Run (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

[SPOILERS]

A wheelchair-bound teen suffering from numerous medical conditions, gets a sense of unease for how her mother treats her.

“Searching” director Aneesh Chaganty continues greatly with his thriller talents.

Performances in the film were really good.

Actress Sarah Paulson delivered in portraying a creepy and threatening mother (Diane). Who would do anything to keep her daughter safe and protected under her.

Actress Kiera Allen, who played the daughter (Chloe), was an interesting character. In the film, her character was portrayed as being smart and it truly showed. She was pretty resourceful in trying to escape her mother. Especially with the scene with her crawling on the roof while having her tools. The fact that she was suffering from all sorts of illnesses and disabilities, added layers in making one care for her so much. One slip-up, fall, or a shortness of breath, would have meant doom for her.

Just like with the movie “Searching,” Chaganty did very well at keeping one invested in the characters and story being shown. The snowball effect was handled nice in showcasing bits of information from Chloe trying to unravel the truth. Pieces were effectively shown while not fully revealed until the basement scene before the climax.

Suspense was definitely present in a number of scenes. One would be edge on what the mother would do with her daughter being extra sneaky. In particular in one scene where the mother was sitting still at the kitchen table as she watched her daughter on the computer. That moment was very creepy.

Speaking of the computer, there was a nice little Easter egg regarding the movie “Searching.” With the Microsoft logo appearing while the computer turned on.

Once the truth bomb of Diane not being the biological parent of Chloe hit, one felt a bit of sorrow and understood where the mother was coming from. Though that didn’t phase Chloe for one bit, from there the momentum built until the end.

The one film that this shared the most in common with was “Misery.” The comparisons were strong. But that wasn’t a bad thing. “Run” played things differently with the wheelchair-bound protagonist and again, there were additional layers to her that made one fear for her even more I think.

As far as the PG-13 rating, I don’t think it was too much of a fault. This was a good example of a thriller with that rating that worked. But there were moments where it unfortunately showed. There were a couple times where the dialogue or acting did get cheesy. It broke some of the tension for me. The best example where I rolled my eyes was when Chloe cussed and the scene cut before she finished. That kind of thing I’ve seen in some movies and it’s not warranted. Only in trailers and even there sometimes it’s not warranted.

I thought the number of diseases Chloe had seemed much. I say only two of the ailments were notably used while the rest were hardly utilized, except in the opening montage.

After Chloe finds out that Diane was not her mother, she for some reason still calls her mom. I feel at that point she shouldn’t be calling her that. Now in the revenge motive in the end scene was fine and it worked. But earlier I felt that she should not be saying that word.

Chaganty showcases for his second feature film, that he can direct and write really good thrillers. The performances were great from the two main leads and tension and suspense were effective at keeping one locked on the screen. Highly recommend it.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Uncle Sam (1996) Review

RATING: 1/5

An undead soldier comes back to life to dress as Uncle Sam to fight off unpatriotic people.

I was expecting cheese, but sadly, there wasn’t enough.

The acting, oh boy. How the general/sergeant at the beginning talked, with his over-the-top gruff voice, perfectly set the stage. This was the thing that was the most laughable. The reactions that many of these actors portrayed was so bad, yet enjoyable. One prominent example was the main boy protagonist stepping on broken glass. There was no way a human being can saw “ow,” while delivering such a lifeless performance. Seriously I think the actual zombie had more life in his delivery than the boy.

I would say the “best” actor was Isaac Hayes, whose most famous for the “Shaft” theme. But “best” would be pushing it way too far. I was surprised Robert Forster, from “Breaking Bad,” was in here. RIP to both of them.

In terms of the character of Uncle Sam, may I ask how in the world did he obtain supernatural abilities? How can he teleport himself while chasing that guy during the sack race? Moving away from him, why does the wheelchair kid have psychic powers? Well I guess it doesn’t matter. What matters was seeing Uncle Sam kill in ridiculous attire, while giving an evil, ASMR voice. But I got to say the Uncle Sam mask in one of the vintage clips in the opening credits, looked creepier than what was shown.

The gore and blood effects were decent. The zombie look of Uncle Sam was, alright. Cinematography was alright and there was some nice long takes. While the teleporting scene made no sense, the scene itself appeared rather seamless which was cool.

My main problem with this was that I wished the movie would have gone more cheesier and cornier. I mean when one hears about a zombie soldier dressing up as Uncle Sam, one is going to chuckle. But the entire presentation and direction proved otherwise. The filmmakers probably wanted to make a legit horror movie because of how the camera movement and low-key music was executed. But the acting and dialogue completely clashed with those two aspects. And that juxtaposition can be amusing, but for me, the “serious” components brought some enjoyment down.

The slasher film was cheesy and ridiculous as one would expect. But there were times when the movie did get slow and rather boring at times. Then again, maybe this was one of those corny horror flicks best seen by a group, as opposed to solo watching. I would say skip to the Uncle Sam scenes and watch portions of some hilarious bad acting.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A supernatural character haunts the dreams of teens to exact his revenge.

A slasher, at the time, that definitely took the genre to new areas.

The character of Freddy Kruger was something special. Robert Englund delivered a performance that only he could pull off for a character like this. Unlike Jason, Michael, and Leatherface, the character was given words to say and the manner he delivered them fit well. A dark, sinister, and black-comedic performance definitely gave this slasher an edge in personality.

As far as his design, easily recognizable. Now I do want to bring up “New Nightmare (1994),” for the Freddy design in that movie was originally going to be used here; while I do like that look more, the look here was still something I enjoyed. I love the knife glow aesthetic and the burnt appearance. It for sure had nightmare-type qualities, which was good for terrorizing the dreams in the teens.

When it came to the rest of the characters, they weren’t bad. In fact, like in “Halloween (1978),” there was some likability for the teen characters. I like the character of Nancy, as she was unraveling the truth behind what was going on and her plans in stopping Freddy. The history of what went down told by her mother was interesting in gaining insight of what happened and where it eventually led to. And, of course, this was the movie that introduced the public to one of the most popular actors working today, Johnny Depp. Now with most debuts, I’m not expecting hugely awesome performances. His performance, as Glen, was not bad. As I said, there’s likability with him especially when trying to help his girlfriend Nancy.

Now the one element that set the movie apart from slashers at the time, were the supernatural elements. To which I would say it was rather mixed. The film played games of reality to the viewer. Like a person wouldn’t know they were watching a dream as they assumed it was real. I say some of the transitions between the real world and dreams worked rather seamlessly. Primarily when it came to the character Tina walking out of her home and confronting Freddy in the alley. I would say the transitions worked in the first and third act. But for the second, the transitions felt abrupt. Thus I knew right away that I was in a dream.

When it came to the look or the effects done for the dream sequences, again, it was rather mixed. There was really cool effects that fit the dream and supernatural atmosphere. Like when Tina was forcefully being dragged up the wall and onto the ceiling in her room. Freddy pushing against the wall as he watched Nancy sleeping. The jet column of blood shooting out from the bed. These were done very well.

Where it did lose me was the look of the dreams. Thankfully the sequels did a better job at creating some wacky and distorted imagery as what dreams should be like. But in the first film, it felt lacking. The creativity was sorely missing, as the sets appeared very much like the real-world with little change.

The story of how Freddy turned from a human to a dream demon was never explained. Neither was why he was doing the things he was doing. But for the “why,” one could dive deeper to gain a feel when the backstory was being said. So for that, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t explained directly. Though the “how,” I felt that was something New Line Cinema did to bait the audience for sequels, to come and watch until the sixth installment for actual explanation. Which can be a tad annoying sometimes for other franchises. Going back to “explained directly,” the plot did feel predictable. The moment Glen told Nancy about how to conquer monsters in dreams, I knew exactly how the movie was going to end.

While I did like Freddy, his agenda in the movie was scattered. Specifically for how he approached Nancy. My main issue was why he didn’t kill Nancy earlier on. There were many opportunities for him to do so. There was a time where he actually scratched Nancy’s arm, but he doesn’t kill her. For other slashers, one “could” make a “valid argument” as to why the killers didn’t straight up kill the final girl. But here, it felt more in one’s face.

Something worth noting was that the scare factor wasn’t there for me. There were creepy moments; the best one had to have been the dream scenes revolving Tina. But I wasn’t on edge as say “Friday the 13th (1980)” or “Halloween (1978).” It kept my interest throughout, but I didn’t get any chills. An aspect that could possibly tie to the pacing, which felt quick for me. It took some time to establish a setting or environment, but not enough to really let the ambience or atmosphere envelope me.

An interesting and refreshing take on the slasher genre for the time. The film had good performances, showcased an iconic horror villain, the plot was intriguing, it had some creep value, and delivered some cool effects. However the movie was bogged down by some lack of creativity, the intriguing plot had questionable elements, and some of the slasher tropes felt more apparent here than others. But still, if one hasn’t watched this classic, give it a watch. One won’t be disappointed.

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Friday the 13th (1980) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

The superstitious day brings forth blood, screams, and fright onto camp counselors.

Ten years ago, this was my first introduction to the Slasher genre. It’s been far too long.

The intro was nicely done. It perfectly summed up the type of the film one was going to receive. With its cinematography, music, direction, and of course, the kills.

Taking directions from “Halloween” (1978), there were plenty of POV shots utilized for the killer. A good use of this was during the introduction as the camera was hovering over the sleeping children. Other cool ones were when the killer would be observing the counselors from afar while hiding behind the trees.

Outside of POV’s, unlike “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), the movie took patience and let the camera sit to capture some very nice wide shots of the environment. These were effective in peaceful moments when displaying the scenic wilderness of Camp Crystal Lake. As well as creepy moments whenever the film needed to convey a sense of loneliness for a character in the scene. It was in those nerve-wracking scenes the camera showcased nice tracking when it followed a character’s every single movement. There weren’t any fast edits or jump cuts to disrupt the mood.

Music in the film was really good. The famous “ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma, ma” is one of the most iconic scores in horror history. But besides the theme, there were a few other pieces that delivered the goods at keeping the suspense flowing throughout.

The movie had a few jump scares, but for the most part, director Sean S. Cunningham’s direction seemed focused solely on giving the viewer a sense of realism. There were plenty of moments sprinkled throughout that bad horror filmmakers today would do to ruin the chills. Perfect moments to add unnecessary jump scares but they weren’t present which was surprising. While aspects of this parallel to “Halloween” (1978), there were things in here that made this movie stand out.

Makeup artist Tom Savini really brought forth the terror with his skills. The kills in this were cool. With the axe to the head or arrows to the body, it was executed well. The best kill in this involved the knife going Jack’s neck in the bed. That still gets to me rewatching this. The reveal of Bill’s body pinned against the door by arrows was quite a surprise, even after forgetting it a while back.

One aspect that definitely stands out from “Halloween” (1978) and other prominent slasher movies that came before/after, was the reveal of the killer herself, Pamela Voorhees. At the time in 1980, it must have been quite something to have a woman be the killer. It’s a shame that a vast majority of slasher films, leading in the 80s and beyond didn’t experiment. But she was good in the movie. As her motivations were understandable and actress Betsy Palmer did good at portraying a crazed mother bent on revenge. The film did a clever job of keeping her reveal tightly-wrapped until the end.

As far as the other actors, there wasn’t anything deep for them, notably the camp counselors. However compared to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), I will say the characters in this were a bit better. It was probably due to their performances or how the dialogue was written. Cunningham stated that he wasn’t looking for great actors, but in the very least, find people who were likeable and relatable. To which I say it was pulled off fine. So yes, the characters in this weren’t too bad.

Not to nitpick or pick apart questionable things, but I have to. Mrs. Voorhees being behind the tree while the character of Alice walks by, was highly unusual. Well maybe that correlated to the scene where that one cop toward the end was talking about the bad things that happen on Friday the 13th. Maybe some supernatural force was fueling Voorhees, IDK.

There were some pacing issues in a few scenes. There needed to be more development, not just with the characters but maybe some other portions of the plot.

Approximately forty years ago, this movie came out. To this day the lawsuit of who owns the rights to the characters portrayed still persists. With no end in sight. But with that said, the film had great cinematography, classic music, some nice performances, nice direction, and it did one or two things to make it stand out amongst the slashers around the time. While being somewhat of a ripoff of “Halloween” (1978), this was still a nicely done horror movie and horror classic that one should see.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic