In this age of endless reboots and remakes, it’s heartening to see that a good old-fashioned unoriginal movie can still get made. To its credit, Beast isn’t a direct rip-off of any particular man-vs.-nature flick, but it has no interest in doing anything new with the genre, and that’s fine by me.
Despite its use of the impending millennium as a plot point, Entrapment’s filmmaking sensibility feels much older. The foundations on which it is built – the chemistry of its stars, the emphasis on glamor, its escapist sense of adventure – all feel sadly old-fashioned in the current filmmaking landscape. Though it certainly brings specific movies to mind, Mission: Impossible and the Pierce Brosnan James Bond entries among them, what Entrapment really echoes is more ineffable: an old-Hollywood mood of light entertainment.
From the moment its opening credits start to roll, an oh-so-’90s montage of helpless women accompanied by the voiceover of their captor, Kiss the Girls tells you exactly the kind of movie it is. Part of its moment’s spate of serial killer thrillers looking to capitalize on the success of The Silence of the Lambs, the movie’s differing story, as well as its preexisting source novel, do (just) enough to prevent it from being a rip-off.
Though no one would ever accused Unhinged of being ambitious, it’s ruthlessly efficient. It takes a premise that’s as high-concept as they come, does everything it needs to with it, then exits gracefully. And while this leanness is certainly a point in its favor, what really makes it worth watching is Russell Crowe’s towering villain turn.
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 →
7500, an airborne thriller from Amazon Studios, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias Ellis, the co-pilot of a nighttime flight from Berlin to Paris, on which his girlfriend (Aylin Tezel) is working as a flight attendant. Shortly after the plane takes off, a quartet of terrorists storm the cockpit brandishing makeshift knives. Though Tobias manages to close the cockpit door, the scuffle leaves him injured and the captain (Carlo Kitzlinger) incapacitated, along with a terrorist Tobias knocked out and tied up. Left to fly the plane and contact authorities on the ground by himself, Tobias’s only links to the rest of the plane are the intercom system and the security camera mounted just outside the cockpit. As the terrorists in the main cabin grow impatient, they force Tobias to make increasingly brutal choices as the de facto hostage negotiator. Continue reading →
There’s no question that The Silence of the Lambs is a great movie. The makers of Hannibal certainly think so; otherwise they wouldn’t invoke its memory every chance they get. It’s a quality that’s oddly ahead of its time, portending modern sequels like Jurassic World and The Force Awakens that get most of their mileage from milking their beloved predecessors. Hannibal’s most shameless reference is the title character’s multiple utterances of the famous line, “Hello, Clarice,” which was never actually said in The Silence of the Lambs but plowed its way into pop culture history anyway. The charitable interpretation of this Mandela effect-made-real is that it’s a knowing joke on the part of the filmmakers, though it’s easier to dismiss it – and the rest of Hannibal’s blatant throwbacks – as pandering. Continue reading →
It’s tempting to call Disturbia a modern-day remake of Rear Window, but that doesn’t quite feel right. The movie straddles the line between remake and homage, sharing most of the general story beats with its inspiration but changing the time period, setting, and protagonist to such an extent that it avoids feeling like a rip-off. On the whole, Disturbia gets to have its cake and eat it too, taking advantage of the path forged by its masterful predecessor while still retaining its own identity. Continue reading →
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 →
It’s surprising that in Hollywood’s never-ending quest to remake every horror movie in existence, it’s taken them this long to get to The Invisible Man. Setting aside the old-fashioned bandages-and-fedora original, the core concept is as timeless as it gets, not to mention relatively cheap to execute on film. In any case, it’s here now, and thankfully it’s in the form of a standalone movie instead of whatever franchise-baiting dreck we would have gotten had it remained part of Universal’s scrapped Dark Universe project. Continue reading →