VIVARIUM (2020)

Directed By: Lorcan Finnegan
Written By: Garrett Shanley
Story By: Lorcan Finnegan & Garett Shanley 
Cinematography: MacGregor
Editor: Tony Cranston

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, Jonathan Aris, Eanna Hardwicke

A young couple is thinking about buying their starter home. And to this end, they visit a real estate agency where they are received by a strange sales agent, who accompanies them to a new, mysterious, peculiar housing development to show them a single-family home. There they get trapped in a surreal, maze-like nightmare.


The film Plays as a mystery with no answers though gives you everything you need to know in the opening scene 

While the film Certainly has many ideas and great visuals in what feels like a kind of fantasy tale. It becomes just as frustrating as the characters feel throughout watching it.

As the films give us a mystery to keep us intrigued but that is about it. As Jesse Eisenberg’s character, it keeps digging itself deeper though it offers no explanation. Which ends up feeling like why should we care and with offering no kind of answers but trying to make it more mysterious it gets annoying and we can’t even feel much for these characters who are trapped.

After a while, it feels like this film is mostly a showcase for the director and screenwriter rather than making them engaging or logical. 

It seems rather more interested in impressing rather than being a story or even a film. So that it can leave the audience cold And unfulfilled. 

The film gives clues that this is rather weird by the make-up and loom of the real estate agent. So it alerts us that there is something afoot.

The scenes with them Raising a child who is supposed to be a mimic but you can tell His voice even when normal is a voice overtakes you out of the film.

The film has an intriguing central idea. Then just seems hesitant to move on and instead just chooses not to explain its point and Leaves it to be freaky or weird and visual. So never making its points.

Which can be intriguing but here it seems Lazy. As for all that they show and tell they can’t back it up and would have to explain why. That it might not all fit together.

So instead the movie comes off as a study that we are watching personally for what? Who knows but that is not what you expect and makes it all the more challenging. So that it plays almost like a fictional documentary only more observant as we never get any explanations or testimonials.

It’s A shame as both actors I truly like but the way it plays anyone could have played these roles. As they are front and center they don’t have much to play with and could be anybody. They are barely likable and don’t have any personality. 

Grade: C+

NOCTURNE (2020)

Written & Directed By: Zu Quirke CInematography: Carmen Cabana
Editor: Andrew Drazek

Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Julie Benz, Rodney To, Jacques Colimon, Ivan Shaw

An incredibly gifted pianist makes a Faustian bargain to overtake her older sister at a prestigious institution for classical musicians.


You have seen this so many times before that this feels more like something that could have been wrapped up in an anthology episode.

While the film presents Itself with a character who cares what everyone else thinks too much, doing it in an artistic ambition might be the only original aspect. As it presents a character too shy and who has worked all her life only to be considered second best or even slightly above average and whose main competitor is always her sister who she naturally takes a backseat to. The film shows that with age what might be special when you get diminished with age if you haven’t done anything. With it or are still in the same place 

It plays off more like an episode than a full-length movie. As it seems like there is some padding used more to dive deep into psychosis. Rather than furthering the story making it come off more dramatic and a character study of one character where all the others come off as one-note.

As the film comes off more like a drama that uses a kind of supernatural element to make the film come off as a thriller that reveals itself to maybe be some kind of psychosis and mental illness eating away at the character or all because of some kind of supernatural curse. It can also be seen as an obsession passed on from one to another that causes madness or preys on their weaknesses and allows them to interpret their weaknesses into some kind of mythology and allows them success. 

The film also feels like it was only really made because they had an up and comer in the lead Sydney Sweeney and this film gives her a chance to star in a more genre-leading role and see what her potential is as a lead and if it had made it to theaters the box office, but with her in it. It helped secure funding. 

This is a sibling rivalry tale that takes it to another level. Even though really it is only one sibling jealous of the other and the more successful one turning petty when the tables are turned. As she is not used to losing.

In the end, this feels like a very special episode of a series rather than a shocking thriller.

Grade: C

THE NEW MUTANTS (2020)

Directed By: Josh Boone
Written By: Josh Boone & Knate Lee
Cinematography: Peter Deming 
Editor: Andrew Buckland, Robb Sullivan & Matthew Rundell 

Cast: Blu Hunt, Alice Braga, Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Adam Beach 

Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.


Had high hopes for this film when it was originally supposed to be released. As in the advertisements, it seemed to offer something different when it came to a superhero film. One that was more of a horror film.

While the film resembles one. It doesn’t scare or fascinate. In fact, it feels more like a video game for the number of CGI effects used and more aimed at teenagers for how clean it comes off being.

Especially as it plays more like a haunted house film That just happens to involve a laboratory.

One can understand with all the supposed reshooting and re-edits that delayed the film. Which is supposed to sharpen the movie or at least make it better, but it seems to have sucked all the originality out of it.

The actors also use a variety of f accents that don’t seem to always stick. There is one. Performance that is so bad it’s never believable and amazed it stayed in and in so many scenes. As it comes off more cartoonish than probably intended.

The movie also comes off a lot simpler than it should.

The film had certain darkness that hangs over it that would work in a horror film or if it truly meant something but as the film plays like a dramatic thriller. It feels more artificial. So that the angst that the film tries to display feels more scripted than natural.

All of this is a shame as this was also one of my favored comic book series when I used to collect comic books as a teen. This movie doesn’t come close to it in any way, shape, or form. In fact, it feels more random than anything else 

Some of the disappointment might be that the film feels a bit unfinished; it offers a nice short story, but holds the ideas for something bigger and more. That could have been a different kind of superhero movie. Though it feels like any development for something original was stopped in its tracks or just cut out. As it feels constantly on the edge of something then stops way short. Which just leaves a major disappointment. 

Grade: C-

UNHINGED (2020)


Directed By: Derrick Borte 
Written By: Carl Ellsworth
Cinematography: Brendan Galvin 
Editor: Michael McCusker, Steve Mirkovich & Tim Mirkovich 

Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Jimmi Simpson, Gabriel Bateman, Austin P. McKenzie, Juliene Joyner, Stephen Louis Grush, Anne Leighton

A divorced mother honks impatiently at a deranged middle-aged stranger at a red light while running late on her way to work. His road rage escalates to horrifyingly psychotic proportions as he becomes single-mindedly determined to teach her a deadly lesson for provoking him.


How the mighty have fallen. This is purely a star vehicle gig for Russell Crowe. Who instead of being the hero is more the unstoppable and unstable villain.

Who is clearly a psycho from the first scene only set off by a case of road rage. 

The shock of seeing Crowe once svelte and muscular packed on so much weight might seem to make him seem manageable but actually makes him much more threatening. As his size shows that he can easily overpower and outweigh others.

He comes across as the human embodiment of jaws. As he is just as vicious and menacing only we see him throughout.

What this film seems to take delight in are violence and punishment. As he takes it upon himself to exterminate all those who the Main Character his victim holds dear and he doesn’t seem to care who sees him or knows.

His character seems to be especially vicious or at least more joyful when it comes to the battering of women in this film, which the film doesn’t hold back from. Though he is pretty much that way towards all who cross his path. It is just more shocking when he is attacking the female characters.

The film plays pretty basic so that the only thing of note is the star and the violence. While watching it. It reminds the audience of films such as KIDNAP or THE CALL with Halle berry. Where the films seem made more to keep them relevant at the box office but are so familiar they offer nothing original. Except for basic bonehead thrillers for a new generation. 

The types of films they make hoping it will make a quick buck at the box office that weekend and offer an alternative to whatever blockbuster comes out that weekend.

What the film does have also going for it is that it is one of the few mid-budgeted films being made. Which is an increasing rarity these days.

This is a good enough movie. That will keep you entertained while you watch it and continuously roll your eyes. Though as soon as it is over you will begin to forget it. 

Grade: D+

PIECES OF A WOMAN (2020)



Directed By: Kornel Mundruczo
Written By: Kata Weber
Cinematography: Benjamin Loeb
Editor: David Jancso

Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia Lebouf, Molly Parker, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Jimmie Fails 

When a young mother’s home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.


This film has a tour de force lead performance by Vanessa Kirby. We see her in all of her glory and despair. The rest of the cast is great.

The opening third of the movie is intense emotionally and amazingly acted. Then in the second act while we see how each member of the couple deals with grief and the effect it has on those around them. In the background the film has a little courtroom drama brewing.

