August 4, 2015

VOD Review: Dark Places (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402101/
(aka Found Girl)
Release Date: August 7th.
Country: USA
Rating: R
Written by: Gillian Flynn and Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tye Sheridan, Christina Hendricks, and Corey Stoll.

Aside from the shitty ending, we really liked Gillian Flynn's first book turned movie, Gone Girl. It not only kept us guessing at what the hell was happening, but even after the bold plot twist halfway through, it kept us anxious to see how everything was going to play out. Good stuff. Except the shitty ending.

Dark Places is much the same as Gone Girl, quality-wise. It may not have that David Fincher magic going for it, but it is equally engaging, and it boasts a strong cast playing some really screwed up people in perfect fashion.

Most important of all, its ending was not quite as shitty as Gone Girl's was. 

Warning: There are HUGE ENDING SPOILERS in the Downright Horrendous section below, so skip that section if you want to remain unspoiled. Honestly, if you're going to watch Dark Places, don't spoil it for yourself. You can come back and read our rant afterwards.

To put it simply (because the plot twists and turns more times than we can count), Dark Places is the story of the slaughter of the Day Family; which left a mother and two young daughters dead, another daughter alive to tell the story, and a brother in jail for committing the heinous murders. It's also about Devil Worship, stupid teenagers, crazy bitches, alleged child molestation, lying bitches, shitty parents, and creepy people who like to Cosplay real life murders & murderers. It's also a meditation on how crushing, inescapable debt can ruin the American Dream, and destroy lives. So there's that, too. 

GUNS ARE ALWAYS THE ANSWER.
Libby Day, the daughter who survived the massacre of her family, has grown up to be a horribly damaged human being who trusts no one, and wears an ugly baseball cap everywhere she goes. She's approached by a group of people called The Kill Club, who have a fetish for solving real-life murders, and is offered money to help them prove that her brother is innocent. Broke and desperate for money, she accepts the offer, even though she knows that her bother is as guilty as sin.

SHE MAY HAVE GROWN UP DAMAGED, BUT SHE ALSO GREW UP HOT, SO, FAIR TRADE.
What follows is Libby's search for the truth of what really happened the night of the murders, and her consequent discovery that everyone in her life has been a shady piece of shit from the start. Except for maybe her baby sister. She seemed alright for the most part. Everyone else had issues though.

YES WE WILL HAVE SEX WITH YOU AT KNIFE POINT, CHLOE, NO NEED TO BRING SATAN INTO IT
This is going to sound a bit odd, but we thought that Dark Places worked well as an engaging Mystery/Thriller, but it felt a bit over-wrought and forced as a believable narrative. The story is compelling as hell, and its characters equally so, it's just that at times, but the mechanics of everything felt forced and almost dishonest in their attempts to be bold and shocking.

Still, as murder mysteries go, this one was pretty damned solid.

We really liked Dark Places, and it kept us engaged from start to finish. We may have thought the climax to be a bit ridiculous in some ways, and the big emotional resolution didn't really make us very emotional at all (because the characters were all so cold, stupid, or unsympathetic), but the movie did keep us on the edge of our seats and guessing throughout.

Dark Places is not as good of a movie as Gone Girl was, but somehow, we enjoyed it more. The performances were all top-notch in this one, especially those of Charlize Theron and Christina Hendricks, both of whom basically carried the bulk of the movie on their backs. They came off as being both believable and sympathetic, even though their characters were deeply flawed. The supporting cast was every bit as good as well, from Nicholas Hoult to Carey Stoll, and especially Chloe Moretz, who played the disturbed teen and rather well. Even the bit players who only showed up for a scene or two (Drea de Mateo and Andrea Roth) were solid in this one.

DRUGS AND HUGS. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE THEM BOTH?
Maybe it's just us, but Gillian Flynn sure seems a little bit too dependant on "shocking twists" and "OMG!" plot turns to drive her narratives home. She's also pretty heavily dependant on red herrings, and maybe even more so than the twists. In Dark Places, there are murders, alleged instances of child  molestation, Devil Worship & sacrifice, loan sharking, drug dealing, and a few more seedy things that are set in motion, which we won't spoil for you here, all of which serve as red herrings.

To a point, it all feels like forced cleverness.

WHITE TRASH: THE UNBREAKABLE CYCLE.
When we finally find out what happened in the farmhouse that night, we were left feeling a bit mixed about it. Some of it played out well, but the "main" plot twist, which explains the murders in earnest, felt almost silly and forced, like we said above.

Read on at your own spoilery peril...

***HUGE ENDING SPOILERS***

So, the Mother was so debt-ridden, that the idea of hiring a Serial Killer to kill her (so that her kids would get her life insurance money) seemed like a better idea than carrying on, staring over, and being there for her kids? As ridiculous as that idea is to begin with, it honestly never occurred to her that her kids would be traumatized for life by her actions, let alone possibly be murdered at the hands of the same guy? And what was with the skeevy dude who suggested that course of action to her to begin with? An accomplice? What kind of person says "Hey, you could have someone kill you, that would solve your problems?"

On top of all of that crazy shit, you also have another crazed maniac in the house at the same time, killing someone else while the Serial Killer is offing the Mom and other kid? And then the brother is all like "You just strangled my sister to death, but I love you. Go ahead and run, I'll take the rap for everything." WTF?!?

***END OF HUGE ENDING SPOILERS***

Come on!

"DO YOU REMEMBER THE HORSES? LET'S TALK ABOUT HORSES!"
A family is slaughtered in a bloody Mass Murder, and a cow get hacked to death by some angst-ridden, Satanic teens. It's definitely got its bloody moments.

COW KILLER!
There's sex in the movie, but none of it is even close to being explicit.

Boys are stupid when it comes to girls. Also, blitherlingly stupid decisions can really screw your kids up for life, or even get them killed, so maybe think things through extra hard before making them.

SO DARK, SO MOODY.
Dark Places was a really engaging, intense movie, which kept us interested throughout. The ending was a bit "yeah sure, that happened" to us, but the excellent cast, and the parts of the story that worked well enough to redeem the movie's faults for us.

If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you'll most likely enjoy this one as well, albeit in a completely different sort of way. We actually liked it more, in some ways. Either way, it's worthy of the rental $$$.

B+

Dark Places is available now on VOD, and will be in Theaters on August 7th.

http://amzn.to/1OLvhya

Dark Places was surprisingly filled with a bevy of hot & sexy ladies, all of whom you can check out in their sexy glory, in their very own Hottie Post! Check it out HERE.

Horror Hotties: The Ladies of Dark Places (2015)

We never expected Dark Places to gather so many gorgeous women together to tell its story, and even though most of the characters that they play are Whisky Tango psychopaths (to different degrees), they still make us wish we had grown up on a farm.

Charlize Theron, Chloe Moretz, Christina Hendricks, Andrea Roth, Drea de Mateo, and Denise Williamson make for one of the hottest casts that we've scene in a long while. Nice job, ladies.

August 3, 2015

VOD Review: Extinction (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3467412/?ref_=nv_sr_4
I hesitate to call Extinction a zombie flick, because it really isn't. A lot of reviewers out there are calling this movie a Zombie Survival movie, but at best, it probably belongs to the Infected sub-genre.

There's just nothing really zombie-like about the creatures in this movie. If anything, they resemble the vampires from 30 Days of Night more than they do any zombie that you'd find in the typical undead offering. 

We're going to go out on a crazy limb here, and just call this one a Post-Apocalyptic movie that involves creatures.

Bold of us, I know.

Nine years after Zombie Apocalypse left most of humanity dead or trying to survive, Jack and his sweet daughter Lu have made themselves a nice life in the snowy town of Harmony; they stay inside, they don't interact with anyone, their food supply could be better... alright, so maybe it's not a nice life, but it's life, and that in and of itself is nice.

"TODAY, WE'RE JUST GOING TO STAY UNDER THE BED. ALRIGHT, HONEY?"
Jack and Lu have a creepy neighbor named Patrick, who we know used to be friends with Jack, but has since been shunned by he and his daughter. Why won't Jack talk to him, or let Lu get to know him? Well that's they mystery, isn't it? At least Patrick has a faithful dog (named Dog) to keep him company in the cold Post-Apocalyptic world.

HE LOOKS HALF A BUBBLE OFF PLUMB IF YOU ASK ME.
It's been a while since either of them has seen the creatures that destroyed their lives (and the world), and so they think them dead and gone, probably because it's so cold and snowy out there, and nothing could survive being exposed in such a climate for too long... but they're wrong! The creatures are back, and despite the bad blood between them, Jack and Patrick have to work together if they have any hope of surviving their return.

Dysfunctional family dynamics & survival ensue.

DON'T... MAKE... A... SOUND.
Extinction is a pretty solid flick that would have benefited from a little less melodrama, and a whole lot more Horror. The creatures in this movie looked amazing, and the fact that they were blind and hunted by sound made the scenes that they were in all the more terrifying, but we just didn't get to see enough of them.

We're big fans of Jeffrey Donovan and Matthew Fox, and over they years they have proven that they can do both drama and action equally well, but too much of the movie was spent with them either avoiding each other, fighting with each other, or just being uncomfortable with each other's presence. Now, all of that had purpose, and it served the story by existing, but it simply went on for far too long. The movie spends too much time on flashbacks, and unraveling a mystery (which was no mystery at all), throughout. We got the gist of the how, why, and what with the lengthy opening sequence, and the plot would have been far better served by focusing less on the backstory, and more on the present day situations of the characters.

SEE, NOW THIS RIGHT HERE IS THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF BACKSTORY.
Worse still, Jeffrey Donovan's character seemed to go from HATING Matthew Fox's character from the depths of his soul (he basically stood by and let him nearly get killed), to having him over for a nice, neighborly dinner. Literally. The transition between hatred and acceptance just felt clunky and unnatural, not to mention a bit rushed.

All of that being said, the rest of the movie was pretty solid. The cold, isolated, snowy setting was perfect for a Post-Apocalyptic story of survival, and it made the already intense plot feel even more so. This one was atmospheric as hell. It may have taken a while for it to get going, but once it did, the movie was a pretty creepy, and boasted some great action scenes. Again, the fact that the creatures were blind and could only hunt by sound added a fun dynamic to the proceedings. We also really liked how the creatures evolved over time. That was kind of a fun twist too.

THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR GOING DOLL SHOPPING IN MONSTER TOWN, USA.
Jeffrey Donovan and Matthew Fox make for a pretty good on-screen duo, and they should probably star in a Buddy Cop movie together, or something. Also, it's pronounced Mah-Shing-Gah, not May-Zing-Er! Dammit!

DON'T SCREAM.
The balance between angsty melodrama and Horror-based action might be a bit off in this one, but Extinction is still an above-average effort that we really enjoyed. A lot, even. The creatures in this one looked so cool that we'd probably even watch it again... although there would be a few parts that we might be tempted to fast forward through.

If you're a fan of Post-Apocalyptic movies that involve a multitude of hungry, savage creatures trying to eat everyone they come across, or if you're a fan of any of the actors involved, then you should definitely give Extinction a rent. It really was a solid effort for the most part.

C+

Extinction is available now on VOD.

http://amzn.to/1IAZrj2

The sexy Clara Lago is in this, as is Valeria Vereau (albeit is a much smaller role.)