BARE BONES: FEAR OF RAIN (2021)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

FEAR OF RAIN (2021)

Pedestrian thriller finds pretty, young Rain Burroughs (Madison Iseman) suffering from schizophrenia and delusions. She thinks her neighbor (Eugenie Bondurant), who is also her teacher at school, has kidnaped a little girl. The authorities don’t believe her and want to have her institutionalized. Her long suffering parents (Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick Jr) don’t believe her either. The only person who does, is cute boy Caleb (Israel Broussard from Happy Death Day) and Rain isn’t exactly sure if he’s real or not, either.

Extremely routine thriller is by-the-numbers directed by Castille Landon from her own cliché script. It’s simply yet another flick where someone has a handicap or disability and sees something everyone else disbelieves because of their condition. It’s very predictable and we know from moment one that there is indeed something amiss and Rain is not as crazy as her classmates and family think. There is nothing innovative or inventive with this very familiar story and it comes to the outcome we all know it will from almost the beginning. Madison Iseman really tries hard to give Rain some life and depth, and the rest of the cast are solid, but it’s just so been there, done that. If you are going to use a popular storyline, do something new and exciting with it, like Mike Flanagan did with Hush. Landon breathes no life into an oft told tale, as even the few twists come as no surprise. Dull and predictable despite the efforts of a good cast.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE MADISON ISEMAN HAS A NEW CHILLER COMING OUT!

MZNJ_NEW_news

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE MADISON ISEMAN HAS A NEW CHILLER COMING OUT!

***************************************************
Actress Madison Iseman (Tales of Halloween, Annabelle Comes Home) has done quite a few horrors in her young career and is a favorite here at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse. She has another chiller coming out called Fear of Rain and it looks quite spooky! Madison plays Rain Burroughs, a young woman with psychological issues who may…or may not…have witnessed something terrible. The official synopsis is as follows…

“A girl living with schizophrenia struggles with terrifying hallucinations as she begins to suspect her neighbor has kidnapped a child. The only person who believes her is Caleb -a boy she isn’t even sure exists.”

The film is written and directed by Castille Landon and is set to premiere on 2/12/21. The film costars Katherine Heigl, Harry Connick Jr. and Happy Death Day’s Israel Broussard as Caleb. Check out the spooky trailer below!…

***************************************************

-MonsterZero NJ

Source: youtube

bars

BARE BONES: JUMANJI-THE NEXT LEVEL (2019)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019)

Sequel to the sequel/reboot of the 1995 book based flick finds Spencer (Alex Wolff) returning to Jumanji, because there he felt like a hero. Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Martha (Morgan Turner) follow him in and inadvertently take Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Eddie’s friend Milo (Danny Glover) along with them. Meanwhile Bethany (Madison Iseman from Annabelle Comes Home) seeks help from Alex to help rescue her friends. Once inside, they find Jumanji once again in peril, this time from Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann). Also creating distress is that avatars have become mixed up and Eddie is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Milo is Mouse (Kevin Hart) Fridge is Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black) with Bethany becoming a winged horse and Spencer becoming thief Ming Fleetfoot (Awkwafina). Martha is still Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), however, and Alex is still Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough (Nick Jonas). The group must again save Jumanji, somehow get their avatars straightened out and maybe get back home again.

Film is again directed by Jake Kasdan from a script by himself, Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg. While not quite as lively as the last film, it’s still mindless and harmless fun. There is plenty of action and exotic settings, though does replay a lot of the gags from the Welcome To The Jungle. The cast are again having fun, especially Johnson and Hart, who get to play different characters whom their video game alter egos are representing. Johnson is fun echoing Danny DeVito, though Kevin Hart really steals the flick with his dead-on impression of Danny Glover. He’s hilarious. New addition Awkwafina is also fun as Spencer’s avatar Ming and when the gang gets their avatars realigned, she gets to have fun mimicking DeVito in the film’s second half. McCann makes a functional yet generic villain and it’s once again the character interaction that really makes it so enjoyable. Entertaining enough with a solid cast that overcomes a fairly pedestrian script.
-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

REVIEW: FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES (2018)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES (2018)

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

Holiday flick takes place in 1983 in a predominately Italian working-class area of Pennsylvania. It follows aspiring artist Tony (Skyler Gisondo) as he has just broken up with girlfriend Katie (Addison Timlin) and his family is preparing for the annual Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes”, an Italian Catholic tradition. When hanging out one night with friends Angelo (Andrew Schultz) and Sarah (Jessica Darrow), Tony is introduced to Beth, a Protestant college girl from the wealthier part of town. Tony and Beth start to fall for each other and he invites her over for the Christmas Eve feast. With his wacky Catholic family, Katie wanting him back and Beth’s mother (Lisa Velten-Smith) not liking her hanging out on the wrong side of the tracks, will these two ever find holiday romance?

Holiday romantic comedy is filled with old-school charm thanks to writer/director Robert Tinnell knowing to downplay the over-the-top bombasity that ruins most holiday flicks. The film has loads of atmosphere, both for the Yuletide season and from being steeped in old-fashioned Italian tradition. The 1983 setting adds to the charm, but Tanell never lets it become the focus over his well-written characters. Fishes follows many traditions of holiday romantic comedies, such as two people from different worlds meeting on a special night, yet avoids the clichés and overblown melodrama of the bigger Hollywood holiday flicks. That’s what makes this work so well, it’s subtle presentation of it’s story. It seems far more real and far less fabricated than it’s big studio counterparts, which prefer big overcooked set pieces to the down-to-earth human interaction that we get here. It feels like you’re watching real people and not something manufactured. The characters themselves are traditional, yet not stereotypes and the cast wonderfully fill the roles of real people types, despite playing familiar/classic roles.

As for that cast, it’s what really makes this movie fire on all Yule logs. Skyler Gisondo leads an excellent ensemble of actors. He’s likable, charming, but very understated. A very down to earth performance that makes Tony very realistic and endearing. Madison Iseman once again proves she’s an actress to keep an eye on. She makes Beth far more than the stereotypical rich girl that she could have been. Instead we get a young woman who wants to live her life her way. She’s sweet and very likable and she and Gisondo have some really nice subtle chemistry that makes their romance down-to-earth and relatable. Addison Timlin is also good as Katie. Another role that could have been cliché, but script and actress make you feel sympathy for a young woman who hasn’t quite found herself, or her happiness, yet. We like Katie and hope she does find what she’s looking for someday. Supporting cast is very impressive. We get veteran Paul Ben-Victor as Johnny, the host of the feast and a man who will defend his baccala to the end. Lynn Cohen is wonderful as Tony’s old-school Catholic grandmother who, at first, doesn’t approve of Protestant Beth. Again, a character avoiding stereotype with some subtlety and depth. Nonnie might surprise you. Rounding out are flavorful performances from Ray Abruzzo as Uncle Carmine, the legendary Joe Pantoliano as Uncle Frankie, Jessica Darrow as Sarah, Andrew Shultz as Angelo and Josh Helman () as Juke. A great cast.

In conclusion this is a wonderfully charming and refreshingly subtle and atmospheric Christmas romance. It’s steeped in the flavor of old school tradition and contains classic characters that avoid being stereotypes, thanks to down-to-earth portrayals and a heartfelt script. Writer/director Robert Tinnell avoids the overblown dramatics and bombastic set pieces that weigh down the big budget Hollywood holiday fare, to give us an old-fashioned Christmas tale of two kids from opposite sides of town meeting and falling in love under the glow of Christmas lights and some salty baccala. An absolute delight and maybe a new Christmas classic if given the attention it deserves!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Christmas trees.

 

**************************************************

bars

BARE BONES: RIOT GIRLS (2019)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

RIOT GIRLS (2019)

Riot Girls takes place in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future where a plague of some sort has wiped out all the adults and placed the teens in charge. We get the poor kids on the East Side vs the rich kids on The West Side run by the high school football team the Titans. Enter East Side lesbian couple Nat (Madison Iseman) and punker Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) who must go up against the Titans when Scratch’s brother, Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) is taken prisoner by them.

Flick is directed by Jovanka Vuckovic from a script by Katherine Collins and seems to resemble something that could have been made in the 80s. Sadly something also seems missing from this retro-ish flick that keeps it from really being the offbeat treat it should have been. The characters seemed very cliché, despite the contemporary addition of lesbian leads, and the direction seemed a bit by-the-numbers. Adding a punk rock song every five minutes does not creativity make and one feels they could have done a lot more with the premise. The cast are fine, though only Munro Chambers as the Titans lead douchebag Jeremy has a strong presence here. Scratch seems like the usual movie version of a punk rocker and is sadly the most stereotypical of all the characters, with Iseman at least tackling a different role than her usual girl-next-door types she’s frequently cast as. There is some bloody violence, though none of it has any real impact as the film slides back and forth between high school movie and teen Mad Max wanna-be. A concept that simply should have been carried out with a lot more ingenuity.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

