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ALL THE BEAUTY AND BLOODSHED (USA 2022) ***1/2

Directed by Laura Poitras

In the 1980's, Nan Goldin's arresting images in THE BALLAD OF SEXUAL DEPENDENCY transformed the worlds of both cinema and art photography.  In ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED, Academy Award®–winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR) traces Goldin's evolution from artist to activist and her role in founding P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), an advocacy group working to take down the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma.

“If there is anyone who should be in jail, it would be these people.”  These are the words uttered by Nan Goldin herself, which are bound to generate a laugh-out loud or two from the audience though the words also ring so true.  Nan must be admired and cheered for taking on the Sackler family - one of the most powerful families in the world.  Her life would be in danger, she might be ostracized from the art world and would be left with nothing.  Yet she formed the group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) to fight against the Sackler family.

A huge portion of the doc champions Nan’s and P.A.I.N.’s crusade against the Sacklers.  The reason is this.  In 1996, Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sacker family introduced OxyContin, a reformulated version of oxycodone in a slow-release form.  Heavily promoted, oxycodone is a key drug in the emergence of the opioid epidemic.

On the Sackler family defence which is NOT INCLUDED in the doc is the fact that Elizabeth Sackler, daughter of Arthur Sackler, claimed that her branch of the family did not participate in or benefit from the sales of narcotics. While some have criticized Arthur Sackler for pioneering marketing techniques to promote non-opioids decades earlier, Professor Evan Gerstmann said in Forbes magazine,  "It is an absurd inversion of logic to say that because Arthur Sackler pioneered direct marketing to physicians, he is responsible for the fraudulent misuse of that technique, which occurred many years after his death and from which he procured no financial gain.

When the Sacklers were taken to court as a result of the lawsuit, the main Sackler family were forced by the court to hear the testimonies of the victims.  This segment forms the oddest part of the doc, and understandably so.  The camera focuses on the reactions of the family members as they hear the victims testify of deaths, anguish and their pure pain.  The faces of the Sackler family members appeared solemn, yet showed no outward remorse.  They did not apologize nor admitted guilt.  This is the part where the audience emotions get riled up against the Sackler family.   This evil has been shown time again in documentaries about other evil corporations where human lives are sacrificed for company profits - companies like Monsanto and John & Johnson.

Director Poitras uses the success of P.A.I.N. in removing the Sackler name from all the major museums as the doc’s climax, in a sort of happy ending.

The occasionally powerful and (righty so) angry documentary opens in Toronto on December 2nd, expanding to further markets on December 9th.

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THE ARK OF LILBURN (USA 2022) ***

Directed by Nicholas DeKay

 

THE ARK OF LILBURN follows the journey of a father and son's dream of transporting their 55 foot long, 19 foot high, and 130,000 pound steel yacht “The Hardship” from Lilburn, GA to Knoxville, TN down to its final destination in Tampa, FL and the comedic and dramatic chaos that ensures trying to transport this vessel.

This is actually a documentary about very stupid people.  The very idea of building a huge boat away from the water that needs transportation, an almost impossible task, speaks for itself in terms of stupidity.  The builders hire stupid movers who are more talk than anything else.  When the boat after lots of hassle eventually lands at its destination, what would ensure that the boat will float?  Stupid people with a totally stupid project, all justified by the name people in the documentary that is executively produced by the father and son of the project,  Thankfully however, all the stupidity makes THE ARK OF LILBURN an engrossing, fun and interesting film.

  “The idea of building a vessel came up in 2002 and in late 2003, production started on the boat. For four years a small crew and I poured our passion into the vessel only to see it come to a screeching halt in 2008. With the economy crashing, the business hurting, and a divorce on the horizon, the project was put to sleep for the next 12 years,” said Lowe Porter, owner of Porter Steel, Inc.  Producer Jaye Tyroff discovered the boat while on a location scout at Porter Steel, Inc for another film and immediately saw the potential for a riveting story.  Lowe Porter and his son Cole ended up producing the documentary.

  There are many of what seems to be insurmountable obstacles.  The first is getting the boat out of the building it was constructed in.  Does the boat need to be cut in half?  Or the building demolished?  This has to be seen to be believed.  What is the most amusing is that Lowe and son Cole hire a total idiot to move the boat.  He has a ponytail, and one of the workers at Porter Steel humorously confesses that he never trusts anyone with a ponytail.  The funniest thing is that he turns out to be right.  The mover with the ponytail is a total liar and totally useless at his job of moving the boat.  The only thing he appears good at is opening his big mouth and talking shit.

There are many key issues touched in the film such as the father and son relationship of Lowe and Cole, correct business practices and the importance of making proper contracts and insurance.

The transportation father boat finally gets under way - an oversized load that is transported by road.  The filming is well done, creating quite a lot of tension and suspense to watch.

Despite the rather weird subject of the almost impossible transportation of the boat that might put many a moviegoer off, THE ARK OF LISBURN ends up quite an entertaining, absorbing and intriguing watch.  The film opens on digital platforms on Dec 6th.

 

BROADWAY RISING (USA 2022) ***
Directed by Amy Rice

 

Now that Covid is almost over (assuming that North America will not go into lockdown again, which could be disastrous judging from the riots in China that resulted from the over-cautious lockdown by the Chinese government), BROADWAY RISING is a look back at how it all got started and how it finally ended together with an examination of all the people in the theatre industry affected by it would paint a picture of how everything went in terms of Covid.

BROADWAY RISING, the feature-length documentary chronicles the Broadway community’s harrowing and inspiring journey back to the stage following the COVID-19 shutdown on March 12, 2020 a lockdown of 2 years.  Over 96,000 people lost their jobs when The Great White Way went dark decimating an entire ecosystem of businesses supporting the industry.  From actors to artisans, directors to doormen, producers to prop masters, not one aspect of the business was left untouched.  But the show must go on!  (The show will go on, it is a question of when- which could be a long time.)  The film turns the spotlight on the community and highlights their stories of anxiety, doubt, perseverance and ultimately triumph on the long-awaited opening night, September 14, 2021.  The film is produced by Tony Award®-winners Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Take Me Home, Modern Family) and Justin Mikita (Oklahoma!) under their A KID NAMED BECKETT Productions, Sam Bisbee of Park Pictures, Christopher Cowen of STATION 10, and Amy Rice, in association with World of Ha and XTR.

BROADWAY RISING is so called as the film highlights the return and re-opening of Broadway as its climax.  There are shots of various famous plus and musicals re-opening including WICKED and the rendering of the song 'New York, New York’ that would elevate one's emotions.

Director Amy Rice’s documentary takes the safe route.  It starts and ends with the closing and opening of Broadway and interviews or tells the story of several Broadway people - both the stars and lower level employees affected.  One is a theatre doorman who was the very first to get very ill from the disease.  The doc runs a bit long and lags in the middle.  At one point, it seems aimless as it randomly selects different people to examine.  The doc features Jewelle Blackman, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Ginna Claire Mason, Adam Perry, Robbie Fairchild, Lynn Nottage, Brian Blythe, John Kristiansen, T. Oliver Reid, Tom Kirdahy, Kevin McCollum among others.

The same format of a Covid documentary could also be made for other affected industries such as the hospitality industry, the fitness industry or the film industry with titles like HOSPITALITY RISING, FITNESS RISING or CINEMA RISING.  BROADWAY RISING because the doc is about theatre is able to show more aplomb, glamour and fabulousness.   The only thing missing in the doc appears to be the rendering of the musical number, Irving Berlin’s “There is no Business like Show Business”.

  BROADWAY RISING releasing nationwide in theatres December 5 as a Fathom Event (https://www.fathomevents.com/events/Broadway-Rising), is directed by filmmaker Amy Rice (By the People: The Election of Barack Obama), and produced by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (currently starring in Broadway's Take Me Out), Justin Mikita and Sam Bisbee.

 Trailer: 

 

CONFESSIONS (Canada 2022) ***1/2

Click on link for the reveiw on our sister website:

 

The banality of evil has never been more forcefully depicted.  CONFESSIONS has the feel of a real gangster movie. 

https://toronto-franco.com/article/21-cinema-movies/367-film-review-confessions

 

 

 

HUNT (South Korea 2022) ***1/2

Directed by Lee Jung-jae

 

South Korean Lee Jung-jae has risen to fame.   As an actor, Lee Jung-jae began his career 30 years ago, moving from movie heartthrob, (he still has his good looks, but looking more mature) to one of South Korea’s top actors, to 2022 Emmy Award winner for his performance in Netflix’s SQUID GAME which has brought him global stardom.  Now he is not only making his feature directorial debut but also starring in HUNT (Heon-teu), a spy thriller set in the early 1980s against the backdrop of a cold war between the two Koreas.  The script is ci-written by director Lee Jung-jae and Jo Seung-hee. 


HUNT refers to the hunt of the KCIA (the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, both foreign and domestic departments) for a mole that undermines their operatives.  The heads of the two departments, Chief Park (Lee) of the Foreign Unit and Chief Kim (Jung Woo-sung) of the Domestic Unit – are charged with finding a North Korean mole who’s deeply embedded in the agency.  Kim had previously interrogated Park, causing him to have permanent nerve damage in his hand, an injury that Park has never forgiven Kim for.  Park and Kim dislike each other, with tension increasing even more when they are secretly asked to investigate each other’s units. 


Along with the psychological warfare, genre fans will also love the adrenalin-pumping showdowns – ranging from firefights and fistfights to ambushes and explosions.   HUNT plays like an excellent espionage action thriller, director Lee, himself an action actor who knows all the ins and outs of making a solid action thriller.  He also adds to the formula the female element and strong women personalities as well,  in order to balance the gender equation in an otherwise all male cast film.  The action set pieces are excitingly choreographed with impressive editing coupled with music that enhances the thrills.

The conflict between the two men who mistrust each other adds another dimension to the story, creating more depth in the form of psychological warfare into the plot. Many action films lack character development, but there is plenty of this in HUNT.  The confrontation of the two men also adds to the mystery and to who and where the mole might be.  When new information arrives at the KCIA, both heads demand that the information be shown to them first.  (The only way would be to show the information at the same time?)  The film sacrifices humour for action and the lack of humour can be clearly felt, though compensated for by the film’s fast pacing.  HUNT is sufficiently violent, though director Lee keeps excesses to a check.

HUNT premiered at the Midnight Screening at Cannes 2022 and screened as a Gala at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.  HUNT opens December 2 in Toronto (Bell Lightbox & digital Bell Lightbox),Vancouver (Vancity) and Ottawa (Mayfair).  The film is also available December 2 to rent or buy on the Apple TV app/iTunes and other VOD platforms.

Trailer:  

MISSING (Japan 2022) ***1/2

Directed by Shinzô Katayama

 

Daughter Kaeda rescues her father from the police after a minor shoplifting incident.  She is embarrassed of him, he often getting drunk and always broke..  Depressed and in debt following the death of his wife, Santoshi (Jiro Sato) tells his young daughter he has found a way out.  Pointing to a reward note, he vows to find the infamous serial killer “No Name” (Hiroya Shimizu) and cash in, claiming to have seen the man in the flesh a few days earlier.  Kaeda (Aoi Ito) cannot take her aloof father seriously. But when he goes missing without a trace, she starts to fear the worst—and must begin looking for him.  She begins to appreciate her father.  When she discovers him stabbed in a hut, the film flashes back to tell the story.  And once again during the flashback, the film moves back in time.

Flashbacks are occasionally used as an alternative means of storytelling, in which the linear chronological order is broken, used for the sake of being used.  In MISSING, flashbacks are used very effectively and builds on the mystery of the story, proving director Katayama a master storyteller, an often neglected trait in a filmmaker.  The film also covers other key issues of life - the peculiarities of first romance, daughter/father relationship and care for a loved and sick one.

Director Katayama also introduces neat little touches that show his trademark, like a bouncing ping-pong ball dropping from the wheelchair to the floor when the occupant finally dies.

MISSING proves director Shinzô Katayama a filmmaker to watch.  The filmmaker crossed paths with Bong Joon-Ho while shooting “TOKYO!” (2008) and served as his assistant director on “MOTHER (2009). In 2019, his debut feature, SIBLINGS OF THE CAPE was selected by numerous domestic and international film festivals. He is now one of the most promising, emerging directors in Japan, and his second feature, MISSING IS his commercial film debut.

MISSING is an impressive and solidly executed mystery puzzle told through flashbacks that every mystery fan should enjoy.  MISSING was screened at the Busan International Film Festival, Fantasia International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and many more.  It opens on Blu-ray December the 6th and is available also on VOD platforms.

 

TIGER 24 (USA 2022) ***

Directed by Warren Pereira

 

TIGER 24 is about a tiger also known as T-24, also known as Ustad, a tiger who lived in Ranthambore National Park, India.  He allegedly killed four humans and was put into captivity.  Thus the tiger kills men who enter his territory and is declared a man-eater ending with him locked up in a zoo. This galvanizes massive social uproar and activists take their cause to the streets, online, up on to billboards and all the way to the Supreme Court.  Writer/director Pereira has crafted a most interesting doc about tigers in general, particularly concentrating on T-24 and the case in question.

The T-24 tiger has been studied by the Indian national park authorities.  The following is the story of this tiger that is related by director Pereira in his documentary.  At times, it feels like a Disney except for the fact that there are brief scenes of humans mangled by the tiger after the attacks.  T24's mating partner was T-39, popularly called Noor, and together they had three male cubs from two separate litters. All those cubs are now no longer seen in Ranthambhore National Park but have moved north to Keladevi Sanctuary according to the Field Director Y.K. Sahu.  The story of the doc begins on May 8, 2015, when  T-24 was controversially identified as the Tiger that killed forest guard Rampal Saini.  The forest department stated that this was T-24's fourth human kill and they moved him out of the wild to a zoo in Udaipur in the larger interest of tiger conservation in Ranthambhore.  This move caused massive social uproar. Activists argued that all four killings occurred in the core area which is supposed to be inviolate space for Tigers and that there was no definitive proof that T-24 was the killer Tiger. They took their cause to the streets, online and to the courts. On May 28, 2015, the Jaipur High Court concluded that the removal of T24 was legal, and pointed out that the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve officials are the appropriate authority to make Ranthambhore wild tiger translocation decisions. Activists continue to pursue the case legally and otherwise with no success.  All this is captured by Pereira’s camera which makes interesting footage.  In the zoo, T-24 suffered various health issues including megacolon and is on a special diet and medication.  He remains the only tiger to have graced the cover of India Today magazine and the only Tiger to have commanded the attention of the Delhi High Court, Jaipur High Court and Supreme Court of India.

So should T-24 be put in a zoo or left in his original habitat?  That is the question that needs to be answered.  Director Pereira shows the two different points of view as well as the arguments for and against.  He also gets as far as filming a tiger expert who comments on T-24s treatment of his infected paw before the incident.  He says that the infection should be left as is as it is part of the natural order of things, if the tiger should die or not.  It is a valid argument.

TIGER 24 appears to be an ordinary documentary but it challenges its audiences on key ethical issues as well as examines the life or real wild animals.  TIGER 24 is definitely a doc worth watching.

 

TROLL (Norway 2022) ***
Directed by Roar Uthaug

 

Deep in the Dovre mountains in Norway, something gigantic wakes up after a thousand years in captivity.  The creature, a gigantic ugly troll destroys everything in its path and quickly approaches Oslo.

Certain mythical creatures have been associated with certain places.  The green leprechaun is unique to Ireland as is the Merlion (half mermaid, half lion) to Singapore.   Norway has the ugliest creature - the troll - stuck to it.  So it is just a matter of time before a Norwegian film is made about a gigantic troll - a disaster movie.  TROLL works like a Norwegian Godzilla directed by Norwegian director Roar Uthaug which he co-wrote with Espen Aukar.

TROLL begins with a daughter and father climbing up a mountain before falling (pardon the pun) out in their relationship.  The film moves forward 20 years later (even though the father and daughter look the same and not aged a year) when a railroad company blasts a mountain amidst protests, and awakens the giant troll.   The daughter is now Dr. Nora Tidemann (Inc Marie Wilmann) who is summoned by Norway Prime Minister  Berit Moberg (Anneke von der Lippe), as the government cannot figure out what is happening.  Nora claims it is a creature before they discover it to be a troll and she is ridiculed by the authorities appointed to solve the disaster.  She goes to the remote cabin of her father, Tobias (Gard B. Eidsvold) to ask for his help.  As the troll destroys everything on tis way to Oslo, the question is whether Nora can single handedly with a few believers stop the monster.

There are many things that differentiate TROLL from the typical Hollywood Godzilla movie.  One is the script’s attention to its country of origin Norway.  The monster moves across geographical areas or Norway including well known cities like Lillehammer.  Norwegian folklore is used to explain the moves of the troll.  A troll turns into stone in sunlight.  The film also contains more humour and the humour is of the intelligent kind.  When suggested that climate change might be the reason for the disaster, one of the government members suggest: “Maybe we should consult Greta.”  Or when Nora says: “I don’t ant to discuss gas deposits with Professor Sinkhole.”Trailer: 

The special effects are half decent and do not border on the ridiculous, considering the film’s modest production budget.

The audience is spared of any silly romance, though Nora has two male friends on her side.  One is Andreas Isaksen (Kim Falck) a bookworm looking government worker who proves he does know a thing or two and Captain Kris (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen) from the military.

Director Uthaug, no stranger to blockbusters, has made TOMB RAIDER (2018) and the much acclaimed disaster movie  (THE WAVE aka BOLGEN) a disaster movie about a tsunami hitting Norway.  Here, TROLL, a Netflix original movie that begins streaming this week on Netflix is a decently made Norwegian Godzilla disaster movie, that though delivers nothing fresh in the genre satisfies as standard commercial entertainment.

 Trailer: 

VIOLENT NIGHT (USA 2022) **

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

 

Before the month of December begins, theatres usually release their first Christmas films - usually family gathering comedies that are just plain awful like CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS, films that somehow drag audiences into the theatres anyway.  This year, a different type of Christmas film is released, and on December the 2nd and only in theatres - a gory Christmas film that combines violence, swearing and the Christmas spirit.  If you think these ingredients do not mix well in a movie, you are dead of winter right.  The sentimental slop and the gory violence are definitely observable to be at odds with each other.

When a group of mercenaries led by John Leguizamo playing the lead villain who calls himself ‘Scrooge( attack the estate of a wealthy family in Christmas eve, Santa Claus (David Harbour from STRANGER THINGS) must step in to save the day (and Christmas).  The wealthy family led by matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo) is having their Christmas gathering on Christmas eve when the attack occurs.    The main family in the larger wealthy family is adult son Jason (Alex Hassell) who is with with his ex-wife (Alexis Louder) for the sake of their daughter (Leah Brady); his sister Alva (Edi Patterson) has brought along her action actor too-full-of-himself husband (Cam Gigandet playing himself as he is an action actor himself) and social media star son (Alexander Elliot).   Their constant fighting and bickering are barely passable as humour.  Gertrude’s constant tiresome swearing is supposed to be funny.

As VIOLENT NIGHT involves a lot of action set pieces, with Santa plummeting the bad guys with his sledgehammer, a weapon Santa had used in his previous viking life, they had better be good.  A few are if one likes to see an eye gouged out by an electric Christmas tree star that eventually burn out his brains, but a lot of the fight choreography cannot be seen clearly due to director Wirkola’s fondness of closeups and the film moving too fast and in the dark.

The generally unfunny script by Pat Casey and Josh Miller (the includes Santa peeing and barfing while on his sleigh in the sky) does contain a few good jokes.  The best of the lot, I admit I laughed out loud at this one, is the one uttered to sister Alva in one scene: “I know you are an idiot but you don’t have to shout it out.”

VIOLENT NIGHT pays nod to the Christmas classics like A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Scrooge), DIE HARD. and particularly HOME ALONE.  It only shows to prove how good the John Hughes movie is better than this one

Viewing the trailer also makes one hesitant at seeing the film, as the trailer depicts exactly what is expected - graphic violent, vomit and shit jokes with lots of foul language.  However, reading the reviews online, as the film was screened already for comic-con audiences , I was convinced otherwise by the glowing reviews by comic-con participants.  VIOLENT NIGHT would be appreciated by such folk, undoubtedly by many of the ‘kind’ who attended the promo screening of VIOLENT NIGHT - noticeable by their similar attire and looks.  (They are also extremely annoying and laugh out loud all the time during the movie, not to mention bringing a lot of popcorn and sometimes snacks like loud crunching crisps.)  For those who are able to distinguish good and bad films, avoid this piece of Christmas turd.

 Trailer: 

WHITE NOISE (USA 2022) ***** Top 10
Directed by Noah Baumbach

 

In Physics, white noise is defined as random signals that exist and cannot be explained or predicted.  The new film by Noah Baumbach, whose last film, the excellent MARRIAGE STORY returns with another marriage story set in an apocalyptic setting of death, despair and escape.   The film is based on the novel by Don DeLillo, considered a cornerstone example of postmodern literature.   Time included the novel in its list of "Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.  

The film is told in parts, the first entitled"Waves and Radiation”, a chronicle of contemporary family life combined with academic satire.  Set in the bucolic college town Blacksmith, White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), a professor at the College-on-the-Hill who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies (though he has not taken German lessons until this year). He has been married five times to four women and rears a brood of children and stepchildren (Heinrich, Denise, Steffie, Wilder) with his current wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig). Jack and Babette are both extremely afraid of death as is shown in a bedroom scene at night as they lay in bed talking.  They wonder which of them will be the first to die.   The film is told in parts, the first entitled"Waves and Radiation," is a chronicle of contemporary family life combined with academic satire.

In the second part of the novel, "The Airborne Toxic Event," a chemical spill from a rail car releases a black noxious cloud over Jack's home region, prompting an evacuation.   The film follows Jack and his family as they are forced to drive off in their car amidst the exodus.   Director Baumbach injects some magnificent action set-pieces including a car chase in a field and  the car floating down a river with the family still in it.

The last part of the film is more dramatic and personal in terms of Jack's point of view.  Jack discovers that Babette has been cheating on him with a man she calls "Mr. Gray" in order to gain access to a fictional drug called Dylar, an experimental treatment for the terror of death. Jack tracks down to kill Mr. Gray, with unexpected results. 

Amidst all the segments, the film ends on a high note with the hypnotic and spiritual nature of a new supermarket A & P that has just opened.

Writer/director Baumbach follows the book closely but the material allows the director the opportunity to inject his interpretations and representations of the story.  The film allows Baumbach certain self indulgence, and like recent self-indulgent films this year - TRIANGLE OF SADNESS and BARDO. WHITE NOISE is a delight in cinematic experience. Baumbach’s film is as hilarious as it is terrifying, lyrical and absurd, but nevertheless  mysterious and unforgettable.

WHITE NOISE, like MARRIAGE STORY is a Netflix original film, and opens in theatres December the 2nd before a global release on Netflix on December the 30.

Trailer:

A WOUNDED FAWN (USA 2022) **1/2

Directed by Travis Stevens


A serial killer, Bruce Ernst (Josh Ruben) brings an unsuspecting new victim, Meredith Tanning (Sarah Lund) on a weekend getaway to add another body to his ever-growing count. She is buying into his faux charms, and he is eagerly lusting for blood.

The film begins with the auction of a much sought-after artifact - an Artemis ornament.  Artemis is generally depicted as a beautiful huntress wearing a sleeveless tunic and carrying a bow and arrow who is often accompanied by a group of nymphs and huntresses. Bow, arrow, quiver and knives serve as her symbols.  When Bruce loses the bidding of the piece to a beautiful collector, he shows up at her house to tempt her to part with it for double the price she had paid.  But he slits her throat and steals it instead.

The first two set pieces- the auction and first killing are well executed and violently exciting, which makes them hard to beat.  Unfortunately, the rest of the film does not live up to these segments, though there are  few genuine scary touches.

The film is basically a two-hander between Meredith the victim and Bruce the predator.  When Meredith first enters Bruce’s gorgeous cabin in the woods, she is mystified .  Bruce put on his charms.  

The success of the film rests on the shoulders of the main actor Josh Ruben who plays the creepy serial killer Bruce.  Ruben can look exceptionally charming as at the film’s start during the auction and during the home invasion and then extremely creepy when he tries to kill the second victim who he has invited to his cabin.  Ruben has a sort of goofy look that can transform from creepy to charming.  Ruben might be recognizable as he has made a mark already on television.  Ruben is an award-winning actor, writer, and director whose feature film SCARE ME, which he wrote, directed & starred alongside Aya Cash and Chris Redd, debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and Shudder. For television, Josh directed sketches for "The Late Late Show" with James Corden and episodes of TruTV's "Adam Ruins Everything." 

Director Stevens, who co-wrote the script with Nathan Faudre leaves a lot to the anticipation of the audience for their entertainment.  When is Bruce going to strike?  Or isn’t he?  A few moments has him holding a sharp knife as he makes their meal, but these are often false alarms.  The best part is the one where Meredith, herself a museum curator, notices the Artemis piece on the living room table of the cabin as something really valuable and is puzzled that Bruce owns it.  Bruce replies that it is a fake but Meredith phones the museum only to learn that the artifact had been stolen.  This raises Meredith’s suspicion on what her date might be up to.  And up to no good, it seems.

The last third of the film fails to live up to expectations, despite the script’s attempt to throw a twist into he story, one that makes the film looks sillier (the appearance of the red owl) than anything else.

Trailer: 

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