Friday, December 17, 2021

'Tis the Season - Silent Night (2021)

Streaming Service: AMC+
Movie Name/Year: Silent Night (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Maven Screen Media, Marv Films, BfParis, Shaw Organisation, AMC+, Altitude Film Entertainment, Capelight Pictures, Husky Films, Madman Entertainment, RLJE Films
Director: Camille Griffin
Writer: Camille Griffin
Actors: Annabelle Wallis, Davida McKenzie, Gilby Griffin Davis, Hardy Griffin Davis, Holly Aird, Keira Knightley, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lily-Rose Melody Depp, Lucy Punch, Matthew Goode, Roman Griffin Davis, Rufus Jones, Sope Dirisu, Trudie Styler
IMDb Blurb: Nell, Simon, and their son Art are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die.

Cat’s Point of View:
The words that came to mind as the credits rolled for Silent Night were “Holy shit!”
Silent Night went into an abyssal level of deep darkness with its dry comedy. The entire experience was an emotional rollercoaster…in flames. I was laughing one minute, cringing the next, and nearly in tears just a few moments later.
The trailer had significantly piqued my interest. I have to admit that the availability of Silent Night for streaming on AMC+ was one of the plethora of strong selling points for subscribing to the service. I digress… Silent Night certainly delivered and exceeded my expectations.

I’m saddened that I see so many negative reviews – saying it’s slow, the darkness doesn’t have actual comedy relief, or that the satire doesn’t land. I don’t really agree with these. Alright, I will have to concede that the pacing is a little slower than it could have been; but I believe that was done purposefully considering it’s underscoring that the characters are trying to eke out as much life as possible before the end comes.
Silent Night went on a deep dive that resonated, perhaps, a little harshly in this era of pandemic and climate change. To be fair, however, the film was already mostly done before the UK went into its first pandemic lockdown. The social commentary within predated Covid-19 and was meant to target class disparity, mass fear mentality, and climate change. I feel that Silent Night accomplished all that – without beating those points over your head.

The cast was phenomenal in their roles. Of course, Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game, Collateral Beauty, Misbehaviour) and Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, Official Secrets, A Discovery of Witches) were a significant draw for me to watch. They didn’t disappoint. Another stand-out among the cast was Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit, Felicit√† - La stagione delle buone notizie). His talent really belies his age. I believed every moment of his emotional journey. 
Silent Night isn’t a production you’d want to put on during a happy and festive holiday gathering, just based on its bleakness. While I understand it’s a bit divisive, I would heartily recommend at least giving it a shot. Just maybe line up something fun and uplifting to follow it. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 62%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%
Metascore – 52%
Metacritic User Score – 4.6/10
IMDB Score – 5.7 /10
Trust the Dice: Parental Guidance Rating – R
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

'Tis the Season - No Sleep 'Til Christmas (2018)

Streaming Service: Hulu, Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: No Sleep ‘Til Christmas (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 120 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Freeform, Mass Hysteria Entertainment, Cosmote Cinema, Disney+, Moviemax Family, Vlaamse Televisie Maatschappij
Director: Phil Traill
Writers: Steve Smith, Phil Traill
Actors: Odette Annable, Dave Annable, Charles Michael Davis, Alphonso McAuley, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Marsha Mason, Tina Jung, Stacey McGunnigle, Brittany Bristow, Craig Warnock, Jess Salgueiro, Scott Cavalheiro, Delia Lisette Chambers, Kevin Hanchard, Al James, Marilla Wex
IMDb Blurb: A bartender and a businesswoman find they only have one thing in common; insomnia.

Selina’s Point of View:
As basic as a lot of this flick turned out to be, I kind of loved it.
A lot of what makes No Sleep ‘Til Christmas a recipe film for the rest of the year, makes it more interesting for a Christmas offering. It’s not quite as saccharin sweet as most holiday movies, and it’s closer to the recipe of a ‘friends with benefits’ sub-genre.
The characters are flawed enough to relate to, but the outcome carries enough magic to sate the craving for a bit of Christmas. It’s easy to root for just about everyone – including the side characters.

I also appreciated the addition of lesser-known holiday music. Sure, there were some classics among the soundtrack, but there was one I’d never heard before. It’s rough to collect a fresh line-up of songs for a flick like this because the radios are already playing carols on repeat all through December. Even just having one or two tunes outside of the norm means a lot.
I found the reasoning for the protagonists’ affliction to make sense. I, personally, have a sleep problem that is rooted in a similar issue. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but it all made sense to me. Most holiday films don’t even bother with the actual psychology of a situation.
As a side note, the very last scene was memorably hilarious. I’m glad they included it, even if it was a bit unnecessary.
In the end, No Sleep ‘Til Christmas was a solid holiday flick. I pre-judged it, and I was wrong. It’s worth watching.

Cat’s Point of View:
No Sleep ‘Til Christmas was certainly a refreshing change of pace for me. I am finally starting to feel a smidge better following my weeks-long fight with the creeping crud, and I really needed the pick-me-up this movie provided.
This originally aired on the FreeForm network, yet it doesn’t suffer from most of the pitfalls of a made-for-TV Christmas movie. No Sleep ‘Til Christmas stands apart with its quirky story and amazing cast chemistry. I believed the power-couple pairing between Charles Michael Davis (The Originals, Younger, N.C.I.S: New Orleans) and Odette Annable (The Truth About Lies, Supergirl, Walker) while rooting for Dave Annable (Armed Response, What/If, Yellowstone) all the same. I didn’t even realize that the Annables were married in reality until researching for the production details accompanying this review. (I got Odette Annable confused with someone else while watching, to be honest.) The crazy on-screen chemistry makes a lot of sense now, though.

My inner insomniac could really relate to all the trials and tribulations that the character Lizzie goes through as she struggles to sleep. I’ve been there. I had no trouble buying the desperation and willingness to do just about anything to actually get some Zs. These days, my problem is generally the opposite – trying to stay awake. No Sleep ‘Til Christmas even defeated my narcoleptic tendencies. I made it all the way to the end without having to re-start due to involuntary napping.
I appreciated that No Sleep ‘Til Christmas didn’t try too hard to go over the top, and I was genuinely entertained throughout.
If you’re looking for a Christmas rom-com that isn’t going to try to jam the ‘joy of the season’ down your throat and will give you plenty of laughter along the way, No Sleep ‘Til Christmas might be just the one you’re looking for. It is currently available to stream across multiple platforms. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 100%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Guidance Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 13, 2021

'Tis the Season - Mercy Christmas (2017)

Streaming Service: Paramount+
Movie Name/Year: Mercy Christmas (2017)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: No Mercy Pictures, Other Paw Films, Gravitas Ventures, White Pearl Movies, daredo, High Fliers Films, Devilworks
Director: Ryan Nelson
Writers: Ryan Nelson, Beth Levy Nelson
Actors: Cole Gleason, Casey O'Keefe, David Ruprecht, Whitney Nielsen, Gwen Van Dam, Steven Hubbell, D.J. Hale, Steven T. Bartlett, Dakota Shepard, Joseph Keane, Ryan Boyd, Tina Hartell, Catie Boles
IMDb Blurb: When Michael Briskett meets the perfect woman, his ideal Christmas dream comes true when she invites him to her family's holiday celebration. Dreams shattered, Michael struggles to survive once he realizes HE will be Christmas dinner.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have lost another hour and change to the void.
Mercy Christmas falls under the category of ‘things that cannot be unseen.’ I wouldn’t go so far as to throw it in with the centipede movies; yet, all the same, I have struggled to find positive words to describe my experience.
First of all, I have no idea where they came up with the ‘Action’ genre label for this one. None of the standard action movie recipe elements were present. You’d have to be feeling really generous to call any of the on-screen scuffles “fight scenes.”

Not all of the comedy within Mercy Christmas fell flat, but just about everything else did. There are simply far better horror comedies out there – even in the holiday horror sub-genre.
I just couldn’t in good conscience recommend Mercy Christmas with any seriousness. Now, if you’re looking for a movie to play in the background and laugh at with your friends (for all the wrong reasons), then by all means fire this one up. Otherwise, maybe have mercy on yourself and your loved ones and give Mercy Christmas a pass. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2 /10
Trust the Dice: Parental Guidance Rating – R
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5
P.S. – There is a small mid-credits scene.
Movie Trailer: