Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Tall Girl 2 (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Tall Girl 2 (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production/Distribution: Wonderland Sound and Vision, Netflix
Director: Emily Ting
Writer: Sam Wolfson
Actors: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter, Anjelika Washington, Luke Eisner, Steve Zahn, Angela kinsey, Clara Wilsey, Rico Paris, Jan Luis Castellanos, Johanna Liauw, Chris Wylde, Rachael Thompson
Blurb from IMDb: After Jodi Kreyman gains popularity, her miscommunications start causing rifts with those around her and now she really needs to 'stand tall'.

Selina’s Point of View:
The first Tall Girl (2019) left both me and Cat disappointed. It was cringy and hollow. The trailer for Tall Girl 2, however, did leave some room for hope.
Unfortunately, I remain disappointed.
It took a while, but I’ve figured out my biggest problem with the Tall Girl films: they’re too familiar.
I’m not talking about tropes now. Just about every teen film made since before I was born follows a recipe. They make teens feel less alone. They help kids place – even understand – the insecurities that come with growing up. That means that teen-genre films mostly touch on all the same issues. It’s old hat to adults, but those movies aren’t meant for us. Kids are seeing it all for the first time. That’s a familiarity I don’t mind feeling.
The familiarity that bothers me with the Tall Girl films is more of a generational sort.
One of my favorite things about newer teen films is that they seem to have evolved with the times. They present a childhood that doesn’t represent mine, but more of what generation Z and generation Alpha do, and will, experience. It’s a sneak peek into how times have changed.

Tall Girl and Tall Girl 2 doesn’t feel like that. They feel like they could have been made in 90s, with no changes to script or setting or anything else, and they’d be the same films. I understand that nostalgia makes money, but here is where that definitely goes wrong.
It winds up feeling like a teen movie made for the wrong generations.
On top of that, just about every pitfall that tripped up Tall Girl hits Tall Girl 2 as well. It’s difficult to watch.
That said, there is one thing Tall Girl 2 does very right.
Throughout the film, the main character is afflicted with an inner voice that criticizes everything she does. It makes her feel like a fraud. Like she’s the worst person to ever walk the planet. When it starts to affect the story, things come close to dipping into thriller territory. It’s super relatable and well done.
I wish that much thought had gone into the rest of it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore – 35%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 21, 2022

Hellbender (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Hellbender (2022)
Genre: Horror
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Wonder Wheel Productions, Kinologistika, MiMedia, Shudder, Vivarto
Directors: Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, John Adams
Writers: Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, John Adams
Actors: Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, John Adams, Judy Rosen, Khenzom, Lulu Adams, Rinzin Thonden, Rob Figueroa, Shawn Wilson, Tess McKeegan
Shudder Blurb: 16-year-old Izzy leads an isolated life on a lonely mountaintop. All she's learned is from her protective mom and the wilderness that swallows them. Izzy dreams of a live gig, but her mother thinks she's too sick and mustn't be around others. Questioning her illness and starved for companionship, Izzy sneaks down the mountain where she befriends brazen Amber. Izzy is in heaven until a cruel drinking game with a live worm unleashes a new kind of hunger.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was intrigued by the trailer for Hellbender leading up to our Top 20 list for February. Unfortunately, it had stiff competition and there were a few red flags that allowed other productions to edge this one out of my final list.
Even so, I was excited that we would get a chance to screen Hellbender and, perhaps, see for ourselves whether or not our concern was warranted.
I wish I could say that I had a definitive answer for you. Alas, I do not.

Hellbender struck me as one of those indie films that filled a niche. If you could find a way to relate to the characters, you might take away much more from the experience. Though, in hindsight, it’s possible that many of us can relate all too well with the isolation of the main character – considering the pandemic.
This coming-of-age tale struck another chord with me. In addition to the general physical isolation of the mother and daughter duo, the emotional toll of their hermit-like lifestyle was fairly palpable. I couldn’t really blame the daughter for her curiosity that sparked the pivotal events of the plot. Even if it’s a bit hard to stomach her methods. It felt like fate played its hand to inevitability.

The Hellbender mythos created within this production’s world was interesting. While some aspects of the supernatural within the story were a little strange and disjointed, it felt like I was given a decent understanding of ‘how things work’ without anyone having to monologue about it. Information dropped through organic revelations.
There was a bonus that Hellbender was stacked with some pretty interesting music. I was really digging the groove.
The little disjointed bits aside, I rather enjoyed Hellbender. It was a great example of indie horror and just showed how far it’s possible to take a family passion project. 

Hellbender premiers on Shudder Thursday, February 24th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Movie Trailer: