BARE BONES: POSSESSOR (2020)

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POSSESSOR (2020)

Intriguing plot has Tasya Vos (Mandy’s Andrea Riseborough) working as an assassin for an organization that uses implants placed in people’s heads to possess them, and thus have them unwittingly carry out assassinations. Tasya is tasked with taking out corporation head John Parse (Sean Bean) and his daughter Ava (Tuppence Middleton) by possessing the body of Ava’s boyfriend Colin (Christopher Abbott). Things go awry, when Colin’s will becomes stronger than Tasya anticipated and now the two minds fight for control of Colin’s body and Tasya finds herself trapped inside his head.

Flick is written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg and is not only an interesting idea, but shows that the son of the legendary David Cronenberg has certainly paid good attention to his father’s works. The visual style evokes some of the more artsy sci-fi flicks of the 70s and 80s and as with his famous dad’s horror themed films, the flick can get quite gruesome. In the negative, the movie is very slow paced and somber, making it’s 104 minutes seem even longer and for this type of story, the film can get a bit too gruesome for it’s own good. Some of the gore seems like giddy overkill. The cast is good, as are the performances, and the battle of wills between Tasya and Colin is intriguingly portrayed. While the film doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders, it does show Brandon Cronenberg as a filmmaker with his own vision and ideas, and that he has the potential to make his own mark outside from under his legendary father’s shadow. Possessor also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Tasya’s boss Girder and Hellions star Rossif Sutherland as Michael, Tasya’s estranged husband.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE MARTIAN

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THE MARTIAN (2015)

The Martian is a fun and suspenseful sci-fi adventure directed by Ridley Scott from Drew (The Cabin In The Woods) Goddard’s screenplay, based on Andy Weir’s book. It tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney who, while on a manned mission to Mars, is left behind after being lost in a storm and thought dead. Now Watney must find some way to let NASA know he’s alive and then survive till help comes…which would be long after his food supply runs out.

This is a very well crafted and really entertaining survival story of one man’s determination to overcome the impossible…living on a lifeless planet. There are some fun and clever ways Watney uses his knowledge as a botanist and astronaut to grow food, elongate the use of crucial equipment and communicate with Earth. Damon is great as the ever chipper Watney, who refuses to give up even when his food supply is damaged. Meanwhile on Earth it’s a race against time to try to figure out a rescue before Watney’s time runs out. If the film has any flaw is that as a crowd pleaser, we do feel manipulated when things go right…and wrong…at exactly a crucial time to elicit an emotional response or suspense…though it works more often than not. That and even at 141 minutes, it seems like certain things are rushed to keep the film at a reasonable length. The film does jump ahead a lot.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable flick with a totally engaging hero played by Matt Damon. It’s fast moving and cleverly written with just the right amount of sentiment. Damon is supported by great cast including Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Ant-Man’s Michael Peña and The Winter Soldier’s Sebastian Stan. Recommended!

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BLACK DEATH (2010)

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BLACK DEATH (2010)

Black Death is a horror/thriller set in 1348 during the Black Plague. The land is being ravaged and the clergy say it is a pestilence from God as punishment for man’s sins. The film follows the story of young monk Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) who has fallen for a pretty young woman (Kimberley Nixon) and has sent her deep into the woods to take sanctuary from the sickness. Osmund prays to find a way to escape the monastery and join her and sees an opportunity to do exactly that when a group of soldiers, headed by veteran knight Ulric (Sean Bean), needs a holy man to guide them to a remote village near where his Averill has fled. But it is a village said to be ruled by a necromancer and for practicing witchcraft and the knights are tasked with the necromancer’s capture. Osmund accompanies the knights, but his young love is nowhere to be found and once they arrive in the village, they do discover a seemingly peaceful sanctuary free of the plague and the chaos it creates. But looks can be deceiving and Osmund and the knights find this place may actually be more Hell than Eden and a Hell they may not escape from.

Brit director Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance,Triangle) uses his setting of the Black Plague to maintain an atmosphere of dread even before we reach the village and then amplifies it by letting us know there is something not right about this seemingly idyllic place as soon as we arrive. It’s not soon after that the true nature of the village is revealed and Smith then uses his tale, written by Dario Poloni, to ask cynical questions about religion and the misuse of the power of belief by the people who claim to support those beliefs. Are they representing their deities or serving their own whims of power and control? And the best part is that Smith keeps the questions subtle enough so not to disrupt the entertainment. It is a movie after all and good one that keeps the audience on the edge as to whether the evils are supernatural or all too human.

Smith commands a good cast, including the always top notch Sean Bean, who helps Smith make this dark tale work. The contrast between the cynical soldiers and naive monk give it weight. Things then get interesting when we add the villagers…led by Tim McInnerny as the charismatic leader Hob and Carice van Houten as Langiva, a mysterious woman who may have unnatural powers…who evoke thoughts of more contemporary stories such as Jonestown and the events at Waco. Extra props to young Eddie Redmayne for effecting the gradual transformation of the monk Osmund from naive young monk to…well, you’ll have to watch to find out.

The pace is moderate and that serves the story and it is a gloomy tale and Smith doesn’t shy away from it’s dark nature or wrap things up in a pretty bow once the credits roll. Black Death is not only a tale of atmosphere and mystery, but it is a very graphic and violent tale. All the more effective as Smith doesn’t overuse his blood and gore, but only when it’s needed to punctuate a scene and add impact where the story needs some added intensity.

A good flick from a talented director who mixes an entertaining and chilling story with a little food for thought about faith, belief and those who would use it for their own devices. A dark but satisfying horror from a filmmaker with an already diverse filmography.

3 Beans on a hooded horse… just go with it…

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