#Alive

NEET of the Living Dead

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.

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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

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

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

Velvet Buzzsaw

velvet buzzsaw

This Just Won’t Cut It

Velvet Buzzsaw is a movie I wanted to like – to love, even.  The last time Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal teamed up we got 2014’s excellent Nightcrawler, and given the gonzo premise of their new collaboration, I thought I was in for a good time.  But the Netflix movie curse spares few; even up-and-coming directors and A-list actors cannot escape its grasp.  The streaming service’s marketing would have you believe Velvet Buzzsaw is first and foremost a horror film, but the truth is the horror is an afterthought.  So is everything else in the movie. Continue reading

Netflix Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

Cloverfield paradox

If nothing else, The Cloverfield Paradox is an interesting – if dubiously effective – experiment in advertising.  Informing the masses of its existence via a short Super Bowl ad, it attracted a fair 750,000 viewers later that night.  The series itself remains something of a novelty in the age of producers endlessly mining the same vein to diminishing returns: a loose series of movies that share the same name and universe, but are hugely unalike in terms of tone, scale, and genre.  Cloverfield was a found-footage kaiju movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane was a claustrophobic thriller, and now we have The Cloverfield Paradox, a…space movie? Continue reading

Netflix Review: The Fundamentals of Caring

fundamentals
Paul Rudd offers a handicapped boy his sausage in “The Fundamentals of Caring”

The Fundamentals of Caring stars Paul Rudd as Ben, a former writer who decides to try caregiving after a personal tragedy (read: dead kid).  His charge is Trevor (Craig Roberts), an English teen whose Duchenne muscular dystrophy leaves him paralyzed and without fine motor skills.  After developing an often-adversarial friendship with Trevor, Ben convinces him to join him for a cross-country road trip.   Continue reading