Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Rating: 7 of 10

movie poster Nocturnal Animals (2016)A dark and depressing story within a story, yet also triumphant and empowering.

Synopsis: “An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.” (source)

My thoughts: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS will resonate most with viewers who:

* have been dumped for the very thing that first attracted their ex (e.g., sensitive, creative, loyal);

* broke up with someone because, whether consciously or subconsciously, they knew it’s what their mother/ father/ family/ society wanted them to do;

* threw away a great partner on a whim, only to years later realize that person was “the one”; or,

* had their heart broken and used their writing to exact revenge.

Be warned: The opening credits will likely cause discomfort. Keep an open mind about what Susan (Amy Adams) is trying to convey with that exhibit. From that point forward I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Tom Ford is an excellent storyteller, and he uses the story-within-a-story frame to tell us everything we need to know and understand about Susan and Edward. I’ll admit, the ending left me…conflicted. On the one hand, I was like “Dammmmmn!” On the other hand, I was like “Awwwww!”

If you’re someone who can see the same situation from different sides, you’ll understand why I was left somewhere in the middle of satisfied and dissatisfied. But, as the credits rolled, I walked out of the theater with a big smile on my face.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like MR NOBODY or MEMENTO.

Check out NOCTURNAL ANIMALS official website and trailer on Focus Features | on IMDb | on Twitter

(Watched at AMC Lennox 12/7/2016)

The Invitation (2015)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster The Invitation (2015)A slow-burn psychological thriller, during which you might predict one, or maybe even two of the twists, but the ending will leave you breathless.

Synopsis: “A haunted man attending a dinner party at the house he once called home becomes gripped with paranoia that his ex-wife and her new husband are harboring an insidious agenda.” (source)

My thoughts: We enter the movie as Will (Logan Marshall-Green) who’s accepted a dinner invitation from his ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard), and her new husband, David (Michiel Huisman). So all of the evening’s events unfold through Will’s eyes, and that’s the key to THE INVITATION’s brilliance!

Right away we can feel the tension in the room; Will may be at the dinner but he certainly doesn’t want to be, and even the hosts don’t seem all that happy that he accepted the invitation. We’re on edge almost as soon as Will walks in the door: what exactly happened between Will and Eden? Why did they get divorced? And, if the divorce was as contentious as it appears, why was Will invited? Then we watch, from the edge of our seats, as a group of people so programmed to be polite, actively ignore their sense that something’s off.

Will’s the only person who asks the questions we, the audience, are thinking, and he’s constantly told to calm down.
Until the very end, we’re never sure if what our gut is telling us is actually Will’s reality, or just his paranoia.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like CREEP or SOUND OF MY VOICE.

Check out THE INVITATION official website and trailer | on Gamechanger Films | on IMDb | on Facebook

(Watched on Netflix 9/7/2016)

The Keeping Room (2014)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster The Keeping Room (2014)A gut-wrenching feminist Western. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of life for women during the Civil War, nor should it, so prepare yourself.

Synopsis: “In this radically reimagined American Western set towards the end of the Civil War, Southerner Augusta encounters two renegade, drunken soldiers who are on a mission of pillage and violence. After escaping an attempted assault, Augusta races back to the isolated farmhouse that she shares with her sister Louise and their female slave Mad. When the pair of soldiers track Augusta down intent on exacting revenge, the trio of women are forced to take up arms to fend off their assailants, finding ways to resourcefully defend their home––and themselves––as the escalating attacks become more unpredictable and relentless.” (source)

My thoughts: THE KEEPING ROOM tackles subjects fraught with controversy; namely, slavery and rape. Three women are left alone to protect their home while the men are away at war. Of course they have to defend not only property but also their physical safety. What’s more, these women don’t start off as equals.

Augusta is the eldest of the owner’s two daughters, headstrong and determined to succeed even though she’s “just” a woman. Louise, the younger sister, thinks she knows everything but doesn’t realize how much she’s been sheltered from the realities of the world. And Mad, the family’s slave, has seen more and lived through more and is thereby wiser and more prepared for what’s about to arrive at their farm. All three push the boundaries of what and who they’re supposed to be, and all three quickly realize the only way they’ll survive is together.

Each woman was given a time to shine, but Mad’s story, about what happened to her when she was 10 years old, showed how much she’d already survived to now be faced with even more brutality…broke my heart. (And I won’t even mention Bill because grrrr.) I’ll never forget Muna Otaru’s portrayal of Mad — especially that quiet little voice with which she told such a horrific story.

Highly recommended if you appreciated films like THE COLOR PURPLE or BELOVED.

Check out THE KEEPING ROOM on Drafthouse Films | on IMDb | Watch the trailer

(Watched DVD on 2/22/2016)

The Suicide Theory (2014)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster The Suicide Theory (2014)Fate, an inescapable path of predetermined events, is a rather daunting concept. What’s the point of freewill if, no matter our decisions and choices, we’ll always end up in the same place?

Synopsis: “A suicidal man hires a demented killer to assist him in suicide, but he miraculously survives each attempt on his life.” (source)

My thoughts: THE SUICIDE THEORY is dark, disturbing, and heartbreaking. Percival (Leon Cain) wants to die, but no matter what he tries, he just can’t. So he hires Steven (Steve Mouzakis), a sadistic assassin, to kill him. The theory being, if Percival can’t kill himself, someone else may be able to. The strong performances and chemistry between Cain and Mouzakis outshine the pieces of the puzzle that some might see as contrived. In the end, I was thoroughly impressed with this Aussie thriller.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY or PREDESTINATION.

Check out THE SUICIDE THEORY at Freestyle Releasing | on IMDb | Watch the trailer

(Watched on Netflix 9/29/2015)

5 More Must-See Indie Horror Movies

Image girl screaming with hands upA sequel to 7 Must-See Indie Horror Movies, one of my most visited posts, presents five more must-see independent horror movies for all the movie junkies out there.

Okay, technically, a couple of these may not be classified as horror but rather thrillers; they’re worth sharing whatever the genre. Zombies, mind-benders, slashers and the paranormal are all featured below.

Please note: I haven’t watched these movies in their entirety yet, only the trailers.

Continue reading 5 More Must-See Indie Horror Movies

The House of the Devil – Horror Movie Review

The mixture of babysitter slasher and supernatural tossed in with a bit of satanism is nothing a veteran horror fan hasn’t seen before; nonetheless, I enjoyed it. But I’m not gonna lie: I love the 80s. When I watch 80s movies or listen to the music, there’s undeniable nostalgia.

So please consider that whilst reading this “review.”

The House of the Devil (2009) might possibly be in my Top 10 Horror Films of 2009. Trick ‘r Treat (2008) and Zombieland (2009) being number one and number two, respectively.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

The gritty film quality, the score, rotary phones with 20-foot cords, payphones, the cars, the clothes, the hair, the electronics — I actually checked the DVD sleeve to verify it was indeed made in 2009. It could’ve been something from a vault of lost 80s tapes. Did I mention the huge soft spot I have for 80s horror and thrillers?
…continue reading

The Strangers (2008) – Horror Movie Review

I still remember my reaction the first time I saw the trailer for The Strangers (2008): Whoa. No way is that movie going to be as good as the trailer makes it out to be.

The reason I reacted that way has everything to do with the tendency for trailers to show all of the good parts, so you’re left with little to no surprises when you see the film in its entirety.

Welp, I can say with 100% certainty, this film is better than its trailer.

4 stars out of 5

I watched The Strangers, written and directed by Bryan Bertino, the Friday afternoon of its nationwide release at an AMC theater with my sister and brother-in-law, who, by the way, are not horror fans, and I had to beg and plead to get them to go with me. …continue reading