What a year for the horror genre it has been. The year started off great with the Sundance 2015 selection The Witch finally being released, and only got better when out of nowhere the world learned it was getting a horror-centric Cloverfield sequel. The summer gave us the solid, though inferior sequel to The Conjuring, the ridiculously fun, shark-filled The Shallows and the surprisingly modest hit Lights Out. During my viewing of The Shallows, I caught the trailer for Don't Breathe and was instantly wowed. I'd never heard of this horror flick that reteams the Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez with his star Jane Levy. Like the first Conjuring film, the trailer for Don't Breathe highlighted a specific scene and absolutely terrified me. As soon as I saw that trailer, Don't Breathe instantly jumped to my most anticipated films list. So with all those expectations, did the film disappoint? I'm happy to report that Don't Breathe absolutely did not disappoint. This non-stop horrific ride instantly became one of my favorite movies of the year. It thrilled me and awed me all at the same time.
Don't Breathe is all about three kids who like to commit burglaries in their spare time. The leader is kind of a cookie cutter thug named Money (easily the weakest point of the movie) who has influenced his troubled, wrong side of the tracks girlfriend Rocky (Jane Levy) to take part in stealing from rich people. Rocky steals in hopes that she can somehow obtain a better life for her and her sister. They wouldn't get too far though without her friendzoned buddy, Alex, whose father's job puts them into easy access to spare house keys and remote controls to silence home alarms. As a final heist, they decide to rob an old blind man, who recently won a huge settlement and supposedly keeps all his money in a vault inside his house. If they can just do this job, they'll never have to steal again. As expected in a horror film, things don't go quite as planned and the audience is taken on this ride that does not let up.
For the type of movie it's trying to be, Don't Breathe is almost absolutely perfect. Dare I say the "masterpiece" word?? The only flaws that really stood out were that the characters could have been fleshed out a little more. Usually, that's a bigger gripe for me, but the amount of time that this movie holds your attention non-stop, it's an easy thing to forgive here. Money was awful, as was his dialogue. His lines can be cringeworthy, but you don't really have to deal with too many of them once everything is all said and done. Jane Levy, once again excels in the horror movie "final girl-type" role, though Goosebump's Dylan Minnette certainly tries to steal the title with his performance on more than one occasion. I would have loved a couple more moments between them before all the action started, but once it does it's really hard to complain about anything because everything is so well done. The camera work in discovering this house was so wonderful, I'd always be a second away from commenting on how masterful the film was and then gripping my chair a moment later because something horrible was happening. Honestly, this is the horror genre at its absolute best. The way it should be. EMILY RATING: 9.5
THE BAD: Some of these characters are completely throwaway. I'm looking at you Killer Croc with your horrible one liners. And one liners in general grated on me where you get the sense they were told to try to copy the Marvel formula. No DC! Do your own thing I beg of you!! That style competed with the movie the whole time where you just can sense that a darker movie was hiding under the surface that was probably the filmmakers' true vision. Unfortunately what we got was somewhere in between with emphasis from studio execs to try to be crowd pleasing. One final thing to add to this category would be that I wasn't really into Cara Delevigne's villain and as mentioned before didn't get to see nearly enough of Jared Leto's joker to decide how I felt about him. Obviously, you don't walk out of this movie feeling about him the way you did when you first saw Heath Ledger's take on the character.
FINAL VERDICT: Suicide Squad is flawed, but still enjoyable. My expectations were just a little too high. EMILY RATING: 6/10
About a year and a half ago a reboot was announced to a beloved series. Business as usual right? Not quite when the property being redone was Ghostbusters, one of the most popular boys club movies ever made and the cast that was announced for the new film gave the story a gender makeover. Ever since that announcement people have been analyzing, criticizing and arguing over the decision. Some just didn't want a reboot period when they had long been hoping for a sequel with the original cast, some took a misogynistic side and didn't think that women had a place in the ghostbusting world, and others just saw it as a gimmick. It seemed that few people were actually excited for it, and when the trailers were released it only got worse and more hateful hype ensued. For me personally, Ghostbusters was a big part of my childhood as my three brothers were obsessed with it, and I definitely have a fondness for it. I was in the camp of feeling that the original Ghostbusters was lightning in a bottle that even its own sequel couldn't quite duplicate and it was best not to touch it.
Bottom line: Ghostbusters the female edition is lackluster, but not really anything worth getting worked up over. It's clear it's standing on the shoulders of a classic and doesn't really have anything new or worthwhile to offer of its own to have it be remembered by anyone. EMILY RATING: 5/10
The Legend of Tarzan isn't an origin story, but more of a sequel to a story you've already heard of, or likely seen another iteration of. The story takes place after Tarzan of the jungle has been civilized and has chosen to settle down in England under his birth name John Clayton the III, with his beloved wife Jane. Tarzan is enticed back to Africa for....reasons. Mostly because a convoluted plot wants him back there to help free slaves while other characters have nefarious intentions toward him, so back to the jungle he will go. Instead of a story of how he came to be, we're treated to his history in glimpses and stories told by Jane. However, soon after their arrival, Jane is kidnapped to bait Tarzan into...more plot contrivances. Does anyone really care? The plot here is all over the place, yet somehow, unlike other brainless blockbusters, I easily forgave this one.
The beautiful and likable cast are one thing, but there was just something really refreshing about this silly movie to me in the midst of a pretty crappy summer. I appreciated the style of the film; we don't have nearly enough old-timey adventure flicks anymore. There was something endearing about the flashbacks, and I almost wished we could have had an origin film since they were done so well....though I also felt that the "Hook approach" to coming back after the real story happened worked fine enough (much better than say Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.) There's some blandness to the proceedings and some uneven humor, but still somehow I just really managed to have a fun time with this film. Tarzan is almost godly with his powers and what he's able to do, and it's fun, if not ridiculous to watch. He is the Aquaman of the jungle if you will. Tarzan is kind of a hot mess (both the character and the movie hehe,) but honestly, I couldn't hate it. If I was blinded by Alexander's abs, please forgive me. EMILY RATING: 6.5/10
In Resurgence, 20 years have passed since the events of Independence Day. The world has lived in peace all this time and advanced far in technology after learning from all the junk the aliens left behind (and yet, a 90s computer was able to beat those aliens with a virus...makes sense.) Now, a new president is faced with a tough decision when an unknown spacecraft appears to be a threat to earth and from there an incomprehensible and stupid story begins to unfold. Plot specifics aren't necessary here because there's really not much to this film besides aliens attack earth...again. But surely it can't be that bad right? Wrong. The characters here are all essentially cardboard cut-outs and everything is lifeless. I was bored out of my mind during this movie. Watching every battle scene I felt I might as well be watching a video game as there was absolutely no suspense for any peril that any character faced. I could go more in depth on the ranting if I wanted to, but frankly it's not worth the energy. EMILY RATING: 1.5/10
It's kind of fitting that the character who Finding Dory centers around suffers from short-term memory loss since her movie is so darn forgettable. Wait now, Emily. Surely you can't be talking about the long-awaited sequel to the beloved Pixar classic Finding Nemo. That movie has 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. You must have seen a different movie. Perhaps I did because I must say upfront that I'm finding the overwhelming love to this film to be both surprising and confusing. As I'm the minority on this issue, I'm sure those expecting to love this movie still will....but let me address some of the good and the bad.
"Let's have Dory speak whale again. Everyone loved that the first time." - An example of the ideas coming out of the pitch room for Dory.