“Grabbers” – Last call at the bar

This will be my shortest post ever due to the synopsis of this movie. Grabbers

It’s a film about a small Irish town that gets invaded by human-eating aliens. The catch? The aliens are deathly allergic to alcohol. This means that in order to survive, this small IRISH town needs to get drunk.








DIRECTOR’S CUT: See above.



“Snowpiercer” – We Move Forward.

Good news, this movie will be in theaters somewhere on June 11…though I’m not sure where. I can’t remember how I came across it, probably some IMDB list of “Movies of 2014 you need to see!!!!!!” or something, and being a fan of Chris Evans I gave it a go. Not a bad flick actually, and probably the closest thing to a real life anime film you’ll ever see. So there’s that.snow-piercer-poster

“Snowpiercer” tackles the apocalyptic thought of how we’d survive by placing the remainder of earth’s humans on a self-sustaining train that rides a track built over the entire world. Yeah. As I’m sure Americans would be the first to do, the train is split up by the wealthy and the poor, with the poor being placed in crummy conditions in the “tail” section, while the wealthy get to live it up in the front. Curtis (Chris Evans) is a tail member who just doesn’t want to take it anymore. Everyday they are ruled over by a military force put together by the front and forced to eat “protein” bars; basically black Jell-O that I wouldn’t touch if I were dying. So Curtis and Edgar (Jamie Bell) plan and execute a takeover attempt (not really a spoiler, kind of what the entire movie is about) and it’s essentially a rollercoaster ride of results. Or in this case a train ride. Because it’s a movie about a train.

Now I mentioned that it was the equivalent to a real life anime, and I’m pretty sure that’s spot on. There are fight scenes with axes, torches, guns, dodging, Tilda Swinton, and just all out anarchy. There’s this great scene where everyone is throwin’ ‘bows in a train car when a conductorish guy comes out and blows a whistle, gets everyone’s attention, counts down from three and then wishes all a happy new year. You don’t see stuff like that in your everyday movie, so it added a nice level of humor to what was going on. As for the cast, a lot of recognizable faces in very odd roles that ultimately pull the whole thing together. Obviously Chris Evans is Captain America without the shield or shower, and his language is a bit more colorful but he runs the show. Jamie Bell as his number two, and John Hurt as his number one, the man who looks as if he’s run some rebellions in his time. Personally I’m surprised this guy is still acting (and doing a great job at it), as he looked about 50 in “Alien”. Alison Pill makes an outstanding “Teacher”, completely in love with the “benevolent “creator of the train and brainwashing her kids with stories of the years spent riding around the world. Last but not least is Tilda Swinton, who I had to double check to make sure it was actually her. Basically the voice of the train’s upper class she serves to keep the tail section in line both before and during their revolution. She’s got an excellent set of upper teeth and coke bottle glasses that give her character the most ridiculous sounding voice and look ever, and I loved it. She’s so creepily stern, especially when during the rebellion she stands in front of the attackers and says, “Precisely 74% of you will die.” Eerie. Plus it’s Tilda Swinton, so she’s got that going for her.

snowpiercer-trailer-2Welcome to the weirdest fight scene you’ve ever watched.

All in all this is a pretty decent movie. If anything it’s a new take on how to handle the apocalypse via the DC metro system. Director Joon-ho Bong really tackled a series of graphic novels with this film, and in my opinion did a much better job with this than his previous, “The Host” (not the Twilight piece of crap). So don’t see that. See “Snowpiercer”.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: See this. Don’t see “The Host”. And if the apocalypse is soon, I’d opt for the non-train version.

FLICKCHART RATING: 1611/2142 (Let’s just take a moment and point out that I’ve seen 2,142 movies)

“Diabolique” – Don’t Reveal the Ending!

Wouldn’t it be great if all movies had this tagline? Sadly this did not hold true for me as someone accidentally revealed a key part to the end, however by the time I finally watched this film (months later) I definitely did not see the end coming the way it did. That being said, don’t go running around telling everyone that Luke’s daddy issues are going to be resolved by the end of “Empire”.Diabolique

Normally I’d say that subtitled films need a lot of draw to get me to watch them and for the most part, that’s almost always true. Even “Pan’s Labyrinth” took some urging from one of my college roommates before I decided to sit down and read the screen for two hours. You would think that after a movie as great as “Pan’s” that I maybe would’ve changed my mind, but not so much. So it wasn’t until my girlfriend Emily persuaded me to see “Diabolique” that I felt ok with watching it. Since I normally force her to watch movies I felt this was an interesting turn and that maybe she had a decent taste after all. That or I would just humor her and watch this crappy French movie from the 50’s. Having finished the movie I can gladly say that I may listen to her film recommendations more closely now, as “Diabolique” is an old thriller done right.

Movies have obviously changed since their inception a little over a century ago, though some would argue for the worse. Thrillers and horror films in particular have turned from actually scaring you and making you fear things like the ocean, or a bathtub to just throwing obscene amounts of blood and gore at you until you can’t keep down that overpriced popcorn anymore. So when we popped in the Criterion Collection edition of “Diabolique”, it was a welcome breath of (old) fresh air to the thriller genre. Set around the same time it came out (1955) it follows two women who work at a boarding school, run by none other than the tyrannical husband of one of our heroine’s. Within the first five minutes of the film we discover that the other woman is in fact the man’s mistress but this is not secret knowledge; both women are friends with each other and have a shared hatred for the man in their lives. As the backstory unfolds we learn that the wife (Christina) purchased the boarding school with the money she inherited from her family, but being 1950’s France is not allowed to run the school, only teach in it. Therefore her brutish husband Michel serves as the principle and rules with an iron fist. The two women are sick and tired of him beating them and treating them both terribly, so they decide to drive to the country and divorce him altogether. Of course once Michel catches wind of this plan he follows them to the country as well and tries to win his wife back by yelling at her and slapping her a few times. Ah, the ways to a woman’s heart. This doesn’t pan out as well as Michel had hoped, because the two ladies decide to retaliate and, you know, kill him.


600full-diabolique-screenshotThis is how divorce used to be handled in 1950’s France.

What follows for the next hour and a half is Christina’s nervousness as they live their lives after the deed, but questions start to arise as well as strange occurrences that point to Michel communicating from beyond the grave. Obviously this is a problem and the film plays it out very well. I was caught completely off guard by the last few minutes of the film, but couldn’t be more pleased at how it turned out. Going back to the beginning of this post, in today’s movies it’s just so hard to not guess the ending of a film by the time you’re half-way through it (“Lincoln” anyone?) whereas “Diabolique” did a wonderful job making you guess up until the reveal. It was eventually remade in 1996 or 1997 with Sharon Stone, so make sure you don’t see that one by mistake. Also if you need anymore of a reason to see it, Hitchcock vied for the rights to make this movie and lost out to Henri-Georges Clouzot by six hours, so there’s that. A great thriller and a well-placed choice for the Criterion Collection, and the lead actress looks super eerily like a French Judy Garland. Creepy.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Forget that it’s black and white and French (ew) and give it a shot. The only downfall for me was that there is no musical score, so it has a very raw feel but perhaps that plays into the suspense of the whole thing. Oh, and DON’T REVEAL THE ENDING.



As I sit here listening to the soundtrack to “Skyfall” by my man Thomas Newman (Newman for President 2016!), I can’t help but replay the entire movie through my head. I’ve seen every Bond film multiple times, most of which spent with my dad during the TNT Month of Bond marathon’s over the years, and “Skyfall” definitely takes the cake. Most if not all of you older folks will automatically disagree because Mr. Connery “is the only Bond”, but Daniel Craig has brought in a new era altogether. “Skyfall” is no longer your dad’s James Bond.

To me “Skyfall” is the best James Bond film I’ve ever seen, and here is why. It is every single Bond movie put together. That’s not to say that you don’t need to see the previous 22 to appreciate it, but it does stand alone as a pretty awesome film. It also has the closest thing to an origin story that Bond has ever come to. Previously Pierce Brosnan mentioned how Bond’s parents died back in “Goldeneye” but this time we actually get to live through Bond’s past. Also the jokes are back. Both “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” were almost completely bare-bones action with a few chuckles here and there, but “Skyfall” came back and had us laughing several times throughout the film. It brings you back to remembering that Bond is still a suave and quick-witted spy instead of just a brawler with some fancy gadgets. Which brings me to my next point: Q. Ever since Desmond Llewelyn passed away after “The World is Not Enough”, Bond has been remiss of his trusted Quartermaster. Luckily we now have Ben Whishaw as a younger, Mark Zuckerberg-esque Q who quickly proves to be more of a friend to Bond then a mentor. I felt that this fit in quite well, especially with our generation who may tend to find the older films tedious and smutty. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what that word means but for some reason it felt like it fit the sentence. Let’s run with it.

At 143 minutes this movie definitely did not feel long enough. I tend to piece together the bits of the trailer into the film and use what’s left to figure out how close we’re getting to the end, and as the remaining pieces dwindled all I could think about is how I wanted it to keep going. From the opening sequence watching Bond chase down an assassin on a moving train through Istanbul after riding a motorcycle off a bridge, to his romps in China, England, and finally Scotland I just couldn’t get enough. Sure the dialogue has it’s cheesy moments and Javier Bardem’s villain is a tad reminiscent of earlier rogues, but that’s what makes this a fun movie, right? That’s another thing, Bardem’s portrayal of Silva, the blonde haired creeper with a personal vendetta. He’s almost more realistic in this way because his motive isn’t world takeover or large scale bank robbery, it’s something much deeper than that. In my opinion it takes Bond and MI6 to places they’ve never been before and creates tension for Bond. I read an article yesterday about the film and how Bardem’s role was questioned as being homosexual in a way, but instead Sam Mendes (director) defined it as uncomfortable, which is exactly how it ended up being. Coincidentally the first time we are introduced to Silva the audience had several laughs at the interaction between the two. It was a breath of fresh air to be up against a baddie who wasn’t petting a cat, or trying to harness the sun’s rays with a satellite filled with diamonds (yeah, this actually happened in “Die Another Day”). The chemistry between the two actors was amazing, and even Bardem’s channeling of Hannibal Lecter was spot on. Even Judi Dench got a much larger role than usual, which is great to see because she was born to play M and get out from behind the desk. Newcomer to the series Ralph Fiennes was a perfect choice for his character, Gareth Mallory (Gareth?). He’s basically M’s higher-up but treats her more like an old…younger sister, if that makes sense. He spends his time looking out for her while also trying to remain professional. Naturally the first time he and Bond meet they butt heads, but the relationship takes a sudden leap about halfway into the film which can mean only great things for later on. And holy crap, Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe are super sexy Bond Women (no longer “Girls”), and are also a solid throwback to the wooing ways of old. Truly everyone cast in this film in whichever roll they filled was an excellent choice, and I certainly wouldn’t have picked anyone else.

Javier Bardem no longer works in films unless his character has weird hair.

I would like to end this with the “Bond Theory”, and what “Skyfall” does for it. When “Die Another Day” came out, the director had considered using Roger Moore or Sean Connery in a cameo role as Brosnan’s Bond’s father, therefore explaining that the Agent number 007 and James Bond were just moniker’s for an agent’s specific level. Basically if you were a member of MI6 and happened to be good at breaking the rules and killing bad guys, you reached the level of 007 and your “cover” then became James Bond, with the same back story as every character. This would explain why there have been so many different Bond’s over the years, as well as why George Lazenby looked directly at the screen and said, “This never happened to the other fella” after chasing a girl on a beach in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Of course there are discrepancies with this over the series, but there are also reaffirmations such as Judi Dench M being referred to as “new” in “Goldeneye”, and “Casino Royale” being time stamped within 2006. Yeah I know, we fan boys have way too much time on our hands. Anyway, “Skyfall” offers it’s own unique take on this theory, one that I assumed was debunking it right away but after listening to my girlfriend’s thoughts (and dismissing them way too quickly), I now think she was right in stating that this film only helped the idea that there have been several James Bond’s over the years (shout out to Emily). So whether you really care about the series or not, it really hits home and offers more than just action. Even you Connery lovers will walk away thinking this one is shaken and not stirred. (I admit, I have no idea what that means.)

DIRECTOR’S CUT: I hate Adele and wish someone else had sung the theme song, but the movie more than makes up for it. It’s just too bad that kids can’t really dress up as James for Halloween since the man could use some more recognition as being awesome.


“The Tunnel” – The light runs out.

From what I’ve seen so far Australia is clearly an untapped resource for horror films. Until last night I would try to wait until dark to start watching horror films that I thought could scare me, because it seemed pointless to waste them when there was still daylight to keep the monsters at bay. I’m not sure if I’m happy about that decision or forever scarred, but if you like suspense thrillers then you MUST check out “The Tunnel”.

I’ve reviewed several “found footage” films on here and most of the time they tend to get a bad rep from me. Too many with bigger budgets try to do what “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity” did on scraps, and almost always miss the mark. Thanks to Netflix I’ve seen two Aussie horror films thus far, both of which are shot in the “found footage/narrative documentary” style, so just a breath short of “Unsolved Mysteries”. All you need is Robert Stack walking around in a trenchcoat to complete the effect. Seriously, when I was a kid nothing scared me more than Robert Stack’s narration and old Scooby Doo episodes. I don’t remember if “Lake Mungo” (the other Aussie horror film, definitely check it out) did this as well, but “The Tunnel” did something very peculiar at the beginning of the film that I’ve never seen a “found footage” film do; it showed the credits. Quite odd as the whole point of these movies is to make you believe that you’re watching something real, but adding the credits in just tosses that out the window. I was skeptical as right after the opening it led right into the whole “What you are about to see is documented footage” type on the screen, but thankfully I kept watching. No joke, by the end of the film I honestly thought everything I had just seen was real and that Sydney, Australia is somewhere I never, ever want to be.

The best way to describe this movie is probably as “an episode of ‘Ghost Hunters’ gone horribly wrong.” That was taken from a posting on the comments section of IMDB, and it couldn’t be more on the nose. The film follows a news team of four people: Nat the reporter, Steve the cameraman, Pete the producer, and Tangles the audio guy (ha, Tangles). The New South Wales government had recently decided to recycle millions of “litres” of standing water that’s been trapped inside abandoned film tunnels below Sydney, but all of a sudden dropped the project without a reason why. News Team 7 or whatever jumped on the case but were turned down at every corner. That is until Nat somehow wrangled a homeless person to interview regarding his life in the tunnels. However during the questioning the man “Trev” loses it when asked if other homeless people were going missing down there. So what would any sane person do after that? Investigate for themselves with a collection of fodder, I mean other people. So down they go into these tunnels to figure out why the government stopped the project. Now the whole time we’re seeing the footage that was shot DURING the tunnel escapades, we are also treated to interviews with two of the members from the team, Nat and Steve. This added more realism to the film since the emotions of these two people changed over the course of their story, making it seem as grim as the footage you get to watch. Steve also mentions that “I wanted to keep the camera recording, just to cover our own backs. This way if we got in trouble for anything we’d be able to look back and see that it wasn’t our fault.” Finally, someone gives a reason as to why this stuff is recorded instead of people just running away. Plus it kind of makes sense.

“How are we going to get this story if the monsters keep drowning out our damn audio?!”


So anyway the team goes down to the tunnels and it’s creepy as hell down there, filled with old WWII shelters and bloody handprints on walls. But things get really bad when they get to a room where Tangles needs to go down a hallway to record better audio. Steve the cameraman puts on a pair of headphones in the main room to make sure the audio isn’t getting distorted, when he hears strange muffled noises coming from the mic and then some screams. After a well placed “What the fu…” the audio cord from Tangles is ripped out of the recorder and yanked down the hallway.

Uh oh.

From here to the end it’s a tight-spaced sprint through the tunnels looking for Tangles, but it quickly turns into a fight for survival as something down there is hunting the team. I won’t get into more of it because I really want you to check it out. It’s not torture porn and the gore, if you can call it that, is extremely minimal. All of the scares are genuine and it even has a few nods to “The Blair Witch Project”. IMDB’s rating is a bit low which I find to be unfair since this film had me scared to leave my chair, so maybe it can gain some kind of following and up the ratings a bit, who knows. Either way it scared the crap out of me.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Let’s just say that after watching this movie, I will never go after anything I accidentally drop down a sewer drain. Sucker’s gone.


“Grave Encounters 2” – Fear is just a word. Reality is much worse.


When the trailer first came out it looked genuinely good. It showed a bunch of YouTube clips strung together of people seemingly reviewing the first film, “Grave Encounters”, and then cutting to a specific review where one kid was convinced the movie and the mental hospital were real. So what does he do? Get a bunch of his teenage friends and their awesome cameras and go check it out. This would have worked because it was just kids being dumb and getting killed for it, which in today’s horror world tends to work out. Luckily neither of these movies fit the “torture porn” genre that so many others have been geared towards lately, and just rely on actual scares and atmospheric fright. However, the trailer is about as close as you get to the plot I just laid out for you so if you want a better sequel than whatever Canada made, just watch that instead and be happy.

I’ll do a quick recap for those who haven’t seen the first film since it’s not entirely fair to slander the sequel if you have no clue what the first one was even about. Basically it’s a found footage (I tend to enjoy these, apparently) film involving a TV crew for the show “Grave Encounters”. This is their sixth episode and they are going to spend the night inside of an old insane asylum where the patients were rumored to be used for experiments by the head doctor and his nurses. Of course by the time they realize that locking themselves inside of an abandoned mental hospital overnight was a bad idea, it’s too late. I’ll let you fill in the blanks which shouldn’t be too hard, because as long as you aren’t imagining them running into unicorns and having picnics you’re pretty much on the right track. So this is where the sequel picks up. The main character of the sequel is some douche named Alex, and he represents every pretentious film student in the world who thinks they’re the next Kubrick. He wants to reinvent the horror genre and use films like “Grave Encounters” as his inspiration. Luckily for him it’s at that exact moment that he receives a comment on his YouTube movie review website (because reviewing movies on YouTube is STUPID…) from “death awaits”. Let’s read it! Over the course of a few weeks this “death awaits” keeps messaging him and eventually he convinces his four idiot friends to join him in breaking into this abandoned building to film the whole night and prove that everything from the first film was actually real.

Look at how angry he makes you.

I’m sorry, but why on earth would you want to spend one minute in that building if all of the previous visitors experienced horrible deaths, and then Hollywood profited off of it? That’s like saying, “Hey ‘Jurassic Park’ was so scary, and they just opened up that dinosaur exhibit on that island nobody can easily escape from…wanna go?” (Reader Detail: May not be the best example as I would actually do that…and hope for the power to go out.) So anyway, these wonder-kids arrive on the scene and break into this abandoned happy place and start setting up their cameras. Pretty much within minutes the spirit world decides that nobody messes around on it’s turf and starts scaring the bejeezus out of these kids. It should also be noted that WITHIN MINUTES of this happening, the director (Pretentious Film School Kid) decides that all hope is lost and becomes a lump on the log for the rest of the group. Seriously, he’s an awesome friend and we should all have one like him. The scares continue and the group is slowly picked off one by one a la the first film, all the while having the PFSK talk directly to the camera about how hopeless life is and how all he wanted to do was finish his movie. Even the kid’s hair pissed me off.

I found the first film to be pretty frightening. As far as found footage films go, nothing will ever beat “The Blair Witch Project”, “Paranormal Activity”, or “Cloverfield” for their originality, but coming from someone who has explored abandoned hospitals and their favorite scary film is about one…I enjoyed the first “Grave Encounters”. Sure, the budget could’ve been higher so the effects a bit more realistic, but even putting that aside the scares still made me hug my knees. I’m sorry to say that “Grave Encounters 2” did nothing of the sort except try to repeat some of the same scares but in a worse way. Trying to add a sub-plot was also a mistake because it detracted from the actual creepiness of people being dragged down halls and running away from ghoul-children. The worst part is that it kind of left it open for a third installment, which I can only imagine would be absolutely abysmal. Total ugh-ness.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Watch the trailer if you want to see the “best” parts, but definitely check out the first film if you like scary movies. A bit rough around the edges but I thought it was pretty good. Also for any future film school student, study the main character so you can reach the maximum level of douchebaggery among your fellow students.

FLICKCHART RATING: 1410/1953 (Much too high in my opinion)

“Fermat’s Room” – Think inside the box.

My apologies for not posting recently, but I’ve been busy traveling around Europe. I’m currently in Vienna, Austria using the time here as a detox and more or less a layover before Budapest. During our train ride from Prague yesterday I was able to enjoy “Fermat’s Room”, a Spanish thriller that was released in 2007. I can’t remember why I added it to my Netflix or what made it catch my eye in the first place, but I can easily say that I’m glad it made it’s way to my queue.

Before we move on I do want to point out that this is a Spanish film so if you decide to ever watch it, you will be reading subtitles (unless you’re awesome at Spanish). Hopefully that doesn’t lose you as it really was a great touch to the thriller genre, something fresh besides the gore-porn that we tend to get in America these days. Oh yeah, the story is also about math and solving enigmas. Whenever they were solved in the movie I felt that they flew by the answers too quickly for me to actually comprehend what they actually were, but maybe if you’re a mathematician it’ll make sense to you. Pretty sure the only one I ever picked up on was the 3 gallon/5 gallon jug question from “Die Hard: With a Vengeance”, and that took several viewings before I finally grasped it. Ergo, I’m dumb.

Anyway let’s get a move on. “Fermat’s Room” is about four mathematicians who all receive a letter in the mail with the following question on it:

How are these numbers linked?
5 – 4 – 2 – 9 – 8 – 6 – 7 – 3 – 1

Mind you this movie is in Spanish so the answer presented in the film would not work in English, so for those playing at home I’ll rewrite it for you.

8 – 5 – 4 – 9 – 1 – 7 – 6 – 3 – 2

Just letting you know after you read the rest of the synopsis here, if you ever receive a letter asking you to solve an enigma like this so that you’ll be invited to a secret gathering of mathematicians (which sounds like a barrel of fun in itself), don’t go. So these four mathematicians solve this equation and all receive a second letter asking them to show up at a certain address at a certain time and without cellphones. Each of the mathematicians are given aliases to go by so as not to know anything about one another. The aliases wind up being names of famous mathematicians so it’s quite fitting. They all arrive at a lake where they meet each other and deduce that to reach a car on the other side they must row across in a rowboat entitled “Pithagoras” (Spanish). Once at the car (coche!) they follow a strange GPS to what looks like a large warehouse where they all enter. By the way, at this point I think only one of the characters has actually voiced their concern about how strange this is, so I feel that says something. Once inside this warehouse-esque building they come across a completely decorated and furnished room, complete with piano, chalkboard, and dinner table set with food. Shortly after they enter this room a fifth member arrives wearing the name tag of “Fermat”, so he is presumed to be the host. After they finish eating dinner they start to discuss why they have all been invited to this house when Fermat receives a phone call from what he thinks is the hospital. He quickly explains to the group that his daughter is in a coma and he feels he must leave immediately to see what the hospital wanted as his call was cutoff.


As Fermat is driving away, “Pascal” realizes that Fermat forgot his coat so he runs outside to track him down. Failing to catch his attention he winds up seeing Fermat’s wallet with a picture of his daughter inside. Pascal recognizes the daughter but doesn’t say anything just yet, so he joins the other three in the drawing room and shuts the door. This is when stuff starts to get real. A previously unnoticed PDA goes off so the group gathers around to read it. At the top is a timer counting down from 1 minute and below is an enigma that they must figure out. Granted they seem to pay less attention to the timer and just focus on the riddle, but this allows Pascal to notice that as soon as the timer reaches 00:00, the walls of the room begin to compress. However once the riddle is solved and the answer is entered into the PDA the room stops. After a few minutes another riddle winds up being sent to the PDA and the problem resumes.

As the room shrinks, tempers flare, and everyone starts to realize that they aren’t complete strangers. So take “Clue” and add a dash of “Saw” and you wind up with “Fermat’s Room”. I don’t want to give anymore away since this is actually a really good thinker thriller. If it were to be remade in America I can guarantee that there would be a lot more people in the room and tons more death, so it’s good to keep this Spanish flick as-is. If you aren’t one for foreign films because of “reading” or “Guillermo Del Toro didn’t make it”, I implore you to broaden your horizons and give it a shot because it really is quite entertaining.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Solid foreign film with great acting, non-cheesy dialogue, and a lot of math (could be a negative thing).