800 Posts! Thank you!

Hey everyone,

for those of you that have been readers for awhile, you’ll know I like to celebrate the little moments, and I had one a few days ago when I published my review for Hobbs & Shaw. That review ended up being the 800th post for this site! It’s rather fitting because many of the Fast & Furious reviews I have written have been among the most popular reviews on the site!

I cannot thank you faithful and maybe first-time readers for tuning in, reading and contributing to the discussion. This has morphed from a hobby to a passion to a daily requirement for sanity, and it’s because of the kind words of so many of you that have helped with that.

All that being said, I’m going to leave a list of the most popular reviews and posts on the site since it started. Feel free to peruse and gander at your choosing.

 

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. Leprechaun (1993)
  6. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Zootopia (2016)
  9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  10. The Fly (1986)

Here’s hoping Hobbs & Shaw ends up on this this. Three of the Fast & Furious films have ended up on the most-read list, including a short film prequel to the second film. It always strikes me at how many people have looked at the Leprechaun posts I have done. It seems year-round that that post gets views and I don’t understand it, to be perfectly honest.

So there you have it. Thanks again for reading, even if only once. I truly appreciate all of you readers and I only ask that you help like, comment, subscribe and share to keep independent content creators like myself going. All film is truly subjective, so if you’ve never interacted on the site, I urge you to do so. If you loved a movie I hated, let me know your opinion, and if you hated something I really love, I want to know why. That’s part of what makes this part of movie fandom so special. Thanks again!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

London Has Fallen (2016)

or “I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Up: The Movie”

Director: Babak Najafi

Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Jackie Earle Haley, Sean O’Bryan, Waleed Zuaiter

Screenplay: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John

99 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

 

Someone should always be keeping an eye on Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Bleed for This). Dude keeps getting attacked or kidnapped.

It’s been six years since the attack on the White House, and Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, Den of Thieves) is still in the Secret Service, keeping a protective eye on President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart). Soon, though, Mike is going to be a father, and he’s thinking about giving the job up. But when a funeral for the UK Prime Minister turns into a series of coordinated attack intended to assassinate the Western leaders, Mike is forced to ensure the safety of the President once again as they are pursued through the streets of London, being hunted by a terrorist out for revenge.

Just about everything in this sequel is a step down in quality from the previous film. The visual effects are very hit-or-miss, with some of them being passable while still others, especially the sequence with the helicopter from the trailer, being downright atrocious. The writing is choppier, the dialogue somehow even cheesier and goofier than the original, and the direction is mostly simplistic.

The action is a lot more kinetic this time around as we aren’t forced into the confines of a singular setting. London is the playground here and it’s fun to see Eckhart’s character as he gets a lot more to do this time around. His bro-chemistry is pretty strong with Butler. Again, many of the performances work passably enough within the confines of this B-action thriller, but many of our returning characters have nothing to do in this sequel. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t remember Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Bigger) returning as General Clegg.

Sadly, though, for all the action set pieces within the film, most of the action is quickly forgettable save for the terrific assault shootout near the end of the film with Banning and a team of Delta Force/SAS squad moving through the streets of London toward the terrorist hideout. It’s exciting, flashy, and an all-around stellar set piece.

I feel like the one thing this sequel does better than the original is the pacing. Most of the film keeps swiftly moving with the shorter run time and a more intensive mission for Banning and the President. The scenes with Morgan Freeman (Se7en, Alpha) and the rest of the intelligence staff don’t have the same intensity, but the film isn’t really focused on them.

London Has Fallen is a significantly weaker film than its predecessor, taking a familiar and straightforward action film over something with a stronger premise. It’s fine for the most part, but it’s also largely forgettable and loses a lot of the intensity of the first film save for one phenomenal sequence. Butler’s Banning is still kick-ass, but he’s given a thicker layer of cheese due to some really shabby writing. For the most part, if you really enjoyed the first film, I think you can like this one just fine, but this will do nothing to attract newer audiences.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 29 – The Void (2016)

 

Director: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

Cast: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Evan Stern, Trish Rainone, Mik Byskov

Screenplay: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

90 mins. Not Rated.

 

My favorite thing about watching 31 horror films in a month is coming across a true gem. Oftentimes, I get a chance to catch a few brand new movies in all this, and thankfully, The Void is an absolute delight.

When Deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole, This Beautiful City, Mary Goes Round) comes across an injured man on the side of the road, he immediately brings him to the local hospital, which has been mostly abandoned. The only remaining staff are Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh, The Day After Tomorrow, Awakening the Zodiac), nurse and Daniel’s estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe, A Family Man, TV’s Patriot), intern Kim (Ellen Wong, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, TV’s GLOW), and nurse Beverly. When the hospital becomes surrounded by cloaked and hooded figures with weapons, it becomes quite that the remaining members of the hospital staff are being targeted for a specific purpose, but they could never know how sinister their night is about to become.

I really liked The Void. It is both a callback to the practical effects and creature features of the 1980s as well as a gruesome and brutal horror film that is unique and all its own. Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski treat their material with the utmost respect and care, treating each twist and turn with unexpected tenacity.

The performers, particularly Poole, Munroe, and Welsh, are quite well-cast and played. I don’t have much experience with Poole, but I found him to be very accessible as the Deputy out of his element. Munroe and Welsh have previous experience from Survival of the Dead, and their chemistry is still solid.

Where the film falters is in its run time. Even at 90 minutes, some scenes feel very overstretched. I feel like The Void belongs in the 80-minute range and could have been better served with a little more chopping in the editing room.

Overall, The Void is a fun and frightening film with some of the more unique scares and effects I’ve seen recently. It’s combination of Lovecraftian Horror and visual flair make for a great viewing experience. This is a good one to check out for Halloween. Grab your Netflix account and jump into The Void.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of the anthology film ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 27 – The Greasy Strangler (2016)

 

Director: Jim Hosking

Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, Holand MacFallister

Screenplay: Toby Harvard, Jim Hosking

93 mins. Not Rated.

 

I mean, I had to see this coming, right?

Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels, Alex & Emma, Freshwater) and son Brayden (Sky Elobar, Don Verdean, I Do…Until I Don’t) have a strained relationship. Ronnie runs a Disco tour which Brayden helps with, and Brayden serves Ronnie overly-greased foods, though Ronnie keeps exclaiming he is not The Greasy Strangler, a killer who murders people while covered in grease from head to toe. Ronnie and Brayden are further torn apart by Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo, The 33, Lemon), a woman who takes the Disco tour and begins dating Brayden. Stuff happens.

The Greasy Strangler is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had watching a movie recently. That doesn’t necessarily make it good. Yet again this month, there are no likable characters in the film. I mean, they start out interesting, but then they get real boring real quick. I didn’t like the and I didn’t want to keep watching them.

Jim Hosking (ABCs of Death 2, Privado) keeps claiming that he wants unique characters, and they are indeed unique. I just hate them. They aren’t written well.. The script, from Hosking and Toby Harvard, is so poorly written and unstructured. I feel like I get what Hosking and Harvard were trying to do, but it absolutely doesn’t work.

Overall, The Greasy Strangler is just another upsetting film this month. I’m seeing how rough this can be some days. I hate The Greasy Strangler and I would never watch it again.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For the anthology film ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 25 – Minutes Past Midnight (2016)

Director: Robert Boocheck, Lee Cronin, Francisco Sonic Kim, Ryan Lightbourn, Marc Martinez Jordan, Kevin McTurk, James Moran, Christian Rivers, Sid Zanforlin

Cast: Jason Flemyng, Barbara Steele, Mika Boorem

Screenplay: Chris Bavota, Robert Boocheck, Lee Cronin, Collin George, Ryan Lightbourn, Marc Martinez Jordan, Guy McDouall, James Moran, Ryan Murphy, Sid Zanforlin

98 mins. Not Rated.

 

Minutes Past Midnight is another horror anthology (seriously, they are poppin’ up like weeds) released in 2016. This collection takes several popular short film from previous years and works them together into an interesting and odd group of short stories.

Horrific is the story of a Texas goat rancher fighting off a well-known predator from his home. Ghost Train is the tale of two brothers who make a yearly trip to the abandoned fairground where their friend went missing years earlier. Awake is the story of a son’s mysterious illness and the parents struggling to understand. Roid Rage is an exploitation look at the mystery surrounding the deaths of hookers all over town and the FBI agents who discover a shocking culprit. Timothy is the tale of a little boy’s obsession with a children’s TV character. The Mill at Calder’s End is an animated tale in the style of classic Hammer horror and H.P. Lovecraft. Crazy for You is a love story with a murderous twist. Feeder is a parable about artistic passion and the things we are willing to sacrifice for our craft. Never Tear Us Apart is a yarn about two friends who meet some less-than-reputable characters in the woods. Together, these macabre tales form the spine to this spine-tingling horror anthology, Minutes Past Midnight.

Minutes Past Midnight suffers from the same problem that so many anthologies have, the central issue with frustrated tone. Some of the stories in the collection are brutal, some are strange, some are comedic, some are intense, some are horrific, and sadly, very few are memorable. I think of Ghost Train as a particularly engaging tale, but even it feels out of place in this story collection. The Mill at Calder’s End is quite good for completely different reasons. And I think that sums up the central issue of Minutes Past Midnight: many, if not all, of these shorts were not crafted for the anthology framework, and they feel hodge-podged together in a very strange and uncomfortable way. Some of the shorts flat-out do not work, particularly Roid Rage, and the film feels jammed together, because frankly, they are.

This is a collection that would feel better to the viewer if they spaced it out. I’m talking like watch a story, then clean your cat’s litterbox, then watch one, then maybe get a load of dishes going, then Hey! watch one, and finally clean out the garage. Minutes Past Midnight is more of a interesting selection of finds as opposed to an altogether cohesive experience.

This horror anthology is frustrating in its confusing conjunction. It works best when it ceases to be a horror anthology. Some of these shorts work, but not in this format. It’s fun, but because of its failure in creating a mixtape quality of cohesiveness, it never becomes truly memorable. This is one to caution yourself with.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of the anthology film ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 10 – ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016)

Director: Travis Betz, Zac Blair, Ryan Bosworth, Peter Czikrai, Steve Daniels, Baris Erdogan, Carlos Faria, Todd E. Freeman, Rodrigo Gasparini, Brett Glassberg, Nicholas Humphries, Summer Johnson, Clint Kelly, Cody Kennedy, Jason M. Koch, Ama Lea, Wolfgang Matzl, Alvaro Nunez, Eric Pennycoff, Peter Podgursky, Mia Kate Russell, Tim Rutherford, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Michael Schwartz, Stuart Simpson, Joe Stas, Lloyd Staszkiewicz, Jeff Stewart, Carles Torrens, Dante Vescio, Christopher Younes

Cast: Ali Arslan, Ilker Arslan, Anastasia Baranova

Screenplay: Todd E. Freeman, Clint Kelly, Cody Kennedy, Jason M. Koch, Kevin Martin, Shane McKenzie, Robert Phelps, Mia Kate Russell, Tim Rutherford, Tom Stas, Jeff Stewart, Bob Woolsey

85 mins. Not Rated.

 

The ABCs of Death franchise is a curious one in that the first two installments are good and bad. It’s generally assumed that I won’t watch the film and enjoy the entire thing, but I’ve enjoyed a good amount of the shorts within them. ABCs of Death 2.5 is not ABCs of Death 3. In fact, ABCs of Death 2 had a contest in which filmmakers from all around were given the opportunity to submit their short film for “M is For…” and, while a winner was selected for that film, there were so many notable finalists that an entire film, ABCs of Death 2.5, was created just to showcase 26 of them, all linked around the letter M. So no, this is not the exact same as the first two, but it still kind of is.

This is probably the first ABCs of Death film in which I enjoyed more of the shorts than I didn’t. The ones of particular note were:

  • M is for Magnetic Tape
  • M is for Mailbox
  • M is for Marauder
  • M is for Mariachi
  • M is for Martyr
  • M is for Merry Christmas
  • M is for Mother
  • M is for Mutant

M is for Magnetic Tape is a wild tale about a man protecting his video store from assailants. It’s a deliciously visual short. M is for Mailbox is an interesting play on vampire mythology and, while not unique, it put a smile on my face. M is for Marauder is probably my favorite, a black-and-white play off of Mad Max but entirely on children’s tricycles. M is for Merry Christmas is a comedic short about lonely Krampus. There are many enjoyable films in this collection.

ABCs of Death 2.5 also shares some of the problems of the series in that some of the shorts seem very similar to others we’ve seem before. They seem to fall into overtly-sickening, overtly-strange, or overtly-uninspired.

I would say I enjoyed more of ABCs of Death 2.5 than the other films in this collection. I keep finding myself going back for more. This series continues to not be for everyone, but for those of you with the stomach, ABCs of Death 2.5 is worth your time for many of the great shorts within.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of The ABCs of Death, click here.

For my review of ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 7 – Hush (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco

Screenplay: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel

81 mins. Rated R for strong violence/terror and some language.

 

When Maddie (Kate Siegel, Hot, Oculus), a writer working on her follow-up novel, stays in her isolated home to find solitude, she is not prepared for the horrific night that awaits her. Maddie is deaf due to a childhood illness, and she cannot hear the killer who taunts her from outside. This killer is a man looking to play a game of cat and mouse, and Maddie is his next target. Maddie must use her remaining senses to keep herself safe and stop the killer from collecting another victim.

I met Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game, Ouija: Origin of Evil) once at the premiere for his film Absentia, and while I’ve never shied away when I have issues with his work, I found Hush to be a very capably put together little horror/thriller. It’s concept is simple and that’s what makes it so compelling. His direction is clean and unwavering, maintaining focus on Siegel’s Maddie as often as possible. This single-setting film works very well and cruises through its tight run time.

John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, Peppermint) plays the killer quite well in a way I haven’t seen him yet. From all the work I’ve watched of his, I’ve never seen him embody menace in such a way. He is a terrifying presence. Michael Trucco (Next, The Bye Bye Man) also appears in a small but crucial role as a next-door neighbor looking for his missing spouse.

While not everything works perfectly in Hush, the film is brisk, exhilarating, painful, and enticing. Mike Flanagan uses his single-setting and small cast very nicely, never going for full-blown mayhem and instead focusing on the silence of the hunt. Maddie grows and evolves as the film’s runs along, making her a formidable foe to the masked killer.

Hush is one to watch for. If you missed it when it soft-dropped n Netflix in 2016, please take some time to check it out. The risk is minimal and you may find it quite enjoyable like I did. If you don’t, eh, it’s only 81 minutes.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Mike Flanagan’s Absentia, click here.

For my review of Mike Flanagan’s Oculus, click here.

For my review of Mike Flanagan’s Ouija: Origin of Evil, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Cast: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Rob Lowe, Holt McCallany

Screenplay: Derek Connolly

104 mins. Rated PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor.

 

Ah, Monster Trucks, monster bomb…

Monster Trucks is the story of Tripp Coley (Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class, TV’s MacGyver), a high school senior in North Dakota who is building a pickup truck hoping to one day use it to leave town. When he discovers a mysterious creature who can power his truck, he calls it Creech, and works together with Creech and his attractive classmate Meredith (Jane Levy, Evil Dead, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore) to keep Creech safe from the evil Terravex Oil and its slew of bad dudes.

I honestly didn’t hate the idea behind Monster Trucks. I didn’t really hate the trailers or any of the production stuff at all. To me, it didn’t seem any stranger than robots that turn into cars and people on strange planets seducing blue aliens. That being said, I knew this thing was going to fail. If there was ever a sure thing failure, this was it. I can’t really speak to how I knew, but after seeing the film, I can say this: it was really boring.

Everyone in the film was a cliché or flat character. There was no one interesting. The evil corporation was just that, but we don’t see enough from them to warrant their villainy. There just isn’t anything really dynamic about the film.

I talk a lot with colleagues about how family films and animated films should attempt more to cater to adults because that’s how you are successful. Most of the time, Monster Trucks fails spectacularly. Everything just comes across so silly. It just didn’t work.

So while I won’t condemn Monster Trucks for its premise or marketing, I cannot defend the boredom I felt throughout the entire runtime. I just needed it to be over. ASAP.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 8 – [Short Film Sunday] The Maiden (2016)

Director: Michael Chaves

Cast: Alia Raelynn, Penny Orloff, Brian Knudson, Sunny Pelant, Betsy Slingh

Screenplay: Michael Chaves

9 mins. Not Rated.

 

Okay, so I found that once a year, I get a chance to deep dive on some horror shorts, and today I picked The Maiden, a short film about a real estate agent (Alia Raelynn) who knowingly tries to sell a house that is haunted by a sinister and dark force known as The Maiden (Penny Orloff).

The film is rather short but I found the tone and mood quite visceral. It is light on ingenuity but what it has is played very nicely. There’s a darkly comedic menace to the short in what Lucy, the agent, is willing to go through to get rid of this property. Lucy has depth and character in how badly she needs to be rid of the home. Penny Orloff is pretty great as the sinister spirit as well, she doesn’t overextend her stay and is given room to scare with mood and tone as opposed to repeated jump scares.

Overall, I would check out The Maiden. I enjoyed it, and the nice thing is that it is currently on YouTube. I’ll leave the video below for you.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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