Monday, 25 September 2017

Ross's Reviews: The Shining

This is a movie I thought I'd never review as there's been countless debates and discussions about the various themes shown here and theories on what it all means. After watching it last night I thought I'd avoid all that and just review it as a straight up movie without delving into it's apparently deep mythology.

No spoilers here.

Weirdly enough just like the recent film adaption of Stephen King's IT, there's also a separate mini series and just like the IT mini series, it's not worth watching. Even less so in fact which is saying something.

This film version is directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick and is famously disliked by Stephen King who wrote the original novel mostly just because it very different from the source material. Normally that would ring the death knell for most adaptions, but Kubrick's version, in my opinion, improves on the source material vastly.

The story follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he is hired to be the caretaker of the massive Overlook Hotel located in the the Colorado Rockies. Jack's an aspiring writer and looks to complete his first novel as he's also bringing his family in the form of his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd).

Quickly we find out that Danny is no ordinary boy as he has a special gift known as The Shining, which shows him visions of the past and future while he sleeps, and also shows him what may be hallucinations (or terrifying real events) as he explores the hotel.

The isolation of the hotel starts to get to each one of them slowly, building to total insanity in more ways than one.

First of all I think I need to talk about the fear factor here as for a long time, this has been known as one of the scariest (if not scariest) movies ever made. And in my opinion, I have to agree. While it might not be a fright fest like you would find in a movie like The Conjuring or a gore fest like Evil Dead, it's absolutely psychological and finds a few ways to dig right into your skin and stay there.

Kubrick's direction is just sublime as he knows how to freak out his audience by doing nothing but staying on Jack's maddening face while the music slowly rises and then suddenly does something simple like flashing up a black card showing which day of the week it is, and it still somehow creeps you out.

The isolation alone is terrifying. There are quite a few scenes with just one character alone in a long empty hallway or a deserted room and there's just something about it that freaks me out, like there's always something unseen watching and waiting. Maybe there is.....

There's the Room 237 sequence which is pretty infamous and one of the best scenes in the entire movie as the entire sequence came close to sending shivers down my spine, even without offering much of an explanation to what is going on.

Also twin girls talking in unison is always scary no matter what. With one scene in particular that is especially nightmare inducing.

This all builds up to an amazing, nail-biting finale that's so intense you'll feel like your eyes are glued to the screen.

Enough of the horror, let's take a look at the acting. Of course we have to start with our lead in Jack Nicholson who is just fantastic here and it's really award winning stuff. Going from your typical family man to something entirely monstrous and otherworldly as the movie rolls on is genuinely frightening.

There's also Shelley Duvall who was apparently terrorised during filming to bring out a believable performance. While I don't agree with the way it was done, it really did work as Shelley looks like she's about to have a mental breakdown during some of the more intense scenes.

Child actors can be troublesome in these movies but Danny Lloyd did a great job portraying this Danny. He's definitely the emotional core here as whenever he seems like he's in any real danger you're just begging for him to get away.

Overall this movie is just a masterpiece of horror and film in general. It's filled to the brim with iconic moments still referenced and parodied to this day. The acting is brilliant all round and the horror is so unnerving that your future dreams will most definitely be affected.

It's not for everyone but I absolutely recommend checking it out.

Verdict: 10/10

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Ross's Reviews: IT (1990)

Ever since the movie adaptation of IT was released, I've been really obsessed with the story. I've now seen the movie a total of three times and I'm currently working my way through the novel which has the same length and width as the phone book.

Today I'll taking a look at the original mini series from 1990, adapted from the book.

I'd been kind of putting this off for a while as I'd heard it wasn't too great, but the other night I decided to watch it all in the one sitting to see how it was, so here are my thoughts.

This is going to be spoiler free.

With the new film adaption it shows the entire movie with the kids still as kids, whereas this adaption does it a bit differently as almost the entire first half follows the kids 30 years on from the events we know from the 2017 movie.

It does start to feel a bit repetitive as it follows a formula for the first half where we follow each of the main characters individually, as almost every one of them has a flashback to their separate encounters with an entity known mainly as IT, or Pennywise when he's in clown form. IT terrifies it's victims before trying to kill them and eat them.

These separate encounters are probably the best parts of the mini series as the kids, while not perfect, are the best actors of the whole series (or most believable anyway) and they are definitely the most entertaining.

This is mainly due to the iconic performance of Pennywise (or IT), as played by the awesome Tim Curry. There's a reason why people have been afraid of clowns for some time now, and this Pennywise has to be one of the main reasons why. The performance is kind of over the top but it works so well. It may not come across as scary nowadays, but it can be unnerving and when he has his sharp teeth bared, it's hard not to be a little creeped out.

The first half is basically a tamer version of the 2017 version with the kids being terrorised by IT and working up the courage to try and fight back. There isn't much blood and gore to be had as it was made for TV but it doesn't affect the story and the great scenes with IT that much. Definitely the best parts of the series included here.

The second half on the other hand........ pretty much sucked. This is where the story follows the adults heading back to Derry to face off with Pennywise once again. Pennywise is still around to bring us some fun at least but I just found the adult actors laughably bad at times leading to some scenes I can only describe as cheesy.

While I won't spoil the ending I can say it was pretty disappointing considering the buildup of the whole series and just came across as silly. Especially the very last scene which is just ridiculous and a terrible way to end the whole thing.

The whole series is about 3 hours in total any I'll admit I struggled with it. The first half is an easy ride, but once you realise you still have an hour and a half to go during the worst part of the feature, it really is easy to just turn it off due to disinterest.

I feel like I might be crucified for not liking this, but whenever anyone mentions this series, it really is only the Pennywise scenes that are remember fondly as everything else ranges from bad to kind of good.

I really wouldn't recommend watching this unless you're a huge fan of the book or are just interested after seeing the latest adaption. Trust me, you might not want to watch this more than once.

Verdict: 4/10

Monday, 18 September 2017

My Top 10 Favourite Movies

I thought I'd go with something a bit different here as I've been doing reviews for quite a while now but I've never really went over my favourite movies except for some references here and there. I thought it might be a good idea as you'll now know how my mind works towards certain movies.

There will be no spoilers for any movies mentioned. Also my only rule for the list is that I can only pick one movie per franchise otherwise there would be so many similar picks.

Let's begin, but first a pretty huge list on honourable mentions. I tried to keep it smaller but I love a lot of movies and each one was considered for one reason or another for the top ten list. All are obviously recommended by me.

Honourable Mentions:

(In no particular order)

Pulp Fiction

The Conjuring

Captain America: Civil War

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Toy Story 2


Mad Max: Fury Road

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Paranormal Activity


Terminator 2

District 9

Ghostbusters (original)

The Babadook

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Hot Fuzz

Cabin in the Woods

The Shining

And I think that will do. I could have had others but I think that's more than enough. Now for the top 10.

10. IT (2017)

I know this seems very early considering that the movie has only been out just over a week at this time of writing, but I really feel that in a year or even a few months time, this'll still be on the list and may even move up a few spaces. Yes I enjoyed it that much.

At this point I've also now seen the movie three times and would not argue against seeing it a fourth. It has everything I love in a movie from fun, relatable characters to disturbing horror. It's basically a great Spielberg movie with a ton of gore, scares and even some surprisingly emotional scenes too added on for good measure. If you haven't seen it yet, definitely check it out ASAP.

You'll float too...

9. Halloween (1978)

This has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest horror memories is watching one of my first scary movies in Halloween Resurrection, which I enjoyed as a kid but really dislike now, and from there I watched almost the whole series and fell in love with this classic.

If I don't watch this at least once during the month of October, something has went very wrong. A classic slasher that paved the way for just about every one we've had since. Michael Myers is such a legendary villain as he may seem like just a man, but the movie builds him up like he's a supernatural force to be reckoned with.

I have seen it quite a few times now and yet it's still somehow able to creep the hell out of me and even still scare me during some sequences. A must for anyone getting into horror.

Everyone's entitled to one good scare.

8. Back to the Future

I swear everytime I watch this movie I love it more and more. You may find I have a lot of movies from the 80s on here as I do love that decade.

I mean what's not to love here? Aside from the creepy incest plot point which is still disturbing to watch. Plus if it wasn't for this movie would we even have the joy that is Rick and Morty? It's just a fun time travel romp with awesome music (that Johnny B. Goode scene is still amazing, and the theme of the movie is still one of the best ever) with a finale that will have you on the edge of your seat no matter how many times you see it.

Great Scott!

7. Raiders of the Lost Ark

This one was a bit difficult as The Last Crusade could have easily taken the spot here but really nothing can beat the first one.

The first ten minutes alone are enough to make this list as it's just so fun and it's been parodied and copied so many times since. Harrison Ford is perfect as the hero and I even loved Karen Allen as the love interest as normally she would be there to be saved by the protagonist, but this movie was ahead of it's time and she was a badass herself.

Fun, creepy (face melting is not fun) and a movie I'll never get tired of watching. For some classic adventure, this one is a must.

Why did it have to be snakes?

6. The Lion King

I've probably seen this one more than any other on the list and apparently it was the first movie I'd ever seen. Hell it's the only movie I've watched twice in one day.

I love just about everything here from the voice acting, the songs (oh my god the songs!) and the story itself. I imagine a lot of people my age have this as one of their favourites as it kind of went balls to the wall in the way it dealt with the death of a major character as even today you don't really get scenes like that and you can relate to it no matter age you are. But if you were a kid like me, it was your worst nightmare and it's a scene that still brings tears to my eyes.

A stone cold classic and, in my opinion, Disney's best to date.

Hakuna Matata

5. Evil Dead II

This was another hard choice as I have a special love for every movie in the series, including the remake from four years ago.

Ultimately though you really can't go any better than the second instalment which features the best bits from every movie, from tense, chilling moments with Ash alone in the cabin to some of the best one liners you'll ever hear in one movie. The film made Bruce Campbell a legend and his scenes where he's fighting his own hand are some of my favourites as they're funny as hell and still manage to creep me out. It's still my first pick when it comes to Halloween time and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it before.


4. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Another hard choice as I couldn't decide between this and Fellowship, but truly I've always enjoyed this one the most which a lot of people don't seem to agree with.

It is a long ass movie (4 hours and 10 minutes if you have the extended version) but I've never been bored for a second. With some of the biggest action pieces ever put to film and one of the most talented casts ever, everything just hits the mark here. Also Shelob's lair still scares the hell out of me. Screw that spider. The ending's may go on for ages, but I don't mind as I never wanted this to end.

For Frodo.

3. The Dark Knight

I've made it no secret how big a fan I am of Batman and this is where it all started. Before this film came out I was never really into Batman or DC, but this just changed everything.

After seeing this I just ended up becoming the biggest fanboy by watching all the other movies, reading a ton of the graphic novels and even checked out the entirety of the classic animated series and I've never looked back.

I can only really describe this movie as epic and if you've never seen it, you really owe it to yourself to see it. Heath Ledger's Joker is still one of my favourite performances ever and while he might not be my favourite Joker now, he's still the reason why he's my favourite character in all of pop culture.

Why so serious?

2. Aliens

I'll be honest I went back and forth a few times between this and number 1 but I feel this fits just right.

The awesomeness that is Sigourney Weaver returns in one the greatest sequels of all time to take on a huge batch of Xenomorphs ready to tear apart anything in their way. It wasn't really until I got to experience this movie in the cinema one year ago that I realised just how insanely good it is. It's scary, it's packed with action, characters to care about, and one of the coolest finales in cinematic history with Weaver's epic one liner that gives me chills everytime.

Game over man. Game over.

1. Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back

It was always gonna be Star Wars at the top spot and it was always gonna be this one. I did a review a while ago on FPG News after the tragic death of Carrie Fisher and I gave it 11/10

I stand by that rating all the way and I don't think I need to explain why this movie is top of the list. And if you haven't seen it before, I honestly have no idea how you've lived your life to this point. Take a weekend off, buy the original trilogy and have an absolute blast. It's the movie series that got me into loving movies in the first place and each one holds a special place in my heart. Yes even the prequels.

The force will be with you. Always.

Well there's my list and I hope that says a bit more about me. Keep checking the site for more reviews and feel free to leave requests.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ross's Reviews - Annabelle: Creation

So Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to a movie that was already a prequel for the first Conjuring movie. Normally that would be the kiss of death for a horror film, or any film for that matter, but how does it work here? Let's take a look.

No spoilers here.

I should point out that I'm really not a fan at all of the 2014 Annabelle release and I don't plan on reviewing it anytime soon. All you need to know is that's not scary and it's not interesting at all. Thankfully it's not really required watch this so I'd recommend you avoid it.

The story follows couple Samuel and Esther Mullins twelve years on from the tragic death of their young daughter known as Bee. They decide to take in a few girls from an orphanage to fill the silence of their house, but little do they know that the girls arrival will awaken something evil that's been lying dormant for some time.

Let's take a look at the characters first as it seems like there's a lot but there's only a couple you need to  take note of. Samuel and Esther are played by Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto respectively and while these actors are most likely the best performers, they really don't have much to do here except spout exposition and look slightly creepy.

The child actors were surprisingly good, especially Talitha Bateman who played a girl crippled with Polio called Janice and she was easily my favourite character.

You really feel for her straight away due to her illness and how she's treated differently by the other girls because she can't keep up with him. The movie does kind of ruin it later on but that's a bit of a spoiler.

There's also her friend Linda, played by Lulu Wilson who also gave a good performance in the surprisingly good Ouija 2, who is honestly the only other child character I gave a damn about.

