Friday, September 18, 2020

Dave Made a Maze (2017)


Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Dave Made a Maze (2017)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Horror
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Butter Stories, Dave Made An LLC, Foton Pictures, Brownie, Drop-Out Cinema, Arrow Video, Canal+, Gravitas Ventures , HBO Central Europe, HBO Europe, King Records, M-Net, Micon Co., Movistar+, Pandastorm Pictures
Director: Bill Watterson          
Writers: Steven Sears, Bill Watterson
Actors: Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Nick Thune, Adam Busch, James Urbaniak, Frank Caeti, Scott Narver, Stephanie Allynne, Kirsten Vangsness, Scott Krinsky, Timothy Nordwind, John Hennigan, Rick Overton, Kamilla Alnes, Drew Canan, Etienne Eckert, Brittney Deutsch, Jessica Graves Davis
Blurb from IMDb: Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation.

Cat’s Point of View:
I remember being pretty excited to see Dave Made a Maze back in 2017 when it premiered. In my #16 entry for that August’s Top 20 I was giddy over the combination of mythology, nostalgia, and horror-comedy.

Did the paper-craft shenanigans deliver along the lines of my expectations? Yes, yes they did.

Let me first pause and comment on the staggering amount of cardboard used for this film’s sets. I don’t think I’ve seen that much of the sturdy paper-product in one place – ever. The good news is that it was all foraged cardboard and when the movie was finished shooting, it was returned to recycling bins.

Cardboard forts have always been cool, but mine were never THIS awesome. Even at the beginning of the movie when you could only see the exterior, I felt a heady rush of nostalgic adventure.

Of course, the premise of getting lost inside a large box just sounds plain silly. It’s the whole point of the movie’s plot, after all. Once inside the cardboard creation, it becomes clearer. I would love to know how Dave managed to pull off this feat – yet it is likely one of those universal questions that may never be answered. Needless to say, the comedy is fairly on point. I was along for the ride with the baffled friends of the paper-craft wizard. Even the horror elements had a light-hearted edge to them.

I’d have to say it’s the most unique concept I’ve seen in a while.

Dave Made a Maze was the entertaining escape that I’ve been yearning for recently. It was an entirely bonkers flight of fancy, and I loved nearly every minute of it. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat for anyone looking for a good change of pace and solid break with reality – if only for 80 minutes. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 70%
Metascore – 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.2/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R 
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Binge (2020)

Streaming Services: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The Binge (2020)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: American High, LD Entertainment, Hulu
Director: Jeremy Garelick
Writer: Jordan VanDina
Actors: Vince Vaughn, Skyler Gisondo, Dexter Darden, Eduardo Franco, Grace Van Dien, Natalie Paige Goldberg, Marta Piekarz, Zainne Saleh, Esteban Benito, Brittany Garms

Blurb from IMDb: Set in a time where all drugs and alcohol are illegal, the only day anyone can participate in the "fun" is on Binge day.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve been trying really hard lately to have a positive outlook on as much as possible. It’s my defense against the endless stream of bad news everyone’s been getting. That said, it’s not always easy to accomplish.

The Binge presented a very difficult case for me. Mainly because, aside from a couple of scenes, it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

When I came across it on Hulu, I thought the plot was interesting. A bit of a throwback to The Purge but as a comedy. I figured, at the worst, it might turn out to be a parody. So, I was ready for a bit of cringe and inappropriate joking. That’s not an issue for me, because I usually love inappropriate jokes.

However, that’s not what I got.

The Binge took itself too seriously to be a parody – but not serious enough to be a general comedy film.

No part of me believes I could ever sit through this movie again. If a friend turned it on, I’d probably just go home. It’s not for me.

Cat’s Point of View:
It has been one crazy week for me so far, and we're only halfway through it! Needless to say, while I didn't remember hearing anything about The Binge before, I was certainly down to watch a comedy for some good laughs to de-stress.

Was it successful? I guess, somewhat.

There was some potential here for some good laughs. I am just not convinced that The Binge hit that mark. I can't say that it wasn't funny at all. I was mildly amused at most.

If the point of the movie was to show us just how ludicrous a state-sponsored free-for-all glorifying the extremes of behavior would be; I'd say they did a decent job. While The Purge goes for shock and awe on a visceral and frightening lynch-mob and witch trial sort of scale; if you can get past the plot-holes within the narrative and lack of negative consequences.

I'm not entirely convinced this was a good ‘cautionary tale.’ Further, I’m not entirely sure that the beginning montage stressing ‘don’t do drugs’ was strong enough for what followed.

I guess I just didn’t buy in. Comedic veteran Vince Vaughn (The Internship, Term Life, Arkansas) wasn’t even able to save it.

There is one positive note, however. Josh Robert Thompson (Skylanders Academy, Do You Want to See a Dead Body?, Family Guy) does an absolutely stunning impression of Morgan Freeman (Oblivion, London Has Fallen, The Poison Rose) as the narrator. I honestly had to check the credits to see whether or not Freeman actually had signed on for this inane escapade. He is known to pop up in unusual places, after all.

If you’re looking for something fluffy and crazy to just turn off your brain and enjoy for the purpose of taking your mind off of the fact that the world is on fire both figuratively and literally – and you’ve exhausted all other options – I’m still not sure this would be the go-to film for you. Nevertheless, it is there.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 23%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 35/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.9/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5

P.S.: The song at the end of the movie goes more in depth than the one near the end of the film.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Spiral (2020)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Spiral (2020)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Digital Interference Productions, Hadron Films
Director: Kurtis David Harder
Writer: Colin Minihan, John Poliquin
Actors: Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte, Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West, Ty Wood, Thomas Elms, Paul McGaffey, David LeReaney, Darius Willis, Aaron Poole, Darius Savon, Megan Tracz, Jasmine Nagy, Lara Taillon, Michele Wienecke, Jaron Melanson

Blurb from IMDb: A same-sex couple move to a small town so they can enjoy a better quality of life and raise their 16-year-old daughter with the best social values. But nothing is as it seems in their picturesque neighborhood. And when Malik sees the folks next door throwing a very strange party, something shocking has got to give.

Selina’s Point of View:
I had some preconceived notions for this film and they were mostly wrong.

Before watching, I had not yet taken the time to view the new trailer. So, I was only operating off of the short clip I included in the Top 20 list. Based on that, I assumed what I was getting into would be a basic cult-centric film with some little tweaks that made the story more interesting. If you watch the clip, it won’t be hard to see why I got that impression.

In reality, what I got was a social commentary with a psychological thriller twist. It caught me off guard. Not in a bad way, though.

As it turns out, Spiral isn’t just a film meant to shock and horrify. It probes an important lesson that people seem to be mostly immune to. It’s a project meant to show the dangers of generalized fear and anger; especially in the form of ideas like homophobia and racism.

The story took place in the 80s, starting about two weeks before I was born.

Although people were more accepting than they had once been, homophobia still ran rampant in the 80s and 90s. Even as late as 1998 there were horrific instances of that kind of hatred exhibited in the USA, such as with the dead of Matthew Shepard. Even now, there are still people in many countries that could be killed for their sexuality.

I think it’s important to remember that we have come a long way, but that we still have a lot of road ahead of us.

But I digress.

Delving into such real-life hatred-based ideologies causes Spiral to hit home a little harder than it would have otherwise. It felt terrifying.

Only in the end was I able to discern exactly what was going on in the quiet town the main characters moved to.

Spiral went through so many plot twists that I didn’t know which way was up most of the time. A few scenes were super predictable, but that made the stuff I didn’t see coming hit even harder.

I did feel like there was a bit of a pacing issue, though. As much as I enjoyed the content and twisty-turny road to the conclusion, I felt nearly every single minute that passed by. It was a relatively normal length, but it felt SO much longer. That makes me wonder if I’ll remember it as positively as I do at the moment.

When all is said and done, I did enjoy the film. It was well written and directed, the actors were very good in their parts, and it had a phenomenal message. I’d recommend it.

Trust the Dice did get early access to this movie. If you are looking into seeing it for yourself, it will be streaming on Shudder 9/17.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer: