Stephen Susco

Stephen Susco

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Beyond The Reach Review

Good

With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense to distract the audience from the implausible premise. Frankly, the screenwriter might have got away with it if he had avoided the temptation to indulge in some wacky bunny-boiler plotting. But Michael Douglas and Jeremy Irvine throw themselves into the situation in a way that's both gripping and entertaining.

In rural New Mexico, local orphan Ben (Irvine) has found happiness with his girlfriend Laina (Hanna Mangan Lawrence). Then she heads to Denver for university, so he throws himself into his job as a tracker working with the local small-town sheriff (Ronny Cox). His next job is to escort the cocky billionaire John (Douglas) out to the reach to hunt bighorn. But once the two men are in the wilderness, an unexpected incident reveals John's willingness to ignore the law. And now he needs to silence Ben. So John sends Ben into the desert wearing just his underpants, following him to make sure he dies unsuspiciously in the cruel sunshine. But he of course underestimates Ben's experience and resourcefulness.

The cat-and-mouse story holds the interest due to the actors, because it's never remotely believable that John's fancy jeep could keep up with the fleet-footed Ben through all of these rock-strewn mountains and ravines. And there's never even the slightest explanation for John's sudden burst of sadism. But never mind, Douglas sells the character through sheer charisma, swaggering across the Wild West like a man who has never lost at anything and doesn't intend to now. Meanwhile, Irvine throws himself into a physically demanding role that has some surprising emotional resonance. His moral dilemma is palpable, as his integrity wobbles in the face of a fistful of cash. Together, they make a terrific odd couple, with their constant distrusting glances and bald-faced bravado.

Continue reading: Beyond The Reach Review

The Grudge 2 Review


Weak
Low cost and high quality: Japan is king when it comes to assembly line production ethos and Grudge 2 director Takashi Shimizu takes that manufacturing approach in constructing this latest edition in the Grudge series. Block by block, shock by shock, he builds a movie that runs fine and looks slick. It's a solid product in terms of celluloid, but there is no soul, no artistry, in the merchandise. What went wrong? Enthusiasm. Shimizu seems to take pride only in the technical proficiency of his work. Actors be damned. Plot be damned. While there's nothing wrong with a really well-made but vacuous art-horror film (Dario Argento's entire canon fits this mold), there is no art in the Grudge 2, just cleverly staged shock shots stapled on to the other like the reels of skin in Sion Soto's Suicide Club (had to plug some good J-horror here somewhere.)

Perhaps this calculating demeanor is because Shimizu's essentially made the same film six times now. The first Ju-on in 2000. The second in 2000 as well. Then he did both of them again in 2003. Then the American remake in 2004. That makes Grudge 2 the sixth version of the same film made in only six years. (In between he made the similar Marebito and Rinne.) It's not surprising that the film feels mechanized, paint by numbers. Shimizu has either got it down so pat that he can operate on autopilot or he's just bored senseless.

Continue reading: The Grudge 2 Review

The Grudge 2 Review


Weak
Low cost and high quality: Japan is king when it comes to assembly line production ethos and Grudge 2 director Takashi Shimizu takes that manufacturing approach in constructing this latest edition in the Grudge series. Block by block, shock by shock, he builds a movie that runs fine and looks slick. It's a solid product in terms of celluloid, but there is no soul, no artistry, in the merchandise. What went wrong? Enthusiasm. Shimizu seems to take pride only in the technical proficiency of his work. Actors be damned. Plot be damned. While there's nothing wrong with a really well-made but vacuous art-horror film (Dario Argento's entire canon fits this mold), there is no art in the Grudge 2, just cleverly staged shock shots stapled on to the other like the reels of skin in Sion Soto's Suicide Club (had to plug some good J-horror here somewhere.)

Perhaps this calculating demeanor is because Shimizu's essentially made the same film six times now. The first Ju-on in 2000. The second in 2000 as well. Then he did both of them again in 2003. Then the American remake in 2004. That makes Grudge 2 the sixth version of the same film made in only six years. (In between he made the similar Marebito and Rinne.) It's not surprising that the film feels mechanized, paint by numbers. Shimizu has either got it down so pat that he can operate on autopilot or he's just bored senseless.

Continue reading: The Grudge 2 Review

The Grudge Review


Good
Sarah Michelle Gellar and the supernatural go together like peas and carrots, to borrow a phrase from our friend Forrest Gump. The starlet's signature role had her slaying vampires as Buffy Summers. We all know what Gellar Did Last Summer, but did you recall she also enjoyed a bit part in Wes Craven's Scream 2 and appeared in both Scooby-Doo movies?

By this roundabout logic, Gellar seems a natural fit for The Grudge, Takashi Shimizu's sufficiently creepy remake of his own cult Japanese horror flick Ju-on, a film he's made versions of a shocking five times now. Americanized and aimed squarely at the people who turned The Ring into a surprise hit, Grudge should satisfy audiences seeking a few cheap jolts for their dollar this Halloween season.

Continue reading: The Grudge Review

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Stephen Susco Movies

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...

The Grudge 2 Movie Review

The Grudge 2 Movie Review

Low cost and high quality: Japan is king when it comes to assembly line production...

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The Grudge 2 Movie Review

The Grudge 2 Movie Review

Low cost and high quality: Japan is king when it comes to assembly line production...

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