74 posts categorized "Suspense"

October 08, 2016

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Girl-on-the-train-posterThis exposition-laden suspense thriller is so poorly adapted from its novel source material (by Paula Hawkins) that you can’t follow it. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (“Secretary”) doesn’t begin to edit out subplots and secondary characters that cloud the story. Characters have far too little interaction over the course of a flashback-heavy drama that leaves you cold to their suburban issues adultery, alcoholism, and neglect.

Emily Blunt is the only thing this movie has going for it. It’s a sad state of affairs when the always-fascinating Blunt is relegated to making movies as weakly constructed as this one. Her persuasive performance as our unreliable narrator at least makes “Girl on a Train” watchable.

Voice-over narration weighs down the sluggishly paced action as we’re introduced to Rachel Watson (Blunt), an unemployed alcoholic who rides the train into Manhattan everyday to cover up her pointless existence to her female roommate. Rachel lost her perfect husband Tom (Justin Theroux) to a home-wrecker named Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Tom has also been busy schtupping his wife’s nanny Megan (Haley Bennett), the neighborhood nymphomaniac, and any other woman he can get his hands on. Work life be damned. 

Girlonthetrain

To say that the storytelling at work is convoluted, is a gross understatement. Time unfolds in chronological order from six months ago. Regular text announcements cue the audience as to which period the movie has finally advanced to. Rachel would love to extricate Anna from the home that she [Rachel] furnished. Still, Rachel is content to imagine what it would be like to live as her former neighbor Megan and her boyfriend do, in their house just two doors down from Rachel's old place where Tom and Anna are raising their newborn baby.

At 112 arduous minutes, this movie needed some more editorial time under the knife. Any comparisons to Hitchcock are purely coincidental in a movie that will have you scratching your head about which blonde woman is which (there are three, and they look alike).

Director Tate Taylor (“The Help”) fails to sustain dramatic tension. The whole movie is at one dirge-like tempo, with even less visual interest put on the screen. “The Girl on the Train” is a disappointing movie.

TheGirlOnTheTrain

Rated R. 112 mins. (C-) (One Star — out of five / no halves)

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September 03, 2016

DON'T BREATHE

Dont-BreathDon’t let its box office receipts fool you; “Don’t Breathe” is garbage. Pitched as a horror flick, Fede Alvarez’s lame suspense thriller is a hodgepodge of disparate shock elements that might come as a surprise to some, but will fall boringly flat for seasoned audiences.

Pretentious as the day is long, the film’s narrative is set in a deserted neighborhood in Detroit where a trio of white hoodlums (played by the equally miscast Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto) plans to rob the home of a war vet with a safe full of cash.

Stephen Lang plays the home’s blind tenant who owes his wealth to a legal case he won against the woman who ran over his young daughter. Mr. Blind Guy has more than just money stashed in his creepy chamber of horror. If you’re a fan of plot-holes, you’ll get more than you bargain for in this waste of celluloid.

Dont-Breathe-movie

Rocky (Levy) is girlfriend to Zovatto’s Money — yes that’s the character’s name — even if Rocky’s friend-zone buddy Alex (Minnette) hangs around hoping for sloppy seconds should the opportunity ever avail itself; it does not.

From it’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”-lifted opening to its sexist efforts at exploitation — see a turkey baster used as artificial inseminator through the crotch-ripped leggings of a girl in suspended bondage — “Don’t Breath” presents a litany of insults to its audience. Here is a reminder of why the torture porn genre died off after the second installment in the “Human Centipede” franchise.

Whatever you do, don’t call “Don’t Breathe” a horror movie. That would be an offense to the genre.

Rated R. 88 mins. (F) (Zero stars — out of five / no halves)

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June 26, 2016

THE SHALLOWS

Shallows2Here is a good old-fashioned suspense thriller about a strong-willed young woman and a big mean shark. Blake Lively shows off her acting chops in this genre picture that belongs all to her. It's a popcorn movie make for gigantic drive-in movie screens.

Feeding on a whale carcass gets old after a few days for a mammoth shark, especially when there’s tasty human flesh around to supplement the entree.

Jaume Collet-Serra’s workmanlike direction is adequate. He still needs to learn a few lessons from Hitchcock and Friedkin, but the raw suspense he creates works well enough. Everything is a little low-fidelity in a gaudy exploitation way. The musical score is no bueno. What can you do?

There’s no point mentioning plot details of screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski’s lean, and implausible, script. Some of the CGI is lacking, and sure I could nitpick about a giant unrealistic looking prop, but the shark is plenty convincing when you’re staring down its gullet on the big screen.

The film is paced like a Swiss watch, and Lively’s gutty performance as Nancy, a surfer and med school student, makes it tic. A wounded seagull friend that accompanies Nancy during her tiny-island waiting game with the shark, is a nice poetic touch if not much else. It’s still not as cheesy as the cell phone conversation Nancy has with her dad about her future. Such is the sentimental white bread that bookends the action.

The-Shallows2

Yes, there is one moment that will shock you out of your chair regardless of how many scary movies you’ve seen. If that’s not good enough to send you after a cheap thrill at the movies, I don’t know what is.

Shallows

Rated PG-13. 87 mins. (B) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)

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