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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Body Is Ready for INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3

Well, if this isn't the eeriest looking poster I've seen in a while... But will INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 actually be scarier than the first two films? Truth be told, I didn't think the first two were particularly scary as much as they were just creepy and weird. But haunted houses in general freak me out, and it's clear that this home has harvested a number of secrets that may finally come boiling to the surface in this new film -- which is actually a prequel to the series.

So, this installment will tell the story of what happened before Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson's characters took residence, and before their son got sucked into the wall. Dermot Mulroney is now a part of the cast. Here's more about the film:

The newest chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell. This chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

I actually kinda like the idea of focusing on the psychic rather than the victim family this time. 

Watch the teaser clip below, and check Facebook tomorrow at 9am PST for a longer trailer. 

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 opens in theaters May 29, 2015. 

The Director of HERE COMES THE DEVIL Returns With a Grizzly New Horror

I have to say, I'm not one for a whole lot of horror films with wolves (my favorite is still probably watching Jack Nicholson and James Spader face off in the the sorta-comedy, Wolf), but I am here for Adrian Garcia Bogliano, who directed the criminally underrated Here Comes the Devil two years ago. So I am really hyped to see LATE PHASES, his new film about a strange little town plagued by a series of deadly animal attacks. Plus, it stars Nick Damici (most recently seen in the not-so-great Cold in July and the awesome We Are What We Are) and Ethan Embry (who I'll always remember as Mr Papagiorgio in Vegas Vacation) -- which could provide an interesting mix of comedy and heavy suspense.

Here's a little more about the film:

Crescent Bay is not the ideal place to spend one's golden years, especially since the once-idyllic retirement community has been beset by a series of deadly animal attacks from the ominous forest surrounding it. When grizzled war veteran Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici) is forced into moving there by his yuppie son Will (Ethan Embry), the residents immediately take offense to Ambrose's abrasive personality. But that take-no-prisoners attitude may be just what Ambrose needs to survive as it becomes clear that the attacks are being caused by creatures that are neither animal nor man, and that the tight-knit community of Crescent Bay is hiding something truly sinister in its midst...
LATE PHASES opens in select theaters November 21st.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

OMG! Grace Jones Has a Song on THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1 Soundtrack

I was just scanning my inbox and came across this really cool nugget of information that not only has Lorde curated the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (which I first told you about here), but my own personal slay queen, Grace Jones, is featured on the track list as well -- which was just released today. I believe that in a past life, Grace and I were real BFFs, so this is HUGE news for me.

In case you're interested in who else have contributed tunes (though I would have been perfectly content with a soundtrack consisting only of Lorde and Grace Jones songs), you can check out the full track list below:

1. Meltdown - Stromae ft. Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip & Haim
2. Dead Air - CHVRCHES
3. Scream My Name - Tove Lo
4. Kingdom - Charli XCX ft. Simon Le Bon
6. Lost Souls - Raury
7. Yellow Flicker Beat - Lorde
8. The Leap - Tinashe
9. Plan The Escape (Son Lux Cover) - Bat For Lashes
10. Original Beast - Grace Jones
11. Flicker (Kanye West Rework) - Lorde
12. Animal - XOV
13. This Is Not A Game - The Chemical Brothers ft. Miguel
14. Ladder Song - Lorde

I'm kinda curious about what track will fill that mysterious 5th slot on this already diverse list. Guess only time will tell. 

The digital pre-order went live on iTunes today, and the album will be available in stores and on all online partners beginning November 17. Those who purchase the pre-order will receive instant downloads of Lorde's recently release first single, "Yellow Flicker Beat" and The Chemical Brothers' "This Is Not A Game" [featuring Miguel].

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 hits theaters November 21st.

I Saw V/H/S: VIRAL So You Don't Have To

I really want to believe that anthology horror on the big screen can be revived, but let's be clear on one thing: the V/H/S series is not the answer. Seriously, all this franchise has done is cheapen the genre. It's like the filmmakers gather every single horror film cliche, and stuff it into this collection of uninteresting, empty short films that serve no purpose but to gross you out. The stories are unimportant (or, nonexistent), the production value is at negative 9, and you always come away from it wondering why you put yourself through such torture. Or maybe that's just me.

V/H/S: VIRAL is no different. It's actually so indistinguishable that after watching the second installment of the series, V/H/S/2, right beforehand, I honestly couldn't even tell one from the other. What frustrates me the most is that VIRAL has an actually good idea that draws on the millenial obsession with the online celebrity -- the idea that young people today are fascinated by anything popular that's online (if you need proof of this, check the latest videos on YouTube). So setting this as a backdrop to a horror premise should work, or at least keep you engaged for the full hour and a half. But it doesn't. In fact, my eyes probably started rolling to the back of my head after the first 20 minutes. It's that awful.

So here's the connecting story (the word "story" being used loosely here): a young man and his girlfriend are messing around with a video camera when the guy goes outside and witnesses what looks like the end of days. He sees a cop get run over by a truck, which sets off a series of strange, unfortunate and gory events from there. Unable to reach his girlfriend, who for some reason is in a haze across the street, he gets on his bike and tries quickly to pedal to refuge in between dodging corpses lying in the middle of the street and zombies out to get him. The end.

Just kidding, but no that's really the gist of that main storyline, which is kind of ridiculous since the film returns to this scene of chaos every twenty minutes or so with no satisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, we're treated to several other short films -- including a man trapped in a hellish bizarro world and a zombie outbreak at a family barbecue -- that fail to cohesively connect to the theme of viral obsession. So, what's the point?

Well, to scare the wits out of you, obviously. But does it do that? Not...really. I was mostly waiting for it to end. Maybe because I've seen so many other (better) horror films that the whole watching blood gush from a severed stomach thing doesn't really do much for me anymore. I need a foundation story, a reason to understand and possibly root for any of these characters. Instead, I got this super lame collection of blah. Ugh.

Rating: F+ (* out of *****)

V/H/S: VIRAL will be available on iTunes/On Demand October 23rd and in theaters November 21st.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Gangster Film REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS is So Relevant Right Now

Police brutality and racial prejudice has once again become the topic of discussion in the U.S. recently with the controversial stop and frisk practices in New York often targeting Blacks and Latinos, as well as the horrific aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed Black teen by a White cop in Ferguson, Missouri -- which sparked a national discussion on Twitter and beyond. But in our ongoing conversation about these serious events, we often neglect to discuss how other marginalized races in America have been affected by police injustice.

Which is what makes a film like REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS so relevant right now. It goes beyond the story of the rise of the prominent Chinese gang in New York City 1980s by exposing how a virtual war was brewing right underneath the noses of the NYPD without so much of an acknowledgement. The notion is--and the gang is very savvy about this--as long as the crimes only involved other Asian gangs or victims, police won't pay them any mind. In short, murder became legal as long as it was acted against their own kind.

It's a bold statement which still reflects today's society, sadly. Directors Wai-keung Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo take on the enormous task of not only bringing to light a buried truth in this country but also illuminating this story through the eyes of a generally unknown cast--in a way that resonates and rises up to the level of classic modern gangster films.

While executive producer Martin Scorsese's (who remade Infernal Affairs with The Departed) influence is sure to be found in pockets of the film (especially when it the tone shifts between hyper violence and petty romance), Lau and Loo (the latter who co-wrote the film with Michael Di Jiacomo) definitely have a heavy hand when it comes to the execution of each scene and the persistent slow-motion shots.

What also stands out in the film is, of course, the riveting story that follows Sonny (Justin Chon) from the meek adopted son of a Chinese restaurant worker to becoming one of the biggest threats in the gang. Coincidentally, we only see him actually kill someone once, as a child in the initiation stage who's brought in to finish a guy who originally pegged as his friend's target. While the two, childhood friends and brothers in the truest sense, rise up the ranks of the gang it is Sonny who sees beyond the crew while his friend Steven (Kevin Wu) sees his alliance with the gang as an inevitable means to an end--one which fills him with as much power as dread. With a feeble romance between Sonny and Tina (Shuya Chang) waiting in the wings, the friends must contend with dangerous head honcho Paul Wong (Harry Shum Jr.), irresponsible law enforcement led by Ray Liotta's Detective Bloom, and their own fates.

Chon and Wu, with Shum, hold their own on screen as the main characters in the film, but Eugenia Yuan as a fierce puppet master commands each of the few scenes she's in with even just a rise of an eyebrow. With a ending you'll never see coming, REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS is a solid crime drama that presents an alternative to the typical American gangster film often about a white man wreaking havoc. Lau and Loo are forces to be reckoned with. Your move, Scorsese.

Rating: A- (**** out of *****)

REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS is in theaters October 24th. Watch the trailer here,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Watch the Official Trailer for EXTRATERRESTRIAL, the New Horror Film from the Vicious Brothers

I won't rehash my review of EXTRATERRESTRIAL in this post, mainly because this is the type of film that will likely defy critical opinion (but if you're curious, you can read it here). Since the Vicious Brothers' (Grave Encounters) new alien horror film is on VOD today, you may be interested to check out the official trailer. First, here's a little background info on the movie in the following synopsis:

From The Vicious Brothers, the creators of Grave Encounters comes a different kind of encounter, one of 'EXTRATERRESTRIAL' origin. Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, April (Daytime Emmy winner, Brittany Allen) is dragged back to the vacation cabin she spent fond summers at as a child accompanied by a group of friends. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. Lead by her boyfriend, played by Freddie Stroma (Harry Potter & The Half Blooded Prince, Pitch Perfect), the group venture out toward the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. The college friends soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.

Watch the clip:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Trailer for TOP FIVE Isn't What I Was Expecting

So, when I first wrote about Chris Rock's TOP FIVE, I kinda thought that it would be, you know, good. I mean, it's really hard to tell what a film will be based on its trailer, so I'm going to try to take this one with a grain of salt. But, in my head, I had souped up the film to be witty and smart -- indicative of most of Rock's comedy. Or maybe that's just too high of an expectation.

It could be that the trailer reflects what you may already consider Rock to be, a successful comedian who's kinda stuck in a mid-career crisis, and not a more fresh comedy approach concept (or even something that moves away from both those things and builds off the tone of 2 Days in New York). In any case, it doesn't look bad, just...unexpected. Plus, it's filled with tons of star power like Kevin Hart and J.B. Smoove (both from BET's Real Husbands of Hollywood), Whoopi Goldberg, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union and Rosario Dawson. So that's gotta amount to something. It actually kinda reminds me of Adam Sandler's Funny People, which I really liked (I know I'm in the minority with that).

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think:

TOP FIVE is in select theaters starting Dec. 5 and nationwide Dec. 12th

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