Then in the third act, we deal with only the aftermath but acceptance, especially of secrets revealed and acts that can’t be taken back. All the whole the film never wants to release the tension. As the film stays a docudrama in every sense of the term that it becomes Cassavetes-Esque in trying to expose raw nerves.

The problem is that it feels that way it feels more set up and more like an acting exercise than what it is trying to be. 

So much so that while you are watching it you can’t help but wonder if this is artistic storytelling it is it more trying hard to get awards. As this is a story that needs to be told, it is one that is told to conjure up an emotional story and conflict. 

Just as one character has an affair and it just so happens to be the other’s, family member. We are introduced to how they met, but it just feels more convenient to the film. Rather than natural. For all the naturalness emotionally the film tries to present. The situations feel more set up and false. Especially In What they are trying to present.

Even as another character seems to have an affair, but doesn’t make a show about it. It gives us enough information that we know what is going on and hints at the reasons why. Without spelling it out for us. Whereas the other is sloppy and we witness not the act and conversations afterwards. Though in each case it more matches the style of the characters. 

As the film doesn’t offer much happiness and joy. Let our characters make their mark or presence felt. Usually through despair.

The film’s piece-de-resistance is the 25 minute unbroken shot of Kirby’s character giving birth.

In the end this film is about painful truths and emotional intensity. That by the end does offer a release.

Grade: B

FATALE (2020)

Directed By: Deon Taylor

Written By: David Loughery

Cinematography: Dante Spinotti

Editor: Eric L. Beason & Peck Prior

Cast: Hillary Swank, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter, Damaris Lewis, Tyrin Turner, Danny Pino, Geoffrey Owens, David Holpin, Sam Daly 

After a one-night stand, a successful married man finds himself entangled in a cunning police detective’s latest investigation.


This is a film I could see more getting made out of desperation or at least being seen out of that same feeling. As this seems the cheapest kind of entertainment when there might not be anything else to watch so you settle for it.

The film seems to hate or villainous women throughout. As there seems to not be a single positive female character. As the major ones are conniving, cheating or manipulative, and downright evil.

While one is happy to see multiple best actress Oscar winner Hillary swank in a leading role and she is good in the role but she definitely deserves better. As it seems Hollywood never quite knew how to use her or never seemed to find a stream of roles that worked with her strengths. As one of her talents is being a chameleon so she can fit into most roles. The problem is that leads her to have a light presence when a strong one is needed. 

The film does offer her a kind of Fatale role as the title tries to showcase her. Though even as she has a glamorous entrance and looks the part the movie has her in an initial seduction scene where we barely see any action and then another sec scene that is sudden and rushed. Far from being sensual. Which can only remind some of her role in THE BALCK DAHLIA the last time she was in a more erotic role. Which unfortunately seemed to damage a lot of the stars of that film. 

This is the type of movie in classic Hollywood would be more of a throwaway meant to bring together either studio contract stars who were on the way out and appeared out of contractual obligation or it would be a movie meant to bring two superstars together in the big screen and no matter how silly the film the audience was more there for the star power. 

The film goes in many different directions where it seems to confuse itself as to what exactly its Intentions are, for instance, the event that causes their reunion ends up being more intricate. Though we never even quite solve it.

It might be because the film tries to add so many different elements. Then wants to make sense or try to explain different motivations but has a hard time out of how ridiculous it has gotten through all of this is done with a straight face. Where by each passing scene it feels like it is losing its audience. As it comes across more like a season of a soap opera rolled into one movie. 

Shot by Dante Spinotti the film looks great as do the locations and actors. Trying to make it stand out colorfully and filmed more like a noir. 

So busy trying to titillate that it’s credibility flies . As things are heightened but with little payoff. 

The film Seems to have a happy cookie-cutter ending. Even though for all the entanglements that seem rather impossible. 

Grade: F

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (2020)

Written & Directed: Emerald Fennell 
Cinematography: Benjamin Kracun 
Editor: Frederic Thoraval 

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverene Cox, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Loren Paul, Christopher Lowell, Steve Monroe

A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.


The film seeks to try to make its points over and over again that feel like overkill and preaching to a certain extent.

The film manages to surprise the audience using exploitation expectations though giving something else entirely.

This film would have worked fine enough if it was what one was expecting a revenge tale against so-called nice guys and bad guys alike.

