BARE BONES: JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)

 

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JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)

Flick finds nothing much has changed since we last saw Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) in Kevin Smith’s 2006 Clerks II. They are still hanging out by the Quick Stop and smoking weed, though they are now growing and selling it, too. The dense duo are caught and an unscrupulous lawyer (Justin Long) gets them to sign away their names, so, a reboot of the Bluntman and Chronic movie, entitled Bluntman V Chronic, can commence. They hear a major sequence will be filmed at L.A.’s Chronic-Con and so, in true reboot fashion, the two hit the road again to stop production. Along the way Jay finds out that former love Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) bore him a child, who is now a rebellious teenager (Harley Quinn Smith) who comes along for the trip.

Kevin Smith writes and directs this latest adventure of his two slacker, stoner characters and for the first third, at least, it’s kinda nostalgic fun. Sadly the second third gets bogged down in the whole Jay finds out he’s a dad storyline and then when his daughter Millennium Faulken joins him on the quest for Chronic-Con, he tries to bond with the angry teen, without telling her who he really is. The melodrama drags the fun down a bit and the attempts at bonding aren’t nearly as funny as they should be. No better example than when he and Silent Bob have to rescue her and her racially diverse friends from a Ku Klux Klan chapter, whose Grand Wizard is played by professional wrestler/singer Chris Jericho, no less. It’s unnecessary and unfunny and only slows things down further. The third act really stalls as Jay, Silent Bob and the girls hit the convention to stop the film’s director…big surprise…Kevin Smith and it becomes a Kevin Smith ego-stroking, love letter to himself with cameos from former Smith film cast members that sadly only goes to show how old everyone has gotten since the 90s, when Smith and their characters was relevant. The stale dialog bits between these characters also prove that everyone involved is getting a bit too old for this schtick and maybe it’s time to move on from this whole, painfully dated Clerks based universe*. Smith and his returning to these characters, is like an over-the-hill singer from an 80s hair band that still sings about teenage girls. It’s sad and a bit creepy at this point.

*With a rumored Mallrats sequel and Clerks III on the way, this is, however, highly unlikely.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: LAVENDER

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LAVENDER (2016)

Flick is a mystery thriller with a supernatural element as young wife and mother, Jane (Abbie Cornish) has been struggling all her life to remember the events from her childhood that took the lives of her parents and sister. A car accident gives her temporary amnesia and as her memories return, so she starts to remember things from that night 25 years ago. But something or someone is trying to help coax her memories back and whatever or whoever it is, it draws her to her childhood home for a confrontation with that dark event her mind has chosen to forget.

Film is stylishly directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly from a script by he and Colin Frizzell. It presents us with hints of what happened in it’s opening and then takes us 25 years into the present where Jane tries to remember the occurrence and it takes another traumatic event to start shaking the memories loose. As Jane begins her journey with her family in tow, we go along with her as she slowly puts the puzzle pieces together. There is also a bit of a supernatural twist, as though there is some force leading her in the directions she needs to go. It adds a spooky element to the film that works in it’s favor and keeps the audience a bit unsettled…in a good way. A strong performance by Cornish helps us like and root for Jane, too, even when we suspect she may have been somehow involved in the deaths. The supporting cast, Including Justin Long and Dermot Mulroney as her uncle, help keep the film involving as does the rural farm setting add atmosphere. The plot and resolution may not be entirely original, but it is engrossing and a bit spooky, too.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE BATTERY and TUSK

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THE BATTERY (2012)

I don’t mind that Jeremy Gardner’s zombie flick is character driven but, the fact that it and it’s characters are excruciatingly boring is the problem here. Story finds two ex-baseball players, Ben and Mickey (Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim) ambling across country in the middle of a zombie apocalypse in search of a group of survivors who apparently want nothing to do with the duo. The film wanders aimlessly much like it’s two characters and ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere or accomplish anything. And that might have been fine if these two weren’t so dull to watch and listen too. What little zombie action there is, is well done but, otherwise this is a snoozer! An over-praised waste of time.

1 and 1-2 star rating

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TUSK (2014)

I liked Kevin’s Smith’s second attempt at horror for the simple reason that he takes an outright ludicrous story and makes a fairly disturbing flick out of it. Bizarre tale finds renown podcaster Wallace (Justin Long) traveling to Canada in pursuit of a story which doesn’t pan out. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, he stumbles upon an ad from an old man (Michael Parks) looking to share his adventures with someone so, he answers. What follows is a nightmare, as the old man holds him hostage and begins to surgically transform him into a walrus. Obviously this sounds silly but, it is actually really disturbing thanks to good direction and phenomenal performances by Parks and Long. The film only stumbles when Smith brings in an uncredited Johnny Depp as an eccentric former cop from Quebec, who is hunting Parks’ mysterious serial killer. Depp’s character belongs in one of Smith’s comedies or a Pink Panther sequel and not here. Aside from that and the last act getting a little silly, the film is successfully chilling and Smith even creeps you out with it ridiculous climax. Now if only he’d put together a serious horror script, Smith might actually become a horror director to reckon with! Also stars Haley Joel Osment as his podcast partner, Ted and Genesis Rodriguez as his long suffering girlfriend, Ally.

