Bug (2006)

To be honest I haven’t seen much of Ashely Judd’s work beyond her appearance in Star Trek and 3 of her most high profile films (A Time To Kill, Double Jeopardy & Kiss The Girls). However I do know that she is an amazing actress and this movie just reaffirms that fact. Bug is a 2006 psychological drama with elements of horror (very loosely) directed by William Friedkin and starring Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon and Harry Connick, Jr.. The film, written by Tracy Letts, is based on his own play of the same name debuted at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival before being purchased by Lions Gate Films, who released the film the following year in May 2007.

Agnes White (Judd) is a waitress living in a run down motel in rural Oklahoma and has never really recovered from the disappearance of her then 6 year old son who went missing from a supermarket 10 years ago. When she starts to get silent calls she assumed that it is from her abusive ex-husband Jerry Goss, who was in jail and just got released. When not working she indulges in heavy drinking and snorting cocaine with her best friend and occasional lover the lesbian R.C. One night RC introduces Agnes to a drifter named Peter Evans, who later tells her that he used to be in the army. When RC has to go back on an emergency, Agnes & Peter bond while they spend time talking her place. The awkward Peter spends the night sleeping on the floor as a lonely Agnes didn’t feel like letting him go without having a place to go to. However the next morning, she wakes up to find Peter gone and Jerry in her home. When Peter returns with breakfast Peter intimidates him before leaving for a “job”.

Peter & Agnes spend the day having sex, two lonely strangers desperate for belonging and seem to genuinely feel for each other. However Peter’s paranoia starts acting up; he is obsessed with the fact that there are bugs in the room and they change the sheets, even though Agnes cannot see the bug. He claims to be able to “pick up on things” that most people cannot  He claims to be bitten by the bugs and soon he is disinfecting her place while she is out shopping with RC. However Jerry comes visiting and starts verbally abusing Peter for the bug that he is testing under a microscope. He lashes out at Agnes when the ladies return until he is chased away but RC finds herself on the receiving end of Agnes’ fury for not seeing the bug that Peter is going about and saying that it is feeding off on his blood. Peter explains that during his time in the army he was the subject of immoral testing and that he and others have been implanted with microchips. He claims to have found and removed the chip in him, after which he began to be infested with the bugs. Agnes sinks deeper into his explanations and becomes equally convinced of this sinister plot by the US government & military and lashes out at RC chasing her away.

The unlikely couple pad Agnes’s home with tin foil (to block the signals) and are visited by Peter’s doctor, Dr. Sweet, who was led to the motel by Jerry. While the calm doctor tries to explain in clear terms as to Peter’s delusions, Agnes seems to believe him but Peter emerges from inside and kills the doctor. The two actors display a frantic & manic despair – Jerry’s incessant banging outside the door seems to them that the military has arrived to arrest them – and they decide to burn the place along with their bodies and so strip naked and pour fuel over themselves before setting the place on fire, killing themselves.

Critic Roger Ebert wrote, “The film has caused a stir at Cannes, not least because its stars, Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, achieve a kind of manic intensity that’s frightening not just in itself but because you fear for the actors.” Truly the fit that Shannon perform is a sight to behold and Judd’s frantic performance scenes is award worthy. The movie as a whole isn’t very memorable but these two do an amazing job. 7 outta 10 for me, but 10/10 for the lead pairs acting especially in the second half.

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The Legend Of Hercules

From director Renny Harlin comes one of two 2014 movies about the mythological demi-god of ancient Greece – The Legend Of Hercules. Co-written by Harlin with Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve, and Sean Hood. The film stars Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, and Liam Garrigan.

The movie starts off with King Amphitryon invading a neighbouring kingdom and killing their king. In a battle scene that looks way too CGI-ish for my tastes (almost animation cartoon like) and very 300 like, the Amphitryon is victorious as he easily defeats Galenus and seizes his kingdom. He boasts to his estrange wife Queen Alcmene and she clearly dispises his lst for power & gold. She goes to pray to the goddess Hera and is visited by a woman, who the goddess has inhabited, and who prophesies that Zeus will visit Alcmene and impregnate her with a son who will end Amphitryon’s reign. The only witness to this exchange is Chiron, the queen’s loyal adviser. That night as the king celebrates with his men, Alcmene is visited by Zeus and he has sex with her. The king sees her in bed and believes she has taken a mortal lover but finds no one. Alcmene soon gives birth to a healthy baby boy named Alcides, but she secretly acknowledges his true name: Hercules.

Cut to 20 years later and Alcides is frolicking with his love, princess Hebe of Crete and is spied upon by his older brother Iphicles. The two young men on route to the palace are attacked by a large ferocious lion and Alcides wrestles with the lion, crushing it. As they reach the palace for a party Iphicles claims the credit and clings to the pelt of the lion and claims that Alcides had fled as a coward when the lion attacked them. At the banquet Amphitryon announces the engagement of Hebe and Iphicles, as he is annexing the kingdom of Crete. A shocked Hebe & Alcides try to run off together but they are caught by the guards and Alcides is sent away to Egypt on a campaign with other soldiers. It is then that Alcmene tells Alcides of his true lineage and the name Hercules. He however does not believe her and sets off to Egypt with the soldiers, under the the command of Captain Sotiris. In Egypt the Greeks are ambushed by a large group of enemy soldiers and in the fight all the Greeks are killed except for Alcides & Sotiris. To protect his prince’s identity Sotiris claims that Alcides is dead and the prince calls himself Hercules.

Hercules & Sotoris are sold as slaves and made to fight as gladiators in arenas earning a name for themselves and eventually winning their freedom when they fight against previously undefeated warriors (including a pair that look like ancient Greece’s version of former wrestling legends, The Legion of Doom) and even though Sortoris gets injured, Hercules single-handedly defeats 6 warriors in Greece earning their freedom. Meanwhile Alceme, in mourning for her son, finally tells the king about Hercules’ real father and is killed by Amphitryon. Meanwhile deserters of Amphitryon’s army joins Hercules Chiron brings Hercules’ news of his mother, who vows to avenge her death. Sotiris and Hercules seek refuge in the home of the human vessel of Hera, who foretells Hercules’ destiny. Hebe, is saved by Chiron before she can commit suicide and is brought to Hercules for a joyous reunion. Hercules and Sotiris begin a fight against Amphitryon’s campaign of tyranny, angering Amphitryon who seeks to destroy them. Iphicles, aided by his mercenaries, murders Sotiris’ wife and uses his son as a bargaining chip. Sortis has to lead the king to Hercules who is tied to pillars and whipped.

Hercules watches on in horror as Iphicles murders Chiron under Amphitryon’s orders. In anguish he acknowledges his father and calls upon him for strength. Hercules breaks free from his chains and crushes Amphitryon’s guard. Amphitryon and Iphicles escape. Hercules and Sotiris gather their soldiers and attack the palace and after a fight, Hercule is about to kill the king when Iphicles arrives with a knife at Hebe. Hercules hesitates but Hebe thrusts the dagger through her shoulder, killing Iphicles. Hercules finally avenges Alcmene’s death and kills Amphitryon with the same blade that killed his mother. He then rushes to Hebe’s aid and carries her away to be taken care off. We then see Hercules & Hebe as king & queen, ruling the kingdom with a new baby in their arms.

Critics panned this movie and I agree. It’s not a well made or well acted film and certainly lacks the charm & charisma of movies made on Hercules back in the 60s & 70s. It bombed at the box office. I’d give it a 5.5 outta 10!

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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 is the 2013 sequel to the 2009 computer-animated comic science fiction comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures. It was directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, produced by Kirk Bodyfelt, and executive produced by the directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Most of the main cast reprised their roles: Bill Hader as Flint Lockwood, Anna Faris as Sam Sparks, James Caan as Tim Lockwood,Andy Samberg as Brent McHale, Neil Patrick Harris as Steve, and Benjamin Bratt as Manny. Will Forte, who voiced Joseph Towne in the first film, voices Chester V in this one. New cast includes Kristen Schaal as orangutan Barb and Terry Crews as Officer Earl, replacing Mr. T in the role.

The movie starts off right where the first movie ended. After Flint Lockwood and his friends saved the world from the food storm super-inventor Chester V, the CEO of Live Corp and Flint’s hero from childhood, is tasked to clean the island. He relocates the residents of Swallow Falls to San FranJose, California where Live Corp is also based and takes Flint to work in his company to invent new things. However the FLDSMDFR survived the explosion and is still in Shallow Falls and affecting the environment there. After getting the company tour by Chester’s assistant Barb, a talking orangutan with human intelligence, Flint gets to work. Six months later, Flint humiliates himself during a promotion ceremony when his invention, the “Celebrationator”, explodes. But his spirit soars when Chester comes to him and recruits him for a secret mission – the FLDSMDFR is causing food to mutate into living things, with characteristics of animals, and huge cheeseburgers are attacking the cleanup crew. Seemingly fearing the world’s inevitable doom, Chester tasks Flint to find the FLDSMDFR and destroy it once and for all.

Despite Chester’s demands to keep the mission classified, Flint recruits his girlfriend, meteorologist Sam Sparks; her cameraman Manny; police officer Earl Devereaux; Steve, a monkey who communicates via a device on his head; and “Chicken” Brent. Much to Flint’s dismay, his father Tim joins the crew and they travel to Swallow Falls on his fishing boat. While the others go to search for the FLDSMDFR, Flint makes his father stay behind in the boat to keep him safe. They find a jungle like enviornment has overgrown in the area and find a vast habitat of living food animals called foodimals and meet a cute strawberry named Barry. The group is initially attacked by many of the living food but they later understand that the new creatures are just reacting to being attacked by humans. Tim meanwhile goes to his old shop and finds a family of humanoid pickles and bonds with them by fishing. Chester comes to the island when he finds out that Flint has his friends with him and does his best to separate Flint from the rest. After escaping a Tacodile attack, Sam notices that the foodimal was protecting its family, and begins to suspect Chester is up to no good.Sam attempts to convince Flint to spare the foodimals, but Flint is intent on making Chester proud. Sam leaves in anger, and Flint’s other companions go with her (including Steve). In the jungle, Manny confirms Sam’s suspicions when he reverses the Live Corp logo to reveal that it is in fact “Evil Corp”. In addition, Sam proves that the foodimals mean no harm by taming a Cheespider. Upon realizing Chester’s intentions, the group is then ambushed by Evil Corp employees.

Flint finds his machine but changes his mind on seeing a family of cute marshmellows and Chester grabs the opportunity to seize control of the FLDSMDFR which he plans to make his company’s foodbars using the foodimals.  A crushed Flint is knocked into the river but rescued by the marshmallows. Flint is taken to his father, and they and the foodimals all work together to allow Flint and Barry to infiltrate the Evil Corp building that is under construction on the island. Flint frees the trapped foodimals and confronts Chester, who threatens to make food bars out of his friends. The foodimals fight the employees of Live Corp and with Barb’s (who had a change of heart as Chester treats her badly) help Chester is vanquished. With the island safe from Chester and Evil Corp destroyed, Flint returns the FLDSMDFR to its place and the foodimals continue to live in peace as more are born. The film ends with Flint fishing with his father for the first time, finding it enjoyable. During the end credits, Barb reveals to have a crush on Steve by asking him out on a date.

Silly, funny and entertainment for the whole family, although it’s not as good as the first one.. 7 outta 10!

Absentia

Absenia is a 2011 horror / supernatural film written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It is a low budget film who’s principal photography was funded by way of the film’s project page on crowd funding website Kickstarter. Shot on and looking every bit as a low budget indie film, the movie stars Katie Parker & Courtney Bell.

Tricia has been searching for her missing husband Daniel for the past 7 years with no luck. Now pregnant after a brief affair, she is about to declare her husband as deceased in absentia and with the help of her younger sister Callie, is going to move into a new apartment before the baby is due. As the date to get the papers declaring Daniel official dead looms, Tricia starts to have hallucinations of her husband and horrifying dreams, which her therapist deems as being a natural reaction. Callie, a former drug addict who has traveled throughout the states during the past few years, is now a converted Christian. On one of her daily morning runs she sees a very gaunt man, who is surprised that she can see him, in the tunnels near Tricia’s house. He begs her to contact his son, but she runs off; later, she returns with food and leaves it in the tunnel.

The next day Callie finds some metal objects left at the door and believing the gaunt man must have left it goes to the entrance of the tunnel and leaves it there. A young man comes up with a trash bag and tells her not to do so and leaves his bag at the entrance. At night Callie finds the metal objects on her bed and the two sisters call the cops. Detective Mallory, who has been investigating Daniel’s experience, responds to the call and chastises them for leaving the door unlocked in a dangerous neighborhood. Callie secretly relapses into drug use, and Tricia signs the death certificate. As part of her acceptance Tricia, on Callie’s urging, steps out on a date with Mallory, who seems to have developed affections for Tricia but as they leave the house, a bloody and barefoot Daniel suddenly appears in front of their apartment and collapses. At the hospital Daniel is diagnosed as severely malnourished, dehydrated, and physically abused but has no recollection of where he has been. Detectives Mallory & partner, Detective Lonergan, attempt to interrogate Daniel, but he does not respond. Later, Tricia breaks down and hits Daniel, begging him to explain his disappearance, but he still does not respond. Mallory comes by, and he and Tricia talk in in his car. Mallory pledges his devotion to her, and they share a kiss.

At the same time Daniel appears in Callie’s room and tells her that she has made a trade with an insectoid creature that resides in the walls of the tunnels. They are both attacked by a creature and Callie sees it drag Daniel down to the basement and through solid walls. Callie tries to convince the cops & Tricia about what she saw but her drug use makes them doubt her claims. Tricia finds her stash and accuses her of hallucinating and claims that Daniel must have ran away again on seeing her & Mallory together. Callie does some research on the internet and shows Tricia several instances over the years of people missing in that area, including Walter Lambert, the man she saw in the tunnel, whose son claims that he was taken by monsters. After Daniel’s parents are informed of his disappearance Lambart’s bloodied body is found at the entrance to the tunnels and the man Callie saw earlier is revealed to be his son, Jamie. The police accuse Jamie of kidnapping local pets, and he implies that he has been offering them as sacrifices to recover his father. At night the women are attacked by the creatures and Tricia is taken. Callie goes to the cops but her credibility in tatters, they don’t buy her story.

She is told to file a missing person report, and after collecting all the research she did on missing people in an envelop, Callie returns to the tunnel to offer a trade. She hears screams and sees the forms of people through the walls. A fetus (presumably Tricia’s) is pushed through the wall, and she attempts to run. She is captured by the creatures before she can escape the tunnel. As the movie ends Mallory finds the envelop and chooses to believe that Callie ran away and Tricia is happily living off the land somewhere, while his partner thinks a serial killer got to them both. Mallory puts up missing posters on the two women and sees an apparition of Callie in the tunnel entrance but ignores it and leaves, as Callie watches him with a creature next to her.

Despite it’s low quality look and even lower budget (Callie even wears the same tshirt & jammies for several nights), the film does have some creepy factor that works in their favour, although the film seems to drag in several places. And with the exception of the two women leads, the acting is suspect. Daniel does not appear to be too worse for wear despite being tortured by the creatures for 7 years. But you can’t ask for much from a $70,000 movie. I’ll give it a ….. 6.5 outta 10!

Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones

The makers of Paranormal Activity have tried to inject new fresh blood into the horror movie franchise with this outing. Written and directed by Christopher B. Landon, and co-produced by Oren Peli, Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones is more of a a spin-off of the Paranormal Activity film series and the fifth installment of the series.

The film focuses on Jesse, a recent high school graduate who lives in a small apartment in a complex with his grandmother & widowed father in Oxnard, California and usually hangs out with his best friend Hector and their common friend Marisol. After a party for him, Jesse buys a newer camera from a pawn shop. Anna, a reclusive woman who lives in the apartment below them and who is rumoured to be a witch is found murdered in her home and the police suspects Oscar, a former classmate of Jesse’s who was seen feeling from the scene. Jesse and his friend, Hector, decide to find out what Anna’s apartment looks like. They find black magic rituals and a picture of Jesse. They also discover several VHS tapes—including tapes from the childhood of Katie & Kristi. They also find a journal of spells, including one that discusses temporal doorways that take people in time and into evil and “unholy” locations. Along with Marisol they attempt to do the spell but nothing seems to happen that night.

However the next morning Jesse wakes up with a strange bite mark on his arm. Later, he and his friend Hector are confronted by two thugs who attack them, but the thugs are somehow knocked out by Jesse. When they show the incident to their other friend Marisol, Jesse cannot remember how it happened. He also discovers that he can perform “supernatural acts” like floating on air instead on falling down when he leans backwards without any support. With his confidence surging Jesse convinces Hector to join him at a party nearby where they meet two girls and Jesse invites Penelope to have sex with him in Anna’s apartment. When he leaves to get a condom, Penelope finds a a trap door in the apartment and is attacked by Oscar as he emerges from it. The girl runs away and Jesse searched for Oscar and finds the boy with oiley black eyes and the same bite mark on his arm. Oscar tells Jesse that unless they kill themselves they will harm those they love and then runs away. Although Jesse gives chase, he is left watching in horror as Oscar jumps from a high level to his death.

Jesse, Hector & Marisol inspect the room under the trap door and find an altar draped in witch paraphernalia as well as photos of Oscar, Jesse, and his family. One of the photos is of Jesse’s mother, while pregnant with him, posing with standing between Anna and Lois, Katie and Kristi’s grandmother. While there a shadow figure comes down the trap door but leaves without seeing the 3 teens. Over the next few days Jesse becomes moody and withdrawn, not sleeping and eating very little. The family dog, Chavo, disappears, and, believing that he hears it whining in the trap door basement in Anna’s apartment, Jesse heads down to rescue his dog. The shadow figure stands still without alerting Jesse who is unaware it is a trap. Jesse enters the basement and calls his dog, but instead he finds the ghostly figures of young Katie and Kristi. Frightened, he tries to flee the basement but finds the hatch closed. After shouting for help, Jesse turn his camera forward and hears voices muttering in the background. The voices stop and Jesse sees a black, shadowy figure emerging in the basement room. Sudden pounding footsteps approach Jesse as well as a horrifying demonic shriek as the malevolent shadow figure charges at Jesse, attacking him and knocking him down, possessing him.

Jesse then becomes darker & tortures Chavo his pet dog, murders his grandmother who was trying a religious spell to protect him and tells Hector that they are not friends. Hector and Marisol seek help from Oscar’s brother, Arturo, and find that Oscar had been in contact with Ali Rey (from the previous film), who had researched demons after her father and step-mother were killed and half-brother kidnapped by Katie. Ali tells Hector and Marisol that Jesse has been “marked” by coven witches called “The Midwives” who are using demons to create an army of possessed young men. Ali gives Hector and Marisol an address where a final ritual is to take place. Before they can head to the address, they are attacked by a now-possessed Jesse, whom they manage to knock out. Hector and Marisol decide to take him to the hospital but Hector’s car is suddenly rammed by a truck. Hector and Marisol are knocked out and Jesse is taken by whomever was driving the truck. They ask Arturo for help and he bring along his friend Santo armed to the teeth as they head to the house – which is house of Katie & Kristi’s grandmother’s house.

Searching the grounds next to the house, Santo then tries to break in the locked doors when the rest see a woman, apparently held captive plead for help. Suddenly the witches of the cover attack and kill Santo while Arturo tries fending off them using his shotgun and killing a few as Hector & Marisol lock themselves up in the house. However Marisol is abducted when Hector checks out a room that is prepped for a witches ritual and he frantically searches the house for her when her dead body crashes through a glass ceiling. Jesse then appears and lets out a demonic roar as Jesse chases Hector upstairs into a room with a strange wooden door in it. As Jesse crashes into the room, Hector flees through this doorway. After some camera interference, Hector finds himself back in time at the household of Katie and Micah, on the night that Katie finally succumbed to the demon. Hector sees Katie descend the stairs and pleads for her to help him. Instead, she grabs a knife and screams for Micah, who attacks Hector under assumption that he is an intruder. As Micah is stabbed to death by Katie, Hector tries to flee but is attacked and killed offscreen by a possessed Jesse, who unleashes a demonic roar and the camera falls to the ground. With the camera still rolling, Katie picks it up and stops the recording.

Time travel elements, desperate trying to connecting the spinoff with the other movies – why couldn’t they just let the movie stand on it’s own? Because for a while this movie was actually looking like the best of the whole lot of PA films but they ruin it with some silly stuff. 6 outta 10 for me!

Haunter

Haunter is a 2013 Canadian horror/supernatural flick directed by Vicenzo Natali and starring a teenage Abigail Breslin, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, Stephen McHattie & David Hewlett.  It was produced by Copperheart Entertainment and written by Brian King.

Lisa Johnson is the only one in her family of four who seems to be aware that the Johnson family is reliving the same day over & over again. It is a Sunday in the late 1980s, the day before Lisa is to turn 16. She is woken up by her younger brother Robbie who calls her down to play video games with him but she puts her earphones on and is asked to start the laundry by her mother Carol. Lisa goes to put the clothes in and is scared by a noise and she comes back up. The food is the same – pancakes for breakfast, mac n cheese for lunch and meatloaf followed by ice cream for dinner after which the family sits and watches that week’s episode of Murder She Wrote. She goes to bed and wakes up and the same day starts all over again. Robbie seems to have an imaginary friend named Edgar who could be key to some of the things happening. She sees glimpses of a figure behind her and tries to contact spirits using an ouija board but she is shocked to find out that the being she has contacted is alive!

So it becomes obvious to her; she & her family died that day and are stuck, repeating the day over and over again. She finds a small door leading to an underground cave/tunnel in her basement and find objects that belonged to young girls who were murdered before her. Lisa also finds belongings of Olivia (Eleanor Zichy) and the two connect. Olivia is a future family’s daughter living in the house, whose family will be the next set of victims. Lisa, with both the help of others and being transported into the timeline of other victims within the same house, unravels the mystery of what is going on in her family and in her house. Her father had killed the family and himself when he was possessed by the evil spirit of Edgar Mullins, a real life killer who murder young girls. He continues the pattern, possessing father’s of young girls he targets and while possessed the father kills the daughter and the rest of the family by suffocating them with carbon monoxide in the garage. During this time the family is “awakened” or comes to terms with the knowledge that they are dead and are able to assist. After Lisa’s family awakens to the truth and flees to the light, Lisa stays behind to stop the ongoing deaths and the evil spirit of Edgar haunting the house with the help of Olivia and the spirits of other girls who were murder victims.

Along with the evil spirit’s original family, who were also victims killed in the house, Lisa manages to overcome the evil spirit who subjected her to the curse and helps save another family, Olivia’s from suffering the same fate. After breaking the cycle of possession and murder-suicides, and Olivia’s father is no longer possessed, Lisa wakes up, no longer reliving the same day. It is now her birthday in the spirit realm and she is able to make the world appear as the way she wants it and after receiving a gift from her family she goes out of the house to explore.

The film is a bit confusing and lacks a coherent storyline or perhaps just needed better direction from Natali. I really thought that the movie had potential to be much better. Still a 7 outta 10 but it is dragging in places.

Magic Magic

There is nothing magic about this film, leaving me to think as to what the producers of this movie intended with this misleading title. Magic Magic is a 2013 Chilean-American psychological horror film written and directed by Sebastián Silva. It stars Juno Temple, Emily Browning, Michael Cera, Augustin Silva and Catalina Sandino Moreno.

Alicia is a young American woman who travels to Chile to meet up with her cousin Sarah who is currently in the country attending university. When she gets there she learns that Sarah is going on a trip to the countryside in Pagoda with her Chilean boyfriend Augustine and friends Brink, a fellow American student & Augustine’s sister Barbra. Alicia is apprehensive of traveling & staying with strangers but is urged on by her cousin. However just as they leave on the journey, Sarah is called from her university and is forced back to school to retake an exam (or so we’re lead to believe). She convinces Alicia to travel with the other 3 and says she will join them the next day. Alicia finds the 3 people’s behaviour strange especially Brink and his weird sense of humour. The long flight to Chile added with the 15 hour drive to rural areas give an already apprehensive, awkward and jetlagged Alicia insomnia and her grip on reality is affected.

The four of them settle in a small cabin where Barbra, a medical student, begins to study and in an unfriendly manner tells the rest not to disturb her. That leaves Alicia with Augustine and Brink who seem to be acting weirdly to the young girl and their frequently talking in Spanish also makes her feel left out. When Sarah is delayed by two more days, Alicia starts to cry due to the loneliness and awkward feeling she has with three strangers. While watching the two men playing on roller skates she sees a local sheep dog and tries to be friendly with it but she freaks out with it starts humping her leg, which amuses the men. Brink also seems to hit on Alicia anytime they are alone, even for a few seconds, which irritates her. She is unable to sleep and even her slight movements in her room seems to disturb Barbra, which the latter always rudely mentions to Alicia. Also, earlier on the drive to Pagoda a heartless maneuver pulled on a sick, stray puppy pierces her emotions, though that pales in comparison to her reaction to Brink shooting a bird dead on its blood-drenched wings. In her eyes, they’re all “sadists”! Alicia is also frustrated with the spotty cell service and when gets a call from Sarah, she is reduced to tears as she complains about her cabinmates but she feels that Sarah was talking to someone else!

Sarah finally arrives but is more concerned about hooking up with Augustine than being sympathetic to Alicia’s fears. There is a scene at a cliff where the other 3 (minus Barbra) go jumping into the water but a scared Alicia is rushed to tears with the rest trying to coax her. Barbra gives Alicia sleeping pills to curb her insomnia but a night later, Alicia is hypnotized by Augustine and is made to do a few silly things including dancing provocatively. When Brink tells her to place her hand in the fire, she does, burning her hand and waking her up. She is medicated but again unable to sleep. The final straw for Alicia is when she realizes that she could be hallucinating – her call with Sarah which the latter denies happening and her running away from the same sheep dog only to see it coming with it’s owner from another direction. She begins to walk in a trance, even provocatively rubbing her pubic area on Brink’s face which the two later argue about. At the end she walks off in the night, half in a trance due to overdosing on sleeping pills and is caught by the others and taken to a family that lives nearby as the nearest hospital is over 5 hours away. The couple conduct a native ceremony and is given some tea to drink but in her state she chokes on it and dies, while the others are so traumatized that they can’t even bear to watch. The end!

I know some people liked it but I didn’t. It’s a mess and it bored me for the most part. I do agree that both Cera & Temple’s performances are what drives the movie. I give it a 5.5 outta 10! Will not be watching it again.

The Hobbit : The Desolation Of Smaug

Based on J R R Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit and serving as a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy (also based on his novel The Lord Of The Rings), The Hobbit : The Desolation Of Smaug is the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy set and hence continues almost directly where we left things in The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey. Joining Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage & Ian McKellan are Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans,  Orlando Bloom, James Nesbitt, and Ken Stott, and features Stephen Fry,  Sylvester McCoy, and Manu Bennett and ofcourse Benedict Cumberbatch voiced the dragon Smaug.

The beginning of the movie we see a scene from a year before the start of the events where Gandalf meets Thorin Oakenfield in a bar and persuades him to reunited the dwarfs and suggests that he needs a stealthy burglar to steal the jewel back from Smaug.

  • The dwarfs, Gandalf and Bilbo are on the run from the Orcs and our Hobbit sees a large bear like creature also tracking them, which prompts Gandalf to usher the men into a house of Beorn the skin-changer and seek his help. Beorn is the bear but in human form is much kinder and provides them with ponies that they ride on and reach Mirkwood the next day. Gandalf sees Black speech graffiti on some ruins coinciding with a telepathic message from  Galadriel  urging him to go to the High Fells, and abruptly leaves without explanation after warning them to remain on the path and wait for him before entering the Lonely Mountain. The dwarfs lose their way in the forest and are caught by giant spiders who spin them in their webs and Bilbo uses the one ring to try and free them. He drops it and brutally attacks a spider that stands in his way. Azog is summoned to Dol Guldur and instructs his son Bolg to take over the hunt for Thorin.
  • Just as the dwarfs are about to be overwhelmed by the spiders, the Woodelves led by Tauriel & Legolas arrive and decimate the spiders but take the dwarfs prisoners. Bilbo sneaks in unseen as he uses the ring and hears the Elvinking Thandruil offer to help Thorin in his quest in exchange for a portion of the Erebor’s wealth. Thorin refuses and so the Elves keep the dwarfs imprisoned in the underground halls until he relents. Bilbo appears and arranges their escape in empty wine barrels that are sent downstream but they are ambushed by the Orcs and in the escape Kili is wounded. Thranduil seals off his kingdom when he learns that an evil entity has returned and is amassing great power in the south, but Tauriel disobeys him and leaves to assist the dwarves, followed by Legolas. Meanwhile Gandalf meets Radagast in the Nazgul tombs and finds them empty, perhaps serving the purposes of this evil entity.
  • The dwarfs and Bilbo meet a man named Bard who smuggles them into the lake town of Esgaroth, which is where the descendants of Dale now reside. When they are found, Thorin promises them much of the wealth for their help and they are given a fond farewell but the injured Kili is forced to stay behind, tended by Fili, Oin and Bofur. Bard is a direct descendant of Dale and possess the last black arrow capable of killing Smaug. Meanwhile Gandalf, having send Radagast to warn Galadriel, goes to Dol Guldur and find the Orcs waiting for him and is attacked by Azog. While fending the attacks he meets the force of the Necromancer and they both duel and Gandalf is captured. the Necromancer reveals itself to be the Dark Lord Sauron.
  • The Dwarfs have made their way to Lonely Mountain and on not finding Gandalf there, Thorin proceeds and with Bilbo’s help finds the doorway into the place. Bilbo is sent to find & steal the Arkenstone but he ends up awakening Smaug. Back in the laketown the Orcs attack Bard’s family who are treating Kili and Fili, Oin and Bofur. Legolas & Tauriel arrive and fend off the Orcs killing them one by one and Tauriel stays to tend to Kili; the two then acknowledge the bond that has developed between one another. Legolas goes after Bolg and although he kills the other Orcs he is unable to stop him from escaping. Inside the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the Dwarves, now being hunted by Smaug, trick the dragon into rekindling the forges, and attempt to kill him by drowning him in molten gold. However, Smaug emerges and stumbles out of the mountain, determined to destroy Lake-town and its people for aiding the Dwarves. He then takes to the air as Bilbo watches in horror at what they have unleashed.

Fantastic advenure-fantasy flick (as all the other movies in this universe has been so far) and thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. On a budget of $225 million the movie had pulled in $944,303,709 at the box office. I need to get the books as well to enjoy this further. 8.5 outta 10!

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name, The Wolf Of Wall Street is a 2013 black comedy film directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This is their 5th film together and the duo also co-produced the film also features Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, and Jean Dujardin. Belfort was a New York stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in securities fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s. The film is noted for it’s many nudities, coarse language, excessive drug usage, moral ambiguity, vulgarity and sexual content showcasing the excess that was the financial boom of the 90s. The film has grossed over $375 million worldwide, and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, as well as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for DiCaprio and Hill respectively, but failed to win in any category.

What can I saw about this movie? Over the top excess and actors at their very best – Leo in particular is out of this fucking universe. There is much snorting of cocaine and swallowing of Quaaludes, to go along with the booze that flows like water and debauchry. Belfort is a smart young stock broker who in 1987, begins a low-level job at an established Wall Street firm and is taken under the wing of his boss and give advice on how to live the high life. Unfortunately just as Belfort passes his exam to become a certified stockbroker, he loses his job on account of the firm’s bankruptcy and has to take a job with a small company that deals with pennystocks in a boiler room. Jordan impresses his new colleagues and charms his way to aggressively pitch his way to small fortune for both himself and the company as pennystocks have a 50% agent commission. He soon meets and befriends Donnie Azoff, who is his neighbour and the two start their own venture, recruiting Jordan’s accountant parents are recruited as well as several of Jordan’s friends, some of them experienced marijuana dealers. Jordan coaches his people in the art of selling and they start making a killing in the “dump & pump” scam and to hide their true nature, he names the company rather elegantly – Stratton Oakmont.

With success comes a lavish lifestyle of parties, sex and drugs – with hookers and dancers in the office followed by drinking and lots of fun. At one such pool party Jordan meets & falls in love & lust with Naomi and begins an affair with her which leads to his divorce and later marriage to Naomi, which is an extravagant event. Around this time FBI agent Patrick Denham starts investigating Stratton Oakmont and in particular Jordan along with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Jordan makes a $22 million on his securing the IPO of Steve Madden Ltd. and to hide some of his money he opens an account in a Swiss bank in the name of Emma, Naomi’s British aunt and uses his drug smuggler friend Brad’s Slovenian girlfriend and her family to smuggle more money out of the US and into Switzerland. Donnie and Brad have a loud fight outside a mall and Brad is caught with the money by the cops, which nearly exposes the company. With the law looming over him, Jordan’s father Max convinces him to step down from running the company and escape the legal penalties but after his emotional speech Jordan changes his mind much to the delight of the employees. However Emma dies and Jordan & Donnie with their wives  to sail to Monaco so they can drive to Switzerland without getting their passports stamped at the border and settle the bank account, but a violent storm capsizes their yacht. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed by a seagull flying into the engine, exploding and killing three people. Witnessing this, Jordan considers this as a warning sign from God and decides to sober up.

2 years later Denham finally arrests Jordan as he is shooting an infomercial, as the Swiss banker was arrested in the states and basically gave him up. As the evidence against him in overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence against the rest of his colleagues in exchange for a lighter sentence. Jordan and his wife fight as he tells her about his sentencing and it turns violent as Naomi tells him that she is going to divorce him and that her lawyer says she has a good chance of getting full custody of their two young children. Jordan throws a violent tantrum, gets high, and ends up crashing his car in his driveway during an attempt to abscond with their older daughter. Shaken by his reckless endangerment of his child, Jordan wears a wire to the office but reveals to Donnie that the Feds are listening and to be careful. However this is noticed by the FBI and Denham arrests Jordan and Statton Oakmont is raided and shut down. Despite him warning his friend, Jordan gets a lighter sentence of 36 months and after being released he starts making a living holding sales seminars in New Zealand.

Leonardo goes over the top in this film, perhaps his most brilliant and explosive performance ever and is joined bu Hill who also gives his best performance yet. The sex scenes, drug scenes and debauchery may throw some people off this film but even setting that aside, this is a powerful and hilarious film. I wouldn’t suggest young people to watch it though but all adults should, if only to watch a masterful overall performance by the entire cast. Some of the stuff is really out there. 9 outta 10!

Captain Phillips

Released in 2013 Captain Phillips is based on the true story of the of 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse. The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Tom Hanks as the captain and Barkhad Abdi as Muse. The screenplay was written by Billy Ray, and is based on the 2010 book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca served as producers on the project.

