Gifted Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) makes an odd misstep with this overwrought gothic horror thriller, which is so bloated that it's more silly than scary. At least it features a starry cast that has a lot of fun with the characters, providing some emotional undercurrents as things get increasingly crazed. But the truth about this film is that it's a haunted house movie with ghosts that aren't remotely frightening. And worse yet, they're essentially irrelevant to the story.
It's set in late-1800s Buffalo, as young aspiring writer Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is unsure about the romantic advances of her childhood friend Alan (Charlie Hunnam), who is now a hunky doctor. But he fades into the background when the dashing Sir Thomas (Tom Hiddlestone) arrives from England seeking funding from Edith's father (Jim Beaver) for a machine to mine valuable clay from his crumbling ancestral home. As he sweeps Edith off her feet, Thomas' sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) enters the picture with a clearly nefarious plan of her own. Sure enough, Thomas whisks Edith off to get married and return to the family mansion, a freaky towering wreck that oozes red clay. Or that might be blood. And since Edith has a history of seeing ghosts, the house feels particularly crowded to her.
The spirits are rendered as stretched-out skeletons surrounded by spidery wisps. And in England they're of course blood-red. Oddly, they merely seem to be observers to this story, never actually doing much proper menacing. And since they look faintly ridiculous it isn't easy to muster up the dread required to make this work as a horror movie. Everything else on-screen is just as absurd. The mansion looks more like an elaborately dilapidated over-sized movie set than a neglected manor house. Thankfully, Del Toro packs every scene with witty details and a lurid colour scheme that keeps the audience on its toes.
Continue reading: Crimson Peak Review
In the 19th Century in Cumbria, England, an old house stood overlooking a tremendous stretch of land. That house was Crimson Peak, inhabited by Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). When author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) marries the handsome and quite Thomas Sharpe, she moves to Crimson Peak to live with the siblings. However, upon arrival, strange thing begin to occur. Mysterious visions and terrifying objects begin to emerge, showing that the house is not as it appears. As Cushing struggles to get to the bottom of the house's dark history, the secrets of the family steadily begin to unveil themselves to her.
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Hell's Gate is located in Possum Kingdom Lake, in Texas. Located in the middle of the lake, it is a sheer break between two cliffs. It is largely unknown how it came to be that way but this film provides a possible explanation.
Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas entertainer disguising his true abilities with a cheesy stage show. FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has decided that the best way to stop a smuggled nuclear bomb from detonating somewhere in the U.S. is to use Johnson's talent for prognostication. Never mind the fact that he can only see two minutes into the future, giving her a very brief window in which to act if he were to see the bomb. That's about the level of logic at which this film operates.
Continue reading: Next Review
This is a movie meant to be a sophisticated take on criminal punishment, but unfortunately it's actually the kind of garden variety thriller that Hollywood pumps out with one thought: to keep you guessing what surprise The Big Twist will bring. Unconvinced? Recent garbage like High Crimes and Reindeer Games leap to mind. Same formula, same disastrous results.
Continue reading: The Life Of David Gale Review
Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) only waited until his third film to make his, an over-three-hour epic with at least 10 major characters in almost as many separate story lines. And thanks to those characters, every one a rich mystery burning with secrets, Magnolia is a smashing success.
Continue reading: Magnolia Review
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