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: DRAG ME TO HELL, DAYBREAKERS and HOME MOVIE

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DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)

Drag Me To Hell is an entertaining return to horror from Sam Raimi about a pretty young bank employee who pisses off the wrong gypsy and gets a nasty demonic entity sent her way. Poor Christine (Alison Lohman) has just three days to find a way out of this curse as her supernatural stalker gets stronger and stronger in it’s pursuit of her soul. More fun then scary, it’s like a carnival funhouse with it’s jump scares, loud noises and CGI phantoms that jump out at you without warning. And much like a funhouse it’s all phoney but, we play along anyway for the sake of entertaining ourselves… and that’s what Sam Raimi is counting on. And just so we don’t forget it’s all for fun, there’s plenty of gross out laughs to relieve us from all the jump scares ringmaster Raimi pulls out of his hat. A fun horror flick that makes you jump and giggle and usually at the same time. Also stars Justin Long as her disbelieving boyfriend and a creepy Lorna Raver as the vengeful gypsy, Mrs. Ganush.

3 star rating

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DAYBREAKERS (2010)

An interesting and original horror film-noir about a world in the future where vampires rule and their blood supply, humans, is running out. Ethan Hawke plays Edward (The non-sparkling kind) a vampire scientist searching for a blood substitute before the lack of food turns the vampires into vicious savages who’ll turn on each other. What he finds, through a series of circumstances, is a cure discovered by an ex-vampire turned human rebel, Lionel (Willem Dafoe). Now Edward, Lionel and pretty rebel Audrey (Claudia Karvan) must battle a vampire hierchy (led by Sam Neil) that has little to gain by a world returned to it’s humanity. An intelligent script by writer/directors The Spierig Brothers adds a refreshingly novel take on the oft visited vampire mythos and they are aided by a good cast to tell their blood soaked story. Yes, while more of a noir/action flick, Daybreakers doesn’t ignore it’s horror roots and there are some deliciously gory moments mixed in with the abundant action. And this is not to say that Daybreakers is all action, as the Spierig’s make sure there is enough time devoted to story and character developement to go along with the bullets, chases and blood. A really entertaining and original vampire flick for horror, action and sci-fi fans alike!

three and one half stars rating

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HOME MOVIE (2008)

While not entirely successful, Christopher Denham’s horror flick is very creepy and disturbing at times. Told thru the home movies of the Poe family, is the gradual discovery that the Poe’s 10 year old twins (Austin Williams and Amber Joy Williams) are harboring increasingly violent thoughts and twisted behavior. There are some very chilling scenes and the young actors playing the twins are really good at playing creepy. But there are problems… the last 20 minutes is when things totally disintegrate but, I wasn’t as disturbed as I should have been. Maybe because you can see it all coming from a mile away. There are some annoying lapses in logic, especially when the parents start to realize what’s going on, and when they first try to deal with it themselves… their psychiatrist mother (Cady McClain) with pills, their pastor father (Adrian Pasdar) with an exorcism… you can almost understand why these kids are so messed up. Pasdar’s over the top performance also hurts because, the rest of the cast does so well in their roles. He tries way too hard. Overall a disturbing movie with some twisted scenes but, not as consistanly so as it should have been or we would have liked. Still worth a watch.

3 star rating

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)

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JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)

Jeepers Creepers tells the ill-fated story of twin siblings Darry (Justin Long) and Trish (Gina Philips) who are headed home through rural countryside on break from college. On the way they encounter a sinister truck who toys with them and nearly runs them off the road. They later see it again, parked by an abandoned church and the cloaked driver looks like he is dumping something resembling a body into an old storm drain. The twins decide to investigate to see if someone needs help and find a cache of preserved bodies hidden underground. Their discovery triggers a pursuit by what turns out to be an unstoppable mythical creature called The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) who comes out once every 23 years to feed for 23 days to regenerate it’s body with parts from it’s victims… and one of the twins is it’s next meal.

Jeepers Creepers is a fun and spooky Saturday night horror best enjoyed with a brew or two. There are some good scares and some nice FX work and the film moves at a very brisk pace. Writer/Director Victor Silva has an understanding of the visual style a film like this needs and the film looks great and he doesn’t waste time as the story begins right away and never slows down. He builds some suspenseful sequences and gives us some very spooky moments. The Creeper is a very cool creature that is given a very threatening presence and that is always a plus in a film like this. Philips and Long have a great chemistry and work very well together and their brother and sister are very likable and are sympathetic in their plight and we care if this hellish creature catches up to them.

The film is not perfect. There are some lapses in logic… such as how did this elusive creature get a specialized license plate from the DMV?… and the psychic character, Jezelle (Patricia Belcher) brings things down a bit. Her part is badly written exposition and serves only to fill us in on information about our Creeper that we wouldn’t know otherwise. It’s understood why the character is there but, is a bit too obvious and Belcher isn’t winning any awards here either as her performance is weak and forced. Veteran actress Eileen Brennan appears in a small role as an ill-fated cat lady and she would have been far more effective in the role of the psychic, Jezelle then Belcher. There are a lot of suspenseful pursuits and a bloody police station attack that leads to a truly unsettling climax that helps keep the film’s effectiveness despite it’s flaws and leaves one fairly spooked and entertained by the time the credits finally roll. And you should watch through the credits, too.

Not a great movie, but, still a fun Halloween treat or a good part of a weekend spook-fest with friends. The Creeper returned in a sub-par sequel involving a bus full of high school kids and there have been rumors for years of Silva making a third film, supposedly titled Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral but, nothing has yet to materialize. The Creeper is a cool monster who has been sadly underused.

3 Creepers!

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