Thursday, September 24, 2015

At the Devil’s Door (2014)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: At the Devil’s Door (2014)
Tagline: It’s looking for a home.
Genre: Indie
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Varient, Candlewood Entertainment, XYZ Films
Executive Producer: Nate Bolotin, Kyle Franke, Kyle Heller, Jeremy Platt, Gina Resnick, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian, Sam Zuckerman
Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Writer: Nicholas McCarthy
Actors: Ashley Rickards, Nick Eversman, Michael Massee, Mark Steger, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Naya Rivera, Wyatt Russell, Daniel Roebuck, Jan Broberg, Arshad Aslam, Kelsey Heller, Kent Faulcon, Bresha Webb, Assaf Cohen, Shaun O’Hagan, Olivia Crocicchia, Jennifer Aspen, Agathy McCarthy, Rob Brownstein, Laura Kai Chen, Ava Acres, Tara Buck

After a young girl is convinced to play a game with her boyfriend’s uncle, strange things begin happening to her. As time moves forward, things only get stranger.

Selina’s Point of View:
Although At the Devil’s Door had an interesting format, it didn’t really live up to expectations.

The actors did a fine job with their parts. None of the blame falls on them. Naya Rivera (Devious Maids, The Bernie Mac Show, House Blend) showed that she has a capacity for horror acting, Catalina Moreno (Falling Skies, A Most Violent Year, The Bridge) made for a wonderful lonely sister-figure and Ashley Rickards (The Outskirts, A Haunted House 2, Struck by Lightning) was sufficiently creepy.

The problem was the story. It simply wasn’t creepy enough to be a horror and not suspenseful enough to be a thriller. The few scares that it did have were jump scares and they were ALL spoiled in the official trailer.

In the end, it comes down to placing too much faith in marketing. Sure, you want to draw in the audience by showing them some scares. Get the butts in the seats and all that. However, if the marketing goes so far as to reveal every single scare in the trailer, there’s nothing left to impress the audience when they’re watching. That results in a low rating from critics.

We here at Trust the Dice don’t like to spoil stories for people. With that in mind, if this film sounds like something you might want to see, skip the trailer. It may make your viewing experience more enjoyable.

Cat’s Point of View:
I will admit that my horror repertoire isn’t as expansive as I’d like it to be. I’m not sure I want to have claimed watching this one.

It was paced too slowly – perhaps they wanted to build suspense in anticipation for the big scary thing. The problem was that the film didn’t really deliver very well on the big scary thing. I wasn’t scared at all, actually.

Sure there were a couple of jump-scares, but I startle easily. My brother’s favorite story to tell is how he once made me jump and run in place mid-air like a cartoon character. Come to think of it, such moments of startle-ment were scarier than this movie.

I was a bit disappointed with the acting here. I was a fan of Ashley Rickards (Gamer, Behaving Badly, Awkward) from her stint on One Tree Hill (2003-2012). I haven’t kept up with her current work, but it was nice to see a familiar face. I know she’s better than this, and while the writing/directing may have been a factor, it just wasn’t happening for me in this one.

Naya Rivera (Frankenhood, The Naughty List, Glee) was another surprise I wish were more pleasant. I just couldn’t connect with her at all.

This was the sophomore effort for writer/director Nicholas McCarthy (Chinese Box, Cry for Help, Maid), whose big screen debut was The Pact (2012).  I haven’t seen that film yet, so am unable to draw any comparisons for writing or directing style. Perhaps he’s still trying to find his ‘voice.’ Cinematically speaking, he needs to stop muttering, and work on his delivery.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 24%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Longest Week (2014)

Number Rolled: 5
Movie Name/Year: The Longest Week (2014)
Tagline: She had him at “I’m your best friend’s girlfriend.”
Genre: Romance
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Armian Pictures, Atlantic Pictures, Far Hills Pictures, YRF Entertainment, Yash Raj Films
Executive Producer: Stone Douglass, Chris Marsh, Taylor Materne, Jonathan Reiman
Director: Peter Glanz
Writer: Peter Glanz, Juan Iglesias
Actors: Jason Bateman, Tony Roberts, Laura Clery, Stephen Temperly, Alexandra Neil, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Barry Primus, Olivia Wilde, Billy Crudup, Jenny Slate

Conrad was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He’s in his forties and still gets an allowance from mommy and daddy. When his parents decide to divorce, he’s left evicted and trying to hide his situation from his best friend.

Selina’s Point of View:
I found this film the worst kind of pretentious. Like discussing books with a guy who only reads the classics and thinks anyone who delves into an Anita Blake novel or any young adult zombie fic is wasting their intellect.

I have known people like this. They are exhausting to deal with. Every word out of their mouth sounds like they mean it as a put down.

“Oh, you like salmon.”

“The Walking Dead is so derivative.”

“How could you stand the sophomoric comedy of Kevin Smith?”

Go fuck yourself.

I hated this film, which is impressive since the cast is actually made up of wonderful actors. Anyone who can take people like Olivia Wilde (The Lazarus Effect, House M.D., Better Living Through Chemistry) and Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Identity Thief, This is Where I Leave You) and turn them into delivery devices for a string of boring conversations that serve no real purpose by the end of the film, is a master time waster.

I think I’m going to avoid Peter Glanz (The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks, The Dinner Party, Velvet) like I avoid Uwe Boll (Blubberella, Assault on Wall Street, 1968 Tunnel Rats).

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn’t your typical ‘romance movie.’ It wasn’t even a typical ‘I stole my best friend’s girl’ movie. I found this refreshing.

This film was a bit cerebral, but it didn’t try to aim so high that it would go over an audience’s head. Intelligent humor tends to be a bit under-rated these days. Laughs that appeal to the most common denominator seem to be most prevalent. This film brought the full cultural gambit from stage to art, literature, and music.

Behind the comedy within the film, I felt a real emotional connection to Conrad and his predicament. Jason Bateman (Smokin' Aces, Horrible Bosses, The Gift) gave a wonderfully nuanced performance here. One moment there was a glimpse of the character’s vulnerability and how lost he was…and the next, the veneer of carefree existence slid back into place.

I also loved what Olivia Wilde (Turistas, In Time, Rush) did with mere glances. There were volumes that could be said in just a few of such scenes, where she said nothing at all but let her eyes do the talking. 

Billy Crudup (Public Enemies, Thin Ice, Rudderless) was an interesting ‘straight man’ to Bateman’s character’s hijinks. He was not without his own offering of humor to the film. I particularly enjoyed the Volvo.

When life gets really intense, sometimes it can definitely feel like an eternity gets packed into what is, in reality, a very short span of time. I believe that this movie captures that rather well. I enjoyed it, though I can’t quite put my finger on why it was just that, rather than ‘great.’

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 11%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Movie Trailer: