Friday, October 14, 2016

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Directed by: Don Mancini
Starring: Chantal Quesnelle, Fiona Dourif, Jordan Gavaris

The Movie:
Twenty-five years later, the infamous killer doll returns to seek revenge as well as to terrorize new victims. This story begins when the wheelchair-bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) accepts a package in the mail. Inside the package is a friend 'til the end.

This straight-to-DVD sequel is unlike the former two, it's actually pretty decent. The producers decide to bring back Chucky, and even release a little sinister history to keep the franchise fresh.

It all began twenty-five years ago, leading to the death of the "Lakeshore Strangler" and the reborn of Chucky. The "lakeshore strangler" falls in love with the then pregnant Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle). After the sudden death of her husband, Sarah goes into a depressed state, and insists on not seeing Chucky anymore. Now Sarah is still depressed and living with her wheelchair bound daughter Nica (Fiona Dourif) in a large, isolated house, when a package addressed to Sarah gets delivered. Inside the package, a Good Guys doll introduces himself as "Chucky". The event that night concluded in Sarah's untimely death. Nica's sister Barbara (Danielle Bisutti), her husband Ian ( Brennan Elliott ), their daughter Alice ( Summer H. Howell ), and their live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) all come to the house for their mother's funeral. When more people start showing up dead, Nica begins to realize the Good Guys doll isn't so good.

When I first went into this movie, I had the thought that it was going to be a total reboot of Child's Play which would've been disappointing. I'm glad to discover it was a sequel, and after all these years I think it was a job well done. Many scenes are effective with inbuilt tension and jump scares, notably the shower encounter and dinner gathering. With lingering camera movements and interesting angles, Mancini also leaves plenty to the imagination as some of the set ups take place off screen, that said there are lots of effects, blood and gore on display - decapitation, an electrocution, an empty eyeball socket and an axe attack to name a few.

I noticed they made the voice of Chucky more sparse this time around, I was expecting the foul mouthed one liners he was given in the Child's Play trilogy. That doesn't neglect my current feelings for this movie though, it was still superb acting and under great direction. The story leaves plenty of holes to be filled in with yet another sequel, which I will anxiously await. I definitely recommend this movie. And when you watch it, don't stop it as soon as the credits start rolling - stick around for the additional scene afterward.

Speaking of the after credits scene, my confusion was with the footage of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). She was killed, in the Bride of Chucky if I'm not mistaken, in the bathtub, shortly after transferring her soul into the Tiffany doll. So how could she still be alive at the end of this one? If anyone could clarify this bit for me, I'd appreciate it, drop a line in the comments.

RATING: 6/10

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Child's Play (1988)

Directed by: Tom Holland
Starring: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif

The Movie: 
For Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) the only thing he wanted for his 8th birthday is a Good Guys doll. To much of everyone's surprise, the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer. One of the doll's many phrases is "we're be friends until the end" which for most, is only a matter of words but for Chucky it's a promise.

My Review:
There's nothing better than some good 80s horror this time of the year.  Popularity of this movie has been shown throughout the years with the many sequels that spawned from it, but nothing will ever be as good as this one.

When the the "Lakeshore Strangler" gets shot by police detective Mike Norris, Charles Lee Ray aka "Chucky" hides out in a toy store after his accomplice escapes without him, he vows to get revenge against his said accomplice and the police detective in his afterlife. Believing in voodoo, he transfers his soul to a Good Guys doll before burning down the store. A couple weeks later, little boy Andy (Alex Vincent) is turning eight years old and has his hopes up for a Good Guys doll. Unfortunately, his mother (Catherine Hicks) can't afford to pay the retail price for the doll but thanks to a friend and co-worker, she manages to get one from a street peddler in a back alley. Come to find out, this doll was found at a old burned out toy store... That's where the story begins, and we see Andy and "Chucky" start an adventure together - friends to the end. Andy is quickly manipulated into skipping school and going downtown to hunt down Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoli), Chucky's former accomplice and visiting the voodoo "Dr Death" (Raymond Oliver) to find out exactly how to get out of the doll's body before he's trapped forever.

It's a movie that's not made to act serious, just a voodoo story to entertain and terrorize it's audience. A job it's done very well for decades. It's scary, but the gore factor is slim to none and does not include any cheap scares that you can find in more recent horror franchises.

Favorite quote: "Hi, I'm Chucky and I'll be your friend 'til the end!"

RATING: 8/10

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Tie That Binds (1995)

Directed by: Wesley Strick
Starring: Daryl Hannah, Keith Carradine, Moira Kelly

The Movie:
John (Keith Carradine) and Leann (Daryl Hannah) Netherwood are fugitives who break into homes, steal whatever they need, take pictures of the tortured owners and flee. Their daughter, Janie (Julia Devin) usually stays in the car when her parents are robbing a home. One job goes horribly wrong when the police show up, placing young Janie into an orphanage while her parents get away. Janie is soon adopted by southern California carpenter Russell Clifton (Vincent Spano) and his wife Dana (Moira Kelly). What they don't know is that they're in for the fight of their lives as John and Leann will do whatever it takes to get their daughter back.

Not the greatest thriller out there, but the direction and performances by the characters showed some potential. The beginning lagged quite a bit, but it seemed to get better as it went along. The story of a young girl adapting to her new parents all while her natural parents were on a deadly pursuit to find their child. .As John and Leann were tracking down their leads to the unsuspecting adopted parents, the suspense in the story started getting more tense. You see a bit of irony in Leann's eyes, as she constantly pulls out a picture of a mother and daughter, like she's out to just protect her offspring. From John's viewpoint, it appears he is looking for a piece of property (slavery?) he once lost.

Ending this review a bit short, like the movie, I feel I don't know what else to say about it  It's a familiar story with a very predictable ending, a bit overexerted but I feel it's worth the dollar I paid for it.

RATING: 5/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman

The Movie:
 Set in a medieval village, the young beautiful Valarie (Amanda Seyfried) falls in love with a woodcutter, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) all while her parents have already arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Not wanting to be apart any longer, Valerie and Peter decide to run away until her sister ended up killed by a werewolf that haunts the town. For years prior, the town has sacrificed a animal whenever the wolf comes around. Until one red moon night, when the werewolf decides to take a human life. The town is now frantic and decides to call upon a famous werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. Soloman brings some bad news that warns the people that the wolf takes the form of a human by day, and can be any one of them. Valarie quickly suspects the werewolf to be someone she loves, but has she starts to panic the townspeople turn on her declaring she is a witch because she did something none of them have ever done: speaks to the wolf.

Twilight director, Catherine Hartwicke brings us a folk tale adaptation. The idea was good, but the way it was portrayed was horrible. There's something about movies like this that make me cringe for thinking there's no value in film anymore, a story that's supposed to be about a little girl walking through the forest to grandma's house only to find a big bad wolf has taken her place has been transformed into another love triangle. I couldn't help but think to my self whether I have  already seen this movie, even though I know it was the first viewing. It became obvious to me that this movie was put out to attract Twilight fans with this plot.

Casting Amanda Seyfried as "Red" (err, Valerie?) was an interesting choice, considering the last movie I remember seeing her in was Jennifer's Body where fortunately her good looks distracted us from her bad acting ability. And why Valerie? What was so wrong with keeping the original fairy tale alive and naming her Red?  Overall, Seyfried was the right choice. To be fair, given the cheesy dialogue and Hardwicke's uninspired direction you couldn't expect anyone else to do a better job.

This movie had it's fair share of bad CGI, especially the werewolf scenes. For a PG-13 rated film, you can't expect any hardcore action or gore and Red Riding Hood was no exception.

Bottom line, Red Riding Hood is a campy popcorn flick and is worth a dollar rental if you are hard pressed for something to watch.

RATING: 6/10

Monday, October 10, 2016

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Directed by: Peter Hyams
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, and Michael Douglas

The Movie:
A District Attorney, Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas), who tampers with evidence to secure his convictions, decides to run for governor. But when an ambitious journalist, C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) begins to investigate him. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the corrupt D.A. in the act.

This movie has many problems, starting with the idea of someone practically murdering someone, turning himself in, and getting acquitted of all charges. A big blooper would have to be at the beginning when the police report showed the murderer was bitten by a small dog and yet C.J. didn't have any bites except the one from the small dog he adopted to bite him, to reenact the crime. Did he get bit when he first killed the woman, or was that just a rumor? 

The most bizarre scene was when C.J's  reporter friend Finley (Joel David Moore) was running around for the DVD that had the proof that C.J. was innocent. First, there was no need for all the running around. C.J. could have just handed his attorney an envelope that says not to open it until the trial. Second, what would that DVD prove anyways? Hunter already pointed out he could've bought a second pair of pants and shoes after the crime was committed. It was obvious at this point, C.J. wasn't going to be charged with the murder due to improper evidence to hold him, as long as Hunter was finally caught for tampering with evidence. 

As for Finley's death, it should never have happened... If he didn't panic at the intersection, he would've had time to pull out before that bus passed. Also you can't say no one on that bus (driver, passengers) or anyone between the bank and the scene of the accident saw anything -- that would've been enough to lock up that detective for manslaughter.

Also, the detective trying to kill Ella (a district attorney who works with Hunter and is in a relationship with C.J.) with his car, when she was snooping around to prove his 'innoncence'. I realize he wanted to scare her before killing her but all he had to do was pull out his gun, shoot her and drive off, I'm sure one gun shot would be quieter than the tires squealing. 

So, the end of the movie... Ella managed to prove C.J's innocence but realized she made a mistake when taking another look at the coverage of the young, pregnant prostitute from Buffalo NY that C.J. used and claimed was deceased was the woman killed. Putting two and two together, she did what she had to do...

Bottom line, the movie was had more than it's share of flaws and confusing moments, but in the end you have to realize it's just a movie! For a mystery to make one think and debate, it was definitely successful but as a movie it still needs some work. 

RATING: 6/10