Tag Archives: Horror Movie Review

Truth or Dare (2018)

DIRECTOR Jeff Wadlow
STARRING Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron
RELEASE DATE April 13th, 2018
RUNTIME 100 Minutes

Olivia, Lucas and a group of their college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. While there, a stranger convinces one of the students to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare with the others. Once the game starts, it awakens something evil — a demon which forces the friends to share dark secrets and confront their deepest fears. The rules are simple but wicked — tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is good.

It’s like including the Blumhouse bit is a seal of freshness* these days, because I can see how a movie about college kids trapped in a murderous game of Truth or Dare might be an exercise in cheap scares and even cheaper effects. Add the name Blumhouse and you get the opposite, a horror movie that, in spite of its PG-13 rating, is effective and original. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it.

The film is exactly what the tagline and trailer says it is, but it’s also so much more. It has some unique kills, strong dramatic tension and surprisingly emotional depth and heart to it. Director Jeff Wadlow uses sly camera angles and the score to help these along, a lingering shot of two characters indicates a hidden lust here or the beaming face of the girlfriend in full frame while the possibly unfaithful boyfriend has his back to us. It’s well done and carefully considered choices like this that subtly let us into our protagonists lives. It’s moments like these that make Wadlow’s kills so strong, he subscribes to the less is more school of thought in this film and his deaths are quick, brutal and poignant. Not a death is wasted, all of them help to further the plot and provide us with a resolution that not only comments on society as a whole, but is a lesson in abject hypocrisy. It’s that ending, especially when coupled with a previous exchange in the beginning of the film, that made the whole thing worth watching for me.

Admittedly, there are a few faults in logic and way over the top melodrama but that is to be expected in a film that is aimed the current group adolescents, teens, tweens, and preteens. To give it some context, this is this generations Final Destination. Far different in execution but similar in theme, young folks confronting death and doing whatever they can to escape. Along the way, it speaks to its target audience about happiness, hooking up, cheating and all that drama, getting old (them younger children really find the elderly unnerving), and whether or not you have what it takes to be a great person or are you the ultimate friend. Technology is referenced and utilized and the whole thing will most definitely resonate with the crowd in that regard as well. In short it’s a perfect date night flick for you college kids. So go see that movie instead of bothering me and stay my lawn, you little monsters!

And yes, while today’s disaffected youth runs to get tickets, I can tell those who are left that this is truly solid and effective horror film absolutely worth a watch if you have  some time for it this weekend. It’s a supernatural horror with a lot to say about today’s youth culture, technology, and our overwhelming need to be connected and true to our friends—specifically the lengths to which we go to protect them, even if they might not need protecting. Jeff Wadlow has turned in a product unlike anything he has done before and might be declaring himself as a candidate new Master of Horror (he’d be joining a list that includes fellow newcomers the likes of James Wan, Mike Flanagan and Andy Muschietti). I may be overstating a lot, but I was consistently shocked by how high quality this film was, far exceeding my expectations going (far better than it any reason to be, is what kept running through my mind. It’s true, this is a hokey concept but done with a 100% serious bent). This was a very fun and very fun flick, full of originality that the die hard horror hound can appreciate while still being familiar enough not turn off the broader audiences and I can say unequivocally that is absolutely worth any your time you’d like to spare.

This film has solidified that Blumhouse knows horror. I will give anything they are willing to put their name on a fair shake from this point forward.

A Quiet Place (2018)

DIRECTOR John Krasinski
STARRING Emily Blunt, John Krasinski
RELEASE DATE April 6th, 2018
RUNTIME 95 Minutes

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

A Quiet Place is not a popcorn flick. Let’s just get that out of the way first. In fact you want to get most of your masticating done during the previews, as you will be slack-jawed and awe-stricken or tight-lipped and anxious for the roughly two hour run time of the film.

A Quiet Place is a nearly perfect horror film.  It’s also a perfect thriller and a very good bit of science fiction. In summation it’s a very very very good film. One that you need to go see as soon as possible.

Written, directed, produced, and starring John Krasinski, this film is something very unique. It’s an exercise in precision filmmaking and laser focused writing. None of the scares in the film are unearned and none are played on the cheap. In fact, this film shines in that it sets up each gag perfectly, telegraphing what is important and what is detrimental to our protagonists, even if they have no idea how a glass lantern or a loud raccoon or a loose nail could change their lives. Krasinski builds the tension to unbearable heights and the audience is swept away by what the mundane events on screen slowly collapsing into a nightmare scenario from which there may be no escape or hope of surviving. Krasinski, in only his second feature, has achieved the heights of Hitchcock and Shyamalan with his unrelenting and unforgiving lens work. This is a film that demands your attention and once it has that attention, it will not release it for the duration of the film.   

That’s the how, the why is alien beasties. They are unstoppable killing machines that hunt by sound primarily. These creatures are terrifying and lethal and incredibly well designed. But that is exactly what I am trying to convey here. The creatures are only part of it. They are here and the world is in desperate need of someone who can stop these monsters, but instead there is no savior, the world is ending and they are all just trying to make do. The world that is built and the rules that are established are iron clad here, and that is refreshing. The plot points were created in service to this world, and they exist as part of the overall world building. From sand lined paths to watch fires being burned atop roofs, each and every bit of minutiae serves a purpose. These bits and bobbles are used to build tension to unbearable heights and when the scare or the set-up pays off you can feel the audience around reacting even as you are. It’s masterful manipulation. The sound design is next level as well.

There’s a reason I said that A Quiet Place is not a popcorn flick, it is too quiet to be one. As the film started, I noted that the rustling of bags and the crunching of popcorn ceased as the tension began to build. Even more impressive was the acting on display. Emotions are conveyed in a glance, a whole spectrum of emotions, between husband and wife. The film is mostly told in sign language, a thing our family of protagonists did not have to learn as their daughter is deaf to begin with. Like I said, the whole thing makes perfect sense from beginning to end.  The acting here is top notch. Emotion drips from each and every gaze. The children are great, Krasinski is better but the heavy lifting is done by Emily Blunt. She commanded every scene she was in. More importantly, thanks to the commitment by the actors and the careful plotting of structure of the film, you never doubt that these people are this capable, or that their plans are slowly unraveling despite their best efforts.

Ultimately that’s what this film comes to, control. We have none, and despite everything we try to do, the world winds up disrupting even our best laid plans. It’s what you do next that matters, and you should go see this film as soon as possible.