MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2019…KAYA SCODELARIO
It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…an actress that has not only captured our hearts, but gotten our attention with a strong performance, be it as a final girl or a femme fatale!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2019 is…Kaya Scodelario!
Kaya Scodelario has already faced clashing titans, outwitted home invaders in Tiger House and battled undead sailors alongside Captain Jack Sparrow in his latest adventure, so facing a pack of hungry alligators shouldn’t be a problem for this pretty and talented English actress. Her character, Haley, is a college swimmer whose skills are put to the extreme test when she travels home during a raging hurricane to find her father. The house is flooding and soon she and her injured dad are being stalked in the submerged cellar and hallways by some very hungry gators. Resilient, smart and tough as nails, Haley proves one doesn’t have to battle supernatural serial killers, or paranormal critters, to be final girl material!
(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of Crawl, one of the most thrilling and fun flicks of this past summer!)
Kaya has quite a strong resumé having been in Clash of the Titans, the Maze Runner flicks and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean adventure, to name a few. She is a versatile actress that has performed in a variety of TV and movie roles since she began her career in 2007. She showed final girl potential, taking on home invaders in the flick Tiger House and that she can do horror, playing opposite Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. In 2019 she lived up to that potential, taking center stage as the gator battling Haley, in one of the years most entertaining suspense chillers!
HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2019 RUNNER UP, KATIE STEVENS!
As it is now tradition, we have a runner up! A fairly new face on the horror flick scene, Katie Stevens does strong work in Haunt as the emotionally wounded Harper, a young woman who has substituted an abusive father for an abusive boyfriend. When her friends take her out on Halloween night to forget about the guy, they find themselves at a strange off-road Halloween haunt and are soon fighting for their lives. Harper learns to stand up for herself and fight back in true final girl style! In Haunt, Katie Stevens showed that she’s a young actress to keep an eye on!
This year was, again, a tough choice…or maybe MonsterZero NJ is just an old softie when it comes to final girls. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as their respective film’s lead!
New flick from director Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D) and producer Sam Raimi is basically 2010’s Burning Bright with alligators instead of a tiger…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Flick has massive category 5 hurricane Wendy hitting Florida so hard even rescue operations are imperiled. College student Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) defies evacuation orders to track down her father Dave (Barry Pepper), who hasn’t answered texts or calls. She finds him at their old family house unconscious in the basement and soon finds out why…the rapidly flooding house is surrounded by a pack of very hungry alligators.
Aja directs from a script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (The Ward) and delivers a fun and sometimes intense thriller. We follow the father and daughter as they try to evade the reptilian predators both inside and outside, while the storm intensifies around them and slowly fills the house with water. There are some very suspenseful moments as Haley tries to get out of the basement and get help for her injured father, who is too hurt to escape on his own. It makes for some very tense moments as the vicious reptiles can come from almost anywhere and often do. In case we’ve forgotten what damage a gator can inflict, some would-be looters and a couple of cops arrive to become gory gator fodder to remind us. The film does slow down for a few moments here and there to give us some character development and some father/daughter bonding. It works both for and against the movie, as it does build a nice relationship between Haley and David, turning them into three dimensional characters, but also stops the momentum dead, at times, as the alligators seem to disappear during these moments. Once the third act kicks in, though, it’s all cat and mouse between Kellers and alligators as the waters rise in the gators’ advantage. Here Aja does what he does best and provides some intense and brutal action. The film looks great with a lot of underwater photography in the flooded house and Haley is put through some very tense and suspenseful set-pieces as she tries to escape and/or save her dad. A fun summer flick with some gory bite that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a brisk 87 minutes.
It’s basically a two character show with the occasional gator snack showing up. Actress Kaya Scodelario has been through this before in Tiger House, where she played John McLane to a bunch of thieves that lay siege to her boyfriend’s house. Her Haley is courageous and resilient and does just as well against alligators as her Kelly did against home invaders. Scodelario proves she is not only a good actress, who can bring intensity, but she can kick ass as an action heroine. She gives Haley some nice depth in the quieter moments between scenes of her battling her reptilian adversaries with anything and everything available. Barry Pepper is also solid as her father, Dave. His character is both mourning a divorce and injured by gator bite and Pepper gives him some depth, so we feel for him. The two actors have a nice on-screen chemistry and work very well together portraying a father and daughter, who have their issues with each other. Good casting especially since the movie is very much on their shoulders.
Alexandre Aja is a versatile filmmaker even though he does seem to prefer the horror genre. This flick is not as intense or savage as his Hills Have Eyes remake, or outright bonkers like his ridiculously gory and fun Piranha 3D. It’s a mainstream thriller with some intense moments and some gory action, but not enough to scare off the casual movie goer. It does slow down for some character development and while that’s a good thing in making us care for these folks, it does kill the momentum in a few spots. Otherwise this is a tense and entertaining popcorn thriller from a director who knows intensity.
On a side note…This is a case of the trailer giving away too many good moments. If you plan to see this and haven’t watched the trailer yet…DON’T!
3 (out of 4) alligators!
For those interested but be WARNED, trailer is SPOILER heavy…
A young woman (Kaya Scodelario) is hunted by a massive alligator during a fierce hurricane in this new thriller directed by Alexandre Aja and produced by Sam Raimi and Ghost House Pictures! Flick is set to hit theaters 7/12/19!
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (2017)
Latest installment of this popular franchise has a bit of a complicated story, but that isn’t a new thing with this series. Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) son Henry (Brenton Thwaites ) sets out to find Poseidon’s Trident to break the curse and free his father from the Flying Dutchman. He plans to enlist the help of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) himself, who currently is running from the ghost of the dread Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who wants revenge for Jack causing the demise of he and his crew. Throw in Carina (Kaya Scodelario), a young woman accused of witchcraft, who is the only one who knows how to find the trident, not to mention the resurfacing of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and you have enough story for two movies…or maybe three.
Latest yarn is directed by the Kon-Tiki duo of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg from a busy script and story by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio. It’s certainly better than the lackluster Stranger Tides, though still shows that this series is running out of gas, especially with a very underwritten part for Depp’s Captain Jack. There is a lot going on in it’s series short running time of 129 minutes and not all of it necessary to further the plot. There is some fun action and some spectacular visuals, but at the same time, it just doesn’t have that energetic spark of the first film. The cast, especially the newcomers, seem to be having a good time, though Depp appears to be just going through the motions and Rush’s Barbossa has little to do but be a possible link to one of the new characters. Bad guy Bardem disappears for periods of time, so the sense of urgency in the quest is neutered somewhat. The pursuit of the pirates and accused witch Carina by a British naval officer, also seems like excess and takes the focus away from Salazar at points. Overall, it was still a fun enough adventure, but the series seems to be getting mired in the shallows and needs a reboot or be decommissioned.
When pretty teen Kelly (Kaya Scodelario) sneaks into her boyfriend’s house, she has no idea what trouble she’s going to get into. A group of four armed men break into the home and take boyfriend Mark (Daniel Boyd) and his parents hostage. They need Mark’s step-dad (Andrew Brent) for a robbery scheme and now only the hidden away Kelly stands between the thieves and a likely horrible fate for the family.
Directed by Thomas Daley and written by Simon Lewis, this is a familiar, yet entertaining enough, thriller. Kelly is locked in the high security house with the men and plays a cat and mouse game with them to try and release their hostages. It could have had some more intensity and one character’s change of heart seems like a contrived plot device to get Kelly out of trouble here and there, but Miss Scodelario makes a solid and very likable heroine who can hold her own and kick a little ass when she needs to. Sure, it could have been better and the big reveal was not much of a surprise, but watching Kelly outwit these guys in a limited space and with little to work with, was entertaining. Not great, but an amusing enough diversion for 90 minutes and star Scodelario earns extra points for her resilient and street-smart Kelly. Also stars Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and Dougray Scott (The Vatican Tapes).
THE DIABOLICAL (2015)
Directed by Alistair Legrand, who co-wrote with Luke Harvis, this haunting story finds a pretty, single mom (Ali Larter) battling an increasingly hostile entity in her home. As she starts to investigate the haunting, she finds a connection between it and a mysterious research facility. This takes her already nightmarish situation on an even more bizarre…and personal…turn.
Flick starts out as a routine, but well enough made, haunting scenario with innocents in an apparently haunted house. What earns it a few extra points is an interesting science fiction twist about two thirds of the way through and a very strong performance by Larter, as the mom dedicated to protecting her kids. The make-up effects are also well done and presented effectively and there are some solid spooky sequences. The big reveal at the climax was a surprise and also added a little emotional weight to the flick after a familiar start. Director Legrand does give it some atmosphere and there are a few legitimate scares. Not a great movie by any lengths, but entertaining enough to pass the time on the couch if there is nothing else going on TV-wise.