DVD Review: “Rings” (2017)

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“Rings” (2017)

Horror

2,0

Running Time: 107 minutes

Directed by: F. Javier Gutiérrez

Featuring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aimee Teegarden and Bonnie Morgan

Holt: “I keep… thinking about this story. There’s this video that… kills you. Seven days after you watch it. The second it’s over… the phone rings. And this voice says…”

Samara: [voiceover] “Seven days.”

If only the best laid plans worked out perfectly then maybe this latest film in this long dormant horror franchise would be good, not a knock-off of the original American remake “The Ring” (2002), that had so much going for it – an up and coming actress, Naomi Watts, as well as a director who was about to break out, Gore Verbinksi. This was of course a remake of the Japanese Horror film of the same name, which was, at the time, one of the scariest films around. Now in 2017 we are lumbered with this hollow remark and no amount of scene stealing by the great Vincent D’Onofrio can help this movie come off as nothing more than a curio.

“Rings” is primarily about college professor Gabriel who buys an old VCR, discovering a videotape trapped inside – you can guess what’s on the video. Elsewhere, Julia sees her boyfriend Holt off to college, but becomes concerned when he falls out of contact. She inspired to find him when a panicked girl, Skye, contacts her asking for Holt’s whereabouts. Julia meets Gabriel, following him to a private area of the college where a number of students are involved in an experiment involving the cursed video, watching and filming themselves, before passing the task to another person, called a “tail”.

Holt arrives shortly after. Unwilling to let Holt die, Julia watches the video, experiencing a vision of a door, and a mark is burnt on her hand. Turning to Gabriel for help, he notices Julia’s copy of the video is larger than usual. She watches it, discovering new footage hinting at the fate of Samara’s body. Gabriel sends them to the town where she was cremated.

Where to start? Its been fifteen years since the first film and I have to ask do the kids these days, who this film is aimed at, even know what a videotape is, and do they care? I would say no on both counts – and good on them!

This is more a re-boot than a sequel, you might think judging from the relative success the re-booted Blair Witch Project had and the welcoming back of M. Night Shyamalan, that this would be a good idea. However, what both these success stories had going for was a great cast, a very good idea and excellent directors. Unfortunately “Rings” misses out on originality and an original vision for the film from the director – relying on jump scares, the almost exact same premise from the first film and characters that might act in an original manner. There are logical leaps at time that make no sense as well long exposition that again make for a very trite storyline.

The director and writers seem assigned to the reboot rather than something that they should be doing, I hope the payday was worth it, because this film is entirely unsurprising and plays out just like you mighty think it would. It is odd because Akiva Goldsman is listed as a writer and he has a career that is not only Oscar worthy but he has started to direct his own projects. Unfortunately his recent career decisions seem to be a move in the wrong direction and he may be mirroring that other great hack, Damon Lindelof.

It is not very often I recommend giving films a miss but if you want to save time and money then given this a big miss, instead  re-watch “Split” (2017) or “Get Out” (2017) – or even better find the original (remake), “The Ring” (2002) instead and watch that – it has a better cast, story and director.

“Rings” is out now on DVD.

But give it a miss what has been seen cannot be unseen.

 

DVD & Blu-ray review: ” Life” (2017)

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“Life” (2017)

Sci-Fi/Thriller/Horror

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Running Time: 103 minutes

Directed by: Daniel Espinosa

Featuring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds

Dominique:Are you bringing the alien back to earth?”

Roy Adams:No, we’re going to keep it up here where it’s safe.”

I don’t normally like reading or hearing other peoples reviews but somehow going into “Life” (2017) I had heard a few and was pretty discouraged by them, the theme that came through was that this was a cross between “Alien” (1979) and “Gravity (2013), but inferior to both – which is not only not true but fairly insulting for all three films to be reduced to a type but also insulting to the film-makers themselves. Its no surprise then that this isn’t the greatest film ever made, but as far as genre films go it is exceptionally watchable with some very original content – you just have to suspend your disbelief and it will all be ok.

“Life”, is set on as well as revolving around a crew aboard the International Space Station performs a successful capture of a space probe returning from Mars with a sample inside. The crew is tasked with studying the sample, which may be the first proof of extraterrestrial life. However, the study eventually backfires as the organism displays incredible strength and gains intelligence, becoming extremely hostile and killing them all one by one. Trapped aboard the ISS with the rapidly growing organism, the crew must find out how to kill it before it manages to escape and destroy Earth.

If you have seen any marketing for this film you will probably know it is about an aggressive alien that is hunting its prey on a space station, and yes on the surface this is similar to “Alien”, but the type of alien as well as the crew and the motivations for the crew are pretty different to the film “Alien” in almost every way. The similarities to “Gravity” are that it is set in space, on a space station orbiting the earth – a fairly pointless and obvious statement.

Daniel Espinosa, the director of “Life”, whose previous film, the extremely poorly received historic Russian serial killer film, “Child 44” (2015) was a bit of a bloated mess is clearly in his rear mirror as this film is a fast paced thriller, with time given over to most of the characters for moments that make you feel for them when they all face their respective fates. The director make effective use of the two shot to maximize the claustrophobic feeling within the space station as well as point of view shots as well, particularly through a tense and gruesome space walk scene. The exterior wide shots look amazing considering this is a low budgeted sci-fi film and has a lot to accomplish with its special effects.

The spcial effects are acceptable at this films budget, however there are some shaky scenes towards the end as well as some of the moving exterior shots. The alien, “Calvin”, in my opinion is very well designed, I am pretty sure it is original, as well as terrifying in most scenes “he” appears, although by the end of the film I was feeling sorry for it and was wondering why we all just couldn’t get along.

The film is cast extremely well with the characters of Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) and David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) given the most to do, as well as having the most depth for them to play with. The cast is round out with Ryan Reynolds who doesn’t miss a beat with his personality and motor mouth – the one thing I did think was he was a bit of stunt casting to draw people into the cinema. I have to admit that I really enjoy seeing Reynolds given the chance just to do what he does best, look good and talk.

The best thing to do before going to this film is to avoid all spoilers, go in clean and be prepared to be shocked as well as seeing a lot of blood and horror. The alien looks excellent as well as gross – it is not a humanoid at all, this for me is a relief. I am pretty sick of creatures from another world taking humans over or assimilating them, I think this has been done to death and the very idea of a new creature being created is a great idea and one not done enough in cinema.

Now that this and “Alien: Covenant” (2017) have been released I have to say that I prefer this film, it is a little more original as well as having way less plot baggage than the later.

If you like a good Sci-Fi with scares, the idea of the world hanging in the balance and some good performances from some really great actors then this is the film for you. Just go in with no spoilers or expectations, and you will have a good time. This has a high level of re-watchability.

“Life” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.

DVD & Blu-ray Review: “Logan” (2017)

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“Logan” (2017)

Action/Thriller

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Running Time: 135 minutes

Directed by: James Mangold

Featuring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal and Elizabeth Rodriguez

Charles Xavier:Logan, what did you do?”

Logan:The world is not the same as it was, Charles. Mutants… they’re gone now.”

Never has one movie owed more to another movie than in this case, “Logan” (2017) owes a huge debt of to not only “Deadpool” (2016) but to Ryan Reynolds as well. “Deadpool” was the first R-rated (an American term) comic film to do huge global box office as well as getting rave reviews and setting up an erstwhile franchise it also broke new ground in terms of what a comic book movie could be. Both of these movies incorporate their own meta meanings into their plots as well as pushing the narratives of both along.

“Logan” (2017),  as the title suggests seems to be distancing this current film from the two previous efforts, the average “The Wolverine” (2013) and the supremely inferior ”X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009), all three spin-offs from the X-Men series of films. A very wise move for a number of reasons, if you have seen the previews you will see why – this is a very different comic book and Wolverine film, it not only takes place in an all too real future it also embraces its own pop culture narrative – in its own unique way of course.

This is also the long touted last time Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart will play Logan/Wolverine and Professor X/Professor Charles Xavier in this comic book cinematic universe. It is fitting this has come to pass for no better reason than this is one of the greatest comic films put to screen – in fact I will take the previous two efforts if I am left with this one – it shines a shadow over all the X-movies, except maybe X2, still the one to beat.

