Written by Tim Tori and directed by Patrik Syversen, horror flick tells the story of a group of teens who breakdown on the way to Chicago and hitch a ride with a truck driver, who brings them to an abandoned slaughterhouse filled with vampire-like creatures. If the contrived premise is OK with you, this is actually a mildly amusing horror with some vicious action sequences. Leading lady Courtney Hope (Shark Night) is a likable and strong-willed heroine, our vampires are right out of 30 Days of Night and this flick is actually better than the direct to DVD sequel to that movie. Vampire horror does take an interesting turn in it’s final act as well, but also has an abrupt, open ending. So, take it for what it is and as long as you don’t expect much, it’s an entertaining rental.
WARM BODIES (2013)
Silly, yet engaging enough…if you can get past the preposterous-ness of it all. During a zombie apocalypse, a young girl named Julie (Theresa Palmer) is trapped outside her walled city and is befriended and then falls in love with a zombie boy (Nicholas Hoult), who appears to have retained some of his humanity. The more the two spend together, the more human he appears to become. Can love heal all wounds including zombie-ism? Movie is very silly, but well directed by Jonathan Levine, well enough to make it somewhat entertaining as the two try to convince both the humans and the zombies to get along. Palmer makes an engaging heroine and Hoult does well making ‘R’ endearing with minimal dialog. Also stars John Malkovich as Julie’s dad and the city’s stern leader with a personal grudge against the flesh eating undead. An amusing enough watch, but nothing really special.
24 EXPOSURES (2013)
Odd and unsatisfying thriller has a troubled police detective (Simon Barrett) investigating a series of murders and questioning a fetish photographer (Adam Wingard who directed The Guest) who worked with a couple of the victims. The two form an odd bond as the investigation continues. Yea…that’s kinda it. I found this thriller rather pointless and dull. Writer/director Joe Swanberg seems more interested in giving his fellow director buddy Wingard opportunities to make-out with and enact sex scenes with multiple women than he is in actually telling a story. Ironically, when Barett’s cop character tries to sell his experiences as a book, he’s told that the characters and story aren’t compelling enough and there are too many loose ends…kinda like this movie. Also, instead of patting each other on the back by giving each other acting roles, this pack of filmmaker buddies should keep egos in check and hire real actors…just a suggestion.
KILL ME THREE TIMES (2014)
Another Tarantino wannabe thriller that has a hip soundtrack, spurts of graphic violence and a story told out of sequence with dark humor. This time the wannabes are writer James McFarland and Aussie director Kriv Stenders. They deliver the story of hired killer Charlie Wolf (Simon Pegg) who is being payed by a ruthless husband (Callan Mulvey) to murder his cheating wife, Alice (Alice Braga). Unknown to Charlie, a conniving couple (Theresa Palmer and Sullivan Stapleton) are planning to kill her, too, in an insurance fraud plot…but Alice has other ideas. Add in a dirty cop (Bryan Brown) and a lovesick mechanic (Luke Hemsworth) and things get complicated and bloody fast. Flick isn’t terrible, it’s just that it’s style is so familiar at this point and a good deal of it is predictable because so many have already tried to be the next Quentin Tarantino and we know what to expect. Pegg seems to be having fun in more of a tough guy role, but the proceedings in flicks like this have just become so passé and it never reaches the cleverness or the manic energy of the filmmaker whose work is being emulated. OK at best.
THE INTRUDERS (2015)
The Intruders is a completely derivative and familiar story of a emotionally troubled girl named Rose (Miranda Cosgrove) who moves into an apparently haunted house that wants something from her. Obviously her recently widowed father (Donal Logue) thinks it’s all in her troubled head and no one believes her that something may be in the house with them. So, she begins to investigate. Add in alleged disappearances and suspicious neighbors and you know where this is going. Thriller isn’t badly directed, as by Adam Massey, it’s just that Jason Juravic’s script is loaded with been-there-done-that. The only thing that elevated this for me out of the incredibly familiar and mundane material was that Cosgrove is actually quite good, despite being surrounded by clichés. In a much better film, the former Disney Channel actress could be quite an impressive final girl. Also stars Tom Sizemore as the suspicious neighbor and Austin Butler as the stereotypical nice guy hunk with a soft spot for pretty, damaged girls. Up to you.