The Skeleton Key

The Skeleton Key is a 2005 American supernatural horror film directed by Iain Softley, written by Ehren Kruger and starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard and Joy Bryant. The film centers on a young hospice nurse who acquires a job at a Terrebonne Parish plantation home, and becomes entangled in a supernatural mystery involving the house, its former inhabitants and the hoodoo rituals and spells that took place there. It was released in the United States on August 12, 2005. This movie was a recommendation from a website that highlighted underrated horror flicks throughout the ages.

Caroline, a hospice worker, takes a job as the caretaker of an isolated plantation house in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The elderly lady of the house, Violet Devereaux, needs help looking after her husband Benjamin, who was mostly paralyzed by an apparent stroke. At the insistence of the family’s estate lawyer, Luke Marshall, Caroline accepts the position. Things are not as it seems, though. She learns that the original owners lynched their hoodoo practising servants, Papa Justify & Mam Celine, when they were found in the attic including the owners kids in a ritual. The kids who lived there till they were old supposedly sold the house to Ben & Violent in 1962.

Using a skeleton key that Violet gave her, Caroline explorers the attic in between taking care of Ben, who even crawls out of the window and falls onto the ground. Caroline finds help me scrawled onto his sheet which then goes missing. Caroline borrows a phonograph record called the “Conjure of Sacrifice” from the attic, which is a recording of Papa Justify reciting a Hoodoo ritual. Caroline surmises that Ben’s stroke was induced by Hoodoo, but believes that his paralytic state is a nocebo effect induced by his own belief, rather than something supernatural. Taking advice from her friend Jill, Caroline accesses a hidden Hoodoo shop in a nearby laundromat, where a Hoodoo woman gives her tools and instructions to cure Ben. After conducting the ritual, Ben regains some ability to speak and move, and he begs Caroline to get him away from Violet.

Caroline tells Luke about her suspicions towards Violet, but he remains skeptical. A blind proprietor at a gas station tells them about the Conjure of Sacrifice, which she learns is a Hoodoo spell wherein the caster steals the remaining years of life from the victim. Increasingly convinced of Hoodoo’s authenticity, Caroline fears that Violet will soon cast the spell on Ben. Caroline discovers that Violet is unable to pass a line of brick dust laid across one of the house’s doorways, confirming her suspicions. She drugs Violet and tries to drive off with Ben but the gates are chained and locked. Hiding Ben, Caroline goes to meet Luke but finds out too late that he is Violet’s accomplice and he brings her to the house.

Caroline flees to the attic (pushing Violet down the stairs and breaking her legs in the process), calls 9-1-1 and Jill for help, and casts what she believes is a protective spell. Violet, having caught up with her, reveals she actually trapped herself inside a protective circle. Violet pushes a full-length mirror at Caroline, which reflects one of the original owner’s children, then Violet, and lastly Cecile. A recording of the Conjure of Sacrifice plays, and the two switch bodies. Violet (revealed to be Mama Cecile, who had been occupying Violet’s body through the Conjure) wakes up in Caroline’s body, and force-feeds Caroline (now in Violet’s body) a potion that induces a stroke-like paralytic state.

Luke (revealed to be Papa Justify) arrives upstairs, and it is revealed that Mama Cecile and Papa Justify have been conducting the Conjure of Sacrifice on new people since their supposed lynching. At the end of the movie Papa Justify and Mama Cecile in Luke’s & Caroline’s body remain in the house as an ambulance takes away the paralyzed dying bodies of Violet and Ben.

Good film, though it drags a bit and I am fascinated by the plot and the hoodoo practice. A bit more excitement would have made the film better. 7.5 outta 10!

Rampage

Rampage is a 2018 American science fiction monster film directed by Brad Peyton, and loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It follows a primatologist named Davis Okoye who must team up with George, an albino gorilla who turns into a raging creature of enormous size as a result of a rogue experiment, to stop two other mutated animals from destroying Chicago. It is the third collaboration between Peyton and Johnson, following Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and San Andreas (2015).

Energyne is the company that is conducting these experiments of gene manipulations in Athena-1, a space station they own. Things go wrong and all their crew is killed by – I think it was a large rat. One astronaut/scientist escapes but her pod is damaged and she is killed. The falling pieces leave a trail of debris across the United States, including the Everglades in Florida, where a canister is consumed by an American crocodile, and a forest in Wyoming, where a gray wolf is exposed to the pathogen. One of the canisters crash-lands in George’s habitat; George is a rare albino gorilla named George who knows sign language and has a dirty mind. Primatologist Davis Okoye, a former US Army Special Forces soldier and member of an anti-poaching unit, works at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary.

With the help of Dr. Kate Caldwell, a genetic engineer, who worked on the pathogen for Energyne to rewrite genes on a massive scale and eventually use it to cure diseases and was fired when she discovered Energyne’s plans to use it as a biological weapon and sell it, Davis must help his gorilla and save the US from the attack of the two large animals. Energyne uses a massive transmitter atop the Willis Tower to lure all three of the animals—who have been engineered to respond aggressively to a certain radio frequency—to Chicago. We get crashes, animals attacking, big fights, chases scenes, buildings destroyed and finally George is cured and helps Davis to defeat both the other animals.

It’s got a few laughs, mostly courtesy George and his indecent signings. The special effects of the CGI animals isn’t really very good. It’s a one time watch on a rainy weekend afternoon that will moderately entertain you, but will not tax your brain, as you sip back and drink your beverage and munch on a snack. 6.5 outta 10!

The Titan

The Titan is a science fiction thriller film directed by Lennart Ruff. The screenplay was written by Max Hurwitz, with the story by Arash Amel. The film stars Sam Worthington, Taylor Schilling and Tom Wilkinson and is an international co-production between the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Spain.

In the year 2048 the earth’s resources are dwindling as overpopulation and violent conflicts rack the planet. scientists are looking to Saturn’s moon Titan as a new home for humanity, spearheaded by Professor Martin. Rick Janssen, a war pilot who survived for 3 days in the Syrian desert without food or water, is chosen to be a part of an experiment that forces humans to adapt to the surface of Titan, due to his past ability to survive in extreme conditions. Rick moves to a military base, sharing a lovely modern home with his wife, and medical doctor, Abigail and their young son Lucas. A few other soldiers and a scientist who have shown similar physical and metal strength are handpicked to be experimented upon.

The experiment, in the beginning, seems successful. Rick becomes able to swim at incredible speeds and stay underwater for 40 minutes at a time. However the members have their veins get darker at times, which turns out that their blood is also becoming darker. Rick’s training becomes increasingly intense as he and the other humans are subjected to colder and more Titan-like environments. Following a swimming drill, Rick finds that some of his hair is falling out, and one of the members begins convulsing in the bathrooms and dies. The following night, while the experiment subjects are having a meeting, Abigail notices darker veins appearing on them. Zane, one of the subjects, has sudden mental breakdown and hits his female partner. Abigail, now questioning the safety of the experiment, takes swabs of the blood in Rick’s vomit, and notices several cameras hidden in their home.

Rick takes a break and sits at the bottom of their swimming pool, where large amounts of his skin shed off. Abigail notices Rick is shedding skin and hair. Rick becomes paler and undergoes eye surgery to accommodate for the low light on Titan. He returns home only to begin bleeding from his eyes, and is rushed back into surgery. Abigail confronts Professor Martin about Rick’s changes, but does not learn anything more. She returns home to find an emergency situation with Zane. Zane suffers another mental breakdown and throws his wife through a window, killing her instantly. He is then shot down and killed by the military. While he is in surgery, Abigail uses his keycard and goes in the main lab where she finds out that  they are having their DNA infused with animal DNA, and are taking steps towards becoming the next human species, called homo titaniens.

She confronts Professor Martin at her home with Rick, to find that he does not actually know what Rick will actually become. Rick regains his sight and willingly enters a major surgery to adapt to his new senses and become fully ready for Titan. Rick and Tally (another member of the experiment) are the only survivors of the operation, completing their training and finishing their transformations into homo titaniens. Abigail watches with horror and disbelief at her new husband. Rick is unable to communicate with Abigail now after the transformation. The evolution causes him to communicate in a low frequency that is unable to be detected by normal human ears. Rick is sent home for two days until their launch to Titan is ready. That night he accidentally hits Abigail while putting on his jacket due to his enhanced abilities.

Tally kills her husband and comes to meet Rick when they are surrounded by soliders. Tally attacks and kills a couple and is soon shot to death while Rick seems to get the better of his to be captors but stops when Abigail confronts him. He runs off, followed by her and they kiss in the woods but are captured. Abigail is forced to give him a chemical solution that would act similar to a medical lobotomy, erasing all of his memories with his family. Abigail secretly switches the solution out with a harmless saline solution, tricking the military into believing that he is safe. He kills the soldiers hunting him and is hurt and catches up with his wife, son and Dr. Freya, an assistant to Professor Martin who betrayed him. They eventually give themselves up when Martin is sidelined by the colonel in charge.

The scene cuts to Rick, Dr. Freya, and Abigail along with her son being transported to the Titan II facility, where Abigail becomes the head researcher, and Rick is sent to Titan. The film ends with Abigail staring up into the night sky with her son while Rick explores Titan alone, walking naked on the harsh yet still beautiful landscape and flies as he has had wings having developed.

While it is a science fiction film, it focuses more on the change Rick goes through and how it affects his family life. I was actually waiting for a team to do an exploration and hoping for some kinda of franchise to form after a team of genetically mutated humans explorer Titan and setup a base etc. It’s not a bad film but it never really excites you or offers anything you. 7 outta 10!

ROSHAN’S ELEVEN: Ranking The Friday The 13th Movies

Since I just did a ranking of the Halloween movies a couple of days ago and since I also have been re-watching the Friday The 13th movies, here is my ranking of the 11 movies that we have had so far, which includes the reboot but does not include Freddy vs Jason as I keep that separate. This is my list of best to least liked and it will be different from your list. So here goes:

  1. Jason X (2001)
  2. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
  3. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
  4. Friday the 13th (1980)
  5. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988 )
  7. Friday the 13th (2009)
  8. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  10. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Ranking The Halloween Movies

Since we have a new entry from the Halloween movie franchise to be released in October, I thought this was a good time to rank the 10 movies that we have had so far, which includes the reboot and it’s sequel. This is my list of best to least liked and it will be different from your list. So here goes:

  1. Halloween H2O : Twenty Years Later (1998 )
  2. Halloween (1978 )
  3. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988 )
  4. Halloween (2007)
  5. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
  6. Halloween II (1981)
  7. Halloween II (2009)
  8. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

The film takes place in 2045, when much of humanity uses the virtual reality software OASIS to escape the desolation of the real world. Orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before a large company run by businessman Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn) can do so. Many of earth’s cities have become slums and citizens regularly escape into the virtual reality universe of OASIS. This attracts huge numbers of “Gunters” (egg hunters) as well as the video game conglomerate Innovative Online Industries (IOI), headed by Nolan Sorrento, who employs a large number of researchers, top gamers and indentured servants called “Sixers”.