The story is about Captain Phillips who bids goodbye to his wife in the US and flies to Oman to take command of the Maersk Alabama, a container ship that’s heading from Oman to Mombasa through the Gulf Of Aden – a region known for pirate activity. Phillips orders a series of drills but his worst fears come true when he spots Somali pirates headed towards his ship in two skiffs. One of the skiffs turns back when they hear Phillips fake a call and recieves confirmation for a quick air support but the other one continues to chase them. They have engine trouble but catch up with the ship the next day  four heavily armed pirates led by Abduwali Muse; they are carrying a ladder they had hastily welded the night before. Phillips men are mostly hiding in the engine room on his orders but the bridge is captured and the ship’s power is shut off. Phillips offers Muse the contents of the ship’s safe ($30,000), but, under orders from his boss (the local Somali faction leader), Muse’s plan is to ransom the ship and crew in exchange for millions of dollars of insurance money from the shipping company. Muse takes Phillips with him & one of the others, whose feet are cut badly by broken glass scattered by the crew. Muse is then overpowered by the crew but Phillips is already taken back to the bridge by the injured pirate.

the crewmen arrange to trade Phillips for Muse and the ship’s lifeboat. The pirates force Phillips onto the lifeboat and launch it, intending to hold the captain for ransom. The rest of money is mostly focused on the 4 pirates and Phillips in the lifeboat as they speed away but are later intercepted by the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge and with their supplies almost all used up. Once additional U.S. Navy ships arrive, Phillips attempts to negotiate with Muse, who asserts that he has come too far and will not surrender. In the meantime, the Bainbridge’s captain  Frank Castellano (Yul Vazquez) is ordered to prevent the pirates from reaching the mainland by whatever means necessary. At night Phillips attempts an escape but is brought back to the lifeboat as the pirates shoot at him. Castellano and the SEALs continue to try to negotiate with the pirates, eventually taking the lifeboat under tow. Eventually, Muse agrees to board the Bainbridge, led into believing that he will join his clan elders in negotiating Phillips’s ransom. In the lifeboat, Najee, who always seems to be agitated and second-guessing Muse, beats up Phillips when he sees the captain writing a hasty goodbye note to his family.

Najee angrily blindfolds and ties up Phillips but the three SEAL marksmen finally get three clear shots and simultaneously kill the pirates. A sobbing Phillips is rescued from the lifeboat as Muse is arrested for piracy and taken into custody. He is read his rights and told that he will be taken for trial in the US. A shocked and disoriented Phillips is treated by the Navy’s medical staff. As the movie ends we are told the fate of the two men – Phillips was reunited with his family and only returned to sea 14 months after the events. Muse was tried and pleaded guilty o hijacking, kidnapping and hostage-taking charges and was sentenced to over 33 years in prison. Both Hanks & Abdi did great jobs in the acting front; it’s hard to not feel compassion and perhaps even tear up as Phillips is rescued and his composure breaks down and it is equally hard to not feel contempt & dislike for the ugly faced pirate that is Muse. The attempt to make him appear sympathetic is there – at one point Phillips tells him that being a fisherman and a pirate is not the only thing for a man to be and Muse says ‘maybe in America’, meaning that being a pirate is something he is forced to do. The film manages to do what it sets out to do, tell a harrowing story of a man being kidnapped and held hostage in a hostile environment and close quarters and being rescued.

I give the movie a solid 8.5 outta 10!

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The Five-Year Engagement

Released in 2012 The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic-comedy film directed and produced by Nicholas Stoller. who co-wrote the film with its lead actor Jason Segal. Judd Apatow co-produced the film which also stars Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Jacki Weaver, Rhys Ifans & Mindy Kaling.

The story revolves around a couple named Tom, who is a sous-chef at a fancy restaurant, & Violet, a psychology PhD graduate, who get engaged a year after they first met and started dating. After Tom proposes they have a nice formal engagement party with both set of parents and friends and then are in no hurry to get married as they want the perfect wedding. However Violet’s sister Suzie, who was upset at the party hooked up with Tom’s best friend Alex and she get’s pregnant and so the two get married before Tom & Violet. When Violet gets accepted into the University of Michigan’s post-doctorate in psychology program which lasts two years, this means a further delay as Tom quits his job to move from San Francisco with Violet to Michigan. As Violet settles into the program and begins to enjoy life at the university with her professor Winton Childs and the other candidates, Tom is having a hard time finding a suitable job so he settles for making sandwiches at a cool but much smaller restaurant. Plus he is disheartened as his boss told him that she was going to make him head chef at a new restaurant in town. He also takes up deer hunting with a friend he made at a party.

Tom and Violet’s nuptials get delayed even further when Winton receives NIH funding with Violet’s help, enabling him to extend her program. As time passes Tom becomes increasing disillusioned with his life & work and it becomes obvious to Violet when she sees him eat a stale donut despite her saying that she would get fresh new ones – her main thesis on people opting to eat stale donuts versus waiting for fresh donuts, associating impulse-control problems with personal and professional instability. While drinking at a bar with her colleagues Violet unloads to Winton about Tom and he kisses her. Regretting it, she goes to Tom and tells him that she wants to get married immediately and Tom happily agrees to make the plans.  Everything goes well until Violet decides to confess to Tom about kissing Winton. Tom gets disillusioned about their relationship, which reaches a climax when Winton comes to Tom and Violet’s rehearsal dinner to try to apologize. Tom chases Winton but is unable to do much as a much fitter Winton runs off. A drunken Tom then runs into Margaret, one of his Zingerman’s co-workers and has the chance to have sex with her, but opts out. He wakes up half-naked in the snow with a frostbitten toe, and he is taken to the hospital where the toe is amputated. Violet visits Tom at the hospital, before they call off their engagement once they arrive home.

Tom moves back to San Francisco and takes a job as sous-chef under Alex at the restaurant that should have been his to run and also starts a relationship with the hostess Audrey. However he finds it exhausting to keep up with her hyper lifestyle (which is so funny). On Violet’s birthday he talks to her and she blurts out that she saw him eat the stale donut and about her study, which angers him. Tom’s parents and Alex see that Tom is dissatisfied with his new life and motivate him to act upon this. He is fired by Alex who says he should be doing something of his own. Inspired Tom starts his own specialty Taco stand run outta truck which does well. Violet, meanwhile has been in a relationship with Winton and receives an assistant professorship at the university, but becomes upset when she learns she got the job because she was dating Winton rather than her abilities as a researcher and breaks up with Winton. After the death of her grandmother she goes to England for the funeral and is surprised to see that Tom also made it to pay his respects. He rekindles his relationship with Violet and breaks up with Audrey once he gets back to San Francisco.

Violet stays with Tom for a couple of weeks, working with him in his Taco truck until it’s time for her to go back to Michigan. While driving Violet to the airport, Tom says he can take his food truck to where she is and continue their relationship. However Violet proposes to him and says that they should get married right then and there. Tom reveals the engagement ring he gave her initially, stating he was planning on proposing to her at the airport. They both agree and head to Alamo Square Park where Violet has organized for their family and friends to be waiting for an impromptu wedding where Violet allows Tom to choose between various options for the officiant, clothing and music, and they finally get married.

Funny, really hilarious in places, gross and sweet in some scenes this is a really good fun movie to watch. I’m surprised that it didn’t do well – it just made $53 million on a $30 million budget. What’s up world – it’s not gross enough for you? I must say that it looked like Segal couldn’t get Paul Rudd to play his best friend’s role and so went out and go Rudd’s younger brother – no not really but man does Chris Pratt look, sound & act just like Paul Rudd. 8 outta 10! I liked it a lot.

Kill For Me

The young actresses who star in the led me to check out this film, along with a veteran actor like Donal Logue and Ryan Robbins (who is only it for a coupe of scenes). Kill For Me is a 2013 Canadian film that focuses on the lives of 2 young women who have had abusive pasts and are trying to move on with their lives. The movie stars Tracy Spiridiakos (from Revolution), Katie Cassidy (of Supernatural & Arrow) with Logue, Robbins, Leah Gibson, Adam Di Marco & Torrence Coombs and is directed by Michael Greenspan who also co-wrote the film.

College student Amanda lives in a house with her two roommates and her world is shattered when her close friend & roommate Natalie goes missing after her work shift at a bar ended. Everyone thinks she either eloped or found college too tough and went to travel the world but Amanda puts of posters around town. After the cops find no evidence of foul play, Natalie and the 3 roommate Zoe put out ads for Natalie’s room for sharing the rent. Along comes Hayley who also goes to the same college and she is shown the house and room and decides to rent the vacant room. Hayley shows signs of being an abused child; she has scars on her back and she goes to her family farmhouse to collect money that her dead mother was saving up and seems fearful of her father. When Zoe goes on a trip with her boyfriend Amanda & Hailey become close both sharing their stories of abuse; Amanda recently broke up from her abusive boyfriend Cameron but he is still obsessed with her and is trying to get back.

Hailey tells Amanda that her father Garret was abusive to both her and her mother and that he killed her mother, making it look like a suicide. One afternoon Hailey helps Amanda in beating and chasing away Cameron but he comes back with a gun and hits both of them, cornering Amanda to the basement. In the melee Hailey takes a hatchet that Amanda had picked up to defend herself and kills Cameron. Hailey then begs Amanda to help her bury the body and shows her Garret’s farmhouse – when Garret leaves late in the evening to head to a bar, the girls dig up a hole in the surrounding woods and sink his bike in the lake. The girls then go back home and spurred by their emotional experience shower and have sex. However Hailey alerts the cops and tries to frame her father but despite the fact that they find the dead body & the bike on his property, due to lack of solid evidence the case against Garret is dropped. Amanda feels betrayed but when she comes home she finds a beaten & bruised Hailey – her father knew it was she who tipped of the police and took revenge on Hailey. Hailey now asks Amanda to kill for her, just as she had killed Cameron for Amanda. When Amanda refuses, Hailey blackmails her with the hatchet; she had wiped her fingerprints off it but Amanda’s still remains.

When that doesn’t work, Hailey kidnaps Amanda’s friend Mark and threatens to kill him unless Amanda goes along with her plan. When Amanda agrees the two head for the bar that Garret frequents and it is the same bar that Natalie used to work at. Hailey knows her father’s pattern – he drinks till closing time and usually tries to pick up a young woman to have drinks & sex with at his house. Amanda dresses up and flirts with Garret, which initially does not work but she manages to get his attention and later they head to his house. Once there, Amanda is to poison his drink but Garret is suspicious and hence tells her a made up story – he tells her about his “troubled” daughter Hailey who was violent and abusive to his wife and who killed her mother and set it up as a suicide. Garret is about to drink the poisoned drink when Amanda stops him and tells him the truth. They stage his death taking photos of him lying “dead” on the floor to show Hailey. Amanda goes to Hailey claiming that the job is done and gets Mark released. Hailey suspects that her father tricked Amanda and forces her friend at gunpoint back to the farm. They find Garret lying in the barn but he attacks and shoots Hailey and then attacks Amanda. He then confirms Hailey’s story – he is infact an abusive father and killed Hailey’s mother. He is about to drag a screaming Amanda and drop her into a hatch opening in the ground when a dying Hailey grabs the gun and shoots him dead. Hailey dies in Amanda’s arm, finally free.

As Amanda sits in the barn she hears movement from the underground section of the barn and investigates it to find her friend Natalie in it! A disheveled Natalie had been abducted and sexually abused by Garret as she left her bar job and he was keeping her prisoner for his pleasure. Amanda pulls Natalie out of the underground and calls the cops telling them that she & Hailey suspected Garret to be keeping Natalie prisoner and on investigation found Natalie but Hailey got killed while defending them from Garret who also died at the hands of his daughter. As the cop cars pull away with the girls the movie ends. Good low budget flick that really tries it’s best to surprise you with the two twists in the film. And while they weren’t really that surprising they do work well. Watch it for the storyline and the themes, I’ll have to give it an 8 outta 10 for the fact that it is a low budget flick that still engaged me throughout but overall as a film probably a 7 outta 10!

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Thor : The Dark World

Thor : The Dark World is a sequel to 2011′s Thor and 2012′s Marvel’s The Avengers. It is the 8th installment in the Marvels film universe. The film was directed by Alan Taylor, with a screenplay by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander and Rene Russo. In this film Thor must team up with his brother Loki to save Asgard, and later earth as well as the other realms, from an old for who battled their grandfather and was though to be vanquished.

Many years ago Odin’s father King Bor battled and won against the army of the Dark Elf Malekith who sought to vanquish the universe and destroy it using a powerful weapon known as the Aether. As Bor defeated the Dark Elves and their enhanced warriors known as the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Malekith and a small group of his men escaped into hiding and went into suspended animation. Bor stored the Aether in a stone column in a secret planet unknown to everyone else as it cannot be destroyed. Cut to present day and Thor, after having defeated marauders on Vanaheim alongside his warrior, returns to Asgard with Loki who is then imprisoned for his crimes. The Asgardians soon learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random. Meanwhile on earth Dr. Jane Foster and her intern Darcy Lewis are in London where they find portals in an abandoned factor leading to other realms, disrupting the laws of physics around them. Thor is alerted by Heimdall that he cannot see Jane on earth; she was teleported to another planet; the same one that houses the Aether and she releases it by accident and it enters her.

With the rainbow bridge between realms being restored, Thor goes to earth and meets Jane and she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, and Thor returns with her to Asgard. Odin disapproves saying that the force could kill her and destroy Asgard as well but has his doctors look at Jane. Malekith awakens with the return of the Aether and with his army descends upon Asgard with a sneak attack and searches for Jane. Thor’s mother Frigga is killed trying to protect Jane and Malekith and his men are forced to leave with the scientist or the Aether. Although Odin warns him not to leave Asgard, as their defense shields are weakened and the city has sustained much damage, Thorn sneaks Loki out of his prison and taking Jane with them they use a secret portal to get to  Svartalfheim, where they will use Jane to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. Loki is promised a chance to seek revenge for the death of their mother and agrees, Thor’s warriors helping them to get to the Dark Elf ship that has crashed on Asgard. Once on the planet Loki tricks Malekith into thinking that he has betrayed Thor and Malekith draws out the Aether from Jane but the Dark Elf lord merges with the Aether and in the battle Loki is fatally injured. As the Dark Elves escape in their ship, Thor promises his dying brother that he will tell Odin of his sacrifice. Thor and Jane are able to find a portal in a cave that takes them to earth and they head to London.

The two reunite in London with Darcy, and Jane’s mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki’s attack on Earth. Selvig tells them that the convergence of the 9 realms has a central point – Greenwich in the UK. Thor battles Malekith through various portals and across multiple worlds until one portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed on Earth. Thor returns in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own damaged ship. Thor returns back to Asgard and declines his father Odin’s request for him to take over the throne and tells Odin of Loki’s sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin’s form transforms to that of a grinning Loki. Thor’s warriors take the Aether, contained in an infinity stone to the Collector for safekeeping but the Collector seems to have ulterior plans. Thor reunites with Jane on earth as a frost giant is seen causing havoc in London.

Big, bombastic and a great movie to watch at the theatres. I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the superhero movies but this one feels more science fiction like to me with a touch of fantasy thrown in. Other have also noticed the Star Trek / Star Wars influences running in the movie and it feels more at home in that genre rather than superhero. 8 outta 10!

Two SyFy Horror/Creature Feature Films

SyFy channel has it’s own range of tv shows and low budget movies made for television. They also dabble into the horror/supernatural genre and today I watched two of their 2013 movies. The first one is Scarecrow which stars Lacey Chabert (who’s only other work I was familiar with is as a 14-15 year old in Lost In Space and my how they she has grown) & Robin Dunne and is about a legend of a monster in a barn in a small town that comes alive and haunts the members of a single family that owns the place.  100 years have passed and the monster has not been seen or killed anyone but the legend lives on and each year in October the town has a festival based on the scarecrow like monster but almost everyone has forgotten how the legend got started. As the movie starts two teenagers Chad & Marcy from the local school head out to the barn next to the abandoned farmhouse to scare their enemies Nicki and Tyler for posting sex pictures of them on the internet. Inside the old barn they climb the rickety ladder when it breaks and both of them fall through the floor and crash into an unknown and dark basement. Marcy has badly injured her leg and blood is flowing everywhere and as Chad tries to help a large dark hand comes out and grabs Chad’s head and crushes it. Next an unseen creature heads for the screaming Marcy.

A day later school teacher Aaron Harris is taking 6 students who are in detention – Tyler (Richard Harmon), Nicki (Julia Maxwell), Daevon (Reilly Dolman), Calvin (Iain Belcher), Beth (Brittney Wilson), and Maria (Nicole Muñoz) – to the old barn and help him take the old scarecrow from there to town. As they reach there Aaron’s ex girlfriend Kristen Mills also arrives to help – the abandoned cornfield & farmhouse belongs to her family. Also at the scene is Eddie, Aaron’s former best friend who also liked Kristen which caused a fall out among them. Kristen called him to join in so that Aaron & Eddie could finally patch things up. The teens go to the scarecrow as the adults stay behind, arguing. As the three reach the scarecrow they find that Nicki & Tyler are missing and while the look for them a creature attacks & grabs Beth, dragging her away. As the other Kristen finds Beth, who is still alive, but is dragged herself but is found by Aaron & Eddie. All of them run into the old house and they board up the doors and windows as something is trying to get in. They see Tyler’s dead body (Nicki is presumed dead but is never shown) and see the creature – a dark, smoky creature (kinda of a cross between 1999′s Mummy & Mama) that glides in and out of the ground and moves very fast. Daevon & Calvin are killed while trying to outwit the creature and the rest make it out in a truck but the creature appears outta nowhere, crashing their vehicle and Eddie is killed a bit later.

So now Aaron, Kristen, Beth & Maria run through the woods to a house for help where an old man tells them about the legend of the scarecrow monster of the Mills’ family. The creature of unknown origin kills indiscriminately but was trapped under the barn by Kristen’s relative over a 100 years ago and the festival originated as a reminded of the evil that lurks there but over time almost everyone has forgotten. The old man tries to escape from the house in fear but is killed by the creature. Beth tries to hod Kristen hostage saying that the creature might stop if they hand her over to it. However Beth is killed when she gets sucked along with the creature into a machine that cuts crops. Maria is killed when the creature impales her as she is being carried by Aaron on his back and it injures him as well. Kristen helps Aaron into a boat tied upon a dock but he too is killed by the creature as it stalks her as it’s final kill. She manages to elude it and blows up the boat with the creature trapped in it when she uses a light and throw it into the boat that’s leaking flammable fuel. The movie ends as Kristen, the lone survivor, walks sadly away.

The second SyFy movie I watched today was Tasmanian Devils also from 2013 and starring a host of science fiction tv show regulars. Danica McKellar (yes Winnie Cooper herself), Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5), Mike Dopud (Stargate Universal & BSG), Rekha Sharma (V & BSG), Terry Chen, Roger Cross. 6 rich adults are in a helicopter headed to a dangerous & forbidden section of the Tasmanian woods to indulge in some base jumping off a high cliff. First timer Stone (Olympian Apollo Ohno) jumps off to battle his nerves and fails to pull his chute in time and hence plummets into the trees and falls into a hole in the ground and lands on a spiky stone formation that goes through him. A bleeding Stone sees that he is in an underground chamber with lots of cave paintings and his blood, that falls off the spike into these holes in the ground awakens something supernatural and ancient. His screams are heard by the 5 who come looking for him and Anderson goes down to check on their friend only to find his partly eaten carcass. This spooks the 5 friends and they decide to head back to civilization. However they run into the path of 3 forest rangers who responded to the sightings of the helicopter headed to a forbidden zone.

The rangers arrest the 5 and bind their hands and put them into the back of the truck, despite their protests and of their friend being killed by some creature. Simon also tries to bribe his way out but is rejected. THe head ranger Whitfield & Danz check out the underground cave, while Alex monitors the 5 tourists and see the paintings but still head into town. As evening falls the truck stop as Whitfield spots a wild creature in their path and tries to shoot it with his shotgun. The creature double back and attacks him from behind killing him. As Danz & Alex go off to find him, Danz is attacked by the creature and it then runs after Alex. Jayne manages to unbind himself and starts the truck and crashes it against the creature killing it and saving Alex but the truck is busted as it crashes into a tree. The 6 of them climb up a tree to spend the night as they hear more roars from creatures. The next morning they hear moans from Danz who wasn’t killed but got himself pinned to a tree as a shark piece of wood has gone through his cheek. His loud moans alert one of the creatures and it kills him and then attacks the 6 who make their way to the damaged truck to collect flares and guns. Jayne traps the creature inside the truck by making it chase him into it and Alex kills it with a flame thrower. They then go to the underground cave and Alex investigates the cave paintings – it seems that an ancient legend about sacrificing a human with it’s blood will awaken 6 ancient creatures, forerunners of the Tasmanian devil but much fiercer & larger in size. These supernatural creatures will kill anything that makes noise.

They try and trap the remaining 4 creatures inside the cave by luring them in to it and blowing it up but they escape and Lisbon is killed. Her husband Walsh is the next to be killed as Simon and Anderson get to their chopper and try and pick up the rest but a creature jumps into the partly open door and pulls Simon out, killing both him & itself as they hit the propeller blades and crashing the chopper. Anderson escapes and the remaining 3 trap one of the creatures in the chopper and make it explode and then head to an outpost. Anderson manages to kill one more creature but is killed by the final creature and then it topples the cabin in which Alex & Jayne are hiding. They manage to trap the creature between planks and as it climbs out Alex uses the final 3 bullets to kill it. Jayne & Alex can finally relax as they walk in the night headed towards civilization.

Despite poor CGI effects, especially in the second film I found both the films watchable and good for made for tv movies. The budgets for these films are pretty low and they employ working class actors and give them a chance to be in the main roles and showcase what they can do. I give them both a 7 outta 10, with an eye to the fact that they are what they are – low budget (2.5 million each I think) tv movies. Against normal films they are a 6!

12 Years A Slave

Based on the true story and an adaptation of the 1853 memoir of the same name  by  an African-American named Solomon Northup, a free man from New York state who was abducted and sold into slavery, 12 Years a Slave is a 2013 multiple award winning British-American film directed & co-produced by Steve McQueen. The movie stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup with Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt and Alfre Woodard in supporting roles.

Solomon is a carpenter & musician, who is known for his violin playing, living with his wife & two kids in Saratoga Springs, NY. While his wife & kids are away visiting family, he is offered a 2 week job playing violin in Washington DC by two white men, who drug him and have him chained to be sold to slavery. Despite his protests about being a free man from NY, is shipped to New Orleans, renamed as Platt and beaten by the slavery merchants. He is sold to plantation owner William Ford and is on good terms with him, a benevolent white master. However, after engineers a waterway for transporting logs swiftly and cost-effectively downstream, Solomon earns the wrath of carpenter John Tibetts who also works in the same plantation. Tibetts begins to verbally abuse Solomon and when tension increases, he attacks him but is beaten back. In retaliation Tibbets and two other men attempt to lynch Northup, who suffers many hours in the noose but he is saved by Ford who tells him that in order to save his life he must sell him to Edwin Epps. Although a weary Solomon tries to tell Ford that he is a “free man”, Ford explains that he also has a debt to pay to Epps.

Epps is a harsh man, believing that slavery is biblically sanctioned and treats his slaves badly. He whips any slave who doesn’t reach his/her quota for picking cotton and in the middle of the night wakes them up to dance for his & his wife’s amusement. Epps favours a young slave named Patsey, who works better than anyone else and rapes her several times, much to the chagrin of his wife Mary. For this Mary humiliates and abuses Patsey in front of the others on several occasion. Due to an outbreak of cotton worms Epps, who believes that the slaves have earned the wrath of god, leases them to a neighboring plantation for the season. While there, Solomon gains the favor of the plantation’s owner, who gives him a coin after he plays the fiddle at a wedding anniversary celebration. Once back at Epps farm, Solomon uses the coin to get a white farm worker to mail a letter to Northup’s friends in New York. The man agrees to deliver the letter and takes the money, but betrays Solomon to Epps who comes to question Solomon, who narrowly manages to convince his master that it is a lie. He then burns the letter in tears. Patsey is missing from the farm one day, which enrages Epps and when she returns she says that she had gone to get a bar of soap from Mistress Shaw (Alfre Woodward) as Mary refuses to give her any. Epps has her stripped and tied to a post and encouraged by Mary makes Solomon whip her. When Solomon is hesitant Epps vows to kill all the slaves if he refuses so Solomon uses the whip on Patsey.

Epps eventually takes the whip away from him, savagely lashing the woman until her back is filled with scars that have ripped her skin & flesh. This is a hard scene to watch without being affected. She is then taken by her fellow slaves to be treated. Later while talking to a Canadian labourer named Bass, who had previously expressed his opposition to slavery to Epps, Solomon talks about his life as a free man. Solomon asks for help in getting a letter to Saratoga Springs from Bass, who is leaving in a day and who agrees to do that with risk to his own life. A while later the local sheriff comes to Epps’ farm with a shopkeeper who knows from Saratoga. The shopkeeper is there to vouch for Solomon’s status and the sheriff allows him to take Solomon back with him despite Epps’s protest. As Solomon leaves he hugs Patsey goodbye. A few days later Solomon is reunited with his family after a long separation of 12 years. His daughter is now married and has a baby son herself and the family tearfully hug. The closing credits recount the inability of Solomon Northup and his legal counsel to prosecute the men responsible for his being sold into slavery, as well as the mystery surrounding details of his death and burial.

Touching film that will surely move you and it is certainly worth the 2 hours time you spend on viewing it. Earning over $140 million on a production budget of $20 million the film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Nyong’o and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ridley. It was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and theBritish Academy of Film and Television Arts recognized the film with the Best Film and the Best Actor award for Ejiofor. 9 outta 10 for me!

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2001 : A Space Odyssey

Ok, this is a classic film, one of the greatest movies of all time and a science fiction masterpiece. However I haven’t seen this film in full until a few days ago. Yes, I hang my head in shame. No point in offering excuses, I failed! Anyways let’s get into this cinematic beauty, which I will admit is a bit slow and hence some people may not enjoy it as much as most science fiction buffs. But, you will find it hard to believe that this film was made in 1968 and not a decade or so later!

2001 : A Space Odyssey is a British-American science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”. Clarke also wrote a novel based on the book, which could be a good choice for a lot of fans to get. The movie is set in 4 parts. The first part is set in prehistoric times and focuses on a group of early hominids in central Africa. The group is attacked separately by a leopard and another group of hominids who drive them from their water-hole and they take shelter in a cave. When they awaken they find a black monolith that appears in a place it wasn’t there before. They shriek and jump as they approach it and one of them touches it realizes how to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon, which they start using to kill prey for their food. Growing increasingly capable and assertive, they reclaim control of the water hole from the other tribe by killing its leader. Triumphant, the tribe’s leader throws his weapon-tool into the air as the scene changes to millions of years later.

In the year 2000 there is a meeting on a space station that is orbiting the earth. Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester), after stopping to speak to a Russian colleague and her friend, makes a video call to his daughter on her birthday after arriving at the station. He then heads to Clavius, a US outpost on the Moon, and heads a meeting of base personnel which is to discuss the discovery of a black monolith similar to the one that the apes saw. The base has been kept off limits to others with a cover story of an epidemic outbreak. Floyd and others head to the location and pose for a photo in front of it. While doing so, they hear a very loud high-pitched radio signal emanating from within the monolith. The signal is sent towards the location of Jupiter. Which brings us to the 3rd act; 18 months later the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter. On board are mission pilots and scientists Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), and three other scientists who are in cryogenic hibernation. The majority of the ship’s functions are controlled by the advanced computer Hal 9000 (voice by Douglas Rain). During the trip Bowman & Poole and even Hall are interviewed by the BBC for a program. When HAL alerts Poole to a report the imminent failure of a device which controls the ship’s main antenna. However the astronauts, on investigating the part, cannot find anything wrong with it.

Hal suggests reinstalling the part and letting it fail so the problem can be found. Mission control concurs, but advises the astronauts that results from their twin HAL 9000 indicate the ship’s Hal is in error predicting the fault. When queried, Hal insists that the problem, like all previous issues with the HAL series, is due to “human error”. Concerned the two astronauts try to speak inside an EVA pod and discuss disconnecting Hal if he is proven to be wrong, but they are unaware that Hal is reading their lips through the pod’s window. While Poole is on a spacewalk outside of his EVA pod attempting the repair severs his oxygen hose and sets him adrift. Bowman attempts a rescue and during this time HAL turns off the life support for the 3 crew members in suspended animation. When Bowman returns with Poole’s body HAL refuses him entry stating that the astronaut’s plan to deactivate him jeopardizes the mission. Bowman lets go of Poole’s body and manually opens the hatch and enters the Discovery and then proceeds to disconnect HAL’s processors. HAL first tries to reassure Bowman then pleads with him to stop, and finally begins to express fear—all in a steady monotone voice. Dave ignores him and disconnects each of the computer’s processor modules. Hal eventually regresses to his earliest programmed memory, the song “Daisy Bell”, which he sings for Bowman.

HAL being disconnected a prerecorded message plays in which Floyd reveals the existence of the four million-year-old black monolith on the Moon, “its origin and purpose still a total mystery”. Floyd adds that it has remained completely inert, except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter. Bowman leaves the Discovery in a pod to investigate another monolith, much larger this time, which is orbiting Jupiter. As Bowman nears it  the pod is suddenly pulled into a tunnel of colored light, and a disoriented and terrified Bowman finds himself racing at great speed across vast distances of space, viewing bizarre cosmological phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colors. He sees himself middleaged still in the suit in a bedroom and then even more older variations of himself until he is a frail old man on his death bed. A black monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a fetal being enclosed in a transparent orb of light. The new being floats in space beside the Earth, gazing at it.

Fantastic film to look at and experience if you can get past the lack of much dialogue in a lot of scenes. I can’t believe that this a a 1967-68 production as it looks so futuristic. The best scifi ideas originated in the 60s. The monolith is a representation of the work of a highly advanced alien race who influence life on other planets, once they themselves evolved to a stage beyond their physical bodies. A must watch for any scifi fan and any movie lover to be truthful. 9 outta 10!

The 2014 Academy Awards Winners

86th Academy Awards winners

Best Picture :  12 Years a Slave

Best Actor in a Leading Role : Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role : Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role : Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role : Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Animated Feature : Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Best Cinematography : Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best Costume Design : The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

Best Directing : Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Best Documentary Feature : 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

Best Documentary Short : The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)

Best Film Editing : Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)

Best Foreign Language Film : The Great Beauty (Italy)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling : Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)

Best Original Score : Gravity (Steven Price)

Best Original Song : Let It Go – Frozen

Best Production Design : The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

Best Animated Short Film : Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)

Best Live Action Short Film : Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)

Best Sound Editing : Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Best Sound Mixing : Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)

Best Visual Effects : Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)

Best Adapted Screenplay : 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Best Original Screenplay : Her (Spike Jonze)

Somewhere in there, Jesus won an Oscar for best fictional character (in My Daddy & Me)

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The Last Exorcism Parts I & II

The Last Exorcism is a low budget horror film from 2010 in the found footage category, shown here as a documentary film that was being made.  A small film crew consisting of producer/director Iris Reisen and cameraman Daniel Moskowitz are following a disillusioned evangelical minister, the reverend Cotton Marcus as he performs fake exorcisms on “possessed” individuals. After years of being a well liked, charming & popular priest Marcus lost his faith after the birth of his ill son. He now wants to expose the sham that is exorcism and agrees to be filmed by the crew. He chooses an exorcism request sent by farmer Louis Sweetzer, who claims his livestock is being slaughtered by his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) who is possessed. Also in the farm is the hostile older child Caleb, who wants the reverend to leave the farm After speaking to Louis and then spending time with Nell, Marcus claims that the girl is possessed by a powerful demon named Abalam. Using some tricks and equipment set up, which he shows to us in the recording, Marcus tricks the girl and her father into believing that he is driving out the demon. After the ritual, Marcus and his film crew leave, believing they have cured her of a mental state that was misdiagnosed as a possession. That night, Nell appears in Marcus’ motel room, apparently unwell.

Marcus takes the girl to a hospital for tests but they come back conclusive that she is well & healthy. In the morning Marcus goes to speak to Louis’ former pastor, Joseph Manley who informs him that he has seen Nell in 2 years. In the morning Louis & Caleb take Nell back to the farm but chains her to her bed after she slices Caleb’s face with a knife and Marcus & his crew stay with her as Louis takes his son to the hospital. That night, the crew find a drawing of a dead cat. Nell takes the camera while the 3 sleep and kills a cat in the barn with it and then approaches Marcus with the camera in her hands but the other two stop her in time. They then see more of her paintings. The first depicts Marcus standing before a large flame, holding up a crucifix. The second shows the dead bodies of the crew: Marcus being consumed by the flame in the other picture, Iris hacked to pieces with an axe, and Dan decapitated. When Marcus speaks to the doctor who treated Nell he finds out that she is pregnant. Marcus accuses Louis of incest but he denies it saying that Nell is a virgin who was defiled by the demon. Nell cuts Marcus’s hand with a pair of scissors when he approaches her so the crew decide to leave but stop when they find Nell begging to be killed and Louis taking his shotgun to her. Marcus says he will try another exorcism to pacify Louis and they head to the barn.

Marcus confronts the demon Abalam who agrees to leave Nell alone if the reverend can stay silent for 10 seconds. Marcus agrees but yells out when Nell breaks 3 of her fingers. Abalam then asks Marcus if he wants a “blowing job.” Marcus realizes that a demon would know the actual name of the sex act and concludes that Nell is not a demon, but a very disturbed girl. Nell is agonized over losing her virginity to a boy named Logan resulting in her mental breakdown rather than possession. Marcus arranges for Pastor Manley to come to the house, and leaves. On their way home, Marcus and the crew happen to meet Logan at a fast food joint they stop in, who explains that the only contact he had with Nell was a brief conversation 6 months ago at a party held at Pastor Manley’s home. Logan also admits to being gay and hence didn’t have sex with Nell. Realizing that Manley was lying about not having seen Nell for 2 years, Marcus and crew heads back to the farm where they find numerous occult and Satanic symbols on the walls, and Nell and Louis missing. They search deep in the woods where they find a large fire and a congregation of hooded cultists, led by Pastor Manley. Louis is tied and gagged up against a tree and hooded figures pray at an altar upon which Nell is laid. The girl gives birth to an inhuman baby and Manley tosses the baby into the fire from which demonic roars are heard.

Marcus, having regained his faith, clutches his crucifix and rushes toward the flames chanting to combat the evil. Iris is tackled by a member of the congregation and killed with an axe. Daniel continues to run, until he stops to take a deep breath. He then looks around to see if he was followed, before turning back to find Caleb, who is wearing clean clothes and a bandage covering his wound. Caleb then decapitates Daniel and the camera falls to the ground, before it cuts out.

The Last Exorcism Part II was the much maligned sequel which came out in 2013. Nell is found alone and out of her senses, huddling next to the fridge in a couple’s house. She is taken to a hospital and treated and slowly recovers to a sense of normalcy. After spending a few months at Frank’s home for girls and settling in as a chambermaid at a hotel, Nell’s condition seems to have improved and she no longer has “bad dreams”.  She makes friends with the other girls in the home, mostly victims of abuse. Nell and her group of friends visit a costume parade; Nell witnesses many strange happenings there, including masked men watching her. Her personality changes as things get darker. She begins to get hints that the demon Abalam is back. After one of the girls at the home dies of a sudden seizure, a friend tells Nell of the Order of the Right Hand, a secret society which has been monitoring Nell.

At night she feels the odd presence of the demon even though she can’t pinpoint on something solid. Chris, a young man who met Nell and befriended her, cuts his own throat as he says out of sadness and rejection after viewing a clip of Nell lying about how she got pregnant (clips from the documentary that was found and uploaded to Youtube). Chris also liked Nell but was under the influence of Abalam. Cecile seeks help from the Order of the Right Hand, and Nell is introduced to Calder and Jefferey. They attempt to rid the demon which is “in love” with Nell by transferring it into the body of a sacrificed chicken. The supernatural force in Nell proves to be too powerful, and Calder is forced to kill her. The demon appears to Nell and begs her to take it’s hand. Nell finally agrees and seems to die but then the 3 secret cult members are killed and the house bursts into flames. Nell murders Frank and burns the home for girls, leaving her friends to die. Nell appears undead in the rearview mirror, the prophecy of mass destruction among Earth is proven to be correct as she sets multiple buildings aflame.

While the first atleast had a good story (although I was disappointed that I didn’t even get one good scare) the second seems lame and created just to capitalize on the critical success of the first which was a minor hit. The most positive thing for me was the acting of Ashely Bell as a likeable and sympathetic lead. 6.5 for the original and 5 for the sequel.