SPLIT Trailer Reaction

There’s going to be a new M. Night Shyamalan movie called Split. The film will star Scottish actor James McAvoy as a man with multiple personality disorder who kidnaps three girls.

Trailer!

This movie looks nuts. This role is an interesting choice for McAvoy who will need to frequently shift from character to character. At first the trailer seems absolutely terrifying but I have to admit, it does lose something when McAvoy’s gimmick is revealed. I’d rather be kidnapped by someone with multiple personalities than a straight-up psycho.

This film is a reunion between Shyamalan and low-budget production specialist Jason Blum who previously teamed up on The Visit last year. My early bet is that this will be another low-budget success for Blum’s production company.

Shyamalan is one of the more interesting filmmakers working today. Although he is hit-or-miss when it comes to his movies, I am definitely excited to see his latest film. It also looks like Split will take seriously the psychological disorder that it prominently features.

Level Up Trailer Reaction

Hey so there’s a new trailer today for a movie called Level Up, an action thriller about a loser gamer who suddenly becomes a badass to save his girlfriend.

Trailer!

Oldboy and Taken are the two movies that come to mind watching this trailer. The premise is completely ridiculous but who cares? This should be a fun movie to watch. I fully expect Level Up to provide very little plot and a ton of violence.

At least this movie knows itself. That’s probably an indicator that the movie will be at least halfway decent for what it is. It’s weird that movies and video games are beginning to overlap. As video games become more popular, I expect to see movies attempt to utilize their tropes more and more.

Green Room (2016) Review: Beautiful and Violent Genre Perfection

Green Room is the third feature film of Jeremy Saulnier, known for also directing 2013’s Blue Ruin. The big name actors in Green Room are Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart. Sadly Yelchin stands out in this film for having recently died in a freak accident at a young age. Stewart is incredible as the leader of a group of neo-nazis in rural Oregon.

Green Room is essentially the story of a punk band’s misfortune on tour. Early on we see Yelchin’s character and another band member siphoning gasoline from cars in a nearby parking lot. But what can you expect? This is a hardcore punk band comprised of three young men and one woman so its not surprising to see them steal. The film establishes its characters early on so we can understand the consequences of what happens later. Through a series of bad events, the band accepts a gig playing at rural bar that they discover is filled with neo-nazis. After their set, the band stumbles upon a dead girl in the green room which sets of a series of events with grisly implications. The band becomes trapped in the green room while nazis plan to kill them to cover up the murder.

That’s really the gist of this film. There’s no obvious deeper meaning. This is a very primal and human movie. I found it incredibly refreshing. I feel like every movie I see these days pretends to have something deep on its mind. Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a movie with no pretensions whatsoever. It’s very clear who is bad and who is good and its beautiful to watch. That’s the other great thing about this movie. It’s absolutely stunning as a technical and visual achievement. Saulnier and his team have proven themselves adept at making movies. It’s only a matter of time before Saulnier rises to greater heights because his level of talent can only stay hidden for so long.

Green Room is an incredibly violent movie but each act of violence is felt deeply by its characters. Sometimes movies like Green Room can become sort of cartoonish in their overuse of violence. I find this off-putting. I don’t watch movies to laugh my ass of like a little kid when someone’s head get chopped off. Some of the special effects are a bit phony looking for my taste but I appreciate what Green Room is trying to do. Saulnier and company are trying to make a fun genre movie for people like me. It’s a movie that would appeal to the band members in the movie. It’s brutal and doesn’t give a fuck. The writing in this movie is also phenomenal. Dialogue creates a sense of history and purpose for the characters without getting too deep.

Watching Green Room is like taking a class in how to create a low-budget horror thriller hybrid. I will definitely be watching this film again so I can soak up how it achieved its effectiveness. I love that Green Room is the movie Saulnier decided to make after Blue Ruin, because while I enjoyed Blue Ruin, it didn’t have that much of an effect on me. Green Room on the other hand is the kind of movie that I find perfect in every way.

The Gift is an Effective but Flawed Psychological Thriller

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The Gift is an effective thriller that suffers from a flawed ending. Joel Edgerton’s film stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as a seemingly happy couple starting a new chapter of their lives. Simon (Jason Bateman) becomes reacquainted with an old school chum named Gordo (played by Edgerton himself). It becomes clear that these two men share a sinister history and the nature of this history is the mystery of the film. (Spoilers lie ahead).

As the movie progresses, Simon’s real character is revealed and it is not pretty. Simon was a bully in the past and does not seem to be much better in the present. He manipulates his wife and ruins a co-worker’s career to get a promotion. He’s a rude dude who resorts to childish tactics such as name-calling and physical violence. It’s thrilling to slowly learn the extent of Simon’s wickedness. Edgerton is skilled at revealing just enough satisfying clues while keeping the audience guessing what will come next. The Gift has as much narrative tension as any film this year and that is reason enough to recommend it.

Here’s the thing, the movie concludes on a note that left me scratching my head. In the end, the film settles on being a revenge narrative, similar to a film like Oldboy. We find out that Gordo has filmed himself sneaking into Simon’s home wearing a monkey mask, while Robyn is passed out. This raises the question of whether or not Gordo has rapes Robyn. This behavior departs sharply from the actions previously taken by Gordo and its definitely a bummer ending. While I wanted to see Simon get his comeuppance, it’s hard to wish this kind of trauma on anyone, even an abusive bully. It’s a remarkably black ending for a film that travels through so many shades of grey. I recommend The gift because it will entertain but please be aware that most will leave with a sour taste in their mouth.