In these dire times for movies, one has to be thankful for the mere existence of Tenet, a big-budget, big-screen experience in the age of direct-to-streaming. Though released well over a month ago, it remains in multiplexes simply due to the lack of any theatrical output to replace it.
Get Duked doesn’t waste any time, laying out its premise in the very first scene: three juvenile delinquent chavs are “volunteered” by their schoolmasters for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an outdoor program meant to build character for wayward youths. The movie immediately shows off its amped-up, in-your-face style, complete with stylized cartoon cutaways scored by fast-forwarded dialogue. It announces Get Duked as a genuinely bold effort if nothing else, though its effect becomes less potent as the movie progresses.
Flight is a movie that peaks during its opening scenes, but what a peak it is. Its first act plane-crash sequence is the movie’s clear peak, an edge-of-your-seat ten minutes that are both breathlessly thrilling and terrifyingly believable.
In the cockpit is Whip Whittaker (Denzel Washington), a seasoned airline pilot with a serious alcohol and drug addiction. Coming off a night of heavy drinking and a morning of cocaine use, Whip’s seemingly routine morning flight from Orlando to Atlanta suffers a severe mechanical error. Through a combination of Zen-like calm and sheer skill, Whip manages to land the plane in a field with only six lives lost. Though hailed as a hero by the media, he’s too busy mourning the death of his flight attendant paramour to bask in the spotlight.
One of #Alive’s most welcome assets is its knowledge that its audience has seen plenty of zombie movies, and thus doesn’t spend any more time than necessary before things go haywire. The movie hits the ground running, only lasting a few minutes before the inevitable outbreak; just long enough for us to get a brass-tacks introduction to Oh Joon-woo (Ah-In Yoo), a twentysomething slacker living in his parents’ apartment. Home by himself when the pandemic hits, he watches powerlessly from his fourth-floor Juliette balcony as sprinting, ravenous zombies devour the residents of his neighborhood. Securely barricaded in the apartment, he tries to contact his family and find a way to get rescued. But Joon-woo’s food and water are in short supply, putting an expiration date on his isolated haven.
If nothing else, one can admire the fact that Double Team represents an era of film when studios weren’t afraid to take big risks. Today, the idea of spending 30 million dollars on an R-rated movie starring a past-his-prime action star and a famous athlete would never get past the pitching stage, let alone greenlit. And though Double Team’s gamble didn’t pay off, neither in quality nor box-office receipts; I, for one, am happy that this turkey exists.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I streamed Come to Daddy. Though it bills itself as a horror movie, it was fairly clear from the title and description that this wasn’t the case – at least, not entirely. It defies easy categorization, always a welcome quality; unfortunately, in this case, it also turns out to be the movie’s fatal flaw.
Jaws is the best shark movie; this is not up for debate. What is up for debate is the still-prestigious mantle of the second-best shark movie. While the oft-cited Open Water and The Shallows are formidable contenders, my pick for the true heir to the post-Jaws throne is 1999’s Deep Blue Sea. Continue reading →
Despite its name, Sputnik is not a space-set horror movie. Most of it takes place on Earth, within the confines of a claustrophobic military laboratory. We open aboard a Russian satellite, with two Soviet cosmonauts preparing for their descent back to Earth. After technical trouble and a run-in with an unseen creature, the spacecraft crash lands on Earth, with Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) the sole survivor. Continue reading →
Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber) is in a bad place. Already riddled with debts and caring for his mentally disabled brother (Devon Graye), Elliot gets fired from his insurance sales job for not being cutthroat enough. With a cranky father (Tom Bower) to house and a baby on the way, things don’t look good. But just when he seems to be out of options, Elliot receives a mysterious call from an anonymous voice who knows all about Elliot’s financial struggles. Continue reading →
The psychotic-admirer thriller emerged in 1987 with Fatal Attraction and has since spawned countless followers. It’s a subgenre I hold dear, my personal favorites being the deliciously trashy Fear and the manipulative-yet-gripping The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Though its ’90s heyday may be behind us, the formula refuses to die, proving to be a reliable template for lowbrow, frequently “erotic” fare. Just in the past few years we’ve had The Intruder (psychotic ex-homeowner), Greta (psychotic mother-figure), and Ma (psychotic booze hookup). Now Netflix is getting in on the action with Fatal Affair, a movie as lazy as its title. Continue reading →