Brightburn (2019): Superman: The Quest for Rest In Peace

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“Brightburn” is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hive) and stars Jackson A. Dunn (Shameless, Legendary Dudas), Elizabeth Banks (The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games), David Denman (The Office, Traffic Light), Matt Jones (Mom, Breaking Bad), and Meredith Hagner (Men at Work, Search Party). This film revolves around a family and its child, Brandon Breyer. Brandon is growing up fast, and at times seems to be a relatively normal child. But we soon discover that he has powers, he sometimes behaves poorly, and he has various elements of a psychopath. Basically, take Superman, but make him malevolent, wicked, and some sort of equivalent to a devil worshiper.

I originally saw the first trailer for “Brightburn” last year, and I was somewhat excited for this film upon seeing that trailer. It looked beautiful, bold, and a tad scary too. In a way, this film is a mix of horror and a traditional comic book style story. The movie is not based on any preexisting property by name, even though it does contain similarities to “Superman.” To add even more comic book and superhero elements into the mix, let me just point out that James Gunn, director of the two recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, has a producer credit on this movie. This film is also kind of a family project, because the two writers are related to Gunn. You’ve got Mark Gunn, a cousin of James. And Brian Gunn, who happens to one of James’ brothers. It’s clear that this movie was partially done with combined passion, and it’s nice to see a family come together to entertain audiences. Granted, I don’t like everything they’ve done. I think “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” may be one of the most overrated movies of the past few years. And both Brian and Mark wrote “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” which may be my least favorite movie with The Rock in it.

But with all of the creative forces combining together for “Brightburn,” how did they all add up? O-K? I guess? This was not my most anticipated film of 2019, but it was up there in terms of films I was looking forward to. In fact, of all the films that came out during its particular opening weekend, it was probably the one I wanted to see the most. Granted, I ended up seeing “Booksmart,” which ended up being good. I still have no interest in seeing “Aladdin,” but I finally got around to seeing “Brightburn” only to have numerous less than positive things to say about it. I mean, it’s not all bad. But it seriously could have been a lot better.

As a concept, it is certainly intriguing, and there are a lot of ideas that go into the concept that are executed fairly well. That being said however, this almost seems like a pitch movie.

“It’s gonna be Superman, but evil! Comic book movies are the thing right now! Let’s see what we can do with one of the most iconic comic stories of all time, but with a sinister twist! It’s gonna be great!”

This movie ultimately reminds me of a movie like “Lucy.” Remember “Lucy” from 2014? If you haven’t seen “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson plays this girl who gets drugged by some less than friendly people, all the while discovering how to use more than 10% of her brain. It seems like a good movie to write with a couple of people around you, discussing ideas of how to use one’s brain at a greater level than what mankind is traditionally capable of. But it doesn’t mean anything for the movie in terms of how watchable or compelling it will turn out in the end, it’s just a collection of seemingly rad ideas.

If there were an evil Superman per se, this movie would be a good example of how such a character would work. In fact, I literally do mean evil Superman because the movie starts off with a crash on a farm, and the crash involves a baby boy. This baby grows up, we see him seemingly hitting puberty, and he becomes a stalker, an aggressive talker, and a violent maniac.

I also gotta give props to everybody acting in this movie, and this even includes our lead kid actor, Jackson A. Dunn. He owns the part as Brandon. He’s almost a perfect embodiment for a child of his age in terms of how he presents himself (despite being more aggressive than the average person). When he would cover up truths or lie, I felt like that would usually be how a kid of his age would do such a thing. And he, thankfully, did not overplay his character in any scenes involving dark violence, gore, etc. I guess in that sense, I might as well give props to the director for properly handling this film’s scenes.

But sticking to acting, the two standout performances in the movie have to be from the parents played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. The best part about their characters to me really sticks out like a sore thumb during the halfway point, specifically how they view the main situation of the whole movie. And it just goes to show how far Elizabeth Banks’ character would go to unconditionally love her kid. Granted, there are slight hints of wanting what’s best for him. But at the same time, she comes off as one of those mothers who will put her kid before anyone else regardless of how they behave or what they tend to do in their daily life. This sort of reminds me of those situations where a parent will endlessly defend their child or deny any of their faults. Her character’s thoughts and actions are completely different compared to those of David Denman’s character, who thinks the kid is up to no good, he’s violent, and he’s showing no signs of being a sane person.

My last compliment I can really give to this movie is that it does look really nice. The cinematography kind of made me feel like taking several deep breaths of fresh air. Granted, I did watch the movie through a 4K Blu-ray, but still. I also dig the farm location, I think overall, it suits the movie very well.

In the end, “Brightburn” is a movie with an interesting twist on a well-known concept, but I don’t know if I’d ever watch it again. Comic book movies are currently more popular than they’ve ever been. This is not based on a comic book, but if you told me it was, I wouldn’t be surprised. One trend I’m seeing now is the rise of comic book villain stories on film. We just saw it in “Venom” last year, which sucked hard. And we’re seeing it again this October with “Joker.” Thankfully, this is not anywhere near as unwatchable as “Venom.” But this movie doesn’t add anything big or bold to the type of genre with which it is trying to associate. “Brightburn” is a tad scary, it is somewhat entertaining, it is well-acted, but it doesn’t have an enormous “oomph” factor to it. I’m going to give “Brightburn” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of Brad Pitt’s “Ad Astra,” which I hear is getting great reviews so far, and I cannot wait to check it out whenever I can! I’m hoping to go see it Friday, because I do have Fridays off from school, so it would be good timing on my part. Plus, I am busy Sunday evening, so I can’t go see it then. Also, while not completely official, I wanted to touch upon another recent trend in the movie world, specifically “alternate programming at the movies.” If you have been following the news lately, sporting events and TV shows are making their way to cinema screens, and I want to talk about that! Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want hear me talk about this, or other movie-related topics! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Brightburn?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Superman” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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It: Chapter Two (2019): Hiya, Sequel!

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“It: Chapter Two” is directed by Andy Muschietti, director of the 2017 “It” installment. This film stars Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar), James McAvoy (Split, Wanted), Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Power Rangers), Isaiah Mustafa (Shadowhunters, Horrible Bosses), Jay Ryan (Go Girls, Sea Patrol), James Ransone (Sinister, The Wire), Andy Bean (Swamp Thing, Power), and Bill Skarsgård (Deadpool 2, Allegiant). “It: Chapter Two” takes place 27 years after its predecessor, specifically 2016. If you have not seen 2017’s “It,” it’s established in that film that the main antagonist, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, wreaks havoc amongst certain individuals every 27 years. In 1989, we were introduced to the Losers Club, a group of mocked teens who unite to conquer their fears and take down the clown. At the end of the movie, the group forms a pact that if Pennywise ever happens to be alive or makes a return, they will meet up to face him once more. After all this time, the adult versions of these characters join forces once again, discuss where they’ve ended up all these years, while Pennywise happens to be on the loose.

If you have followed Scene Before over the past couple of years, you’d know that I talk about a lot of big movies. However, due to a lack of interest or commitment on the subject matter, I never got around to reviewing the first chapter of “It.” I also never watched the version of “It” where Tim Curry plays Pennywise (although I did watch Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic review). And one more thing… What was it? Oh, right. I NEVER READ THE BOOK! To this day, I have yet to read a single page of “It.” Movies are more fun, sorry books! I almost avoided any commitment I could possibly have with this movie, but there were certain factors about it that eventually intrigued me. I went to Best Buy one day, picked up 2017’s “It” on Blu-ray, which came with a $8 off sticker for the sequel (which I must have thrown out, like an idiot). I then waited almost a month to watch the movie, and when I finally witnessed what I’ve been missing for the past couple of years, I lost my mind. The main characters are so relatable, so charming, and when you put them together, it’s the recipe for perfection. Ultimately, “It” was a scary horror movie, but above all, an excellent coming of age story.

This brings us to the opening weekend of “It: Chapter Two.” I’ve heard a lot about this movie before I went into the auditorium. I’ve heard it’s got scares, people seem to like it for the most part, the cast is great, especially Bill Hader as Richie. While seemingly liked, it is not perfect, it does have notable problems here and there. And these statements, for the most part, are pretty much on the money. “It: Chapter Two,” from my perspective, is a film that feels as if it is trying to be “Return of the King.” The runtime is nearly three hours, it covers the finale of the written material from the books, and much like “Lord of the Rings,” this movie significantly showcases the power of companionship. Did this movie really need to be three hours? Probably not. I wouldn’t have minded a extended runtime, but it didn’t need to as long as “Interstellar.” I say that because when it comes to the material presented in the three hours of “It: Chapter Two,” a lot of it almost feels tacked on.

Remember “Suicide Squad?” One of the big problems with that movie is that it couldn’t focus too much on the present and instead relied heavily upon various flashbacks that would constantly appear out of nowhere. This movie has a good amount of flashback footage that isn’t off-putting, but pretty exorbitant. It kind of gets to the point where the flashbacks are charming, I guess, but they overstay their welcome.

But when focusing on the present, the characters are in fact the some of the best parts of this movie. It’s nice getting to know these new versions of previously established losers, especially considering how they all turned out to be winners in the very end. Richie became a stand-up comedian, Beverly is a fashion designer, Bill writes mystery novels, etc. I really admire how everyone in the Losers Club, which is appropriately named as it consists of people who were picked on, comes out on top in the end. But it’s not like everyone’s lives turned out to be rainbows and unicorns upon becoming adults. Beverly starts out the movie in an abusive relationship with her husband. Bill, while he seems to be a fine writer, doesn’t seem to stick the landing on his endings. Richie even has a little mishap upon returning to Derry, because he apparently yelled at a fan because he forgot a line he said during one of his gigs. Not everything’s perfect.

And speaking of imperfections, let’s talk about Pennywise. I’m not saying he’s a flawed character or anything, just saying he’s a psychopath. Bill Skarsgård is a f*cking boss in this film! This shouldn’t be too surprising because Pennywise was a standout in the original film. Films like this also remind me of how much fun it is to play a villain. Who wouldn’t want to play a vicious, horrifying killer clown that eats people? Everything about Pennywise was what I wanted out of this movie. The voice, the dialogue, the makeup, the crazy antics, the exploration of lore, whatever was presented was as delicious as pizza! That even includes one or two moments that are a bit heavy on CGI to the point where it is easy to pick up if you look hard enough.

But I will say, I don’t know if this movie will end up having the same replay value that I think the first one will end up having. It’s a bit early to say since I just saw this film on Saturday, plus I waited until last Thursday to watch the original. But if I were alone on Halloween and needed something to watch in the living room while handing out candy to children, I currently much prefer the original. Both films are effectively scary, and in this film, there are a lot of gross, disturbing, and shocking moments to witness. Remember that trailer with Jessica Chastain visiting the old lady? Get ready. That scene where Pennywise is surrounded by black and utters “Hello?” F*cking nuts. And the climax, while a bit extended, is undoubtedly entertaining. But as a story, this film is a tad more convoluted and a bit more poorly paced compared to the original. The original has a bit of an advantage due to the shorter runtime, but I can live with films going past three hours (which this one almost does). With that being said however, everything in those three hours has to matter, or be something that I as an audience member can care about, and unfortunately, that’s not the case for everything presented in that time.

Also, speaking of time, the ending takes FOREVER to fully establish itself. There are like two, three, four, perhaps even five or six points during the climax where the movie could stop, and wrap itself in a bow that is satisfying. Unfortunately, it goes ahead and says “Look at me, I’m ‘It: Chapter Two!’ There’s no stopping me now! Ha ha! Yeah!” And it’s kind of unfortunate because 2019, in my view, has not been the all-time best year for movies, but if there is one thing that stands out this year compared to others, it’s the eternal positive impact many endings will have on me as a viewer. We’ve had “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Ready or Not,” and “Toy Story 4.” All of these movies have magnificent final moments that I will perhaps forever appreciate. The ending of “It: Chapter Two” tries as hard as it can to leave a big impact, and I imagine for a chunk of people, it will. However, for me, I was appreciative of what was happening, while also hoping to get out of my chair because I feel like I have seen more than enough. It wasn’t like Pennywise bit my arm or anything, but it was like I was in line in a crowded Burger King or something.

In the end, “It: Chapter Two” is dark and gorey, but part of the mess associated with this movie is the less than pleasant pacing. The characters are great, the transitions they seem to make from teens to adults make sense for the most part. I find it a tad interesting that Ben is much more physically fit as an adult compared to how he was as teen, but Tom Brady is still winning Super Bowls, so anything can happen if you put your mind to it. If the movie were at least ten or so minutes shorter, perhaps fifteen, I think the pacing would be fair and square. But just because the movie is a bit sloppy on pacing, doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. So with that being said, I’m going to give “It: Chapter Two” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have no idea what my next review is going to be, at least for films out in theaters right now. I’m still trying to get my ass to a “Hobbs and Shaw” screening before it’s too late, maybe that’ll be the one I go to next. But I also heard a lot recently about this movie called “The Fanatic,” starring John Travolta. It’s not a big moneymaker, nor is it playing at too many cinemas, but I’m hearing a lot about this movie. It even got a Hilariocity Review from YouTuber Chris Stuckmann! And this film looks like it could be the next “The Room.” Perhaps even better than “The Room” in terms of how enjoyable yet horrible it really is. It’s available On Demand, maybe I’ll rent it, check it out, see what it’s all about, because as of recently, I’ve kind of been dying to see it in order to know what I’ve been missing. If you want to see that review or other great content, consider following Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, tell your friends about the blog, it really helps me out! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “It: Chapter Two?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever read the “It” book? Is it better than this movie? Is it better than the Tim Curry “It?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019): Once Upon a Time in Hellywood

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“The Haunting of Sharon Tate” is directed by Daniel Farrands (Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Amityville Murders) and stars Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire, A Cinderella Story), Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, Cheaper by the Dozen 2), Lydia Hearst (Z Nation, The Face), Pawel Szajda (Under the Tuscan Sun, Agent Carter), and Ryan Cargill (WITS Academy, The Young and the Restless). This film takes place during the late 1960s in Hollywood and is kinda sorta based on the Manson Murders, which involves the death of Sharon Tate herself. Only, this film explores Sharon Tate as this… Timid, constantly emotional scaredy cat that barely even qualifies as a person. My f*cking gosh, this review is going to turn into a therapy session.

I’m reviewing this film in 2019, fifty years after the Manson Murders event went down and got attention all over the news. Interestingly, this is not the only film this year that involves Sharon Tate and highlights her final moments. The other film, for those who don’t know, is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” These two films take different approaches to the Sharon Tate character. And I feel that neither of them are 100% authentic, but I want everyone to keep this in mind.

Speaking of keeping things in mind, I have kept this movie in mind for about a month or two. The popular YouTube film reviewer Chris Stuckmann watched and talked about this film earlier on in the year and he gave it his lowest grade, an “F.” So naturally, this film stuck with me, but not for the reasons that I think most people behind it would prefer. But at the time, I have not seen it. In fact, it’s easy to see why. If you look at the totals for this film on Box Office Mojo, it says the movie made $0 domestically. I don’t know why that’s the case however. I don’t know if the film didn’t garner attention to get people to see it in the theater, or if it even had a theatrical release to begin with. Were the tickets free? I don’t know if I have enough info to back me up. Maybe the film went straight to On Demand or something. Although before this film’s official release in the spring, it was shown at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. This led to three wins dedicated to the film including Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Horror Film. As for its release, this film did at least have some sort of box office total, as Box Office Mojo lists separate totals racked up in Portugal and Russia, which comes out to $19,717 when combined. As for home video, specifically where I live, the-numbers.com suggests that in the United States, the combined totals for DVD and Blu-ray sales come out to $9,932.

After seeing this film, I wonder how it got any award in the first f*cking place! Best Director? Maybe for a music video in the first couple minutes. Best Actress? Yay! Somebody won an award for doing nothing but crying until the end of time! Best Horror Film? The fact this film exists is a freaking horror story!

I just want to send a message to Quentin Tarantino for one quick second. If you have read my “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” review, I thought that film was nearly perfect. It did just about everything a movie of its kind needed to do. However, the one downfall is that for the most part, I could erase just anything involving Sharon Tate and have perhaps no loss of impact to the film. But looking back, at least that version of Sharon Tate was… well, COMPETENT! Margot Robbie embodied the glamour, legacy, and achievements of the character, not to mention 1960s Hollywood in general! The way she was written in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was at least respectful to her legacy compared to what this piece of s*it contains! It’s piss poor and it’s the stuff of nightmares! Quite literally in fact, because apparently one of the major parts of this movie is the plethora of bad dreams Tate has throughout.

Most of the blame in a case like this can certainly go to the directing and the writing. I believe Hilary Duff did what she could with the character. But there are a couple moments in this film in terms of acting that made me wonder if the director decided to do just a single take for each scene without a care in the world. You have to see it to believe it. Actually, please don’t, save yourself!

I will admit, I hate the fact that I am talking about this script as if it is the most lackluster thing in the entire universe because the fact is that it had one thing that sounded compelling about whether our lives are planned out in advance or if we can change our fates. It kind of reminded me of “10 Cloverfield Lane.” You remember how in “10 Cloverfield Lane” the main characters are sitting down, they’re talking to each other, and the topic of discussion happens to be about doing certain things before you die? Remember that? Part of the film’s script reminded me of that. But I didn’t dig it because well, this movie has enough s*it in it that just bogs it down to levels beyond one’s imagination! In fact, this movie kind of reminded me of another recent project that I didn’t like, “Midsommar.” It’s a film that tries to be scary, tries be dark, but just ends up being annoying. The characters are terrible. The main chick happens to be the perfect sponsor for Kleenex. And whatever moments there are that at least try to be compelling, almost don’t even add up.

In terms of how the film looks, it’s… OK? I guess? Maybe at times. A lot of the shots are serviceable, but some of the camerawork is simply off-putting. I am honestly willing to bet there was a point during shooting where someone accidentally switched the shutter speed from where it was expected to be because there was a scene in the first few minutes that didn’t even feel like I was watching a traditional 24 frames per second movie. Then again, I watched this movie on Prime Video as opposed to how I consume most of movies, which is through physical media, so maybe it’s my TV or the service or something! Nevertheless, it felt like I was watching a video taken on an older Blackberry phone or something! Granted, based on visible resolution and the color palette, the film looks a lot better than something shot on a Blackberry, but my case stands as tall as the Shaq! And speaking of color palette, the color grading in this film (if there was even that much to begin with) occasionally made me want to vomit. Now it’s not all unacceptable, but there were one or two scenes where I looked around the frames and thought I was looking at a slightly more attractive version of “Twilight.” I guess sometimes it fits the dark themes of this film, but it’s also off-putting! There are not enough mental breakdowns on this Earth to be had regarding this piece of crap they call a movie!

It almost seems somewhat unfair that I am comparing this film to a much better Sharon Tate-related story that came out sometime after this film did, but I honestly feel the need to. One thing both “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” tend to have in common is perhaps the slight over the top vibe that the film can tend to present whenever Tate is in a scene. But the thing about “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the way they present Tate. She never had any weird visions as if she had the force from “Star Wars.” She was a normal human being going about her day. A little hyperactive at times, but she was believable. I don’t know a crapton about the real Sharon Tate but if you told me that this version of her was the actual person. I’d almost think she’s kind of a jerk at times. Granted, the movie does go into issues involving her relationship with Roman Polanski and that does allow her to let out some less than happy thoughts. I could buy into that. But as for Tate’s other occasional over the top, Negative Nancy actions, I just found them to be odd.

I’ll be honest, I cannot think of a single thing in this film that worked. Funny enough, I just reviewed “Ready or Not” last week where I said that there is not even a single thing in that movie that didn’t work. Guess today’s opposite day! I just want to say one thing, for those of you who watch the movie (PLEASE DON’T), take a shot every time Sharon Tate either has a nightmare, becomes emotionally unstable, or cries. Maybe with enough sips of alcohol, who knows? Maybe you’ll enjoy the movie for all I know! But I can’t say I had anything to drink. For one thing, I am under 21. Also, I had Diet Coke, which contains caffeine, which I probably needed to stay awake for whatever this mess was!

In the end, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” makes me wish I was struck by lightning. I cannot think of a single redeeming quality in this entire movie, and if you watch this movie and somehow do, BRAVO! You have thought a lot harder than me. Then again, it is a little hard for me to think right now because I think some of my brain cells have just been destroyed. Now is this the worst film of 2019? It’s not official yet because we still have some time left in the year. Plus there is another film that is sort of in the same realm as this for me in terms for how much I dislike it. But even if it isn’t the worst, it is definitely the most poorly made of the films I have seen so far this year. I am not even joking. When you take the eye-burning color palette, the below average cinematography, the idiotic script, the lame-ass directing, and the obscenely lackluster performances, it all adds up to make the most incompetent product of 2019 that I have had the displeasure of witnessing so far. I haven’t even talked about everything in this movie, I have skipped over a number of the characters and performances, and you know what? Screw them! I can’t talk about them! This movie destroyed me to no end, so I might as well give it a taste of my own medicine! I’m going to give “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” a 1/10! Thanks for reading this review! If you want to check out a review I did for a much better movie involving Sharon Tate, be sure to check out my review that I did last month for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The link is down below and… Yeah, after seeing this piece of crap, I have to go watch that again because I need something therapeutic right now. Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I’m also on Facebook, do me a favor, check out my page! Make the movie reviewing moron happy! No, seriously. This movie almost made me lose my mind. I need happiness in my life! I want to know, did you see “The Haunting of Sharon Tate?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” this year? Tell me what you thought about that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) REVIEW

Ready or Not (2019): The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told

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“Ready or Not” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who worked together on projects including “V/H/S” and “Devil’s Due.” This film stars Samara Weaving (SMILF, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body, The O.C.), Mark O’Brien (Republic of Doyle, Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Revenge), and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Jane by Design) in a film where a woman gets married, has a traditional wedding where everyone gathers together, the couple gives their vows, kiss, all the basics. But that’s not the important part of joining the family according to the side of the groom. Why? Because it is tradition for the family to play a game starting at midnight. As seen in previews and as somewhat suggested by the title, everyone is playing hide and seek. Samara Weaving’s character has to hide as everyone tries to find her, but if you have seen the trailers and heard much about this film, you’d know it’s not the normal game as one may expect. Instead of a pleasant game where everyone frolics around looking for the hiding individual, there is a sinister element involved.

“Ready or Not,” to my knowledge, is a movie that I did not hear much about until a couple months ago when the first trailer came out. But as soon as it came online and was brought to my attention, there was nothing I could do except watch it, which eventually led to me raving about it.

Take everything I have said about this seriously, because the trailer to this film just kills. Even if I never saw the actual film, I would at least recommend the trailer. If you know me in real life, then you must have known my excitement regarding the fact that the movie had a pre-release screening in Boston the day before it came out. I took advantage of the opportunity, scored myself two passes through a reservation online, invited my dad to tag along, and we hit the road!

And I’ll tell you what guys, this is a film that I was highly anticipating. Kind of like how I had massive expectations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” recently. As far 2019 goes, “Ready or Not” was definitely one of my most anticipated films. There are a lot of instances where people set their expectations high and end up disappointed. Granted, my expectations for “Ready or Not” were not as high as some other films I have seen throughout my life, but as far as this year goes, my hype levels were astronomically high. Although I recently rewatched the trailer, because again, it’s awesome, and I read the comments, and everyone feels as if the movie reveals too much in its trailer. I won’t entirely say whether or not it does because it is not even out yet (except one element in just a moment), but holy crap! I think we may have my favorite film of the year so far!

As I type this review, I cannot tell a lie. My head is still f*cking spinning after what I just saw. This film is a combination of a dark comedy and horror, and it feels like it knows it wants to be that way. It meshes both genres together and creates a spectacular birthchild if you will. It’s not a film that gets confused about its own identity in the same way that a stereotypical middle-schooler would. The best way I can describe this film is referencing Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” You know that scene from “Ratatouille” where Remy takes a bite of one thing, takes a bite of another thing? Both have their own theme music, only to lead to a bite of both things at once which leads to an absurdly upbeat theme that lasts for a few seconds? That’s the best way I can describe “Ready or Not.” It’s hilarious and scary in the best ways possible. I know I said I won’t mention whether or not this movie’s trailer reveals too much, but one thing that I can say is that the trailer contains a number of the movie’s funny parts. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny, but that is something to point out for those who are perhaps coming in for the comedy. It also does not mean that there are not any funny moments not shown in the trailer. I won’t go into detail about them, but this movie has more hilarity than what has already been exposed to most of the public.

In fact, one reason why this movie works so well is the characters. Samara Weaving plays the main character of Grace who I just plain adored. She was performed very well, had incredible charisma, and I bought into the relationship between her and the husband. By the way, the husband’s name is Alex Le Domas and he’s portrayed by Mark O’Brien. To me, Alex is probably one of the most out of field characters I have witnessed on screen this year, and I don’t mean that in a terrible way. His actions intrigued me, and his character went in multiple unexpected directions that made the movie lovable from my perspective. I won’t go into any of them, but I want to give the writers every ounce of credit possible for how they wrote him. When it comes to everyone else, my biggest salutes have to go to Henry Czerny (Tony), Kristian Bruun (Fitch), and Nicky Guadagni as the incredible Aunt Nadine. This lady is always either unhappy or crazy, and the actress portraying her manages to play the role with both traits at a level of absolute excellence. Even though her character is not the most prominent in the film, any screentime with her is a breath of fresh air.

And this film in some ways, reminds me of a film like “Avengers: Infinity War” because while I was not exactly rooting for the antagonistic side, I could see why they were doing what they were doing, and I could believe it or not, side with them. They have to find Grace, perform a ritual, and kill her. And they say that if they don’t do it before dawn, they’re all dead. So in reality, taking the standpoint of the protagonist (survival), or the standpoint of the antagonists (kill or be killed), if one side were to die in this situation, they would absolutely feel like they are doing the right thing for their own good. Not to mention in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Granted, it’s a movie in a somewhat realistic and slightly intimidating setting for an adult audience, so I wouldn’t expect the antagonistic side to just be “a bad guy doing bad guy things,” but even with that in mind, the way this film plays out the rivalry and their motivations makes the screenplay completely worthy of my admiration. And even though I was able to feel bad at times for the antagonistic side even if their motivation seemed like it involved something that only they would believe, it does not change the fact that for just about every second I was rooting for Grace to run, hide, escape, just let this game of f*ckery come to an end. By the way, people die in this movie and when the deaths arrive, they are occasionally bonkers. You have to see them to believe them, they are masterpieces of darkness.

When it comes to other standouts, I really like the house this movie was shot in. This allowed for some noteworthy set and production design, a ton of dark rooms to highlight what kind of movie we were in for, and specifically for this film, a ton of reasons to intensify a simple game of hide and seek. I also think this film may have a shot during awards season at getting some costume design nominations. There are tons of outfits in the film that suit the characters well and are also impressively designed. I also really like how the film manages to elevate such a simple game traditionally played by children. If you told me five years ago that we’d be getting a movie with an intense hide and seek match, I don’t know what I would have thought, but I probably would have asked for something else. But having seen the trailer for this movie two months ago, I became interested. That interest was strong enough to make me go out and see it. Having seen it, I cannot help but endlessly recommend it.

One last thing I’ll say is this. The final moments in this film are as masterful as air conditioning on extremely hot days. There is a line that I won’t go into during the final three to five minutes of the film, but that line made me pull myself back in my seat, drop my jaw in shock, and place my hand on my head in utter disbelief. I don’t mean that in a bad way, in fact, the exact opposite. I was floored to the point where I went from really liking this movie to wanting to see it again at full price. Let me just remind you that this is a year of fantastic endings. We’ve had films like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which to this day is the only film to flat out make me cry in a cinema. Then came “Avengers: Endgame,” which not only had a geek wet dream come to life, but a satisfying finale to over 20 films that came before it. And just a few weeks ago we had “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which… simply put, is a f*ckstravaganza of madness. Now we have “Ready or Not,” which has an ending that is as wild as it is satisfying. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has the advantage of having the better climax and ending, but this film’s ending elevated its final verdict to me and if you ask me, “Ready or Not” as a film, to me, is better than “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In the end, don’t hide, just RUN to the theater to go see “Ready or Not.” It’s a unique concept, has likable characters, and has an impressive amount of bloody violence to keep my eyes towards the screen. This film is from Fox Searchlight, a studio that happens to be a major contributor to many of the awards-type pictures that have come out in recent years. Will this movie be one of them? I don’t know, it’s possible, but it’s still August so I cannot exactly confirm that will be the case. Although many awards outlets are not that friendly to horror flicks so there’s a good chance “Ready or Not” may be ignored. But I will remind you, in Disney’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, this is one part that they now can claim as their own. And movies like these are what I hope to continue to see from Disney with their new Fox additions. Movies that are compelling, original, and in the case of Fox Searchlight, small. Disney has recently exterminated Fox 2000, which is a sad move from my perspective, but if they eradicate or shrink the relevance of Fox Searchlight, that would be an even bigger mistake, and films like “Ready or Not” are why. This is a film that I want to see again, buy on Blu-ray, and this should not surprise you right now, I’m going to give “Ready or Not” a 10/10! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently went to Terrificon over a week ago, I am currently working on a post related to my experience of the event, and I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping it is up by the end of the week. Only time will tell though! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are hiding from the real world and spending your days in the virtual universe of the Internet, I don’t know what you are doing, but who knows? Maybe you have Facebook. And if you have Facebook, do me a solid favor, check out the Scene Before Facebook page, give it a like, tell your friends about it, maybe your Facebook friends, and if you are an old school Internet junkie, tell your MySpace friends! I want to know, did you see “Ready Or Not?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played a whacked up edition of a particular game? If so, what was it like? Ready or not, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Crawl (2019): When Life Gives You Gators, Make Gatorade

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“Crawl” is directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D) and is produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for directing various horror titles such as “The Evil Dead,” “Army of Darkness,” and “28 Days Later.” I also can’t forget to mention how he helmed all of Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. This film stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father who live in Florida, a state known for the magic of Disney World, warm sandy beaches, and of course… stupid people. For all you old-timers out there, please search up “Florida Man” for more information. Anyway, the movie takes place during a massive, boisterous, category 5 hurricane. Throughout said hurricane, Scodelario’s character of Haley is trying to save her father, Dave. Simultaneously, Haley is trying to fend off incoming alligators.

Good thing this guy wasn’t in the movie.

When it comes to “Crawl,” it was never my most anticipated film of the year. I didn’t think it would be a modern day “Citizen Kane” or anything, but walking into this film, all I really asked for was a fun time. In fact, I almost expected “Crawl” to be somewhat similar to last year’s “The Meg.” Why? Because that movie seems to fit into that category of “summertime fun.” It’s a category that I would place certain movies that are not terrible enough to be dumped into an early month of the year, movies that in no way are going to win Best Picture, but they are perfect for witnessing simple, effective stories that can win an audience over for a period of time. The reason why I enjoyed “The Meg” so much is because it kind of knew what it was. It wasn’t trying to be serious the entire time, even though there were slight dabs of seriousness throughout. It just let the audience know that they were going to witness absurd fun.

Although I will say, “Crawl” is not exactly like “The Meg.” It’s got a bit more common sense put into it, but that does not mean it wasn’t good. In fact, one of the biggest strengths of “Crawl” has to do with something that I found to be a bit of a shocker. Specifically, character building. The entire movie hinges on the relationship of the father and daughter, two individuals who have great chemistry and play off each other very well in certain moments. I think the casting choices for both characters are top notch. Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper are a likable duo in a dangerous situation. There were several moments where I managed to root for them and hoped they would get themselves out of peril. As for the daughter, I could definitely tell she really cared about her dad from the very beginning. She really wanted to protect him. And this brings up an interesting reversal of a stereotypical thought I have. Because I know parents sometimes might say they’d do anything to protect their child, but here, we see the child trying to do the same, as if they were the parent, which really makes our main hero an excellently written character.

And one other thing I should point out about “The Meg” is that I occasionally refer to that movie as “what ‘Sharknado’ should have been.” And in some ways, “Crawl” is kind of like “Sharknado.” In fact, more so than “The Meg” because unlike that film, “Crawl” takes place during a natural disaster. But unlike “Sharknado,” I, again, bought into the characters, and when I look back at a film like that, I think it plays out with a tad too much seriousness than I would prefer for a film of its title. But here in “Crawl,” the tone is pretty much on par with what I would expect. Not too silly, not too gritty, just right.

I must also point out that one of the main elements of the film is that the father and daughter not only have to deal with a big storm, but they also have to survive against alligators. A number of moments with these alligators are hypnotizing, full of tension, and it just makes you root for the two leads. And going back to the comparison with “Sharknado,” these alligators are not nonsensical. They feel legit, they don’t look like they were made for a PS2 game. They have a raw feel throughout the film based on their proper utilization.

But I must remind everybody, this movie takes place in Florida, which does make sense because of the alligator appearances during the runtime. However, what does not make sense is the layout of the main house where all the s*it is going down. Why? I’m not saying it’s a bad house by any means. I’m not saying it is poorly designed or decorated, but what I am saying is that Florida homes don’t have basements. A majority of the film takes place in this house with a basement, where the alligators are coming in, water is making its way, nothing is very happy go lucky. I have never lived in Florida, I’ve been a few times, although I’ve never lived there. But I am willing to bet I can talk to almost anyone who lives in Florida, reach out and ask for a tour of their home, and if I asked them, “Hey, can I see your basement?” Some of those people might reply saying I’d probably need my brain checked. But you know what? I like to keep an open mind. So I did a Google search on this. From what I have gathered, it seems some people have pointed out that the practicality for a basement in south Florida is rather low, although it may be a tad more common in north Florida. With that being said, a majority of this film takes place in Coral Lake, which is the area of the main house. Let me just remind you that Coral Lake is in a southern area of the state. Maybe crawl spaces, as opposed to basements are a bit more common there than I would think, but this is still something I need to bring up. As of now, this isn’t going to lower the film’s ultimate score, but even with that in mind, as a guy who lives in Massachusetts… I have questions.

Speaking of questions, let’s talk about the film’s ending. Now, this is spoiler free, but I want to point out that this film ends kind of abruptly. This film is 87 minutes long, and I can see why. I have a feeling that either the two people who wrote this film, the director, or the studio wanted this film to be less than an hour and a half in runtime. And at some point, one person thought in order to guarantee a “satisfying” runtime, someone said to just end the film at whatever point could be imaginable. It kind of reminded me of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which is much longer than “Crawl,” in fact it is around two and a half hours. But that film, just like “Crawl” ended in a way that kind of felt rushed. It didn’t make me angry, it just took whatever excuse is possible in order to get to the end credits lickety-split. I was just like, “Alright, that happened.”

In the end, “Crawl” is a fun movie to watch no matter how rainy of a day it is. I felt the chemistry between the two leads. I was able to get past my questioning of reality in Florida. And while it is no masterpiece for the ages, “Crawl” will definitely stand as an appropriate summer movie. Overall, it’s a good time. I’m going to give “Crawl” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I will be going to see “Ready Or Not,” which is a movie about a recently married woman who must partake in a game of hide and seek in order to be part of her new family. I just got passes to an advance screening, and my hype levels are VERY high for this movie right now. The Red Band trailer for it is up there with the best trailers I have seen this year, so be on the lookout for my thoughts on the film! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And if it is a rainy day, one perfect activity aside from staying in and reading Scene Before, is checking out the Scene Before Facebook page! The Scene Before Facebook page is a great place to stalk the Movie Reviewing Moron before finding out if your friend likes your latest cat picture. Because CATS on social media are brand new! I want to know, did you see “Crawl?” What did you think about it? Or, do you currently live or have you ever lived in Florida? Tell me about it! Most important question though, if you lived in a home there, did it have a basement? I’m absolutely curious right now! Let me know! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Midsommar (2019): Can Ari Aster Top Hereditary?

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“Midsommar” is directed Ari Aster, who is known for directing numerous shorts along with his feature-length debut which came out last year, “Hereditary.” This film stars Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family, The Commuter), Jack Reynor (Sing Street, Free Fire), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place, The Electric Company), Vilhelm Blomgren (Gösta, The Days the Flowers Bloom), and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner). This film involves a couple and a bunch of close friends going away together to rural Sweden. While the main characters intended to take a simple vacation to view a mid-summer festival, they eventually find themselves becoming more involved with various activities having to do with a Pagan cult.

If you asked me about my thoughts on Ari Aster as a filmmaker before this movie came out, I would have simply told you that I love him. Granted, I could be biting off more than I can chew because he only directed one feature film, but it does not change the fact that said feature film, specifically, “Hereditary,” floored me as soon as I witnessed it in the theater for the first time. The interactions between the family was truly worth appreciating. The cinematography is eye candy as delicious as white chocolate Kit-Kats. And Toni Collette gave one of my favorite performances of the decade as Annie. Naturally, the more I heard about “Midsommar,” the more excited I got. In fact, of all the movies coming out this summer season, “Midsommar” might be the one I anticipated the most, which is surprising when you consider how I waited over a month to go see it in the theater. But I just checked it out, so here we are! I feel like I have some weight off my shoulders!

Although before we go any further, I want to give a special shoutout to a friend of mine. His name is Choyon, and he went to go see this movie in July, only to tweet the following:

I cannot say I have seen the original “Wicker Man” film, but from what I gathered by this tweet, that was probably an enormous insult towards “Midsommar.” Having said that, I replied to him saying that I’ll probably instead check out “Spider-Man: Far From Home” that weekend, which in reality I didn’t do until two weeks after tweeting that out. He replied to me saying “Spider-Man” sounds like a better choice, calling “Midsommar” “pretentious crap.” These were followed by two more tweets.

I love Hereditary, I am almost scared for how I’ll feel about this thing after seeing that film. –Me

It may be a letdown, just saying –Choyon

I’ll remind you that Choyon has previously been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” so I for one am able to trust him in an assortment of ways. Then again, while he appeared on “Jeopardy!,” he participated in the final round only to do this:

Yeah, that happened! It even got featured in a video from SGSA (Stupid Game Show Answers), a famous name in providing game show fail compilations for years.

But even with that, he is right. “Midsommar” broke me, tore me apart, and ignited me into scorching flames. If I had to judge this as if it were two movies, I would point out the movie’s excellence in terms of direction, cinematography, and location choices. The technical aspects stand out for good reason. But there is a lot that I can’t stand when it comes to how the film plays out as to what characters do on camera.

From the very start of the film, I am instantly reminded of one of my problems involving “Hereditary.” Below is a quote from my review of said film.

“I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey.”

If you put that in context, I will point out that “Hereditary” had a ton of terrific performances by its cast, including Jackoff winner Toni Collete, but one performance that caught my eye at a certain scene was the one given by Alex Wolff. Why? Because he happened to be crying in a manner that managed to lack any sort of match to realism, and overall, it made me think of him as some cartoon who fails at animating their own expressions. This movie gave me the worst possible first impression it could by having Florence Pugh’s character also cry in a manner that just irked me. Granted, I know crying is a natural thing, I know people do it in various situations, but again, I just don’t know if these actors would cry in the movie in the same way they would in real life. And having seen two movies from Ari Aster now, it makes me wonder as to what he will have stored in the future for his projects. Is this going to become a cliche? Is this going to be an Ari Asterism? Is he going to have at least one oddball, Lifetime movie-esque sobbing scene for each one of his films? And I will say, this crying, while annoying, was not even the worst part of this sack of crap!

I will say, when it comes to the characters in general, they are very off and on. For one thing, I kind of hate the main group of guys in this film because they all seem to just be less than friendly to the main character at times and it is sort of off-putting. There’s a scene where everyone completely establishes they don’t want to go on this trip to Sweden with her, only to pretend to be nice to her when she’s in the room and invite her to the trip. I understand why they would invite her, even if they have something against the main character to begin with. But even so, upon first seeing all the guys, they all had this rather unlikable vibe to them. It’s like if a speeding ticket was a person!

But I will say, upon first seeing rural Sweden and the setting for the movie’s main events, I was undeniably impressed. The setting looked vibrant and beautiful, almost to the point where I wanted to go there. All the costumes stand out and it brought this feeling of immersion. Sadly though, as the movie progressed, there was not much of interest when it came to various happenings in Sweden. Granted, the movie does a good job at letting us as an audience experience the traditions of the cult, but when it comes to shock value, which this movie seems to promise, I almost felt nothing. Maybe because I saw it coming though. I remember going into this movie being told it’s more gross than scary, and honestly I can see why, but I won’t go into it.

One comment about this film before it came out that admittedly made my hype levels rise as high as a skyscraper came from director Ari Aster himself. Back in March, he referred to “Midsommar” as “a ‘Wizard of Oz’ for perverts.” Honestly, I took that as a bit of a joke. I did expect this movie to be somewhat gory, I did expect a lot of the costumes to pop, I also expected the locations and setpieces to set the tone for what’s to come, but holy s*it, he’s right. I won’t go into complete detail, but that is a good way to describe this film based on certain scenes.

But it does not change one thing. THIS MOVIE SUCKS!

I–I can’t believe it! This is Ari Aster I’m referring to! I should be praising him like he is god or something! But now, he has diminished some of my hopes for his future projects! As if the movie itself was bad enough based on the beginning and the main events as everyone happens to be in Sweden, the ending just takes those two concepts and makes them look like a breeze to sit through. Why? Because, again, without spoiling anything, it is simply one of the most repulsive things I have witnessed in recent memory. In fact, I might even go as far to say that the ending to “Midsommar” could qualify to be a part of my top 10 worst endings in film history! Granted, I saw where the film was going with the ending, trying to have this compelling vibe that maybe could get some viewers to be speechless or something. It could possibly get them to activate their brain a little bit. In a way, if I had to use a recent example, it kind of had a similar feel to the ending I witnessed in last year’s “Annihilation,” only that movie was ten times better and more interesting than this piece of crap!

In fact, if I really had to make a comparison between this film and something else it has to be “The Favourite.” It’s a film that I heard a lot about, it has a reasonable amount of hype behind it for various reasons, it looks beautiful (both in previews and the final product), but it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. Granted, I will point out this movie is superior to “The Favourite” in terms of how invested I was from start to finish. It was less boring, better paced, and overall a slightly more hypnotizing story. But it does not change the fact that when it comes to “Midsommar,” it is a film that had tons of potential to be associated with prestige, and sadly, it ends up falling flat on its own face.

The best way I could describe the ending to “Midsommar” without further context is by once again going back to the idea of this movie being gross as opposed to scary. To me, it was neither, it was simply annoying. If you think hearing Jar Jar Binks and his hellish voice is ridiculous at home on your living room TV, try going to a cinema with surround sound and listening to every single utterance during this film’s climax. I imagine when this film comes out on DVD, it is not going to change how nearly headache-inducing the ending could possibly get.

Ari Aster, I love you! Please make a better film than than this! I was rooting for you!

In the end, “Midsommar” might as well have as much of a chance of completely impressing me during a repeat viewing as White Castle does of creating a pancake-sized burger. The worst thing about “Midsommar” is not necessarily how bad it is, but how disappointing it is. I say that because there are lot of movies out there that I knew were going to be terrible before watching them like “Batman & Robin” and “The Emoji Movie,” but “Midsommar” looked fantastic. In fact when I call this my most anticipated film of the summer compared to another film that opened the same day, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which ended up surprising me to the point of absurdity, it leaves a hole in my heart. I cannot even recommend this movie as background noise, because again, this film has an ending that is probably just as annoying to me as annoying as Teletubbies may be to parents who are raising newborn children. But again, I cannot give this movie a 1/10 because it is well shot, it does look impressive, and I say that to the point where it would make for a good tech demo. Well, as long as the product is on mute at certain points. I’m going to give “Midsommar” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “Crawl,” a film about a father and daughter who are caught in the middle of a Florida hurricane. If you want to read a review for an Ari Aster flick that I think is worth your time, my link to my “Hereditary” review is down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, also be sure to like my Facebook page if you have an account there as well! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Midsommar?” What did you think about it? Am I crazy right now or something? Or, who is a director working today who doesn’t have much background that you are curious about? Aside from Aster, Tim Miller would be one of my picks. I’m somewhat curious as to what he’s going to do with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018) REVIEW

Us (2019): This Is “Us”

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“Us” is directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu) and stars Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 12 Years A Slave) Winston Duke (Black Panther, Person of Interest), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men), and Tim Heidecker (On Cinema, Decker) in film where a family takes a trip to Santa Cruz. While trying to enjoy their vacation, they eventually encounter doppelgangers of themselves. Once this happens, scares, hijinks, blood, and gore are all to be witnessed.

This movie is helmed by Jordan Peele, whose work I have been exposed to in the past, but I was never truly invested in him. In fact, I have still yet to see “Get Out.” Admittedly, I was debating on watching “Get Out” the day before I went to see this film in the theater since I own the 4K for it, but that ultimately did not happen. But I did manage to catch “Us” on its opening Friday in RPX, because it was better for me timing-wise, despite being pricier than a standard theatre, I figured maybe it would probably provide some enhancements in the scares, and I have never seen an RPX movie before, so I figured I might as well start now. There were definitely some enhancements to be had, but I don’t want to dive too deep into the experience itself, but as far as the movie goes, I was definitely impressed. But part of me wonders… was I impressed enough?

To me, I am beginning to wonder if Jordan Peele is going to be the next Alfred Hitchcock. It is a little hard to tell given how he hasn’t directed too many films, but based on the reception “Get Out” has previously gotten, plus the thoughts given thus far on “Us,” including my own, I am thinking that is definitely possible. Although that will ultimately depend if Peele decides to continue writing and directing for films, which direction he decides to take, and if he comes out with more films that are well received. Granted, this movie is not perfect, and while there is a part of me that is saying this film is f*cking amazing, there’s another part of me that is a tad disappointed by particular aspects.

“Us” by itself is a scary, thrilling, and intriguing horror flick. There are definitely scares to be had, and it is also very mindbending. Based on the box office (this movie set a record for original horror films), this movie definitely has gotten a hand of general audience members out of their homes and into the cinema, but regardless of which demographics go out and see “Us,” it kind of felt like something I’d watch in an art house at certain points. Granted, there are a lot of elements that add up to mainstream horror, and luckily, those elements don’t appear to be the oldest cheap tricks in the book. But I feel like this movie had a sense of flavor that it probably wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t for Jordan Peele.

I don’t follow Jordan Peele all that much but when it comes to “Us,” I really felt something from him. Not emotionally speaking, but I felt that his work on the film was a contribution to something that didn’t feel like it came out of a studio. This movie was distributed by Universal, and I am willing to bet based on “Get Out’s” success, they probably told Peele he can make whatever kind of movie he wants. I mean, what other guy would create a scene in a movie that is supposed to be scary, and the background music happened to be NWA’s “F*ck the Police?” And to my surprise, it somehow worked!

Let’s talk about Lupita N’yongo in this film. I’ve seen her in a number of films before including the newer “Star Wars” installments, “Black Panther,” the 2016 adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” and while she has proven herself to be a decent performer in those films, they weren’t exactly fantastic. This is especially true when you compare these performances to the one she gave in “12 Years a Slave.” It’s a movie I don’t often watch, but having watched it, it’s hard not to recognize the absolute talent of N’yongo. Her performance in “Us” honestly is more on par with the performance she gave in a movie like “12 Years A Slave.” That may be an overstatement, but to me, it’s true. Again, going back to imperfections, just because I think the performance was really good, didn’t mean I thought there was a lack of error. After all, there is one part in particular that I found to be rather awkward in terms of dialogue delivery, which occurs around the first third of the film. But overall, this is one of the better performances I personally have witnessed from N’yongo.

I also admired some of the scenes with Winston Duke’s character because he manages to pull off the role of that crazy, hyperactive father who always wants to, I dunno, live life. There’s a scene where he makes his family watch him on a boat, exclaiming for joy. He is willing to speak up against his opponents, and he just has this charm to him that again, goes back to Peele’s excellent writing ability. Without Peele as the nucleus operating everything, this could be a decent movie, but I think it got an uplift just because Peele was here.

And I will point out once again, despite the well deserved box office records, despite the positive reception, despite everything about this movie that can associate with lying in a pile of gold with no worries, the film is ultimately imperfect. While there is a lot to like, the one thing that drags this film down just a tad is the way the ending plays out. While there are definitely worse endings out there, it kind of left me feeling icky. Not grossed out, in fact, this is a horror film we’re talking about, so if I felt grossed out that might actually be a compliment. When I say I feel icky I mean that I feel like I have just caught a cold or something. I don’t want to get into spoilers, in fact, not only did this movie just come out, but if you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend you do, especially on a big movie screen like I did. While a lot of the climax plays out in a way I actually admire (in fact, the best part of the score is in that portion of the film), the part I don’t particularly enjoy comes in around the tail end. If they changed that, not only would the ending be better, but I’d probably consider this film a master work. I have faith in Jordan Peele however, he seems to present himself as a showman, and if he continues to make horror films, or a film in another genre for that matter, chances are I’d be willing to check it out. In fact, one of the biggest praises I can give to “Us” is that it got yours truly, one who has yet to see “Get Out,” to become more curious as to giving that film a shot in the near future.

In the end, when I saw “Us,” I thought it was the movie for me. Possibly even for you, y’all, them, he, she, and we. Jordan Peele has demonstrated here that he is more than a comedian, kind of like John Krasinski successfully managed to do with “A Quiet Place.” And these aren’t exactly my words, I don’t know who I first heard them from, but they are still pretty relevant. I feel like a reason why these two are making good horror films has a lot to do with timing. As a couple of people who know how comedy tends to work, they seem to know that timing is everything when it comes to joke delivery. It’s almost like they’ve applied those same principles when it comes to scaring people. So… Seth Rogen? Stephen Merchant? Seth MacFarlane? Where’s your horror movie? I’m not asking for one, but seriously, where’s your horror movie? I’m going to give “Us” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! As someone who considers every attempt possible to keep up with the latest news provided in the film industry, I have been thinking about discussing one of the heaviest topics in said industry during recent days. As some of you know, Disney finally completed their 21st Century Fox acquisition, and part of me wants to come on here and discuss it simply because I am rather worried for the direction of the film industry in the near future. If I don’t have time to do that within the next week, I could talk about something else, because as mentioned, I just saw “Us” in RPX, which marked my first time in one of those auditoriums, so if I cannot talk about Disney and Fox, I have my backup topic. Stay tuned for whatever I do in the future regarding content, maybe it’ll be something completely different, I don’t know! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you haven’t already! I want to know, did you see “Us?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Get Out?” Which of the two films is superior? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marrowbone (2018): Crossing the Line Into An Unmemorable Horrorland

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“Marrowbone” is directed by Sergio G. Sánchez and stars George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, and Matthew Stagg in a movie that starts as every happy-go-lucky story does, with the mother dying immediately. This mother’s death now leaves four children varying in age to take care of themselves. At the same time, this death has to remain in secret. If the secret gets out to the town lawyer, Tom Porter (Kyle Soller), it’ll be revealed that the new caretaker, Jack, the oldest of the children, has nobody in his home that is over the age of 21. This gives the alert that Jack, is illegally taking care of his younger siblings. That’s not all, because throughout the movie, they have to deal with a monster inside the house.

I bought this movie for $15 during my time at New York Comic Con, so why not watch it? Going into the flick, I was somewhat intrigued as to what I was about to see. I am not a complete and total stranger to the studio behind this movie, Magnolia Pictures, although in this case the studio label is Magnet. They made a movie that came out earlier in the decade, “Grand Piano,” starring Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Happy Feet) and John Cusack (Better Off Dead, Say Anything), which I wholeheartedly admired. Naturally, while I wasn’t expecting to compare this movie to “Grand Piano” (different genres, different crew, etc), I did have some faith in Magnolia because their name is not as prominent as Disney or Sony, which for the most part, seems to be all about the money as opposed to quality. They operate on the more independent side of the spectrum, much like another prominent studio, which I honestly probably like a lot better than Magnolia, A24.

Another thing to consider is how good 2018’s movies have been so far, specifically in the horror genre. “A Quiet Place” came out in April and it was one of the most innovative horror flicks I’ve seen. What John Krasinski was able to do not only with as someone who had little materials to work with, but also as a first-time director is astounding to me. My favorite horror film of the year however, has to be, coincidentally, an A24 film. To be specific, “Hereditary.” Toni Collette better be nominated for an Academy Award, the cinematography was stylistically successful, and it is a truly wild ride.

“Marrowbone” is not as good as those two films.

Before the crew sends their pitchforks flying in the air, all the way to my house, let me just state, it’s good.

One of “Marrowbone’s” biggest strengths comes from the cast. The chemistry between all of the children is extremely believable, there’s even some chemistry between one couple I was able to buy into, and as far as everyone’s general acting ability goes, a job well done is in order.

Another aspect I totally found myself getting into was the score. It’s been days since I watched the film from start to finish, but it somewhat reminded me at times of what Howard Shore did for “Lord of the Rings.” Since I seem to be spitballing Shore’s name right now, I’ll also give a shoutout to Fernando Velázquez for creating the excellent score for this very film. The score also manages to accommodate the stellar cinematography, most notably the land shots. Will this receive any Best Cinematography awards during the upcoming season? Hard to tell, this movie didn’t make much money during its limited release and it is not even out on digital yet.

When it comes to the main characters, the oldest of the siblings goes by the name of Jack. He is the one responsible for hiding the family secret throughout the whole runtime. While there are moments in the movie where I do side with him, while there are moments where I do root for him, there’s also this thought that I’m currently having in my mind that is trying to get me to gather all of my other thoughts about him. Jack is a likable, although slightly unmemorable character. Then again, it’s not as easy for him to stand out when you have a young kid in the mix who occasionally serves as comic relief.

By the way, that young kid’s name is Sam and he is played by Matthew Stagg. Out of everyone in the film, I gotta say that he delivers the best performance. No, he is not the next Jacob Tremblay, he is not the next great child actor to be remembered for eternity (might need to see more work before my ultimate verdict on that though). I also got to give credit to the writing for the movie because some of the character’s most notable lines are pretty much what the audience might as well be thinking. He is curious, he is suggestive, and he is charming. Having seen Matthew Stagg perform as this character, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him.

Also, I can’t go without mentioning that this is a horror movie and there are supposed to be some scares in this thing. The scares are there, but I feel like maybe they could have been taken up a slight notch. I wasn’t really genuinely terrified by what I’ve witnessed. However I must say I will say that the monster this movie seems to heavily revolve around is very well done special effects-wise. Nice work! The scares are not horrible, but they are also not as memorable or outstanding as I’d hope they’d be.

In the end, I don’t really have much else to say about “Marrowbone” because everything else I really do have to say is in spoiler territory, and if I actually had the ability to remember more of the movie, I would be talking about it more. Again, it’s not a terrible movie. It could be some decent background noise on Halloween, but there’s not really much more credit I can give to it other than that. Well, maybe except the production value, that is excellent. Also, I must say, another factor that makes me think this is worth a second viewing is that there is a 4K Blu-ray for this. By the way, I used that for my review. So I guess that copy is a hearty $15 well spent. Perhaps this movie would also get the same verdict I gave to live-action “Ghost in the Shell” last year. It’s not a fantastic movie, but if you want a movie that can show off a new giant TV, this wouldn’t be a bad pick. Especially when you consider there’s a 4K edition of it available. Maybe part of my lack of remembrance towards “Marrowbone” has to do with my review coming days after seeing the movie, as opposed many of my other reviews which traditionally are posted in much less time compared to when I finished the movie. So in that case, maybe some human error applies to this. I’m going to give “Marrowbone” a 6/10. I have a strong feeling this grade could go up in the future during a potential rewatch, but for now, this verdict stands. But still, going back to the beginning, 2018 has been one of the best years for movies I’ve ever seen. By far the best year for movies since I started Scene Before. The good movies this year have certainly outweighed the bad. There were a number of all timers like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.” Even some of the stinkers this year couldn’t rival some of my worst movies of the past couple of years. Maybe “The Hurricane Heist” sucked, but it was certainly better than “The Space Between Us.” Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” took every ounce of life I had and set it on fire, but it was not as bad as that 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie she starred in. “Marrowbone” is a slightly forgettable movie, but it still gets a 6 from me. Well done.

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Thanks for reading this review! I just want to say to everyone reading this that I wish you all a Happy Halloween and good luck avoiding teepees, eggs, and most importantly, police officers telling your kids they are too old to trick or treat. Speaking of treats, this weekend I’ll be my making 4th annual trip to Rhode Island Comic Con, and I’ll be documenting all of the craziness that is bound to go down. I should also have you all know that it is my birthday weekend, so hopefully, I can beg somebody to give a free autograph or photo. Cons are not cheap! Also, there’s a movie theater not far from me in the area, so if I have the time, maybe I’ll catch something there. I’m well aware that this weekend is the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of my most anticipated movies of the fall. And no, I’m not reviewing “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (depending on how many requests I end up getting)! Maybe if I want to torture myself I will do such a thing, but for now, I’m staying away! Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Marrowbone?” What did you think about it? Or, since it is Halloween, what is your favorite horror movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Meg (2018): Shut Up, Shark

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“The Meg” is directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Phenomenon) and stars Jason Statham (The Transporter, Furious 7), Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Resident Evil: Retribution), Rainn Wilson (The Office, Juno), Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Winston Chao (The Wedding Banquet, 1911), and Cliff Curtis (The Last Airbender, Fear the Walking Dead). This movie is essentially about Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) who encounters a megalodon, a killer shark that is as large as Texas. It is up to him to save people from suffering while a submersible happens to be sinking.

“The Meg” was not really my most anticipated movie of the year, it was not really something I was thinking was going to be all that great, but at the same time, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. Kind of in the same way that geckos can’t keep their eyes off of how 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance. Maybe they don’t know what that means, but at the same time it’s just so hypnotizing and rings a bell in people’s heads. The first trailer of “The Meg,” at least to me, was a thing of beauty. I felt like this was not going to necessarily be the movie that kills all of the other summer movies in terms of likability. Having already seen “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” this movie has some big shoes to fill. Based on the music and catch phrases that the marketing provided (CHOMP ON THIS), I knew what I was going in for, and I was f*cking ready for it. Let me just tell you all, this movie is what “Sharknado” should have been. OK, well, maybe not, the plots kind of differ, but even so, in a world where we have more “Sharknado” movies than we have “Jaws” movies, “The Meg” is here to chew on every last “Sharknado” possible!

I’ll remind everyone about “Sharknado,” and if you don’t know what “Sharknado” is, consider yourself safe from being trapped by shark Satan. There’s also a good chance you might not be aware that it is well known for being stupid, and in a way that I GUESS entertains people. For me, I just find it horrendous. And even the franchise itself understands what I’m talking about. The previous “Sharknado” installment claims to be the ultimate movie in its lineup. It’s literally called “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time!” When it comes to “The Meg,” the plot, while still revolving around scope per se, utilizes it and uses it in a way that is technically smaller. “Sharknado” might as well be the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy…

“It’s so dense, every single frame has so many things going on.” -Rick McCallum

…whereas “The Meg” might as well be the “Star Wars” original trilogy, where there’s glory, with a proper purpose.

“The Meg” is a movie revolving around a really big shark, and this does feel like a big movie, and that’s exactly what this movie does very well. Speaking of things it excels at, it manages to have some scares. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing to write home about, but it all works. “The Meg” manages to have the same quality “Jaws” seems to have, which is to effectively combine summertime fun and horror and put it into a nice little package. Now this movie is no masterpiece, so to call it the next “Jaws” is a bit of a stretch, but it certainly does share a redeeming quality that kind of made “Jaws” what it is. Horrific summertime fun.

What “Jaws” has though compared to “The Meg” is compelling characters. The characters in “The Meg” aren’t exactly unlikable, they don’t do anything that makes you want to smash them to bits, but they just aren’t really worth talking about in a greatest characters of all time list. And I say that primarily because while they certainly serve their purpose and are somewhat intriguing, they don’t have enough depth to them. Although then again, some of them are deep underwater in the movie so what do I know?

Our main character in the movie is played by Jason Statham and he plays a guy named Jonas Taylor, but in all seriousness, I am probably not gonna remember the character’s name that well and just refer to him as Jason Statham. If he looks like Jason Statham, talks like Jason Statham, walks like Jason Statham, then he’s Jason Statham. I also gotta say though, seeing Jason Statham in this movie, I honestly think he was slightly miscast. I can imagine others playing this character aside from Statham. Sure, Statham kind of works, but there are better choices out there. Maybe John Cena (Blockers, The Wall), maybe Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina), maybe Terry Crews (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

And when it comes to the background we get related to Jason Statham’s character, there’s not really much I can report. All we really know about him is that apparently he’s crazy. In fact, what do we really know about anyone in this movie? Let’s just say you tied me to a chair and the only way I’d be able to live is if I can explain about at least one character in detail. Chances are that’d be impossible, because I feel like all of these characters lack detail. These are just people that all seem to be stuck in a situation who we as audience members could be getting to know, but in reality, are just scribbled on the script just to move the story along. These characters are seemingly interesting, they’re funny, they have good chemistry for the most part, acting is hit or miss, but they all seem to work well together.

Speaking of good acting, let’s talk about the portrayal of the young girl, Meiyang, played by Shuya Sophia Cai. Let me remind you, this is a child actress. She was born a decade ago, and the first trailer for this movie came out barely before she entered the double digit ages. Her acting level in this movie was probably better than a good number of adults present on the cast list. Either the director worked extra hard with this girl to make her execute the best performance possible, she has excellent mentors who know acting and can teach acting quite well, or maybe pleasing acting to her is something that just comes naturally. I don’t know, but the main point is, this girl can act! Well done to her!

As far as pacing in this movie goes, it almost makes the movie a puzzle in a sense. In the very beginning, it’s all exposition, it’s all introductions, it gets boring after a while, you just start begging for a megalodon to show up out of nowhere. I will admittedly say that maybe the first act of “Skyscraper” may have entertained me more than the first act of “The Meg.” Once you get into the megalodon stuff however, you don’t want to go back. It gets funnier, it gets wilder, it gets stupider in the best possible way. There was also some cringe comedy in there, and I’ll be honest, it flows rather well if you ask me.

One thing I gotta ask myself though is how GOOD this movie actually is. Because I’ll be honest with you, I REALLY enjoyed myself during “The Meg.” Let me just say this IS NOT a 10/10, but it’s also not a 1/10. What I’m trying to figure out on my mind if I like this movie because it’s so stupid it’s fantastic, or if it’s fun, or I’m just putting myself in a particular mindset for a couple of hours. And speaking of time, when I walked out of the theater, I noticed it was around 9:50PM, I went into the movie at 7:45PM, and the actual film started sometime past 7:50PM. When I walked out, this movie felt like it was 10 or 20 minutes shorter than it actually was, and I mean that in a good way. When you consider the boring first act, that almost sounds impractical. But from my perspective, this movie REALLY picks up at around the 30 or 40 minute mark.

Not only is pacing something that doesn’t stay consistent in this movie, but the tone is sometimes off for me. There were a couple times when someone was in danger where I didn’t really care if they got seriously hurt or if they died, whatever. I just didn’t really care for them because this didn’t feel like a character movie for one thing and once again, these people basically have no depth to them. And speaking of that, you know how I mentioned “The Meg” might as well be the superior version of “Sharknado?” With that statement in mind, “The Meg” contains a better story with more competent camerawork, special effects, and writing. I didn’t say everything in this movie was better by a landslide when it comes to “Sharknado.” Characterization needs some work if you ask me.

In the end, “The Meg” is the best kind of stupid movie you could ever ask for. It basically knows what it is, the fun never stops after a certain point, and while there happen to be some clashing tones interfering, this movie is still a good time. I honestly want to get the “The Meg” on Blu-ray when it comes out, because I think this will end up having a positive replay value on my part, so when that movie hits stores, I’ll be on my way. I don’t recommend this movie to everyone. If you are someone who is often called “Shirley” and is very serious, this movie might be one you’d want to avoid. For me, I just had plain fun, and I can’t wait to watch this movie again if I ever get a chance. I’m gonna give “The Meg” a 6/10. I’ll be honest with you. This grade might not even last. It could go up, it could go down, it could stay where it is. But based on everything I said, 6 seems to fit. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review up for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which will be the first entry in my space movie reviews in preparation for “First Man.” Speaking of upcoming content, I would like to warn everyone that New York Comic Con is coming up in a couple weeks, and I have tickets for Friday and Sunday so be sure to look out for my thoughts on the con whenever I can get around to posting them. Be sure to follow me here on Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Meg?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite shark movie? I bet all of you are gonna pick “Jaws” so I’ll ask another question. What are your thoughts on “Sharknado?” You can talk about individual movies or the franchise, your choice. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018): No Chris Pratt, No Explosions, No Superheroes, Just A24’s Latest Dose of “WTF?”

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Before we begin diving into this review of “Hereditary,” it must be stated that the tagline for this film, as you see in the poster above, is “Evil runs in the family.” If evil ran in my family, chances are I’d probably be in a different family. I can’t say it does, but it’s possible that I also can’t say it doesn’t, because there are many ways of interpreting evil. Speaking of families, a new family will be formed in a matter of time. Paul, Genevieve, and their future child will eventually find themselves together. Although the journey to get to the guarantee of the couple and child finding themselves together was an absolute quest of tears and pain. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series which has been going on for months. Each Monday, watch a new short video of Paul and Genevieve’s misadventures of making their best attempt to create a baby. Every week, a new story is told concerning the couple, and it displays small positives and major negatives. Watch the two as they have to deal with unfortunate realities in sex, math, exams, crying, and needles sharper than the picture on that TV at Best Buy you want so freakin’ bad. You can find the latest episodes on the series’s dedicated YouTube channel, and new stories arrive each Monday! The latest episode in the series goes over the couple’s sixth, seventh, and eighth “IVF” cycles in a small matter of minutes. This episode is a bit shorter than some of the other ones you’d find on the channel, so if ten minute videos are your thing as opposed to six minute videos, make your way over to the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel (link below) and browse their video selection. Be sure to subscribe, hit the notification bell, and follow “WTIVF?” on other forms of social media aside from YouTube! To do that, visit the links below and hit the follow icons! Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

“Hereditary” is the feature-length directorial debut of Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine), Alex Wolff (Patriots Day, The Naked Brothers Band), Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Leftovers), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, The Man in the Iron Mask) and reveals scary occurrences and events, not to mention dark secrets hiding within a family after the passing of its matriarch.

When it comes to “Hereditary,” I’ve heard mostly positive thoughts about it before I went out to see what this thing is all about. I recall seeing trailers, but not as much as other films I saw this year and others I’ve still yet to see. One of the biggest things that really got me excited for “Hereditary” is the studio behind it. This movie is distributed by the independent company A24. While their first films such as “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” and “Spring Breakers” released back in 2013, A24’s true recognition came during the year of 2015. In that year, they released films such as “Amy,” “Ex Machina,” and “Room.” All those films went on to win Academy Awards, and since then A24 has been bringing their A-game to the theaters. They released a number of films the following year, including the 89th Academy Awards Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Last year, 2017, was also a significant year for the studio. They’ve released several acclaimed films such as “The Florida Project,” “A Ghost Story,” “Lady Bird,” and what I find to be one of the best films of the decade, and in the conversation to be the best comedy of the decade, “The Disaster Artist.” This year, they’re still killing it. “Lean on Pete” has been getting great reviews, “First Reformed” is not getting many bad reactions either, and “Eighth Grade,” a film I’m really looking forward to that has yet to be released has gotten extremely positive criticism so far, with only a single rotten review on Rotten Tomatoes.

I walked into “Hereditary” with a smile on my face, all happy to see something that could potentially be masterful, scary, and just an overall well-done product. However I walked out of “Hereditary” thinking to myself, “What the f*ck did I just watch?”

NOW HOLD ON!

I didn’t say the movie is terrible, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it’s in the horror genre so you kind of might want to think that. There were several aspects of the film that had me in awe, and others that dropped my jaw.

First off, we have the direction and cinematography. The first shot of the movie is the camera moving away from a window, and it kind of reminded me a bit of “The Witch” and “The Neon Demon” if you’ve ever seen those films. That same shot pans and moves into this dollhouse, eventually leading to the introduction of a couple of the movie’s characters. Part of me wanted to really know how exactly this was done. This dollhouse is supposed to resemble the house where the movie’s family lives, and part of me wonders how exactly they transitioned into our first character interaction. It could have been as simple as stopping tape and moving onto a real live-action location, trying to replicate EXACTLY where tape stopped in the previous shot. If so, bravo, I couldn’t even tell. Maybe some CGI work went into this whole thing. I’m not doing much research on this, but this makes me extra curious to watch the movie again once it comes out on home video just so I can scroll through the bonus features. But if someone were to ask me today, how exactly this scene was done, I’d tell you that I haven’t got the darndest clue. I mean, how would I? I wasn’t on set. I took a TV and video production class for four years in high school, and I’ve learned quite bit about filmmaking during that time, but I wouldn’t say I’m the ultimate guru when it comes to this stuff. When you combine this movie’s direction by Ari Aster and the cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski, you get this plethora of wonder and suspense. This ultimately may have been the very thing, if not one of the very things that reminded me of “The Witch.” I say possibly one of the very things because that’s also a below average paced A24 horror film about the overall destruction of a family. One thing that’s different about “Hereditary” and “The Witch” however is that I find “Hereditary” to actually be a good movie.

I gotta say though, for those of you reading this on a later date, I saw this film during the summer movie season of 2018, which funny enough, based on the thoughts of some people, starts almost a full couple of months before summer actually begins. 2018 is looking to have one of the best summers I’ve witnessed in terms of movies. I’ve already given three perfect scores to movies this year, with two of them being for movies that got wide theatrical releases during the summer movie season. One of those two films wasn’t a blockbuster, but neither is this. Pretty much since June, I’ve given mostly scores of 8 or above to movies I’ve seen in theaters. While we have not even gotten to my final verdict section of the review yet, just a warning, this is going to continue my positive score frenzy.

Moving onto some of the characters in “Hereditary,” let’s begin this section by talking about Toni Collette’s character of Annie. I haven’t seen much work featuring Collette, but having seen “Hereditary,” I now want to go on and look at some of her past work because her performance here is fantastic! She might have just provided my favorite performance by an actor so far this year! I know it’s early, but when awards season comes around, I’m willing to bet that the name Toni Collette will be popping up somewhere. Her expressions, her emotion, her line delivery, everything about this performance was top-notch and kept my eyes on the screen. Now that I think about it, there’s one moment in this movie that takes place while the family is having dinner, and it reminded me a bit of “10 Cloverfield Lane.” It’s almost as if John Goodman’s character from “10 Cloverfield Lane” switched genders, took crazy pills, and started yelling up a storm. Collette gives by far the best performance of the movie, and if I were to do my own awards show where I choose all the winners, Collette might just take Best Actress.

 

Speaking of actresses, this movie is the film introduction of Milly Shapiro, who plays the character of Chucky–err, I mean Charlie. In terms of acting, this is not only a great performance by a child actress, but just a solid performance in general. I felt bad towards this character in a way, because as mentioned, the movie is basically about the events that occur after, in this particular case, Charlie’s grandmother passes away. And given the dialogue in one scene, Charlie feels like she gets greater care and attention from her grandmother than she does from her own birthmother. And the more I think about that scene and the way it’s written, I could make connections to my own life. I’m lucky enough to have my grandparents still living today. This includes grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side. Once they die, I don’t know what exactly my parents will be thinking, but maybe it’s something along the lines of getting older, wondering how long they have to live, how much this will impact them, or simply being “next.” If one or both my parents die, and maybe I’m at any age range in this circumstance, I can’t exactly say how I’ll react, this isn’t something that’s supposed to be rehearsed. But I feel like a part of me will die too. I wonder how much longer I have left until I go.

I will say that all the actors in this movie give terrific performances, and this even includes one that who I’d say gives perhaps the worst performance in the movie, and that’s Alex Wolff. Now, when I say worst performance, I could be exaggerating. There are a good number of roles played by various actors in this film, but out of the main roles, Alex Wolff’s portrayal of Peter may have been the weakest. Granted, he was born in 1997 and is not even twenty-one yet, so it’s kinda sorta understandable that he’s not in the same caliber as say, Toni Collette, but I do find it somewhat surprising for him to be considered worse by me than Milly Shapiro. The unfortunate thing about Wolff’s performance is there are certain segments of scenes that kind of took me out of the movie for a second. I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey. If that’s how he cries in real life, then OK, I didn’t know. But Wolff’s cry in this movie (no pun intended) doesn’t sound all that realistic. It made me think I was watching the climax of “Interstellar” and instead of trying to cry, Matthew McConaughey gave random choking noises that qualify as sad sounds. For the most part, Wolff was on his A-game, it’s a very solid performance, but if it weren’t for the crying, I would have been fully immersed into the movie.

One thing I will mention though is that I went to a restaurant after watching the movie, and I talked about it for a brief moment with the bartender serving my mother, sister, and I. If you ask me what I thought about how this movie ended, I’d say it was one of the better endings I saw all year, and I imagine a good number of people would feel the same way. When I heard from the bartender that he didn’t like the second half of the movie, I was curious to know why. I very much enjoyed the second half, thought it was disturbing, jaw-dropping at times, and made me question exactly what’s happening in such a positive way. There’s one thing about the ending however that I won’t get into that I particularly didn’t care about but he said he didn’t like. This is not the first time I heard a complaint like this, but it just goes to show that despite this movie’s acclaim, maybe it’s not for everyone. But it certainly was for me.

In the end, “Hereditary” is one of the most well directed movies of the year, along with a movie that just showcases tons of powerhouse performances. Toni Collette better get some chatter regarding the Academy Awards and depending on how the rest of the year plays out, her lack of appearance as a nominee for Best Actress will probably be a personal snub. I haven’t seen any of the shorts Ari Aster directed before going on to do “Hereditary,” however I would love to see some more work from him in the future. Maybe some more horror movies, film noir, or maybe something like a period piece. I loved “Hereditary,” I want to watch it again, and if it weren’t for issues as small as a Tic Tac, this would have received a perfect score. I’m gonna give “Hereditary” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” whether or not I’ll have it up this week is a total mystery to me, but I’ll be sure to have it up prior to the release of “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” thus completing my Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movie review series before that next installment hits theaters. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Hereditary?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite A24 film thus far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!