There are the two older girls who are honestly just unlikable throughout and I really didn't care what happened to them when the horrors came after them.

There are two other girls but I can't remember a single thing they did in the movie and they could have been left out without affecting the overall film at all.

There's also Sister Charlotte, played by Stephanie Sigman, who was also pretty forgettable and didn't much of importance until we reached the finale.

As for the actual spooky moments, I hated the cheap jumpscares here. It seems like every 'scary' moment during the first 20 minutes is just a fake out of some other character making a loud noise out of nowhere which really annoyed me.

Thankfully that didn't last too long as when this film really wanted to ramp up the tension, it could be enough to make you bite your fingernails clean off.

The movie is similar to the Conjuring movies in that it does use loud noises for a lot of it's scary moments, but for the most part they are used very well, mostly to make the doll and the demon possessing her seem even scarier than they already are.

No spoilers but if you're like me and have an irrational fear of scarecrows (who the hell doesn't) then you're gonna have a bad time here.

There is one scene that's meant to come across as scary but ended up being way more funny than anything as it definitely feels like a rip off or spoof of The Evil Dead complete with the evil being yelling "Your soul". It is pretty ridiculous.

The climax itself was pretty disappointing as well as it felt like it was building up to something huge and then the movie just kind of ends and you're left there feeling like you missed a part.

Overall I will say that I enjoyed this movie for the most part. The pacing might be slightly off at times and most of the characters aren't that interesting, but the general creepy factor and genuine scares make up for it big time. It'll be one worth watching come next Halloween.

Verdict: 6/10

Monday, 11 September 2017

Ross's Reviews: IT (2017)

You'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float tooYou'll float too

But seriously though how do you look at that image and not get instant nightmares forever?

To say I went into this movie with high expectations is a bit of an understatement. For months we've had insanely good trailers that left me craving more and an insanely high amount of positive reviews from not only critics but the legend that is Stephen King himself.

And thankfully I can say that not only did the movie meet my expectations, but it pretty much shattered them in the process. Let's take a look and see why that is.

No spoilers here.

The story follows a group of friends known affectionately as The Losers Club as they investigate the mysterious disappearances of many other kids in the community of Derry, Maine. After some supernatural experiences they begin to realise that they're dealing with a being that means only to bring fear and death into their lives.

The Losers Club is made up of seven individuals which does seem like a lot but by the end I realised just how unique they all were and how they added to the story and characters in their own little ways.

While all of them were terrific in their roles, the real standout was Richie, played by Finn Wolfhard who is most famous for his starring role as Mike in Stranger Things. He definitely brought the most laughs in the film and even brought the emotion when needed. This kid is definitely talented.

I was surprised by just how funny this movie was as it was better than a lot of modern comedies by far. The main humour comes from the banter between the Losers Club and it's definitely great throughout.

Normally this would bring down the effectiveness of a horror, but if anything it only increases the tension as you really begin to relate and care about the characters, so much so that you really don't want to see them get hurt or put in any danger.

The danger doesn't only come from the supernatural force haunting the kids though, as the adults of the town can seem just as villainous. I don't think there was one adult here I found likeable as they ranged from severely overprotective to abusive to sexually creepy, all the way to a mix of all three.

But I know we all came to see this movie for one reason: Pennywise

This was where the movie was gonna make or break. Could someone really honour the performance of an all time horror icon in Tim Curry's version of Pennywise? The answer is yes, and to be honest I prefer this iteration of Pennywise.

Don't get me wrong Curry's version was subtle and creepy, but there's just something about Bill Skarsgard's performance that crawls under my skin and stays there.

There's one scene in particular which you'll have seen in the trailer, where Pennywise takes over a projector to freak out our young heroes and believe me, those images will stay in my mind for a long time.

The opening scene was a perfect introduction to the monster as it's the recreation of the classic scene featuring Georgie losing his paper boat down a sewer opening and coming face to face with Pennywise. I won't spoil what happens but it is surprisingly shocking and let's you know that Pennywise is not to be messed with.

Again without spoiling, I did enjoy the finale as well as after two hours of buildup and suspense, it really does give you some satisfaction.

Overall this was a fantastic movie worth going out of your way to see whether you're a fan of horror or not. It has everything I could want from a movie and then some. While a couple of scenes are out of place and there are some small flaws here and there, it isn't enough to derail the juggernaut that is IT. This might be my new favourite movie of the year.

Funny, scary, heartfelt, and exceptionally entertaining, IT is a thrilling experience for all fans of film and it's worth checking out again and again. Come join us and we'll all float together.