‘Mine Games’ Review

Mine Games movie poster

“”Mine Games” Is A Well-Done Thriller That Doesn’t Overstay It’s Welcome.”

Mind Games is a pretty savory bit of murder and seemingly random violence that from the start drops hints designed to lead you in one direction, while the narrative heads in another.

It’s a pretty clever movie in other ways as well.  For instance, one character is a apparently grabbed by someone in an abandoned mine, or was she?  Whomever it was left bloody fingernails across her ankle, seemingly no one else can see them.

The weird happenings continue to pile up one one after another, till there can be only one answer, no matter how unlikely or impossible that answer happens to be.

If I were to compare Mind Games to any other film it would be Cabin In The Woods, though I am not implying that that it’s as entertaining as that film, because it isn’t.  It’s not nearly as fantastical, though it has a few surprises up its sleeve.  It’s also well-cast, and like that film, revolves around a group of young people that are visiting a cabin in the woods that belongs to one of their relatives.

Though the characters don’t feel disposable, they’re also not quite as fleshed out as I would have liked because I have seen the movie twice, but I still can’t tell you anyone’s names, though to be fair that may have more to do with most of the actors being unfamiliar to me than anything else.

Though I recognized one–he wasn’t a big name, but at least was visually familiar; while another was a dead ringer for Shawn Ashmore, though I am pretty sure it wasn’t him.

As I said, it’s not quite the thrill ride that Cabin In The Woods is, but it’s also not as self aware as that movie was as well, which is a good thing.

Mine Games is currently showing on Netflix.

‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ Is On Netflix

I know that I have written on the reboot of the The Town That Dreaded Sundown before, but since the original has just turned up on Netflix, I though I’d throw something together.   If you’re into horror movies, it’s worth checking out because it’s a pretty good movie, though another reason is that if you intend to catch the upcoming reboot, it would be good to see the original first, for comparison’s sake.

What’s always creeped me out about it is that you see the killer quite a bit–though never his face.  It’s an acknowledgement that he moved around with a degree of impunity that only a person who was local, and by extension known to the community, could.

And as far as I am aware he was never caught, though for whatever reason the killings stopped.

The movie also has a narrator, which reminds me of the approach taken during certain parts of Tobe Hooper’s  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s not a particularly gory movie, though the filmmakers do a good job of crafting the atmosphere of a small American town held tightly in the grip of fear.

Another thing that I enjoy about the movie is while a lot that you see on the screen is based on speculation, there’s no attempt to glorify or make him any scarier than he already is.

 

‘Fetching Cody’ Review

Fetching Cody

“Fetching Cody Is An Unconventional Story About How Far One Man Is Willing To Go For Love.”

I tend to enjoy movies about time travel, which I have to admit that I like because I find it interesting the way filmmakers often try to fudge the (theoretical) science.  I have also come to notice that there are roughly two type of time travel movie:  The first, exemplified by films like Deja Vu, try to explain how time travel is possible within the framework of the movie.  And sure, more often than not the explanation is little more than techno-babble, but it tends to be interesting.

And there’s the second type, which could care less–if at all–about how time travel works and instead uses the premise to examine the lives of the characters within the movie, which is the type that takes place in Fetching Cody.

And it works because the two main characters, Art Frankel (Jay Baruchel) and Cody Wesson (Sarah Lind), are interesting enough that you just roll with their situation, despite its outrageousness.

It works on another level as well, which is that for awhile you’re not sure that what Art sees is actually happening or caused by overuse of the various pharmaceuticals he’s ingested.  For awhile this gives the movie an edginess similar to Terry Gilliam‘s The Fisher King, which Fetching Cody could perhaps be called a spiritual cousin to.  

Art and Cody are doing the best they can, which like too many of us isn’t good enough because they’re barely able to keep their heads above water.  Art is for the most part homeless, hasn’t found a pill he wasn’t willing to try and isn’t above hustling to make ends meet.  Cody is similar, though she seems to be into even harder drugs, which is her undoing when she takes something she can’t handle, and falls into a coma.

Heartbroken, Art flounders till he learns that one of his homeless friends has found a time machine that looks suspiciously like a recliner festooned with Christmas lights.

But the thing is, it actually works, but Art uses it not to improve his own life–which could use some enhancing–but instead to find a way to save Cody, no matter the cost.

David Ray’s movie is a fascinating study about the lengths one man is willing to go for the woman that he loves.

Fetching Cody is currently playing on Netflix.

‘The Colony’ Review

The Colony movie poster

“Lawrence Fishburne Is The Best Thing In A Feature You Probably Already Seen In Other Movies.” 

I have been wanting to see The Colony every since I saw its trailer on YouTube four or five months ago, so naturally I was jazzed to learn that it’s on Netflix.  It takes place in an indeterminate future, where we have built huge machines to control the weather (it should go without saying that if it’s isn’t broke, don’t fix it).  Naturally (and somewhat obviously), this scheme goes awry, and the Earth is plunged into an seemingly unending Ice Age.

And if that weren’t bad enough, for some reason people are more susceptible to ailments like the flu, which Colony 7 lacked the medicines to treat.  What the movie doesn’t seem to understand is that the flu is viral, which means that antibiotics have no effect (which is typically why doctors recommend bed rest and lots of fluids).

That being said, in 1918 the Spanish flu literally killed somewhere in the ballpark of 50 million, which included a lot of young and otherwise healthy people.  What made it so unusual is that it caused a person’s immune system to go into overdrive, which mean that–ironically–the healthier you are, and the stronger your immune system, the greater the likelihood that it would kill you while, young children and older people, with weaker immune systems were more likely to recover.

Besides, it’s not unknown for viruses to mutate, so it’s certainly possible that a new variant of the flu could have arisen.

In any case, they’re short of food, personnel, and (with reason) virtually paranoid about illness, so when they receive an SOS from Colony 5,  a neighboring settlement–which isn’t to imply that it’s, geographically speaking, all that close– need aid, their leader, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) forms a three-man a team to investigate, despite the misgivings of Mason (Bill Paxton).

Which in hindsight wasn’t a good move because Mason makes it fairly obvious that he wants to take over.  His job was to “take care” of the people who were sick, which normally started with isolating them for a period of time.  If they got better, then all was good, though if they didn’t they would get the option of either leaving–almost certainly a death sentence–or a bullet–definitely a death sentence.

Mason streamlined the entire process:  If they’re coughing, he’s shooting.

There’s a subplot involving a distant colony that has gotten one of the weather control machines that dot the landscape like abstract art, working,  so they’re able to push back the ice and snow.

Though they don’t have any seeds, which makes the fact they can reach soil, but have nothing to plant, a bit of a catch-22.

But Colony 7 does, but can’t reach the soil because of the ice.  The movie dangles the possibility of locating this ice-free Roanoke, but does little with it (though there’s an implication that it’s not quite what it seems).

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Betrayal! Thy Name Is Krieger!

Considering how ISIS (the International Secret Intelligence Service)–not the terrorist organization currently in vogue–seemingly did everything they could undermine their own efforts, they hardly needed help from outside.

Or inside, for that matter.

That being said, I feel reasonably certain that there there was someone within ISIS doing just that.  Perhaps they were too caught up in their struggle with ODIN (the Organization of Democratic Intelligence Networks) and various flavors of international terrorists/arms dealers to notice what was going on right under their noses.

And the name of their Manchurian Candidate?  Doctor KriegerDr. Krieger!  A man so stupid–or was his ignorance a deliberate ruse to lull his fellow agents into a sense of false complacency?–that he regularly operated on people, yet couldn’t name any of the bones of the human body!

And while ISIS imploded at the end of the fourth season, but Krieger’s antics sped it along the way.

As proof I offer Conway Stern (Coby Bell), who worked for ISIS before it was discovered that he was attempting to steal the plans for a device known as a ‘whisper drive,’ which could render submarines undetectable.  Due to the Truckasaurs-like strength of Agent Lana Kane (Aisha Taylor), Conway lost his hand as well as the drive, though he was still able to escape.

Conway.gif

Yikes!

If you’ve followed Archer you’re probably aware that Krieger (Lucky Yates) was probably a clone of Hitler, which if you’ve seen The Boys From Brazil you’d know that Hitler clones are usually up to no good.

Conway 2

The most blatant example of Krieger’s perfidy?  There are quite a few, but the one that sticks in my craw is from the third episode of the first season, Diversity Hire, when ISIS hired Conway Stern, an African-American Jew (“A diversity double-whammy!“) mainly because Archer (accidentally) outed all the other agents of color, resulting in their deaths.

Conway 3Could Dr. Krieger have betrayed ISIS because of some deep-seated hatred of everything they stood for (I honestly have no idea what that is) or is the truth more mundane, and Krieger was just an monumental asshole?

I think the latter.

‘After The Dark’ Review

 

After The Dark

After The Dark Is A Visually Beautiful Movie, Undermined By Needless Pretense.”

I actually saw John Huddles’  After The Dark four or five months ago before it turned up on Netflix, and it bothered me then, and it continues to do so (though it’s taken me awhile to understand why).

Though I think I finally figured it out:  After The Dark tries too hard to be seem significant and important, when it actually isn’t.

The movie revolves around a multi-ethnic Philosophy class in Jakarta, Indonesia and the logic tests led by their teacher.

When you’re exploring ideas of the mind, it’s particularly useful to not fill your class with, in most instances, remarkably attractive men and women.  To a fault all the students in this class are beautiful, which movies typically do when they have very little to actually say about anything.

And the ending…let’s go into it for a moment.  Things are played relatively straight, till that time, where the movie takes a detour into The Twilight Zone.  It’s not a bad thing, though it has the unfortunate effect of potentially undermining much of what came before, because you’re not quite sure of what’s real, and what isn’t.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t mind a good mind-fuck every now and then, though what I am not a fan of is uncertainty.

Another problem I found with the movie is its underlying premise.  As I mentioned earlier, the entire movies is composed of a series of thought experiments, done to elicit a particular response from the students.

Yet throughout the movie you have people interfering in the thought exercises of others, adding variables they shouldn’t be able to.

That being said, After The Dark isn’t a bad film, it’s beautifully shot and filled with lots of attractive people, but it’s really odd because despite have seen it (twice) I still have no idea what it’s doing or trying to say.

 

This Movie Is “Antisocial,” Though Don’t Watch It Alone

The Social Redroom is a fictitious social networking site that’s similar to others that you may already be familiar to, like Facebook.  And like Facebook, The Social Redroom (which coincidentally(?) reminds me of ‘redrum;’ ‘murder’ spelled backwards) also does experiments on its users without their knowledege, all in an effort to find what it is that makes users ‘tick.’

But what happens your their efforts go seriously awry (which if you’ve seen the movie is probably the understatement of the decade)?

That’s the idea at the heart of Antisocial–it’s probably not a coincidence that the title is similar to David Fincher’s movie, The Social Network, though what’s a bit odd is that it in a way covers similar subject matter (without the physical violence, though there was plenty of the psychic variety).

It’s a conceit that works remarkably well because the ideas that animate the movie are familiar to anyone with even a passing understanding of how human nature, capitalism and the Internet work.

It’s also not a gratuitously gory movie, though I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t body fluids of the red variety shed.  And speaking of gore, most of it is deliciously practical, which isn’t to say that there isn’t CGI, though it’s not gratuitous.

What’s also surprising is how well-acted this movie is.  There’s none of that wink, wink, nudge, nudge stuff at one end of the spectrum, or histrionics at the other.

Just people caught up in circumstances way, way, way beyond their control.  It’s a trip.  I haven’t felt this positive about a horror film since The Den.

It’s that awesome.

Kudos all around for director Cody Calahan, who also co-wrote the movie with Chad Archibald, though I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that the exemplary lighting by Jeff Maher and the music by Steph Copeland.

And what every you do, get off the damn computer.  Go outside and perhaps spend a little time with someone you love because The Social Redroom is coming, and it’s a killer.

Antisocial is currently on Netflix.