4.02.2020

Lunar Cycle - March 2020



Since I don’t have as much time to write longer reviews than I used to, I figured I would just post shorter reviews for horror/cult films that I feel deserve your attention. Expect these Lunar Cycle posts once per month.


INTO THE DARK: TREEHOUSE (2019) - ** out of ****

Directed By: James Roday

Starring: Jimmi Simpson, Mary McCormack, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Maggie Lawson, Stephanie Beatriz, Julianna Guill, Michael Weston, Amanda Walsh, Sutton Foster

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 88 Minutes


Plot: Celebu-chef Peter Rake escapes a scandal for a weekend at his family’s isolated vacation home, but there are debts to repay and Peter has to learn the lesson that a woman’s place is anywhere that she chooses to be… if he survives.


Review:
Another month, another Lunar Cycle reviewing Hulu’s Into The Dark series. I expected the first March edition of the anthology movie series to be about St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s not surprisingly [2020’s edition would be, however]. Instead, TREEHOUSE caters to International Women’s Day and the #MeToo movement that continues to gain momentum in recent times. With a strong cast and a message that’s obviously relevant and able to decipher, it’s a shame that the execution of the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. Like 2019’s DOWN, TREEHOUSE has something important to say but doesn’t quite know how to tell it without blurring the message within its narrative choices.

I understand why many are tired of these modern social commentaries that refer to feminism, since a lot of filmmakers make the commentary the agenda rather than just making a good movie with the commentary adding meat to the normal narrative. But I’m also getting tired of films that have something important to say but seem to avoid telling it a certain way so it won’t offend a portion of the audience. I feel like TREEHOUSE struggles with that, as a film like this should make us want to completely root for the victims to get a bit of justice on a jerk who uses his gender and/or position in life to oppress others - in this case, women. And the second half of the film, where a group of angry women want revenge on a misogynist chef [inspired by Gordon Ramsay] for awful things he got away with in the past. I won’t spoil anything since it’ll take away from the actual final act of the film, but witchcraft and supernatural stuff is involved to scare and torture this man as a way of learning a lesson about being a better person to women. 

That’s great and all, but it hurts a film when the entire first half is very much focused on the film’s supposed antagonist. And while Peter looks pretty bad during the opening moments of the film where he’s shown berating his employees, especially the female ones, he’s also shown to have a great affection for his daughter. He’s maybe a bit neglectful to his daughter and while he’s shown as a mean boss, Gordon Ramsay’s outbursts look way worse in comparison. And Peter does show a bit of sexism when it comes to women’s issues, which bothers his female neighbors during a group dinner, but it’s nothing that would warrant the treatment he receives later on. That is until we find out the terrible things he’s done to random women over the years in the second half of the film, turning your opinion on him slowly. But the fact that the film focuses so much on Peter right from the start and lets the audience get to know him as a personality, that it becomes a struggle when all these women want to do awful things to him as a punishment for crimes we had no idea about for 50 minutes prior.

Speaking of the female characters, while I understand their motives and their means of torturing Peter for his past crimes, they don’t come across as sympathetic at all. They say two wrongs don’t make a right, and it feels like TREEHOUSE is the epitome of that. The women do have their reasons for doing what they do to Peter and it’s all revealed within the film’s second half. But I wish I had known these facts much earlier for the audience to get on the female characters’ sides and want them to justify their revenge on Peter. They come across looking just as bad as he does, which doesn’t do the narrative any favors in the end. And while the revenge comes across pretty okay visually, it feels a bit unsatisfying when you think about it once the movie is over.

Other than that, the script is fairly pedestrian but entertaining enough to make TREEHOUSE watchable. The dialogue by PSYCH actor and TREEHOUSE director James Roday and his co-writer Todd Harthan is decent, with some amusing lines referencing other pop culture items - like referring to a goat as “Black Phillip” [THE WITCH], as well as some nods to PSYCHO & SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. The tone mostly captures a seriousness that’s refreshing, even though the commentary is one made for some melodrama and thrills that barely make their presence known where it matters most. There’s a great script here and maybe from a different perspective, TREEHOUSE could have reached that level. But it’s just average at best and makes you wish there was more to it than actually is.

Speaking of James Roday, his direction is a mixed-bag. He does have an eye for things, especially when it comes to using dramatic colors to pop a scene or reflect what a character is feeling. At times, I felt I was watching a Dario Argento film, which was kind of interesting on a visual level. And the film, for the most part, does look nice. The pacing is good as well. However, I had issues with some of the shaky cam going on at times. And some of the editing was a bit off for me. It’s nice to see Roday branch off to behind the camera and hopefully he’ll only grow from here.

The cast is pretty solid. Jimmi Simpson is always reliable in any role he’s in, and TREEHOUSE is no exception. He portrays every emotional beat well, making it hard to hate his character even though the film wants you to. The female cast all have their moments, especially Mary McCormack, Julianna Guill, and Nancy Linehan Charles as the almost-blind housekeeper who may know about Peter’s actions than she lets on. No one really wows you, but they all played their roles well and had great chemistry together. Considering how weak the script is, these fine actors attempted to elevate it somewhat. I just wish the film had a story that executed the message better because these actors could have had something really juicy to chew on.

Overall, the TREEHOUSE segment from the March 2019 edition of Hulu’s Into the Dark series definitely has something to say about the #MeToo movement and possesses all the ingredients to tell it in a meaningful way while still presenting the commentary as a horror film. But like the installment previous to this one, February’s DOWN, the filmmakers of TREEHOUSE have no idea how to use any of these ingredients to create a melodramatic thriller that could captivate an audience while teaching them something relevant in today’s society. A revenge-motif by a group of angry women [who may or may not be witches] against a male sexual predator should be interesting, bold, and ultimately satisfying. But the film focuses on the male character way too much, making us somewhat sympathetic towards him prior to any knowledge of his wrongdoings. And the women, who are justified, come across just as bad as the antagonist of the movie due to lack of genuine characterization and empathy. The film does have some decent dialogue and amusing moments, as well as a strong cast who are game to elevate a generic script. PSYCH actor James Roday directs the film with nice pacing, a decently serious tone and visually popping colors at times. But the shaky cam has to go and some of his editing choices are questionable. TREEHOUSE is a middle-of-the-road film like most of them seem to be slipping into as I continue through this anthology series. But considering the premise and the commentary it wanted to share, it should have been a lot better than it actually is.




INTO THE DARK: CRAWLERS (2020) - **1/2 out of ****

Directed By: Brandon Zuck

Starring: Jude Demorest, Pepi Sonuga, Giorgia Whigham, Cameron Fuller, Olivia Liang

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Aliens

Running Time: 81 Minutes


Plot: On St. Patrick’s Day - a night of wild parties and drunken revelry - and follows three unlikely friends who band together to save a college town from a vicious horde of body-switching aliens.


Review:
Continuing looking into the March entries for Hulu’s Into the Dark, we have this year’s St. Patrick Day’s installment called CRAWLERS - a film not so much about the holiday itself, but it involves an alien invasion occurring during a favorite drinking day for many. While never matching the greatness of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS or THE FACULTY, CRAWLERS manages to be a decent time and more fun than the installments I’ve watched lately. And it’s nice to see an Into the Dark entry that doesn’t shove its message in your face for once, letting it play within the narrative while focusing on the characters and the alien deal they’re involved in.

I think what helps CREEPERS stand out above a lot of other Into the Dark films is that the script actually allows the characters to develop enough for us to care about them. I’m not saying they’re the best written characters ever, but they all have distinct personalities and issues that make them easy to tell who from who. Shauna is the narrator of the film, giving us what happened on last year’s St. Patrick’s Day through her eyes. She’s also a drug dealer who is a major conspiracy theorist [which she got from her mom], not once surprised when the aliens make their presence known. She’s very stoic, but you can tell she was born to be a leader and is constantly pro-active, making her likable. Misty is the good girl who doesn’t really like to party or cause drama, dealing with a traumatic issue involving a frat boy who may or may not have date raped her. Chloe, her supposed best friend, sees Misty as a burden and would rather focus on herself having fun without her. Yuejin is Misty’s replacement in Chloe’s life, pushing buttons with her cynicism and bad attitude. And then you have the fraternity - mainly Michael [the accused date rapist who feels he can get away with anything because of his money and his lawyer father] and Aaron [the frat president who is misunderstood and proves he’s a decent guy along the way]. All the characters feel lived in and all feel as if they know each other well, creating bonds and tensions that propel the film along. A lot of these Into the Dark films have characters that are either not fleshed out enough, or are written a certain way that makes it hard to relate to. CRAWLERS has characters that stay consistent from beginning to end, making you care about what happens to them even if you don’t like some of them all that much as personalities. It was refreshing to see that for once in this series.

I also liked that the message of date rape and how college towns treat a lot of it wasn’t the central focus of the film. That’s not to say that the screenplay doesn’t give it a ton of attention, because Misty’s character and her change towards the end stems from her feeling like no one has her back on the wrong that has fell upon her. She doesn’t remember the night with Michael, unsure if she was assaulted or not. Because of this, she can’t call the police and accuse Michael of a crime - one she feels the cops will just see as “college students being college students”. Michael harasses her any chance he gets because he feels she’s ruining his reputation. Chloe feels like she should just get over it, just wanting to have fun and not deal with Misty’s “funk”. Aaron also feels it’s wrong for Misty to give the entire fraternity a bad name, especially when not all the brothers behave like Michael. While he apologizes to Misty for what Michael may have done, she also makes him realize that by not punishing Michael, he’s become sort of an accessory to the crime. And the best part about that is that Aaron doesn’t even argue about it, silently admitting that even though he’s a good person, staying in Michael’s company doesn’t make him as innocent as he would like to believe. It’s something a lot of college women deal with on campuses, and CRAWLERS does a nice job giving that subject a voice that never feels forced. It grounds the story in a way you wouldn’t expect in an alien invasion film, but it takes it seriously and uses it when only necessary. I appreciated the subtlety.

And while I liked how some of the alien invasion stuff is handled in terms of making the audience paranoid over who’s a human and who’s an alien copy, I felt that CRAWLERS could have done a whole lot more with the concept. I understand the budget to these movies aren’t huge and you have to make with what you do. But the story should have a bigger scope and the alien stuff doesn’t occur as much as one would like. When they do appear, the film is a lot of fun. And I think the filmmakers did the right thing using the rest of the time to focus on the characters’ interactions and opinions of each other to build a real bond that would help them against the invasion. But a real budget and a focus on the body swapping would have made CRAWLERS go from above average to pretty great. It feels like a young adult drama with aliens added in a lot of the time, which is a problem.

I also thought Shauna’s narration and bookending the film took away some tension from the film. Since I already know she survived it and looking great doing it, some of the suspense was gone and left me wishing she was an unreliable narrator who either made the whole thing up or was twisting the truth to make her look better. And while some of her voiceover comments were funny, it kind of ruined the flow of the film at times for me. I also thought how Shauna and friends ended the invasion was way too easy and not satisfying at all. Where was the drama? The tension? The suspense? Kinda weak.

Brandon Zuck does direct a nice looking film with decent pacing and clever editing to make us wonder who the aliens in the film were. It’s obvious he was inspired by 80s films like NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, the remake of THE BLOB, and NIGHT OF THE COMET. Colors pop, the gore effects are better than expected, and one scene where a character is dealing with a double and trying to convince the gang who the real one is happens to be really well done. I liked that Zuck focused on each character about an equal amount and allowed us to get to know them all individually. But I wish he could have been more ambitious with certain special effects, lighting at times [even though the final act has some nice moments], and just visualizing the alien invasion in a more exciting way. It’s a finely directed movie that has its moments, but you can see where he could have really pushed things further.

The acting is really solid, however, with the cast elevating the script to make the audience forget about a lot of the shortcomings in the script and direction. Giorgia Whigman is really good as Shauna, bringing a lot of fun in the role without showing much facial expression. Her lack of energy in the role actually adds a lot, sort of becoming the audience’s voice when it comes to the alien story. Jude Demorest is believable in her shallow performance of Chloe, making her a bit unlikable despite her beauty. Olivia Liang brings a lot of energy and cattiness as Yuejin, making you like her even when you shouldn’t. Cameron Fuller, son of producer Brad Fuller, is solid as Aaron. He plays both arrogant and likable very well, having nice chemistry with his female co-stars. And Pepi Sonuga does what she can as Misty. She doesn’t get a whole lot to do but play sad, bored, or frustrated for the most part. But she does become a bit more empowered towards the end and handles the social commentary stuff as well as the script allows her to. Of all the characters, Sonuga stood out the least for me. But I still thought she had a decent performance.

Overall, Into the Dark finally put out an above average installment with their St. Patrick’s Day themed film, CRAWLERS. While nowhere as good as THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS or other memorable films involving cloning aliens, CRAWLERS manages to be one of the more fun Into the Dark movies with a well-acted cast, characters who are fleshed out enough to be likable, and commentary about college date rape that gets enough attention to create character moments, but not take away the focus from what the main sci-fi storyline. The direction by Brandon Zuck has energy, but his vision could have been pushed further considering the lack of alien action throughout the film. But sometimes an ambitious project and a small budget don’t mix all that well. Plus, a bit of tension and suspense is lost due to the way the film is narrated. And that ending was pretty flat and came across as way too easy. But I had more fun with CRAWLERS than some of the installments that I’ve watched recently. Not must-see, but maybe worth checking out for those interested in this Hulu anthology series.






THE GRUDGE (2020) - * out of ****
[WTF? Vault]

Directed By: Nicolas Pesce

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver, Betty Gilpin, William Sadler, Frankie Faison

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Supernatural/Ghosts

Running Time: 93 Minutes


Plot: After a young mother murders her family in her own house, a detective attempts to investigate the mysterious case, only to discover that the house is cursed by a vengeful ghost. Now targeted by the demonic spirits, the detective must do anything to protect herself and her family from harm.



Review:
Earlier this year, I did an Original vs. Remake review for both 2002’s JU-ON: THE GRUDGE and 2004’s American remake THE GRUDGE. Both were two films I hadn’t given much thought about until the release of the newest installment, 2020’s THE GRUDGE, which made me wonder what was the point of rebooting a franchise a lot of people stopped caring about long ago. Despite a good cast and an up-and-coming director, 2020’s THE GRUDGE didn’t really grab the attention of a lot of people, not doing all that well at the box office. Still, I wanted to check it out since a lot of people who had watched it considered it the first bad film of 2020. After having seen it, I was surprised that the 2020 film is actually a sort-of-sequel to the 2004 American remake, making me somewhat interested where this side story would go. Still, its execution and justification for its existence leaves a lot to be desired, making 2020’s THE GRUDGE a film only a fan of the franchise should possibly watch.

There are a lot of things that THE GRUDGE does that makes me realize how good this film could have been if things had been done differently. The narrative is told similarly to how the original film was told - in a non-linear structure between multiple characters that eventually intersect to reveal twists or answers to questions asked in earlier scenes. For some reason though, I found the structure to be a bit compelling - which I didn’t find myself feeling about the first two films. Seeing how things intertwined and how all the characters were connected to each other keeps your interest, giving me some “a-ha!” moments through the film’s final act. 

That being said, this structure sacrifices any sustainable character development because the film has a lot of characters to follow, yet doesn’t really give much depth to any of them. Even the main character, Detective Muldoon, is given a certain background story and is the nucleus to the entire film as she ties everything together by the end - yet I don’t know much about her outside of the situation THE GRUDGE puts her in. She’s a caring mother. She’s a motivated and pro-active cop when it comes to investigating a mystery. But nothing about her connected with me on an emotional level to really care whether she survived this whole ordeal. The supporting characters get even less, even when they’re given their own scenes that are fairly interesting at times. And they all seem to have interesting backstories and connections to the house that possesses the Grudge. But there’s not enough time given to that for us to really care what happens to them, especially when their fates are revealed before the flashbacks occur within the film. So while the structure kept my interest, the writing itself felt pedestrian.

It also doesn’t help that the evil spirits are now a random mother, father and daughter rather than the more popular Kayako, Toshio or even Takeo ghosts that THE GRUDGE films are based around. I mean, I understand the need to do your own thing and start off fresh with a set of new evil ghosts that could haunt characters in future American films. But it just feels derivative of what’s been done before. Also, these new evil characters don’t have the depth or emotional connection to their backstory as the Saeki family did in the original films. These new spirits felt like something I could catch on certain seasons of American Horror Story, not doing anything interesting but appearing and scaring people. They share the same croaking sound as the previous villains, but that’s really the only thing interesting about them. I do appreciate that the Grudge creates new vengeful spirits no matter where they’re located, possessing new homes to spread the curse. But nothing was really done with the aspect of that story, making it feel like old hat. I think the producers played it a bit too safe when it came to the Grudge aspect in general, making THE GRUDGE feel more like an unnecessary reboot rather than a sequel that could advance the original story and build upon it to create a genuinely intriguing franchise that has a justification to exist. It’s a shame because there’s a good film here somewhere if only the screenplay would take narrative risks. Even the ending is flat as hell, which makes everything before it meaningless. It’s disappointing.

The direction by Nicolas Pesce is alright. Most of the film has this earthy, yellowish tint throughout, making it almost look like a crime thriller between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s - which works since THE GRUDGE takes place between 2004 and 2006. The pacing and the editing of the non-linear sequences is done mostly well, until the film’s final scene which feels like it comes out of nowhere with no time to build up to what happens. The special effects are pretty standard and not all that impressive, considering they look like something you would have seen years ago in films like 2016’s LIGHTS OUT with the film’s use of lighting and scale. I’ve never seen Pesce’s other films, but I have heard by many that he has done some cool indie horror films that are very much well liked. So it has to be studio interference that butchered the tension and suspense from this flick, since THE GRUDGE barely has any momentum. There is more than one moment where you can feel a build of tension, making you believe it’s leading to a big moment. But these moments are pretty much cut short, taking away any sort of atmosphere in favor of jump scares that have been done to death. I will say that this film has some gruesome looking imagery at times, which are pretty cool and help elevate this film. But they are few and far between. THE GRUDGE is a nice looking film, but not much else visually really.

The cast also feels wasted here, but they try their best with the material given to them. Andrea Riseborough, best known for her work on BIRDMAN and MANDY, does what she can as Detective Muldoon, the film’s lead character. She plays it tough, smart, and scared all believably. I wish she was given more of a chance to shine, but she does the best with what she has. Demian Bichir of THE HATEFUL EIGHT gets even less to do, even though he’s in one of the best shock moments of the film. John Cho [of HAROLD & KUMAR fame] and Betty Gilpin [THE HUNT, G.L.O.W.] have some good material to work with as Peter and Nina. They share nice chemistry with each other and get most of the emotional beats in the story, even though the film never really lets their storyline build to something meaningful. Cho, in particular, has really grown to be a believable serious actor as of late and I feel he should have been given more to do because he would have rocked it. Lin Shaye probably has the most fun playing a woman who is passing away, but is comforted by the spirits living in the house she’s moved into. She’s creepy, sympathetic and gets to have the most memorable moments in the film that I actually enjoyed. Jacki Weaver and Frankie Faison get to have their moments as well, but they have short roles that don’t really allow them to chew on the scenery. I do think Faison has one of the more interesting characters in the franchise, playing a man who intentionally moved into the Grudge house knowing what was inside. Feeling his wife was dying anyway, he felt the house would keep her spirit alive even in death, regardless of the evil inside of the home. I wish the film had focused more on that aspect because it’s a refreshing look on the haunted house story. Too bad the studio went with tried-and-true instead.

Overall, 2020’s THE GRUDGE is a film no one asked for and one no one cared about considering it didn’t make much of a dent at the box office. There is genuinely a good GRUDGE film here, as it does present some new and interesting ideas throughout. Yet, the producers were either to lazy to develop them or too scared to create something fresh in order to give horror fans the same ol’ premise they’ve been accustomed to for 18 years now. The non-linear structure is honestly compelling and it’s cool to see the dots connected by the film’s end. But the characters don’t have much depth, making it hard to really care about them - especially when some of their fates are revealed within the first act. The new Grudge ghosts are a mistake, in my opinion, as they’re not as compelling as the original Saeko family. They’re just around for jump scare purposes and nothing more. Nicolas Pesce’s direction seems to have some studio interference as it feels he has a vision for a new generation of THE GRUDGE, but decided to play it straight and give audiences something predictable instead. The film looks nice, however, and it’s edited and paced mostly well. The cast is great and they try their best to make the material stand out. But most of them feel like guest appearances, not given enough time to really develop the characters they’re portraying. Some of the actors get some juicy material to work with, but the film doesn’t bother developing it, focusing on getting rid of the characters in ghastly ways instead. However, Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, Betty Gilpin and Lin Shaye shine the best considering they’re not given enough to do. This could have been a really cool extension of the franchise, taking the story further through the next decade. But instead, THE GRUDGE plays it too safe and didn’t do a whole lot to justify its existence for me. At this point, if you’ve seen one GRUDGE film, you pretty much seen them all. Oh well.






THE HUNT (2020) - **1/2 out of ****

Directed By: Craig Zobel

Starring: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ethan Suplee, Teri Wyble, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Emma Roberts, Christopher Berry, Sturgill Simpson, Kate Nowlin, Amy Madigan, Glenn Howerton, Justin Hartley

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Action/Comedy

Running Time: 90 Minutes


Plot: Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are - or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.


Review:
With the craziness that was unleashed to the entire world in terms of a coronavirus that has made most of us have to stay home to avoid catching it and getting sick, I’m sure some have forgotten that we were still going through it for years before this when it came to gun violence - especially in the United States. There wouldn’t be a week where you wouldn’t hear about a school shooting, or a shooting in a mall, or just gun violence where people are gathering. It was alarming, depressing, and just upsetting. The gun debate was a huge part for the last couple of years and will probably continue once a treatment plan and/or vaccine is created for COVID-19. This debate affected Hollywood in many ways, including shelving Blumhouse’s horror-action film THE HUNT before it had premiered in September of 2019. 

But then time had passed and THE HUNT was allowed to be released a few weeks ago, considering the gun debate had been brushed under the rug for now in order to combat a virus. With many claiming the film to be “controversial” and “pushing buttons that will upset many sensitive people” through its political satire and violence, the buzz for THE HUNT had built to a point where it found an audience both in theaters [prior to closing] and now on streaming where it’s doing really well.

Seeing friends watch it and compliment the film on certain aspects, I finally sat down and decided to give THE HUNT my full attention. I won’t lie - theaters pulling the film last year made me very curious about the content and how it was so controversial that “the film should never been seen at this certain time in our society”. It also had a lot of actors that I enjoy and the trailers made it seem like it was more of a black comedy than something that could seriously offend anybody. So I wasn’t sure what to expect watching it. Now having sat through it, I have no idea why THE HUNT was even pulled from theaters. And considering the hype the film received by the media and even by friends, I felt let down by the film. I’m not saying it’s terrible, because it’s far from that. But it was just a horror film that had a lot of gore and a commentary that attempted to say something important, but really said nothing all that meaningful due to its execution. It’s personally a conflicting watch.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. Betty Gilpin, probably best known for her Emmy-nominated work on G.L.O.W., is the only reason to watch THE HUNT. Out of the cast, she’s really the only one that’s given material to really chew on and do something with. Her portrayal of Crystal could have been pretty cliche, as the character is a tough and smart military veteran who doesn’t flinch at danger and is completely detached from the politics and social norms around her. Gilpin could have been over-the-top with it, giving us your typical action heroine who can miss bullets by just moving an inch to the side, or reciting punny one-liners to establish the character into the pop culture lexicon. But Gilpin does the total opposite, playing Crystal as a woman that seems slightly unhinged due to the War in Afghanistan and not caring what others think about her. She twitches, stays quiet most of the time and only cares about her own survival if she feels others around her will jeopardize it. I thought Gilpin did an incredible job in the role. The other major player is Academy Award winner Hilary Swank as Athena, the person responsible for The Hunt itself. We don’t see much of her until the film’s final act, where Swank really shines along with Gilpin as the two finally meet face-to-face. But Swank is always a presence throughout and it seems she’s having a lot of fun playing against type. I haven’t seen her in a major project for a while, so it was nice seeing her after all this time.

As for the rest of the cast, they all provide their moments even though they mostly don’t get a ton of screen time. When you think a recognizable actor is going to have a major role or possibly be the lead of the film, they’re quickly gone and you kind of feel shell-shocked by their exit. The first couple of times, I was actually surprised by this turn of events, thinking it was actually clever to give the audience a sense of false security. Too bad the rest of the film can’t maintain that feeling, but it works wonderfully in the film’s first act. Some great actors all contribute to that - such as Emma Roberts, Glenn Howerton, Ian Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Amy Madigan, and so on. THE HUNT has a great cast and uses them well for the most part in different ways that keep the audience on their toes.

I also liked Craig Zobel’s direction here. The film is well paced for its 90-minute runtime, capturing some nice action and intentionally funny moments throughout. The first act’s take on The Most Dangerous Game is both shocking and thrilling, constantly twisting and turning the situation to keep one visually invested. THE HUNT is incredible violent, especially during the film’s beginning. The gore is pretty gnarly, with people getting blown up into many pieces or just until half of a body is left. People are getting shot left and right, stabbings to the neck, arrows targeting people, grenades and mines blowing people up, and other messed up violence. It’s all shot well and some it done tongue-in-cheek, which livens up the mood. Even the quieter moments are allowed to resonate and allow the actors to flesh out some of the characters a bit. It’s a nice looking film and balances the horror and action very well, while sprinkling some black comedy that made me laugh at times. Nothing about the visual presentation bothered me.

Where it comes to the screenplay though, that’s where THE HUNT becomes frustrating. Adapting The Most Dangerous Game and using politics and social issues to drive the story isn’t a new concept, as it has been done before countless times. But that part of the narrative is handled well and is one of the reasons why the film works as well as it does. We clearly have two sides and it’s not too hard to root for the side where the victim is trying to rise up and free herself of this terrible game over the evil bastards who see this game as something fun and necessary to prove a point.

The issue is that THE HUNT is so focused on the idea of politics and how both sides are really one-and-the-same that it sort of misses the point of what it’s trying to execute. We currently live in a society driven by social media where things like politics and religion have brought people together as much as they have driven people apart. It’s almost an online Civil War at times because a lot of people can’t seem to understand the other side’s point-of-view without lashing out in nasty and even violent ways just to prove that their opinions are the right ones. It’s a great concept to use if you’re trying to readapt The Most Dangerous Game because you can easily see why one side would want to target the other side. The problem is that typically, you’d want one side to be clearly good and the other side being clearly bad. But THE HUNT, even though it’s obvious writers Nick Cues and Damon Lindelof [who worked on HBO’s Watchmen TV show] have clearly picked a side, wants the audience to see that the world is really a shade of grey. While that’s true in reality, it doesn’t make for a compelling story on film since you’re left wondering who you’re supposed to empathize with and trust.

I guess the people in charge of The Hunt are liberals who are completely politically correct and refuse to be bullied by clearly ignorant and non-PC folks who enjoy their gun laws and the old ways things were done. The players in the game are more conservative and probably fans of a particular President who are anti-immigration, have no issue using guns, are seem to be residing in red states. If the script had chosen a side, I’d feel the supposed controversy of the film would have been justified. One side of the fence would have been upset and the uproar would have created a massive buzz for the film, regardless of half giving it some bad publicity. But Cues and Lindelof show that both sides are flawed to the point that only Crystal comes out of the film as the only real likable person because she doesn’t take a side at all nor particularly cares to. The Hunters felt bullied and decide to use their power to hurt those who hurt them. The Hunted don’t understand what’s going on, but sometimes come across as racist or just plain vulgar. And they’re almost portrayed as a bit stupid, which doesn’t help their cause. Yes, each side has its pros and its cons. That’s just the world we’re living in and some of us are just thicker-skinned to deal with it. But when it comes to cinema, there should be a clear message and commentary with a chosen side for audiences to latch on to. Telling people that no matter side you may stand for, neither one will make you a hero or a villain is something people will have trouble comprehending. The political commentary just feels like decoration than something meaningful to the plot. Yes, people are going to be upset with the subject matter. But if you’re going for it, go for it and think about the consequences later. It seems the writers may have backed off and played it safe to please a general audience, which is the total opposite of this film’s intent. I mean if you think about it, it’s obvious who the villains are here. But the film wants to have its cake and eat it too by pointing out that the other side is also as bad besides a couple of folks. The use of George Orwell’s Animal Farm is inspired, but it doesn’t matter all that much until the last few minutes of the film. It’s too bad because I always dig this particular concept, but the wishy-washy commentary brought it down for me.

Overall, THE HUNT is a film that doesn’t warrant the controversy it had received in 2019 during the United States’ struggle with massive amounts of gun violence that seemed to happen on a daily basis. Yes, THE HUNT is a pretty violent film and there is a lot of gunplay at hand here [as well as arrows, grenades, land mines, and knives]. But it’s nothing that hasn’t been done in previous films or films that have been released since, using The Most Dangerous Game trope to justify it’s violent existence. The action and gore sequences are nicely shot, and the cast is really good - especially G.L.O.W.’s Betty Gilpin as a woman who can handle herself very efficiently in a violent situation while behaving in a intriguingly bizarre and deadpan manner that separates her from everyone else. 

While the concept is used well [it’s a hard one to screw up even after all these years], the political commentary is mishandled as both Nick Cues and Damon Lindelof try to present both the far-left and the far-right characters as both unlikable without really choosing a side for the audience to get a sense of what they’re really trying to say that isn’t obvious. It’s clear who the villains are here, but the writers felt like they had to complicate it to justify THE HUNT’s existence, which brings the film down. It’s a decent and sometime fun watch bogged down by a flawed point-of-view… or lack there-of really. THE HUNT is a film that deserved to be as controversial as described with a powerful message. Instead, it’s just your above average The Most Dangerous Game adaptation with quirky characters who don’t really have much to say that we didn’t know already. What a shame.


3.17.2020

Leprechaun (1993)

DIRECTED BY
Mark Jones

STARRING
Warwick Davis - Lubdan the Leprechaun
Jennifer Aniston - Tory Redding
John Sanderford - J.D. Redding
Ken Olandt - Nathan Murphy
Mark Holton - Ozzie Jones
Robert Hy Gorman - Alex Murphy
Shay Duffin - Daniel O’Grady

Genre - Horror/Comedy/Slasher

Running Time - 92 Minutes


PLOT (from IMDB)
When Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin) returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechaun’s (Warwick Davis) pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and O’Grady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement.

Ten years later, J.D. (John Sanderford) and his spoiled daughter Tory (Jennifer Aniston) move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.

REVIEW
As any horror fan knows, holidays are always an easy theme to craft a scary story around. HALLOWEEN, BLACK CHRISTMAS and MY BLOODY VALENTINE are perfect examples of that. Not even St. Patrick’s Day is safe, which explains the existence for 1993’s LEPRECHAUN - an attempt to create a franchise horror character for a popular day on the calendar like MGM & Universal had done for Chucky with CHILD’S PLAY. LEPRECHAUN is a film I don’t watch all that often, but I’ll probably leave it on in the background if it plays on television. It amazes how many sequels this film has gotten, but people love this dumb Leprechaun and his silly puns. LEPRECHAUN is a bad movie through and through, but it has an odd charm about it that makes it worth watching at least once - especially around St. Patrick’s Day.

The main issue with LEPRECHAUN is that it doesn’t have much of a narrative. The film is just about a vengeful Leprechaun looking for his stolen pot of gold due to some stupid and annoying humans, leading to some violent times - sort of anyway. I don’t mind horror films having a real simple story. Hell, some of the classics could be summarized in one sentence. But what those had over this film are characters we could actually like or care about. It’s obvious from the start that the producers want the audience to love and root for the Leprechaun character. He has the mission. He has the funny dialogue. He has the most interesting things to do in the story. He’s the star from beginning to end. In fact, the first shot of the film is the Leprechaun descending stairs to check on his gold without any sort of set up or explanation. He’s the character the franchise is going to be build around, so why wouldn’t he be the focus? The problem is that the Leprechaun is supposed to be the antagonist, yet he’s justified in his actions because greedy humans stole what belonged to him and he just wants what owed to him. If the supposed protagonists were as interesting or as charismatic as the title character, the simplicity wouldn’t be an issue. But most of them are annoying and unlikable, while others are just there to add to the low body count. You’ll want the Leprechaun to play tricks and hurt these people, which could be fun. But the film plays that aspect a bit safe as well, making one wonder what’s the point. It’s just a strangely written screenplay.

It doesn’t help that you’re not sure what kind of tone this film is supposed to take. It’s obviously a horror film because this Leprechaun is enjoying tricking and killing some folks. But there’s also this goofy, silly vibe that doesn’t totally succeed because the film isn’t all that funny anyway - at least not intentionally. The Leprechaun is obviously inspired by later Freddy Krueger, using jokes and puns while he’s hurting other to amuse the audience. Some of the lines are genuinely chuckle worthy, while most of them deserve a tomato or two being thrown at them. But at least these kind of jokes and puns fit for a Leprechaun character, regardless of how well they work. But that doesn’t excuse the human characters from having really terrible dialogue that makes you roll your eyes and groan more than anything. Each character thankfully has a personality, but that doesn’t make them watchable when they’re alone in scenes together. Tory is a brat who preaches others about being vegan and not having the luxuries of living on a farm rather than the city. Ozzie is the slow one, while his annoying kid sidekick Alex is seriously grating anytime he speaks. And Nathan is just the token good-looking hero that doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. Seriously, none of these characters would be missed if the Leprechaun had gotten them.

The story does have a few things going for it. For one, I actually like the fact that a four-leaf clover is his weakness like a crucifix would be for a vampire. This Leprechaun enjoys giving people a sense of bad luck, so having the symbol of good luck destroy him makes sense. And the concept is never overused here, making it more effective during the film’s conclusion when it’s utilized. I also really got a kick of the Leprechaun having this OCD deal with shining shoes. There’s one moment where the humans throw their shoes at the Leprechaun, realizing he’s compelled to shine their shoes regardless of how dirty they are. It’s honestly amusing and displays one of the better moments for the human characters. I also thought some of the death scenes were unique. The main one that fans remember involves the Leprechaun using a pogo stick to impale some shop owner until he died. There’s also one that involves clawing a deputy’s face before snapping his neck. And seeing the Leprechaun’s go-kart actually ram and turn over a normal sized automobile is pretty funny. So while the majority of the screenplay leaves a lot to be desired, it does have memorable moments from time to time.

The direction by Mark Jones isn’t the most exciting honestly. We get a lot of tilt and pan, especially when most of it isn’t necessary. And his use of both slow and fast motion at times didn’t really feel like they fit the scenes they were a part of. At least the film is well paced, even though it really should have had more action within the middle portion of the film. And the blu-ray remaster makes the film look really great, probably more than it deserves. I also thought the gore effects looked pretty good as well. While also a terrible movie, I do think Jones did a better job on RUMPELSTILTSKIN, where he was able to cut a bit more loose notwithstanding the quality of that movie. LEPRECHAUN looks fine but nothing that’ll pop out for the audience.

As for the acting, it’s not the greatest either. But some of the actors do try to elevate a silly script. For those who don’t know, LEPRECHAUN is the film debut of one Jennifer Aniston, who would become a phenomenon a year later by starring on Friends. A lot of people consider Aniston’s performance in this film “the period before she took acting lessons”. And yeah, she can pretty rough around the edges at times as Tory, the city brat who soon becomes the heroine of the film. But honestly, I rather take her shaky performance here over any performance she had during and post-Friends, which is pretty much one-note and the same every time. Despite her annoying character, Aniston handles herself well and manages to take it as serious as she can, considering the material. I doubt she even discusses this film anymore, but she happens to be one of the better things about it.

Even better is Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun, who made all the films in the franchise that he was involved with watchable with his energetic performance. Davis has been a highlight in a lot of the projects he’s been involved in, especially multiple STAR WARS films, WILLOW, and several HARRY POTTER movies. Even though it shouldn’t work, Davis makes the Leprechaun character charming and fun in a dumb way, You can Davis is having so much playing the role, which makes it charming to watch him portray it. This series would be nothing without him and it surprised me when he was replaced in recent installments of the franchise.

The other actors are okay. Ken Olandt uses his 90’s hair, chiseled looks and biceps do the work for him. Hey, when it works, it works. Mark Holton played the typical slow overweight redneck in a horror movie role. It feels more like a caricature than an actual performance, to be honest. I wish he had played it more subtle, but then I remembered what film I’m reviewing here. Robert Hy Gorman is pretty grating, but I chuckle whenever a child says a cuss word every now and then. I’ve seen worst child actors. And John Sanderford doesn’t get to do a whole lot but get his hand bitten by the Leprechaun. He was more memorable as Zack Morris’ dad on Saved by the Bell.

THE FINAL HOWL
While this film has its fans, I find 1993’s LEPRECHAUN just meh for the most part. Warwick Davis is the highlight as the title character, having a blast in the role and making the silly gimmick work as best as possible. And while a bit rough around the edges, I would take this version of Jennifer Aniston [in her film debut] over the Friends Jennifer Aniston we’ve gotten in the last 26 years. The kills, especially the pogo stick kill, is pretty amusing. And while the puns and jokes don’t always land, at least the film seems to be trying to entertain the audience. But besides the Leprechaun, the human characters are either stupid, annoying, or both - which is more disappointing when the body count is so low. And the direction is pretty pedestrian and not all that memorable, even though the blu ray remaster looks freakin’ great. LEPRECHAUN doesn’t really succeed as either a horror film or a comedy, but there’s something stupidly charming about this one for some reason. I would only recommend this film for Bad Movie Nights or you need something to watch for St. Patrick’s Day. Otherwise, not the pot of gold you’re probably looking for.


SCORE
1.5 Howls Outta 4


3.06.2020

The Invisible Man (2020)

DIRECTED BY
Leigh Whannell

STARRING
Elisabeth Moss - Cecilia Kass
Oliver Jackson-Cohen - Adrian Griffin
Aldis Hodge - James Lanier
Storm Reid - Sydney Lanier
Harriet Dyer - Emily Kass
Michael Dorman - Tom Griffin

Genre - Horror/Thriller

Running Time - 124 Minutes


PLOT (from IMDB)
When Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moss) abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

REVIEW
Despite classic films like 1920’s THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, 1922’s NOSFERATU and 1925’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the horror genre didn’t really become popular for the mainstream until Universal Studios started adapting horror novels beginning in 1931 with DRACULA. FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE INVISIBLE MAN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLF MAN and THE CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON would soon join DRACULA as immortal horror films that popularized the title characters into the pop culture lexicon to this very day. These characters are still beloved today by multiple generations, getting marathons during Halloween season, as well as being a huge monetary success in terms of the home video market. Universal still makes a lot of money with these characters, which is why the studio has been doing multiple attempts to retell their stories for the last 20 or so years.

Out of all the characters, it seems The Mummy has been the most successful in terms of box office and franchise building. In 1999, the story was changed from horror to a more action-adventure film starring Brandon Fraser that was a huge box office success during that year’s summer season. This success would lead to an even more popular sequel that created its own spin-off franchise with THE SCORPION KING, as well as a third film that didn’t do as well but still made money. Ever since this, however, Universal has been struggling with their monster franchises.

The studio attempted a remake of THE WOLF MAN in 2010. Despite an A-list cast and good special effects, audiences didn’t care too much about it. In 2014, Universal released DRACULA UNTOLD - a horror-action film that invented a different origin story for the character rather than follow the novel the character is based on. It was a surprise box office success for the studio, yet they didn’t really do much with a potential franchise afterwards. Seeing how successful Marvel Studios and Disney had become with their MCU films crafting multiple franchises that tied in together in one large world for major crossovers that destroyed box office records all over the world, Universal wanted in some of that action. Plans for Luke Evans’s Dracula from DRACULA UNTOLD started to slowly form to be part of Universal’s “Dark Universe” - an attempt to reimagine all of the Universal horror characters in their own films before putting them all in a single film as a huge event. Instead of doing a sequel to a successful film that people seemed to have enjoyed, the studio instead decided to remake THE MUMMY again in 2017 with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. Despite the star power, the film pretty much bombed both commercially and critically, destroying any plans for a Dark Universe - at least for now.

So it was pretty surprising when 2020’s THE INVISIBLE MAN went forward after plans for a shared universe fell through. Realizing they couldn’t force a movie universe, Universal stepped back and decided to just focus on modernizing the character for a newer generation through individualized storytelling that wouldn’t force audiences to watch multiple films to understand what they were watching. Hiring screenwriter and director Leigh Whannell [mainly of SAW, INSIDIOUS and UPGRADE fame] to helm the film and casting Emmy Award winning actress Elisabeth Moss as the main character who would be subjected to the terror of the title character, this remake had a lot going for it. The trailers, while they looked good, had me worried a bit as they gave off a Lifetime movie-of-the-week vibe, just with a bigger budget. You’d think they gave away the entire film by watching those trailers, causing me to wait a bit to watch the film rather than rush out so I could write a review for it. But color me surprised - this new INVISIBLE MAN turned out way better than I had expected, with the trailers only showing a portion of what the film is about. In fact, this may be one of the smartest horror films I’ve seen in a theater in a long time, giving you an important social commentary that doesn’t feel forced but a natural progression of the story the film is trying to tell. Take that, BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019)!

There’s so much good about THE INVISIBLE MAN that I’m not sure where to exactly start with its praise. I guess if there’s anything that makes the film worth anyone’s while, it’s Leigh Whannell’s masterful eye behind the lens. While the film does have a few jump scares, especially during the last half of the film, Whannell is more focused on building tension and suspenseful throughout to put us in the position of Moss’ Cecilia from beginning to end. And Whannell wastes no time in building mood and atmosphere, as it’s evident right from the start as Cecilia tries to escape the clutches of her abusive boyfriend [last name Griffin, one of the few references to the 1933 film] during a dark, quiet night while he sleeps. Just the way Whannell slowly pans and tilts the camera to capture every moment, even frame space that doesn’t seem important, slowly starts to unnerve you. The use of security camera footage to see if he’s still sleeping and the lack of a musical score make you tense, wondering what’s about to go wrong to set up the rest of this film. Cinematographer Steven Duscio helps Whannell visualize this beautifully polished look for the film that’s just a shell for the ugliness of Cecilia’s situation. Shots are skillfully framed throughout to have her in a certain part of the frame with so much open space next to her, making you wonder if someone is actually there but we can’t see him. When the first loud noise is made, I actually jumped a bit because you don’t expect it. There are great moments like that in the entire film, not just in the awesome opening act. The direction starts to make you paranoid a bit, even though you know Cecilia is right about her ex-boyfriend haunting her as some sort of invisible man. Sometimes nothing happens in the frame. Then once in a while, an object would move on its own. Or a noise is made. Or the ex-boyfriend just attacks Cecilia or the people she’s close to, making them see her as a liability. Throughout the film, the title character is trying to drive Ceclia insane and punish her in the worst ways possible mentally and emotionally. I’ll get to the abuse commentary in a bit, but it’s so well done visually that you sympathize heavily with Cecilia and you want her to get rid of this prick. 

When it comes to the special effects, Whannell and his team did an awesome job updating the invisibility aspect. Using a more technological storyline to explain how someone could become invisible, it updates the story in a modern way and makes her some cool visuals when the title character is made visible through liquid, smoke and other means. The final half of the film focuses on these visuals, making things tense when the villain pops in and out visually, never in a predictable pattern. It looks so accomplished and flawless that you totally buy into the concept. The best special effect is when you don’t see The Invisible Man at all, making you look around the screen to see if something moves around that shouldn’t be. And when Cecilia tries to talk to him and he doesn’t answer to unnerve her, it sort of unnerves us too. I’m completely amazed how well Whannell and his team accomplished the visual presentation of THE INVISIBLE MAN because it’s one of the better directed horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Whannell has come a long way and he’s doing more-than-good for the genre.

And honestly, the visuals would be nothing if it wasn’t for the immaculate performance by Elisabeth Moss in the lead role of Cecilia. Moss has so many emotional and physical layers to play throughout the film, you’d really think she was being put through the ringer in real life. Moss plays the role of an abused woman so believably, you start to think that it had to come from a place of reality for the actress in some aspect. Most of the time, Moss has to be inside of an empty room having dialogue with someone who you can’t even see or hear - but you know he’s there watching her crack under the pressure to punish Cecilia for leaving him. Most actresses would look silly doing this, either overdoing their portrayals to the point of slapstick and silliness. It’d come off so melodramatic, you’d probably end up laughing at the actress rather than feeling sorry for her. Moss is so fantastic that you buy every emotional beat she plays to a tee. Watching Moss play out Cecilia’s story in such an enduring, harrowing way is masterful stuff, especially since you connect with her right away and wish her to be free of this “ghost”. With the help of a fantastic supporting cast, Moss is able to elevate the material that could have been silly for a lesser actress. She won’t get any major award nominations for this, but I would seriously consider the thought at least. Moss is wonderful.

The commentary of abuse and how it affects the victims is strongly at play here, but the film never really pushes the agenda in a way to be “woke”. I kept seeing people who hadn’t watched the film complain about another film dealing with “women being wronged by men”, believing THE INVISIBLE MAN is hammering this message of feminism to a mainstream audience that threatens toxic masculinity, I guess. Have these people watched films or television? The subject of abuse - either physical, mental, emotional, and/or sexual - has been in media for decades. Soap operas deal with this topic. Cop shows, like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has had 21 seasons of dealing with this subject. Hell, Lifetime has become a household name for many TV movies dealing with people trying to escape an abusive relationship by any means necessary. THE INVISIBLE MAN is not a film that’s telling its audience that “men are evil”. There are male characters in the film who are actually good guys who want to help Cecilia deal with her emotional suffering so she can get back to a normal life. This is a story about an abused woman who struggles escaping and being haunted by a terrible person, who just happened to be a man, hoping someone will believe her cries for help. When this terrible person messes with her to the point that he’s framing her for things and doing things that make her look like an awful, crazy person because he wants power over her, she has to take it upon herself to make a change and stop this person from haunting her ever again. It’s a tale that’s been told for generations, using the issue of abuse to drive its story forward into a horror-thriller direction that people of all genders will be able to relate to and hopefully enjoy enough to see this abused victim get some satisfying justice. I thought it was handled extremely well and as realistic as you can get with an invisible man running around.

If I were to nitpick anything, I thought the conclusion happened way too quick for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was completely satisfying. But I expected more of a physical confrontation than what we were given. Then again, this entire film is pretty much a cat-and-mouse chase, so it feels kind of silly wanting more of that in the last few moments of the film. I also felt there were some narrative inconsistencies that I honestly can’t discuss due to spoiler territory. But small things happened for the convenience of shaping later events, although they shouldn’t have existed logically in this world. Plus, the title character is just a supporting character rather than the lead. I’m sure it’ll upset some people, even though I enjoyed the change of perspective when it came to THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

THE FINAL HOWL
THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020) will definitely be a highlight for cinema, especially in the horror genre, this year. It’s suspenseful, tense, and bleak - creating this distressing world of domestic abuse through the eyes of the victim as she struggles to escape the abuser that continues to haunt her, even though no one else can sense him but her. The social commentary is very timely, yet it never pushes this agenda. Rather, writer and director Leigh Whannell lets the commentary drive the story and make us sympathetic with the lead character as she tries to regain her freedom from the ghost of her past. Through the use of fantastic direction and cinematography by Scott Duscio, the visual presentation heightens the narrative by framing scenes in such a way that we’re looking for things that aren’t there - or maybe they are. The film is greatly elevated by an incredible strong performance by Elisabeth Moss, who plays every emotional beat perfectly. You totally buy her journey from scared and fragile abuse victim who is afraid to leave her own house, to a desperate woman who just wants out of this toxic relationship. It’s nice to see a film that isn’t focused on creating a franchise or trying to be part of some shared universe for a studio to milk these brands dry for a quick buck. THE INVISIBLE MAN is able to breathe as its own thing, telling a story a lot of people can relate to while giving familiar fans a new perspective to the usual story. This is a remake done right.


SCORE
3.5 Howls Outta 4


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