Wade goes by Parzival, and his online friend Aech  as well as players Daito and Sho are  joined by Art3mis who become the first to  uncover an underground shortcut to the finish line to acquire the first key. After Wade refuses to join Sorrento’s organization, the latter has his aunt’s home destroyed so Art3mis, who goes by Samantha in the real world, has him brought to her place. They discover that Halliday had regretted something during a movie date with his love interest Kira. The High Five enter a re-creation of The Shining where they traverse a series of frightening events to eventually reach Kira and acquire the second key. Wade is able to find the 3rd key by realizing that there is a hidden Easter egg.

Sorrento is arrested and his workers are freed, after a recording of him having killed Wade’s aunt is released. . The High Five share control of the OASIS, with Wade hiring Morrow, who is revealed to be the archive curator, as a consultant. The OASIS resumes operations, but is shut down on Tuesdays and Thursdays to force people to spend more time in the real world, including Wade and Samantha who have formed a relationship and bought an apartment together.

Though I feel that the special effects and CGI is awesome, the movie lacks interesting characters and it lacks heart. I do not feel for the characters and in truth I was a bit bored. I give this film a 7 outta 10!

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is a 2018 American science fantasy adventure film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle. The film stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine. Produced by Walt Disney Picturesand Whitaker Entertainment, the story follows a young girl who, with the help of three astral travelers, sets off on a quest to find her missing father.

This movie is bad! I cannot tell you how many times I have cringed at the dialogues and the pseudo-cutesy moments made to try and make it a children’s movie and feel good moments. It does not have much going for it except for some really awesome special effects. While I did like the three main kids in the movie and Storm Reed is convincing as the smart kid who is struggling to adjust to both her school and home life ever since her father Alex, a well-renowned scientist, mysteriously disappeared, there are moments when I am reminded that this is a Disney movie trying to mix science fiction (well, just a little) with the faries, Mary Poppins, mysterious realms and all that jazz into one messy bowl and not doing a good job at it.

So while studying astrophysics Dr. Alexander Murry, a NASA scientisys, is supposedly whisked away or teleported to an another world. 4 years later Meg’s younger adopted brother Charles Wallace somehow knows these three woman – Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, who is the oldest and appears as a giant. The three reveal themselves as astral travelers, and lead Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace through a tesseract taking them to a distant planet named Uriel. Yup, a tessaract! Anyways, Meg & Charles is joined by Calvin, a classmate of Meg. And then it’s all mumbo jumbo but some good scenes on Uriel, a lovely alien planet.

But there is the IT, a dark and cunning force a malevolent entity plotting to take over the universe. They must try and avoid the It and find Alex. Charles Wallace is hypnotized by Red, The It’s assistant and he turns “to the dark side”. Using her love for her brother and the knowledge that she is imperfect, Meg frees Charles Wallace from the control of the IT and releases Camazotz from the control of the evil entity. The three Mrs. return and tell Meg that it is time for her to tesser for herself. After returning home, Meg thanks the women for their help rescuing her father. They part ways, and Veronica begins acting nicer to her. The film ends with the Murry family celebrating a joyful reunion and Calvin going home to confront his father, who is on his case a lot.

I totally expected a different kind of film and was highly disappointed. I didn’t pay any attention to the trailer or any reviews. I will give this film a 5.5 outta 10 just for the special effects. With a total production and marketing budget of around $250 million, the film was a box office bomb, grossing just $132 million worldwide and losing Disney at least $86 million.

ROSHAN’S ELEVEN : Stephen King Movie Adaptations

This here is my little ole list of top & favourite movie adaptations of Stephen King’s novels, novellas, short stories or his original script work. I haven’t watched all of them so this is based on just what I have seen. This list may change depending on when and if I do watch more of them. So here goes:

  • It (2017 & the mini-series)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • The Mist
  • The Green Mile
  • Shawshank Redemptions
  • Pet Semetary
  • Cujo
  • Dolores Clairborne
  • Thinner
  • The Running Man
  • Apt Pupil

Friday The 13th

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which happens at least once every year but can occur up to three times in the same year. Today is a Friday the 13th!

The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greekwords Paraskeví (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (meaning thirteen). The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

As a child I was frightened by the original movie of the Friday the 13th franchise, which came out in 1980 and have 12 films have grossed over $464 million at the box-office worldwide, and having seen it a few years later. My cousins made up all scary stories about Friday the 13th when we were kids to the point that we scared ourselves. I ofcourse love the film franchise and am watching it right now.

Pitch Perfect 3

The most unlikeist of popular girl bands, the anthakshari singing and dancing acapella all girl group Barton Bellas is back again. Pitch Perfect 3 is a 2017 American musical comedy film directed by Trish Sie and written by Kay Cannon and Mike White. A sequel to Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), and the third installment in the Pitch Perfect series, the film stars Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Alexis Knapp, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Ruby Rose, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, Elizabeth Banks, and John Michael Higgins. The film follows the Bellas, now graduated from college, reuniting for one final performance together during an overseas USO tour.

While the songs aren’t mostly what I like and the acapella stuff is not exactly my cup of tea, I mostly watch this franchise for Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp & Brittany Snow. But this movie franchise is getting to the point of not being much interesting. Three years after the Bellas have graduated they are in a rut and would love to sing again. Beca, Fat Amy, Chloe, Aubrey, Lilly, Stacie, Cynthia Rose, Florencia, Jessica and Ashley are all thrilled to learn that Emily, now a senior at Barden and leader of the Barden Bellas, has seemingly asked for the Bellas to reunite at an event in New York Aquarium to sing with each other once more. However, once the reach there Emily is sorry as it was only to see her and the new Bellas sing.

Later at a bar Emily apologizes but the Bellas just want to be together and sing again so Aubrey convinces them to join a USO performance accessed by her Army officer father. If they win the competition, they get to open for DJ Khaled. The Bellas gladly accept, all except for Stacie who is eight months pregnant at the moment and is unable to go with them. They face stuff competition from three bands who actually play some instruments and they are belittled. They perform in the Spain but things go wrong at their first event but they try and work it out though at a party in DJ Khaled’s suite and accidentally set a fire. Beca hits it off with Khaled’s music producer Theo and records a loop that impresses him and later on Khaled.

Anyways, Amy’s criminal dad catches up to her and wants to reconnect but his sincerity turns out to be false and that he has not seen her perform at all, while confessing that he is only trying to acquire an offshore account Amy’s mother set up which contains US$180 million. Beca is offered a solo spot with Khaled but she doesn’t want to leave her group. The remaining Bellas are taken away by a Frenchman in a dark grey van out onto a yacht in a nearby harbor and held at gunpoint by Fergus, Amy’s dad, so Beca & Amy sneak into the yatch and Beca distracts Fergus by having the Bellas perform “Toxic” for him and two of his men, just as Amy sets the yacht to explode. The Bellas escape the yacht just before it blows. Fergus survives the explosion and is arrested for his crimes.

After the Bellas are rescued by the military, Fat Amy reveals DJ Khaled’s proposition to Beca to the others. They encourage her to take the ch loans no credit check direct lenders ance, and they all agree that now it’s time to move on with their lives, with Amy using her bank account for multiple tributes to singers named Amy, Aubrey trying to be a birthing coach, Flo’s juice cart becoming part of an international brand, Chloe getting accepted into vet school, Cynthia-Rose staying at the base to get into flight school, Emily going back to Barden to prepare for her upcoming abnormal psychology test while continuing her songwriting, and Lilly revealing that the reason she was quiet was because she was possessed by Satan and the yacht incident snapped her out of it, and that her real name is Esther. They know very well they’ll be separated, but still be connected to each other as a family.

Later at the USO’s final performance, Beca opens for DJ Khaled and sings on stage, and afterwards brings up the Bellas onstage for the girls to sing their final performance with the other competitors gladly watching the Bellas sing “Freedom! ’90” to their hearts’ content.  A series of mid credit scenes reveal the Bellas’ separate story arcs closed out to their mostly happy endings, with Lilly hanging around with DJ Dragon Nutz, whom she flirted with earlier, Aubrey reconnects with her father and Chloe and Chicago kiss, witnessed by a grimaced looking Beca, who is now the boss of Theo.

A 6.5 outta 10 at the end for me. It’s so cliched that it spoils the movie a lot but it does have some fun moments. Still, not very interesting.

Pumpkinhead

Pumpkinhead is a 1988 American dark fantasy horror film. It was the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston. The film has built up a cult following in the years since its release. The first in the Pumpkinhead franchise, it was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, two TV film sequels, and a comic book series. The movie stars Lance Henriksen, John D’Aquino and a very young Mayim Bialik in a small role.

Ed Harley as a child watched one night as his father refused to open the door to their farm house for a neighbour & friend who was being chased by a mysterious creature. From the window young Ed watches the creature, Pumpkinhead kill the man. Many years later, a grown up Ed runs a small store in the country, raising his young son Billy. One day, a bunch of young folk from the city comes in to do some dirt biking and to stay in a cabin in the woods. As Ed leaves to run an errand, two of the men start to ride their bikes and accidentally one of them, Joel, runs over Billy when the boy chases behind his dog. It was an accident but Joel has a prior record and leaves for the cabin with his girlfriend and the others go after them, leaving Steve to be with the injured boy.

Ed comes and is devastated and furious, unwilling to listen to Steve’s explanation. Not having a hospital or doctor nearby, Billy dies and Ed goes to see a supposed witch, who says she cannot bring his son back. Instead, Harley says that he wants revenge; the witch agrees to help Harley, but she warns him that vengeance comes with a terrible price. On her orders, Harley goes to an old graveyard in the mountains, digs up a disfigured corpse, and brings it back to the witch’s home. The witch uses blood from father and son to resurrect the corpse, which rises as a gigantic, spindly demonic monster named Pumpkinhead.

Well, Pumpkinhead goes after the young people and kills them off one by one, starting with Steve and then Maggie. Ed starts to experience the killings and is traumatized and begs the witch to stop the killings as he is now remorseful but she says that it can’t be stopped. A repentant Joel tried to attack the creature with a knife but is killed. A local boy named Bunt, who showed Ed the way to the witch’s house, joins the remaining group and is taken by Ed to the latter’s cabin. The creature’s face now starts to resemble Ed more and more and when it attacks Chris & Bunt, it is accidentally stabbed in the arm by a pitchfork both Harley and Pumpkinhead cry out in pain, and Pumpkinhead releases Bunt. Harley notices that Pumpkinhead’s head is turning more human, then realizes that he and Pumpkinhead are one: the only way to kill the monster is to die himself.

Before the creature can kill Tracey, Harley shoots himself in the head. Pumpkinhead momentarily collapses to the ground, then grabs Bunt again. Tracey takes the gun and Harley begs her to finish him off. Harley, now fully changed, tries to attack Tracey. She shoots him until both he and Pumpkinhead fall to the ground dead and the creature’s body bursts into flames. Later that night, back in the pumpkin patch, the witch buries Harley’s now-disfigured corpse in Pumpkinhead’s grave, ready for the next person seeking vengeance, and still wearing the necklace his son Billy made him.

Very atmospheric with the remote setting and country woods location and the night time scenes with winds and leaves falling over. This cult film is perfect for a Halloween night screening. Surprisingly good enough for a 7 outta 10!

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow is a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons. It tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole.

Set in modern times, Dominika Egorova is a famed Russian ballerina who supports her ill mother. Following a career-ending injury, she finds out that the injury was perhaps forced by her male partner, who is sleeping with her understudy and in a fit of rage she beats them both badly. Faced with the possibility of losing their apartment, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan, who works in Russian intelligence. She is tasked with seducing Dimitry Ustinov, a Russian gangster, in exchange for her mother’s continued medical care. As Ustinov rapes her, he is killed by Matorin, a Russian operative authorized by Ivan. Ivan offers Dominika a choice to begin working for Russian intelligence, or be executed so there are no witnesses. She is instead sent to train to become a Russian operative, known as a ‘Sparrow’, capable of seducing her targets.

Dominika excels in her training, despite some friction with her trainers, and an attempted rape by a male operative in training who she beats up, she is assigned to Budapest. Meanwhile Nate Nash, a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with an asset in Gorky Park, they are confronted by the police. Nash creates a diversion to ensure his asset, a mole in Russian ranks code-named Marble, escapes detection. Nash is reassigned back to the U.S. but insists that he is the only individual whom Marble will work with. Since he cannot return to Russia, he is assigned to Budapest, where he will regain contact with Marble. Russian SVR has been tracking Nash, and hopes to find out the identity of Marble. Dominika’s assignment is to gain the trust of Nash, and reveal his contact.

Dominika stays with another operative named Marta in Budapest and reports to her lecherous boss Maxim Volontov. Dominika makes contact with Nash and he realizes that she is a Russian spy to which she readily admits and says that her intention is to find out Marble’s identity. However they hit it off. Marta’s was working with Stephanie Boucher, chief of staff for a U.S. Senator to gather information but that goes wrong and Stephanie is killed in an accident when she panics upon seeing US agents. Matorin kills Marta as a warning. Russian agents observing Boucher realize that the mission had been compromised. Dominika and Volontov are required to immediately return to Moscow. She is tortured and interrogated for days but does not break even as her boss Volontov was apparently executed. She convinces Ivan that she is now credible to the Americans, as she has been tortured by her own people and did not reveal information. Dominika returns to Budapest, and informs Nash that she wishes to defect with her mother to America.

She and Nash spend the night in bed but when she wakes up she finds him being tortured by Matorin. She pretends to join the torture (including a scene in which Nash’s skin is being peeled) but then turns on the Russian assassin and is able to kill him with Nash’s help. She wakes up in a hospital where she is met by

General Vladimir Korchnoi reveals that he is Marble. He explains that he was initially patriotic, but grew to feel that Russia was corrupt. He fears he will be caught soon, and instead of dying in vain, instructs Dominika to reveal his identity to Ivan. She could then replace him as a mole and further their work by passing information to the CIA. But when Dominika contacts her superiors to reveal the identity of the mole, she frames her uncle Ivan rather than betray Korchnoi. Ivan is killed by the Russian side during a spy swap, and Dominika is congratulated for her work by her Russian superiors. Back home in Russia, Dominika lives with her mother, and receives a phone call from an unknown person who plays Grieg’s piano concerto that she had listened to during her affair with Nash.

I usually love spy films but the pace of this film kinda lets it down. It feels kinda drab in places and not at all like the exciting and entertaining spy films I have seen in the past. Laurence seems forced at times and I wasn’t buying her half-baked attempt at a Russian accent. The cliche of having the main female character being ogled, desired, sexualized and pawned at by the majority of the men in the main cast. I give it a 7 outta 10!

The Cloverfield Paradox

The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 American science fiction horror film directed by Julius Onah, written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, and produced by J. J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions. It is the third installment in the Cloverfield anthological film series, following Cloverfield (2008 ) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The film stars Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo and Zhang Ziyi, and follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth’s energy crisis, must find a way home after accidentally traveling to an alternate dimension.

With the earth facing an energy crisis, the space agencies of the world prepare to test the Shepard particle accelerator aboard the orbiting Cloverfield Station, which would provide Earth with infinite energy, while conspiracy theorists fear it will create the “Cloverfield Paradox”, opening portals to allow horrors from parallel universes to threaten Earth. The crew consists of  Ava Hamilton, a British engineer who frets about leaving her husband Michael potentially for years, as their relationship struggles since the loss of their children to a house fire, American commander Kiel, German physicist Ernst Schmidt, Brazilian medical doctor Monk Acosta, Irish engineer Mundy, Russian engineer Volkov, and Chinese engineer Tam.

Two years of unsuccessful testing they finally achieve a seemingly stable beam, but it then overloads and creates a power surge on the station. The earth vanishes from view and the find the gyroscope missing. The crew start repairs but they hear screaming from inside the walls and find a woman named Mina Jensen fused with wires. They treat her wounds but Volkov fears something crawling beneath his skin and is compelled to craft a gun using an on-board 3D printer. He uses the gun to threaten the crew, but as he does so he convulses and dies, and the station’s colony of worms bursts out of him.  Jensen tells Ava not to trust Schmidt, who is soon discovered to be a spy sent by the German government to keep the Shepard shut down.

Mundy’s arm gets pulled into a solid wall and is severed clean off, without bleeding or pain. They find the arm roaming of its own volition. When they recognize that it is trying to write something, it instructs them to “cut Volkov open”. Once they do, they find the missing gyroscope. They quickly locate Earth and restore their communications, but transmissions state that Cloverfield Station was destroyed and fell to Earth two days prior. The crew understand from readings that they must have moved to an alternate universe Jensen is found to be a crew member of the space station from this universe. She shows Hamilton that here, her kids haven’t died and she stayed on Earth as a civilian engineer, and Jensen replaced Tam as the station’s engineer. As they begin to work on repairs, Tam is killed in a freak accident.

Hamilton decides to return with Jensen to Earth to be with her children. As they prepare, Mundy is killed in an explosion caused by a strange magnetic field. After the explosion, Kiel sacrifices himself to disengage a wildly-spinning accelerator ring that was jeopardizing the station, leaving Hamilton in charge. On earth, Michael finds a wave of destruction on earth and heads to the hospital, finding a young girl named Molly on the way. He sees a giant monster out in the distance and after learning that the hospital has been destroyed, he takes her to an underground shelter belonging to a friend and tends to her wounds. On the station, Jenson knocks out Hamilton and kills Monk, wounds Schmidt, and insists that the station must stay in her universe to keep the Shepard device there. Once she wakes up, Hamilton shoots a hole in a window, ejecting Jenson out into space.

Hamilton decides to return to their universe with Schmidt and makes a recording for her alternate universe self, giving her the plans for the Shepard device and stressing the importance of her family. Hamilton and Schmidt reverse the universe shift and use Tam’s modifications to finally make Shepard work. After reporting in, the two eject themselves in an evacuation capsule towards Earth. Michael rushes to see his wife but as the capsule re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, a giant monster comes up, roaring through the mist of a mountain.

The narration is odd and I tried to be excited for this film but is a bit of a trainwreck. The best moments are from Irish actor Chris O’Dowd as Mundy who despite losing his arm does some fine comedic lines. I’ll give it a reluctant 7 outta 10!

ROSHAN’S ELEVEN : Jack Black Movies

Jack Black is an actor who’s work I enjoy time and time again. He’s funny and has some hilarious jokes in his films. I haven’t included any movies in which he has a small role like The Jackal or I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Here is my top 11, in no particular order (but School Of Rock is definitely the best)

  • School Of Rock
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny
  • Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle
  • Shallow Hal
  • King Kong
  • Nacho Libre
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • High Fidelity
  • Orange County
  • Year One

The Babadook

The Babadook is a 2014 Australian supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut,and produced by Kristina Ceyton and Kristian Molière. The film stars Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, and Ben Winspear. It is based on the 2005 short film Monster, also written and directed by Kent.

Amelia is a still grieving widow with a 6 year old son named Samuel, who is slightly troubled.  Her late husband, Oskar, was killed in a car accident that occurred as he drove Amelia to the hospital during her labour. Samuel starts to begin to show erractic behaviour like insomnia and claiming to see a monster against which he builds inventive weapons. An exhaused Amelia, who works in an institute that takes care of elderly people, gets upset when the school confiscates one of Sam’s weapons, a crossbow type thing. One night, Sam asks his mother to read a pop-up storybook called Mister Babadook. It describes the titular monster, the Babadook, a tall pale-faced humanoid in a top hat with taloned fingers who torments its victims after they become aware of its existence. Amelia is disturbed by the book and its mysterious appearance, while Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is real. Sam’s persistence about the Babadook leads Amelia to often have sleepless nights as she tries to comfort him.

Soon after, strange events occur: doors open and close mysteriously by themselves, strange sounds are heard and Amelia finds glass shards in her food. She attributes the events to Sam’s behaviour, but he blames the Babadook. Amelia rips up the book and disposes of it. At her birthday party, Sam’s cousin Ruby bullies Sam for not having a father, in response to which he pushes her out of her tree house and breaks her nose in two places. Amelia’s sister Claire admits she cannot bear Sam to which Amelia takes great offence. On the drive home, Sam has another vision of the Babadook and suffers a febrile seizure, after which Amelia makes a successful plea for sedatives to a pediatrician. The next morning the Babadook book appears at her door reassembled and new words taunt her.

The words and images imply that she will kill their dog and Sam by breaking their necks before killing herself. Terrified, Amelia burns the book and runs to the police after a disturbing phone call. However, Amelia has no proof of the stalking, and when she then sees the Babadook’s suit hung up behind the front desk, she leaves. Amelia starts to become more isolated and shut-in, being more impatient, shouting at Samuel for ‘disobeying’ her constantly, and having frequent visions of the Babadook once again. Her mental state slowly decays further and she exhibits erratic and violent behaviour, including severing the phone line with a knife and brandishing it aggressively at Sam seemingly without realising. This mental decline culminates in several disturbing hallucinations, most of which involve the violent murder of Sam with herself as the willing perpetrator.

She then sees a vision of her dead husband and is happy initially until it asks her to bring the boy to him. Babadook then chases her and finally possess her and Amelia goes to get Sam but he evades her and uses his weapons against her, knocking her out and then tying her. hen she tries to strangle him, he lovingly caresses her face, causing her to throw up an inky black substance, an action which seemingly expels the Babadook. Amelia saves Sam and after another vision of her husband’s death, she furiously confronts the entity which is forced to retreat to the basement. She locks it in there and soon she and Sam recovers and begins life again. Amelia is attentive and caring toward him, encouraging him with the weapons he makes and being impressed at Sam’s magic tricks.

As they movie ends they gather earthworms in a bowl and Amelia takes them to the basement, where the Babadook resides. She places the bowl on the floor for the Babadook to eat. However, as the beast tries to attack her, Amelia calms it down, and it retreats to the corner taking the earthworms along with it. Amelia returns to the yard to celebrate Sam’s birthday.

The film’s theme is basically grief, not grieving and mourning fully and repressing it so much that it takes a dark form inside of you. The film is slow to build and I even found it a bit boring for about 30 minutes, plus the kid really is annoying for most of the duration but the last 30 minutes or so is quite intense. 7 outta 10!

The Fly (1986)

The Fly is a alliance and leicester loans 1986 American science-fiction body horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooks films and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. Loosely based on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name, the film tells of an eccentric scientist who, after one of his experiments goes wrong, slowly turns into a fly-hybrid creature. The score was composed by Howard Shore and the make-up effects were created by Chris Walas, along with makeup artist Stephan Dupuis.

A young Jeff Goldblum, before he became famous for being Jeff Goldblum, plays brilliant but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle. He mets journalist Veronica, a young and lovely (I had a mighty crush on Geena as a youngster) Geena Davis, at a party and convinces her that his latest experiment/invention is groundbreaking. She goes to his lab / home where he gives her a demonstration of his teleportation devices – teleporting one of her stockings from one telepod 15 feet away to the second one. After her initial attempt to sell the story to editor Stathis Borans fails, Seth convinces her  to keep the invention secret in exchange for exclusive rights to the story, and she begins to document his work. Although the telepods can transport inanimate objects, they mutilate live tissue, as is demonstrated when a baboon is turned inside-out during an experiment.

They begin a relationship and their first sexual encounter inspires Seth to o reprogram the telepod to cope with living tissue, and he successfully teleports a second baboon. Veronica departs before they can celebrate, and Seth worries that she is rekindling her relationship with her editor Stathis Borans; in reality, Veronica has left to confront Stathis about a veiled threat, spurred by his jealousy of Seth, to publish the telepod story without her consent. Seth decides to teleport himself alone, unaware that a housefly has slipped inside the transmitter pod with him. He emerges from the receiving pod seemingly normal. He starts showing increased strength and sexual stamina, which he believes is a result of the teleportation “purifying” his body. He has sugar cravings and Veronica is concerned about Seth’s insanity and strange, bristly hairs growing from his back.

He becomes more arrogant and violent and tries to force Veronica to do the procedure; when she refuses he abandons her, goes to a bar and partakes in an arm-wrestling match, leaving his opponent with a compound fracture. He meets a woman named Tawny and brings her back to his warehouse, where Veronica rescues her from teleportation. Seth throws Veronica out, but when his fingernails begin falling off, he realizes something went wrong during his teleportation. He checks his computer’s records and discovers that the telepod computer, confused by the presence of two lifeforms in the sending pod, merged him with the fly at the molecular-genetic level. He deteriorates, loses body parts and can even walk on walls. He reconnects with Veronica and theorizes that he is becoming “Brundlefly,” a hybrid of human and insect. He has begun instant laons vomiting digestive enzymes onto his food to dissolve it and has gained the ability to cling to walls and ceilings.

Seth installs a fusion program into the Telepod computer, planning to dilute the fly genes in his body with human DNA. Veronica learns that she is pregnant by Seth and has Stathis persuade a doctor to perform an abortion in the middle of the night. Having overheard their conversation, Seth abducts Veronica before the abortion can take place and begs her to carry the child to term, since it may be the last remnant of his humanity. Stathis breaks into Seth’s lab with a shotgun, but Seth disfigures him with his corrosive vomit. Seth reveals his desperate plan to Veronica: He will use the telepods to fuse himself and Veronica, together with their unborn child, into one entity.

As Seth drags her into one of the telepods, she accidentally rips off his jaw and an enormous insectoid-human creature bursts from Seth’s skin. It traps Veronica inside the first telepod and enters the other. The wounded Stathis uses his shotgun to sever the cables connecting Veronica’s telepod to the computer, allowing Veronica to escape. Breaking out of its own pod just as the fusion process is activated, Brundlefly is gruesomely fused with the metal door and cabling of Telepod 2. As the deformed Brundlefly/Telepod creature crawls out of the receiving pod, it begs Veronica to end its suffering with the shotgun, and Veronica tearfully shoots it.

The film was released on August 15, 1986 to massive acclaim by critics and audiences, with praise mainly regarding the special effects and Goldblum’s performance. It grossed $60.6 million at the box office against its nine-million-dollar budget, becoming the largest commercial success of Cronenberg’s career. Walas and Dupuis’ work on the film resulted in their winning an Academy Award for Best Makeup, the only film directed by Cronenberg to win an Oscar. Classic scifi horror from the 80s that still stands today as awesome. 9 outta 10!

The Thing (1982)

The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter and written by Bill Lancaster, based on the 1938 John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There? It tells the story of a group of American researchers in Antarctica who encounter the eponymous “Thing”, a parasitic extraterrestrial life form that assimilates and then imitates other organisms. The group is overcome by paranoia and conflict as they learn that they can no longer trust each other and that any one of them can be the Thing. The film stars Kurt Russell as the team’s helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady, and features A. Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, and Thomas Waites in supporting roles.

Whenever there is a dog in a horror movie, I keep pleading to the screen “Kill all the people but save the poor pooch. Take the cat too but save Fido”. Not so much in this film! The feeling of claustrophobia, distrust, feeling that you can only trust yourself and no one else and the paranoia of not knowing which among you is the alien creature is heady. The setting, in a frozen tundra of Antarctica leads to the feeling of isolation and loneliness and the dread of knowing that you cannot find others to help you. The resolve of the humans to not let the creature reach civilization is also heroic.

To be honest, this cult movie isn’t without it’s dull moments and I am certainly not a fan of the acting. But I do admit that the practical effects is so much more preferred than anything CGI has been able to pull out till date. Even though we are so used to so much more in terms of special effects in the 36 years that payadvance have passed since the movie was released, the disgusting creature and the tentacles and slimey stuff do make an impression – even if they didn’t do faces as well as they do nowadays. Still it is a very good scifi horror and I understand why it’s retained a cult following. I might not be among those who find it to be among the very best in scifi horror but I do respect it.

I give it a 7.5 outta 10!

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed is a 2018 American erotic romantic drama film directed by James Foley and written by Niall Leonard, and based on short term loans for students uk the novel of the same name by E. L. James. It is the third and final installment in the Fifty Shades film series, following Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) and Fifty Shades Darker (2017). The film stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively, and follows the couple as they marry, and must deal with Ana’s former boss (Eric Johnson), who begins to stalk them. It grossed $368 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 2018, but, like its two predecessors, received negative reviews, with criticism aimed at its screenplay and performances.

The first film was better than the sequels and it also had that aura of eroticism and intrigue as it was heavily anticipated. Over the last two films, I think I have spent more time staring at the screen and partly looking at my smartphone – it’s boring. This film is also dumb! They got married and now it’s all the same. They fuck, Christian does something that upsets Ana, they argue and sulk and then they fuck. Repeat! Meanwhile Jack breaks into Grey’s offices and steals some data while causing a fire. Ana is introduced to her new personal security team. Christian surprises Ana with a new house and has hired an attractive architect, Gia Matteo, to rebuild it. Ana is annoyed when Gia openly flirts with Christian in Ana’s presence. Ana privately threatens to fire Gia if she continues her flirting, forcing her to stop. Seriously! That is a shit script!

Kate, who is dating Christian’s older brother, Elliot, confides that she suspects Elliot may be having an affair with Gia, who is also his business associate. When Ana returns home, she encounters Jack Hyde, who attempts to kidnap her. Ana’s security team subdue him and he is arrested. After an argument with Christian about her night out with Kate, Ana berates Christian for being overly controlling and possessive and demands more freedom. Soon after, Christian surprises Ana with a trip to Aspen, bringing along Kate, Elliot, Mia, and José. Elliott proposes to Kate, who accepts. It is revealed that Gia was only helping Elliott choose the ring. Things however get complicated when Ana finds out she is pregnant and let’s Christian know and he acts like the jackass asshole that he is!

He leaves, going on a night-long drunken bender. The next day, Ana discovers that Christian had texted and met his ex-lover and former BDSM dominant, Elena Lincoln. Jack Hyde, released on a $500,000 bond, phones Ana demanding a ransom for Mia, Christian’s abducted sister. Hyde demands $5,000,000 in cash in two hours or Mia will be killed. As she is told not to tell anyone, Ana goes to the bank and asks for the money, which the manager does after speaking to Christian. He thinks Ana is leaving him but then notices the coincidence of Hyde’s recent release, Mia’s unknown whereabouts, and Ana’s sudden large cash withdrawal. It turns out Jack is blackmailing Liz, a co-worker of Ana, into helping him.

Ana arrives at the drop-off site with the money. Hyde, psychotic and vengeful, attacks Ana, kicking her abdomen. Liz tries to stop Jack as Ana pulls out the revolver and shoots Hyde in the leg. Christian and his security team, who electronically tracked Ana’s cell phone, arrive and apprehend Hyde and Liz. Ana blacks out as she hears Christian’s voice. They both reconcile and are joined by the family.

Christian’s private investigator, Welch, has left a report showing that Christian and Hyde had shared the same foster family, though Christian has no memory of this. Hyde was vengeful over Christian being adopted by the wealthy Grey family instead of him. It is also learned that Hyde blackmailed Liz into being his accomplice. Christian and Ana also learn where Christian’s birth mother is buried. They visit her grave and Christian lays flowers on it. Two years later, Christian and Ana have a son named Theodore, and Ana is pregnant with their second child.

What a pile of garbage! This is what had women wetting their panties for in the novel. So boring and repetitive. 5 outta 10!