Friday, February 17, 2023

Unlocked (2023)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Unlocked (2023)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Length: 1h 57min
Rating: 16+
Production/Distribution: Studio N, Netflix
Director: Tae-joon Kim
Writer: Akira Shiga
Actors: Si-wan Yim, Woo-hee Chun, Kim Hee-won, Park Ho-san, Jeon Jin-oh, Kim Ye-Won
Blurb from IMDb: A woman's life is turned upside-down when a dangerous man gets a hold of her lost cell phone and uses it to track her every move.

Selina’s Point of View:
Horror/thriller movies still attempt to travel back in time when phones weren’t so common, and technology still had us disconnected. It’s the easy road to take. Dropped phones and remote cabins with no service are getting tired and old. We are not in the 80s anymore. We all have a phone in our pocket and most of us have a computer on our lap, too. There are cameras everywhere, and even those remote cabins tend to get service these days.
That doesn’t make us immune to scary situations. In fact, life is even more frightening these days.
Doomscrolling, phishing, hackers… these things can be the catalyst for a significantly terrifying tale – and they’re underused in cinema. I’d watch the hell out of a psychological thriller based around doomscrolling.
Unlocked touches on the terror of ALWAYS being connected in a way that has been done before, but not as successfully. What makes it scarier is that it’s mostly plausible. Although the plot can get a touch convoluted at times, the motive draws it together with so much chaos that everything feels neater. It’s a little hard to explain, but if they’d gone with a more involved motive, it would have made things feel a little unbelievable.

Woo-hee Chun (Beotigo, A Little Princess, The Anchor) tied every terrifying moment together. Her character’s obliviousness in the face of danger made it feel like anyone could be in her shoes. While Si-wan Yim (Road to Boston, Run On, Hell is Other People) seemed so normal that it raised the hair on the back of my neck, knowing what his character was doing when he wasn’t playing a part.
I only have two complaints.
Despite being advertised as a mystery, there’s no real ‘who dun it’ involved. The story follows the victim, the antagonist, and the cops the whole way through. I do wish that it hadn’t followed the antagonist so closely. It would have made some of the reveals much more effective.
There was also some distractingly obvious product placement.
As a general rule, I’m not worried about product placement. If a beer bottle is prominently displayed, it doesn’t bother me. That said, there was more than just the occasional bottle on screen. This was flat-out Superman II (1980) level product placement. It was a bit out of place.
Still, I enjoyed Unlocked. I was never bored, and the ending was extremely tense.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –7.0/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 13, 2023

Skinamarink (2023)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Skinamarink (2023)
Genre: Horror
Length:  1h 40min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: ERO Picture Company, IFC Midnight, Shudder, BayView Entertainment
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Writer: Kyle Edward Ball
Actors: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
IMDb Blurb: Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.
Cat’s Point of View:
I’d been on the fence about watching Skinamarink from the outset. When we viewed the trailer during our stream prior to February’s Top 20 list, there were red flags and it didn’t really tell us much about the film. 

I understand why now. There wasn’t much to show or tell beyond what did appear in the cryptic trailer. There wasn’t much to the movie, itself. 

I am feeling frustrated with myself because I don’t like tearing down things. Offering negative feedback without any positive feels almost like bullying to me and I abhor that. I am finding it rather difficult at the moment to contribute something positive regarding Skinamarink

Skinamarink came across to me as some sort of experimental art-house horror film. Between the odd camera angles, the intentionally grainy and gritty aspect to the visuals, and the lack of a background score it felt like it was trying too hard to offer something different as ‘elevated’ but missed the mark. 

I’ll be honest that my energy reserves have been rather depleted because I’m in the middle of Mardi Gras and it’s a really busy time of year for me. Long stretches of silence, darkness, and nearly nothing happening on screen simply put me to sleep. I literally had to watch Skinamarink more than once - and on the second watch-through, I had to rewind many sections of the screener because I kept nodding off. 
There were some really creepy elements to Skinamarink. The fact that whatever was happening was affecting children amped up the unsettling factor. I get that the ‘bad things’ were happening off-screen to allow audiences to use their imaginations to add to the horror. The movie on the whole just fell short due to the overall oddness and sparseness. There’s very little dialogue, and what was said was often in whispers or faint murmurings in the background.  

Had there been more of a story front-and-center and more of a traditional treatment to it (i.e. seeing actors full bodies and things happening on-screen rather than off in the darkness) it might have held my attention better. Skinamarink was not ADHD-friendly in that way. 

Unfortunately, I can’t think of anyone that I’d want to recommend Skinamarink to - unless they were having trouble sleeping, considering this was effectively a cinematic sleep aid. 

If you’d like to give it a shot and form your own opinion, however, Skinamarink is available on Shudder. 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 44%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.1/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – PG-13
Movie Trailer: