IMDB Score – 5.8
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Directed By – Mike Flanagan
Starring – Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, and Doug Jones
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.
First films are interesting. On the surface they are cheaply made with actors who range from promising to barely usable. Below the surface they are occasionally the early seedlings of talent. After finishing Absentia I was left both impressed and frustrated. The film didn’t make sense in some scenes, had bad editing, and some shoddy acting. Yet, the film is also unique with some seriously disturbing and frightening ideas. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I can understand why Mike Flanagan got the budget to make Oculus.
The film centers around two sisters. The oldest is finishing filing the paperwork to declare her husband, who disappeared seven years earlier, dead. The younger is reuniting with her older sister after a long battle with drug addiction. The typical horror tropes start to occur afterward. Strange thins start to happen and both sisters are starting to question what they see. The film features a cameo of sorts from the great Doug Jones and some seriously horrid acting from two horrid detectives.
Like many first features, the beginning of the film kind of ruins the remaining. This movie takes an eternity to get going and by that point I’m really just hoping to see some blood and guts. The acting from Parker and Bell gets better as the film progresses and the last twenty minutes showcases some pretty interesting and disturbing concepts. The end result is pretty much this…I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I’ll see if Flanagan improved on his first effort with his second effort soon.
IMDB Score – 7.1
RT Score -84%
Ahhh, Steven Soderbergh. The man apparently has retired from directing films but I don’t think the man can stay away. I think he’s just burnt out. He’s made ten films since 2007 and has been a producer on countless other productions. I hope he doesn’t stay away from the camera for too long because he’s a one of a kind director that is constantly doing unique projects one after the other. He has directed films such as The Informant which cause me to walk out of the theater early (which never happens) and has directed films that have hooked me in like Contagion, Traffic, and this film…Side Effects.
The story follows Emily Taylor played by Rooney Mara as she deals with her depression and sees a psychiatrist played wonderfully by Jude Law. This is all I can tell you without going into spoiler territory. The film twists and turns that much.
I thought the film did a good job fitting into the “Hitchcock” mold that most thrillers try to adhere too but most end up failing to accomplish. The mystery that Jude Law is trying to uncover is a well written mystery that had me guessing. It managed to flip itself around multiple times without giving the viewer the spins although the final act was a bit muddy at times. Also, was Soderbergh trying to make a political statement about pharmaceutical companies trying to make money at the expense of the health of others? It’s certainly possible the way the plot progressed but what we have here is a classic mystery story that would have worked great as a Noir film which was a pleasant surprise to me considering how much I enjoyed my last film, The Third Man. The acting was good borderline great with Law really shining.
Don’t quit making films Mr. Soderbergh. The business will miss your versatility.
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IMDB Score : 8.0
RT Score : 97%
Alfred Hitchcock’s other classic train thriller/mystery was way more enjoyable that I thought it was going to be. Not that I didn’t expect to like a film by Hitch; I love the mans work. It’s just that I guess I expected a lesser standard considering Hitch made this film in 1938. Silly, silly me. I loved this. The story surrounds a woman who meets an elderly English woman on a train. The woman is your typical 1930s English old lady and she proceeds to chat up the young Margaret Lockwood. Lockwood passes out from the old lady kindness and awakens to find her missing. Everybody on the train they encountered has no idea what she’s talking about. Now I don’t want to get into specifics, but the end of the film is awesome. It’s one of the most polite yet thrilling endings that Hitch has to offer, Yeah, I said polite. THESE ARE ENGLISH ADULTS IN 1938! It’s awesome!
“Sir, could you hand me that handgun so I can fire away at these chaps?”
“Certainly sir, and may I say that is a lovely jacket you’re wearing.”
“Oh, you’re too kind”
BLAM! BLAM! BlAM!