You’re the one doing it all.
You’re not a robot.
In my film review of the movie “The Hollow Child“, I started again with a plea about trailers and I summed up the reasons why I avoid them. I saw the trailer from “Upgrade” by chance at the beginning of this year. Believe me, I was ecstatic and enthusiastic. “I HAVE to see this movie“, I thought. There are trailers that look inviting and afterward, the film looks very disappointing. But “Upgrade” certainly doesn’t belong in this category. On the contrary. This is one of the best films of the year for me. An excellent SF provided with a wonderful concept and which gradually switches to a tough revenge film. For me, it was an exciting mix of “Robocop“, “John Wick” and “Demon Seed“. “Robocop” because of the cybernetic aspect. “John Wick” because of the extravagant violent part. And “Demon Seed” because of the overall moral of the whole story. A successful cocktail that results in a titillating film.
STEM means voice in Flemish. Coincedance?
“Upgrade” tells the story of Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an old-skool-styled guy who is restoring old-fashioned Pontiacs and who’s horrified by everything that’s related to high-tech stuff. The evening Asha’s (Melanie Vallejo), his wife, fully automated design car malfunctions and crashes, they are being attacked by some violent gang. The result is a lifeless girlfriend and Gray having a shattered spine. And that’s when the millionaire Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) appears and presents his latest revolutionary chip STEM. An artificially intelligent microchip that functions as a superior brain so the paralyzed Grey can lead a normal life again. And even more.
Let’s twist again.
When you’re able to watch this movie with the necessary skepticism and you don’t take it too seriously, then this B-movie styled, action-packed SF is a welcome change and a way to de-stress after a hard day’s work. The story itself can’t be called groundbreaking or original. It all seemed a bit too predictable even to me. There’s only one thing I hadn’t seen coming. And that’s the final twist. What a pleasant surprise that was.
The action is finger licking awesome.
And when you like neatly-filmed action scenes, then you’ll enjoy this flick as well. The confrontations in “Upgrade” are such that I gladly re-watched the same scene over and over again. Not because I enjoy seeing bloody, horrible scenes. But because the choreography looks extraordinarily good and in a certain way, they managed to provide it with the necessary humor. The tilting camera. Grey’s surprised face. And the way the bad guys are killed. It all looks damn perfect.
Just go watch this top-notch movie.
I can’t think of anything bad about the acting. Logan Marshal-Green knows amazingly well how to show different emotions. From helplessness to bewilderment and purely evil. The entire pallet of emotions is shown. And the opponents all look fearless and ruthless. Equipped with ingenious cyber-like assault weapons and futuristic deadly gadgets (even an innocent sneeze is deadly). The only thing I was annoyed about is Gray’s way of moving. Although he was told at the beginning that he wasn’t really a robot, his body moves like a purebred Robocop. But that’s the only remark I can think of. My advice is to go and see this highly entertaining cyberpunk SF as soon as you can. Just do it!
My rating 9/10
The Cleaning Lady – Gives You a Good Reason to Dust Off Your DVD Player.
Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jon Knautz
First impressions are always important. It doesn’t matter if it is the first handshake at a job interview or the first note in a song, that first step can tell you everything you need to know. And when The Cleaning Lady opens with rats entering a blender you know director Jon Knautz is not here to play around.
Co-written by Knautz and Alexis Kendra, The Cleaning Lady is about beautician Alice (played by Kendra). Seeming to have the perfect life she is a recovering love addict she is looking to clean her life up after a lengthy affair with a married man. A chance encounter with the disfigured Shelly (Rachel Alig) leads to a fast friendship. But when Alice begins to confide her deepest secrets to Shelly their friendship takes a turn for the worst.
Now if the plot for The Cleaning Lady sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. Similar to Greta from earlier this year, Single White Female‘s DNA is embedded into The Cleaning Lady. Thankfully Knautz and Kendra did more than just a remake the 90’s cult classic. Leaning more towards the horror genre, The Cleaning Lady delivers on the scares. When Shelly is finally driven over the edge she delivers some of the more violent kills I’ve seen this year. Less about the gore itself (although things do get bloody) it’s the sheer brutality of them that made me cringe a couple of time. The attention to detail doesn’t end there either.
Wisely the two are able to infuse Alice and Shelly with the kind of depth you don’t typically see in this kind of thriller. By making Alice and Shelly so flawed it not only plays with the audiences expectations but makes us question where our sympathies lie. A big part of this are Alexis Kendra and Rachel Alig bringing Alice and Shelly to life.
As amazing as Alexis Kendra is as Alice I was particularly impressed with Rachel Alig’s portrayal of Shelly. Despite having fewer lines and the prosthetic makeup Alig is able to get across how broken Shelly is better than a monologue ever could. The way she slumps she slumps and mumbles one word answers can be absolutely heart breaking. At the same time Alig is able to give her an edge as the film goes on; turning seemingly innocent gestures into bone chilling brutality. And this is before we learn about how she was disfigured. A truly tragic villain, Alig is able to give her the complex performance this character needs.
If the film has any problems it is how oddly paced it is. Although paced well for the most part the final act feels rushed which really hurts the ending. Given I don’t think it needs to be as long as Avengers: Endgame but a few extra minutes could go a long way in helping The Cleaning Lady stick the landing.
Despite some pacing issues Jon Knautz and Alexis Kendra have made one of the scarier movies of the year. A terrifying take on a familiar story, The Cleaning Lady not only scares but gives an interesting look at codependency and toxic relationships. With two killer performances and real skill behind the camera The Cleaning Lady gives you a good reason to dust off your DVD player.
Links : IMDB
The Cleaning Lady is now in theaters and on VOD
El Bar – If You Love One-Location Movies Stuffed With Emotions and a Pinch of Dark Humor, You Should Give “El Bar” a Chance
Film Review : El Bar
Hey, a little respect.
We’re all human beings here.
We have to stick together and stay calm.
“El bar” pretends to be a thriller comedy, but falls short on both levels. The film leans rather towards the comedy genre. But in terms of thriller, it’s a bit too weak. What’s actually the ultimate cause of the incident witnessed by a number of persons, isn’t really clear in the end. Are they witnessing a terrorist attack? Or is it the umpteenth viral outbreak? Or are we going back on a zombie tour? If the latter were the case, the film would fit more into the horror genre. It’s not clearly explained. But I think it’s a combination of these assumptions. When you look at the opening sequence, full of microscopic viruses and other whimsical creatures from the microbial world, you are already assuming that some pandemic will break out. But again, it isn’t really clear.
Well, Spanish isn’t my strong point.
I don’t know why, but I enjoy watching non-English films. Not that I’ve seen many foreign films because the frequent reading of subtitles remains a disturbing factor for me. So after the Finnish film “Euthanizer“, the Argentinian “Los Olvidados” and the Russian film “T-34“, I didn’t hesitate to watch this film. Even though I didn’t understand one iota from the start (because my knowledge of Spanish is limited to the words “cerveza” and “paella”), the film still managed to hold my attention. And not only because the beautiful and sensual looking actress Bianca Suárez appeared immediately on screen as she makes her way through the busy streets of Madrid. It’s also because of the energetic intro.
The way in which the film jumps nervously back and forth between the soon-to-be victims creates an intense feeling. Not only the rapid pace of the film but also the busy gesticulating of the main characters give it a fiery character. Maybe it’s normal for people from the big city. Or it’s something typically Spanish. In any case, every spoken word is shouted out here, as if one wants to be sure that everyone has heard it. No quiet, but excited and sometimes theatrical-looking conversations. Only at the moments that the shouting guarantees a deadly outcome, the individuals calm down and the hot-tempered Spanish characters go into whisper mode.
Personalities change in a life-threatening situation.
In itself, the terrible event of shooting two innocents isn’t the main focus. It’s the way personalities change in a life-threatening situation. Admittedly, we’ve already seen this in several other films. A film such as “The Divide” for example. At first, it’s all friendly, despite the differences in character and temperament. And then the situation becomes threatening and hostile. The changing moods make this film interesting enough. Just like in real life, bringing together characters of different backgrounds creates tensions on the one hand and interesting developments on the other. It’s quite obvious that a person as Elena (Bianca Suárez) doesn’t frequent such an establishment as this bar often. She just stumbled in to charge her mobile phone. This well-dressed high-society looking lady soon realizes that she’s among people of a completely different level in society.
A colorful group of persons.
How could she squeeze those boobs through the hole?
Once the characters are introduced, one is ready for the radical event and the guessing game can start in which suspicions and accusations swing back and forth. What started as an average day is soon replaced by an atmosphere of dismay and panic after the two innocent men are shot. However, when these two lifeless bodies disappear and an obscenely fat dead man is found on the toilet with a collection of syringes, the whole mood changes into hysteria and fear. The very last chapter shows how survival instinct and the law of the strongest takes over. And all this is shown with the necessary humor and agitation.
The highlight is, of course, the escape plan through a drain hole. Anyone who’s secretly guessing at the outset how the graceful Elena looks like under her stylish clothing will be rewarded. And yes, I guessed she would be wearing sensual-looking garters. I only wondered how she succeeded in what Israel tried to achieve in vain, despite the fact she a nice pair of breasts which are in the way.