Though the film addresses more and it tries to be a film that inspires discussion and becomes more of a think piece than necessarily Just a film. This is fine as long as it offers more arguments and evidence for what it seems to want to spark conversations. 

Some aspects are left vague as we never really See what happens once she is down with her encounters with these men and are never really told what happens after. Is it just confrontation as a kind of exposing and warning to them? Does she do anything violent to them and if the just warning does she really Get revenge and does she have a backup security measure if these guys decide to get violent?

Even with her little notebook which she seems to make markings in of another case or victim. What Is it all for?

Not to mention afterwards though it seems to happen around the same town and area. It never comes back to her until the film needs it to, which comes off as a bit too convenient.

The film offers interesting twists but while there is a certain level of guilt. We still might wonder why she takes on this mission. 

Her revenge schemes are thought out, cruel, and make their points. Even though most men are made out to be villains throughout there are some women who are just as guilty in their ambivalence.

The film seems to make a point against nice guys being as bad or worse than predators. As they see themselves above it all and defend or support women. Though deep down they hold the same attitudes as those predators and believe because of their other good deeds that they are somehow owed love or a woman. Even as these nice guys already seem kind of predatory or at least douchey beforehand. 

Especially by casting actors, we have seen as the nice guy nerdish characters in other films and television shows. Who here makes cameos or has a scene or two Then disappear. That truly only one character actually does surprise me.

This also gives the film a whiff of superiority as it comes off more about issues than character. Which for some might feel for some

Preachy and while a film about the issues it presents are welcome. The film isn’t as good to back it up, Or be a good example.

Nice to see comedian Bo Burnham Giving more of a meaty supporting role. 

This is a revenge tale that takes comfort in being in and having the rules but acts like it is better than them. When it actually might be a little smarter and more discreet in its handling And treatment of the Material.

Which helps the film not be as exploitative. As the character and scenes aren’t made erotic or sexualized. It comes off as more of a new normal get more through a feminine gaze. Though strangely in its set-up and backgrounds it feels almost like it’s taking place on a kind of dreamland as it is real but feels artificial, more pretty than anything. 

The design of the film is remarkable and quite brightly colored to offset the dark behaviors and characters.

The film’s strength is more in its surprising and unpredictable third act. 

This is also a movie that loses some points due to hype. As ever since hearing about the film before it Came out wanted to see it and heard nothing but good things to the point of it’s Multiple academy award nominations And win for best original screenplay. But not after finally seeing it. That hype hurt the film in my eyes. 

Even when trying to put that aside others might have Been lucky to Discover it to admire it for what it is. (The best way To see any film) But coming into the film with preconceived thoughts. It doesn’t live up to the prose exactly. As it isn’t horrible but not as good as expected though better than average. 

It feels like a lifetime movie due to the can be anywhere, Polished no violence but always a threat of it and actions mostly Done on theory with big histrionics and a cast more known for appearances on television. 

The film even introduces an idea that might even work as a sequel 

GRADE: B-

ALL MY FRIEND’S ARE DEAD (2020)

Written, Edited & Directed By: Jan Belcl 
Cinematography: Cezary Stolecki 

Cast: Julia Wieniawa, Adam Turczyk, Nikodem Rozbicki, Aleksandra Pisula, Monika Krzywkowska, Szymon Raszak, Michael Sikorski, Paulina Galazka, Adam Bobik

During the New Year’s Eve party of a bunch of friends, a series of crazy events brings out secrets, breaks hearts and leads to a shocking ending.


This film plays out like a 1980’s party film where a horror film finally starts to come into play in bits and pieces. Due more to the more macabre deaths and subject matter.

Even the soundtrack has nothing but purely 1980’s music on it. 

The film is supposed to be horror or advertised that way. This plays more like a bleak comedy of errors and misunderstandings.

The film is sex-filled with acts and/or talk of it that leans a bit into the exploitation zone, but it doesn’t feel as dirty or tawdry here. 

At first, you in the audience are waiting and looking at what will set everything off abs start the killings. As the opening Lets us know the aftermath. So that the film is one big flashback. 

The opening doesn’t make the film look too promising. As it is a totally different tone from the eventual film. 

The film is an ensemble following different characters. Each character here is more of a type then it feels fully dimensional. Mroe set up to be a piece in the game that This film seems to want to play.

The film is vulgar and juvenile. The kind of film the filmmakers seemed to aim for and the film that the characters all resemble. As it definitely has energy but is not for everyone. As at times it is very lowbrow but takes you by surprise. 

It feels more like a male fantasy then anything else. As there is plenty here that feels like it belongs in a sex comedy with most of the female characters willing or looking for sex. 

Each character and situation seem to influence each other as they cross paths. Making this a truly crazy and deadly house party. 

The last act where everything goes bonkers abs becomes officially a bloodbath. Where as what starts it all off makes this grill like an extended TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode. Never exactly going where you expect it to. 

This is a more audience-pleasing blockbuster that lacks depth but tired to appear to have some at times.

I know I might sound down on the film but actually, it’s a simple film with a good follow-through that keeps you interested and enthused. 

GRADE: C+

SLAXX (2020)

Directed By: Elza Kephart Written by: Elza Kephart & Patricia Gomez Zlatar Cinematography: Steve Asselin Editor: Miranda Ouellet

Cast: Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bjojani, Kenny Wong, Tianna Nori, Jessica B. Hill, Erica Anderson, Hanneke Talbot 

When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store, it is up to Libby, an idealistic young salesclerk, to stop its bloody rampage.


This horror-comedy is better than the premise might have you believe. As a film about a killer pair of jeans can be.

Obviously, this film is the anti-SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. As the film has a ridiculous premise but manages to not be as embarrassing as it might seem.

The film is definitely a satire on consumerism. As the main directive to for these characters to sell these jeans and it becomes more of a lifestyle. As we are served a diverse cast who all have more of a liberal outlook, but remain either bitchy or unlikeable.

As this is almost paint by numbers you can tell who is going to die in what order and who the eventual final girl is going to be. Luckily the filmmakers make it fun to go through all the usual cliches and keep the audience entertained and invested.

While the film offers gore it still feels. For like a lite comedy. It feels more full of fluff rather than anything substantial or strong. This is fine as it keeps the film moving along at a fast speed for a movie that is under 90 minutes.

This is the type of film you more watch to see how creative the kills will be.

The first two-thirds of the film is horror with a cynical comedic edge. The third act is where the film all of a sudden tries to be more serious and point out issues of child labor abuses. It is understood the film has been building to that point throughout and chooses to take it more seriously. Though it does make for an abrupt change of tone. 

It gives the movie something to stand on with such a silly premise. That makes the film more of a tragedy and gives it the strength of some kind of legitimacy. 

Grade: C+

COME TO DADDY (2020)

Directed By: Ant Timpson
Written By: Toby Harvard 
Cinematography: Daniel Katz
Editor: Dan Kircher

Cast: Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Madeline Sami, Martin Donovan, Michael Smiley, Garfield Wilson 

A man in his thirties travels to a remote cabin to reconnect with his estranged father.


This is a movie that will take you by surprise and keeps you guessing. Don’t expect a big change in your thinking type of film but more than a secretive kid in the corner who shocks you with his talents but still seems creepy. As each time you believe you have it figured out it adds something. A film best to go in blind. 

As one of the main desires of the film is to keep you off-center. So that you end up just as confused as the main character. The twists come not only from the plot but from the characters. Though the film does have a dark sense of humor. 

This is a movie that gradually adds things as it goes along and still Manages to stay small-scale. Even though at times the film seems to be going towards the supernatural or at least spooky. It still manages to stay somewhat believable though it has its quirks.

It also feels a little hipster-Ish when it comes to the main character and its Style. Even if it had a more pure demented heart. 

This film feels full of ideas and imagination that feels lost. As it more feels like an oddity that more belongs in a previous decade but is oddly welcome in this time period and quickly sets itself up in modern-day. Yet managing not to depend on so many modern-day conveniences.

Though ultimately it does leave you a little disappointed because as it keeps building towards bigger things and you expect something huge but after a while, it seems to calm itself and stop. Then You realize this is it and you kind of were hoping it would keep going.

It also feels like at times they are making it up as they go along and try to work more on characters than story. 

Have to wonder sometimes if Elijah Wood internationally goes after movies that leave him tortured and somehow mutilated after this and the film PAWN SHOP CHRONICLES.

Grade: C