The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

the-house-with-a-clock-in-its-walls-2018Director: Eli Roth

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Main Cast: Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Braxton Bjerken, Lorenza Izzo, Perla Middleton

Plot: When a young boy named Lewis is orphaned he moves in with his magical Uncle in a large creaky house with a mysterious ticktock sound. Together, Lewis and his magical Uncle unlock the secrets behind the noise in the walls.

My Thoughts: After being subjected to the trailer for this movie more times than I ever needed to, as well as being plagued by the radio advert whilst at work, I made fun of it and vowed I would never actually watch it. I realise it’s based on a novel of the same name but come on, there’s not an ounce of creativity in that title! I guess I at least can’t claim false advertising…it does what it says on the tin!

However, I found myself with a free evening and nothing in the cinema with a decent start time than this and Mile 22. I very, very almost went with the latter hoping it would be so bad it would be good, but that day I’d read a few reasonably positive reviews about that house with a clock in the walls, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

You know, it wasn’t actually that bad. It suffers from trying to fit in with a few too many genres at once so doesn’t get a chance to shine in any of them, but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your time. It also makes a decent family movie for the spooky season.

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Best Bit: Cate Blanchett is just amazing in this as Jack Black’s neighbor. Her sarcastic wit was what really kept my interest!

Worst Bit: Jack Black’s head on a baby’s body…Ryan Reynolds just about gets away with having baby legs but this was just so wrong!

Fun Trivia: The bus stops across the street from a theater with the movie, “Space Man from Pluto” on the marquee. The head of Universal Studios wanted “Space Man from Pluto” to be the title of another Amblin Entertainment film produced by Steven Spielberg – but the director on that 1985 film kept the script’s original title, “Back to the Future.”

My Rating: 2 and a half pairs of steampunk goggles. My local cinema was giving away cardboard versions of these which have given me much entertainment as I attempt to convince my 11-month old to keep them on her head long enough for a photo!

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A Simple Favor (2018)

a-simple-favor-movie-review-2018Director: Paul Feig

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Eric Johnson, Sarah Baker, Ian Ho, Kelly McCormack, Glenda Braganza

Plot: Mommy vlogger Stephanie gets herself tangled up in a mystery when her newly found friend Emily goes missing one day.

My Thoughts: A Simple Favour is the movie I never knew I needed. When I heard Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were teaming up I was absolutely giddy. I didn’t even know at that point what the movie was even about but it could have been the scariest horror of the century and I would have still seen it. When I found out it was a crime/mystery and also a comedy – I don’t even have the words. If you haven’t seen the marketing that Blake Lively did on her Instagram then you need to check it out!

It’s a shame that every single movie released after 2014 involving a missing woman will find itself compared to Gone Girl – it’s happening with this one and they are so very different! I won’t waste time trying to justify myself by listing the differences, just please take my word for it.

Let’s get back to the leading ladies. Anna Kendrick shines as this seemingly perfect Mum, you know the sort, she’s the Mum who brings in home-baked gluten-free cookies to the school bake sale. In my experience, she’s the Mum at your baby group who has a 3-month-old who sleeps through the night and never cries. Fellow Mums, don’t take notice of the Stephanie’s of the world, they’re bad for your health! Sorry, going off topic now…

Blake Lively steals the show, that’s all I can say. She. Is. Incredible. I’m confident in saying that she made every straight female in the audience question their sexuality – me included. Here I was thinking she was the lucky one when in fact It’s Ryan Reynolds!

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Best Bit: Blake Lively’s wardrobe. That’s a shallow thing to pick for best bit I know but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand. If I wore a pinstripe suit I would look like a strange young man on his way to an interview – how does Blake do it?!

Worst Bit: Putting my serious hat on, the ending is the only thing that lets the movie down. It was hella fun but absolutely all over the place and there will be people who won’t forgive it.

Fun Trivia: The gin used in the martinis shared by Anna and Blake’s characters is Aviation (American) Gin, a company owned by Blake Lively’s husband, Ryan Reynolds.

My Rating: 4 and a half very strong martinis, which are socially acceptable to drink anytime after 5pm. Unless you’re a Mum, in which case you’re probably going to need one by 10am.

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Searching (2018)

searching-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Thomas Barbusca

Plot: David’s sixteen-year-old daughter doesn’t come home after study group one night, and also doesn’t show up to school the next day. After doing some searching himself, he files a missing persons report with the police and continues the search with them using his daughter’s laptop and social media. The more he hunts the more he realises – he didn’t even really know his daughter well.

My Thoughts: I was so HYPED to see this movie. If I could describe the kind of movie I would happily watch for the rest of my life, it’s this. A mystery with a gripping story, plenty of twists and turns along the way, and a genuinely surprising ending. I love when movies like this are done well, because I become so engaged with the story and the characters that I don’t find myself playing detective and trying to work it out myself.

The other fascinating element of Searching is the way that it’s shot. The entire movie is seen through a screen – what I mean is that the only time you see any of the characters is through FaceTime, CCTV footage, and webcams. It’s so well done, and really helps with the mystery of it all because we only know what David knows. I’m not certain I’d like to see many more movies shot this way because it could turn into a gimmick very quickly, but it works so well for this.

I’m just gutted that as a movie it doesn’t seem to have had a very wide reach. Most people I’ve spoken to (in real life) have no idea this movie exists, and even though I went to see it within days of it’s UK release, I was 1 of only 3 people in the whole room. Please, please see this movie if it sounds like something you would enjoy!

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Best Bit: That moment towards the end where all of the confusing elements suddenly made sense. If I was watching at home and not out in public I would have had a noticeably more audible reaction.

Worst Bit: I wasn’t expecting the opening 5 minutes to hit me so hard in the feels! That needs to be a warning in the BBFC ratings screen, man!

Fun Trivia: The film took just thirteen days to shoot. However, it took two years to make due to the prep, editing and animating.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Macbooks. I did have a witty joke as per usual but I wanted to keep this post as spoiler-free as possible!

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Hereditary (2018)

hereditary-movie-poster-2018-reviewDirector: Ari Aster

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Main Cast: Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd

Plot: The Grandmother of the Graham family passes away, and the family she has left behind are left to not only grieve but uncover the mysteries and secrets behind their ancestry.

My Thoughts: So, not only did I pluck up the courage to even see Hereditary in the first place, I made it my movie of choice for my first ever solo cinema trip! Dive right in at the deep end, eh? To be honest I was probably better off alone so I could quake in fear without anyone next to me poking fun at me. What I love about seeing a horror at the cinema is the atmosphere, and the nervous laughter people do when they’re scared. It relieves some of the tension!

On to the actual movie though – it was pretty darn good, to say the least. The story itself left me pretty confused, I understood the gist of it but I have a lot of unanswered questions, and trying to explain it all to someone else would give me a headache. It’s one you have to think about and replay in your head for it to all come together if that makes sense.

Oh, boy was it scary though. Scary in the best possible way. I absolutely hate jump scares, but there’s only 1 here. The rest is down to shock tactics and subtlety. It’s so cleverly filmed, or edited I guess, and there are some really scary moments where you question if you’re actually seeing things because nothing else in the movie is telling you that something is going on. I really hope this is the way forward for all horrors because I could really get into the genre.

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Best Bit: The car scene. It was so unexpected, and I never thought it would turn out as badly as it did. Also, the part straight after, because the way this character reacted is honestly the same as I think I would.

Worst Bit: Tongue clicking. Is that what it’s called? Anyone who makes that noise anywhere near me in the foreseeable future is getting punched, and I’m not even sorry.

Fun Trivia: In an interview, Alex Wolff explains that he wanted to actually break his own nose for the scene where his character slams his head into a desk. Director Ari Aster respectfully declined that offer and told Wolff they’d give him a soft, cushioned desk for the scene. When it was time for the scene to be shot, Wolff slams his head into the desk only to discover that it was not soft nor made out of foam, that resulted into Wolff’s actual blood gushing down to his knees.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 chocolate cakes. They may or may not contain nuts…

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Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why – Season 2

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Last year it seemed all anyone on my Facebook feed was talking about was the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. It didn’t sound like my usual go-to show, but when something is hyped that much, my curiosity gets the better of me. If you’ve never watched it before, it’s a 13 episode series in which each episode features a different tape that a girl called Hannah (Katherine Langford) made, each with a reason as to why she killed herself.

So Season 1 was absolutely fascinating, watching the story unfold himself as the main character Clay (Dylan Minnette) works his way through the tapes. It’s also super clever and kind of immersive as when I was talking to friends about the show, we’d ask which tape we’d gotten on to, just like the characters in the show did.

No surprises here but at the end of the 13th tape, we learn all of the reasons why Hannah ended her life, and in a very unsettling scene, we watch her commit the act. The show’s over, rave about it and move on, right? Wrong. They decided it needed a Season 2.

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Season 2 follows the aftermath, and the ongoing court case of Hannah’s Mum against the school, as she blames them for what Hannah did. We still have 13 episodes but this time, each episode follows a character giving their testimony in court. Throughout the case, a new mystery develops as each person taking the stand is sent threatening messages before going in, and some disturbing polaroid photos are left for Clay.

That’s as much as I can say without spoilers, so be warned from this sentence on!

After Season 1, I became attached to all of the characters, so of course I loved having another Season to find out how they’re coping and also find out more about what happened whilst Hannah was still around. Two of my favourite storylines here are Tyler finding a new group of friends, and Zach’s romance with Hannah, although the latter broke Clay’s heart a little which makes me sad.

However, I have 2, no actually 3, main issues with the Season as a whole. The first being, why did we need a second Season to begin with? It feels like the show did better than the creators expected and then scrabbled around to write more of the story. Which ties in nicely with my second issue – why weren’t some of these revelations in Hannah’s tapes? The romance with Zach was HUGE, and yet she mentioned none of that? It just makes my first issue even more obvious.

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Finally, what an anti-climatic ending! I’m not saying that I wanted to watch Tyler commit mass murder, but why build up to him doing exactly that for so long, just to have him jump into Tony’s car at the last second? I thought for sure someone was going to take down Bryce for getting away with it all. I guess there’s always Season 3?

What did you think, if you’ve seen it? What about that awful scene involving Tyler in the bathroom? I’ve never felt sicker!

Review: Game Night (2018)

game-night-movie-review-2018Have I ever mentioned how much I love Jason Bateman comedies? Horrible Bosses and The Change Up are 2 of my favourite movies of all time, and I’m also a big fan of board games and game nights in general so you can imagine how gutted I was to miss the cinema release of Game Night! It was just one of those incidents where plans were made, the showtimes didn’t work, and then by the time the plans are made again, it’s not in the cinema anymore.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) met at a quiz night, fell in love, and hosted a weekly game night for their friends ever since. Things get tense when Max’s extremely successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to visit, and suggests hosting the ultimate game night at his rented accommodation. It’s a murder mystery night where one of the group will be kidnapped, but things take a strange turn…

Sadly if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know what that turn is, but although it gives away far too much of the story (in my opinion anyway) there’s still a lot of fun to be had, and plenty of surprises along the way. There’s always that fear with comedies that all the good jokes are in the trailer, leaving nothing left, but I found loads more to laugh at this time around.

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If you’re a fan of American sitcoms like I am then there’s also a lot of familiar faces to spot which I always find fun. Jason Bateman gives you exactly what you would expect, but the show-stealer this time round was without a doubt Max’s weird neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons Am I the only one who had to do a double take to check he wasn’t actually Matt Damon?

Anyway, Gary used to be a part of Max’s weekly game nights but when he split from his wife the group started to avoid him (because he’s quite weird), leaving the gang having to creep into the house so as not to make Gary suspicious.

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Despite all of this though, there’s just something stopping Game Night from being up there with the ultimate comedies for me. Perhaps its a movie that will grow on me more and more, as I’ll definitely be rewatching it at some point, but maybe it’s just that I had to wait so long to see it. It’s still a great comedy by all counts of course!

I feel like the last 20 or so minutes is where most of the real enjoyment is, and if you’ve already seen Game Night you’ll know why. I wondered how many times the movie was going to turn the tables on us! It gets a solid 4 out of 5 squeaky dog toys from me.

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Review: Suburbicon (2017)

suburbicon-movie-review-2017I’ve actually managed to watch a couple of new movies this week, hurray! Ideally, I’d like to blog about all of them, but let’s take baby steps for now and talk about the one I watched most recently, which was Suburbicon. I’m an absolute sucker for a script by the Coen Brothers, but this latest one is actually directed by none other than George Clooney, so I wasn’t as sure. I’ve kept away from reviews where I could, but I did know Suburbicon wasn’t widely loved.

So what’s it about? Suburbicon is a once-peaceful community in the 1950’s where everything seems rosy and everyone gets along until a black family move in and a terrible crime is committed in the house behind them. In that house at the time was Gardner (Matt Damon), his Son Nicky (Noah Jupe), his Wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and his Sister in Law Margaret (also Julianne Moore). Tragically, Rose is killed as a result of the crime, and from there, things just keep getting worse for Gardner.

That’s all I really want to say about the plot because this is one of those movies that takes several twists and turns along the way, and that’s where most of the fun in watching it comes from. It’s not the best Coen movie out there, but I enjoyed it more than I think most did. You could probably argue that the tone was a bit all over the place, but that added to the quirkiness of it all for me.

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The best moment without a doubt is when Oscar Isaac turns up in a role I won’t say for spoiler purposes, but it’s the best 10 minutes of the entire movie. I promise I’m not just saying that because it’s him! Someone in Hollywood please give Oscar some bigger roles – he SO deserves them!

Whilst all this is going on, the upset caused by the black family moving in just keeps escalating until it reaches riot proportions, and this is the only thing I didn’t like as much about Suburbicon. What was the point in it all? I’m sure it connects somehow but it just felt a bit disjointed to me – the movie wouldn’t be lost without those scenes as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps someone can fill me in on what I’m clearly missing?

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Ultimately though, I was quite pleasantly surprised after not setting my hopes up too high. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of Fargo and The Big Lebowski, but I enjoyed it more than Hail Caesar! for sure. 4 out of 5 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from me – you probably shouldn’t eat them though.

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