Friday, January 18, 2019

Into the Forest (2015)

Number Rolled: 14
Movie Name/Year: Into the Forest (2015)
Tagline: Hope is power.
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Rhombus Media, BRON Studios
Producer: Fraser Ash, Kelly Bush Novak, Jason Cloth, Sriram Das, Niv Fichman, Aaron L. Gilbert, Margot Hand, Kevin Krikst, Adrian Love, Ron McLeod, Kelly Morel, Elliot Page, Haroon Saleem, Steve Shapiro, Kristina Sorensen, Allan J. Stitt, Steven Thibault
Director: Patricia Rozema
Writer: Patricia Rozema, Jean Hegland
Actors: Elliot Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Eklund, Wendy Crewson, Ronin Cara, Owen Cara

Blurb from Netflix: In the near future, two frightened sisters fight for survival after losing their father during a deadly, quietly looming apocalypse.

Selina’s Point of View:
I love apocalypse films, so I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, I was left wanting.

The entire film was just so forced and boring.

If the makers of Into the Forest were trying to make the most distinctly unlikable characters with the most pointless setting, they succeeded. I can’t remember a movie where I’ve wanted every single character in the story to die, as much as I did here. Don’t get me wrong, I like bleak endings in general, but I don’t usually hope for the death of EVERY character.

They managed to make an apocalypse story without really showing it in the setting. There was no urgency. There was no dread.

I can, and have, gotten behind apocalypse films that were purely drama. No horror. No thrills. No action. It’s a concept that’s difficult, but it can work. The challenge is getting across that survival, end-of-the-world vibe without your typical overt causes (zombies, global warming, nuclear attack, etc.). If someone is going to make an ‘out-with-a-whimper’ apocalypse story, they have to find other ways to get that nerve-wracking will-they/won’t-they-survive feeling. The people behind Into the Forest failed at that.

The one moment I actually felt dread was due to lazy writing. The creators fell back on a trope that didn’t belong in their film. It seemed to purely be there for shock value.

Now, this movie was based on a book. It’s entirely possible that the book gets the ‘apocalypse’ feeling right. A lot of times, stories like this just work better on the page.

I feel little more than bored and tired after Into the Forest.

Cat’s Point of View:
This isn’t your average post-apocalyptic movie; yet, at the same time, it’s almost everything you’d expect from one.

Once more, I find myself pondering adding another book to my ever-growing to-read list. Reportedly, Elliot Page (Super, Tallulah, Flatliners) was inspired to produce a movie adaptation after picking up the novel in her hometown. I guess that makes this a bit of a passion project for her, since this was her first credited film as a producer.

She and Evan Rachel Wood (Across the Universe, Charlie Countryman, Westworld) paired really well as siblings. It was clear that they really were able to vibe off each other – otherwise this feels train would have jumped the tracks early on.

That being said, I don’t think that this will necessarily appeal to everyone. It’s only downfall in my book is that it’s a bit of a slow burn. I expect that’s likely quite intentional to amp up the tension as time marches relentlessly on in the story.

This isn’t a thriller gauged to keep you at the edge of your seat for a breath stealing moment. It explores the bleakness of isolation and the loss of modern convenience, with a dash of the ever-encroaching underbelly of humanity. The crawl of the film’s runtime certainly delivers that feeling in spades.

While I don’t know that I’d give this film a third watch-through, I wouldn’t mind giving it a recommendation as a solid drama for anyone with the patience required to take it all in without boredom.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 43%
Metascore - 59/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.0/10
IMDB Score – 5.9/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

Movie Name/Year:  Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)
Tagline:  Some fates are far worse than death.
Genre:  Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: AMG Entertainment, Uncork'd Entertainment
Producers: Albert Avramovic, Wesley Cannon, Darren Collinson, Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Tony Del Cid, Andrei Dunca, Helena Ellison, Susan Ferraro-Gardetto, Mark W. Hall, Eric M. Johnson, Koodae Kim, Nathan Lindgren, Royce Ly, Carlos Macera, Kee Saik Meng, Mitsuaki Munegumi, Lucas Newton, Christopher Pellegrini, Dale Poniewaz, Doug Roos, Mari Sakamoto, Shaun Smith, Richard Southard, Yu-Hao Su, Chris Vick, Laurie L. Wee, Paul Wee, Deborah Yasment, Eugen Zernickel
Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Writer: Hiroshi Katagiri, Nathan Long, Brad Palmer
Actors: Lance Henriksen, Patrick Gorman, Simon Phillips, Sean Sprawling, Justin Gordon, Katherine Wallace, Eva Swan, Matthew Edward Hegstrom, Doug Jones

Blurb from Netflix: Developers looking for a location to build a resort on Saipan stumble into a subterranean bunker from WWII where an evil force lies in wait.

Cat’s Point of View:
This film was rather bewildering.

In fairness, it could be something as simple as my fatigue level ensuring that I wasn’t sharp enough to appreciate the nuances of the story. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that would have made any difference if it were otherwise. The concept was pretty clear – I was just a bit underwhelmed.

I was a bit impressed to learn that this movie was Kickstarter-funded. The overall production quality was pretty outstanding, when taking that into consideration.  I was also pretty jazzed to see Lance Henriksen (Stung, Harbinger Down, The Blacklist) involved with the project. I can’t help but wish he had a more expansive role, however.

The practical effects were generally pretty good, and the CGI was also pretty on par. There were even respectable performances here and there. Had the experience as a whole not clawed me down into the land of meh, I probably would have bought what they were selling. 

I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a slightly less realized and culturally transplanted version of As Above, So Below (2014).

I really hate sounding like a jaded ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ person; but in this case, there’s not much else to be done. Rather than beating the dead horse, though, I can cut to the chase by saying it is unlikely that I’ll be recommending this movie any time in the foreseeable future. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 59%
Metascore – none
Metacritic User Score – none
IMDB Score – 5/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

P.S. There is a short scene following the credits.

Movie Trailer: