Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ouija Experiment (2011)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: The Ouija Experiment (2011)
Tagline: It's just a game... isn't it?
Genre: Horror
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: La Luna Entertainment, La Luna Films, Out of Body Films
Producer: Stuart Alson, Nicole Holland, Felix McNulty, Josey Wells
Director: Israel Luna
Writer: Israel Luna
Actors: Justin Armstrong, Dave Clark, Leah Diaz, Belmarie Huynh, Miranda Martinez, Swisyzinna, Taylor Terry, Carson Underwood, Eric Window

Blurb from Netflix: Film student Brandon and four friends play with a Ouija board, unwittingly opening a portal to the spirit world and a drowned girl’s deadly mystery.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve used a Ouija board before. I’ve never really understood what people see in it, though. It’s not nearly as creepy as the movies make it out to be and it’s not nearly fun enough to be called a game. It’s just a thing that exists. Of course, I have some very bleak beliefs about the afterlife and none of those beliefs allow me to put any stock in something like a Ouija board.

I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this film.

It delivered pretty much what I expected recipe-wise. Ouija board becomes a portal from the afterlife and people have to deal with malicious spirits. You expect the jump scares, you expect the scene where no one believes the first person to see the ghost, and you definitely expect some janky shaky cam.

There were, however, enough minor twists and differences between the recipe and what I saw for me to say that it was above average quality.

I enjoyed the actors quite a bit, for the most part. Justin Armstrong (Allegiance of Powers, Art of Survival, John Bosco in America) was pretty likeable for the character he played and Swisyzinna (Liquid Feet, Deceptions of Love, Wops the Movie) had a slow start, but when the movie started to flow into the creepy portions, she really came alive. The only two actors I had any issue with were Belmarie Huynh (Hoovey, Thug-Ocracy, Sweet Baby Love) and Eric Window (Circles, Sideline Confessions, Carter High), and I think that was more because I hated their characters than because of their performance.

My favorite thing about this movie was that it didn’t just rely on jump scares. Sure, there were some of those, but the story mostly revolved around a mystery that was woven into the plot. That mystery was decent enough that I didn’t really expect the direction it took.

I’d watch this film again, even with the shaky cam.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be upfront and say that I can’t stand Ouija boards. I won’t be around if one is being used, and it terrifies me that they market these things to kids. I mean, really? Making the thing pink and girlie doesn’t change the fact that it’s a tool to play with forces that you just don’t understand.

What drove me crazy about the shows MTV's Fear (2000-2002) and Scariest Places on Earth (2000-2006) was that they would throw inexperienced people into these situations and then give them tasks that were actually rather dangerous. These people didn’t know what they were playing with – or what was going to follow them home.

Before I get too far off on a soapbox, I have to admit that even though I have a healthy respect for and keep my distance from the things, I am still fascinated by Ouija boards all the same. It’s the same sort of morbid fascination that draws me to things like sharks and tornadoes (which, by the way is my absolute worst fear ever). I watched the heck out of the tornado chasing documentary series and even went to the IMAX movie – in the dome IMAX, not the overly large regular screen. I even white knuckled through the front row experience of my employee screening of Twister (1996)… much to the hand-pain of my then-boyfriend.

That being said, I expected more from this movie. I don’t know why. Netflix’s utter lack of stars on the recommendation apparently wasn’t deterrent enough to lower those expectations. I should have paid more attention.

This movie was a mess. I would honestly give it no stars, if I didn’t feel like that should be reserved for horrendous things like those centipede movies. This flick at least caught me with a few jump scares.

I was bored out of my mind. It was very hard for me to get engaged with the movie. I thought I was watching a soap opera for a little while. I was afraid it was going to even delve into soft-porn for a hot minute there. (I’m not trying to pun. It wasn’t steamy at all. Just cheesy backside nudity.) It was found-footage shaky-cam a lot of the time, which also didn’t help.

The action didn’t even really start until the last 40 or so minutes of the movie.

I wouldn’t recommend this, and I am seriously hoping we don’t end up with the sequel for review. (Though, I would watch that in a heartbeat over the centipede sequels. Seriously. Ugh.)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 15%

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

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 0/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Leap Year (2010)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Leap Year (2010)
Tagline: Anna planned to propose to her boyfriend on February 29th. This is not her boyfriend.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Birnbaum/Barber, BenderSpink, Octagon Films
Producer: Su Armstrong, Gary Barber, Chris Bender, Roger Birnbaum, James Flynn, Jonathan Glickman, Cassidy Lange, Morgan O’Sullivan, Rebekah Rudd, J.C. Spink, Jake Weiner, Erin Stam
Director: Anand Tucker
Writer: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont
Actors: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow, Noel O’Donovan, Tony Rohr, Pat Laffan, Alan Devlin, Ian McElhinney, Dominique McElligott, Mark O’Regan, Maggie McCarthy, Peter O’Meara

Blurb from Netflix: Anna chooses February 29 to propose marriage to her boyfriend, but after meeting a charming innkeeper, she must evaluate her original plans.

Selina’s Point of View:
This film was dreck.

I was super excited to see Leap Year. I’d heard good things about it and I love Ireland-based movies. My favorite YouTuber is even Irish. (Jakesepticeye was on my top YouTubers list, but not at the top. After I wrote that, however, I saw more and more of his stuff and just fell absolutely in love with him. Now, his intro is my alarm and his outro is my ringtone.)

That being said, I was completely unimpressed with this movie.

Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve, Man of Steel, American Hustle) definitely did nothing for me as the leading lady and I HATED her character. I didn’t find her likeable or relatable at all. She felt like a forced personality that was too annoying for me to care about.

Not only that, but the plot and script were so predictable that I was practically giving the actors their cues moments before they stepped on screen. There was nothing original about this film. It was as recipe as any movie could get. Like the writer was just trying to churn out the quickest film possible without bothering to care about the content.

Now, it wasn’t ALL bad.

Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, The Imitation Game) was phenomenal in his part and his accent was so well done that I had NO idea he wasn’t Irish. The old men that served as comic relief were VERY funny, as well. I’d watch an entire film based around their superstitious banter. Finally, Randy Edelman (27 Dresses, The Big Green, Shanghai Noon) did amazing with the music. It was peppy and very Irish. It fit the beautiful settings and the feel of the movie really well.

Despite the good aspects, Leap Year was not my kind of movie and I don’t feel the need to ever watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:

I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a rom-com, so you can imagine that I had an internal reaction of ‘oh joy’ when this was the movie that the dice chose for us. Though, that was before I actually started watching it. I’d forgotten that this one was set in Ireland. Of course, I would have watched anyway – because professionalism! It helped me to be considerably more enthusiastic about it, at least.

There’s a bit of a confession I need to make first. I might have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I have a bit of a bias towards Ireland and things Irish. (‘A bit’ might be an understatement.) I love the sights and sounds of Ireland – from the music to the language…the rugged and pastoral landscape… it just calls to me in ways I can’t quite explain.

Why do I need to make this confession? This film was shot in – you guessed it! – Ireland. I digress.

Amy Adams (Julie & Julia, The Fighter, Her) was a good fit for this movie. Believable as both socialite go-getter with a plan for everything and as the redhead returning to her roots and besieged by Murphy’s Law; it was easy to get invested in her as the main character.

I had tears at one point in the movie. Sure, that’s nothing new for me; but I have to be really emotionally invested in something for it to happen.

The humor of this film was brilliant. In some places it was subtle and others it cracked you over the head, but I didn’t feel that anything was overdone. I could relate to the shenanigans that occurred along the main character’s adventure. (I’m Murphy’s redheaded stepchild, I swear.)

For an English lad, I must say that Matthew Goode (Match Point, Watchmen, Stoker) did a pretty good job with ‘being Irish.’ I couldn’t tell you if his accent was right or not, though. It seemed to be fine to me – but I was just enjoying hearing his voice speak it. His character helped the emotional aspect of the movie immensely.

Sure, this wasn’t the most original plot in the world. In fact, it was a remake of a Bollywood movie Jab We Met (2007) with a gender swap. I didn’t mind, though. I didn’t even mind that they got a bit of their geography turned around.

I would have liked to see more of John Lithgow (Dreamgirls, This is 40, Interstellar) utilized in the film. The brief scene he is involved with does appropriately set up the plot, though. For an actor of his caliber, though, it just seems like a waste.

Before I get too carried away, I’ll leave you with a final bit of trivia. Fans of the History Channel series Vikings (2013-) might find one of the film’s settings familiar. There’s a scene in the movie that takes place at a lake where a large part of that show is filmed in County Wicklow.

I absolutely adored this movie and would definitely watch it again.


Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 21%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Movie Trailer: