BARE BONES: MALEVOLENT (2018)

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MALEVOLENT (2018)

Netflix original takes place in 1986 Scotland where American siblings Angela (Florence Pugh) and Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) are running a paranormal investigation scam to earn money. They are called to investigate a former foster home where some of the girls were murdered and the owner Mrs. Green (Celia Imrie) believes they now haunt the house. What starts out as another con becomes far too real for the phony investigators and their very lives may now be in danger as there is something malevolent in that house.

Despite there being a lot of familiar elements here, the film is well directed by Olaf De Fleur from a script by Ben Ketai (The Forest) and Eva Konstantopoulos. It’s atmospheric and has a Gothic visual style. De Fleur uses it’s spooky location well and there is some effectively bloody violence in the last act. Florence Pugh is very good as Angela, a young woman whose mother was thought insane, but apparently had legitimate psychic abilities that her daughter may now share. Ben Lloyd-Hughes is also a perfect douche as her con artist brother, who has no problem bilking grieving innocents out of their cash and doesn’t realize his sister may be the real thing. The rest of the cast are effective as well, even if we see certain character revelations coming. Nothing new, but effective enough to entertain and Pugh is an actress worth keeping an eye on as she gives Angela some integrity and depth.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: TAU

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TAU (2018)

Pretty petty thief Julia (Maika Monroe) finds herself kidnapped and held prisoner by a man named Alex (Ed Skrein) who is conducting sinister experiments in his secluded computerized home. All she needs to do to escape is somehow befriend and outwit his complex artificial intelligence, Tau (voiced by Gary Oldman). That’s kind of it!

Netflix debuted film is directed by Federico D’Alessandro from a script by Noga Landau and is a silly and far-fetched movie that evokes other films like 1977’s Demon Seed for one. The script is sloppy and one wonders why a genius like Alex can’t figure out how to effectively restrain Julia, who is always escaping confines and causing havoc. It has some amusing sequences and some shockingly graphic violence, but is just too weakly scripted to make effective use out of it’s scenario. We should have been far more scared for Julia, but Alex is a lame villain and Tau becomes charmed by her far too quickly for us to feel she’s in peril for too long. Producer/lead Monroe is a feisty heroine, though sometimes we feel her heroics are handed to her a bit too easily by script conveniences. On the other hand, if you have a foot fetish, bondage fetish, Maika Monroe fetish, or all of the above, this may be your Gone With The Wind. Currently streaming on Netflix.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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IT FOLLOWS’ MAIKA MONROE RETURNS TO HORROR IN NETFLIX’S TAU!

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It Follows star Maika Monroe returns to our favorite genre in the Netflix sci-fi/horror thriller Tau. Monroe plays a young woman kidnapped by a scientist (Ed Skrein) to be used in experiments to test an A.I. (voiced by Gary Oldman) of his own creation. The film premieres June 29th! Check out some stills (from Maikamonroe.us) and the trailer…

 

Production stills: maikamonroe.us

 

 

Sources: Youtube/Netflix/maikamonroe.us

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BARE BONES: ALI WONG-HARD KNOCK WIFE (2018)

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ALI WONG-HARD KNOCK WIFE (2018)

Last we saw actress, writer, comedienne Ali Wong she was seven months pregnant and dishing out some raunchy and quite funny comedy on stage for her first Netflix comedy special. Her second special finds her pregnant again with her second child and sharing her witticisms on birth, new motherhood, marriage, and sex. It’s naughty fun and motherhood hasn’t dulled Wong’s sharp wit or muted her energetic delivery. As with last time a few bits go on longer than they should, such as her description of how she would sexually favor a hot, young male nanny, but overall Wong is a bitingly funny comedienne who hopefully will be back on stage once this child is delivered.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: CARGO (2017)

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CARGO (2017)

Australian flick takes place during a zombie outbreak, but focuses on a man and his daughter instead of the zombies. When his wife Kay (Susie Porter) is bitten, turns and bites him, husband Andy (Martin Freeman) has 48 hours to find someone to care for his infant daughter Rosie (Lily Anne and Marlee Jane McPherson-Dobbins), before he turns into one of the flesh eaters himself and harms his little one.

Flick is very well directed by Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling from Ramke’s script. It chooses to use a zombie outbreak as a backdrop while telling a human drama of a father trying to find safety for his little girl, before he becomes a threat to her. It’s basically the flip side of the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Maggie, though not quite as powerful. There is a nice humanity at the heart of the story…which is hard to classify as horror, despite the elements being present…and it’s only when it turns to the more familiar zombie film themes, such as man being more of a monster than the monsters, that the film has little new to say. Freeman puts in a very strong and heartfelt performance and gives this film the solid sentimental core that it needs to work, though the film does seem to be a tad longer than it needed to be. Worth a watch and is currently streaming on Netflix.
-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

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WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

Dull and sometimes annoying romantic comedy has Noah (an awful Adam Devine) watching the love of his life Avery (Alexandra Daddario) become engaged to another man (Robbie Amell). He somehow uses a photo-booth he and Avery used on the Halloween night they first met and travels back in time three years to that day, determined not to end up being just the best friend this time.

This is a terrible romantic comedy that sadly starts out OK till we once again use both the Groundhog Day and Big plot devices of both someone going back in time and reliving a fateful day over and over to try to get things right. None of it done cleverly like in Happy Death Day. It’s a simply unimaginative script by Miracle Jones, whose writing is anything but, lamely directed by Ari Sandel, who did much better helming The Duff . It’s monotonous and tedious to watch Noah keep going back to that day and trying more and more ludicrous ways to win Avery, all the while screwing things up even worse. Then two thirds of the way in, he switches his attention to Avery’s gal pal Carrie (Shelly Hennig). WHAT? This is a terribly written and generic rom-com that has no point or purpose and uses a now time worn plot device in the most unimaginative way possible. Add to that a truly smug and grating performance by lead Devine and there is little to no reason to waste time on this flick. At least Daddario’s cute and perky thing saved her dignity in this mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE RITUAL (2017)

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THE RITUAL (2017)

Based on a book by Adam Nevill, this chiller finds four friends traveling deep into the Swedish wilderness on a hiking excursion while mourning the death of a fifth member of their group. Deep in the woods they find a supernatural entity presides there, one worshiped as a deity by the locals and who feeds on the mental…and physical…pain of it’s sacrifices…and anyone wondering into it’s territory qualifies as a sacrifice.

Film, directed by David Bruckner (the Amateur Night segment of V/H/S) from Joe Barton’s script, which is based on Nevill’s novel, evokes mixed feelings. On one hand it is basically The Blair Witch Project meets The Wicker Man (original version, of course) and thus is very familiar. On the other hand, Bruckner does conjure up some spooky sequences and the film has a very unsettling visual style, especially in the last act when it’s wendigo-like deity makes it’s appearance. There are scenes directly lifted from The Blair Witch Project with symbols found carved on trees, strange formations made from sticks and antlers and characters screaming in the distance as something unseen drags them away. There is a spooky cabin in the woods and even a witch. We do, however, also get some gory stuff with animals and people found gutted and hanging from trees and some very unsettling dream sequences, especially from lead Luke (Rafe Spall) who feels guilty over his friend’s death. It turns full blown into The Wicker Man in it’s last act, when the surviving hikers are taken to a village lost in time, where they are to be sacrificed to whatever lurks among the trees. Once the thing shows up, Bruckner gets some good effect from the spirit creature’s look and ferocity and the fight to escape it by the remaining characters. The movie is atmospheric and the small cast perform their clichéd roles well. There is a spooky score by Ben Lovett and some really effective cinematography from Andrew Shulkind to add to it’s overall effectiveness.

This film was a bit hard to rate as it is very effective in terms of it’s atmosphere, it’s spooky visuals and some effectively creepy moments from director Bruckner, but constantly reminds us of other movies. It does use the familiar elements to do it’s own thing, but also borrow heavily from some widely renown films. It’s definitely worth a look, but go in knowing you’ve seen a lot of it before. Also stars Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier and Sam Troughton as Luke’s three friends. Film is currently streaming on Netflix.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 deer.

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BARE BONES: ALI WONG-BABY COBRA (2016)

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ALI WONG-BABY COBRA (2016)

Actress, writer, comedienne Ali Wong’s Nextflix comedy special is a delightfully politically incorrect hour of raunchy, insightful fun. Wong delivers her views on marriage, men, feminism, sex and everything in between, all the while seven months pregnant and unafraid to poke fun at that too. She also touches on being an Asian woman in today’s world and while her act does become repetitive at times, Wong gives her vulgar bits a lot of wit to back them up, so it is fun and provides plenty of laughs. Smart and biting comedy that is a lot of refreshingly, unapologeticly and delightfully naughty entertainment.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE OPEN HOUSE (2018)

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THE OPEN HOUSE (2018)

Flick has teen Logan (Dylan Minnette) witnessing the death of his father in an accident. This forces he and his out of work mother Naomi (Piercey Dalton) to move into his aunt’s empty house, which is in the process of being sold. Once there, Logan starts to believe that he and his mom might not be alone and that someone…or something…might be stalking the two…from inside the house.

