Fractured (2019) – Broken

Released: 11th October
Seen: 12th October

Sometimes all a film needs is a great concept and that can do most of the work. Sharknado is a great example, the idea is so out there (It’s sharks… in a tornado) that no matter what those films do I can enjoy it because the idea itself is so perfect that I’ll buy it. This can also work with good films, “Killer who kills you in your dreams” gave us Freddy Krueger, “Plant that eats people” gave us Little Shop of Horrors, a good concept can make a film easy to enjoy. So when a concept as perfect and as effective as “Guy checks his daughter into a hospital, hospital pretends she never checked in” comes across I was ready to love it because that idea has so much potential… shame Fractured wasted so much of it.

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Hustlers (2019) – The Hustle Is Deep

Released: 10th October
Seen: 11th October

You’d think that there’d be a lot more films about exotic dancers. After all, it’s a job that can contain the three things that people love more than anything. Sex, drugs, and dancing to remixes of Britney Spears songs. Still, it feels like there aren’t that many major hit films about exotic dancers. There’s the infamous Showgirls, maybe some people remember the 1996 film Striptease and there are, of course, the two recent Magic Mike movies (the second one is better, I will not be accepting arguments on this), I know of Zombie Strippers and Full Monty but that’s about all I could name off the top of my head. There are others but not many that are giant mainstream hits and certainly none that would really get any kind of buzz as being more than just a fun movie to enjoy on a night out with friends… well, then Hustlers came along and said “Fine, I guess we’ll have to give you everything you ever wanted” and just ran away with every bit of my heart.

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Sleepaway Camp (1983) – Oh I’m a Happy Camper

The slasher boom of the 80s is one of the most fascinating moments in cinema. Starting a little before the decade began with Halloween and exploding with Friday the 13th, slasher films were this strange little thing that could be filmed on budgets that most studio pictures would spend on catering and were almost always critically maligned. Great shockers like Happy Birthday to Me, The Prowler, My Bloody Valentine, Terror Train and so many other fun little gore fests would be regularly destroyed by critics, but go on to be box office hits or have a cult following that continues to this day. They’ve always been the ugly stepchild of the horror genre, but I genuinely adore them in all their cheesiness and since it’s October, it only seems right that all the throwbacks be horror related. With that in mind, I had another look at an old film I enjoyed but never quite understood… I still don’t, but I get that’s part of the charm.

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Ad Astra (2019) – Pitt In Spaaace

Released: 19th September
Seen: 9th October

A space movie is always hard to get just right. The idea of someone floating around in the vastness of space? It’s a cool effect that’s hard to recreate on earth, and that’s before you worry about things like sound in the vacuum of space or just how potentially dangerous it is. The hardest part about big space movies is trying to find a good story using the location. When the location is the vast emptiness of space, that can really work well as a metaphor or just to create some danger. Gravity, as an example, is basically a film about someone lost at sea and could’ve told the exact same story on earth but they wanted to make it a space movie because it’s more visually interesting. That movie was also praised as the most realistic space movie of all time – and now a new contender has come to try and claim that crown. I don’t think it’s the most realistic ever, but it’s certainly got some of the best performances.

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Violence Voyager (2019) – Say, Its Only A Paper Movie

Released: 21st October (Advance Copy provided by Tricoast Worldwide)
Seen: 7th October

Every film, on some level, has a gimmick attached to it. Joker’s gimmick is that it’s a Scorsese film wearing a Supervillain costume, Searching’s gimmick was that it took place entirely on a computer screen and I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu’s gimmick is that it’s the first film actually made by a piece of shit. Hell, even sound and colour were originally considered merely gimmicks back when film was first beginning. Finding strange new ways to make a film can lead to some genuinely fascinating pieces of art that might not be mainstream but are certainly interesting experiences to go through. So, let’s talk about a horror film made entirely out of paper cut-outs because that’s a thing that actually exists in this reality and I kind of love it, despite its flaws.

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Good Boys (2019) – What Ya Gonna Do?

Released: 19th September
Seen: 8th October

There’s this weird phenomenon in media where someone will take a known intellectual property and remake it with baby versions of the characters. This is a huge thing in animation with major shows like Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids and Tom And Jerry Kids all showing the infant or pre-school versions of the famous property. Well, now we’re seeing this idea slowly moving from the world of animation to live action. We’ve had the TV series Young Sheldon, before that we had things like Young Indiana Jones and Young Sherlock Holmes. Calling things Young *Marketable Brand Name* is seemingly good business. Hell, there is even (I swear this is real) a version of the John Waters movie Pink Flamingos that was rewritten and performed with children called Kiddie Flamingos. Versions of famous properties with children in the leads is apparently a thing we’re doing now. So, it was only a matter of time before someone said “What if we remade Superbad, but with 12 year olds?” and now that we have it, it’s kind of impressive how well it works.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) – The Library Is Open!

Released: 26th September
Seen: 5th October

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a series of books from 1981 to 1991 written by Alvin Schwartz. There were three books in total, each one filled with almost 30 short stories that terrified an entire generation, not only because the stories themselves were terrifying but the illustrations associated with each story were so infamously scary. They are not only legendary best-sellers but they’re also infamously some of the most banned books in school libraries because of the violence described and the macabre topics like cannibalism (which I just thought was a regular weekend activity, you learn a new thing every day). To shock no one, I didn’t read these books growing up. Firstly, they were big before I was old enough to even be able to say the word “Book” and secondly, I was more of a Goosebumps kid. I did try to hunt down a copy of the books before I went to see the movie but I guess my local library must’ve been one of the ones to ban them and the only copy is the brand new one that is a tie in for this movie and I’m not paying 50 bucks to read some short stories, thankyou very much. This does allow me to answer the question of whether this film works without knowing the source material. The short answer is… kinda?

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In the Tall Grass (2019) – Hey You Kids, Get Out Of My Lawn!

Released: 4th October
Seen: 5th October

Stephen King is a master of taking things that aren’t normally scary and making them terrifying. Puppies, classic cars, a cell phone, he’s taken them and twisted them into the stuff of nightmares. In 2012, Stephen collaborated with his son Joe Hill for a short story called In the Tall Grass, because now Stephen wants us to be scared of lawns. One of these days he’s going to make a film about a killer lamp and then someone will make a movie about it and I’ll end up enjoying that almost as much as I enjoyed this film.

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Joker (2019) – I Started A Joke

Released: 3rd October
Seen: 3rd October

There’s an old Looney Tunes episode called Show Biz Bugs where Daffy and Bugs are going head to head on a stage doing various acts and Daffy finally has enough and pulls out “The act I’ve been saving for a special occasion”. The act consists of Daffy wearing a devils outfit and walking on stage and drinking a bottle of nitro-glycerine, then a goodly amount of gunpowder and some uranium-238. He then shakes it all up inside him, throws a lit match down his throat and explodes. The crowd goes wild and Bugs yells “Daffy, that’s terrific. They want more!” and Daffy’s ghost says “I know, but I can only do it once”. That’s kind of how I feel about this movie, it’s a fantastic trick to pull off but they can only do it once.

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Rambo: Last Blood (2019) – Last Dud

Released: 19th September
Seen: 2nd October

Rambo is probably the series that will go down as having the worst naming system of them all. It’s almost laughably bad how this franchise is ordered. We have First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Rambo and now Rambo: Last Blood. In 50 years when historians are trying to order these things, it’s going to be almost goddamn impossible because this series was named stupidly. The films themselves are a mixed bag in terms of quality. I think the first two are the best, certainly the ones that have the most to say about the aftermath of the Vietnam war, but the latter two have their moments of just being plain old fun and over the top. This most recent one… well, I didn’t outright hate it, so let’s start from there.

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