Written & Directed By: Richard Linklater Cinematography: Shane F. Kelly

Editor: Sandra Adair

Cast: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Glenn Powell, Bill Sage, Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux 

The story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives. It both captures the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and the lesser-seen bottom up perspective of what it was like from an excited kid’s perspective, living near NASA but mostly watching it on TV like hundreds of millions of others. It’s ultimately both an exacting re-creation of this special moment in history and a kid’s fantasy about being plucked from his average life in suburbia to secretly train for a covert mission to the moon.

This film feels more like a loving living memory. That is more an autobiographical look back at childhood in 1969. Nothing about the culture, times, and family life of those times.

As obviously this is a project close to writer/director Richard Linklater’s heart. Where the side plot of a kid experiencing space exploration is to give the film more of a center and a kind of big plot to attract audiences.

That eventually makes good on the promise of that story but is treated more as an afterthought. As not only is it more wish fantasy but also is kind of a metaphor for the last days of innocence before getting older and into not only adulthood but young adulthood where responsibilities pile up and things become more concrete. Though it is handled here as just another episode as part of the character’s youth. 

The film uses rotoscoping animation, a technique the director has used before in previous films WAKING LIFE, and his adaptation of A SCANNER DARKLY. Here it is used more personally which gives the film and its characters a more vibrant life and flexibility that might have been harder to create in live-action. Plus it allows for that time to seem more like an otherworldly fantasy. 

Though its use here is not as outlandish and surreal as his previous projects with it. 

The film is impressive but never quite exciting even though it isn’t designed to be. It more feels like the Billy Joel song WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. With it being a pop song to groove to but also made up of so many historical references you want to look up the ones you don’t know. So in effect a kind of lesson of sorts also of all that has happened since then. A nice memorial to those times.

Grade: B


Written & Directed By: Mark Pavia 
Cinematography By: Tyler Lee Cushing 
Editor: Lana Wolverton 

Cast: Cassidy Freeman, Mackenzie Vega, Lora-Martinez-Cunningham, Bill Sage, Dre Davis, Steven Michael Quezada 

In a small New Mexico town, a 17-year-old high school girl who just got her driver’s license gets into her first fender bender, innocently exchanging her personal information with an apologetic stranger. Later that stormy night, she is joined in her desolate suburban home by a couple of her school friends who try their best to make a night out of it, only to be visited by the stranger she so willingly handed all of her information to — a terrifying and bizarre serial killer who stalks the country’s endless miles of roads and streets with his old rusty car, hungrily searching for his next unsuspecting victim.

To tell you the truth this plays is purely typical of a slasher film.

The advertising feels like a mislead to get the title as it seems like this will be some Troy of HIGHWAYMAN type thriller where the slasher’s car will be his primary weapon. When actually it is how he chooses and at first strokes his victims. Using a small crash as an excuse to trade insurance information to use to stalk them and then murder them.

During this film way, too many questions came up. I am sure he is planned for a series so maybe that is why we never really get a motive. As a killing machine he also always seemed ready to take on as many people as needed.

The film seems to need victims as it uses a flimsy excuse for the final GIRL to have a few friends over. Whose purpose only seems to be to add more gore and violence to the movie.

I kind of felt like the killer cheated to a degree. As it is understandable why in life a killer would want to make his job easier by drugging his prey, but in horror movie terms it feels dishonest and likes cheating. It is literally like shooting ducks in a barrel. They have no way to fight back or escape. So of course you are going to win.

The film also just seems mercilessly cruel to the cast. Most of whom are still teenagers. Maybe the film brought that out more than other horror movies where usually the victims are teens but you feel nothing. Maybe the cast here actually looks and acts the part more believably. Though their deaths are typical, you still feel something when they die a certain sadness.

It might be that his cast shows a certain innocence so that they are believable and feel more like victims as there is barely anything they can do against this unexpected attack. Barely any defense.

The film also luckily doesn’t specialize in everything. Nor add sex and nudity where it isn’t needed. The film is lean and to the point. It does seem to have a reliance on female victims washing beforehand, but that might be a tease to fans expecting more than what is actually being offered.

The look of the killer is certainly iconic using thick leather as armor and a mask that while basic looks like a Deranged alien or escaped demon from hell. The film reminds me of THE COLLECTOR series only not as intricate and believable as the work of one person.

At times the film sets the mood and is properly claustrophobic but also in some scenes the score and tone feel. It is only monotonous but over the top. So that while it feels airless it also feels laughable to a degree.

Director Mario Pavia also directed the horror movie and Stephen king of film adaptation of THE NIGHT FLIER (In fact this is the first film he has directed in 19 years) and just as that film was dark and had an upsetting ending. He continues the tradition here. Don’t know if that was to set up sequels or make his mark and have the film be different. It does help the film. As the ending is the one remarkable thing that doesn’t necessarily feel routine.

Grade: C-