"I'll just get my gear."

Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Possessor

Monday, February 8th, 2021

POSSESSOR is a fucking great and deeply disturbing near-future-cyberpunkish assassination thriller directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Yeah, when you’re David Cronenberg’s son, seems like it would be good not to direct real grim, trippy movies that are gonna be compared to your genius dad’s early shit. Too much to live up to. It might be easier to just be a rapper named Li’l Decker or something. Like, what if Sofia Coppola had started out making gangster movies? But DJ The Doctor From JASON X here pulls it off. It doesn’t seem to be copying any specific content or style from the elder Cronenberg, but it definitely is a contemporary equivalent to the tone and quality of the old man’s early, crazy shit.

It stars Andrea Riseborough, who I for a second recognized from MANDY but thought – nah, must be somebody else. She plays a pallid and haunted looking lady named Tasya Vos, a fittingly cool name for someone in her line of work. She looks like she’s on her death bed, but it’s part of her job as a strange type of assassin and undercover agent… I would say a futuristic type, but I’m told this takes place in alternate past? I don’t know. But she spends most of her time in a lab with her head plugged into a machine that somehow projects her consciousness into an implant that her colleagues have clandestinely placed inside an unwilling subject. So, while controlling some poor sucker’s body, she murders her target, then turns a gun on “herself,” which returns her to her real body and/or ties up the loose ends of the assassination plot. Kind of like a clumsier, riskier, more evil version of plugging into the Matrix. (read the rest of this shit…)

Becky

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

BECKY (2020) is a pretty quick and simple thriller with a promising hook: neo-Nazi escaped convicts invade a vacation home looking for a valuable item, and it’s up to a 13-year old girl to improvise enough weapons to seriously fuck them up. Gritty HOME ALONE, I guess. It somewhat delivers on the premise, mostly in the area of (as the rating says) “grisly images and strong bloody violence.”

Becky (Lulu Wilson, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL) is an extremely pouty youngster who is not on good speaking terms with her dad (Joel McHale, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, MORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SCORPION’S REVENGE) as they drive to the lakeside cabin together. We learn that she’s having trouble dealing with the death of her mother a year ago; conveniently the “nostalgically watching old home movies to mourn a deceased family member” storytelling device can now be done with handheld electronics. (read the rest of this shit…)

Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal

Friday, January 8th, 2021

I kinda liked TURBULENCE, but TURBULENCE 3: HEAVY METAL is definitely the gem of the trilogy. That’s not to say that it’s well made exactly, but it’s just such an exuberant mix of different types of ridiculous bullshit that you gotta respect it. That starts (but does not end) with the setup: controversial rock star Slade Craven (who seems to be a mix of King Diamond, Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper, but doing more of an industrial rock type of thing) has invited a small group of fans to see his farewell concert, which will take place on a “specially designed, absolutely radical” airplane while it’s in flight.

Since this was released in 2001 it sort of goes without saying that it’s one of those “live internet broadcast” movies, a format that is almost always terrible, but generally provides at least a few chuckles. I get a kick out of how they always have a big board that tells them how many people are watching and somehow it has an immediate, instantaneous relation to what’s happening live. Like, if something exciting happens (usually somebody getting killed), suddenly more viewers are watching. (Yes, they have a reader board on the plane to update them on how many.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

I reviewed the ruckus-on-an-airplane thriller TURBULENCE a little before Christmas, and I knew it had two non-holiday-specific DTV sequels, so obviously I wasn’t going to let them go unexamined. TURBULENCE 2: FEAR OF FLYING is from 1999, two years after the first one, made by different people and without any connected characters. But faced with the question “What makes a TURBULENCE movie a TURBULENCE movie?” director David Mackay (ICE SCULPTURE CHRISTMAS) and writers Rob Kerchner (BLOODFIST IV-VII, CARNOSAUR 3: PRIMAL SPECIES, CASPER: A SPIRITED BEGINNING, WARGAMES: THE DEAD CODE) & Brendan Broderick (THE DEATH ARTIST) & Kevin Bernhardt (3000 MILES TO GRACELAND, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, ELEPHANT WHITE) decided “there’s a hijack attempt during a flight and they have to fight it off and somebody who’s not the pilot has to land the plane with direction from somebody on the ground.” Logical enough. Let’s go with it.

The new spin they came up with, as indicated in the subtitle, is that most of the people on this flight, including our intrepid heroes, have a phobia of flying. They’re part of a class trying to overcome said fear first in a simulator and then on an actual flight from Seattle to L.A. And they’re not very relaxed about it since one of the flight attendants accidentally left the intercom on while talking about a storm that will make the flight “Hell.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Tenet

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

I like Christopher Nolan’s movies. So, had things gone reasonably in the world, Christopher Nolan’s TENET by Christopher Nolan is a movie that I for sure would’ve seen right away in a theater. But… you know. So I didn’t.

Now, after having played some theaters in some parts of the world where some people think it’s safe to go to theaters, with months having passed since the professionals moved on to other topics, many seemingly unimpressed, TENET is on blu-ray, so I have seen it. And I will just say up front that I am very pro TENET. I really enjoyed it. People around these parts call me Bad Lou TENET, Port of Call This Movie Is Great.

First, let me start by pointing out that this entire review has been written as a palindrome. I’m just kidding. I could do it for sure, I know how, but I don’t want to show off. Christopher Nolan, however, has zero qualms about showing off, and I love him for it.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Turbulence

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

TURBULENCE is kind of an also-ran in the world of ‘90s studio thrillers. They used to put pretty big budgets into these mainstream action/thriller hybrids, especially if they starred Harrison Ford and/or Tommy Lee Jones. I guess psycho Ray Liotta is a little more low rent than that, and heroine Lauren Holly wasn’t exactly a Jodie-Foster-sized marquee name (she was known for Picket Fences and DUMB AND DUMBER). But if Wikipedia is correct, the budget for this one was bigger than THE FUGITIVE, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, PATRIOT GAMES, THE NET or SPEED! So although most of the story is confined to one 747 it has plenty of scope. It feels like a big DIE HARD type production.

Or maybe I should say DIE HARD 2 – that’s the movie I thought of when it was at the airport, with its attention to the pomp and circumstance of a law enforcement caravan arriving to search the plane before bringing prisoners aboard. It even takes place at Christmas, with Christmas music. Anyway, I have a soft spot for this type of movie. Any stupidity that may or may not be involved did not get in the way of my enjoyment of this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Body

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

I was in the mood for some more Christmas horror, and I tried this movie BODY – the 2015 American movie, not the 2015 Polish movie – for the following two reasons: it showed up in Shudder’s holiday section, and the running time was 75 minutes. I had not heard of it, but it’s something that played the Slamdance Film Festival and is distributed by Adam Yauch’s company Oscilloscope Laboratories.

The “Christmas horror” label is arguable here. The Shudder description uses the term “Hitchcockian,” and the poster tries to evoke Saul Bass with simple cutouts on a red background. But it’s about young people and some killing and it’s set at Christmas time, so it’s a Christmas horror and/or thriller. (read the rest of this shit…)

Body Count

Monday, November 30th, 2020

I’ve known for decades that Ice-T was in one of the many movies called BODY COUNT, but I never considered watching it until my friend Laird mentioned on Letterboxd* that it takes place on Thanksgiving. So thank you Laird, sort of, for inspiring some seasonal viewing. The only other Thanksgiving movie I had rented was HOME SWEET HOME, which I turned off when I immediately realized I’d seen it before. It’s the 1981 movie starring Body By Jake as a psycho, but they tricked me into thinking it was something newer by writing “Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut)” on the cover. (She had a small part at about 4 or 5 years old.)

I didn’t realize I’d never reviewed HOME SWEET HOME. Next year, I guess. It probly would’ve been more fun than BODY COUNT, a thoroughly mediocre and largely uneventful low budget home invasion thriller, its one benefit being its recognizable cast. Daniel (Justin Theroux two years before MULLHOLLAND DR.) is bringing his girlfriend Susanne (Alyssa Milano two years after EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE) to meet and spend Thanksgiving with his very rich family, who he hates. They’re all much more snooty than him and ask him condescending questions about his job and if he’s still in “that cult,” which he clarifies was “Buddhist study group.” His drunk brother Justin (Nicholas Walker, Santa Barbara, who I honestly mistook for Linden Ashby the entire time) is particularly insulting, but somehow Susanne is nice about it to the point that it seems like they might end up together. (read the rest of this shit…)

Alone

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

By now most people around here are familiar with John Hyams, director of UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION (2009) and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012). For a decade now we’ve scratched our heads wondering how those two genuinely visionary masterpieces of contemporary action didn’t bring Hyams to the attention of Hollywood gatekeepers who could’ve certainly used his skills making mid-budget action movies or thrillers, to say nothing of their big video game adaptations and terminators and what not. But without their dumb asses he’s managed to make a Cung Le vehicle I really like called DRAGON EYES (2012) and the 2018 comedy ALL SQUARE (which I just discovered is on Hulu), and the rest of the time has found plenty of work in television.

He put some of his sensibilities into the SyFy zombie series Z Nation, including an episode that’s mostly an extended chase scene and battle, and moreso in the more serious Netflix prequel series Black Summer. If you’ve checked out that show (and I recommend you do), you won’t be surprised that he can make a clean, elegant, deeply scary thriller like ALONE, which was released to digital platforms Friday after being well received at the virtual Fantasia Film Festival. It’s his simplest and least weird movie, all the better to show off his finely tuned suspense set pieces, enhanced by strong acting and a pervasively ominous atmosphere. And it’s very involving, making us feel like we’re there, whether “there” is in a parking lot at night watching truckers pull up to use a restroom, or high up in the trees listening to their brittle fibers creak as they bend in the breeze. (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer of 1985 intro + Gotcha!

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Technically summer doesn’t start for more than a month. But it’s beginning to feel like summertime – a time to sit back and unwind. The sun has been coming out, people have been wearing shorts, barbecues are probly happening in states that will have new Covid-19 outbreaks in 2-3 weeks, and it could even be argued that the hardcore dance is getting a little bit out of control.

One major thing is missing: the summer movie season. We were expecting to have NO TIME TO DIE, A QUIET PLACE PART II, BLACK WIDOW, WONDER WOMAN 1984, CANDYMAN, TOP GUN: MAVERICK, the GHOSTBUSTERS thing, THE FRENCH DISPATCH, arguably MORBIUS. And F9 would’ve been coming out Friday! Can you believe that? TENET and MULAN are still planned for release in July, but I’m skeptical. It’s up in the air how many theaters will be reopened by then, or especially how many people will feel safe enough to go to them.

It’s not something I ever considered before. Watching a zombie movie or a Godzilla or something, I never thought, “Oh shit, there were probly huge blockbuster movies that had to be postponed because of that!” Come to think of it in OMEGA MAN he had to watch WOODSTOCK, which was about a year old. He didn’t get to see DIRTY HARRY, SHAFT, BILLY JACK or ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES. They probly never came out in that world.

This strange reality of The Year Without a Summer Movie Season has me even more anxious to throw myself into a retrospective series. I think I got as much or more out of my 1989 revisit last year and ’98 the year before that than I did watching new movies in theaters. A good retrospective series feels like a type of time travel to me. There’s definitely a nostalgia, a reconjuring of excitement I may have forgotten from however old I was at the time in question. But also I’m watching more movies than I probly did back then, all in order of when they came out, giving more thought to the context, being able to see that era with the hindsight of history and the perspective of an adult. It’s always fun to discover things I didn’t realize back then, or didn’t experience, or to respond to things differently. (read the rest of this shit…)