Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: Lights Out

2016 Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia

After having a supernatural experience, a young boy reaches out to his older sister Rebecca. It is son discovers that whatever is haunting them has a strange link to their mother and Rebecca's own troubled past.

Lights Out was close to the top of my most anticipated film list this year, with horror veteran James Wan on hand to steer this latest title down dark paths I couldn't wait to see what lay in store.

The entity was easily the star of the show. The sense of mystery was kept almost all the way till the credits rolled. The ghostly figure would be lurking and twitching in the shadows and even when it was not visible, the paranoid sense that it was never too far away was gripping. It was always uncertain just what the creatures limits were, could it fit inside the smallest of shadows, just how much light was needed to vanquish it, could it ever be stopped? Frail and gangly in appearance with only the white's of it's eyes glowing made it a memorable and fearsome creature, possibly even a contender to be a new horror icon.

Acting was fairly thin unfortunately, Maria Bello doing a good job of playing a conflicted but caring mother role. The problems mainly lay with main heroine Rebecca. She may of had her younger brother's safety in mind but came across as lazy and selfish, displaying almost no emotion during some scenes then suddenly bursting into tears or having moments of immense bravery. This felt a little disjointed and didn't make her a hero to root for.

With the entity only able to move and attack it's prey in pitch darkness it forced the heroes to think strategically. This gave way to some really clever scenes in which the entity would cleverly adapt to the defences put in place and hide in the smallest pockets of darkness. There was a real sense of paranoia with this film, just how dark to a spot have to be to house the creature, could the characters live the rest of their lives with the lights on!? A particularly clever scene involved an unsuspecting police offer shooting at the entity only for it to close in on him with each subsequent shot. A lot of attention to detail and thought had been put into the scares and it showed. Each encounter was like a puzzle that heroes had to solve. You barely had chance to catch your breathe between these paranormal assaults.

The Verdict

Lights Out is a well made and clever horror film. The acting may be somewhat below average but the terrifying entity and frequent scares more than make up for it. Keep your lights on for this one!


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Review: Hardcore Henry

2016, Tim Roth, Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett

A man called Henry awakes with no memory only to find he is half machine, his girlfriend/scientist is kidnapped and he use his special set of abilities to track down those responsible. While that may seen like a fairly tried and tested plot, the less is more approach isn't always the best.

Hardcore Henry is a simple film and it openly revels in this fact. The entire thing is filmed in a first person perspective as if we are looking through Henry's eyes. This makes way for plenty of up close and personal shootings, stabbings, beatings and any other for of violence you can inflict on another human being. This may sound like a an action lover's dream but the frequently in which these occur make each kill feel meaningless. The character of Henry is so well matched against hordes and hordes of useless opponents you can never really feel he is ever in any danger. Did a tank full of bad guys just appear out of nowhere? (this actually happens in the film) no problem, I'm sure he'll escape somehow. *yawns*

There is a small cast of characters, we spend most of the time in henry's shoes and his unlikely side kick Jimmy. Without hinting at spoilers Jimmy appears throughout the film in many different 'forms. One scene he is a lunatic punk rock, next minute he is a rough riding motorcyclist but his shining moment comes in the end sequence of the film where he takes on a Dad's Army officer type of role. Sharlto Copley is the star of the show and absolutely nails every one of these little performances. The Villain of the story Akan, leaves little to be desired. He is about as one dimensional as villains get, he has telekinetic powers (with no explanation as to why at all) and has a plot to build a robot army. I Felt this character was totally out of place and would have better suited an early 90's episode of Power Rangers.

Soundtrack is one area where everything comes together, a nice mix of electro with some rock and roll classics thrown in for good measure accompany nearly all the violence. I may have been desensitised to the killing and even a little bored by the first 30 minutes, but watching Henry dispatch goons whilst high on adrenaline to the sound of Queens's Don't Stop Me Now, is enough to put a smile on any sicko's face.

The Verdict

Hardcore Henry is an ambitious film and leaves you little time to get your breathe. It is accompanied by a good soundtrack and a hilarious sidekick. It's relentless pace and ridiculous body count will please action fans at first, but ultimately feels tired and stale by the time the credits roll.