Sick (2022): Horror/Thriller

During the pandemic, two young women go to a lake house to quarantine only to realise that they are not alone.

Flawed but suspenseful. It’s been three years since the pandemic’s nightmare started, and films like Sick feel already something between outdated and voyeuristically familiar. Let me explain…

Not many of us or people we know have been assaulted by serial killers who asked if you wanna party or what your favourite film is right before they attempted to kill you. Having gone to the supermarket, though, to get toilet paper and finding nada has happened to all of us, even to the ones who caused the problem. So, once we have identified ourselves with that problematic situation (the guy at the supermarket), it feels weird to watch a film about it. It’s like watching people getting assaulted under similar conditions that we have experienced and that adds a weird pseudo-realism to it. Makes sense? Maybe, it’s me. Anyway, I move on…

Writers Kevin Williamson and Catelyn Crabb and director John Hyams pace really well this house-invasion horror that goes over the top about the aforementioned situation that we’ve all been through, one way or another. I mean, way over the top. Hyams did the amazing Alone (2020): with the also amazing Marc Menchaca and while Sick is not Alone, it’s still impressive. The best parts of the film are the tracking shots and the clear-cut John Wick-like (2014) action. Hyams knows what to frame and what to leave outside the frame. These on-screen and off-screen choices build up immensely the suspense and glue you to your seats. Furthermore, Gideon Adlon (Parker) and Bethlehem Million (Miri) do a spot-on job as victims of this invasion.

Ultimately, just like Scream (1996) – also written by Williamson – Sick‘s motives are purposefully kind of satyric or comedic, expressing the paranoia of what we went through not so long ago (see the lack of toilet paper above) that will go down in history as one of the most head-scratching buffooneries of the humankind.

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Stay safe!

M3gan (2022): Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller

A robotics engineer designs a life-like doll that turns out to be stylishly sadistic and murderous.

Noble intentions, but awfully formulaic execution. You can’t get more Hollywood than that so, I will just keep it simple. I’ll start with the positives: Allison Williams (Gemma) is always great. She’s an excellent actress and gives amazing performances no matter what she’s in. Then, M3gan as a concept is the new Chucky – Child’s Play (1988). Don’t expect it to become a “classic” though despite her cool killing mode. Finally, Violet McGraw (Cady) is not one of them annoying child actors. She’s actually really good.

Now, for the negatives: Firstly, the character arc is way too obvious from the very beginning. At first, Gemma can’t even take care of her plants, and then you know that M3gan will wreak havoc and she and her niece will come closer and have learned “valuable” lessons in life – can’t get more obvious than that. Secondly, the underlying drama, the parents’ loss, the inciting incident that sets the cogs in motion, has been severely epidermically approached. Actually, that was the part that put me off the most. Finally, using montages to advance the story forward is the easy way out. It was great seeing Rocky (1976) becoming a better boxer in five minutes back then, but now? Hmmm… Not so much.

Producers Jason Blum and James Wan, respectable veterans in the horror genre, have nothing much to offer other than bloody entertainment. Director Gerald Johnstone, the one behind the great Housebound (2014) seems like he just had to work with whatever he had to work. Aleka Cooper’s script was meant to be bloodier and gorier, but again, the producers noted how well the trailer did on freaking Tik Tok and decided to water it down and address it to teenagers. Fair enough, at least now you know who it is meant for. Both Blum and Wan have interesting projects lined up, so I look forward to them.

So, there are positives and there are negatives. Is it worth watching? Sure, why not? But mostly, due to M3gan’s bat-$hit crazy artificial psychopathy. If I were to pitch that script, the tagline would be something along the lines of “Annabelle (2014) gets an upgrade”.

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Nanny (2022): Drama/Horror/Thriller

Wanting to bring her son to America, a Senegalese woman becomes a nanny for a wealthy family while her mind plays horrific tricks on her.

Well-acted, but awfully problematic. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was not sitting well with Nanny. So, keep in mind that it is predominantly a drama and not a horror. Therefore, you may agree that the dramatic plot should be supported by a horrific subplot. Well, it does that much, so the question is, does it in an appealing manner? In a way that hooks you?

Aisha is an overly relatable character, especially for those who know about migration, and Anna Diop absolutely nails her part, adding to the drama that slowly and painfully unfolds. Hence, her story starts from sad only to end up… well, you’ll see. But the snippets of horror don’t add up as they find it difficult to place themselves in the story. The constant use of eerie music when they try to do so is their only way of infiltrating, and writer/director Nikyatu Jusu feels the need to have an “in-your-face” approach. That becomes a direct contradiction because what is happening to Aisha lurks under the surface and the filmmaking techniques that are meant to subliminally deliver her uneasiness couldn’t make it more obvious as if you otherwise wouldn’t get it. You would. And you will probably figure out from the very beginning what the drama is about. In psychological dramas, thrillers, and horrors the action is divided between on and off-screen, carefully chosen by the director what is happening where. Jusu places everything on-screen, projecting confusion rather than mystery, and the plot and subplot become indistinguishable.

Jusu’s strong suit is the use of Diop’s incredible acting skills, and, consequently, she solely becomes the reason to watch it. The film itself, unfortunately, till the very end, fails to decide what it wants to make you feel. Needless to say that the ending is a narratological mess that claims a “fatality” victory over the already visually wounded audience. Shame, really…

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Halloween Ends (2022): Horror/Thriller

Michael Myers faces Laurie Strode for one last time, massacring whoever stands in his way.

Mixed bag of feelings but highly recommended. I’ll keep this one deliberately short as I’d love you to watch it and make up your mind. I did recommend Halloween Kills (2021): and I definitely recommend this one. Halloween Kills provides a great sequel to Halloween (2018) and also provides an answer to the most significant question of both the canonical and non-canonical films: Why does Michael Myers seem invincible… on Halloween day? Respectively, Halloween Ends provides the ending (?) all Halloween films – especially the canonical ones – deserve (?). Maybe, on the way there you’ll pick on a few “narrative discrepancies”, but, no matter what, an end needs to be put to the saga of Michael Myers who had been leaving behind him piles of bodies and very long blood trails, for a very long time (?).

David Gordon Green helms it one more time, balancing action, drama, comedy, and horror in a way that let many fans down and even though some of the “accusations” have a solid basis, some of them are as brutal as Myers. What needs to be said is that Jamie Lee Curtis is still the iconic Laurie Strode who set the solid foundation of the modern dynamic on-screen heroines.

Despite its flaws, I hope you enjoy it. It’s Halloween and this one seems to be the appropriate film/finale for the “spooktacular pumpkin period” (bad joke, I know).

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The Forever Purge (2021): Action/Horror/Thriller

The vast majority of pro-Purgers take the law into their own hands and extend the New Founding Fathers of America’s tradition… indefinitely.

The burning issues of a modern society under the microscope of a tired annual blood holiday. I liked the opening credits’ titles to be fair, as they were creative and summed up a lot of the issues we are currently facing that either make us ashamed of ourselves, depress us, enrage us, or just cut our breath short. This Purge though doesn’t build up like its predecessors did, and the reason is non other than the obvious: this purge does not end; it is merely the beginning. And as much as this could be something refreshing in the franchise, it ends up being pedantic, to say the least. It lacks depth and premasticates the meaning for you with the intent to unnecessarily lead and intentionally prevent you from thinking for yourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the honest message behind it, but I don’t appreciate the way Hollywood undermines the audience’s intelligence. I don’t like badly criticising films that dozens of talented people have starred in and thousands of also talented people have worked in all three stages of production. For example, the two and a half minute shot is remarkable and even though it has been done before and it has been done better, the fact still remains that both cast and crew have put their hearts and soul in it. Producers Michael Bay and Jason Blum should be giving a lot more credits to the people that spend money and time for their entertainment. Like myself, all horror fans but also cinephiles want to appreciate an, at least, decent cinematic experience. That’s ll we ask. They are talented filmmakers with years of experience under their belt, and I would be honoured if I were to work with them. Films like The Forever Purge though feel more like capitalising the decay our world experiences rather than urging people to think why they feel or act the way they do and where they stand in a world that craves for diversity and unity.

Writer James DeMonaco and the studios should have put an end to the franchise a long time ago but I’ll leave you with a positive note. If you make it to the closing credits, blast the music and enjoy! Awesome and meaningful song!

Stay safe!

P.S. Still, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people who suffer from real-life horrors and dramas, such as the unspeakable wildfires that swallow everything in their path and their aftermath!

Fantasy Island (2020): Adventure / Fantasy / Horror

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An island that has the power to grant your greatest wish, welcomes a group of people who have no idea what they signed up for.

I’ll start with the good news: I didn’t know what to expect so, you would never guess… I had no expectations! Now, for the opposite of good news: The amazing story behind Fantasy Island is inundated with nothing but American clinches, that ruin the aforementioned amazing story.

The American cliches include, but are not limited to: stereotypical characters, stereotypical punchlines, stereotypical resolutions and revelations, and stereotypical editing and redirecting. Hands down, the dramatic fantasy that stands out is Maggie Q’s (Gwen) who, by the way, is a brilliant actress and an astonishing woman. But the genres are too mixed and so are the viewer’s feelings towards everything that’s happening. It is not a disservice to the Fantasy Island (1977) series but it has nothing much to do with it either. If you want to watch a great blend of such genres, The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is what you need to watch!

A real shame as Fantasy Island stresses two important facts of life:

  • Careful what you wish for!
  • Your so-called liberties in life have a limit; where your fellow human beings’ begin…

Stay safe!


The Hunt (2019): Action / Horror / Thriller

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Twelve strangers wake up in a picturesque, bucolic setting only to be hunted down by unknown people.

Hollywood is an entity. A living, breathing, evolving and devolving, existentially confused entity. Universal, one of the major limbs of this entity, has a long-standing reputation of daring, challenging genders and races. The Hunt is not an original concept but it’s a brilliant concoction of funny lines, vulgar language, and insults of all kinds, surrounded by gore! IMDb forgot to add comedy to the genres which purely is beyond me. The Hunt has the ability to keep on the edge of your seat while making you laugh. Extreme violence that does not disappoint.

Unfortunately, it was never meant to take off. Fate, destiny, goddamn bad luck? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter anyway. Producer Jason Blum funds the amazing indie director Craig Zobel, who collaborates once more with writer Damon Lindelof in a one of a kind provocative, low budget, highly entertaining action/horror that caused significant reactions. It tried to come out last September but the mass shootings in the US prevented from doing so. Then, it was meant to come out a fortnight ago but the pandemic this time prevented from doing so. Universal released it on a DVD and on-demand anyway and we, the audience, are so glad about their decision.

Sit back, relax, try to forget for an hour and a half the tragic reality we are currently facing and… I dare you to guess who is the protagonist / who’s gonna make it out alive when they all gather in the field.

Stay safe!

Adopt a Highway (2019): Drama

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A man is released from prison after many years and while trying to figure out how the modern world works, he stumbles upon a baby dumped in the trash.

I’ll start with the fact that this is a drama from Blumhouse – the king of low budget-that always-turns-a-profit horrors. A quite insightful and existential I might add, surprising in the nicest possible way. My next stop is Logan Marshall-Green, who put on, for the first time, the director’s hat after having penned the script as well. Did that come as a surprise? Not at all. Why? Because the guy is a natural. Marshall-Green is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors – now turned director/screenwriter. His talent needs to be finally acknowledged and get the spotlight he deserves. Then, Ethan Hawke… is something else. Always has been, always will be. He’s one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors and a man who very thoroughly chooses his next project. Since Dead Poet’s Society (1989), he hasn’t stopped to amaze. Last stop, the sound department where its work in this instance stands out for its perfection. From the opening sequence’s ‘voices montage’ to the letter’s reading.

Not everyone is made for this modern world. The full of emoticons, fast-typing, communication, the online slang that ‘infiltrated’ our every-day vocabulary, the mass behaviour that, should one decides not to adopt will become a pariah, and so much more make people who step out of the crowds to develop case studies. Adopt a Highway looks life in the eye and gives us a bittersweet hope with a twist and says… ‘Through every dark night, there is a bright day after that’ – 2Pac.

Well, my heart goes out to the ones who only got to experience the darkness…

The Gallows (2015): Horror / Mystery / Thriller

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Years after a kid’s accidental death, four kids get trapped in a school and tortured by a sinister supernatural force.

I would like to be clear once more and I will be every time I am forced to make a review such as this. I never judge a film itself. I judge the intentions behind it. As with The Nun (2018), the ghost in The Gallows is nothing but a clichéd plot device that does whatever is convenient and wannabe impressive to just… I don’t know… take them out? Story and dialogues are horribly written and the camera work is plainly bad! The acting is mediocre (with Cassidy Gifford being the exception) and the VFX… plainly bad again.

I try to be lenient and I’m definitely holding my punches here but it is really difficult as there is nothing positive I can say about the film other than the semi-decent opening scene followed by a freefall to the rock bottom. The scariest thing is that Jason Blum jumped on board. What is even scarier is that there is a sequel out there and Blum is behind that too – The Gallows Act II (2019).

I’m an avid supporter of indie, low budget films and praise them every time they achieve what Hollywood blockbusters can’t. It’s admirable that two directors did everything they could to make this film but please, do not undermine your audience’s intelligence. And this is why the intentions behind The Gallows are not noble. And this is why my review is bitter.

P.S. The poster’s tagline: “Every school has its spirit”. No comment…

If you still fancy watching it, you can find it here:

Halloween (2018): Horror / Thriller

Bloodbath! Nine films after the original “Halloween” (1978), producers, actors, writers, and director managed to get it right. Ignoring all previous sequels and reboots, it pays homage to all of them. I know, right? Producer Jason Blum, writer Danny McBride and co-writer/director David Gordon Green wrote it, re-wrote it, shot it, re-shot it, re-re-shot it, Timothy Alverson re-re-re-edited it, so your visit to the cinema pays off. 40 years to the day after “Halloween”, you get a sequel with:

  • Soundtrack that still gives goosebumps.
  • DOP to remind you or get to know of the ’80s (depending on your age) well-crafted slashers.
  • And character-wise, the anticipation of highly respected original Laurie and Michael standing, once more, for the last time (?) toe to toe.

Gripping! Well written, well-directed, and well-acted, it is the showdown to clamour for. That said, the child inside me still wants to watch… Myers vs Voorhees! Mr. Blum, I hope you are reading.

You can find it here: