening around them. Life goes on, even when surrounded by death. It may sound very COVID centric, but the book was written in 2016, as were the initial plans to make a movie out of it. Many of the themes fit, though, as the kids are isolated, quarantined and medicated with the looming threat constantly present. They also have to deal with the sudden loss of some of those they love. The cast is really good with Katherine Langford giving Mara a buoyant personality with a nice sarcastic sense of humor. She carries the movie with a strong performance, as it is predominately Mara’s story. Charlie Plummer is sweet and a bit nerdy as the charmingly eccentric Dylan and Hayley Law does good work as Mara’s best friend Tess. The young cast have nice chemistry together. An interestingly contemporary movie that proves love can blossom in the most dire of situations and…to steal a quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan…”how we face death is at least as important as how we face life!A really good little movie with some surprising depth and emotional resonance.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER (2018)

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THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER (2018)

Film takes place ten years after a small Kentucky town was plagued by a series of murders by a serial killer known as The Clovehitch Killer. The killings mysteriously stopped with the killer never found. When young Tyler (Charlie Plummer) finds a disturbing photo in his father’s truck, he starts to question things about his churching-going, Boy Scout master father (Dylan McDermott). The more Tyler seeks answers, the more he starts to suspect his father and The Clovehitch Killer might be one and the same.

Written by Christopher Ford and directed by Duncan Skiles, this is a methodically paced thriller that evokes similar films like the recent Summer of 84 and the classic Frailty. Whether his father is really a killer or not, isn’t the true mystery here, but what a boy will do when he finds out disturbing things about his own flesh and blood. The film is well done and the performances are excellent and it has a nice replay of events from another POV that works well in the last act. What holds this thriller back is that it lacks a real punch. It’s a bit too understated for it’s own good and since we all know where it is heading, it needed more punctuation at the time of it’s reveals. It’s a well-made thriller about what darkness can lurk beneath the All-American veneer, but one that needed a bit more of a “wow” factor to really be something worth talking more about. As it is, it is still an unsettling thriller about what one might be faced with when learning dark things about someone they love. Also stars Samantha Mathis as Tyler’s mother and Madisen Beaty, who impresses, as a girl who befriends Tyler and with a personal interest in Clovehitch’s identity.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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