REVIEW: ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019)

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

The third time is the charm, as the latest Annabelle flick is a haunted house roller coaster ride of scares, fun and thrills! The film starts off from the opening scene of The Conjuring with paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick WIlson) Warren, bringing the haunted doll home and placing it in their room of haunted and cursed objects, locked inside a blessed glass cathedral case. They have to go away overnight and leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace), who has inherited some of her mother’s psychic abilities, with pretty babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Mary Ellen’s feisty friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) comes over, too, and despite warnings, goes into the forbidden room of haunted and curse objects, in the hopes of contacting her dead father. Annabelle is released from her prison and a sleepover becomes a nightmare, as the demonic doll lets all the malevolent spirits loose with the three girls trapped inside the house.

This is how you make a haunted house movie! Gary Dauberman hits a grand slam his first time at bat as the writer and director of this threequel. He has written for The Conjuring Universe before, but shows he knows how to direct horror, too, with this delightfully old fashioned scare-fest. Dauberman uses some very atmospheric camera work, in-camera practical effects, some very well built tension and suspense, along with some outright goose-bump inducing scares, to deliver simply one of the best haunted house movies since Poltergeist..the 1982 original, that is. His script cleverly gets the adult Warrens out of the house and using some classic horror tropes turns an already spooky home in a nightmare for the three young ladies trapped inside. There are a few jump scares, but only to climax some expertly built tension while his camera turns every shadow into the potential hiding place for something evil. Anything could come from anywhere at anytime and it keeps one constantly on edge. The room of haunted objects is wisely a focus and Dauberman milks all the chilling tchotchke for all it’s worth. Despite conjuring some Carpenter level scares, it’s the emotional depth that really makes it work. The girls are all three dimensional characters. Judy is a very likable kid, who’s “spooky” parents have earned her outcast status at school, with Mary Ellen being her only real friend. Mary Ellen is a sweet and very endearing young lady and one who is very brave when tasked with protecting Judy. Her tenderness and protectiveness towards the Warren’s daughter really makes her someone whose wellbeing you care about. Daniela could have been a stereotype ‘bad girl”, but Dauberman gives her a sympathetic and sweet core under the mischievous veneer. Her inner pain over the death of her father gives her a very sympathetic and endearing quality, even if this mess is kinda her fault. Add to it all that, that the writer/director, having put you through a last act ringer, gives us a nice cool down with a very sweet climax that works far better than it should being this is a intense horror flick. Very Spielbergian.

The cast are wonderful here and really bring the scripted characters to life. Farmiga and Wilson are basically just there at the beginning and end, but have really locked these characters down. Regardless of what you think of the real Warrens, their cinematic counterparts are quite the likable duo. Mckenna Grace handles the lead like a pro. She really makes us feel Judy’s loneliness due to the reputation caused by her parents line of work and the emotional turmoil caused by inheriting her mother’s abilities. Obviously, the demonic spirit in Annabelle, targets her. Madison Iseman continues to impress as an actress. She takes the stereotypical babysitter and gives her a very endearing personality and imbuing her with a very natural sweetness in her caring for Judy. She’s also brave and resilient when Annabelle’s demonic entity unleashes all the other spirits, including a particularly spooky entity that sets it’s sights on the babysitter. Iseman has a natural girl-next-door presence and she really makes this character three dimensional. Same could be said of Katie Sarife as Daniela. Her character is more the mischievous bad girl, but Sarife really makes her a bit complex as inside she is in pain over the death of her father and it motivates some of the bad decisions she makes. She wants to talk to her father one last time. She is also very sweet at heart, especially when it comes to Judy. Makes for a very un-stereotypical classic character. All three young actresses share great chemistry, which makes their on-screen relationships gel realistically. Lastly, is Michael Cimino as Bob, a nice boy who has a crush on Mary Ellen. Their awkward and sweet conversation scene, when he comes over to the Warren’s to see her, has such a natural feel to it. A perfect example of a good script meeting a good cast.

This movie gave continual goose-bumps to a man who has literally been watching horror movies for half a century. It proves when a talented director pushes all the right buttons, and in the right ways, old tropes can become solid scares. We have a nice build to the story and given time to get to know some well-rounded and likable characters, all the while the tension is simmering with it. We are then thrown into a literal fun house of horrors, as all hell breaks loose in the last act. Along the way Dauberman proves subtle nuances can be just as scary as grotesque phantoms and nothing makes the scares stronger than a solid emotional center to all the supernatural hijinx. An incredibly impressive directorial debut from Gary Dauberman who delivers one of the scariest flicks in quite some time and yet one with some surprisingly sweet and sentimental moments that mix far better than one might expect. Evoking Carpenter and Spielberg at their best in your first flick is quite an accomplishment.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 (out of 4) Annabelles.

**************************************************

 

bars

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE ON THE RISE: MADISON ISEMAN

MZNJ_halloween_hotties

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE ON THE RISE: MADISON ISEMAN

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features a fairly new face in horror, and she has made quite an impression in her first appearances. In only a few years, up and coming actress Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) has played the older sister/crush object in the Halloween set Ghost Squad, the classic role of the babysitter in Tales Of Halloween, made a resourceful heroine in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween and most recently, joins “The Conjuring Universe” in Annabelle Comes Homewhere she’s in the classic babysitter role again! Hopefully this is only the beginning for this beautiful and talented actress!

(Click on the highlighted links to read reviews of the films that our Halloween Hottie has appeared in)

 

GHOST SQUAD (2015)

As girl next door crush Brandy

**************************************************

 

TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

As babysitter Lizzy in the Sweet Tooth segment

**************************************************

 

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)

As big sister and resilient heroine Sarah

**************************************************

 

ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019)

as imperiled Mary Ellen

**************************************************

Photo: IMDB

That’s four horror themed flicks in as many years and three of them set on Halloween! That’s why Madison Iseman certainly qualifies as one of MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties!

**************************************************

And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties profiles…just click on the following link to head over to the Halloween Hotties listings!)

 

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

BARE BONES: GOOSEBUMPS 2-HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)

Sequel has two boys, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) finding an unfinished book by R.L. Stine (Jack Black) in an abandoned house. Upon opening it, they accidentally unleash the evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert). Slappy now plots to bring Halloween to life and starts bringing monsters into the sleepy town of Wardenclyffe, New York. Can Sonny, Sam and Sonny’s sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) stop Slappy’s evil plot!?

Film is lackadaisically directed by Ari Sandel (The Duff) from a story and script by Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke. It’s a weak script that replays a lot of the same schtick from the first flick, yet not as energetic or fun. Black’s appearance as Stine is basically an extended cameo and the movie as a whole seems a very uninspired effort. It has the definite feel of a paycheck job for those behind the camera. There is some very cool Halloween imagery, some amusing bits and Madison Iseman (Tales Of Halloween, Jumanji) does make for a feisty and resilient heroine. The rest of the cast seem to be having a fun time, but the film itself isn’t as buoyant as it’s predecessor. A mediocre follow-up to a surprisingly fun first flick. Also stars Wendi McLendon-Covey as Sonny and Sarah’s single mom.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017)

Sequel/reboot to the 1995 book based flick finds four teens, nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff), jock “Fridge” (Ser’Darius Blain), shy girl Martha (Morgan Turner) and popular girl Bethany (Madison Iseman from Tales of Halloween) together at detention. Their task is to clean up the school basement where they find an old video game called Jumanji. They activate the game and magically get sucked into it’s world. Now in the fictional jungle land, they take on the appearance of their video game characters, with Spencer becoming adventurer Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge becoming his sidekick Mouse (Kevin Hart), Martha becoming ass-kicker Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Bethany becoming male scientist Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black). The four must save Jumanji from the villainous Russel Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), if they ever are to return home.

Film is directed by Jake Kasdan from a script by four writers and despite the scribe overload, is a harmless and fun flick. The action comes fast and furious, the cast is very charming and works well together and there are some very funny moments. The film pays tribute nicely to the 1995 Robin Williams flick and mixes the sentimentality with the more fun elements very nicely. The FX are top notch and being set in a video game, it has an excuse for some very over-the-top situations and even has fun with gamer tropes such as our leads having only three lives which they must guard preciously if they are to return home. Sure it has a sappy finale that wraps everything up in a nice little bow, but with this kind of flick, that’s kind of expected. It’s not perfect. It can be very predictable and not all of the jokes/bits work, but it’s still an entertaining time on the couch with Johnson, Hart, Gillan and Black having a fun chemistry together, that helps smooth over some of the bumps.
-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars