The Canal (2014)

The Canal (2014) – IMDb

The Canal is one of those effective mood pieces. It’s stuck between horror and thriller about a man uncovering a ghostly mystery from a century ago. I would like to keep this review short for I feel this is a movie I don’t want to give too much away. I overlooked this movie countless times since the original cover on Netflix suggests a B movie that was unsatisfactory and boring. Although, some reviews claimed this was rather good, so i took a risk in playing this film and sacrificing 90 minutes of my time. The Canal is deviously unexpected.

The story is somewhat a cliche in the horror/thriller department but it definitely makes up for brood atmosphere and a terrifying conclusion. Without trying to give too much away, this movie is in close relation with the movie Sinister. I found horror movies to either end not well and obscure or really well but either tragically or with contentment. This is the latter, but it left me jaw dropped and I had my hand over my mouth. This is not common in my movie watching, believe me. The movie is slow but the unexpected graphic scenes and the mystery will keep you hooked. There are no real jump scares but this is where the atmosphere and eeriness creeps in. Towards the second half, it just becomes increasingly unnerving.

Like I said, I did not expect this Irish film to be as effective as it was. When you think you have it all figured out, you get hit with a curve ball. The Canal is subtle, even in the writing. I enjoy finding movies like this, from which ever continent it’s from. The film’s ending, it left my hairs sticking up, and if a movie has that kind of power then I recommend this to be viewed, by horror fans, thrill seekers, mystery hunters, or loners looking for a good scare sitting in the dark like I was tonight. 

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Bargain Bin 1

With so many movies releasing every year it’s hard to keep up. A lot of time is spent on which one to watch?  Hoping you wouldn’t regret your decision after the two hours are up. You may choose one through networking because a friend told you to watch it. Or this other flick was hailed by a bunch of critics. Or perhaps you decided not to listen to anyone and watch some random movie out of the mainstream or whatever the case may be. Well, here’s someone else not to listen to: me.

I have compiled a small list that shouldn’t take up much of your time to skim through; a random selection of movies on different budgets, languages, genres, and other rubbish you may find amusing. Whether whatever weather outside, you sit on fur or leather, this is your chance to be pickey-choosey for your pleasure.

Here you go:

Hunter Prey (2010)

This small film caught me off guard. Whilst i was binge surfing on Netflix I decided to give this movie a try. I knew nothing about it and was rather impressed. A small squad is traveling with a cloaked prisoner on a distant planet when he gets loose and they must find him. Simple right? Hunter Prey is really well done for what it sets out to accomplish. Even though the soldiers’ costumes look like they were borrowed from the Clone Trooper sweat shop, it’s easy to write off for it’s still believable and the make up is also well done. Just please, do not watch the trailer. You are better off not knowing anything since the trailer somewhat ruins the twist and makes it seem more like an action movie.

PS: If you liked Enemy Mine you’d like this.

13 Assassins (2010)

I love Japanese culture and their art style. I love samurai movies even more. Takashi Miike gives himself a break from his outrageous horror/gangster films and brings us a story about thirteen samurai who are set on taking down a corrupt, evil leader. And he is evil. The film is set up in two parts basically, the first is build up. This is when Shinzaemon Shimada collects the twelve other samurai on a suicide mission and in contrary, the evil lord shows us just how evil he is. For some, the first hour may seem slow as it really lets us get to know a little bit about each character. Those who are patient, however, will be rewarded. The last hour is nothing but blood shed as the thirteen face off the many in epic fashion.

PS: I love the wide range of colors presented in every frame. Most notably when Japan’s landscape is shown. 

Session 9 (2001)

A little known horror film that came across my way through a friend. This wasn’t a movie i thought he would even like in the first place so when i watched it I was surprised that HE was the one who found it. Session 9 doesn’t need jump scares, no need for gore, just the real Danvers Mental Hospital to film in. At first, everything seems easy enough for our asbestos cleaning crew in an eerie, haunting asylum. But not everything is what it seems in this psychological horror. Hiding secrets can result in brutal fatalitie. Brad Anderson’s editing, shots, and music is what really creeps up your nerves. As well as the session tapes. There’s something about this place that will leave you feeling mental.

PS: Even though the movie isn’t widely known, those who have seen the ending and were left scratching their skull were not satisfied for it’s rather ambiguous. This is a movie worth watching with some people who are open for conversation. I, myself, loved this film for it will have you thinking for days to come.

The Fisher King (1991)

What to say about this delightful movie? I blessed myself when i purchased this without giving it a first look and  it was the one of the best decisions i ever made. It’s a story about fate and moving on from the past. When a radio DJ (Jeff Bridges) who lost his fame due to assisting a woman’s suicide, crosses paths with a looney hobo (Robin Williams) with a tragic past, becomes a comedic tale of redemption and love. Jack (Jeff) befriends the bum hoping he can help him find his true love and aid his past. All performances  are top-notch giving Robin enough room to be weird and heart warming, and letting Jeff be the down-beat cool guy. A favorite of mine from Terry Gilliam.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

I’m a little butt hurt this movie isn’t more well known, or to my knowledge it is not. You have a kick a** cast and amazing one liners. Scrap that, the whole script must be heard. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr are perfect together, seeing that Val nearly steals the show in every scene.  Their chemistry and delivery couldn’t be any more pluperfect. The story line is a little everywhere which will take you a couple times to re-watch this. That’s not a complaint though, do yourself a favor and have fun solving this jazzed up mystery. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

PS: Still reading? Stop, i found your movie. 

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (2015) IMDb

The park is open, welcome to John Hammond’s dream come true, Jurassic World! It’s bigger and badder and has more teeth – well than the third installment at least. It’s hard to top the first Jurassic Park but where this one suffers from predictability and lacks emotional depth, it is far superior than Jurassic Park 3 and possibly The Lost World. Jurassic World offers two hours of solid entertainment and wonderful CGI, along with some nostalgia to tie in with the first.

It’s a rather simple story and doesn’t waste time to start. We’re introduced to Zach and Grey, the children this time around who get the fortune of seeing the dinosaurs up close in person, thanks to their parents who send them off for the weekend to visit their Auntie Claire, the park director, for some relationship bonding. Too bad she’s wrapped up in her work showing off the new park attraction to the investors. Apparently, the park attendants are becoming accustomed to seeing dinosaurs like seeing an elephant. According to the investors, park visitors are becoming bored and they need to re-inject the thrill and create something new (but they’re DINOSAURS for crying out loud). So they splice several DNA traits to create something that will wow the crowd. Something monstrous and dangerous so they will remember. Once again, the mad scientists succeed. Didn’t they learn the first time? As long as it’s cool and exciting, profit and crowds keep flooding in, what’s to worry? One can only imagine what Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant would say to this irresponsibly blind decision.

Like other Jurassic films, chaos ensues. At times, Jurassic World is predictable and it can feel messy like towards the end. But it’s a fun ride nonetheless. The raptors move more like their descendants, reacting like birds. The scene in which they are introduced with Chris Pratt’s Owen, is believable and most interesting to see these animals obey commands and why. The CGI is by far the best out of the series, making the dinosaurs more life like and detailed. It was hard to tell the difference between animatronics and CGI. The genetically cross bred monster is scary and fierce. They did a great job constructing this killing machine but it still doesn’t have the same presence the T-Rex did in the original. I didn’t feel for any of the characters except Owen who I’m sure everyone will root for. He doesn’t have the same presence as Grant or Malcolm, but who wants the same guy? He’s a different character and doesn’t try to be like who they were. Owen carries most of the comedic weight (and brains for that matter). The ending fight scene is a blast and a lot more satisfying than Jurassic Park 3, even though it is total Hollywood. The theater I was in even began to clap…yea, I did, too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Universal decided to make another Jurassic themed ride or even park. The movie, for the most part, was believable. The park itself felt real with it’s product placement and an original layout that seems like a blueprint for something we can one day have the pleasure of walking through ourselves.

This is Colin Trevorrow’s first big budget film, before this he hasn’t done much except Safety Not Guaranteed. I’d consider this a great feat. It’s a quick, entertaining film i can see him doing more of. What I found cool was that they brought back some ideas from previous installments that were scrapped. One I noticed and I was happy for was the pterodactyl scene. Originally, in the Lost World, how it was going to end was the survivors were escaping via helicopter and they get attacked by a couple pterodactyls. This scene was revived here in this feature and even kept an unfortunate pilot getting stabbed by a beak. I am not happy with the end sequence of The Lost World: Jurassic Park because I felt it was self indulgent. Given, it’s cool to see a T-Rex roaming the city streets, watching Asian people running from a giant prehistoric lizard, and crew cameos getting eaten; but it was typical Hollywood and Spielberg really just wanted to see what it would be like to release this dinosaur in public. I’d prefer that to have waited for another installment. Perhaps I will eventually divulge myself into reviewing The Lost World and further explain. But at least it was not forgotten and found it’s way here.

This 4th installment reminds me even more of the Alien films than the previous efforts. Their is a hidden motive, or agenda if you will, for Hoskins. This made me love this franchise that much more because Alien is one of my all time favorites as in story and where it has gone. Once you witness Jurassic World for yourself, you can almost see where the next will follow, it has my curiosity, since it’s a believable solution. Either the military takes control for war disposal, or worse, creates human-dinosaur hybrids.

Jurassic World is not perfect. Regardless though, you will be entertained and have forgotten or wished there never was a 3. The lack of patience it had resulted in a loss of emotional depth and some showmanship, and the writing quickly covers up the deep themes the original talked about. This sequel did what it was supposed to and kept things different without swaying too far from the core Jurassic experience. Maybe next time the scientists will think twice before bio-engineering something not naturally existent, that’s if Ingen doesn’t get in the way. There are even easter eggs littered throughout, like a woman reading Ian Malcolm’s book on the bus or the mosquito caught in the amber from the first movie is made into a larger monument. I think this is the sequel Jurassic deserves without trying to be a brainless copy. It’s a fun adventure that is refreshing, believable, and possibly the best to come out since the original Jurassic Park.

Welcome to the park of Jurassic World.

Identity (2003) – IMDb

via Identity (2003) – IMDb.

It was around my 4th-5th grade year when Identity came out. Once it was released on home video my dad rented it and one night I really wanted to watch it. This was during the time when I was exploring all sorts of movies, expanding my knowledge on such great films. After watching Ghost Ship (not so great) and found it a little scary I thought I could watch anything. So late one night my father placed the movie in and before pressing play he says: “If you have any questions, save it for after the movie”. Unfortunately he fell asleep and I was left mesmerized, scared, and contemplating the whole story with questions raining in my head. I went to school the next day and heard a friend say she watched it the night before as well, I sprang into action and proclaimed “wasn’t it awesome?! What did you think?” She didn’t understand it and so she didn’t like it which baffled me. Never have I seen a movie or experienced one like this at that time in my life; this movie marked my love for psychological movies.

The story starts with one small act of an event that causes a chain reaction for several strangers to confront each other in a small, deserted motel in the middle of a storm out in the middle of nowhere. But the weird starts happening, people start dying, one by one. Tension rises with clues and twists that makes everyone a suspect making your head tumble like in the drier just to figure it out. Identity even points the finger for you, playing with your head. You will keep guessing until the very end and questioning what really is going on. Is it supernatural? A dream? Or just some trick? Some will probably figure it out beforehand but it’s fun ride none the less, since something is always going on.

John Cusack did an okay job as the limo driver, it isn’t his best work by far. Although, I’d enjoy to see him in a horror flick; he has a dark, curious presence that fits. Ray Liotta did a fine job as the cop, as well as John Hawkes as the manger of the motel from *southern accent* Mulberry.Gary Busey was convincing as the con-man and Amanda Peet’s acting felt a little forced but was good. The motel itself, though, is a dark, suspicious place. A place that you would dream about and wouldn’t want to get lost in, in it’s cold and wet, creepy atmosphere. The motel is shot beautifully by James Mangold who was enthusiastic about this moody, mystery project.

Identity is a great psychological thriller with elements of horror. It’s fun the second time round watching it, but after that the experience wears down, unless you watch it with someone with fresh eyes just to see how they take it in.