Monday, February 22, 2016

Kristy Movie Review – Not At All Like My College

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Oliver Blackburn

Kristy opens with a young coed running for her life with ill fated results. It then jumps right to the main story, which surrounds Justine. Justine looks forward to spending the Thanksgiving break staying on campus alone with just her best friend, though she will miss her boyfriend who plans on going home. At the last minute, her rich best friend has to leave campus but leaves behind her car.

Though she actually likes being the only one there – barring the front desk security guard and the guy working the gate – she wants a little break and heads into town for some ice cream. There, she sees a woman with her head covered trying to steal from the convenience store. The woman, Violet, acts a little weird around her and even follows her outside. While driving back to campus, a car starts following her and tries to run her off the road. She gets away and warns the gatekeeper of what happened.

While Justine thinks it was just some townies having a little fun, it quickly becomes clear that they have other ideas in mind. They arrive on campus and begin stalking her while dispatching anyone who gets in their way. With each murder they commit, they post a video online to a strange website. To make matters even worse, her stalkers refer to her as Kristy, the same name they gave all their previous victims, as they attempt to take her life.

Given just how little I knew about Kristy, I'm surprised at how much I liked it. I literally knew nothing except the short synopsis posted on Netflix. I am so tired of horror movies that start out slow and keep slowly building towards the plot. Kristy starts off with a murder scene and then keeps the action and suspense going. We really only have to deal with a few scenes at the beginning that set up the rest of the movie, including a scene with her boyfriend, one with her roommate, and another with the head security guy.

It has a lot of suspenseful moments too. At one point, she comes back to her dorm room and finds the door just slightly open, which leaves you wondering what she'll find when she opens the door. There are other scenes of Justine hiding under tables or behind doors that will leave you on the edge of your seat and just waiting to find out what happens next.

Ashley Greene, who I usually dislike, does a pretty good job as Violet too. She's so creepy in her very first scene that you might wonder why Justine didn't keep peeking over her shoulder the whole time she was in the store. Haley Bennett as Justine was amazing too. She actually makes your care about what happens to her character and will make you want to root for her.

I will say, however, that the premise of the movie was a little ridiculous. This is a major college campus and only one student stays there for Thanksgiving? I went to a relatively small school and probably half my dorm stayed on campus. It's hard to believe that only one person would stay there and that the school would still pay for security guards to work. I can overlook that minor complaint though because I really enjoyed Kristy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Secrets in the Walls – OK, I Totally Lied About Lifetime Movies

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: October 24, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Christopher Leitch

Rachel is a single mother living in Detroit and trying to raise her daughters in a tiny apartment. After getting a good paying new job, she gets lost on her way home and wanders across a real estate agent with a home for sale. The agent tells her that the owner lives in another state, inherited the property, and just wants it sold. While she can't afford the price, she gets a second chance when the price significantly drops and immediately moves in with her kids.

Lizzie, the teenager and older of the two, instantly decides that she wants the large basement room to herself. Molly, her younger daughter, has a sixth sense about things and doesn't really like the house at all. Marty, Rachel's brother, thinks there is something wrong with the basement. As a contractor, he can't figure out why someone would put up a new wall that significantly reduces the square footage of the room. He also offers to stick around and help them get the house cleaned up and pretty.

As you can clearly tell by the title, Secrets in the Walls is about some type of secret hidden in the walls. Weird things start happening, like they head odd noises and find things moved. Molly insists that there is something wrong with the house but no one will listen. Rachel finally does some research into the house and learns that a young woman went missing years ago. He husband was somewhat abuse, but no one batted an eye when his 17 year old wife disappeared one night. When the ghost haunting her home decides to take things a step further, Rachel has to turn to a coworker for help.

Secrets in the Walls is an unbelievably cheesy movie that actually starts out pretty good and then takes a turn somewhere towards the middle. The first half was actually interesting enough to keep my attention, but then the director decided to shoehorn some other plot that made it completely unrealistic. If you don't want to read any spoilers, skip to the end.

With a name like Secrets in the Walls, you know what's coming. Rachel and Marty break through the new wall in the basement and find the missing girl was basically bricked up inside while still alive. The cops show up, take a report, move the body, and basically do little else. She thinks the story is over, but then we have like 30 minutes of the girl's ghost taking over Lizzie, which no one notices for way too long. I'd rather have a straight up ghost story that ends with the ghost leaving when they find her body and give her a proper burial.

We also get Belle shoved down our throats. Belle is a nurse who is psychic too and uses her “gift” while on the job. She shows up multiple times to talk about how Molly has the gift and what's probably happening in the house without actually doing anything. Belle literally tells her to find the body and then everything will go away, which doesn't happen.

I do have to give props for Rachel screaming at the real estate agent and warning the new owners that the house was haunted. If Secrets in the Walls ended a little sooner, I would have liked it a little better.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stir of Echoes – Be Very Afraid of Hypnotists

Runtime: 99 minutes
Release Date: September 10, 1999
Rating: R
Director: David Koepp

Tom is a working class guy living in a rental home with his son and wife, Maggie. His sister-in-law Lisa is constantly talking down to him and acting like he's a terrible guy, which just gets worse when Maggie announces that she's pregnant. At a party, Lisa decides to hypnotize him. When he comes out of it, the guests all have a good laugh at his expense but his life is changed forever.

After that night, he finds himself seeing things that aren't there. He even has a vision of his neighbor's son killing his whole family and then killing himself. Many of his visions involve a young woman with glasses. After asking around, he learns that she was a mentally challenged girl who lived in the neighborhood and went missing one night. Jake, his son, also sees the same girl and says her name is Sam.

One night, Tom and Maggie go to a football game with their friends and hire a new babysitter. They never used Debbie before, but Jake suggested her after talking to Samantha. Tom starts seeing strange things that night and quickly runs back home to find Jake gone. They learn that Debbie is actually Samantha's sister and after hearing that Jake talks to Sam and saw her in the house, she raced him to her mother. Tom quickly finds himself caught up in the mystery of what happened to Samantha and whether his neighbors and friends had anything to do with her disappearance.

When I was in college, my best friend/roommate and I were far from partiers. We would rather spend the night playing board games, watching Buffy, or hanging out in our room than hitting up a kegger. That led to use watching a lot of movies and going to the movie theater a lot. We probably saw Stir of Echoes six times in the theater, making it second only to Final Destination in terms of the films we saw in the theater. When Netflix recently added it, I was worried that I wouldn't like it as much as I did before. Thankfully my worries were wrong.

Stir of Echoes reminds us of the talents of some actors we forgot about in the past. I can't remember that last time Kevin Bacon starred in a hit film, but he does a really great job here. You really do believe that he's a man slowly losing his mind and you believe that he really does care about the fate of poor Samantha. Zachary David Cope also does a great job as Jake, which makes me wonder why he stopped acting. Credit also has to go to Kathryn Erbe – who many know from Law & Order: Criminal Intent – as Maggie and Illeana Douglas as Lisa. I'm pretty sure she hasn't been in anything I didn't like.

One minor issue is that the director starts throwing too many hints at us towards the end, which makes it easy to figure out what really did happen. I'm also not a big fan of the actual ending, mainly because I think seeing a dead girl wander off with a smile on her face is pure cheese. It does have some great jump scenes that I completely forgot about, and those scenes actually did have me jumping out of my seat.

Stir of Echoes is probably just as good if not better than you remember, and you'll definitely like it poor than the weak sequel that followed.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fatal Honeymoon – Lifetime Strikes Again

Runtime: 99 minutes
Release Date: August 25, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Nadia Tass

I promise that Fatal Honeymoon will be the last Lifetime movie I review for quite a long time.

Tina is a sweet, innocent, and somewhat wholesome girl who makes the mistake of crossing paths with Gabe. He's cocky, stubborn, and such a massive asshole that her friends and family wonder what she sees him and why she agreed to date him. She later introduces Gabe to her dad Tommy who instantly doesn't like him. Tina actually has to get in the middle of them when her dad calls her boyfriend out on his rude behavior.

After dating for awhile and moving in together, Tina assumes that marriage is next on the agenda, but Gabe doesn't seem to feel quite the same way. He's more concerned with living his playboy lifestyle and being the big man on campus, even though college ended. When she finally confronts him about their future, he tells her that he bought a ring and will propose when the time is right. She keeps seeing the ring sitting out and when he won't propose, she finally walks out on him.

That leads Gabe to finally pop the question and begin planning their wedding, though he really cares more about the honeymoon. He convinces her to take up diving and plan their honeymoon around a diving trip, even though being in the water scares her. Gabe also pushes her to change her life insurance policy to him. She fails to do so but asks her dad not to tell Gabe as she walks down the aisle.

To make a long story a little less long, Tina winds up dead on their honeymoon. Several witnesses come forward to say that they saw him give her a “bear hug” in the water, and a picture gets released that shows her dead body in the water. With evidence mounting against him, he turns himself into the Australian police to face charges but gets off free. Tommy devotes himself to finding evidence that will put his former son-in-law behind bars.

Fatal Honeymoon is actually a really interesting movie that will leave you angry at the end. This jackass actually got married to another woman while telling reporters how much he loved his former wife and grieved over his loss. Though American police later arrested him for murder, they threw the case out because of a lack of evidence. He's now free to roam around and live a long life while the woman he treated like shit is dead and her loved ones still grieve.

Even though this is a Lifetime movie, Harvey Keitel is really in his element. You'll understand why Tina's dad didn't trust Gabe and why he worked so hard to find evidence that the man murdered his daughter. I have to admit that I actually got a little teary eyed in the end and wound up spending way too much time online reading about the case and true story.

If you don't like Lifetime movies but have an interest in true crime like me, I would recommend watching Fatal Honeymoon and then learning more about the true case.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mimic Movie Review – Funny, Funny Shoes

Runtime: 105 minutes
Release Date: August 22, 1997
Rating: R
Director: Guillermo del Torro

A massive bug infestation led to a group of scientists and experts creating a super hybrid that mimicked a cockroach. Dr. Susan Tyler was one of the team that created the Judas bug. This new bug eliminated the cockroaches that were spreading a virus through the city and making kids sick. They made the bug in such a way that all the insects were females and would die within a few months after being released. Since this is kind of a horror movie, you know that didn't really happen.

Years later, there is a brutal murder in the city. The only witness is a young autistic boy who keeps talking about the funny shoes the man wore. Josh, a researcher working for the CDC, finds some excrement at the crime scene that looks like nothing they ever saw before. Susan is working in her office when two young boys come in with some bugs they want to sell. They also show her the remains of another bug that suspiciously looks like the Judas.

Susan and her husband/fellow researcher Peter get the kids to take them back to where they found the bug. A police officer stops them from going any further, but it does set up the introduction between Susan and Chuy, the young boy from before. To save you some time and keep my plot outline from taking over the review, let's just sum this up. Susan discovers that the Judas bug continued mimicking to survive to the point where it now can mimic the look of a human and has plans to do whatever it takes to keep surviving.

Have you ever had a movie that you remembered fondly and then saw it years later and discovered that it wasn't quite as good as your memories? That's the way I feel about Mimic. I remember seeing it with my older brother in the theater, owning a copy on video, and then later buying a copy on DVD. As my copy mysteriously went missing and Netflix was about to delete the film, I decided to go ahead and watch it.

Mimic is really a dark movie and has some good moments, but it didn't live up the hype in my head. I can't even guess how many people I recommended the movie to over the years, and I wonder how many watched it and wondered what I was smoking. It's not that it's a bad movie, but it's not really a great movie either. I think if it came out today, it would be one of those movies that made its budget back and then just kind of disappeared.

When I say it's dark, I don't just mean the subject matter either. It's literally a dark movie, so dark that I had a hard time seeing what was going on in certain scenes on a high definition television. And come on, who really buys Mira Sorvino as a research scientist? I've seen her in a lot of movies and actually really like her, but the odds of her spending all day working with bugs are about the same as me winning the Powerball. Just so you know, I did not in fact win the Powerball.

As much as I loved Mimic in the past, I just don't think it stands up as well today as it did in the past.