Written and directed by the duo of Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, this is an effective thriller. The story of an intruder within a home is not new, but is given some spooky treatment here as the unknown invader’s actions go from mischievous to scary. We have the dynamic of Logan believing something is wrong and Naomi believing her son is simply showing effects of the tragedy he witnessed involving his dad. By the time mom starts to believe, too, it’s too late. We also get a creepy neighbor (Patricia Bethune) and a local man interested in Naomi (Sarif Atkins) to act as our suspects and the cast overall do good work. Minnette and Dalton especially have nice chemistry, so they click as a son and his mother. If the film fails somewhat, it is in delivering a satisfying conclusion. Without giving away details, it has some chilling moments, but leaves us a little too in the dark and asking too many questions to really end the flick on an effective note. Otherwise, it’s an entertaining and sometimes spooky thriller worth giving a stream on Netflix, where it is currently showing.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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TV REVIEW: THE PUNISHER (2017)

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THE PUNISHER (2017)

Spin-off series from season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil finds ex-soldier Frank Castle aka “The Punisher” (Jon Bernthal) thinking he’s finished his mission of revenge and hanging up his skull adorned bulletproof vest under the new identity of loner, construction worker Pete Castellini. Upon being contacted by a whistle blower thought dead named Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Castle finds that there is a deeper conspiracy responsible for the murder of his family, one that involves high ranking military personal, dirty CIA agents and unknowingly himself. Castle returns to the road for revenge, but only now he has a tenacious Homeland Security agent on his tail (Amber Rose Revah) who has her own score to settle.

The Punisher solo series’ first season leaves some mixed feelings. Bernthal is still a great Frank Castle/Punisher and there is certainly a lot of the bone-crushing, brutal action like the character was involved in on Daredevil. The problems here are some sub-plots that don’t seem necessary or to add much to the proceedings and the fact that it once again takes nearly the whole season for The Punisher to really re-emerge. It’s more of a conspiracy show, a la the X-Files, which would be fine if it stuck to the conspiracy and it’s attention didn’t wander to sub-plots like a growing relationship with Micro’s “widow” (Jaime Ray Newman) and kids (Kobi Frumer and Ripley Sobo) and an emotionally disturbed young vet turned terrorist named Lewis (Daniel Webber). These sub-plots seem more like plot devices, one to keep his relationship with Micro antagonistic and the other to wrongfully out him to the world as a terrorist. At times they feel a bit like filler to stretch the series out to it’s 13 episodes when maybe a more streamlined 10 would have served it better and kept to the main story. Sometimes the violence seems a bit too over the top and Frank seems to bounce back from severe wounds or beatings far too quickly to be believable. If the show wants to ground itself in reality, which it does, than it’s hard to swallow a man entering physical combat mere days after being beaten practically to death. Still the show is well done and the acting is strong across the board, especially from Bernthal, Moss-Bachrach and Revah. Paul Schulze makes a detestable bad guy as rogue CIA director William Rawlins, one of the season’s main villains. There are also some returning characters From DDse02, such as Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page and Clancy Brown as Major Schoonover. While there are generous amounts of action throughout, once The Punisher suits up again there are some really intense action set-pieces, which illustrate just how bad-ass this incarnation of the character is. The show does have a kind of Sons of Anarchy vibe, it handled the theme of a combat vet’s life back home very well and a more focused second season could really fire on all cylinders for the character.

Overall, the first season for Marvel’s gun-toting vigilante wasn’t exactly on target, but has enough going for it to look forward to more. Now that the revenge and conspiracy elements are taken care of, season two can get down to The Punisher doing what he does best. Not a great first season, but one that shows a lot of potential if season 2 can lock it down.

EPISODE LIST

  1. 3 AM – directed by Tom Shankland and written by Steve Lightfoot
  2. Two Dead Men – directed by Tom Shankland and written by Steve Lightfoot
  3. Kandahar – directed by Andy Goddard and written by Steve Lightfoot
  4. Resupply – directed by Karl Skogland and written by Dario Scardapane
  5. Gunner – directed by Dearbhla Walsh written by Michael Jones-Morales
  6. The Judas Goat – directed by Jeremy Webb and written by Christine Boylan
  7. Crosshairs – directed by Andy Goddard and written by Bruce Marshall Romans
  8. Cold Steel – directed by Antonio Campos and written by Felicia D. Henderson
  9. Front Toward Enemy – directed by Marc Jobst and written by Angela LaManna
  10. Virtue of the Vicious – directed by Jim O’hanlon and written by Ken Kristensen
  11. Danger Close – directed by Kevin Hooks and written by Felicia D. Henderson
  12. Home – directed by Jet Wilkinson and written by Dario Scardapane
  13. Memento Mori- directed by Stephen Surjik and written by Steve Lightfoot

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

 

 

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