Fatal Affair

fatal affair

An Affair to Forget

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

You Should Have Left

You should have left

Bacon and Cheese

At first glance, You Should Have Left seems to be a by-the-book haunted house movie.  It certainly checks plenty of the boxes: the isolated and mysterious vacation home, the precocious child in tune with the supernatural, the sinister presence that grows more and more tangible.  But writer/director David Koepp has more on his mind than weaving a workmanlike horror yarn, attempting – with varying degrees of success – to add a more serious dramatic element to the proceedings. Continue reading

The King of Staten Island

the king of staten island

Tattoo Pallor

The King of Staten Island is one of the latest movies to be downgraded to a direct-to-streaming release, but doesn’t suffer too much for it.  Sure, one might have wrung more enjoyment out of sharing its laughs with fellow theatergoers, but ultimately the latest Judd Apatow movie plays just fine on the small screen.  It already seems destined to enjoy a second life on cable alongside Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.  Continue reading

The High Note

the high note

In the Key of Eh

The High Note’s coronavirus-induced direct-to-streaming release might be a blessing in disguise, seeing as it’s a perfect example of a movie that makes no case whatsoever to be seen in theaters.  Its visual palette has that bland, distinctly digital warmth that has become the go-to for so many low-ish budget releases these days.  But since The High Note makes it clear from the get-go that it has no pretensions of visual style, its real test is how it fares as a frothy romantic comedy. Continue reading

The Wrong Missy

the wrong missy

Miss-taken Identity

I had low expectations going into The Wrong Missy.  On the surface, it seemed like another Netflix production designed primarily to give the Happy Madison crew a paid vacation in an exotic location, á la the aggressively mediocre Murder Mystery and The Do-Over.  And while The Wrong Missy doesn’t do much to refute that accusation, there are just enough signs of life to set it apart. Continue reading

Extraction

extraction

The Bodhi-guard

The first thing one notices about Extraction is the bizarre name of Chris Hemsworth’s character.  Tyler Rake is clearly meant to be a punchy action-hero moniker, but there’s something off about it; it’s both too silly and not silly enough.  The script attempts to get ahead of the criticism by making a knowing joke about it, but it remains a distractingly misguided touch.  In short, the name doesn’t work, but at least the movie (mostly) does. Continue reading

Onward

onward

Day of the Dad

As others have observed, the overall trend of Pixar’s releases has been a gradual decline in creativity, with the freshness of Toy Story giving way to the banal likes of Cars and Inside Out.  The conceit of Onward is on the trite end of the spectrum; its serviceable and shallow fantasy-creatures-meet-modern-technology setup feels like it could have come from any one of Hollywood’s anonymous computer animation factories. Continue reading

The Platform

the platform

Hole Foods

One of Netflix’s latest film releases, Spanish sci-fi/horror movie The Platform is enjoying a minor splash on the streaming giant, which is the most one can hope for in the reign of Tiger King.  Though never stated outright, the movie is presumably set in the future, where the shadowy “Administration” runs a sadistic institution that’s half prison, half social experiment. Continue reading

Bloodshot

bloodshot

Flop Goes the Diesel

Bloodshot has the dubious honor of being the last movie I saw in theaters before the Coronavirus shutdown.  I knew that theaters in my area were due to close the next day, and I was so desperate for one last classic moviegoing experience that even the blandest piece of trash would do. Continue reading

The Hunt

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Postal Elites

The Hunt is most notable for its cancellation and postponement, brought on by either mass shootings or the president’s tweets, depending on who you ask (in either case, it’s a decision the studio undoubtedly is regretting now).  But now that it’s finally being released, does Craig Zobel’s violent satire live up to the controversy?  Well, yes and no. Continue reading