A pinch of Dark Humor.
Even though “El Bar” is entertaining and intense at times, it’s a movie people will forget easily. You can call this film satirical. And yet it also gives a realistic view of our current society. A society in which terrorist attacks are the order of the day. And I can imagine how anxious people react in such circumstances. The humor, on the other hand, is sometimes razor-sharp and subtle (I had to chuckle during the scene with the suitcase). The most striking acting performance may be attributed to Jamie Ordóñez. The way in which he portrays this marginal is simply brilliant. His appearance contrasts sharply with that of Bianca Suárez. A kind of “Beauty and the Beast“. The sensual Spanish beauty in front of the ugly, unkempt hate preacher and somewhat crazy oboe. So if you love one-location movies stuffed with emotions and a pinch of dark humor, you should give “El Bar” a chance. It’s definitely worth it.
You can watch The Bar (El bar) on Netflix now!
My rating 6/10
Primal Rage: The Legend of Konga
Film Review : Primal Rage
So you’re telling me right here,
right now to my face,
that you actually believe there’s an Oh-Mah out there?
Admittedly, “Primal Rage” certainly won’t win the prize for the most original film. And there are some pain points to be found in this B-film. But to my surprise, I liked this movie anyway. The well-known theme about an unknown creature hiding in the woods and racking up random victims. Take “Animal” and add some “Predator” elements to it and you can already imagine what you get presented. It’s hardly surprising that you’ll think of these films because Patrick Magee, director of this low-budget horror film, was also involved in the SEs of “Alien vs. Predator”. He wisely applied the experience he gained there.
Yeehay, it’s Bigfoot again.
They have incorporated the legend of the Bigfoot in this film. A Bigfoot with a fashion statement. The mysterious creature uses tree bark as a disguise and protection. You don’t have to wait long to see the creature in action. After Ashley (Casey Gagliardi) has picked up her other half Max (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) at the prison gate and takes a short pause on the way home to let mother nature take her course (a year of celibate life has its consequences), they accidentally hit someone crossing the road. Well, calling the authorities is problematic since Max just left prison. The crumpled body also looks badly pulped. You could say that a steamroller ran over him instead of a typical SUV. And then someone also starts throwing huge boulders at them. While the unfortunate Max falls down into the river and Ashley jumps after him as brave savior, they don’t realize that the bad guy who’s responsible for this, is our friend the-giant-forest-monkey-who-could-be-used-as-a-wall-to-wall-carpet.
The practical effects are top notch.
But all kidding aside, despite the not so huge budget, this film is surprisingly exciting and even successful in some areas. The fact that there was no astronomical budget means that no CGI was involved, I suppose. The “Practical effects” on the other hand are omnipresent and look damn good. Perhaps the furry beast, that throws itself on innocent hikers, sometimes looks ridiculous. Yet there are also certain effects that are unparalleled. So expect quite a few gore fragments with a lot of blood splashing around. The end result is usually images of crushed and crumpled victims. So, that worked out well.
What’s wrong with it? What’s with this film that it’s not directly going to be included in the collection of “The better horror films”? The biggest downside is the involvement of some Indian myth. That this is used to provide an explanation about the origin of the forest demon, is understandable. The sad thing is they also included an Indian medicine woman. Obviously, she was necessary for the story to continue. But the execution was somewhat exaggerated. It was as if they wanted to offer a diptych in the field of horror because the “Whispering Woman” really looked frightening. You would think it’s the witch who appeared in the fairy tale of “Hansel and Gretel“. The part about the ritual performed by native Americans was also quite lengthy and in my eyes superfluous. Well, and also the acting was disappointing at times. Especially the interactions between the sheriff and his assistant felt amateurish and artificial.
One of the better monster flicks.
Nevertheless, “Primal Rage” is an entertaining monster movie where fans of bloody and gore scenes can indulge themselves in. Not only the primitive creature provides the necessary tension. The group of Rednecks who Max and Ashley meet in the forest and who they visibly reluctantly ask for help was for me the most exciting part of this film. The way BD, by the way an exquisite rendition of Marshal Hilton, subtly intimidates and bullies the two unfortunates, is simply stunning. It goes without saying that this group of good-for-nothings doesn’t have good intentions. They are just as great a threat as the furry monster. Despite the minor flaws, “Primal Rage” is one of the better monster flicks (mainly in the Bigfoot segment) and is definitely recommended for fans of this horror genre.
My rating 6/10
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