Following his work delivering slasher hijinks to the time loop trope with Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, Christopher Landon affixed his horror-comedy eye on the body swap genre with 2020’s Freaky. The film stars Kathryn Newton as Millie, a teen whose family suffered the loss of her father a year ago. Vince Vaughn co-stars as the nameless Blissfield Butcher, a deranged killer whose urban legend has him operating for decades in the Everytown (well, in California, at least), USA hamlet of Blissfield. When an ancient Aztec artifact causes the two to switch bodies, gruesome killings and funny misunderstandings ensue.
Settlers, the debut feature from writer/director Wyatt Rockefeller, is a sci-fi character study that never quite gets off the ground. Set on a lone Mars colony, it tells a tale of frontier desolation and isolation in a meandering and slightly unfocused way. A single family lives on the land and has to face the threat of people who appear to be marauders at first glance. As the film progresses, not much backstory (save for the bare essentials) is given as to who these people are or why they have staked their claim on the land. It becomes a moot point, however, as the film immediately becomes a 3-person character study with not much energy to the plot.
It feels downright serendipitous that the arc of the titular hero of Apple TV+’s critical darling comedy closely mirrored my own journey with the show.
Throughout his tumultuous career, M. Night Shyamalan has been singularly focused on trying to surprise audiences. What’s most surprising about his latest film however, is just how little has changed in his bag of tricks. Old has all the hallmarks of Shyamalan’s storytelling style. There’s a preponderance of silly, inauthentic dialogue, tons of on the nose exposition, awkward comic relief that rarely lands as intended, and what seems like an active hatred for ambiguity. Yet, for all of Old’s silliness and lack of depth, it does provide a decent amount of suspense and is home to one really interesting concept.
If you’re one of the few remaining stalwarts of M. Night Shyamalan’s films in 2021, you probably already know if you’re going to enjoy his newest film, Old. It’s been a bumpy road for the writer-director ever since the breakout success of The Sixth Sense in 1999. Virtually every new project feels like it’s treated with reserved skepticism, given Shyamalan’s largely floundering genre exercises, and I’m sorry to report that Old does him no favors.
The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 348 – Loki Season 1 – Werewolves Within, Summer of Soul, Bo Burnham: Inside, Master of None: Moments in Love, and The Tomorrow War
In this episode, Ben, and I review season 1 of Disney+’s Loki. We also discuss Werewolves Within, Summer of Soul, Bo Burnham: Inside, Master of None, and The Tomorrow War.
Concluding a trilogy is a tricky proposition in any context. When it comes to the Fear Street trilogy however, its weekly release schedule means the first two entries are incredibly fresh in the audience’s’ minds going into the final chapter. So it stands to reason the conclusion had a lot to live up to and the potential for a lot of scrutiny to be levied at it. To add to that pressure, Part One and Part Two had the benefit of mostly disappearing into their respective time periods whereas Part Three had the unenviable task of serving as both an origin story and conclusion. Fortunately, Netflix’s ambitious gamble of releasing its Fear Street trilogy (based on the teen horror books by R.L. Stine) in weekly installments has paid off with a fun and satisfactory end in Fear Street Part Three: 1666.
A funny thing happened on the way to the truffle forest: writer and director Michael Sarnoski has crafted a deep, soulful film, one that has grander ideas on its mind than what audiences may originally think, and a film that manages to use Cage in a way that few directors have been able to tap into. Cage’s best performances come in films that underplay the rage that always seems to be bubbling below the surface, and Pig is a film that uses his gravely monotone to perfection, one of the year’s best performances so far.
The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 347 – Ebert’s Great Movies Part 9 – Star Wars (1977), Do the Right Thing (1989), and Spirited Away (2001)
In this episode, Tiny, Ben, and I continue our review series of the movies listed on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list of essays. In this installment, we discuss Star Wars, Do the Right Thing, and Spirited Away.
The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 346 – Black Widow (2021) – Fear Street Part One: 1994, and F9: The Fast Saga
In this episode, Tiny and I review Black Widow. We also talk about some Patreon and general website stuff, F9: The Fast Saga, and Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy.
As the middle part of a trilogy, Fear Street Part Two: 1978 suffers pacing issues and rehashed ideas and lore established in Part One. While Part Two never quite reaches the levels of fun and inventiveness present in Part One, it does further deepen the lore of Shadyside and sets the stage for Part Three in interesting and surprising ways.
In the 1990s, R.L. Stine’s Fear Street was like a big brother horror book series to Goosebumps. While Goosebumps was geared toward preteens, Fear Street catered to a more mature (relatively speaking) teen audience and featured more gruesome scares than its kid brother counterpart. Set in the town of Shadyside, Fear Street told anthologized stories of gore and horror throughout the cursed land. Now director Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon) and Netflix are delivering a trilogy of Fear Street films, with each entry telling a Shadyside story from a specific year. The trilogy is releasing weekly and is off to a terrific start with its bloody and energetic first entry, Fear Street Part One: 1994.
What started in 2001 as a street racing, DVD player heist movie shamelessly patterned after Point Break (Point Brake, anyone?) has become a globe-trotting, doomsday device stopping, spy team-up franchise. It’s nothing short of commendable (and, to some, probably perplexing) how this franchise managed to become a box office juggernaut. But nine movies and one spin-off is enough to wear down the tread on any long-running franchise. And while F9: The Fast Saga does deliver on plenty of ridiculous physics-breaking spectacle moments, there’s no mistaking that everyone’s favorite film family is showing signs their adventures may need to be parked for good.
Given the seemingly arbitrary nature of the curriculum within America’s current school systems on the subject of our own history, it’s not entirely implausible to believe that America: The Motion Picture will be taken as more fact than fiction. Netflix’s first animated film is a veritable who’s who of this country’s most notable figures and founding fathers, all mashed together with no discernable logic or reason behind most of it.
The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 345 – A Quiet Place Part II (2021) & Cruella (2021) – Indy Film Fest 2021, Inspector Ike, All Alone in April, The Catch, and Ben’s First Press Screening
In this episode, Ben and I review A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella. We also talk about Ben’s first press screening experience and our thoughts on this year’s Indy Film Fest.