PLUSH (2013)

Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke 
Written By: Catherine Hardwicke & Arty Nelson 
Cinematography By: Daniel Moder 
Editor: Julia Wong 

Cast: Emily Browning, Xavier Daniel, Cam Giganet, Thomas Dekker, Frances Fisher, Dawn Olivieri, Brandon Jay McLaren, Elizabeth Pena

Mourning the loss of her brother/collaborator, a young rocker struggles to write music while juggling a jealous husband, two kids, and a mysterious new guitarist who will stop at nothing to become the most important person in her life.


How the mighty have fallen, once upon a time Catherine Hardwicke was one of my favorite new directors with the films THIRTEEN and LORDS OF DOGTOWN I believed her to be a great new voice in filmmaking. Then she directed TWILIGHT an already practicing franchise. That would lead to bigger ad better things and her being more in demand. After that film, she still stayed making films centered around youth with films such as RED RIDING HOOD and THE NATIVITY STORY although this film really lends itself to a new low. I don’t know what attracted her to making this film because nothing about It is revolutionary or even interesting. It tries to be so many things or at least tries so many different subjects that it clearly struggles with an exact definition and seems lost, inauthentic and Worse a poseur. While it tries to have a punk rock ethic.

It has a horror ending and beginning. Though in between it plays like an erotic thriller set in the rock n roll music box that is barely erotic and the songs are pretty bad. Though give the film a soundtrack billed to itself.

The sex scenes are thankfully brief, but plentiful. The eroticism only is risqué and general serves it’s purpose in one scene. Even the opening scene really has nothing to do with most of the film until near the end and still offers little explanation.

It doesn’t help that Xavier Daniel and Emily browning have little of any chemistry together on screen. So it’s hard to believe her falling for him at all. There is also a scene where he directs a music video that is really bad and comes across as a student experimental film that we are forced to believe that everyone includes the band who are barely featured in the video thinks is genius. We also never even get to know the rest of the band members who are treated like bored guns though we are supposed I believe this band has been together for 10 years yet act no closer than new co-workers

There is even a sex scene thankfully not focusing on the main actors that feel unnecessary and just out there to spice things up though ends up more awkward and comedic than erotic or purposeful.

The film is predictable especially when we get more and more involved in the case her journalist husband is writing about for VANITY FAIR? Do we think this has anything to do with the rest of the movie for a reason? Of course. Do we think the foreshadowing of showing a ring that before her brother OD’s will come back later on in the film?

Now the film has a modest budget so it can’t all be glamorous and I am wondering is that why one death is more talked about rather than shown. Plus the film talks about the success of the band but never gives is a scale of their popularity are they actual stars trying to make a comeback or a successful indie band. As it seems they mostly play rock clubs instead of big concert venues. The lead singer seems to have money though not a lavish lifestyle. More modest than anything.

In fact, if they are an indie band it is one of the few things the movie did right by showing them as more modest and not millionaires with tons of paparazzi following them.

This film isn’t even good as an erotic thriller level, Like the ridiculous types, you would see late night on cable that was at least fun as they knew what they were. Here everything that feels ridiculous though is treated with utmost seriousness. I won’t even go into the third act reveals.

I was lured by not only director Catherine Hardwicke but also star Emily Browning. She is definitely earning a reputation with me at least of being a good actress, but only in it seems subpar movies as she is usually the best thing in them and I applaud her willingness to be fearless a tale chances on screen. I only wish it was for better films. Not only with this film but also SLEEPING BEAUTY and SUCKER PUNCH. 
I can admit to keeping coming back to her films partially as she has a haunting beauty and I will admit maybe I have a screen crush on her. Though it is harder and harder to look forward to films she is in. Luckily she has LEMONY SNICKET: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS and GOD HELP THE GIRL that are good and decent films that show her talent even the guilty pleasure THE UNINVITED.

Evan Rachel Wood was originally cast in the lead role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and Emily Browning was cast. Which was the same thing that happened with the film SUCKER PUNCH only Browning was replacing Amanda Seyfried. 


I only hope better and beyond for both director and star

Skip it.

Grade: F

THE LOVED ONES (2009)

Written & Directed By: Sean Byrne 
Cinematography By: Simon Chapman 
Editor: Andy Canny  

Cast: Robin McLeavy, Xavier Daniel, Jessica McNamee, Victoria Thaine, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton 

In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high school senior Brent Mitchell wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother’s emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana-fueled world of loud metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with drop-dead good looks, a dream date for the high school prom. But his plans are thwarted by a disturbing series of events that take place under a mirrored disco ball, involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills, and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.



I have been waiting a while for this film. I have read up all on it and have been excited to finally have gotten a chance to watch it. After reading mostly glowing reviews and have to say. It wasn’t what was expected and didn’t match up to my expectations. it Blew way past them. I figured this film would be inventive but over the top crazy violence.

While the film takes well-known cliches and expectations and constantly twists them. So that you are always on your toes as it stays unpredictable. Don’t get me wrong there is violence and some nudity. Yet it is never gratuitous nor exploitive. The film sets up Story, Characters, Mood, Tension, Atmosphere truly effective necessities to make a truly unique and fitting horror film. Where no one nor is anything disposable it all means something.

I was amazed as the film proceeded how the film ties everything together in a nice bow. Each event has consequences that affect the characters and their lives. Especially Psychologically.

Robin McLeavy gives a star-turning performance. That is memorable As the main tormentor.

This film feels like a trip into a nightmare deranged wonderland. The mood set by the film is horror at first but then becomes more darkly comedic and goofy. Then around the midway point, it raises the stakes and it becomes more serious and violent.

That is when the film truly becomes scary. It reminded me of what I thought Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF A THOUSAND corpses would be after seeing the first preview. Where it looked crazy and unpredictable.

Watching the film though it uses small remote locations for the most part. The house that is the main setting is sort of like its own simple funhouse. As the film goes on it keeps raising the stakes and rearranging itself. So it keeps you off balance. 

SPOILER

Enjoyed like the fact that the film doesn’t just present Princess as just usually getting what she wants and this kidnapping is a one-off thing, That she has been mentally pushed to and her father just wanting to give his little girl whatever she wants, but that she and her father are pretty much sociopathic serial killers. With a hinted at Incestuous relationship that so far has yet to be Consummated. I also like the reveal to hint what exactly is wrong with his friend’s prom date.

SPOILER END 

 This is a true original that deserves not only to be seen and discovered as it feels like the type of film you discover on a whim searching for something to watch for the evening. It would be nice if Horror films like these were the type to actually reach cinemas instead of films like CHERNOBYL DIARIES, THE DEVIL INSIDE, Another SAW sequel. Which pollute our cinemas every few weeks, Which feel disposable and unoriginal as they seem to follow the same formula and feel like an extension of a fad. 

This is a film that reeks of skill and passion that went into it. The filmmaker is here to tell a story and illustrate it with visuals, Characters, and dialogue. He achieves that and actually gets reactions and emotions out of the audience. 
Paramount studios were supposed to release it into theaters wide But seemed to try it in a few test markets and speedily dumped it on DVD. It doesn’t realize what a gem it has in its hands and is mishandling it. 

 I look forward to the future works of Director Sean Byrne and the cast. This is a film that is a secret for now but do yourself a favor see it and tell your friends about it. So it can achieve the respect and audience it deserves. 

 GRADE: B+