BARE BONES: SUMMER ’03 (2018)

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SUMMER ’03 (2018)

Summer ’03 is an indie coming of age movie that finds teen Jamie Winkle (Joey King) trying to deal with the backlash when her grandmother Dotty (June Squibb) bares her soul on her death bed, throwing the family into chaos. Her mother Shira (Andrea Savage) finds out what she knew all along, Dotty hated her because she is Jewish. Her father Ned (Paul Scheer) finds out the man he thought was his father…wasn’t…and Dotty’s advice to Jamie might seem a little inappropriate. Being a teen is hard enough, but with a family in chaos and a dysfunctional funeral looming, Jamie tries to find herself in the mess.

Delightfully honest and sometimes biting and raunchy comedy/drama is written and directed by Becca Gleason. It presents a more realistic view of families, especially when secrets are revealed and real feelings come out, surrounding the death of a family member. It is also a nicely un-PC view of a teenager’s angst, not only in moments of upheaval, but in everyday teen life. The flick is not afraid to “go there” especially in it’s portrayal of Jamie following grandma’s last words of advice and of a young girl at the point of becoming a young woman. It has a bit of a devious and sarcastic sense of humor that produces some laugh out loud moments, for those who appreciate such, yet has some nice poignant moments, too, as Jamie struggles to find herself amidst her family falling apart around her. It does follow the coming of age movie formula, but does so at the beat of it’s own drum. Add to all that, a firecracker performance by Joey King, who is surrounded by a very good supporting cast and you have a movie that more people should have been talking about when released in 2018. Highly recommend and a very impressive feature film debut from Becca Gleason. Also stars Jack Kilmer as a young priest in training and Stephen Ruffin as a classmate, two young men whose attentions Jamie seeks as she tries to deal with what’s going on around her.

Flick can be found streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: SLENDER MAN (2018) and WEBCAST (2018)

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SLENDER MAN (2018)

Flick is based on the popular urban legend and finds four friends, Hallie, Wren, Katie and Chloe (Julia Goldani Telles, Joey King, Annalise Basso and Jaz Sinclair) trying to conjure up the boogie man-like specter during a get-together one night. Soon after, one of their number disappears and the rest start to fear they’ve actually succeeded. Is the Slender Man real and now out to get them?

Teen centric horror is not the best of the recent trend, though certainly not the worst. Director Sylvain White does create some spooky scenes from David Birke’s generic script and has a very effective visual style to give the film some atmosphere. His cast of young actors try hard and are likable enough, even if we have seen the “urban legend-based boogie man” flick a few too many times recently. Not a waste of time, but nothing new either. Also stars veteran horror creature performer Javier Botet (The REC series, Mama, Insidious: The Last Key ) as The Slender Man.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WEBCAST (2018)

Chloe Webber (Samantha Redford) is making a webcast documentary about the disappearance of her aunt during the 80s. While filming, she captures footage which leads her to believe her neighbors are holding a young girl against her will. With only her boyfriend Ed (Joseph Tremain) believing her, they begin to investigate. As they observe and record their neighbors’ activities, Chloe starts to experience some strange occurrences of her own. Is there something evil in their midst and are they getting too close?

British found footage flick is basically The Blair Witch Project meets The Wicker Man as written and directed by Paul McGhie. It’s nothing really new, once you get past the initial premise, though has some spooky sequences towards the climax. As for that climax, it blows the opportunity to end on an unsettling note by taking it to an extra step which is unnecessary and confusing. For the most part this is another forgettable entry in the found footage arena, save for pretty lead Samantha Redford being quite charming and endearing with a movie star smile. Hope to see more of her in other, better things.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: WISH UPON (2017)

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WISH UPON (2017)

Wish Upon is yet another generic, teen-centric PG-13 horror that finds cute high school student Clare (Joey King) being given a Chinese wish box found by her dumpster diving father (Ryan Phillippe). The picked-on teen uses it to make a wish against the local mean girl (Josephine Langford) and finds it actually comes true. Now as she begins to use the box, she learns that it comes with a terrible price as those close to her begin to suffer horrible fates.

Flick is directed by John Leonetti (Annabell) from a script by Barbara Marshall and the result is a mildly entertaining hodge-podge of classic horror stories like The Monkey’s Paw and other flicks like the Final Destination series. Leonetti is a competent director, but not really able to create any scares. The film has some amusing scenes and the young cast are charming enough, but it’s nothing new and the familiar elements are not used inventively enough to really make this spooky fun. Not a complete waste of time, but forgettable and by-the-numbers as the teen horror sub-genre goes.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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