“Logan” is set in the near future, one in which no new mutants have been born in two decades. As their numbers dwindled, Professor X’s (Patrick Stewart) dreams of a new stage in evolution slowly died. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is scraping a living as a limo driver in the town on the Mexican border and hustling for medication that he takes out south to a remote, makeshift home he shares with Caliban (Stephen Merchant), nursemaid to the infirm Professor X. Logan attempts to hide from the world and his legacy. However, when a mysterious woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) asks for Logan’s help with Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant being pursued by dark forces, he is drawn back into action despite his hopelessness.

First up Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart nail their roles, as usual, but it always seems there is something more in them this time, maybe because they are both playing super heroes on the downside of their lives, for very different reasons. However, as is the case with these type of films the supporting cast really make the film that much better and believable, here we find the comic actor Stephen Merchant shine as Caliban a mutant with the power to sense other mutants and the incredible Dafne Keen as Laura (or if you like X-23) – Dafne is amazing and steals the film as a mutant being hunted by her creators. It is one of the more memorable cinematic debuts ever and in particular in a blockbuster.

The film is directed and co-written by James Mangold, who also directed “The Wolverine” (2013), who I feel had some unfinished business with the character and ably puts his stamp on this film. Mangold who has directed both big and small budgeted films acquits himself here nicely. As you watch the film you feel you are in the right hands, it is also obvious Mangold had a vision and an ending he wanted to get to without a trace of irony to be found. Make no bones about it this was a tough assignment for all involved but Mangold has not had an easy run of it over the past few years – however with this film he has knocked it out of the park. Onscreen it is obvious that everyone wanted to make the best movie possible and wanted to round out this trilogy on the very strongest notes, and they succeed in ways few films do. They embrace the flaws of the previous installments and make Logan a three-dimensional character that feels like he has nothing to lose, has fought the good fight and in his mind has lost everything.

There is so much going on in this film, there are issues of serious mental illness, as well as what happens when an entire way of life disappears, are there second acts truly for people who have lost everything? I don’t think there has ever been a comic book movie like this, one that explores what it means to be all-powerful in one life and then be hobbled in another. This film is so much about the future of a race of people that have been pushed to the brink of extinction and are brought back by the goodwill of a hero who is wiling to sacrifice everything for the good of the many. When the X-Men were created they were an allegory of the civil rights movement and over the years have represented other minorities in US and later in international culture – more than any other comic before or since they spoke to the perceived outsiders in popular culture. Only now could we say we need a film like this for the masses than ever before with the hostile environment that exists within not only US culture but seemingly the entire Western World.

I admit it is difficult to watch both Logan and Charles in both cases broken men, both physically paying for their past deeds and actions. I have grown up with these characters both on paper and onscreen, in previous efforts never once do you feel there are real stakes in terms of their success and survival no matter who they face, Apocalypse, Magneto or anyone else. In this film there is everything to play for, we even see Logan get badly beaten by some thugs at the beginning of the film, so the very real question is what happens to a broken down old mutant. I will leave you to discover this, but I assure you this film is original in almost every way.

This is the supposed last outing for both Jackman and Stewart so that should be reason enough to see this film, it is not the only one which is great, this is a fantastic film and I would rate it in the top five comic book films, it is that great. We are being given the best X-Men film yet it is incredibly rewatchable, something that everyone should own. All the character’s are drawn well, the action is incredible and there are at leat three or four surprises you will not see coming. Highly recommended.

“Logan” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.

Streaming Review: “American Gods” (2017 – ) Episode Eight: “Come to Jesus”

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“American Gods” (2017)

Fantasy/Horror

5stars_small

8 Episodes

Produced by: Bryan Fuller and Michael Green

Featuring: Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Schreiber and Ian McShane

The series focuses on Shadow Moon, a man serving three years in prison. With only days remaining in his sentence, Shadow is given an unexpected early release after his beloved wife Laura is killed. Shadow finds himself next to a man named Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Wednesday appears to be nothing but a con artist who needs Shadow as a bodyguard. Season One concludes…

Episode Eight: “Come to Jesus”

Cinematographer: Darran Tiernan

Directed by: Floria Sigismondi

Where would “American Gods” be without one more “Coming to America” which serves as a bit of a bookend to the first episode as it features the beautiful and completely original femme fatale Bilquis. What we see now is how this old God used to feed in not only belief but also in the orgies that were acted upon in her name – a great and familiar scene on par with the lover eating from the first time we saw her many weeks ago. As with all the old Gods she fell out of memory, we witness how she attempted to stay in her followers minds – in the 1970s Middle East where ‘man’ corrupted her religion forcing her tp travel to America where she quickly forgets her own identity – we also see her possibly siding with New Gods in a  very foreboding way – although that will probably be followed up on in the second season.

