BARE BONES: RADIOFLASH (2019)

 

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RADIOFLASH (2019)

Radioflash is another term for an EMP…electromagnetic pulse…an event which begins our story. When the power is knocked out, civilized behavior quickly becomes fear and panic and survivalist Frank (Will Patton) begs his teen granddaughter Reese (Brighton Sharbino) and her father Chris (Dominic Monaghan) to join him in the safety of his secluded house, deep in the mountains. The trip is treacherous and an unfortunate series of events finds Reese all alone. As the young girl runs afoul of murderous looters and a strange backwoods, mountain family, her concerned grandfather sets out to track his loved ones down.

Survival drama is directed by Ben McPherson from a script by he and Matt Redhawk. It’s a somber and low key film about a young girl trying to survive two harsh worlds, one created by a catastrophic event and the other that may have always been there. It’s well done and somewhat involving, but never really grabs us, or seems to really go anywhere. It’s refreshing to not have zombies or fetishistic biker gangs, in this kind of scenario, but it could have used a little more dramatic weight. It’s a little too laid back for it’s own good. Both the selfishness of people in panic and the weird rural mountain folk are both familiar elements at this point, but still work in the context of the story. It’s a bit questionable, though, that cellphones and laptops would still work after the EMP. Brighton Sharbino does make for a likable heroine, as the resourceful Reese and Fionnula Flanagan, Michael Filipowich and Kyle Collin are effective as the mountain clan that want to make Reese one of their own…whether she likes it or not. Well directed, but could have used a bit more intensity.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: HAVENHURST and AMERICAN FABLE

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HAVENHURST (2016)

Havenhurst is a fairly entertaining if not familiar story of someone investigating strange goings on in a large house or apartment complex and finding out they live in a house of horrors. Here, it is pretty recovering alcoholic Jackie (Julie Benz), who has been released from rehab and has moved into Havenhurst, a NYC apartment that specializes in taking in hard luck cases. Weird things happen from the start, like Jackie’s former rehab friend Danielle (Danielle Harris) mysteriously disappearing and strange sounds eminating from within the walls at night. As Jackie begins to investigate, she starts to believe there is something truly sinister going on in the building, but no one will believe her. Her only ally is a child, young Sarah (Belle Shouse), whose own parents disappeared as well. Will Jackie expose the diabolical goings on, or is she the next victim of Havenhurst!?

Film is competently directed by Andrew C. Erin from a familiar script by he and Daniel Farrands. It has some effective moments and there is some surprisingly gory violence mixed in with the familiar tropes of someone with emotional problems being disbelieved when they cry wolf. Julie Benz is a solid heroine and Fionnula Flanagan makes for a creepy landlord, whom you know is up to no good despite her ability to fool everyone else. The building location is used with creepy effectiveness and the film does have an unsettling wrap-up. A decent watch if there is nothing else on.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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AMERICAN FABLE (2017)

Drama takes place in the Reagan Era with a family struggling to keep their farm. Imaginative young Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) makes a startling discovery one day when she goes to the farm silo she is forbidden to play around. There she discovers a man named Jonathan being held prisoner (Richard Schiff) and soon finds he is the real estate developer who has been buying up the folding farms in the area. Now Gitty is caught in the middle between her loved ones, who are committing a desperate act and doing what is right and helping Jonathan escape.

This is an engaging drama with a touch of fantasy as written and directed by Anne Hamilton. It has some nice emotional depth and young Peyton Kennedy really gives a very strong performance as the slightly eccentric young girl who dreams of things beyond her farm and is now caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s a little too slow moving for it’s own good at times, but otherwise is a solid drama. Gavin Macintosh also makes a truly detestable villain as Gitty’s cruel older brother Martin, who is enjoying the kidnapping a little too much and will resort to any means to carry out the plan…including murder. Hamilton makes a solid directorial debut for her first feature length film and has a nice visual eye to go along with her evident directing chops. No classic, but worth a look for sure, if you like indie dramas and a sign interesting things may be coming from Hamilton.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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