A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back.
Starring: Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Stephanie Nogueras, and Colin Woodell
Directed and written by: Stephen Susco
Talk about an awkward feeling. Sitting here writing a review about a movie featuring a person being stalked on their laptop, and wondering…is someone watching me write this? Could I be next? Double check if the green light is on! Does that even matter? Well hopefully they agree with what I’m writing! Focus…time to review “Unfriended: Dark Web.”
While not a direct sequel to “Unfriended,” this sequel is shot in a similar way. This time the audience is viewing the action from Matias’ (Colin Woodell) computer. Well sort of his computer, as apparently he has gotten his hands on someone else’s computer, and they want it back. He opens some familiar sites like Facebook, FaceTimes his deaf girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), and Skypes a group of his friends. The computer is giving him some problems, so he starts digging around. He finds some files, and trouble starts when he begins looking through them.
The real owner of the laptop has been watching him, and threatens Amaya in order to get it back. They use a technique to cloud their image in the video making them almost seem like a ghost. Instead of just giving it back, Matias opens more files in front of his Skype friends, and they see some extremely shady videos. These videos are the true horror in this story, and it would have been nice to see more of them.
There’s no turning back for Matias and his friends, as they’re eliminated one by one. While the deaths are brutal, the view on the laptop takes a little something away from them. It's the same thing that took away from the deaths in the original movie. Also, once the audience sees that it’s a character's time to die, what’s about to happen to them is kind of predictable.
Seeing “Unfriended” definitely prepares the audience for all the clicking back and forth on the big screen. After a slow start, the plot thickens, and mystery and tension set in. They end up putting together a nice story for something that all takes place on a laptop. Secrets and twists play out along the way, with the biggest one being who is behind all the deaths. While this isn’t a direct sequel to “Unfriended,” it might actually be nice to see a direct sequel to this one focusing a little more on why this all happened. So if you’re watching, hopefully I don’t offend you by giving “Unfriended: Dark Web” 2.5 pools of blood!
After the rise of a third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, an experiment is conducted, no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one must stay during the experiment yet there is $5,000 for anyone who does.
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Scott Davis, and Joivan Wade
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Written by: James DeMonaco
Between “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy,” it always seemed like the movies should have been switched. Anarchy gives audiences more details about the Purge, which would have been nice to know in the original movie. “The Purge” has always seemed more like just another home invasion movie because audiences didn’t truly grasp what the Purge was. Now “The First Purge” changes that thinking, and gives this franchise a proper starting place, even though audiences have to watch them out of order.
So how does the Purge begin? The government is changing, and times are rough in the United States. This allows a new party to come in and run an experiment, which they hope will help them gain the power they’re looking for in this country. Basically they go to a poor area in Staten Island and tell people they will get $5,000 to stay there during the Purge, and even more if they participate. Of course this is met with protest, led by Nya (Lex Scott Davis). She wants what’s best for her community, including her brother, Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Isaiah is tired of living poor and is looking for the easy way out, but soon learns it isn’t so easy. Unknown to Nya, he just started working for the neighborhood drug dealer, Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), who has history with Nya.
The story is set up well, but it’s all about what happens on Purge night! To start, not much happens. Actually it’s all fun and games until one local crazy person is willing to go to the extreme of killing his fellow neighbors, while a few others are in for a couple of scares. Since it’s the first Purge, it’s fair to expect nothing as exciting as in other movies. However, it's still full of some wild masks, which will hopefully be available this Halloween!
For the audience that follows this franchise, they’ve seen involvement in the Purge from outside sources, and they get to see where that starts. It helps fill in some blanks as to where these groups come from in later movies, as well as showing why the Purge was a success. Eventually all hell breaks out, and Dmitri and his crew decided to take a stand against these outsiders. There are some good gun fights between the sides before Dmitri has to come to Nya and Isaiah’s rescue. While exciting to watch, it unfortunately moves the movie from being a horror movie to an action film.
If you’re a fan of this franchise, “The First Purge” is definitely a must see. At a minimum, it explains some things that happen in previous movies, and gives the franchise a much better starting place. The story sets up well, including how these character’s lives are intertwined. It might not be a surprise that nothing exciting and new happens on Purge night like in previous movies. This one is actually short on horror, and becomes an action movie in its final sequence. The movie does deserve some credit for not being afraid of some of the social commentary it makes. With that, I give it 2.5 pools of blood, and look forward to what the upcoming T.V. series has to offer.
When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, and Gabriel Byrne
Written and directed by: Ari Aster
Alright, no messing around with recaps or sarcastic openings this time! I’m going to dive right into this review because apparently I’m in the minority on “Hereditary.” It seems like this movie is getting a lot of love, and I just don’t see it. No, it’s not a bad movie, but it just didn’t “wow” me like it has many others.
Let me get the obvious out of the way first, and something most of us can agree on. Toni Collette did an amazing job. Most people expected it, and got what they were looking for in her performance. Really she could have stood in the corner and said the same word for the entire film, and everyone would have said she was awesome. Regardless, she mastered the extreme emotions of her character, and it was definitely a tough role to play. The other thing I really enjoyed was the cinematography. Moving some of scenes in and out through the use of the doll houses was creative.
Now to the rest of the movie. First, I heard some people say it was scary. Sorry at no point was I scared by anything. Shocked at some of the scenes…yes, but scared no way! Scares are different for many people, but the movie didn’t even come off as trying hard to scare like say an “Insidious” movie. If anything, creepy is a word I would use more than scary.
The movie is a slow burn, which is usually a killer for me, especially the first half. The first half is used to put a few ideas in the audiences’ head, and then shock them with a tragic event. Yes, shocking, but clearly the most interesting thing that happens in the first half of the movie. To the movie’s credit, it also changes the focus from one character to another, which might throw off some as to guessing at what’s coming next.
And what does come in the second half of the movie? Lets call it a lot of very strange and weird scenes. It originally seems like the movie might be about ghosts, but it’s really about mental illness. It ran in the family big time, and it eventually comes to a head (for those who still have heads!) There’s hints of what’s in their minds, but it didn’t appear that it would come true. However it does in full bizarre fashion!
When walking out of the theater I had that same kind of feeling I did when leaving “Mother.” The feeling of “what the hell did I just watch.” No feeling of that was amazing, or scary. Just “what the hell just happened?” Yes, they did a great job of taking mental illness to a horrific level, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The acting was great, the mental illness aspect of the story was interesting, and the cinematography was fantastic. However, it just got too weird too quick, which ruined it for me. With that, I’ll be in the minority on “Hereditary” and give it 2.5 pools of blood.
Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, and Rosco Campbell
Written and directed by: Leigh Whannell
The summer is here and that means it’s summer movie time. There will be all kinds of movies from action to comedy, from horror to romance. Wouldn’t it be nice to kick off the summer movie season with a film that has a little bit of everything? Well, let me introduce you to “Upgrade.”
Set in a tech heavy future, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) is everything but a tech nerd. He prefers the hands on approach like repairing a car in the garage. His wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), on the other hand, is definitely a tech nerd with a sweet car. On the way home from meeting Grey’s client Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), the couple shares a romantic moment before tragedy strikes. That sweet car malfunctions, crashes, and leaves the couple ambushed in a bad neighborhood. Grey ends up paralyzed, and with no wife.
Grey is now depressed, suicidal, and left with machines mostly taking care of him. All he wants is revenge for his wife’s death, but obviously can’t do that in a wheelchair. Not until tech savvy Eron convinces him to have an experimental piece of technology named Stem placed inside of him. Stem remarkably restores his body, and allows him to function even better than before the accident.
Cue the awesomeness of the movie! Grey starts confronting the men who killed his wife, and this produces some awesome fight scenes. Stem helps give Grey an advantage over his attackers. They do a great job combining his fight movements and the way the scenes are shot. There is also a little bit of humor in the way Grey responds during and after the fights.
Besides the exciting fight scenes, the film also keeps the audience engaged with the crime Grey is trying to solve. As he puts the pieces together, so will the audience. Seeing many of these kind of movies the audience might have their guesses, but there is a nice twist at the end. They do a good job of wrapping it up, and giving the audience one slight misdirection before the ultimate reveal.
“Upgrade” has all types of summer movies wrapped up in one (except maybe dinosaurs). It starts with a little comedy and romance, which quickly turns to tragedy. From there sci-fi makes an appearance, and turns the movie into murder mystery. The highlight without a doubt are the fantastic action, and fight scenes. The deaths should satisfy any horror fans with a thirst for a little blood. It all ends with a twist, and will leave audiences wondering if there will be a sequel! Any good summer movie also has a great performance by its lead, and Logan Marshall-Green nails his role. With that, this movie gets a solid upgrade to 3.5 pools of blood!
*Video interview with Leigh Whannell below and some pics from the screening*