Saturday, September 17, 2022

Monthly Trust the Dice Stream!

Join us for our monthly movie discussion!

Once a month we go through all the flicks that we're considering for our Top 20. We talk trivia, movie info, and trailers. Throughout the stream, we'll go into how to recognize red and green flags commonly found in the advertising for upcoming films. 

Bring your popcorn and settle in!

(This stream is not for children. It may contain R-rated content and language.)

Watch Now!

(Stream begins at 3pm EST and lasts between 4 and 8 hours. Giveaways happen sporadically.)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Do Revenge (2022)



Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Do Revenge (2022)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 1h 58min
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Likely Story, Netflix
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Writer: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, Celeste Ballard
Actors: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, Talia Ryder, Alisha Boe, Ava Capri, J.D., Paris Berelc, Maia Reficco, Sophie Turner, Rachel Matthews, Eliza Bennett
 
Blurb from IMDb: Drea and Eleanor agree to go after one another's bullies.
 

Selina’s Point of View:
It’s been a long time since I’ve so thoroughly had the rug pulled out from beneath my feet.
 
By an hour into Do Revenge, I had it pegged. The characters were shallow, and the plot was a regurgitation of about a thousand flicks that came before. It was cute, but hardly original. I’d say it was heading for a 3 out 5 rating for me. Then the predictable conflict started between the main characters at just over an hour in. It was a cringe-fest. In fact, I had trouble watching it. I had to pause to prepare myself for the hot mess.
 
That feeling didn’t last long, though, because a twist followed close after that flipped everything on its head. From there, I’m pretty sure I got sucked into the Twilight Zone.
 
A good ending doesn’t always elevate a movie. In this case, however, it worked extremely well.
 
Normally, I take the day before our Trust the Dice monthly stream off. I spend it finishing up all my research and organizing the films we’ll be discussing. It’s a stream that lasts anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, so there’s a lot of work that comes before it. Cat was unable to post today, though, so I found myself having to split my attention.
 

During the last half-hour of Do Revenge nothing short of nuclear war would have torn my gaze away from the screen. I’m now behind in my work and I’m not mad at it.
 
What was on the road to being a basic teen revenge comedy turned into something stunning to behold.
 
Camilla Mendes (Riverdale, Palm Springs, Dangerous Lies) and Maya Hawke (Stranger Things, Little Women, Mainstream) were amazing in their roles, but the real MVPs were the writers: Celeste Ballard (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Sweet/Vicious, Never Seen It) and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Thor: Love and Thunder, Unpregnant, Someone Great).
 
The foreshadowing was there, but so subtle that none of it clicked until the last possible moment. They turned a lump of copy-and-pasted clay into something on par with cult classics like Heathers (1988). Phenomenal work. I really never saw it coming.
 
Don’t judge Do Revenge by its title. It’s a true work of art.
 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 67%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –6.7/10
 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
 
P.S. Some scenes during the credits.
 
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Black Phone (2022)



Streaming Service: Peacock
Movie Name/Year: The Black Phone (2022)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 1h 43min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Crooked Highway, Universal Pictures, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, B&H Film Distribution, Cinemundo, Tulip Entertainment, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Joe Hill, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Actors: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Tristan Pravong, Jacob Moran, Brady Hepner, Banks Repeta
 
Blurb from IMDb: After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer's previous victims.
 

Selina’s Point of View:
Ethan Hawke’s (Before Sunrise, Boyhood, The Northman) decision to start taking on villain roles may very well be the smartest decision I’ve ever seen anyone make for their career.
 
Now, that’s not saying anything bad about the rest of his career. His movies have overwhelmingly high ratings. Even the ones disliked by critics tend to do decently with audiences. One could argue, and I often do, that audience ratings are the ones that matter most anyway. The thing is, he’s done it all by now – except villainy.
 
Branching out was a respectable move. When I saw him in Moon Knight (2022-), I thought he played the antagonist well, but I was still a little curious about how he would do the kind of obvious villain that he plays in The Black Phone. Being the antagonist is still kind of new for him.
 
All it took was one scene, and I knew to expect something incredible.
 
The villain in The Black Phone, played by Hawke, is the creepiest villain I’ve ever seen. He utilizes his voice and mannerisms in a way that portrays The Grabber as almost otherworldly. Even with the supernatural elements in the film, though, the antagonist comes across as human – just completely untouchable.
 

I want so much more of this kind of thing.
 
The story is based on a book by Joe Hill (Horns, NOS4A2, Locke & Key), and the more of his stuff I come across the more I find that I generally prefer his stories to his father’s. I know that’s a bit of a hot take, but Hill can write a wonderful ending. That’s a known weak spot of Stephen King’s (The Stand, It, Carrie).
 
Everything about The Black Phone was what I needed it to be. Even with a few conversations in the beginning feeling a little manufactured. The rest of it was so spectacular that I wouldn’t have remembered my issues from the beginning if I hadn’t made note of them. I got actual goosebumps at times. It’s score on Rotten Tomatoes, for both critics and audiences, is in the 80s and I think that’s too low.
 
The Black Phone is the kind of flick that I will wind up watching repeatedly until I have it memorized. In fact, I may watch it a second time today, just so I can see it again without having to take notes.
 
If you haven’t seen The Black Phone yet, it’s streaming exclusively on Peacock.
 

Cat’s Point of View:
The movies this week, so far, have been doing their best to stomp on all of my “mom feels.” They’ve given me the tingles in the small hairs at the base of my neck and the sick feeling of dread in my gut as my instincts scream at me about what’s happening on-screen. To say that The Black Phone was a creepily successful horror movie feels like a huge understatement.
 
I’m not sure that it would be any surprise, however, given that this was an adaptation of a short story of the same title, penned by Joe Hill. I could tout his horror pedigree, but setting genetics and the like aside, he is gifted in his own right. When paired with writer and director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil), who is said to have used this film to evoke the environment of fear that plagued his own childhood, magical things happen. It was terrifying and suspense-inducing, but magical all the same.
 
The blend of very real elements such as The Grabber, the titular Black Phone, and supernatural elements created a viscerally horrifying experience.
 

Part of that success also must be attributed to the cast. Everyone involved did a great job with their roles, though the primary trio portraying Finney, Gwen, and The Grabber really shone. Mason Thames (For All Mankind, Evel, Walker) and Madeleine McGraw (Toy Story 4, The Mandela Effect, Secrets of Sulphur Springs) had great chemistry together as siblings. They brought the audience along with them on the painful ride of their day-to-day trauma.
 
It’s been said that Ethan Hawke doesn’t particularly enjoy being in horror movies or playing villains. The Black Phone, of course, finds him doing exactly that. He was the perfect man behind the mask here. His body language and tone sold the set of revolving creepy face-coverings so well, that I could almost envision the mask’s mouths moving when he spoke. (Of course, it didn’t.)
 
Speaking of The Grabber’s masks with the varying emotions featured on them; they were designed by none other than master practical effects artist Tom Savini (Machete Kills, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, NOS4A2). He delivered those chilling faces straight from his imagination to my nightmares.
 
The Black Phone effortlessly captured and brought to life the fear behind parental and teacher warnings for kids to not talk to strangers, especially ones with vans. I thoroughly enjoyed this tense and terrifying experience of that nightmare and wouldn’t hesitate to inflict it on others via recommendation.
 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 82%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 65%
Metacritic User Score – 7.0
IMDB Score –7.0/10
 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
 
Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 12, 2022

Speak No Evil (2022)



Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Speak No Evil (2022)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length: 1h 37min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Profile Pictures, OAK Motion Pictures, Danish Film Institute, FilmFyn, Netherlands Film Production Incentive, TrustNordisk, Night Edge Pictures, September Film, ADS Service, Estinfilm, Europos Kinas JSC, Koch Films, Lev Cinemas, Nordisk Film Distribution, Shudder, Sidus Fnh, The Reset Collective
Director: Christian Tafdrup
Writer: Christian Tafdrup, Mads Tafdrup
Actors: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van HuĂȘt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg, Marius Damslev, Hichem Yacoubi
 
Blurb from IMDb: A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on a holiday. What was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unraveling as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of unpleasantness.
 

Selina’s Point of View:
This is the exact kind of movie that I hate to watch.
 
Speak No Evil has a decent premise, and the ending is bleak and disturbing. On its own, that would be fine. I have enjoyed quite a few bleak endings in my time and, in many circumstances, prefer it. I usually find it more realistic than everything coming up rainbows and sunshine. Maybe that’s my New York cynicism showing, but it tends to be the way I lean.
 
The problem is that it takes an entire hour for Speak No Evil to move from drama to horror.
 
I cannot even fully explain how much effort it took to keep my concentration throughout the whole thing.
 

I don’t know what the creators were thinking. They overlaid some tense music on top of uncomfortable, but totally mundane, scenes and decided that would build the thrills necessary to get the audience to the payoff. It didn’t work for me. If anything, it felt cringy.
 
Audiences need more from a horror than what Speak No Evil gave. Especially with a climax as disturbing and horrific as this one. The rest of the film needs to have the foreshadowing and creepiness that prepares people. The way this flick goes, the ending seems like it should be from a completely different movie.
 
Critics are loving Speak No Evil. I think audience scores are going to reflect a different perspective. Once the hype clears, there’ll be nothing left to carry this one forward.
 
Of course, you can always see for yourself. Speak No Evil premieres on Shudder, September 15.
 

Cat’s Point of View:
The credits for Speak No Evil have concluded, and I’ve found myself staring at the screen while fumbling for words to process what I’ve just watched. Disturbing, shocking, and horrific would be the top 3 words that come to mind.
 
While I scramble to mush my shattered pieces together again, I should note that while Speak No Evil is listed as unrated, it should be considered a hard R-rating. There are child actors within the production, but this was definitely not a kid-friendly movie.
 

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I gave Speak No Evil enough credit while I was considering the films to list in September’s Top 20 list. I was moderately confused by the trailer we’d watched during the stream, and so it was generally edged out of contention by the volume of good material hitting screens this month. The second iteration of the trailer made a little more sense and set up the horrific and jarring events a bit better, though danced dangerously close to spoilers.
 
Speak No Evil had one of the most hard-to-watch endings that I’ve seen in a long while. Pair that with a simple, but haunting motive for the antagonists and you have the recipe for a very successful horror movie.
 
Fans of psychological horror would get a lot of mileage out of Speak No Evil.
 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 80%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –6.9/10
 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5
 
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
 
Movie Trailer: