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Insidious – The Last Key

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“Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home.”

Before I go into reviewing this movie, I have to inform my readers about ‘Dump Months’. This is when studios put out their worst movies and predicted bombs, figuring that critics and movie goers alike will not go to theaters to see them. These months are typically January, February and August. For the most part, terrible horror movies are released during January and February to draw in the teenage crowd just trying to get a scare after the holidays. You can tell what direction I’m going in here.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Insidious movies both directed by horror mastermind James Wan, who also directed films such as SawThe Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. Wan passing the torch on this franchise was very apparent with the change in tone in the 3rd and 4th installments. The Last Key is a far cry from its predecessors.

Let’s start with the scares. WHAT SCARES??? This movie did a great job of showing all the jump scares in the trailers. I knew when and where to expect them, and even if I didn’t see the trailers, the pause in sound and negative space was a dead giveaway. The antagonist was the corniest of all four movies. He is the weakest part of the story and I knew he would be when I saw he had keys for fingertips….keys for fingertips. Let that stupid idea sink in.

The dialogue and acting in the film was forced and disjointed. Characters weren’t meshing well and the conversations were like seeing an unavoidable train wreck. It was weird that Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell (the only 3 reoccurring actors in the series) had the most awkward interactions and a lot of misses in the humor department.

Strangely enough this film cost more to make than the first two installments combined, yet is the worst looking. The effects and make-up are mediocre at best and I’ll mention it again…keys for freakin’ fingertips.

Overall Grade: D-

James Wan does an amazing job of surprising you with terrifying scenery, dreadful tension, and genuinely creepy characters.  Everything this film lacks and desperately needs. If they decide to continue riding the cash cow of this series, they can count me out on spending my money on this trash.  Keys for fingertips…mother of God!


Insidious – The Last Key
Horror
January 2018
Director: Adam Robitel
Blumhouse Productions, Stage 6 Films
IMDB

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Daniel Ortiz Rants on: The Nun

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A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

Before I get into this review, lets talk briefly about The Conjuring cinematic universe. Now, the first Conjuring, I didn’t find it scary, but I did find it very entertaining. The second Conjuring I found to be pretty creepy. Both of these movies were directed by James Wan who also directed Insidious 1 & 2. When it comes to horror, some of his stories have continuity problems, and plot conveniences, but the man really knows how to utilize creepiness and maintain real and unexpected jump scares. It gets you invested in the movie based on fear alone. He’s so good at it, he was able to spawn spinoff films, first with the Annabelle series and now with The Nun.

The problem is that he doesn’t lend his directorial skills to these extended films, and well…they end up falling flat. I will give credit to Annabelle 2: Uprising (as I like to call it). It was better than the first one, but it was definitely no masterpiece.

Now with that brief history of the CCU (as I like to call it) out of the way, lets keep the critique of The Nun short and sweet. It was doo doo.

At the very least I assumed that the film would touch on some things that would play against my faith, but this felt like a story that even Catholics would say, “Dude, you guys have some great imaginations!” It felt entirely too tame, extremely predictable and the story was way too outlandish.

The characters were boring, bland and unforgettable. The demon nun was even boring and lacked a coherent or credible background story. It made me realize that you can take the same character, and one Director make magic it while the other makes smoke and mirrors.

Lets keep the critique of The Nun short and sweet. It was doo doo.

The jump-scares were literally stand-scares. I predicted every single moment that was supposed to be a, “catch you off guard” scare scene, and found myself highly annoyed by the trope of following an ambiguous figure pacing vigorously away from the main protagonists while the protagonist chased them down some dark corridor or smoky forest.

As usual, they try to tie this back to the original Conjuring movie, but it was weak, and you barely remember the original scene in the first place.

Overall Grade: D

It wasn’t good. That’s the end all of it. I would suggest staying home and re-watching The Conjuring 1 & 2. You will get much more out of watching these films. I would also suggest leaving these cinematic universes to Marvel and D.C……just Marvel.


The Nun
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
September 2018
Director: Corin Hardy
New Line Cinema
1 hour 36 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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Review: Blackkklansman

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“Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch.”

1534992123915Spike Lee’s work has always taken a unique look at the black perspective in America. His earlier works were filled with social commentary that tended to put a magnifying glass on the racial turmoil and bleakness of the black experience. He found a way to make humor out of every day circumstances, then blend it seamlessly with an overall message of human nature within race relations whether good or very bad.

Unfortunately, his later works have suffered a lack of that perfect blend.  They often shift tones so rapidly, his audience can’t comprehend what type of emotion to investment in. I feel that this film suffers from that extreme tone shift.

Not only does the story lack a certain cohesion, there wasn’t any true sense of danger the audience could feel the protagonists were in. The interpretation of the Klansmen was so inept, they failed to do simple things like search a new recruit for a wire or do a thorough background check. Now, I never want to give any credit to the KKK, but one would think a criminal organization such as this one would take the necessary measures to make sure their prospects were legit.

The acting was somewhat decent, but often the levels of racism seemed cartoonish and more ignorant than threatening. Even the character of Ron Stallworth came off as a 90’s black comedian impersonating a white man (even when he wasn’t on the phone). I don’t blame this on the actors but more on the direction.

The racism seemed cartoonish and more ignorant than threatening.

Spike Lee also added commentary in the middle and after the movie that was loosely related to the overall story and once again switch emotional tones between funny moments and brutal stories of racial tensions in America. The soundtrack also seemed to be off. Serious moments weren’t reflected in what we heard and this is integral to creating urgency within the viewer.

Overall Grade: C

Even with my harsh rant, I don’t think its a bad watch. I actually encourage folks to go see this movie for the historical relevance. I just think that the constant shift in tone, sound and emotions muddy down what would otherwise be considered a pretty bad-ass story.

Blackkklansman
Biography, Comedy, Crime
August 2018
Director: Spike Lee
Legendary Entertainment/Blumhouse
2 hour 15 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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‘Sorry to Bother You’ Just Might

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It’s impossible to review Boots Riley’s directorial debut Sorry to Bother You without giving too much away. Before I spoil the surprises, let me say there is much to like about this surrealist dark comedy even as the film tries to toss you from the roller-coaster at regular intervals.

Cassius Green, the young African-American telemarketer played by Lakeith Stanfield, learns that faking a white voice on the phone is the only way to make money when cold calling. David Cross supplies the overdubbed white voice.

The thought of unionizing with his underpaid co-workers is thrown out the window when Cassius is promoted to Power Caller. Power Callers sell a whole different product – a work/life opportunity called WorryFree that is ostensibly slave labor. This doesn’t sit well with his unionizing friends, nor his artist/activist girlfriend Detroit, played by the impure-thought-inducing Tessa Thompson. Cassius has a choice to make that becomes clearer as the plot dives into absolute absurdity.

Nothing may prepare you for the half-horse half-human workhorses that show up in the third act.

Nothing may prepare you for the half-horse half-human workhorses that show up in the third act. Their B-movie bodies (replete with certain horse-like appendages) steal any bit of nuance from the story.

Armie Hammer plays Steve Lift, CEO of WorryFree, with a keen interest in leveraging Cassius as a “Martin Luther King type” workhorse he can control from the inside. Yes, there’s something to offend anyone that doesn’t know how to digest satire – from Detroit’s Murder Murder Murder earrings, to one dimensional white villains, an orgy scene, a two worded rap, and more horse peen than you can shake a stick at.

Yet it somehow works, at least for me. Reminds me of a time in the late eighties to mid-nineties when movies could be looser, made on the cheap, and weren’t expected to gross a hundred million dollars to be successful. Sorry to Bother You cost a little over three million and has made about fifteen as of this writing.

I’m not saying Boots Riley’s debut is comparable to, say, Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, but it does set the stage for his Do The Right Thing.

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