Saturday, October 24, 2020

Synchronic (2020) - In Theaters

Streaming Services: In Theaters
Movie Name/Year: Synchronic (2020)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Patriot Pictures, Pfaff & Pfaff Productions, Love & Death Productions (LDP), Rustic Films, Well Go USA Entertainment, Signature Entertainment, Umbrella Entertainment
VVS Films
Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writer: Justin Benson
Actors: Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie, Katie Aselton, Ally Ioannides, Bill Oberst Jr., Natasha Tina Liu, Aaron Groben, Martin Bats Bradford, Devyn A. Tyler, Betsy Holt, Lawrence Turner, Shane Brady, Kate Adair
Blurb from IMDb: Two New Orleans paramedics' lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.

Selina’s Point of View:
I had the opportunity to see Synchronic yesterday, and I absolutely jumped at the chance.
Now, if you are in a part of the world where COVID cases are on the rise – don’t go to a theater, even if they’re open. If the numbers are steady or declining, but the theater does not have safety procedures in place that are strictly followed – DON’T go. Only go to the theater if it is as safe as possible for you and everyone around you. After my review, I’ll go into the safety precautions in place at my local theater.
On to the review.
I was seriously looking forward to Synchronic. I adore Anthony Mackie (Altered Carbon, Avengers: Endgame, IO) and I enjoy a good time bending sci-fi. So, this was right up my alley.
The first thing I latched onto was just how organic the dialogue was. When Mackie and Jamie Dornan (Robin Hood, Untogether, The Fall) are bantering, their lines feel natural. Sometimes they joke about sensitive subjects or roast each other, but it always feels like a friendship thing. It never comes off as obnoxious or heavy-handed. That’s not a simple thing to accomplish. It’s a testament to how talented the writer is, if it was pre-written, or the director, if he simply allowed them to ad-lib.

Am I now obsessed with the directors/writer, Aaron Moorhead (The Endless, A Glaring Emission, Spring) and Justin Benson (The Endless, Spring, Resolution), the way coming attractions insisted I would be? No. I’m a little more curious now than I was at the end of V/H/S Viral (2014) – but hardly obsessed.
What they put out was good. Still, it’s not something I’ll look back on as a favorite.
Although it’s a very interesting take on the time bending sub-genre, there were some missteps.
The first half-hour of the film felt fragmented. The scenes didn’t really flow well, and it made time move very slowly as I fought to stay interested. It wasn’t until the story really began to delve into the purpose of Mackie’s character that I felt myself sucked into what I was seeing.
Regardless, I’d still recommend Synchronic. It was a great return to the cinema for me.

With that said, let me talk a little bit about the theater that I frequent. I go to a ShowcaseCinema. They are currently working with J.S. Held, which is a firm comprised of experts (including those from health and safety areas), to produce the best possible environment for movie goers to return to.
Their new safety regulations include sanitizing methods, social distancing, reduced capacity, a new air purifying system, contactless payment options, covered containers at concession stands, protective shields for their employees, and mask requirements. From what I observed, they are holding employees and guests strictly to their new rules.
I feel safe at the theater I go to. The managers and employees are working hard to keep it up to COVID standards. Still, if numbers in my area start going up again – I will still stop going (although I live in NY, I moved to ‘the sticks’ last year – I’m not near the hot spots anymore). If it seems like the company is starting to slack on their new rules, that would cause me to stop too.
Be safe. That’s the only rule right now. Everything will return to normal eventually. Just remember that.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 68/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Friday, October 23, 2020

32 Malasaña Street (2020) - Shudder Spree

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: 32 Malasaña Street (2020)
Genre: Horror
Length104 minutes
Production/Distribution4 Cats Pictures, Atresmedia Cine, Atresmedia, Bambú Producciones, Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA), Malasaña Movie, Movistar+, Mr. Fields and Friends, Warner Bros. Entertainment España, Warner Bros. Pictures, Pioneer Films, Zima Entertainment, Lotte Entertainment, BfParis, Exponenta, Joy n Cinema, Studiocanal Film, Weird Wave, Westec Media Limited, NOS Audiovisuais
DirectorAlbert Pintó
WriterRamón Campos, Gema R. Neira, David Orea, Salvador S. Molina
ActorsBegoña Vargas, Iván Marcos, Bea Segura, Sergio Castellanos, José Luis de Madariaga, Iván Renedo, Concha Velasco, Javier Botet, Maria Ballesteros, Rosa Álvarez, Almudena Salort
Blurb from IMDbA family moving to a new house to live the dream of the big city. A house where dreams turn in nightmares.


Selina’s Point of View:
In the beginning of 32 Malasaña Street, I found myself thrown back to Poltergeist (1982). It felt distinctly similar, where the type of scares was concerned. Then the flick evolved into something else.
Once the big bad started showing itself, I found myself see it more like the basic haunted house movies we’ve been seeing in the last decade. It had a lot of the same, predictable, scares. The saving grace was just how frightening they made the physical representation of the being. It was so well done that I wound up sucked into it and even getting pretty scared here and there.
Then the ending happened.

The moment I understood what was going on, when the backstory of the creature was revealed, I had to pause the film in order to come to terms with what I was seeing.
It’s 2020. We should be passed this kind of transphobic representation.
That’s what it came down to. It was the same ending we’ve seen numerous times before, one that we should have grown out of by now. What it boils down to is the movie decided that trans = scary.

For a few moments, I thought they might save the story from completely hanging itself. THAT would have been interesting. Instead, it went with the completely phobic conclusion.
It’s upsetting, it’s unnecessary, and it’s unacceptable.
If project creators are going to regurgitate material from other creations, the should at least try to evolve the stuff we’ve grown out of.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience ScoreNone
Metacritic User ScoreNone
IMDB Score5.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Boar (2018) - Shudder Spree

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Boar (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Horror, Thriller
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Slaughter FX, OZPIX Entertainment, Universal Pictures, GatebreakR, Impact Films, Meteor Film, RLJ Entertainment, Shudder, Signature Entertainment
Director: Chris Sun
Writer: Kristy Dallas, Chris Sun
Actors: Bill Moseley, Nathan Jones, John Jarratt, Steve Bisley, Ernie Dingo, Roger Ward, Hugh Sheridan, Chris Haywood, Simone Buchanan, Madeleine Kennedy, Christie-Lee Britten, Melissa Tkautz, Chris Bridgewater, Sean Gannon, Trudi Ross
Blurb from IMDb: In the harsh, yet beautiful Australian outback lives a beast, an animal of staggering size, with a ruthless, driving need for blood and destruction. It cares for none, defends its territory with brutal force, and kills with a raw, animalistic savagery unlike any have seen before.

Selina’s Point of View:
I want to be very clear about something before I talk about Boar. I love creature features. I adore anything from mainstream stuff like Jurassic Park (1993) to campy over-the-top ‘so bad it’s good’ stuff like Big Ass Spider! (2013) – and most stuff in between. When I do dislike any kind of creature feature, there’s a reason for it.
Now, let’s talk about the movie of the day.
I was excited for Boar. I’ve had some good experiences with Australian films and I was up for some rampaging giant wild pig action. I didn’t expect much from it, I was just looking forward to some creature thrills.
Still, it left me disappointed.
Quite frankly, the plot wasn’t developed enough for Boar to take itself as seriously as it did.

For one thing, the audience is introduced to the ‘main characters’ early on in the movie, but they disappear after about 10 minutes and don’t come back into the story until half-way through. When they do finally reappear, the movie expects you to care about them as though the whole film has been developing that field of fucks, but it hasn’t.
As happens when you don’t tend to a field, it was barren.
The script did feel very natural in some parts, but then the writers would slip into these tropey lines that felt out of place and made me cringe.
It just wasn’t very good. Whether you’re looking for a serious creature feature, or something campy and fun, Shudder has better films to fill those needs.
I will say this, though. Australians have some of the best slang in the world.

Cat’s Point of View:
A month-long binge of horror movies would be seriously lacking if we didn’t have a creature feature mixed in.
One of the reasons I was initially interested in this movie was the premise of the creature, itself. Why is a wild pig scary, aside from the monster size of it? Ask any boar hunters out there – they’re no joke. Hell, wasn’t it a boar that took out a major character in Game of Thrones (2011-2019)? (It was.) I guess the bad guy monologue from Snatch (2000) regarding the efficacy of pig farms for body-disposal has stuck with me, too. Wild bacon is scary if you don’t have the stopping power. A wild hog the size of a car? That has the potential to be terrifying.
When you factor in the cast here, it gets even better. My interest was instantly piqued seeing horror veteran Bill Moseley (Repo! The Genetic Opera, Death House, 3 From Hell) attached to this film. This is a slightly different role for him than his character in Rob Zombie’s (House of 1000 Corpses, Halloween, The Lords of Salem) Firefly clan movies. Nevertheless, it gives some extra ‘cred’ that he’s attached to the cast here.
I was also excited to see the modern-day giant and former WWE Superstar, Nathan Jones (Charlie's Farm, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Scorpion King: Book of Souls) involved with this production. Giant boar vs. giant man seemed like a pretty cool match up to me. Then, of course, I was surprised and giddy to recognize Ernie Dingo (Bran Nue Dae, Australia Day, Mystery Road) and the slice of levity that he brought to the story. My inner 80’s nostalgia fan had to squee, considering he was the titular character’s best friend Charlie in Crocodile Dundee II (1988).

Regrettably, I wish I could say that I recognized the female cast members here. I certainly didn’t find fault with their performances, I’m just not all that familiar with them.
I am looking forward to checking out other movies by writer/director Chris Sun (Come and Get Me, Daddy's Little Girl, Charlie's Farm). He seems to have utilized the same core cast members in most of his 4 films to date.
The kicker to a successful creature feature is largely determined by how the actual critter is handled. If I’m honest, I have some mixed feelings about the effects used with the boar here. Understandably, there wasn’t going to be any safe way to use a real one. Some of the effects were clearly CGI and didn’t exactly fit right, while others were spot on. The same can be said of the practical effects. There were some close-ups of the boar that are outright horrifying, and others that are clearly either animatronic or a guy in a suit. That took me out of the moment in a few places.
Overall, I enjoyed Boar. I don’t know that I’d watch it again; but I do know that, as I said, I am interested in seeing other projects by this director and I certainly wouldn’t steer anyone away from this movie. That being said, I can’t say that it would be my first choice for recommendations. Shudder has so many titles to choose from that would be decidedly better. If you do decide to give this film a shot, be sure you’re watching in the dark for maximum effect.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 44%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Turbo Kid (2015) - Shudder Spree


Streaming Services: Shudder, Prime Video, Tubi, Crackle
Movie Name/Year: Turbo Kid (2015)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length:  95 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: EMA Films, Epic Pictures Group, Timpson Films, Epic Pictures Group, Atlantic Film, Filmoption International, Nippon Shuppan Hanbai, A Contracorriente Films, Amplify, Eagle Films, Epic Pictures Releasing, Film1, Filmfreak Distributie, Ledick Filmhandel, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Raven Banner Entertainment, Remain In Light, Transmission Films
Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writer: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Actors: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari, Orphée Ladouceur-Nguyen, Steeve Léonard, Yves Corbeil, Evan Manoukian, Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Tyler Hall, Pierre-André Sigouin
Blurb from IMDb: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland in 1997, a comic book fan adopts the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord.

Cat’s Point of View

This latest movie in our month-long Shudder Spree isn’t exactly a traditional horror movie, as most of the films we’re watching this month are. There isn’t anything supernatural about it, in fact. It’s got a grindhouse level of blood-fountain gore – but only because of the ultra-violent post-apocalyptic setting.
When I say blood-fountain, I’m telling you that they gave a new definition to ‘making it rain.’
That being said, Turbo Kid is definitely packed with some crazy nostalgic fun. One of the quotes seen on some posters and the DVD covers likens this movie to “Mad Max on a BMX.” I think that sums things up rather well – if a bit understated.

It feels like the world, today, is going insane already. All these post-apocalyptic movies get more believable by the day. I’m not sure that I 100% buy into this particular vision… but I really don’t think we’re supposed to. Take into consideration the fact that a movie released in 2015 is calling 1997 “the future.” (Though, I do believe that bicycles are a more feasible mode of transportation in an apocalyptic situation, considering the finite supply of gasoline. I digress…)

This film was heavily weighted to 80’s retro. I have a great love for that decade, and so my inner-kid was having a happy-dance with each new ‘artifact’ that made its appearance on the screen. This love-letter to the 80’s post-apocalyptic sub-genre is even reflected in Turbo Kid’s synth score. It was well-done and was a good fit for the action on-screen. I could ramble on about all of the references, but I think you get the point.

The cherry on top for me, and frankly one of the deciding factors to watch this movie in the first place, was Michael Ironside’s (Extraterrestrial, Patient 7, The Harrowing) involvement with the production. I can’t think of a single movie I’ve seen him in that I haven’t enjoyed. He does tend to get involved with some off-the-wall projects and crazy B-movies; but he’s also held key roles in hits such as Starship Troopers (1997), Top Gun (1986), and Total Recall (1990). He was a perfect choice for the ‘big bad’ of this movie.

Turbo Kid definitely has some camp and cheese involved with it, but it is also very aware of such, and I was loving it. It hits just the right tone so that it’s not an eye-rolling situation and I definitely wasn’t bored as this film pedaled its way into my heart.

I realize this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If, however, you’re not a fan of the ultra-spooky or other nightmare-fuel driven horror movies; or even if you just need a break for a few laughs in between heavier films Turbo Kid might just be for you. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore – 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 8.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Movie Trailer: