THE FINAL GIRLS

THE FINAL GIRLS

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To sum up my feelings about The Final Girls I have come up with two words…
FUCK YEAH!
It’s been years since I have been this pumped about a horror comedy, feeling the same high as I did the first time I watched Scream or Shaun of the Dead. Honestly, this is a great flick and so much fun to watch.

the-final-girls-2015-movie-image-3Writers M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller create an intelligent and witty duo. Choosing to have the characters enter a horror film from the 1980’s must have been a daunting task. Where does one draw the line in making fun of our own passion for the genre? The Final Girls found that line and smeared it with naked “hoot’s” (I’d totally motorboat them all night too). Although there was a lot of teasing about how corny the genre can be, Miller and Fortin cleverly followed the rules-of-horror seemingly without effort. Well written, nicely thought out and truly a happy horror feature to watch.

final-girls-billyDirector Todd Strauss-Schulson did a mega-fine job keeping the actors in character. The 1980’s was a different time, full of Aquanet, rock n’ roll and, absolutely no internet. Thankfully the characters didn’t spend the film whining about their lack of connection (as so oft happens in horror) instead the story unfolded beautifully while revealing a load of amazing personalities.  Billy Murphy, the big-bad in the flick, played by Dan B. Norris was well-rounded, his desire for vengeance was classic. A solid nemesis that could carry more features. From what I have seen in The Final Girls I am confident in saying that Norris has the potential to be the next Kane Hodder or, at the very least snuff out Principe. Being a sucker for back stories I really enjoyed the explanation why Billy had gone all murdery on the Camp Crystal Lake Camp Blue Finch counselors.

Though, I wonder what would have proceeded if they had stopped the occurring’s at the outhouse, I was more than happy to follow along with the journey. It was easy to bond with the different characters and when The Final Girls credits roll (with bloopers) I was left hoping a sequel will follow.

This story isn’t finished and fans are going to want more!

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The actors really fell in to line with this. Taissa Farmiga has grown so much since her first major role on American Horror Story: Murder House, season one. She has a vulnerability to her that is very appealing and was able to convey an undertone of honest emotion throughout the hilarity of The Final Girls. Malin Akerman also gave a great performance, proving her to have a very diverse set of acting skills. Actor Adam DeVine is the man who I love to hate. Great at portraying a Super Douch that you want to high-five and dick-punch at the same time. Watching fellow Canadian, Thomas Middleditch light up on-screen was gratifying. It is genially fun to see a personality in a horror movie that loves horror, makes me geek out. Middleditch has a keen timing for humor and his facial expression/mannerisms make his character whole. Angela Trimbur gets a shout out because her character terrified me and made me want to never leave my apartment again, she really went all out for The Final Girls and succeeded at reminding me why I hate the University Students in my City. A sincerely great performance. The whole cast was great and worked off each others attributes as actors and what felt like friendship. There are so many to name I merely added the few that shined brightest to me. Needless to say all should be very proud.

The Final Girls is a great homage to the genre. There are some very straight forward nods to Classic Slasher’s like the obvious connections to Friday The 13th to Halloween 2 and others, which, I will leave up to audience to over-analyze. There are some delectable deaths and scares to make this alluring to horror fans, the characters were thought through enough to have their own distinct personalities traits and, the film is lush with comedy.

This really is a good movie. One that will appeal to a wide range of sub-genre fans, not just Slasher lovers. My feelings are this will become its own classic and in the years to come expect many knock-offs of The Final Girls.

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El.

RIGOR MORTIS/GEUNG SI

RIGOR MORTIS/GEUNG SI 2013

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Rigor Mortis blew my mind. Hands down Takashi Shimizu‘s best work to date. An extremely well thought out film. Many character plots that unravel into a set of circumstances that makes perfect sense in a realm where near anything seems possible. Complicated as all hell but, easy to follow.

22298746_Still_Rigor%20Mortis_7I’m not going to bother trying to find a flaw in the cinematography, it was fucking beautiful to watch. The ghosts were typical of Takashi Shimizu‘s earlier work (pick any Ju-on) but had something special that set them apart. While on film, the spirits and those possessed had a veiny, liquid like aura that didn’t seem evil but, like the twins themselves, a product of their demise. There is one scene where it feels like Shimizu is giving homage to Stephen King’s “The Shining”. There are no other parallels between the films than one shot. Or, perhaps I am looking too deep.

People, ghosts, vampires, oh my! The actors has mountains to climb with the script and in having faith in Shimizu every one, every thing, it all worked like a key in a finicky lock. Anthony Chan, Kara HuiSiu-Ho Chin and, Chun-Man Ko totally deserve all the praise that has come their way since the release of Rigor Mortis.

I love a good mystery and a film that you can tell has been cared for. Rigor Mortis has earned a spot on my Top Ten Films list. It is perfect in nearly every way.

El.

SNAKE WITH A HUMAN TAIL

SNAKE WITH A HUMAN TAIL – 2014

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There is a lot to talk about when it comes to Snake With A Human Tail.
For one the poster art is amazing. So often fans are let down by DVD cover and poster art. As of late, it seems as though our plight has been heard. This is no exception. Be sure I will be looking in to getting a copy for my collection, hopefully signed.
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Be prepared, Snake With A Human Tail  is one of those films that is upsetting on a natural, human, this could really happen, level. To sum it up, the film is Psycho meets Pink Flamingos, directed by a young Quentin Tarantino. It’s a thrill ride.
For most of us sane and rational people out there, corrupt religious authorities are angering and terrifying, Snake With A Human Tail feels the same way. Meet Father Fulci (Marv Blauvelt). As a survivor of sexual assault, he did not break the cycle of abuse, instead he mastered his seductions while working at Church. Presently dating a transgendered woman he finds himself becoming obsessed with his new girlfriend, Karma (Sheri Davis) and her talent for not feeling physical pain. The viewer learns quickly what type of horror this film is. There is no candy coating for the faint of heart in Snake With A Human Tail, it is not written or directed to protect its audience from the crudeness of its reality. 
10715681_10205067019345230_730894242_nKarma was my favourite character. She is a woman with baggage. By carrying the baggage with her through life, she became stronger and more determined to seek out resolution for her past.  During her earlier years as a young boy, she was abused by a Father in the Church she attended. The abuse changed her destiny. The desire for revenge continued until present day, when she was finally able to release her glorious blood-thirsty retribution. The conclusion (no spoilers here) is why I feel Snake With A Human Tail will redefine revenge-horror 
MV5BMjAxMjQ5ODY4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTEwOTE4MjE@._V1_SY317_CR20,0,214,317_AL_Snake With A Human Tail is a well done flick. Billy Blair (Dr.Bloom) understood how to express a false sense of caring for Father Fulci, whilst still keeping in line with the limitations of his job as a Therapist. However, it seems too many actors are not taking into consideration what the their character would typically look like. Blair fits in this category. As your audience, we want to see different sides of you, how you can take on a whole new persona.  It bothers me, what can I say? It’s my main complaint about Blair as he appeared like he just finished playing a set with Eric Clapton and not what I know as common aesthetics for a Psychiatrist. My advice, shave the goatee. Once that baby blanket is gone he will be able to express his characters on their own merits.  By doing so, Blair‘s acting abilities are going to appear stronger which is a great thing as I said, he nearly nailed it on ever level but, his appearance worked against him.  That’s still awesome.  Plus, hair grows back.
10723394_10205067031905544_665202698_nIf Karma was key to Snake With A Human TailSheri Davis was the lock. From her mannerisms, to her speech, to her loyalty to the role, Davis was able to emote what a woman in Karma’s drugged up lifestyle might behave like.  I asked Davis what her first thoughts were when she was introduced to the character Karma. Her response was that of a true actor.  “There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted the portray the role of Karma. I literally said to myself, “I finally get this incredible opportunity that I’ve longed for.”I desired a role where I could show my diversity as an actress. I wanted to break the typecast of the roles I had played. I literally pictured the transformation of Charlize Theron in “Monster” when I envisioned the physical transformation that I wanted to make from the “pretty brunette Southern actress” to something much different. I had been longing for this role. I felt so much empathy for what Karma had experienced and become because of Father Fulci’ s actions and I wanted Karma to be real to the audience. I wanted people to feel, see, and hear who Karma was and who she had to become to survive Father Fulci ‘ s abuse. I am very grateful to Spencer Gray for giving me the opportunity to not only play the role of Karma, but the creative freedom to change many things about my physical appearance and trusting me to truly bring him/her to life the way I also envisioned. I am also very thankful to Spencer for allowing me to also Co – produce and help cast as well10717970_10205067905247377_1593681382_n
Then, I had to ask the obvious question. Do you feel this film shines a positive light on the Transgendered community or, are you preparing yourself for backlash?  Her answer was level-headed “I felt the minute that I first read the script that I would get a lot of backlash from numerous people and groups. I also knew that there would be people who would probably judge me or even change the way they look at me because of this role. Bottom line, I don’t feel that this movie is about a “transgender.” “Snake With A Human Tail” is about an innocent HUMAN BEING who as a child was sexually molested by a deranged priest. The innocence of Henry ‘O’Brien was stolen by Father Fulci and as Karma tells her prostitute friend Kennedy (Melina Lyon), “Karma Blake rose from his ashes!” This film is storytelling at its best! It’s a in your face kind of film which some will find offensive. If that happens then that means that we all did a great job because it became REAL for the audience. This is the raw sad side of life that does exist. It shows us that evil is real and you never know just who may be wearing the mask of pure evil
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 Marv Blauvelt portrayal of Father Fulci  came across a little stiff for me. It felt like the things he was doing on camera were uncomfortable for him and it showed on-screen. His work in Slices of Life was great. He is not a bad actor. However, there were times in the film when the opportunity to give Father Fucli a little humanity cause feelings of sympathy for the monster, those times were not utilized. It was an unnatural performance.  The plus side, there are worse things in life than not appearing at ease in the shoes of a child molester.
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 Clean lines and clear shots make for a good contrast between the psychoticism that transpires on-screen.  Spencer Gray knew how to direct Snake With A Human Tail in the perfect way to draw in his audience and make them feel a part of the action, as uncomfortable as that action often is. The diner scene was well done. In sequence with Davis‘ emotional ups and downs the camera angle was constantly changing and there was the introduction of a number of nameless characters, and overload of information, some that didn’t matter, some that were important to the plot. Davis and Gray worked as a team to invoke feelings of unease and interest. One thing that could have been employed into the film would be the use of a hand-held camera during Karma’s scenes. This would aid in conveying the dizzy feeling in being high and can naturally cause viewers to become anxious and unsettled. Gray should be proud of his efforts with Snake With A Human Tail, it is a disturbing way to spend 31 minutes of your life. 10719075_10205070736358153_2079140637_n I asked Gray if  Snake With A Human Tail, had a social message behind the story while writing it, and if so, what he felt that message was? “I wanted this film to be the real deal. To inhale America’s sins and spit them out, like Henry Miller’s “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.” I wanted the raw, real side show for anybody interested in breaking through the POLLYANNAISH facade that is America. I feel so fortunate to have found so much talent that wanted to do the same and pulled it off beautifully. I believe Marv Blauvelt, Sheri Davis, Billy Blair, Jeremy Mitchell, and Anthony Gutierrez are just the beginning of what I feel will be a trend of BOLD new savage art. If you don’t like something in our film, write a nasty email and send it to yourself. It all came from you and the society each one of you helped create.” After watching A Snake With A Human Tail a minimum of four times, it’s really grown on me.  Would love to see this made it to a feature or even a series as there could be many secrets held in the past that could be answered through flashbacks from the point of view of Father Fulci during therapy and Karma whilst under narcotics. Did I like it? Yes.  Do I see room for improvements? Yes. But, what indie film doesn’t have set backs due to funding, time constraints and, other common issues that come with independent filmmaking. A Snake With A Human Tail will probably do quite well in the festival circuit and I imagine will be known as one of writer/director Spencer Gray‘s better early works. I will be recommending this to any true hard-core horror fans.

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El

WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT

WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT 2012

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Flicks based around a poltergeist tend to be hard for me to swallow.  There is no doubt in my mind that ghosts do not exist, therefore I do not fear them.  Yes, every once in a blue moon I will get a good scare from a spiritual horror, but I also get that from movies about a clown with deadlights beaming from it’s eyes.

When the Lights Went Out is written and directed by Pat Holden, who has vocalized his families own experiences with the afterlife.  Holden used inspiration from what is known as a true haunting that took place in the 1970’s in Yorkshire.  The story is known as The Pontefract Poltergeist, Holden‘s own extended family’s experience.

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Although the flick was a bit slow moving, everything from the setting to the dialogue to the actors told a solid story that felt like it was filmed in the 70’s.  Period pieces are difficult to do, especially ones where most people can remember what it was like to be alive during the era. I give Holden props for that accomplishment.

A lot of the conversations between the characters were boring and meaningless to the plot. Other problems for me were scenes like the father (Steven Waddington) getting so scared of ‘something’ in the basement that when he finally get out of the room he bitch-slaps his daughter Sally (Tasha Connor).  That didn’t flow for me and seemed like it was left in for shock value – that failed.

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The movie took a nonchalant approach.  Most people I would think would have some sort of reaction having a friends mother ask not to have someone inside the residence due to a spirit.  In When the Lights When Out it was merely accepted by Sally to not have her peer in her home and she didn’t really question the motives behind it, or behind anything.  The subdued reaction of the mother (Kate Ashfield) after seeing an apparition was less than thrilling. A let down when you think of Ashfield‘s performance in Shaun of the Dead and know how much more she is capable of. Not a standout performance.

There’s not one actor who stood out in this film as they could all be considered part of the background.  Bland and out of date.  They all seemed to be following instructions and not participating in the creation of their characters.  A major let down as I feel this feature had potential to be truly dark and disturbing.

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A scene towards the end of the movie where a séance is held  had the opportunity to really put a scare into the audience.  It ended up a dull and rusty attempt for more shock value.  There was no specific time in When the Lights Went Out that I felt unease, suspense or panic.  From beginning to end it felt like the movie was a rip-off of The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist.

Some people will view this movie and see it as artistic or genuine, to me it a film to be found on The Woman’s Network late at night.  Not terrible, definitely watchable, but don’t expect it to make your top ten ghost stories list.

Geeker.

SILENT NIGHT

SILENT NIGHT 2012

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What the hell did I just watch?   Seriously, what the fuck was that??

Expecting more of a reboot, Silent Night was a massive let down for me. With only minor hints of the 1984 classic Silent night, Deadly Night this movie was a fail.  The use of the title is insulting to fans who were wanting a reprise of Billy and ended up with a mash between Leprechaun, Sorority House Massacre, and the deuce I left in my toilet this morning.

Oh Malcolm McDowell, how ye have fallen.  With a respectable career spanning decades he has most certainly been underestimating himself lately.  I forgave McDowell for Suing the Devil and Mr. Magoo because I know he is a great actor when challenged.  Some choices made as recently as 2012′s Excision, were brilliant and he should have stolen the show. Instead he lacked the luster he had during the 70′s with films like A Clockwork Orange.  It appears his voice over work for Marvel and DC are what he has decided is the best he can do, and it shows.  McDowell‘s portrayal of Sheriff Cooper was over the top and it felt like every other character he has opted to play in the past.  The Sheriff should have been more adapted to that particular style of living and McDowell should not have regressed to his ‘too good for everyone’ attitude he expresses often on the big and small screen.

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From the set of one remake (Mother’s Day) to another, Jamie King also missed the mark in Silent Night.  I have not seen her appear quite so unreasonably neurotic in a film. Her character Aubrey Bradimore went from a super sweet-child like woman cutting to a bad-ass swearing at Santa in public to screaming in terror from actually having to do her job as the Fuzz.  King‘s performance was laughable at times.  Her back-story was skimmed over (edited out) and left for a of questions about her mental state, and mine as it was truly frustrating.

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Who did shine in Silent Night Donal Logue was excellent and believable. Having been in a number of flicks I adore including Comic Book Villains, Zodiac and the early episodes of The X-filesLogue is an actor who deserves more recognition for his contributions and skills.   Likewise for Mike O’Brien.  He hit the mark on his role of a truly disturbed Santa Claus, Stein Karsson, and gave for one hell of a creepy performance.  From Corner Gas to Silent Night, I expect to see much more in the future from O’Brien.

This movie makes little sense.  There is no real explanation about Bradimore’s husband and what tragedy happened the year prior that repeatedly was brought up.  Not only was this bothersome, but made it impossible to relate to her as a person. It made her a joke.  Keeping the murder with the mounted deer head and the Santa slasher’s background was not enough for me as a fan of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night.  Writer Jayson Rothwell  relied too  much on tits & ass to keep the story interesting, I can only assume a lot of the key parts were cut from the final product.

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Director Steven C. Miller did a decent job. In my opinion with the cast not meshing and not working to the best of their abilities, bad editing and the film not living up to it’s expectations as a remake, Silent Night may end up being somewhat of a mistake to have taken on, for anyone. What would be awesome to see is a directors cut of Silent Night and what Miller would have done with it himself.  A flick that worked well and directed by Miller is Scream of the Banshee. It might be a little corny as it is made for the tele, however it does show off his ability to guide a good production. A superior film?  I am not sure of that, but will admit it’s been watched more than once in my home.

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What is good about Silent Night?  The effects.  The kill scenes for the most part are gory and appreciated by someone like myself.  With a light story the FX really helped me follow through until the end.  There were two scenes specifically that I will not ruin, but were bloody, violent and fun to watch.  They made the flick for me. Would like to take the time to say the cinematography was well done and the shots themselves were clean, just would have been nice if everything matched up a bit more.

So, will this be a year around watch for me?  Nope, but during the Yuletide Season I guarantee Silent Night will be playing several times in my home. Face it, Christmas horrors are not the easiest to come by, I will take what I can get.

Geeker.

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT: PART 2

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT: PART 2  1987

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 Silent Night, Deadly Night is my favourite seasonal horror franchise.

All five are likable movies, yet Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 stands out as the worst of the bunch.  That goes for most all great series does it not? A decent first flick, a few fails and some mediocre yet entertaining sequels all mashed together. SNDN2 is definitely the the most craptacular.

There is true Christmas warmth in my heart for Silent Night, Deadly Night, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (which stars Bill Moseley as Ricky, who even though may have looked corny as hell really brought something dark to the character) and yes,  Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker featuring Mickey Rooney topped SNDN2.

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SNDN2 begins with a interview between a Psychiatrist (James Newman) and his new client, Ricky Cadwell (Eric Freeman) who is the younger brother to Billy Cadwell (Robert Brian Wilson), the infamous Santa Claus killer (SNDN).  Within fifteen minutes of the sequel there is already two flash backs of the first movie.  What you have to understand to appreciate SNDN2 is that it isn’t so much a feature but a very long trailer for the first installment.

By no means does Ricky’s character measure up to his brother Billy’s.  Billy had logical fear and abuse to support his mental breakdown. Wilson gave a good hard go at capturing Billy, you can tell that even though he wasn’t a skilled actor the man took pride in his portrayal.  1984′s SNDN is by far a superior film to the second, and many others in the franchise.

Ricky was expressed lifelessly by Freeman.  Not remotely intimidating or vengeful enough for someone who is supposed to be irate over the loss of his family.  Newman held it together for his part of the Shrink, which honestly didn’t consist of much more than a few soap opera glances and an overbearing A++++ attitude. It’s not even worth saying that the acting took away from the movie as there was so few new elements to it. In effect Ricky was simply narrating the back story for the first half,  while foreshadowing the last half. The first movie is the second movie. Let that sink in a bit…
 
As the questions between the Therapist and Ricky heat up, Ricky’s own story comes to light. After the massacre, the orphanage where both boys grew up together was ordered to be closed.  Sister Mary (Gilmer McCormick) found a nurturing family, the Rosenburg’s, to care for the lad.  Cut to a shopping trip with Ricky and his new mother. While she gossips with a friend, Ricky sees two Nun’s walking towards him and appears to mentally crack.

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Here is what I am thinking,  how much better this movie would have been if they continued with Ricky’s own fear of Nun’s and left St.Nick to his brother?  Give the movie a new feel, still keep the theme of Christmas – good and evil.  Update it so SNDN2 is not a literal regurgitation of SNDN.  Other than the quick scene showing Ricky as a child afraid of some Nuns there was no real indication that his anger stemmed from the abuse and violence at the orphanage.. Ricky even seeks out Mother Superior (Jean Miller) for revenge.  It would have been so much better to have used SNDN2 as its own film. Top to bottom, keep it about Ricky, even using some recollections from SNDN, but about his character and not Billy’s.  The Best clip is when the camera pans up from Billy’s dead body to his brother standing above him having witnessed the slaying.  Keep that, that’s great!  Hell, in The Hills Have Eyes 2 a dog had a flashback! There was a great set-up for making Billy completely messed, the opportunity was missed due to bad writing and a lack of imagination. …and probably funds.

There wasn’t room for director/writer Lee Harry to do much at all with the sequel.  As I stated it is mostly clips from SNDN. Admittedly, anything new to SNDN2 was under-acted and poorly executed.  I don’t know what the story was but screenplay writers Lee Harry and Joseph H. Earle managed to adapt this movie in the worst way possible.  Nothing is believable.  Why Lee Harry wanted to direct this is unbeknownst to me.

This is a terrible movie.  There really is no way around it. But, if you’re a true fan of holiday-gore than this movie is what you’re asking for. 

Just remember to be ready when Santa comes to drop it off.

Geeker.

MISERY

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In 1990 with a fresh decade ahead of the entertainment industry Stephen King‘s novel Misery was released on film.  It is easy to recall the hype of this flick and the rave review it received. James Caan and Kathy Bates came together as leads and blew the audience and critics away. Bates was well suited for the role and was convincing having to let loose during her characters emotional exploits. It was impressive to watch her throughout the film.  Caan fit well playing a frustrated author who is given no choice but to try to keep Annie pleased with him to avoid the torture that arises along with her anger.  Both gave excellent performances.

Misery follows Paul Sheldon (Caan), a wordsmith who recently ended his long running series of novels ‘Misery’s Child‘ .  On a drive to his country retreat Sheldon’s car runs off the road where the unconscious and injured writer is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Bates) whose attempts to care for Sheldon prove false when it’s realized he has no option to leave her home.

Directed by Rob Reiner, Misery is a well filmed and thoughtful movie.  Having the majourity of the feature being shot in one room could not have been an easy task to work around.  The camera angles and Reiner‘s own stylings gave room for a new feeling in every scene.  Watching Annie lose her cool over reading passages of Sheldon’s new book was plain awesome.  The upper-cut on the camera really worked for me and made it easy to relate to feeling helpless against someone who is clearly disturbed. Not Reiner‘s best work but he did manage to deliver a chilling movie to his audience.

Admittedly I am not a fan of Stephen King‘s efforts. It doesn’t appeal to my senses.  I have not read the novel Misery and probably won’t.  Having said that, I am a fan of this movie. As much as I lean towards the bloody and darker sub-genres, Misery definitely had it’s own scares and was heavy on suspense.

The storyline was strong and forward. There wasn’t an abundance of supporting actors to take away from the depth of Annie and Paul’s relationship. Richard Farnsworth (Buster, Sheriff among several other duties) was great for a bit of comic relief from the tension throughout and a special nod to Frances Sternhagen who played Buster’s wife for her perfect timing and ability to convey an adorable and bitter senior. Other than the two love birds and Sheldon’s publicist Marcia Sindell acted powerfully by Lauren Bacall there were no other characters.  It would have been a treat to see Bacall have a stronger role in the feature but for what it is worth she certainly stood out when on screen.

Misery is a great movie for its time. Would I protest a reboot?  Not at all.  It would be fantastic to see a darker more disturbed Annie attempting to care for a more inept patient. There is plenty of room for more violence and a proper attempt by the police to find the long missing writer.  Misery has great potential to be truly macabre.

All in all Misery is a great thriller and one I return to often.  Should not be missed.

Geeker.