Friday, October 25, 2019

Chills & Thrills: Wounds (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Wounds (2019)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Netflix, Hulu, Annapurna Pictures, Two & Two Pictures, AZA Films, United Artists Releasing
Director: Babak Anvari
Writer: Babak Anvari, Nathan Ballingrud
Actors: Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz, Karl Glusman, Christin Rankins, Brad William Henke, Ben Sanders, Alexander Biglane, Matthew Underwood, Luke Hawx, Dakota Johnson, Kerry Cahill, Terence Rosemore, Jim Klock, Martin Bats Bradford, Creek Wilson, Lawrence Turner, Michael Collier

Blurb from IMDb: Disturbing and mysterious things begin to happen to a bartender in New Orleans after he picks up a phone left behind at his bar.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve been looking forward to this one. The trailer looked properly creepy and there were some decent actors lined up. Unfortunately, it seems like the writer/director might not have known exactly how to handle this kind of plot.

I don’t know if the problems I have with the movie are also issues with the book – I’ve never read it. That said, I’d venture a guess that it simply wasn’t adapted well.

The reason I’m willing to blame the movie and not the plot is that there were holes big enough that I could almost see where other scenes probably belonged. I imagine the book clears things up, and a lot was just cut or altered. If it doesn’t – then I’m not entirely sure why it’s popular enough to warrant a film.

The ideas were good. The acting wasn’t bad. Even a lot of the dialogue felt natural. But the entire thing felt unfinished. Certain aspects of the story were rushed and others just never had a conclusion. There were loose threads everywhere and nothing added up in the end.

I can’t recommend Wounds. It just didn’t work.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m struggling with this one.

Sadly, it’s not because I’m torn on whether I liked Wounds or not – it’s a fight to find something positive to say about it.

Oh, I’ve got it. It was nice to see a movie filmed in New Orleans, and this film captured the horror of flying cockroaches excellently. There were a few moments that my skin was crawling and I longed for a broom in hand to swat the screen.

That’s where the praise stops, I’m afraid. The only other thing this movie was successful in achieving was suspense. It was ploddingly slow, and just when I thought things were about to pick up in an interesting direction…it failed to do so.

I don’t understand the correlation between the titular element of wounds and how it’s connected with the elements the film spent the majority of screen-time focusing on. It tries to come full circle at the end but falls short.

There were so many missed opportunities here. I was initially excited to see what Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, Nocturnal Animals, Free Fire), Zazie Beetz (Wolves, Geostorm, Deadpool 2), and Dakota Johnson (Need for Speed, Bad Times at the El Royale, The Peanut Butter Falcon) would be bringing to the table. Unfortunately, something went askew with this adaptation. Their performances definitely weren’t lacking, but it felt like they were just doing the best they could with what they were given.

This is one time, however, I am not interested in looking up the novella this film was adapted from. Ugh, bugs.

If you’re looking for some background noise and don’t mind the creepy crawlies, I guess this would be OK – but it definitely doesn’t deliver on the chills and thrills that I was hoping for in this spooky season.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 51/100
Metacritic User Score – 2.3/10
IMDB Score – 4.1/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 1/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Chills & Thrills: Eli (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Eli (2019)
Genre: Horror
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Intrepid Pictures, Bellevue Productions
Director: Ciarán Foy
Writers: David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing
Actors: Charlie Shotwell, Lili Taylor, Max Martini, Sadie Sink, Kelly Reilly, Deneen Tyler, Katia Gomez, Parker Lovein, Austin Foxx, Kailia Posey, Lou Beatty Jr.

Blurb from IMDb: A boy receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder discovers that the house he's living in isn't as safe as he thought.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by Eli.

On the surface, it gels as a strained family trying to seek treatment for the son’s mysterious illness. There are clearly more layers to the situation than meets the eye, I think this really came through well in the cast’s performances.

I can certainly relate to the son, who appears to be quite literally allergic to the world. When I was younger, my allergist once called me his ‘poster child.’ My propensity to get sick at the drop of the hat hasn’t gotten much better now that, as an adult, I have this crazy auto-immune disease. (MS) While my friends and I joke that I belong in a bubble; I’m not quite THAT bad off. Even so, I get nervous about the germ-carrying public and tote around a medical mask as if I was dodging SARS – just in case. Too many people don’t understand the whole ‘cover your cough’ thing. I digress…

The desperation to find a cure is palpable and makes the stay in the spooky mansion-turned-medical facility fairly understandable.

Needless to say, I got sucked into the story. From the various scores I’ve seen for the film, I’m not sure that it’s as immersive for everyone. I do have a rebuttal for quite a few of the negative points that have been thrown out there – but, alas, spoilers. I’m pretty much stuck with imploring the audience to overlook, for the moment, the whole ‘that doesn’t fit protocol for a clean-room’ thing. That actually plays into the story.

The twist here was so mind-blowing for me that I don’t even want to give even the slightest hint of it away. I really want anyone who is watching for the first time to get that feeling that comes with a Sixth Sense (1999) level reveal. There are shades of a horror classic dancing at the corners of perception, just begging you to connect the dots from their breadcrumb trail of hints.

I’d definitely say that Eli is a solid offering for the genre and a great film to enjoy during this month of all things spooky, thrilling, and chilling.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 47%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – 4/10
IMDB Score – 5.9/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: