Not my best effort BUT click bait is click bait.
After getting in a car accident, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is held in a shelter with two men (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr), who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
A fantastic Hitchcockian opening sequence delivered high hopes as Mary Elizabeth Winstead attempted her Janet Leigh-esque escape from a bad break up. Bear McCreary’s sinister score. The window shots. It felt like an homage to Psycho from director Dan Trachtenberg.
Small trivia fact: I didn’t realise the voice of Michelle’s (Winstead) ex Ben was none other than Bradley Cooper’s.
The story didn’t mess about. It set everything up and let it all come tumbling down within 10 minutes. Hooked, line and sinker. One car collision later and Michelle awakens trapped in a bunker with her leg in a brace and handcuffed to the railing. Like something out of Saw.
The scene was set. The tension bubbling.
For the first 45 minutes I was transfixed, especially when John Goodman made his introduction. He was fantastic as Howard. Channeling his inner Kathy Bates. A return to form from the big man.
A ticking time bomb waiting to explode. A nuclear fall out whack job or genuine Samaritan?
I loved the Misery style cat and mouse game as Michelle tried to piece together everything that had happened. The questions mounting; was there an attack? Are they the only survivors?
It was good to see the underrated John Gallagher Jr (The Newsroom) get a meatier role to sink his teeth into as Emmett. Was he in on the act with Howard? Or another abductee like Michelle?
In all fairness, I couldn’t fault any of the performances. A crucial factor as the film relied solely on the three actors. Winstead was brilliant. She carried the film when the pace dragged, which it tragically did in places.
After the hour marker, I felt the film was running out of steam as Michelle began to accept her new life with this dysfunctional nuclear family.
Thankfully, the paranoia and suspense finally delivered as Howard’s lies became more transparent.
His concern for Michelle bordered on creepy Freudian levels as a silly game of “Who Am I?” unearthed some strange feelings. Unable to see Michelle as a woman BUT a young girl after losing his daughter.
That scene had me on tenterhooks. Goodman was intense. His “I’m always watching” conversation should have been ripe for a parody from Monster’s Inc (The Goodman link up was completely unintentional) BUT it was too unsettling as you feared the worst for Michelle.
To be honest up until the 80 minute marker, the post-apocalyptic bunker thriller had potential to hold its own as Michelle played the waiting game.
BUT then you realised that this had Cloverfield in the title. So things were about to get weird as Michelle plotted her escape.
There were a few twists BUT the finale felt tacked on and rushed for my liking. After all that slow burning tension and suspense, the teasing failed to deliver the goods for me.
It didn’t feel like a Cloverfield movie. The film’s greatest strength BUT also its greatest weakness as I felt the writers (One of them being none other than La La Land’s Damien Chazelle) quickly had to throw something in to tie this entry into the Cloverfield universe.
Don’t get me wrong, it was frenetic and racy BUT also chaotic and messy. A little disappointing with a silly open ending. Only because the following sequel we received was The Cloverfield Paradox. Sheesh!
BUT despite my grumblings, this was still a highly engaging and suspenseful thriller worthy of your time.
A return to form from the maestro who brought us The Sixth Sense?
Or another dud to add the ever-growing backlog from that guy who gave us The Happening?
In a nutshell, meh.
BUT one thing can be agreed, James McAvoy was excellent.
Three girls are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities. They must escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.
I think it’s fair to say that M. Night Shyamalan’s movie have . . . split audiences. Ba-dum-tssh. I read that somewhere and had to put it.
I’ve always loved the premises BUT his execution? Well . . .
Desperate to be the next modern Hitchcock (The opening title sequence for Split resembled something out of Psycho!)
His big “twists” and mad endings have failed to impress of late; The Visit (Laughable), After Earth (Jaden Smith, say no more!), The Lady in the Water (Apart from that breaking of the 4th wall moment, woeful) and The Happening . . .
How could I forget?!
What do you mean, where’s Signs and The Village? I *shuffles collar* actually enjoyed those movies. Yes, I know. Aliens attack Earth and their sole weakness is water. I know! BUT Mel Gibson and Johnny Cash, man!
I digress. I was actually excited by all the trailers to see Shyamalan’s latest thriller and I didn’t mind it. It was alright BUT it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
The opening didn’t mess about. An air of unease established straight from the get go as McAvoy’s “Dennis” made his introduction to the unsuspecting trio.
Funny that I was praising Anya Taylor-Joy in another mediocre movie (Morgan). She played the withdrawn but resourceful Casey well.
I didn’t expect to see Grace from Skins (Jessica Sula) in the troubled party either.
Their initial captivity felt like something from Kiss the Girls with a hint of Misery.
The first half hour set a slow burning atmospheric thriller with all sorts of questions flying around.
Every time I could feel my patience wading, McAvoy’s Dennis would introduce another personality.
McAvoy continues to impress yet again. I don’t think I would have been half as interested if he wasn’t at the helm.
He stole the show with everybody else playing second fiddle.
And that was part of the problem, every time the action was taken away from him, I lost interest.
Betty Buckley (Carrie) didn’t do a bad turn as Dr Fletcher, the therapist desperate to help the troubled mad man. Fighting for “their” cause. Playing a very dangerous game.
There were genuine moments where I felt tense. Especially when she worked out that she wasn’t talking to the “right person”.
The girls played their parts well and were quite resilient.
I expected more cliched horror movie gaffs with three teenage girls at the centre of the chaos BUT they were fairly strong characters. Not bad, Mr Shyamalan.
BUT one thing that bugged me the most was the film’s actual premise. 23 personalities?
All those trailers, billboards, posters. 23 personalities. Did we actually get 23 personalities?
For the majority of the film, we only had 4. Great performance from Professor X but a measly number that increased to maybe 7 by the end? Come on now.
It was great how with a twitch in the face and a burrow of the brow; McAvoy’s infantile nine year old Hedwig could transform into the meticulous and obsessive compulsive Dennis.
His Patricia could easily have bordered on a parody of Mrs Doubtfire.
Thankfully, it didn’t.
BUT this could have been done in 90 minutes and been better for it.
The pacing hammered the piece for me and the final act dragged.
There was so many meandering flashbacks into Casey’s past, I kept wondering what the relevance of them were?
They killed the tension and annoyed the hell out of me.
All the talk of a Beast. This new and vicious 24th personality. Those crazy descriptions and the big reveal, the “What a twist” moment didn’t quite deliver.
It was certainly creepy and unsettling with Shyamalan teasing the die hards BUT it didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped.
Different. Watchable. BUT thriller of the year? Meh.
Certainly worth a view for one stellar performance from the super Scot.
A return of sorts. Not his best. BUT certainly NOT his worst by a country mile.
As I watched, the more it blowed. Now childish sulky comments aside. Another found footage “horror” film graces the big screen with cheap scares, poorly acted, badly written characters and a laughable premise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the found footage film genre has died a death. MAKE IT STOP! The Blair Witch Project brought something new to the horror genre. Over-hyped to the max but suspenseful and tense. Paranormal Activity resurrected that format and made it a hit yet again.
But surely movie producers must have realized by the endless sequels that followed from Paranormal that the format was being milked dry. Look, I’m an old school horror nut. The Shining, The Exorcist, Psycho managed to haunt me. While these feeble attempts at “horror” if you can call it that, on the other hand, are laughable. Well, I can laugh. It doesn’t cost me anything but at 10 quid a ticket, it’s not good enough.
From the opening shaky handheld selfie shot, I could feel my head shaking. Here we go. Our posh toff archaeologist Scarlett (Perdita Weeks – Channel 4’s The Promise) explaining everything she is doing, killing all mystery and suspense. The opening sequence was pacey but the camera work was that shaky and erratic, I couldn’t see what was going on. It was giving me a headache . . . and the camera work as well. The jumpy moments merely equating to loud bangs and screams to make sure the audience are still awake after mind numbing exposition.
It all felt like a ridiculous Indiana Jones crusade. The Mummy through the eyes of Omid Djalili with the scarab beetle in his head. That is how frantic the camera work was. I never heard so many horror movie cliches in one opening scene; “Let’s split up”, “I have a family”, “I must complete my fathers work”, oh and the infamous “Don’t go in there”. It was certainly different with an Iranian cave demolition chase but as the film slowed down (boy did it), we are subjected to none other but a quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. No, you read that right.
You’re a wizard, Scarlett. A boring fable on Nicholas Flamel dragged the film further and further. Did they not watch or read Harry Potter? You could have nicked a quick synopsis and got to the catacombs so much quicker. I could feel my eyes drooping. Our lead heroine waffles on about degrees and Egyptology waffle. Credit where’s it due; the cast do their utmost to try and make it interesting but my word . . . Dull.
Ben Feldman. Why would you leave Mad Men for this? Your first film post Mad Men and it’s this? A cliched character with a “dark past” spewing cliched tripe with an inevitable and corny romance brewing him and Scarlett. It was all so tedious. I thought I was watching a straight to DVD sequel of National Treasure. All the historical mumbo jumbo was there. There was one cool but highly ridiculous trick involving a tablet, cleaning fluid and a lighter. We need ammonia. Conveniently while breaking into a church, the janitor has left all the chemicals and lighters your heart could contend. Brilliant!
When we finally get into the catacombs (after 40 minutes), there are moments but that is being generous. When the camera man gets trapped in a tight crevice (Come on, we’re better than that), it was done quite well as he struggles and wrestles through a passage decorated with bones. For any claustrophobic, a nightmare scenario. But unfortunately, I’m not claustrophobic. There is no tension. Random characters get bumped off left, right and centre without any background, interest or concern. Suspense. Naff all. Loud noises and screams may make me jump out of my seat but what do you expect when the story has put me into a coma, near enough.
Feldman’s character with a dark past who constantly keeps reiterating that he will not go down into the catacombs; inevitably gets pushed down into the cave and what is his big secret? He’s CLAUSTROPHOBIC! Why didn’t he say that in the first place? Idiot. Oh my God, it felt like something out of a comedy sketch. The final 15 minutes certainly took it up a notch with a mad dash for survival but it felt like a terrible mish-mesh of the Death figure from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal wafting around and brooding in a chair, demented statues that were ripped off from the Doctor Who angels popping out of no where and the frenetic first person POV (that was brought back and done so much better in REC and REC 2) rearing its ugly head in an act of desperation to keep us hanging on the end of our seats.
For me, I was already on the end of my seat getting ready to leave. This only made me want to watch The Descent. A film that I felt at the time was incredibly flat and over-hyped but in comparison to this monstrosity, at least that succeeded in suspense and real scares. The ending of As Above So Below was a surprise. But it only established how ridiculous and stupid this film really was. If you are after a claustrophobic cave horror film, invest in The Descent. Hell even the second one. Just not this.