As usual I am not going to spoil any surprises, but as usual as each week passes we are introduced to new characters in the way of Gods, with this week being no exception. We are also treated to another cameo in the form of the newly introduced embodiment of Easter, in the form of the always-delightful Kristin Chenoweth, as well as a multitude of Jesus’s, the prime one being played by the excellent Jeremy Davies.

Of course Mr. Wednesday is attempting to recruit ‘Easter’ in his upcoming fight, in this he reveals himself to be the Norse God Odin – not only that but Shadow seems to be finally getting the hang of the entire belief system as well as the pure power of it. Shadow makes his break through with the idea of Easter being personified in the form of a woman. He says, “people believe in Easter and so Easter is a person.”

This season has seen some great acting talent but the gift that keeps giving are really two fold, as well as becoming the MVP’s of season one – Emily Browning as the foul mouthed husband betraying crook, Laura, as well as the magnificent Pablo Schreiber as the foul mouthed unlucky crooked leprechaun Mad Sweeney. It’s funny and highly original that “American Gods” has been about relationships old and new. With Shadow and Laura who had a relationship built in love and trust, whilst the old Gods had the very same with their multitude of followers, but now most of them have either become a “Hope and Crosby” road movie, Shadow and Wednesday, or a mismatched Rom-Com, Sweeney and Laura.

However this episode like the previous season is all about belief, it is something that has stayed strong throughout these eight episodes, it ends on what belief can be as well as what it can do. So, the old Gods grit their teeth and using their power strike the first blow against the new Gods letting them know they are not done with yet – it is actually quite frightening, as with all planned out modern shows there is a cliffhanger – which I enjoyed but others in my household felt a little let down, with a hollow feeling to what as been a lethargic journey.

Once again the look of this episode like the rest of the series is original and incredible with the highlights being the shooting of Kristin Chenoweth as Easter. Chenoweth looks amazing as well as powerful, her make up is fantastic as well – we see at least three different versions of Easter throughout the episode – the final persona of power is the best as well as the most fiercely scary – maybe more than Odin himself. The director of this episode is Floria Sigismondi the first female behind the scenes, she is a breath of fresh air, formally a music video director, here she brings all her talent to bear on this season ending episode.

I loved the book this series is based on and I love this television show – I am a fan. I have one quibble, it is minor, but I wish this show was on Netflix or had been released all at once by Amazon. The reason I did not despair with the perceived slow release of information over eight weeks was because I generally knew where we were going, as well as who the players were,  I still know what is to come. I believe this show would have been better served by having all the episodes available to watch as one large chapter – it would have meant that the compressed time might have had the effect of speeding the plot up. It remains to be seen whether the comments about the show being slow will mean Amazon might have the courage next year to ramp up the release.

Amazon like an early Netflix are ramping up their production, green lighting new shows all over the place as well as having a few existing shows that are in their second, third and fourth seasons which is a good thing for getting new content but can also mean that if something is seen as not performing the axe could be swift. Some early good news was that “American Gods” will definitely get a second season, which will be at least halfway through Bryan Fullers planned three or four seasons, this will give the show enough episodes to at least find its legs.

Episode eight is now available on Amazon Streaming. Which also means that the entire first season can now be binge watched for greater enjoyment. Yay!

 

 

Film Review: “My Cousin Rachel” (2017)

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“My Cousin Rachel” (2017)

Thriller/Drama

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Running Time: 106 minutes

Written & Directed by: Roger Michell

Featuring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glen and Holliday Grainger

Philip: “Whatever it cost my cousin in pain and suffering before he died I will return with full measure upon the woman that caused it.”

If you have never heard of author Daphne Du Maurier that is a loss you can solve by going and finding some of her books, reading them and coming back to this review, maybe start with the novel that is the basis for this review, ‘My Cousin Rachel’. In fact you may have seen her two most popular works as Alfred Hitchcock films, the timeless “Rebecca” (1940) as well as “Spellbound” (1945) which had hallmarks of Du Maurier’s work, the supernatural, lost love and a heightened sexuality in many of her creations. Some of these can also be found in Roger Michell’s film adaptation “My Cousin Rachel” (2017), which will have you enthralled not just with the story but the performances of the leads Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz. There is a real air of mystery to this story that strikes a note with modernity as well as the time it is set in.

The film is primarily concerned with Philip (Sam Claflin), a young Englishman who finds his cousin Ambrose (also played by Claflin) dead after traveling to Florence, Italy. He vows revenge against Ambrose’s missing wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz), blaming her for his untimely demise. When Philip meets Rachel for the first time, his mood suddenly changes as he finds himself falling for her seductive charm and beauty. As his obsession for her grows, Rachel now hatches a scheme to win back her late husband’s estate from the unsuspecting Philip.

Whilst “My Cousin Rachel” could be seen as a thriller as well as a ensemble piece the real thrust of the story, as well as the reason for any thriller aspects is driven by the excellent performance by Sam Claflin as both Philip and his Uncle Ambrose. I found the character of Philip to be completely fascinating, the word I would use to describe him is juvenile. Once you watch the film you may think he plays the innocent but in fact he has been raised to be ignorant of almost everything to do with relationships as well as perceived outsiders to his family unit of two. In fact he is given the opportunity to expand his horizons, mix with new people of a different social strata as well as receive an education but he spurns this as he sees this as unimportant, something he will of course later regret, as he is clueless about anything outside his extremely narrow field of vision.

The very reason that Rachel is a mystery as well as the reason that she is able to spin her web, entrapping Philip seems so obvious to not only the audience but to all of his friends  – the only others that seem not to notice Rachel’s hypnotic spell are all the workers and servants that work for Philip – much like they are extensions of his will, they, like him are manipulated by others with no power of their own. In fact the simple fact is that there is no challenge for Rachel, she in fact does very little up to the point Philip makes his sad intentions clear – she is as passive a person or antagonist as I have ever seen in a thriller. It is Philip with his seemingly simple way of viewing the world as well as the people who inhabit it, that he has trouble with. Philip is completely without the ability to rationalize his thoughts in terms of anything he does immediately, understanding and reacting with emotion whilst putting logic to one side, he is a pure emotional being, not confined to one he seems to be only able to cope with one at a time, anything outside of that does not compute.

In fact the film is so closely associated with Philip that every scene only concerns Philip, his relentless drive towards some truth about his own situation. In saying that of course it means that the lead actor has to be on his game – in that, Sam Claflin, who plays the protagonist is excellent here as the Philip – he has to carry this entire movie from beginning to its gripping, sad, conclusion – he has the opening narrative dialogue as well as the haunting final statement. Claflin has been making some extremely interesting choices in terms of movies this year, one only has to watch the excellent Dunkirk film “Their Finest” (2017) to see that. He strikes me as a more austere and serious Hugh Grant, which believe me is a compliment. Claflin could be making bigger budgeted movies or be the lead in charming indies, but sees to have chosen a slightly different route – not unlike his peer Dan Stevens.

The rest of the cast is rounded out with some great English talent, no more so than Oscar winner and titular character Rachel Weisz, who plays the role of Rachel with reserve as well as a hint of coldness – watching her you are not sure really what her motivations are at all, she enters the film about a quarter of the way in, all the while being built up to some kind of super woman that has a true dark side. Of course the reality of her arrival is not what Philip or the audience expect, like most things the expectant evil genius is not what she seems, or is she? The two other actors that witness what is going on are “Game of Thrones” stalwart Iain Glen, as Philips legal guardian, Nick Kendall, and Holliday Grainger as his daughter, Louise. As you would expect they are both excellent, underplaying the happenings in Philips life, trying to not get in the way until it really is far too late for the plot, which ends up snowballing to its eventual climax.

