BARE BONES: 47 METERS DOWN-UNCAGED (2019)

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47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED (2019)

Sequel to the fun Mandy Moore vs sharks epic, 47 Meters Down is basically Jaws meets The Descent and takes place in Yucatán, Mexico. A group of four pretty girls, Mia (Sophie Nélisse), Sasha (Corinne Foxx, daughter of Jamie Foxx), Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sly’s daughter, Sistine Stallone) decide to forgo the boat tour they are supposed to be on and go scuba diving in a flooded underground Mayan temple Mia’s dad (John Corbett) is exploring. Once the four get inside, they become trapped and are pursued by the blind, albino great white sharks that live inside the temple catacombs.

Directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, Strangers: Prey at Night) from a script he co-wrote with Ernest Riera, it’s a silly but fun sequel. Uncaged takes itself just serious enough and plays a lot like Neil Marshall’s chiller with our scantily clad heroines using both silence and sound to evade the great whites, who are blind due to living in darkness all this time. It’s entertaining nonsense as our ladies seek to escape when accidentally sealed in and are running out of air. The leading ladies are charming, pretty and likable enough, so we don’t especially want to see them become shark food and the flick does try to keep us in suspense as to if and when any of our adorable ladies will become dinner. This is a shark flick after all and the movie does provide some gruesome chow downs. Other divers are present to serve as food for our predators and one character appears and then is eaten so fast, there is no question as to why they were even there, except for the obvious reason of a great white happy meal. There are also some amusing conveniences, too, as characters who can be of any assistance in the girl’s escape are devoured at just the right crucial moments. Not as gripping as the surprisingly solid thriller the first flick was, but still mindless entertainment if you let it be and the last act is pretty much non-stop action. Silly and cliché, but a fun time.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT and HUNTING EMMA

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THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (2018)

Sequel to the disturbing The Strangers, finds couple Cindy and Mike (Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson) going with son Luke (Lewis Pullman) on a road trip to bring troublesome daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison) to boarding school. They stop at an uncle’s trailer park for the night and soon find themselves hunted by three masked individuals.

Original film director Bryan Bertino steps aide and lets Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) take the helm, though he does write the script with Ben Ketai. The result is a more routine slasher flick, but one that does have some effective scenes, especially in the last act When Kinsey goes on the offensive. It’s entertaining enough and has some very violent moments, though is held back by characters doing some very dumb things…even for a horror flick. It’s also hard to believe that a character afraid to pull the trigger in one scene, would suddenly find the balls to stab someone repeatedly a scene later. In fact, why introduce the gun into the scenario at all when it’s never fired, lost quickly, and doesn’t become a factor? Roberts does direct competently and as slashers go, it gets the job done well enough, but is nothing memorable like the original home invasion flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HUNTING EMMA (2017)

South African thriller finds peace-loving, school teacher Emma (Leandie du Randt) heading across the Karoo to go visit her father (Tertius Meintjes). When her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, she happens across the murder in progress of a police officer (Drikus Volschenk) by a gang of six vicious drug dealers. Now Emma finds herself pursued across the wilderness by the gang, who don’t realize that Emma’s father was a special forces soldier and he taught his daughter everything he knows.

Very similar to the recent Revenge, this flick is directed solidly by Bryon Davis, though from a weak script by Deon Meyer. The script has not once but twice, a male character having the advantage over Emma, but putting down his weapon to teach her a lesson either bare-fisted or by engaging in an old school, Western-style gunfight. It’s silly. At these points in the film, Emma’s proven she’s dangerous. Are these guys that in need of macho validation? Secondly, the script assumes we’re too dumb to get the point and after numerous flashbacks of Emma learning survival tactics from her dad, there is a painstakingly long exposition scene with her dad explaining this all to a friend (Albert Maritz) in explicit detail. We already got that she’s a bit of a Rambo in Daisy Dukes, it’s completely unnecessary and adds ten minutes to a film that would have benefited from a slightly tighter edit job. The bad guys are quite routine, though the film does entertain and leading lady du Randt is solid and likable as the wolf in sheep’s clothing, Emma. A tighter script that didn’t insult our intelligence would have made this a lot better as the action and violence is effective.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 47 METERS DOWN (2016)

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47 METERS DOWN (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Sisters Lisa (singer Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico and decide to go on a boating excursion where they will spend time suspended underwater in a shark cage observing the local great white population. An equipment malfunction occurs during their dive and now the sisters are stranded 47 meters down and running out of oxygen. Worse still, the massive sharks they came to swim amongst surround them, making rescue or escape almost impossible. Will help arrive in time?…or will the sisters become the next meal for the hungry predators.

Originally due to hit theaters back in 2016, 47 Meters Down is a fun and tense action/thriller from director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side Of The Door) which he co-wrote with Ernest Riera. Sure, there is suspension of disbelief and we could have used a bit more shark action, but Roberts keeps the flick moving fast at 80+ minutes and the action of one kind or another is almost constant. There is some nice tension in the atmosphere and we get some engaging and suspenseful set-pieces throughout. It’s all very well staged and the underwater photography avoids being murky, so we never loose track of what is going on. Roberts’ sharks obviously pop up at the most inconvenient times and that adds to the fun and the filmmaker even has the audacity to play with our emotions a bit in the tense last act. And as there are sharks, there is some blood, but the bloodletting is sparse, so when it does come, it has impact and is surprisingly gruesome. The film can be predictable at times, though even when it does, it’s still works to an entertaining degree, as some of the familiar elements are what we came expecting to see from a shark movie anyway.

The cast is small with the focus mostly on Moore and Holt while they spend their terrifying ordeal in the shark cage. Both ladies do well in creating likable and sympathetic characters for us to become endeared to. One of the reasons the film works as well as it does is we like these two girls and want to see them rescued. Matthew Modine plays the tour ship’s captain, but is mostly heard on the radio communicating with his trapped customers and is fine in a role which didn’t really need a name actor.

Simply, this was a fun little movie featuring babes vs sharks. There is some nice suspense and tension, likable characters and when we do get some bloodletting, it is effective and surprisingly gruesome. It can be predictable and we are asked to suspend belief more than once, but the film still entertains and doesn’t try to be any more than it is. A fun underwater thriller with enough bite to keep our interest. More of a straight up action flick than the recent shark drama The Shallows which will obviously draw comparisons.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 great whites who want Moore (sorry, had to!).

in the deep rating
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN THE DEEP (2016)

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IN THE DEEP (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Sisters Lisa (singer Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico and decide to go on a boating excursion where they will spend time suspended underwater in a shark cage observing the local great white population. An equipment malfunction occurs during their dive and now the sisters are stranded 47 meters down and running out of oxygen. Worse still, the massive sharks they came to swim amongst surround them, making rescue or escape almost impossible. Will help arrive in time?…or will the sisters become the next meal for the hungry predators.

Originally titled 47 Meters Down, this is a fun and tense action/thriller from director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side Of The Door) which he co-wrote with Ernest Riera. Sure, there is suspension of disbelief and we could have used a bit more shark action, but Roberts keeps the flick moving fast at 87 minutes and the action of one kind or another is almost constant. There is some nice tension in the atmosphere and we get some engaging and suspenseful set-pieces throughout. It’s all very well staged and the underwater photography avoids being murky, so we never loose track of what is going on. Roberts’ sharks obviously pop up at the most inconvenient times and that adds to the fun and the filmmaker even has the audacity to play with our emotions a bit in the tense last act. And as there are sharks, there is some blood, but the bloodletting is sparse, so when it does come, it has impact and is surprisingly gruesome. The film can be predictable at times, though even when it does, it’s still works to an entertaining degree, as some of the familiar elements are what we came expecting to see from a shark movie anyway.

The cast is small with the focus mostly on Moore and Holt while they spend their terrifying ordeal in the shark cage. Both ladies do well in creating likable and sympathetic characters for us to become endeared to. One of the reasons the film works as well as it does is we like these two girls and want to see them rescued. Matthew Modine plays the tour ship’s captain, but is mostly heard on the radio communicating with his trapped customers and is fine in a role which didn’t really need a name actor.

Simply, this was a fun little movie for a night on the couch. There is some nice suspense and tension, likable characters and when we do get some bloodletting, it is effective and surprisingly gruesome. It can be predictable and we are asked to suspend belief more than once, but the film still entertains and doesn’t try to be any more than it is. A fun underwater thriller with enough bite to keep our interest. More of a straight up action flick than the recent shark drama The Shallows (which ironically wore the title In The Deep before it’s release) which will obviously draw comparisons.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 great whites who want Moore (sorry, had to!).

in the deep rating
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Supernatural thriller is a familiar one, but is well made enough to keep one moderately entertained. Story has a couple, Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto), moving to India to base their rare antiquities business. We pick up the story years later where the couple have had two children, Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) and Oliver (Logan Creran) and a horrible car accident put Maria in a position to save only one of them, Lucy…a decision that haunts her continually. Their Indian housekeeper (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) tells Maria of an ancient temple where one can go to speak one last time to the dead. She also warns Maria that no matter what Oliver says, she must not open the temple door to let him in…so, guess what Maria does and guess what happens.

Directed by Johannes Roberts, who co-wrote with Ernest Riera, this is an awfully familiar story filled with the typical clichés that go with such a tale. We have a heartbroken parent, or parents, dabbling in the supernatural to speak or see their lost child one more time and given an exact set of rules to follow…which they break. We saw it in Pet Sematary and even more recently in Wake Wood and it’s the same story with the same results. Johannes Roberts does direct the tale well and does give it some atmosphere, especially making good use of the exotic India locations and folklore. This keeps the film from being dull and even provides some legitimately spooky moments to keep us entertained. It is ultimately routine and forgettable, but to a degree does work well enough considering how often we’ve seen this scenario played out. The FX are solid and seem to use prosthetics often and the overall production looks good with some spooky cinematography by Maxime Alexandre (Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac remake) and an equally atmospheric score by Joseph Bishara.

It’s got a good cast, too. Lead Callies is very sympathetic as Maria. She strongly portrays the woman’s guilt over having to make a choice between her children and the pain it puts her through every day. It also makes us tolerant of her acceptance of Oliver’s returned spirit, even when it starts to reveal itself as malevolent. Jeremy Sisto is likable as Michael and is a husband pained to see his wife in such torment. He creates a man trying to keep his family together and be strong for them, yet obviously not sure what to do when his wife begins to believe their son’s spirit has returned and he begins to doubt her sanity. Sofia Rosinsky is surprisingly effective as little Lucy who is the first to feel the presence of Oliver’s spirit, but also the first to feel his wrath. Rounding out is Indian actress Suchitra Pillai-Malik who as Piki provides us with our local folklore exposition and successfully portrays a caring woman who, due to her own life experience, is trying to help the family find peace.

Sure this flick is as familiar, routine and cliché as a mainstream horror can get…but it isn’t all that bad. Director Johannes Roberts gives the film some nice atmosphere, there are a number of spooky scenes, some nicely executed jump scares and a cast that adds a little emotional weight to an oft told story. For a quiet night on the couch and approached with moderate expectations, it’s passes the time without wasting it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 stuffed tigers.

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