Friday, June 17, 2022

Scream (2022)

Streaming Service: Paramount +
Movie Name/Year: Scream (2022)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 1h 54min
Rating: R
Production/DistributionB&H Film Distribution, Constantin-Film, Forum Hungary, Lantern Entertainment, NOS Audiovisuais, Odeon, Outerbanks Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures Australia, Paramount Pictures Germany, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Pictures UK, Project X Entertainment, Radio Silence Productions, Spyglass Media Group, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International, Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, Kevin Williamson
Actors: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Sonia Ammar, Marley Shelton, Skeet Ulrich
Blurb from IMDb: 25 years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, Calif., a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town's deadly past.

Selina’s Point of View:
Scream was much more in the vein of the original film than any of the other sequels were.
The sequels always took that meta-ness and tried to turn it into something it wasn’t. As a result, they never quite captured that first feeling. Instead, the majority of them wound up feeling kind of pointless. In Scream, however, we find the tropes being made fun of are more up to date and manage to be a bit subverted.
Through use of music and our own expectations, the film really plays with suspense. It never tries to lure us into a false sense of security, though. I’m guessing that’s because the creative team knows better. They know exactly who we’re going to expect and turn that around on us.

When I found out the Scream “requel” would be directed by Tyler Gillet (V/H/S, Devil’s Due, Southbound) and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S, Devil’s Due, Southbound), I had high hopes. Their work on Ready or Not more than impressed me and I was absolutely ready for their next project. I’m glad to say they lived up to my expectations.
I enjoyed Scream in all its corny, remade, sequel-y, goodness. I think it’s going to be a hard movie for any further from the series to follow.
Scream 6 comes out in 2023, supposedly. That I’m a little nervous about.

Cat’s Point of View:
With this 4th sequel to the original Scream, I was initially leery – for more than just the fact that they recycled the original movie title without the number to indicate it’s the 5th movie. Then, after doing some digging, I learned that the core cast of the original would be involved and the writing and directing were in capable hands, I began to have more hope.
The new Scream delivered. The story leaned into all the best aspects that have made this franchise a game-changer for horror. Its self-awareness and self-deprecation in the humor and story were huge selling points. I mean, seriously, this series of films has invented a fictional franchise of Stab movies to echo the happenings. Where else could you find something crazy like that?
Another aspect that I really enjoyed in this new installment was the fact that they embraced modern technology. From the alarm system app to clips of YouTube streamers reviewing the Stab movies – Scream was keeping up with the times. Usually, productions conveniently write out the tech in some way. There’s so much more that this Scream incorporates into the landscape of this film, but I don’t want to spoil all the details for you.
I think directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, as well as writers James Vanderbilt (White House Down, Independence Day: Resurgence, Murder Mystery) and Guy Busick (Stan Against Evil, Ready or Not, Castle Rock), really did an excellent job here of creating an intelligent movie that was both a love letter to the horror genre and to the franchise’s creator, the late great Wes Craven (1939–2015). In addition to the dedication at the end of Scream, there were also character names and locations that gave callbacks to his work. (There were so many other little horror-trivia-related Easter Eggs everywhere. It was unreal.)

If you love this series, the good news is that there is a Scream 6 currently in the works. Unfortunately, I now have mixed feelings about the next movie, considering Neve Campbell (House of Cards, Skyscraper, The Lincoln Lawyer) went on record with Deadline earlier in June to state she turned down the offer to reprise her role again.
It was great, however, to see Campbell, Courteney Cox (Cougar Town, Mothers and Daughters, Shining Vale), and David Arquette (Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, Ghosts of the Ozarks, Quantum Cowboys) sharing the screen again and getting into the mix. There was speculation that the new friend-group cast, coupled with the returning cast, presented a torch-passing moment for the franchise. I think that might plausibly work, even with Campbell’s exit after this 5th installment. I remain hopeful. 
On-screen sisters Jenna Ortega (Yes Day, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, American Carnage) and Melissa Barrera (Vida, In the Heights, All the World is Sleeping) gave commanding performances and their friend-group was cast so well that I got an eerie deja vu calling back to the first Scream. (This was likely quite purposeful.)
If you love the Scream movies, then definitely watch this new one as soon as you can. This was my second watch-through, having seen it as soon as it hit digital rentals a few months ago. I would gladly watch it again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 81%
Metascore – 60%
Metacritic User Score – 7.0
IMDB Score – 6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 5/5
Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Interceptor (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Interceptor (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: 1h 36min
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Ambience Entertainment, Foryor Entertainment, Netflix
Director: Matthew Reilly
Writers: Stuart Beattie, Matthew Reilly
Actors: Elsa Pataky, Luke Bracey, Aaron Glenane, Mayen Mehta, Paul Caesar, Belinda Jombwe, Marcus Johnson
IMDb Blurb: One Army captain must use her years of tactical training and military expertise when a simultaneous coordinated attack threatens the remote missile interceptor station she is in command of.

Selina’s Point of View:
Interceptor had a lot of potential, but it kept getting in its own way.
With the feel of a campy 80s action and a semi-fresh plot, Interceptor could have been outstanding. Unfortunately, there were several issues that kept it from meeting expectations.
For one, the acting was questionable. There were a few scenes here or there that worked, but mostly the actors felt wrong. There was one scene where Mayen Mehta (Sweet Tooth, Fresh Eggs, Power Rangers Dino Fury) finally felt like a good fit, and a couple of scenes where Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane, Fast Five, Tidelands) worked. For the most part the performances either went too far – into ridiculousness – or not far enough.

I thought I was going to love Luke Bracey’s (The November Man, The Best of Me, Point Break) take on the villain, but he never quite took it far enough. He never fully embodied Alexander Kessel. Every moment was just a smidge off. With a bit of a tweak to his performance, he could have been on the level of Hans Gruber, but he just never took that last step.
In fact, the best performance was from a cameo. I’d say it’s the strangest, and least expected, cameo I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Eminem come out in The Interview (2014). I don’t want to ruin it, so that’s all I’ll say.
The writing was also not quite where it needed to be. For Matthew Reilly, this was his first full-length feature debut as a writer. So, I’m willing to give a lot of leeway where the script is concerned… and it did show promise. The problem is, I don’t know if that was his talent shining through or help from his more established co-writer, Stuart Beattie (I Frankenstein, 30 Days of Night, Collateral).
Interceptor could have been great, but it wound up feel unfinished. It needed better acting and a better edited script. Might be worth watching for the cameo, though…

Cat’s Point of View:

I had relatively high hopes for Interceptor. The trailer left me with the feeling that it would be a decent popcorn action movie to kick off the summer movie season. I hesitate to use the word ‘blockbuster’ here, even though it hit the #1 spot on Netflix very shortly after release. That was a little surprising, in the wake of watching it; however, I did have Interceptor listed as #8 on my personal Top 20 List for this June.

Elsa Pataky (Furious 7, 12 Strong, Tidelands) and Luke Bracey (The November Man, Hacksaw Ridge, American Dream) were solid draws to this title for me. I enjoyed their characters’ back and forth in the trailer and it appeared as if Interceptor would have banter that would stir pleasant nostalgia for classic action films of yesteryear. 

I’m not exactly sure that Interceptor hit the mark. There was just something missing and a few points that I just wasn’t able to buy-in to what was happening on the screen. It was decent and I didn’t feel I’d wasted my time. I’m just likely not going to remember much about this movie with the passage of time.
There was a cameo that popped up sprinkled throughout Interceptor that had me giggling and, honestly, made the whole thing worth it and fun in spite of its flaws.

This was the feature debut for writer, director Matthew Reilly. The Australian author has plenty of experience with story craft, with well over a dozen novels under his belt. His work has also landed on the bestseller lists on numerous occasions, apparently. I’m unfamiliar with his body of work, personally, but from what I can gather, Interceptor is the sort of story that he tends to lean towards.
In a Variety interview, he explained that his novels have been optioned by Hollywood before, but the budgets required to realize them on-screen have tended to be prohibitive. His desire with Interceptor was to take something in his style and strip it down a bit to something more feasible. It is clear, however, that he has already been working with Netflix on developing a sequel. Considering the streaming performance that surprised even Reilly, it’s likely he’ll have a little more leeway on the 2nd outing to go bigger. I hope so, at least.  (Just a note, the linked article contains spoilers – so read at your own risk if you haven’t watched the movie yet.)
Hopefully, Reilly will have a chance to iron out any kinks that cropped up with Interceptor as he further gets into his directorial stride.
Interceptor wasn’t a bad concept and it was entertaining. I understand why reviews are so mixed about the production, however. If you have some time to kill and this sort of story is your jam, I’d say  Interceptor is worth a shot.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –19%
Metascore – 51%
Metacritic User Score – 3.2/10
IMDB Score – 4.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5

P.S. - There is a brief mid-credits scene. 
Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 13, 2022

Mad God (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Mad God (2022)
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Horror
Length:  1h 23min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Tippett Studio, Shudder
Director: Phil Tippett
Writers: Phil Tippett
Actors: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Harper Taylor, Brynn Taylor
IMDb Blurb: A corroded diving bell descends amidst a ruined city and the Assassin emerges from it to explore a labyrinth of bizarre landscapes inhabited by freakish denizens.

Selina’s Point of View:
Do not go into Mad God thinking it’s a typical horror. Horrors push the limits of fear. Mad God pushes the limits of disgust and the disturbing.
I don’t entirely know what I was expecting. I knew there was not going to be any discernible dialogue, and that it was more of a showcase of visual arts, but I still didn’t fully expect something this experimental. Normally, I don’t do well with that kind of thing, but this was leagues above anything else.
If anything, I’d compare the horrific visuals of Mad God to the feel of a David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crimes of the Future, eXistenZ) film before anything else. Though, there were some that also brought to mind the video game Little Nightmares (2017). Both things are sincere compliments coming from me.

It was a piece of extremely disturbing artwork. I think that’s the best way to describe the experience of watching Mad God. It’s less like sitting down to a basic movie and more like taking a walking tour of a single piece of renaissance artwork depicting hell. “The Harrowing of Hell” by Jacob van Swanenburg comes to mind.
Phil Tippett (Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) showed off his absolutely incredible talent in ways no one else could, and he created a masterpiece.
It’s not the kind of thing that would be for everyone, not even every horror film buff. For people willing to test their limits, however, Mad God is a must-see. 

Cat’s Point of View:
It’s not every day that you hear about an animation genius and pioneer working 30 years on their magnum opus. That very passion project, which had survived a slow churn on the backburner while he worked in his career, now had a scheduled release. This was something that firmly caught our attention.
From the outset, the trailer for Mad God promised a trippy experience through a stop-motion animated landscape of horrors. Phil Tippett (RoboCop, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) seriously outdid himself. This cinematic offering was almost the opposite of what I would have expected from the man behind the visual effects of some of my most beloved movies of all time.
The level of darkness explored within this feature was, frankly, alarming. Part of me was torn between wanting someone to perform a wellness check on Tippett and the realization that Mad God was far more than its shocking surface.
We all have inner demons that manifest in different ways. It’s often the case with creative souls. H. R. Giger had to create his artwork to purge his nightmares. In this case, Tippett was giving us some social commentary. My own curiosity drove me to hunt down whatever information was out there that spoke to the answer for the burning question – where did this come from? I think the HorrorBuzz interview captured a great explanation: he watched the news.

Regardless of its origins, Mad God played out like a hellish fever dream of a brutal and cruel nightmare world. It was a meticulously crafted literal descent into depraved madness. As an animated horror movie, Mad God undeniably represented the genre well. At the same time, I felt like I needed a shower after I finished watching. I also had some really crazy dreams. I digress…
While Mad God was a genre masterpiece, I would be remiss if there weren’t a few disclaimers mentioned.
Any who does not react well to graphic body horror might want to heavily consider their tolerance levels before viewing this production. Honestly, anyone that doesn’t do well with gore might want to give Mad God a pass. I generally stomach these things fairly well and felt myself going a bit green at a few points and experienced a few gagging moments. Mad God is not for the faint of heart or constitution.
While I laud the work, creativity, and craftsmanship poured into this movie, Mad God wouldn’t be my average choice for entertainment. I will likely never watch it again intentionally, however, it will haunt me forever with its layered messages and ghastly visuals. 

Mad God will premiere on Shudder Thursday, June 16th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –None
Metascore – 70%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 7.0/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Movie Trailer: