Sunday, November 14, 2010


I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It was much better than I had anticipated. It follows a runaway train across Pennsylvania. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine end up on a collision course with the out of control train, but after narrowly escaping death, they follow after the other train to try and stop it from the back.

The movie is incredibly suspenseful. I was biting my nails almost the whole time. There is a slight subplot involving Will (Pine) and his wife and son, but other than that it was all constant action and suspense.

Speaking of the subplot, it kind of bothered me. First of all, we find out early on that Will's wife has a restraining order against him. Later, he tells Frank (Washington) that she was texting someone and he grabbed the phone from her. That escalated into him confronting one of her friends with a gun, who he claims has always liked his wife, and who also happens to be a police officer. But seriously? All this over TEXTING? Are they 15? The other thing that bothered me was his son. His son showed zero emotion throughout the entire film. I don't know if they hired a terrible kid actor or it was just terrible direction, but it was really distracting to me. The kid sees his dad's face on TV and...nothing. Doesn't even ask why his dad is on TV or even acknowledge that it is his dad. And the kid is shown walking to school earlier on, so we know he is old enough to talk and sort of realize what is going on. It was just really odd.

I loved Rosario Dawson in this. I think she stole the show as Connie, the Rail Control Supervisor. I've always like Rosario Dawson as an actress and she definitely does an amazing job here considering her part is fairly minimal.

Overall, it was a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. My husband loved it. He loves trains and he's from Pennsylvania, so he was really into it.

4/5 stars.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

For some reason, my theater had more underage teenagers watching this R rated movie than there were adults. Two girls behind me narrated the entire movie in not-so-silent whispers and a group of teenage girls in the back squealed and offered gems such as "Don't go out there!" and "The baby's on the loose!". Thanks, assholes. This is why I watch movies at home.

Anyways, besides that rant, the movie wasn't bad. It was pretty much exactly the same as the first one though, so if you liked it you'll probably like this one. I did like how they tied it into the first movie by having the main character be Katie's (from the first Paranormal Activity) sister.

This movie takes place a few months before the events from the first Paranormal Activity. This movie follows Katie's sister, Christy, and her husband, their son, and her step-daughter. They add some backstory into this one, so it sort of fleshes out the original a bit too.

I'm not going to spoil it by giving away more of the plot, but for a sequel that came out so quickly after the original, the plot was decently thought out and it really adds to the original without giving TOO much information and taking away from the suspense and mystery.

4/5 stars. It was a little to0 similar to the first, but fortunately for them, the original was good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

WItch Hunt (2008)

Witch Hunt is a documentary about the mass arrests on charges of child molestation that happened in Kern County, CA in the mid-80s. 36 people were convicted of molesting their own children as well as neighbor children in Bakersfield, CA. They were also said to have been using the children in a "satanic sex rituals". They all spend decades in prison before 34 of them had their convictions overturned.

This movie is scary. These people were convicted and sentenced to prison with basically no evidence, except for the testimony of the children involved. The children are now in their 20s and have spoken out and recanted their confessions and said they were coerced into saying things by the officers questioning them and none of it actually happened.

Evidence was withheld as well. Children stated that they saw other children being molested or hurt, but medical reports showed no injuries or sexual assault on any of the children. However, the medical reports were not found until recently and were not shown in the original court proceedings.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who is into documentaries. It's highly informative and very interesting. They don't go into graphic detail of the abuse, so it's not hard to watch from that aspect. It is, however, hard to watch these men, women, and even the children, whose lives have been ruined by this whole ordeal.

4.5/5 stars.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Christine (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer who refuses to give an old gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage payment. The old lady doesn't take this too well and curses Christine.

Okay, so this movie was CAMPY. But it worked. It kept my attention and was actually pretty decent. The director, Sam Raimi is known for his campy horror films (the Evil Dead series), so it kind of fit with his aesthetic, while still appealing to a new audience. The even used the old 1980 Universal logo at the beginning. It really sets the atmosphere for what you're about to see.

I like Alison Lohman. I loved her in Matchstick Men and White Oleander, and thought she did a pretty good job in this movie even though it was a different type of role than I'm used to seeing her in. I thought Justin Long was a little miscast though...he's more of a comedy guy to me. But he didn't do too bad a job, it was just an odd role for him.

I loved the ending. I love it when movies don't use the typical "happily ever after" ending. I'll admit I had no idea where this movie was going for most of it, which I liked. I wasn't sure if she could even FIND a way to get rid of the curse, which kept the suspense up.

4/5 stars. I was thoroughly entertained!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Haunting in Connecticut

Matt has cancer. So his family rents a house closer to the hospital that he receives his treatments at. Unfortunately, the house used to be a funeral home where some shady stuff went down.

This movie kinda freaked me out because my parents moved into the old farmhouse that my mom grew up in back when I was in college. So when I go home to visit, I have to sleep in this enormous brick house that was built in 1876. And yes, they used to have funerals in the parlor, although it fortunately was not a funeral home. Apparently, they had funerals in your own house back then. And we did find pictures. Consequently, I do not like the parlor.

But, this movie wasn't that great. It was pretty predictable for the most part. Family moves into a possessed/haunted house, they see weird things, they find a weird guy to help them get rid of said weird things, then they live happily ever after...blah blah blah. There were a few twists in there that kept it from being completely terrible. I was thinking that the ending was going to go somewhere else (i.e. not predictable), but alas, I was wrong.

I did like the idea that Matt was on an experimental treatment for his cancer, with a possible side effect of hallucinations. So when he saw something weird, his family (and even himself) didn't know if it was the drugs or if something actually strange was going on in the house. That was more original than the usual "kid sees/hears weird stuff, parents think they're making it up and/or crazy". His hallucinations had a fairly reasonable explanation, so no one was really concerned at first.

But you know, some parts were really stupid. Did no one really smell any dead bodies in that house? Why on earth would Matt sleep in that basement room after he finds the adjacent autopsy room? Why did they stay in that house as long as they did? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Side note: Did anyone else think that the guy who played the reverend was that guy from Law and Order: SVU? I looked it up and it's a totally different guy...but they look identical.

2/5 stars. Probably wouldn't ever watch again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back to the Future

Some of the first DVDs I ever owned was the Back to the Future Trilogy. I love these movies. I can't think of anyone who DOESN'T like these movies. It's hard to do the time travel thing successfully, but Back to the Future is one of the best.

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd MADE this movie. I don't think it would have had near the success without those two in the lead roles. However, I did want to know a little back story as to why this high school kid was friends with this old, eccentric scientist. Marty didn't exactly seem like he'd be the science geek type.

This movie can appeal to just about anyone. I loved it as a kid and I love it as an adult. It's pretty universally appealing. There's also so many amazing lines in this movie. You could seriously just about quote the whole thing.

5/5 stars.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An American Crime

An American Crime is a horrific story. It's made all the more disturbing because it's based on the true story of the Sylvia Likens murder in 1960s Indiana. I first heard of the Likens murder when I read "The Girl Next Door" by Jack Ketchum. It's a fiction book, but he used the real life murder as a basis. The true story is bad enough. An American Crime is very factual and uses actual crime photos and court testimonies.

Sylvia Likens (Ellen Page) and her sister Jenny are sent to live with Gertie (Catherine Keener) and her six children after their parents join a traveling carnival. After a rumor (that actually turns out to be true) in school about Paula, Gertie's daughter, they blame Sylvia. Gertie and the rest of the kids, including kids from around the neighborhood, horrifically abuse and torture Sylvia until her death.

At times, this movie almost seems over the top. If you didn't know it really happened, it would almost be unbelievable. Why were all these neighborhood kids so quick to join in on the abuse? Why did Jenny (Sylvia's sister) not tell anyone? Why did Sylvia never really fight back? But that's what really happened.

Although the subject matter is brutal, this film wasn't overly graphic with the material. Most of the violence is shown through reaction shots or inter cut with scenes from the trial.

I don't know why this movie isn't more known. I'm assuming it's an independent film and didn't have much funding, but it also stars some fairly big names - Ellen Page and Catherine Keener as well as Scout Taylor-Compton, James Franco, and Jeremy Sumpter. IMDb says that it was a made-for-tv film, but it has a theatrical rating, so who knows?

4.5/5 stars. This is definitely not a movie to watch over and over again though. Twice is enough for me.