Friday, May 31, 2013

House at the End of the Street (2012)

Number Rolled: 87
Movie Name/Year: House at the End of the Street (2012)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Mark Tonderai
Writer: David Loucka, Jonathan Mostow
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Gil Bellows, Eva Link, Nolan Gerard Funk, Allie MacDonald, Jordan Hayes, Krista Bridges, James Thomas, Hailee Sisera, Craig Eldridge

Elissa and her mother move into a huge house in a new town. They were able to get the house cheap because of a double murder that occurred just next door. Throughout their attempt to get comfortable in their new lives, they learn that the son of the victims still lives in the same house. Rumors circulate about him, and his sister, but Elissa is determined to get to know the damaged boy who lost everything.

A lot of sites and reviews label this movie as a horror. I think that’s one of the reasons it got trashed as badly as it did. Netflix is right on point by making “thriller” the main genre of this film. It wasn’t a horror. If you go into this movie thinking it’s a horror, you’ll be highly disappointed. For a thriller, however, it was awesome. There were a lot of twists and turns to tie into the drama portrayed.

I found the story to be completely enthralling and thoroughly enjoyed the script. There are a couple of quotes in the film that I thought were down-right brilliant, in fact. I thought the majority of the actors brought their characters to life in such a fashion that really grasped me.

For as much as I loved it, it wasn’t perfect. There were some unusual and unnecessary camera angles that served more to make the audience dizzy than actually add to what was going on. Shaky camera isn’t my favorite thing in the whole world and I accept it as a necessity in very few films. There was just one other issue I had with the film, and I absolutely hate to say it but, Jennifer Lawrence completely dropped the ball.

You might recall from my review for “Home Run Showdown” that Jennifer Lawrence is easily one of the top ten actors I follow. To be honest, she’s actually in the top three. I would follow that woman anywhere. I don’t care if she acted in movie directed by Beavis and Butthead, I’d watch it. So, it absolutely kills me to say that I don’t think she did a good job with this movie. I didn’t find her believable, for the first time since I started becoming familiar with her acting. Whether she was having an off moment or just wasn’t completely invested in the story, this was definitely not her best work.

Regardless of the flaws, I loved this movie and I would still follow Jennifer Lawrence anywhere.

Overall Opinion – 4/5

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carolina (2003)

Number Rolled: 1
Movie Name/Year: Carolina (2003)
Genre: Romance
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Marleen Gorris
Writer: Katherine Fugate
Actors: Julia Stiles, Shirley MacLaine, Alessandro Nivola, Randy Quaid, Edward Atterton, Azura Skye, Mika Boorem, Jennifer Coolidge, Alan Thicke

Carolina is the eldest of two sisters raised by her grandmother. Dreaming of getting out of her ‘white trash’ life with the family, Carolina gets a job in television and attempts to throw herself into a world different from what she grew up with. With her best friend, Albert, by her side, she faces a difficult dating record, job woes and the ever-present embarrassment from her family.

Pretty much every single step of this movie is predictable. At least, the main plot points are. As soon as the movie begins, the viewer knows exactly what direction the romance aspect of the film will take and, after meeting the family of the main character, the drama becomes paint-by-number as well. What made me enjoy the film were the parts between the major aspects. Between the script, the character development, and the acting, I not only found the movie watchable, I found it highly enjoyable. Not every movie is going to break new ground and Carolina doesn’t even try. However, it traveled its well used road in an interesting and enthralling way.

Julia Stiles sold me her slightly messed up, doormat of a character really well and Shirley MacLaine is – simply put – a pro. MacLaine could pretty much rock any role thrown her way, even this eccentric, meddling, lower class, loving, grandmother.

Carolina does its best to be honest, and it succeeds for most of the movie. I’m having some trouble getting past the ending, though. It felt rushed. It was as though the director knew she was running out of time and just forgot to film a few scenes.

With the flaws and merits both taken into account, I still really liked this movie. Funny, sweet, kind of embarrassing and down-to-earth, I’ll likely watch Carolina again in the future.

Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Little Eye (2002)

Number Rolled: 72
Movie Name/Year: My Little Eye (2002)
Genre: Horror
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Marc Evans
Writer: David Hilton, James Watkins
Actors: Sean CW Johnson, Kris Lemche, Stephen ‘Reilly, Laura Regan, Jennifer Sky, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell

In the age of reality television shows, this movie was made to depict five people who sign up to live in a house for six months without outside contact. The great prize is a million dollars, but only if they all remain in the house for the entire time. If one person leaves, they all lose. We come in on the story only a few days before the six month period is up and find that they are all coping just fine. At least, at that point.

The first forty-five minutes of this movie is unbearable. Unnecessary shaky cam, unnecessary blurred angles, boring script. In fact, it’s a bit like watching the uncut footage of an actual reality show. Imagine it, if you will, just a play by play of the actors eating and going to the bathroom and sleeping and talking about nothing. No drama, no horror, nothing worth watching until just about the half-way point in the movie. To be honest, this movie would have been much more successful if they’d cut about a half hour of footage out of it.

Once I got past that terrible first half, the movie started to pick up; there were interesting twist, character development, and the horror aspect started to take effect. I loved the middle and the ending a great deal.

It’s weird. I don’t know if the amazing second half of the movie was enough to overpower the horrible first half. In fact, the balance is so strange that I can even decide if I liked the movie at all. There were equal parts bad and good. I can’t even go to the actors to decide, because they were mostly all mediocre. I love Kris Lemche, but this wasn’t his best performance. It’s like the actors did just enough to portray their characters, but not enough to truly bring them to life.

In the end, this movie failed to make me care. It even failed to make me care that I don’t care.

Overall Opinion – 2/5