The Babadook – 2014

MV5BMjMwODQ3NzUwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAyNjUwMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

DirectedJennifer Kent

Stars: Essie DavisDaniel HenshallTim Purcell

I don’t think The Babadook is particularly scary, there I said it. Don’t get me wrong there are a few moments where you’re likely to grip your seat or lose your popcorn.

This is a film that will unnerve you. Doing so in such a way that it will play on your mind long after you’ve driven out of the cinema carpark.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a mother on the edge. After losing her husband in a tragic car accident on the way to have their son Robbie (Daniel Henshall) she is tasked with rebuilding her life.

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Robbie at first glance is your average brat. He gets himself into all kinds of trouble and does anything to gain his mother’s attention. Even going so far as to climb into bed with her at night when he cannot sleep himself.

Convinced there are monsters lurking around every corner Robbie’s inventive imagination is able to create a number of home made lethal weapons. One of which ends up getting him expelled from school.

One night Robbie selects a book from the shelf called The Babadook. The first few pages seem ordinary enough but then the dark illustrations and story become more horrifying.

Amelia is up against it as Robbie’s erratic behaviour takes hold of her and sends her spiralling into a world of hallucinogenic insomnia.

The film is limited by vibrant colour. Pale blues and greys are used to portray a dark and moody atmosphere. This is also reflective of Amelia’s state of mind as through lack of sleep she starts to lose her grip on reality and worst of all begin to resent her son.

It’s not main stream horror and it doesn’t rely heavily on tired cliches. It sets out to do something different, telling a story of heart ache and trauma. How people put their lives back together and most of all the need to be loved.

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The Babadook himself is a pretty terrifying figure. A cross between Nosferatu and the child catcher it’s a manifestation sure to put a few hairs on the back of your neck. Perhaps even make it difficult to sleep for a few nights.

There is no need for a sequel or even prequel, and I have no desire to find out about the origins of that book. For once let’s leave a triumphant horror film as a one off, and let the memory of that top hatted silhouette haunt us for years to come.

Visit the IMDb page for The Babadook

View the trailer

What did you think of the film, was it as scary as you expected? Leave a comment and let us know.

Annabelle – 2014

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A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

Directed:  John R. Leonetti

Stars:  Ward HortonAnnabelle WallisAlfre Woodard

The Conjuring was last year’s best horror film. Directed by James Wan it terrified most audiences who ventured along to who was signing off from the genre to make Fast & Furious 7. Oh how I wished he’d been directing this!

The opening gave us a short glimpse of Annabelle in what is a genuinely terrifying few minutes.

Giving Annabelle her own spin off film was one way to capitalise on the success of The Conjuring.

Sadly the film felt rushed and despite a so far modest return on the budget (it has grossed over $74m in the USA already) it was still let down by horror cliches.

It missed Wan’s ability to raise tension slowly, creating an eerie atmosphere that you never knew what would happen next.

There were a couple of scares but those jolts should have been expected and were more laughable than shocking.

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The acting at times felt wooden and stale, the script disjointed and uninspiring. Sometimes with horror you just have to think outside the box. In a genre that is ticking along with main stream values.

In this case the box contained a wooden doll without much emotion or feeling. Just like I felt watching this.

View the trailer…

Visit the IMDb page for Annabelle.

What did you think of the film, leave a comment let us know what you think.

The Maze Runner – 2014

MV5BMjUyNTA3MTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEyMTkyMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.

DirectedWes Ball

StarsDylan O’BrienKaya ScodelarioWill Poulter

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, but surprisingly I did. Not having read any of the books before hand I’ll make sure to pick up the sequel, The Maze Runner Chapter II: The Scorch Trails.

The series written by James Dashner is aimed at a teenage market. Although age means nothing to anyone who enjoys delving into a unique adventure.

Its backdrop is yet another dystopian society (not unique), surely this is getting boring now? However, when you get into it, The Maze Runner develops itself into a winning formula for suspense and adventure.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brienhas no memory when he is freed from an elevator and thrust into the lush green surroundings called the Glade.

The Glade is flanked on each side by huge concrete walls which are part of an intricate maze. No one has been able to escape in over three years, and all the boys, called Gladers, live in harmony abiding to a simple set of rules.

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These rules are thrown into chaos as an inquisitive Thomas wonders about the possibility of escape. This leads to a split in the camp and friends soon start to turn on each other.

As the Gladers live a quiet life a small group called ‘runners’ sprint into the maze on a daily basis looking for a way out. Taking notes on each twist and turn, timing everything to the second.

The maze walls close at sundown leaving anyone not quick enough to get back trapped over night with the terrifying Grievers (you have to be paying attention as there is a name for almost everything).

It has a distinct Lord of the Flies feel to it. The main characters, many of whom are not well known, help to build a decent story. Thomas of course, Gally (Poulter) the questionable and aggressive brute. Alby (Aml Ameen) the leader and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) the non-judgemental voice of reason.

Visually it’s pretty decent, debutant director Wes Ball captures the excitement and drama in unusual surroundings. I was really drawn into the story with the burning intrigue to know why they are there, and who put them there.

Scenes inside the maze are solid, plenty of nifty CGI. Whether it’s fending off Grievers or running for a last closing gap in the wall, it does the job expected of an action adventure.

The closer the film edges to its conclusion (but not a conclusion to the bigger picture) a little more is revealed. The final act wobbles momentarily, encompassing a scene that was set up mid way through and offering no surprise whatsoever.

I thought it was one of the better teenage driven films to be adapted from a book. I’m not particularly a fan of The Hunger Games or Divergent but I imagine The Maze Runner has a lot more to give.

Visit the IMDb page for The Maze Runner

View the trailer…

Listen to the original motion picture soundtrack.

What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.

The Imitation Game – 2014

MV5BNDkwNTEyMzkzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAwNzk3MjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

DirectedMorten Tyldum

Stars:  Benedict CumberbatchKeira KnightleyMatthew Goode

The Imitation Game kicked off the start of the BFI London Film Festival last night and I was lucky enough to get the chance to see it.

It seems quite apt that a film depicting a man who helped to win WWII should feature in the city that was the centre of so much pain and heartache. Yet a place which triumphed when all seemed lost.

Alan Turing was a gifted mathematician out of Cambridge. A man with many theories about developing machines that would one day think quicker than a human brain.

Turing was part of a team working from Hut 8 in Bletchley Park. Their main objective, trying to crack the Enigma machine used by the Nazi’s to send secret coded messages.

While soldiers battled on the front line there was another group of heroes battling behind it. Turing wasn’t alone and was aided by some of Britain’s finest cryptologists, including one woman, Joan Clarke (Knightley).

Turing doesn’t make friends easily and refuses to join in any team camaraderie. He’s a strange fellow on the outside, but beneath the clean cut exterior lies a mind bursting with questions and almost an answer for everything.

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While the rest of the group raced against the clock to decipher messages by hand, Alan locked himself away building his machine. Knowing if he could get it to work they would have a better chance of cracking the codes faster.

Turing was under close scrutiny by Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) who disliked his arrogance and smugness. He was looking for any opportunity to fire him.

Luckily Turing had the backing of not only Churchill but Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong). Menzies was in charge of counter intelligence and oversaw the code breaking at Bletchley Park.

Ironically while Turing was trying to crack secrets he was harbouring one of his own. Turing was a homosexual a back story that is elaborated while he was at school, where he fell for one of this close friends.

Being homosexual was against the law during this period, and if he was found out it would have devastating consequences not just on him but the lives of millions he was trying to save.

Sadly after the war he was prosecuted and given chemical castration for his homosexuality. Events that lead to his eventual suicide.

Morten Tyldum marks his English language debut after the very successful Headhunters. But this is not your average tense thriller. It’s a period piece telling a story during one of history’s most revered eras.

The film is packed with a brilliant British supporting cast who are all top of their game. But it’s Cumberbatch’s portrayal that is going to win the most acclaim. A touching yet assured performance that will at the very least get him an Oscar nomination.

In 2013 the Queen gave Turing a posthumous pardon. It was nothing more than he deserved and his name forever etched into history as one of the great British heroes of the war.

Visit the IMDb page for The Imitation Game

View the trailer…

What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.

Gone Girl – 2014

MV5BMTk0MDQ3MzAzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1NzE3MjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

DirectedDavid Fincher

StarsBen AffleckRosamund PikeNeil Patrick Harris

Based on the international best seller by Gillian Flynn Gone Girl is a well constructed and absorbing thriller by David Fincher.

The screenplay was written by Gillian Flynn herself and in the hands of Fincher this tense novel is given a simple and effective transition to the big screen.

Many who’ve read the book will know the gist story already. On their 5th wedding anniversary Nick Dunne (Affleck) comes home to find his wife Amy (Pike) missing, signs of a struggle present.

Calling in detectives it isn’t long before the eyes of suspicion fall on him and the small town he’s come home to, along with the media, turn on him.

It becomes clear however there is something much more devious under the surface of his marriage to Amy. A marriage that slowly unravels itself as an unhappy one.

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The film’s opening focusses on Nick and his relationship with Amy. Everything described through her diary entries and his first person account. They are a couple in love that soon turns sour.

Amy is glorified in the media as a celebrity. Her parents took her childhood upbringing and wrote a series of books called ‘Amazing Amy‘ thus casting an even darker shadow over Nick.

He seeks solace in his twin sister Margo Dunne (Carrie Coon) who becomes a shoulder to air his grievances. But she soon gets caught up in a tanglement of lies, deceit and revenge.

Nick is on the back foot desperately trying to prove his innocence that he didn’t kill his wife, as well as paint himself as a desperate and apologetic husband. It doesn’t wash and he has to call on the services of shit hot lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) to guide him through the shark infested waters of tabloid media.

The film then suddenly explodes with a mid point twist that you’d expect of any thriller closing out it’s final moments. That isn’t the case here, it only fuels the fire for a pulsating third act that delivers shock value. Amy Dunne might just be this year’s Catherine Tramell.

The supporting cast are brilliant. From Kim Dickens’s Detective Rhonda Boney to Neil Patrick Harris as a suave, rich and creepy ex-boyfriend everyone is able to deliver when it matters most.

Films like The Game, Zodiac and Se7en proved that Fincher is a master at developing scenes which could tease and test his audience. Gone Girl follows similar trends, whether they’re scenes shocking in nature (there are a few of those) or so dramatic we’re kept on tenterhooks.

It’s hard to imagine anything less from this director. Quite possibly one of the best in this genre and certainly back on form in 2o14.

On the outside Gone Girl feels like a main stream whodunit. But there is enough to keep us enthralled and hooked for the 149 minute duration. On the inside Fincher has meticulously crafted an engaging thriller that makes it hard for us to look away.

While the ending might not satisfy everyone, Gone Girl is a cool and calculated film that ultimately is the thriller of the year so far.

Visit the IMDb page for Gone Girl

View the trailer…

What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.