Roger Michell, the director as well as adapter of the original novel has created a real elegant looking film, that owes a debt to Kubrick’s “Barry Lydon” (1975), with its lush settings, real props, on the nose art direction, but most importantly its use of subtle source lighting that has to be seen to be believed. Michell who is South African born had had a varied career with his biggest hit being the Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant classic “Notting Hill” (1999), it is with “My Cousin Rachel” he has created his best most personal work to date – when I view this film it seems to me he is in complete control of performance as well as camera. The elegant nature of the daytime scenes, as well as scenery is as good as it gets – there is one scene in a barn full of hay with Phillip in conversation with Louise that looked like a painting from the period, shafts of light entering windows up high – just breathtaking.

In case you have not guessed I really enjoyed this film, it stayed with me many days after I had seen it, mainly because of the relieve complexity of the plot, it does remind me of elements of “Gone Girl” (2014) with a female protagonist as an unreliable narrator – even though in this film it is a male narrator who is letting us in on the story. What is interesting here is the way in which Rachel is able to manipulate almost everyone around her not only with ease but also with a real lack of action. It is almost like people see in her what they want to see – their own emotions are cast back at them – we see what we want to see until it is too late.

I thoroughly recommend this film to people who enjoy thrillers that are not only based around gender as well as the standings of people but that will not mind the steady pacing that could leave some modern audiences craving some movement as well as a complete ending.

“My Cousin Rachel” is out now in cinemas only.

DVD/Blu-ray Review: “Split” (2017)

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“Split” (2017)

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Thriller/Horror

Running Time: 117 minutes

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Featuring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Betty Buckley

Dr. Fletcher: “An individual with multiple personalities can change their body chemistry with their thoughts.”

M. Night Shyamalan has been making films for some time now and achieved huge world-wide success with his second film, “The Sixth Sense” (1999) but since then has had mixed critical and box office success. His follow up to “The Sixth Sense” was one of the first post-modern superhero films, “Unbreakable” (2000), one of the most under-rated films of the past twenty years. There is nothing wrong with that but he set the bar so high early on that when he makes a miss-step people seem to pile on in droves. I have enjoyed most of his films, he seemed to have a fresh take on the horror genre with “The Visit” (2015), a collaboration with the Blumhouse production company, and so it comes as no surprise he should revisit the genre with “Split” (2017) – this time mixing new talent with some experienced actors.

“Split” was released earlier this year at theatres making a huge amount of money worldwide, a sequel is already being written, but not the direct sequel you might think, this will only be apparent once this film is watched – remember to stay right to the end.

The film finds three teenagers, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), kidnapped by “Dennis”, one of the 23 split personalities inhabiting the body of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a victim of childhood abuse with severe dissociative identity disorder, and held captive in a cellar. Kevin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who believes that in such cases the psychological unbalance can cause physiological changes, is concerned to find an email from Kevin’s dominant personality, “Barry”, asking for a meeting. Over the years Kevin has been treated, he appears to be stable: all of his personalities sit in chairs in a room, waiting for their turn “in the light” (controlling the body), while “Barry” controls who gets to go in the light.

At the heart of this film lies the performance of James McAvoy, if this movie has a chance of succeeding it is going to be through his performance of the various personalities that are going to be on display. Of course McAvoy has been in plenty of genre movies before, he knows how to play to the camera with extreme characters, it just so happens that here he plays more than one in one film. McAvoy has great skill in choosing how to play each personality, here he is ably assisted by Shyamalan who at this stage has no problems in directing characters with strong personalities while balancing the performance with the storyline, where required.

Shyamalan, as I have mentioned is coming off an excellent last project so it makes a certain sense to see if he can not only revisit that well, but up the stakes in terms of both the storyline, actors and genre. He adjusts his directing style to the budget and the themes of this new movie. McAvoy is shot mostly in close up to intensify the changes in his behaviors and physical nature – which as the film movies on is revealef more and more. The full impact and nature of Kevin’s issues are not really revealed until the ending, and then the epilogue-like ending should be quite revealing for those that don’t know about it.

