Lunar Cycle - May 2020 (Better Late Than Never)

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.

DEMON WIND (1990) - *** out of ****

Directed By: Charles Philip Moore

Starring: Eric Larson, Francine Lapensee, Rufus Norris, Jack Vogel, Stephen Quadros, Sherry Leigh, Bobby Johnston, Mia M. Ruiz, Richard Gabai, Tiffany Million, Elizabeth Ince

Genre: Horror/Supernatural/Demons

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Plot: The strange and brutal deaths of Cory’s grandparents has haunted him for years. Determined to discover the truth, he has returned to the desolate region where they lived, along with a group of friends, to try and uncover the mystery. Ignoring warnings from the locals that the arena is cursed, Cory and his friends soon realize that the legend is true, as the Demon Wind possesses and destroys them, one by one, turning them into monsters from hell.

I remember the days of video store searching in the 1990s, browsing through the horror movie section to rent a couple of flicks for the weekend. There were always a few films that had VHS covers that always stood out. One of those films was definitely 1990’s DEMON WIND, a film that had a cover that always captured my attention every time I went to a video store. But I never took the chance on renting the film for whatever reason. Maybe I wasn’t mature enough to expand my horror horizons at that point. Maybe a part of me felt that the cover would be better than the actual film itself. But for whatever reason, it took me until this month to finally sit down and watch a film that has carried quite a reputation for 30 years.

With a title like DEMON WIND, I was expecting at some point to see some giant demon throw a massive fart or something. But what I got was a horror film that doesn’t hide its influences at all. While director Charles Philip Moore is definitely emulating 1981’s THE EVIL DEAD, there’s also a bit of 1988’s NIGHT OF THE DEMONS at play while other elements from many zombie movies are in full effect. While that combination is interesting on paper, the wooden acting, cheesy special effects, and bonkers narrative quickly bring down the quality of the feature. DEMON WIND is a pretty terrible movie and it’s easy to see why a lot of folks are down on this one and dismiss it. But there’s something so entertainingly stupid about the whole thing that you can’t help but have fun with it’s “so-bad-it’s-good” quality.

The narrative of this film is something else. It starts out one way where you start to get into the groove of it, only for the story to take these random turns and add in unnecessary elements to fill up to its feature length. It begins in the past [1931, later changed to 1929 for reasons unknown] with some Satanic ritual shenanigans that goes really wrong. Then we quickly head into present day where the main character [Cory] is related to those who were murdered in the prologue and brings his girlfriend and four friends along to the same cursed cabin to see what happened to his grandparents, despite everyone in town warning him to do the opposite. Soon enough, the curse traps them there and they have to deal with demons wanting their souls. That sounds simple enough, but then the film decides that isn’t enough. There are ghost children who can turn people into dolls. Cory learns he’s a descendant of witches and has visions that warn him of the future. There’s also this deal with seven special daggers that are able to kill the demons, despite the film only using two of them [what is the point of seven, then?]. The daggers look more like ice picks than daggers, as well, confusing me further. We have weird portals and a gooey boss who is able to absorb other demons to become more powerful. And of course, there’s that character who needs to read things out loud, not realizing he’s summoning evil to this specific cabin they’re staying at. The film also gets unintentionally funny when characters die, only for two new friends to randomly show up without a mention of them prior to this, living enough to add to the body count right away. It’s like Moore decided to take an easy premise and then just throw a whole bunch of toppings on it to complicate the formula for whatever reason. Usually this kind of thing would annoy the hell out of me. But the structure and storytelling was so bizarre and silly that I couldn’t help but laugh every time the story would add something new that wasn’t needed. I stopped thinking about the growing mess and just enjoyed the ride getting to the film’s conclusion. DEMON WIND charmed me with its awfulness, I couldn’t help it.

The characters are also something else, as they were likable in the dumbest of ways. Cory, the main character, was super serious the whole time and made the dumbest decisions for a leader. Elaine, his girlfriend, is a bit ditsy and clueless at times, yet supportive and willing to do anything for Cory. Dell is the cocky jock who thinks he’s God’s gift to women while his girlfriend Terri sets the women’s movement decades back as she’s pretty subservient to Dell. Jack is the nerdy and nervous one, while his girlfriend Bonnie is the girl-next-door. And then we have Stacy and Chuck - two random magicians who can actually doing some cool tricks, while Chuck brings more to the table with his kung-fu skills [???]. There’s also a love triangle deal with Chuck, Terri [his ex] and Dell [Terri’s current] that pretty much ends before it begins, even though Chuck and Stacy have an odd relationship in itself. Like, okay. And then halfway through the film for whatever reason, Willy and Reena show up just to die. Thanks for coming! Just an odd choice of characters who honestly don’t feel like long time friends at all if I’m being serious. But like I said, I chuckled through most of it because it was handled so ridiculously.

If there’s a real positive about DEMON WIND, it is Moore’s direction and the use of the special effects and make up. The pacing, despite the twists and turns of the random narrative, is actually very good for 96 minutes. The film moves by pretty fast and I was never bored by what I was watching. I would rather be entertained by something awful that doesn’t waste your time than by a film trying to be good but boring the hell out of you by feeling twice as long. I thought the use of the locations was done really well, giving off a lot of mood and atmosphere - helped by a lot of fog. The special effects were more hit than miss. I loved the idea of this destroyed cabin in the middle of nowhere that is visualized as a gateway to Hell. Moore did an awesome job showing us that only the front of the cabin is still standing, but when characters go inside the open door, the interior of the original cabin is still intact, as if the characters don’t realize there’s nothing really there. The use of wind, as well as a smart combination of light and shadow, really worked for me for the horror aspect. And the make up for the demons, especially the lead demon at the end, looked pretty gnarly. I dug it. Sure, the electric special effects used in a ton of 70s and 80s movies look dated and cheap as hell. But it still added a charm to the film. I dug this film visually to be honest. It’s no Sam Raimi, which I’m sure Moore was trying to emulate here, but he did a good job behind the lens.

As for the acting, it’s one of those things that should have made me dislike this film, but only unintentionally entertained me. None of the actors could be considered “good” or anything, but some do stand out for specific reasons. I thought Bobby Johnston as Dell had the most character to play with out of anyone, portraying the slightly homophobic and misogynistic jock friend who clashed with many of the other characters. He seemed to be having fun playing a jerk and I thought he did alright. Sherry Leigh, probably best known for her work in 1987’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE, plays a scared victim well as Bonnie. She was honestly playing the smartest character in the film and I thought Leigh was convincing and believable. Stephen Quadros as kung-fu magician Chuck is a lot of fun to watch and shared good chemistry with Jack Vogel [who played the second magician, Stacy]. As for the leads, I thought Eric Larson and Francine Lapensee were just okay. They felt kind of bland to me, considering all the ridiculousness that happened around them. But I guess they needed actors to ground the film, so the two did their jobs, I guess. My real issue with the general acting overall is how Moore directed them during moments where they really needed to emote or react to things. People would disappear, get killed, or even get transformed into other objects right in front of their eyes. Yet, the actors barely reacted to it and it didn’t help that their characters moved on as if nothing major had happened. It grew funnier as these moments kept popping up, but that’s definitely a major flaw in storytelling, direction, and even acting. Nothing really much to say about the acting other than that. They did what they could with the material and their level of talent.

Overall, DEMON WIND is one of those “so-bad-it’s-good” movies that I’m glad I finally sat down and watched. It wears its EVIL DEAD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, and zombie film influences on its sleeve, using everything but the kitchen sink to provide twist and turns to simple narrative that didn’t need all that excess. It goes from a movie dealing with Satanic demons to adding loose elements of witchcraft, to a guy who has visions that don’t tell him much of anything important, to ghost girls who can turn people into dolls, to adding kung-fu magicians and bringing in new people during the last portion of the film for no other reason than to add more to the body count. The story is all over the place and it’s so bonkers that I couldn’t help but enjoy how stupid it all was. Also having your actors not react to people dying or transforming in front of their very eyes is pure comedy for all the wrong reasons. Visually, however, I thought the film had strong mood and atmosphere and was paced very well. The make up effects for the demons, especially the boss demon, looked better than what you would expect from a low budget film. The electricity effects from the 70s and 80s look very dated, but I thought they added a strange charm. Not a good film in the slightest, but it’s one that I had fun with and could see myself watching again with friends once quarantine is over. DEMON WIND could have been a fart of a movie, but it entertained me more than I thought it would with its cheese.

INTO THE DARK: ALL THAT WE DESTROY (2019) - ** out of ****

Directed By: Chelsea Stardust

Starring: Israel Broussard, Dora Madison, Samantha Mathis, Shi Ne Nielson, Aurora Perrineau, Frank Whaley

Genre: Horror/Science Fiction

Running Time: 85 Minutes

Plot: A geneticist who fears that her son may be becoming a serial killer creates a group of clones in an attempt to cure him of his psychopathic tendencies by allowing him to relive the murder of his first victim.

New month, new Hulu’s Into the Dark reviews. Both of May’s films seem to be based around the Mother’s Day celebration, even if ALL THAT WE DESTROY is very loose with the concept since the film is really about a mother and her serial killing son. Like many of the other installments in the series, the films have great and/or interesting ideas and concepts that justify the reason for the stories to exist. ALL THAT WE DESTROY has a captivating premise that should make it one of the stronger entries in the series - if only if the screenwriter knew how to really explore it in a more interesting way.

The skeleton of the story is actually pretty unique and deals with the idea of Nature vs Nurture, as well as this obsession of playing God and trying to change things that are out of one’s control. Geneticist Victoria continues cloning one of her son’s victims, hoping killing the clones over and over would curb the urge to murder people. Even though her son, Spencer, murdered family pets and playmates as a child - as well as murdering young women he’s attracted to as a young adult - Victoria believes that science will get rid of the killing urge that has been unfortunately imprinted upon him genetically. Being sheltered for so long under her guard has made Spencer want to branch out and meet new people and have new experiences, especially when a neighbor girl named Marissa takes a liking to him and treats him as a human being rather than a science experiment. Instead of wanting to protect her son, it becomes more of a control thing when Victoria starts losing her grip on Spencer’s newly normal behavior.

ALL THAT WE DESTROY is an interesting approach to a mother’s love for her child, shocked that she gave birth to a future serial killer and becoming so obsessed with that fact, she treats her son as an experiment rather than a person - which probably only accelerates his pension for murder. Victoria is extremely cold and doesn’t really show any emotion but disappointment and anger towards her son, even when he meets a normal girl and befriends her without a whole ton of urge to kill her. I guess if Victoria can’t keep him under lock and key, then improvements like that don’t matter to her. Her obsession has cost her to lose a lot of faith in her co-workers who are awaiting her next project. She also has virtual conferences with Spencer’s father, who seems concerned about his son but doesn’t want to do anything to do with him in a physical space. Creating clones of a girl Spenser had picked up and murdered within their home feels less like a solution fo Spencer but more of a power trip for Victoria, who feels she can manipulate memories, environments, and even DNA to make her a suitable enough companion for her son so he won’t murder her.

On the other side of the spectrum, Spenser is a quiet artist [who enjoys drawing girls either alive or dead] who only can leave his home and go to a specific distance before a tracker warns his mother like he’s on house arrest. He obviously has homicidal tendencies for a long time and has some pent up anger at his situation, losing faith that his mother will fix him. It’s only when he meets Marissa, who treats him like a person and takes him out on friendly dates, that he feels he can live a normal life - especially when his urge to kill Marissa is barely existent. But his mom’s worry over people finding out who he really is doesn’t give him much hope of a future unless she’s there to control it. Nurture is only bringing out more of an urge of what nature wants Spencer to do.

Then you have Ashley, the murdered girl who becomes cloned over and over again. She seems to have been a troubled girl prior to her death, being dumped out in the middle of the desert by a jerk boyfriend, doing cocaine, and seducing Spencer in his home because she needs a distraction. Each time Ashley is cloned, the clones remember more and more about their past life, proving that no matter how you try to change genetics, there will always be a lasting imprint that will remain. In this case, it’s Ashley’s curious nature, which causes Victoria and Spencer trouble when she figures out what’s going on.

I really enjoyed the thought provoking stuff presented in ALL THAT WE DESTROY, making you see that sometimes too much love is a bad thing, especially when it becomes enough of an obsession that one person you desperately want to protect. But it sometimes felt like it was lost in its storytelling, like the screenwriters knew what they wanted to say but had no idea how to in a meaningful way. I think the idea that Spencer prefers more of a connection and a challenge when it comes to killing isn’t explored enough. He grows tired of killing multiple Ashley clones to the point that he stops being infatuated with her and is more interested in Marissa, who treats him different. As a scientist, wouldn’t you create different scenarios to test how your subject would reach to each one? Wouldn’t having the subject deal with the same thing over and over again just be a waste of time? Once the subject started showing interest in someone else, a change should have been made.

Also, the character of Marissa is a bit unbelievable in terms of her attraction to Spenser, who is majorly socially awkward and quiet. Sure, he’s a good-looking guy and I can see women digging him. But Marissa is so bubbly and such an extrovert that it feels odd that she grows so attached to a weird acting guy. This is made more especially when Marissa meets Victoria, who pretty much brushes her off and treats her rudely when Marissa brings cookies to the house. Even when Marissa finds out that Ashley is also inside of the home and she investigates it, she’s still willing to give Spencer a chance because she likes him. She seems too normal and too smart to fall for a scenario like this. While I liked the actors’ chemistry, the characters’ relationship doesn’t ring true to me. Not every film needs a love interest, but whatever.

And what’s up with Spencer’s dad? Why does he only communicate with Victoria via virtual reality? Why isn't he part of Spencer's life? Is the guy even alive, or just some computer program Victoria created to act like her conscience? Nothing is explained and it’s just odd. These scenes also ruin the flow a bit as well.

It also doesn’t help that the film doesn’t try to be scary, creepy, or even exciting to watch. Yes, I can appreciate films that has questions that require the audience to think long after the film is over. But you have to entertain the audience while doing it and ALL THAT WE DESTROY only has flashes of action and intensity, relying mostly on quieter moments involving dialogue and exposition. Because of this, I was never really sure who I was supposed to latch on to as characters. Spencer seems like a bad guy since he kills women, but he’s also a victim of his mother’s attempt to control his environment. Victoria probably has her heart in the right place trying to protect her son, but the way she handles things are outright ethically cruel and overboard. Marissa is likable, but the way she’s portrayed makes her unbelievably naive. I guess Ashley is the only character that remains a victim, as she’s constantly murdered in various lives until her latest clone begins to figure out that something is wrong with the entire situation. Each persona gets more and more interesting as they’re created, making Ashley probably the protagonist to root for by default. Sometimes there’s too much of a grey area when it comes to characterizations in film, and ALL THAT WE DESTROY has that issue.

I will say that Chelsea Stardust directs a beautiful looking film that captures the stale and extremely polished nature of Victoria’s and Spencer’s lives perfectly. The film has some pacing issues here and there, but the ride getting to the end is at least worth staying on. I liked how each clone would pop out of this black goo, as the shots are really striking. And Spencer’s outbursts towards his victims can jar the viewer at first in a good way, as you wouldn’t expect this quiet guy do what he enjoys doing. And while the virtual reality stuff is questionable, it’s at least shot different from the rest of the film, as if a different type of camera was used to give it this “online video” sort of feel with pixelation and static at times. The visuals worked for me here.

The acting is also pretty good, with the actors doing the best they can with the material. Samantha Mathis plays Victoria as cold, overprotective, frustrated and stressed very believably. You want to like her and you want to understand why she does the things she does, but Mathis plays it in such a way that makes you conflicted in how you feel about her character. Israel Broussard of the HAPPY DEATH DAY series is really good as the quiet Spencer, presenting an innocence that switches on the dime when he doesn’t get his way and ends up killing people. It’s the total opposite of the character he plays in the before-mentioned movies, which made me dig his performance more. Dora Madison is cute and bubbly as Marissa, pretty much playing the only “normal” person in the film. She’s the token love interest really, but she does it well. Frank Whaley looks bored as Spencer’s dad and it seems all his scenes were shot in one day. I’m not sure if his character was concerned or wanting nothing to do with the situation. I’ve seen much better work from him. The real star is Aurora Perrineau as Ashley, who gets the most to do and makes each one of her personas different from the other.

Overall, ALL THAT WE DESTROY is a pretty average Into the Dark installment that feels like a weak Black Mirror episode than anything else. The acting is fine. The direction is quite nice visually, having nice touches and flourishes every now and then. And the ideas presented are really interesting. Does nature or nurture make a person who they are? Do parents protect their children so much that it only ends up hurting them more in the end? Just because you have the power to do it, should you attempt playing as God? These are all great questions any film could write a great story around, but ALL THAT WE DESTROY doesn’t really push it far enough to really make it matter, as some of the characters do really dumb things that are quite unbelievable considering the situation presented. I thought the last 30 minutes of the film were the best part of the film as things had finally started to pick up, but it all ended once it had just gotten going. There’s a really good film in here somewhere, but this Into the Dark doesn’t quite reach it. 

ONE CUT OF THE DEAD (2017) - **** out of ****

Directed By: Shinichiro Ueda

Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Harumi Shuhama, Mao, Hiroshi Ichihara, Manabu Hosoi

Genre: Comedy/Horror/Zombies

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Plot: Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned Second World War Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.

I had ONE CUT OF THE DEAD in my Shudder queue since it premiered on the service, but didn’t get a chance to sit down and watch it until Joe Bob Briggs aired it during his The Last Drive-In show on the same service. I really knew nothing about the film other that it involved some sort of film-within-a-film deal with zombies and that people really loved this film. I hadn’t planned a review for ONE CUT OF THE DEAD [the main reason I hadn’t watched it yet], but I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to finally see what the fuss is all about.

And man, I’m so glad I took the chance because ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is friggin’ awesome from beginning to end! One of the best new films I’ve seen since being stuck in quarantine, it took me to places that I was never expecting the film to go. This will be a short review because the less you know about this one, the better. Let’s just say that the film is separated by three different acts that all compliment each other in a way I was never expecting. It has horror elements obviously with the zombies. But ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is really a comedy at heart that doesn’t hide its love for the filmmaking process and the issues that take place during a film or television set to achieve the final product. It hit so close to home for me as someone who has made and worked on short films in the past, going through the ringer when you don’t get along with your crew and actors, or when things go wrong that are out of your control. It’s kind of funny when the zombies aren’t the worst thing to happen to anyone in this film, which makes the film all that more unique and enjoyable.

The direction by Shinichiro Ueda is really excellent, as he provides the audience with different visual formats to tell his unique story. The second act may drag a tiny bit because of what’s presented and how different it is from the beginning of the film, but I thought it compliments both the beginning and the ending of the film so well that it didn’t bother me really. The last act is shot really well and a lot of fun to watch what goes down if you’re willing to stick with the film.

And the actors are all wonderful, especially Takayuki Hamatsu as the director who works hard and almost loses himself in the process of making a zombie film [which he sees as low-brow in terms of his career] into something special and memorable. The main actors in the flick [Mao, Harumi Shuhama and Yuzuki Akiyama] play their roles very well and I enjoyed every emotional layer they played within the film. It’s amazing the cast is really consisted of unknowns because they’re all fantastic and really make the film a lot of fun to watch unfold.

Overall, CUT FROM THE DEAD turned out to be a wonderful surprise, taking me on a journey I hadn’t expected from what I knew about the film - which wasn’t much besides the zombie premise. Shinichiro Ueda wrote and directed a zombie horror-comedy film that, in reality, is nothing but a fantastic 97 minutes about the love and passion for filmmaking for those who have been through it in their lives. The clever 3-act structure kept me captivated from beginning to end, while the actors involved all had hilarious and strong performances that only made me enjoy this film more than I thought I would. I went into this one expecting one thing, but left experiencing something else entirely - a journey I wish more films would be better at. It’s original. It’s unique. And with its heart and soul firmly evident, it’s also a film made with a lot of love for all genres of cinema. Sometimes a film can live up to the hype and every time I think about CUT OF THE DEAD, it puts a smile on my face.

(I’m not posting a trailer for this one, as it reveals some plot twists that would probably ruin the experience for some.)

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

Directed By: Emma Tammi

Starring: Natalie Paul, Tina Majorino, Micah Joe Parker, Michael Cassidy, Rosslyn Luke, Vito D’Ambrosio, Joel Dupont

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Running Time: 80 Minutes

Plot: A pregnant woman’s life is upended when she realizes someone close to her has darker plans for her and the baby.


Have any of you ever wanted a version of the 1990 Stephen King classic MISERY, but with a pregnant woman instead of a famous author? No? Well too bad, because Into the Dark’s latest entry is just that with DELIVERED - a film supporting the Mother’s Day holiday by having a psychotic woman kidnapping a pregnant woman to steal her baby by any means necessary. When did sending a card and flowers go out of style?

DELIVERED is pretty much the film adaptation of MISERY mixed with some 2007’s INSIDE - without the film being as good as any of those two films I just mentioned. However, it’s a decent installment of Into the Dark as it has some good performances, a simple and predictable story and some messed up gore at times. I think those reasons are probably why I prefer this year’s installment over ALL THAT WE DESTROY from last year. It doesn’t try to raise questions the film isn’t ready to answer. DELIVERED is a standard thriller that wouldn’t be out of place on Lifetime, which is fine for the story it wants to tell.

Like I mentioned a few times already, DELIVERED is pretty much an updated female-centric version of MISERY. It follows pretty much the same beats and even has nods to the Stephen King film near the end, which probably doesn’t help the film’s case. Instead of an obsessed fan who takes her favorite author hostage so he can write a better ending for her favorite character,  we have an obsessed woman who fakes a pregnancy taking a real pregnant woman hostage so she can steal the baby once she helps the woman go into labor. Instead of being confined to a bed the whole time, the pregnant woman is chained by her feet so she can only get around enough without escaping. The villain feeds her things to speed up the pregnancy, while getting rid of anyone or anything that could jeopardize her plan. There’s even a part near the end where the villain breaks the pregnant woman’s foot, which is pretty unnecessary but you can’t do a MISERY remake without that moment I guess. 

The characters are interesting enough for the audience to care about what’s going on. The pregnant woman has a husband she loves, yet doesn’t feel connected [or want to be connected] to her own baby and seems indifferent to the whole deal. She’s also avoiding some dude she knew in Chicago, which is one of the most predictable subplots I’ve seen in a film in a long while. I’ve watched soap operas. I know the deal there. As for the villain, her purpose for wanting to steal another woman’s baby to raise as her own, even if she has to hurt people to get her goal. But she also has a tragic backstory that explains her motives, as if to give the character some depth and sympathy, even though she has done terrible things to people for a while. The film obviously wants the villain to be an Annie Wilkes type, even though it never comes close to reaching that. But you understand why she is the way she is and why she’s doing these things. The supporting male characters are interesting, only for the fact that they’re pretty much victims of both women emotionally and physically. I won’t give away the secrets here, but you’ll quickly figure out the lies and the truths right away, and you feel bad for both guys. It makes you wonder who are the real victims in this film, which is something this series likes to do with its audience. The narrative has been done before, and way better, but the subplots are juicy enough to keep a mild interest from beginning to end.

The direction by Emma Tammi is fine. There’s nothing really special about it, honestly. It’s not a flashy film or visually exciting, even though DELIVERED is quite beautiful and polished to look at. The film allows the gorier moments to be seen more than previous installments, which is nice. There is one moment involving an animal that some people may find disturbing, even though only the aftermath is shown in vivid detail. And while there are moments and edits that pretty much rip off MISERY throughout, at least they’re kept enough to a minimum to allow the film to be its own thing. It’s a good effort but nothing really stands out visually to really discuss. But it has a great pace and flows well.

The acting is pretty good as well. Natalie Paul is good as Valerie, the pregnant victim who plays with different aspects of her upcoming motherhood. Her portrayal of discontent with her upcoming motherhood is believable, slowly leading towards a credible moment when she realizes she does care about her baby when both of them are in danger. Paul gives a quiet, yet powerful performance until the final act where she gets to let loose. I’d like to see her in a role where she can get to do more than just play a victim in a thriller.

Probably the biggest name in terms of actors is Tina Majorino as the troubled Jenny. Best known for her work in CORRINA, CORRINA, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and Veronica Mars, Majorino puts her spin on Kathy Bates’ performance from MISERY. Majorino plays Jenny as sweet and timid at first, but Majorino always lets in that something is off about her character. When she does get to snap and be evil, Majorino seems to be enjoying herself. Her mentally unhinged performance is very believable, sharing good moments of tension and chemistry with Natalie Paul. She’s an actress who elevates a project and I thought DELIVERED wouldn’t have worked as well without Majorino.

Overall, DELIVERED is a decent Into the Dark installment that did the best it could to rip off a much better feature in MISERY. The story about a mentally unhinged woman kidnapping a pregnant woman to force her into labor and steal her baby is pure soap opera, but it’s a story I could actually buy happening in real life. And while the characters have interesting moments and the secrets they carry are fairly predictable yet welcomed, the film is too busy trying to emulate a much better film and looks lesser for it unfortunately - especially when the film doesn’t have any shame stealing certain shots and violent moments that has made MISERY a pop culture classic for 30 years. The direction is fairly pedestrian with no real interesting visuals, but the film is well paced and edited. And DELIVERED doesn’t hide its violence, especially during the film’s final act that may be disturbing to some. The performances by both Natalie Paul and Tina Majorino work, mainly because they have slightly deep characters they can play with, while sharing some nice tension and chemistry with one another to elevate a narrative that has been done better. Not my favorite Into the Dark installment, but one of the better ones in my opinion - mainly for the performances and its subtlety in terms of the subject matter. If you ever wanted a film like MISERY, but a Lifetime version with a pregnant woman instead of an injured author, then check DELIVERED out.

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