The Living – Review

“The Ties The Bind Are Nurtured By Blood”

Jack Bryan‘s The Living is a pretty impressive thriller that revolves around a man, Teddy (a virtually unrecognizable Fran Kranz, Cabin in The Woods) who after a night of drinking beats his wife, Molly (Jocelin Donahue).

He had no memory of it happening, but Molly’s bruised and bloody face speaks for itself.

It’s not said explicitly, but it seems that this was not the first time that he had hit his wife.  So her mother, Angela (Joelle Carter), and brother, Gordon (Kenny Wormald), are fed-up, and respond in desperate and unexpected ways, setting in motions events that move rapidly beyond their control.

What works especially well is that the biggest names are Kranz (who’s nothing like the character he plays in Woods) and Chris Mulkey, neither of whom are exactly household names.  This is a benefit because, in such a small, almost intimate story there aren’t any stars big enough to pull viewers out of the movie, would which would probably be the case if we were watching Tom Cruise or Charlize Theron, for example.

If you’re looking for a taut, well-acted thriller you could certainly do worse than The Living.

The Living is currently on Netflix, because some people will do anything for family.

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‘Ouija’ Or (The Terror Of Diminished Expectations)

I caught Ouija last weekend, and it was okay; by which I mean that it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve seen (which barely qualifies as praise).  It had moments of interest, though thematically as well as visually it played out eerily similar to movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle and Insidious (which were also produced by Blumhouse Pictures, which I hope is just a coincidence).

What happened to the days when horror movies weren’t afraid to take a risk or two?

When a movie might actually do something that might offend someone’s sensibilities, but as a result end up at the very least an interesting exercise, if nothing else.  And the thing is, it’s not about money because movies like Ouija, The Conjuring and Insidious–which I use purely as examples–aren’t particularly expensive, which in the past often meant that filmmakers could do something a bit out of the ordinary because no one was going bankrupt if the movie tanked.

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‘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.