The other central characters is Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey, who as the film reveals has her own demons to deal with, which are all too real, we see these in flashbacks which come as she sleeps – so she is trying to push them down into her sub-conscious which is not working. As it turns out she and Kevin are both victims but deal with their emotions in a completely different manor. I will always find it amusing that many mental health issues are vilified and used to drive horror films to the precipice of the supernatural and then blur the lines – which is what happens here. Anya Taylor-Joy whilst having appeared in two other horror films, “The Witch” (2016) and “Morgan” (2016), this year alone, plays a very different part, not the girl being used or the killing machine, this time she is a hybrid of sorts that kicks ass when required.

This is a genre film so it does follow certain tropes, which it actually needs to so that it can also subvert the very same genre, which it does.. at times. There is a sub-plot involving Kevin’s psychiatrist which seems to only act as an information dump about the condition, but in truth this could have been excised and tightened the pace up a bit – this is something that Shyamalan does do to seemingly fatten his films out, but it really is not needed.

The film feels claustrophobic at its very heart both with the location of the abduction as well as the fact that Kevin is trapped in his own mind surrounded by voices that will not let up and must be confusing to him, much like his real life captives who are in a disoriented world of their own.

One word of caution I would not read anything that would spoil this film,  whilst the word Shyamalan has been used as a verb to describe his endings this one does not have the twist you might be expecting from him, but there is still an ending that should satisfy the people that have long been fans of his films.

This is an excellent genre film and I can honestly recommend this very highly and its worth going to see at the theatres, with a group of people and it wont hurt to have seen a few Shyamalan movies previously, I would recommend “Unbreakable” (2000).

“Split” is released today on DVD & Blu-ray.

DVD review: “Trespass Against Us” (2017)

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“Trespass Against Us” (2017)

Thriller/Drama

2,0

Directed by: Adam Smith

Featuring: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Sean Harris, Lyndsey Marshal, Rory Kinnear, and Killian Scott

Colby Cutler: “Blessed are the cracked.”

Who is Michael Fassbender, and what does he want to be? These are both good question’s to think about after viewing this movie. He has to be one of the hardest working mainstream actors in film today – since his huge break in “300” (2006) he has averaged almost four films per year – that’s not counting shorts and television appearances. In the vast majority of these films he is either the lead or one of the top co-stars. He has amassed a large body of work, has appeared in some major directors films as well as a handful of first time directors. It is admirable that Fassbender supports first time directors or screenwriters, here he is doing both but I cant help but think the outcome was not what he had in mind.

“Trespass Against Us” (2017) is set across three generations of the Cutler family who live as outlaws in their own anarchic corner of Britain’s richest countryside. Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is heir apparent to his bruising criminal father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson) and has been groomed to spend his life hunting, thieving and tormenting the police. But with his own son, Tyson (Georgie Smith) coming of age, Chad soon finds himself locked in a battle with his father for the future of his young family. When Colby learns of Chad’s dreams for another life he sets out to tie his son and grandson into his life. The quality of storytelling and direction is very low, it does not match the talent in from of the camera.

The film not only has Fassbender appearing but also the incredibly talented Brendan Gleeson who shines here in a role where he leaves nothing on the page,  I can see why he accepted as the appeal to play this part must have been pretty high. The other major talents in supporting roles are Rory Kinnear and Sean Harris. To be perfectly honest it was the cast that drew me into this film, I can imagine other people feeling the same way. Whats not to love with this cast and the story about an English underworld we might not have seen before on television, but have seen elsewhere.

Unfortunately what we are served up by first time film director Adam Smith and first time screenwriter Alastair Siddons is a pastiche of a film culled from better gangster films such as “Snatch” (2000), “Face” (1997) and too others too numerable to mention. In my mind this is a film that looks and feels like a project and something to complete, especially when you have Fassbender and Gleeson interested in doing your film.

In respect to this film and future like films it would be wise for both Fassbender and Gleeson to choose their projects more wisely, and maybe do some research on the director or storyline first. Both of these actors are great, always entertaining to watch on whatever they are in, but maybe they need to take a breath, as well as realising that they only reputations they hurt are there own.

This is not to say this is a terrible film but not one worth going out to the movies for, in the old days this may have been a title that would be considered a high ‘B’ title and would be released direct to a video/DVD rental store.

Unfortunately there are no rental stores left so I would only watch this if it was on a streaming service – it is not a great experience but could be a diversionary one on another service.