47 Metres Down – Review

In The Deep is the tenth feature film from director, Johannes Roberts and it is most certainly his best. Previous films such as The Other Side Of The Door and Storage 24 never cemented his place in the horror genre, but In The Deep will do just that.

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In The Deep is the tenth feature film from director, Johannes Roberts and it is most certainly his best. Previous films such as The Other Side Of The Door and Storage 24 never cemented his place in the horror genre, but In The Deep will do just that.

By Dean Cox – The movie follows Lisa (Claire Holt) and Kate (Mandy Moore), who whilst on holiday in Mexico meet two local men. After a night of drinking the men offer them a chance of a lifetime, to dive with Great White Sharks. The girls have their suspicions but never the less agree to join the men the following morning. Once arriving at the dock to board the boat, they become worried about the condition of the equipment but are assured everything is fine and they are in safe hands. Of course this is not the case, after being lowered 5 meters into the water the chains holding the cage suddenly break, leaving the girls to plummet 47 metres down to the ocean bed, surrounded by Great White’s.

Whilst the movie does fails to hit the notes of more accomplished horror movies. Jump scares are used so repetitively you’d be forgiven for thinking the director wanted to just see if you’re still paying attention. The movie tends to deliver where many other animal movies fall short. Suspense and tension are here in spades and the plot device of Lisa and Kate’s oxygen running low, gives the movie an injection of urgency.

The lighting, dialogue and sound are all used well to create a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere which should keep viewers engaged throughout it’s lean runtime. The film marks the release of this Summers second shark thriller, along with The Shallows, and for my money In The Deep the more superior of the two.

If respectable shark movies continue to be pumped out, can it be long before Hollywood smell blood in the water and release a Jaws remake?

Baby Driver – Review

A joy ride down a pothole laden hill

By Jay Hunter Part nostalgic-heist film, part operatic rock-musical, Baby Driver is writer/director Edgar Wright’s fifth outing on the big screen. Telling the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort) – who has become a lucky charm getaway driver for kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey) – he must repay debt to the Atlanta crime lord in a series of bank heists to the tune of his iPod playlists as they drown out his tinnitus from a childhood accident.

Opening with a pedal to the metal car-chase sequence, soundtracked to Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, it becomes clear that the meticulously chosen soundtrack is not just central to the film, but also the engine that drives it’s entire narrative. Throughout the film there are scenes that harken back not just to classic heist films, but musicals as well, with well thought out choreography, lip-syncing and colours.

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As Doc fills his heist teams (never exactly the same) with psychotic star power, including Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm & Jamie Foxx, it becomes evident that Baby doesn’t belong in this world. Tender scenes in which we learn of Baby’s mother and his touching relationship with his adoptive father add depth – albeit generic – to his character. Problems arrive however when we are introduced to Deborah, a waitress who walks into Baby’s life singing B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas. A deliberate blank slate in which our main character projects his dreams and memories of his mother, whether or not this is a deliberate paper thin caricature from Wright is unclear, however when love interests start spouting lines like “It’s not really about me”, it’s hard not to feel aggrieved with female portrayal in this world.

Thankfully bland characters and script choices are counterbalanced with the ever brilliant Spacey, who’s one liners “He put’s the Asian in home invasion” inject much needed comedy in the largely straight Baby Driver. As ever, Wright includes smart editing choices that carry the story along in a cool slick manner, helped by what will no doubt be the soundtrack of the summer.

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Alien: Covenant – Review

Scott’s attempts to recapture the horror of his 1979 classic totally miss the mark.

By Jay Hunter After the alienating reaction to Prometheus, Ridley Scott returns with the movie monster that made him famous and buckets of gore, if nothing else. In the year 2109, the crew of USCSS Covenant, sidetracked from their colonisation mission answer a rogue transmission from a seemingly sustainable planet. When the crew discover David (Michael Fassbender), a survivor of the ill-fated Prometheus mission, terror ensues.

Marking Scott’s third return to the Alien franchise, Covenant breaches in classic fashion as the title slowly materialise in deep space scored by Jerry Goldsmiths eerie score. It’s an opening that clearly proves Scott heard the fan-backlash from the much more philosophical Prometheus, but Covenant goes in a direction that feels forceful for Scott. Clearly he does not want to let go of his previous – evolved – artistic vision as he haphazardly throws buckets of gore at the screen in hope of pleasing fans of the original.

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Much like it’s predecessor, Covenant has heavy-handed ‘profound’ messages a plenty. Images of Wagner’s Entry of the Gods into Valhalla come off as clumsy and Scott’s attempts to recapture the horror of his 1979 classic totally miss the mark, as the attempts have more in common with a slasher film than a claustrophobic juggernaut of horror. It’s a worry that audiences have voiced since the shower scene was first aired on a trailer many months ago, unfortunately it’s a totally warranted concern.

Where Covenant does succeed, is in universe building. All your favourite Alien tropes are back: an altercation over quarantine, eggs, facehuggers, chesterbursters, xenomorphs, MOTHER, flashing lights and corridor runs are all back. But there are twists to the DNA, with new-morph creatures proving that there is plenty of room for expansion in the franchise.

Scott has gone on record to say that he has plans for a further six Alien movies and whilst he would serve well as an advisor, it’s clearly time to give the franchise to a new director who could inject some fresh ideas. Can we give David Fincher another pop?

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Don’t Knock Twice – Review

“Knock once to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead…”

By Jay Hunter The recent success of Jordan Peele’s social-horror, Get Out making waves in the mainstream aside, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the horror genre is dying. But dig just a little under the surface and you’ll find a plethora of independent horror nasties wriggling beneath. Whilst not as ravenous as last years Train to Busan, seminal as The Wailing or as terrifying as The Witch, Caradog W. James’ (The Machine), Don’t Knock Twice fits comfortably in the same crypt.

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“Knock once to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead…” So goes a disturbing urban legend involving an abandoned house supposedly inhabited by a vengeful, child-stealing witch. When troubled teen Chloe (Lucy Boynton) raps at the door one night, she has no idea the horror she’s about to unleash. Fleeing to the country home of her estranged mother (Katee Sackhoff)-a recovering addict who’s turned her life around to become a famous artist-Chloe must learn to trust the woman who gave her up years ago in order to stop the bloodthirsty, shape-shifting demon stalking them. This wild supernatural shocker delivers a barrage of nonstop jolts and searing nightmare images.

Where Don’t Knock Twice really succeeds is in it’s foreboding sense of dread, building up the terror into a satisfying crescendo. Unfortunately, James seemingly loses faith with his own – palpable shocks – and trades them in for more traditional jump scares far too often. Despite this, the crew uses what little resources they have with clever lighting choices and edits, delivering a satisfying horror movie with strong performances throughout.

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Beauty and the Beast – Review

A fresh new spin on the tale as old as time

By Jay Hunter After Cinderella, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland and so on, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the next in a long line of live-action re-tellings of the studios animated classics. Aiming to refashion the classic characters from the tale (as old as time) for a new audience, whilst echoing the original quite closely it also does it’s best to add more depth and several new songs written by original composer Alan Menkin – who won two academy awards for the original animated film.

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After hitting some – ridiculous – controversy for it’s diverse cast and a potentially gay character, who is wonderfully written, instead of one dimensional. The movie stars a brilliant cast including, Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou; Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza. Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts, directed by Directed by Oscar winner Bill Condon who done Gods and Monsters, couple of the Twilight movies and wrote Chicago.

Following the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realise the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

Beauty and the Beast is wonderfully cast, everyone fits their part wonderfully, although it takes some time to warm to beast, which was a worry for many before going in. At times I the movie is reminiscent of a stage play – albeit a very expensive one – which is a pretty good summation of the movie itself. In that, it doesn’t quite recapture the magic of the first movie, but it is impressive in it’s own right. It does a great job at adding more depth to the characters and backstory, in fact it incorporates French history in a really impressive manner and it looks wonderful. Luke Evans as Gaston is quite clearly the standout character, with a brilliant scenery chewing performance – which is exactly what the role calls for. In saying that, the live-action doesn’t elevate the story like the recent live action Jungle Book movie from Jon Faverau did, it actually seems to make it a little bit awkward. The chemistry between Emma Watson and Dan Stevens isn’t quite there and does seem rushed, whilst the songs don’t have as much weight to them, although I did still get goosebumps at part. All in all Beauty and the Beast is throughly enjoyable, characters such as the talking household items, that weren’t necessarily the favourite parts of the original were brilliant in this and I got a lot of laughs out of them and a lot of enjoyment from the movie.

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Get Out – Review

Believe the hype?

By Jay Hunter Living up to a 100% Rotten Tomatoes metre is a near impossible task – such was the hype surrounding Get Out upon it’s US release. Now ahead of it’s UK release this coming weekend, Get Out has levelled out at an extremely respectable 89% on the tomato metre, a score it certainly deserves.

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Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

Whilst Get Out is not your Dad’s 80s slasher, it has undoubtedly appeased the masses without adhering to the genres gratuitous tropes of sex, blood and gore. Instead first time director, Jordan Peele trades in the straight forward shocks for emancipated, topical points about the modern day west. It’s an impressive feat from the first timer who also manages to interject humour and drama, without being afraid to shock it’s audience or ask them tough questions.

Unfortunately, the movie mishandles it’s final third with a schlock of self-indulgence. Fortunately, Get Out‘s seamless weave 0f acerbic social critiques and entertaining horror produce the first must see horror of the year.

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Patriots Day – Review

A solid disaster movie without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.

By Jay Hunter – Peter Berg’s final entry  in his ‘American crisis trilogy’ was certainly met with a tentative reception when it was announced. Coming just four years after the Boston bombing tragedy, many Americans felt that the movie would be too much, too soon. Whilst the rest of the world was mindful that the film could come off as being crass patriot porn. Surprisingly, Berg manages to sidestep these issues to deliver a genuinely thrilling action movie if nothing else.

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An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, Patriots Day is the stirring story of a city’s courage in the face of horrific circumstances. In the aftermath of the attack, Mark Wahlberg embodies police bravery as the fictional Sergeant Tommy Saunders, who joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers as they head toward New York City. Weaving together the true composite of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) this gritty tale comes into it’s own in the manhunt portion of the movie, shedding more conventional skins. A thrilling cat and mouse chase with Jimmy O. Yang as the central hostage in particular raises Patriots Day above a standard heroism story.

Although Berg often takes artistic liberties – particularly in the final act – to pack more of a punch into his action. Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy, with sobering violence, without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.

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