Movie Reviews: “Psycho” (1960)

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Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was a game changer for suspense/horror cinema. It gave its audience a career making performance out of Anthony Perkins as the eerie Motel owner Norman Bates. It also gave its audience stellar directing & cinematography with unique camera shots to highlight the chilling story based upon Richard Bloch’s novel. All of the necessary ingredients to make a classic film were there, but “Psycho” is extra special because of the filmmaker’s innovation and Anthony Perkins’ passion, making the film a masterpiece.

The story follows Marion Crane, a woman who committed a crime and is running away, not from her crime per-say, but from the life she had and to find the man she is in love (and been having an affair) with. She pulls into a small motel for the night, the Bates Motel. I consider the motel itself to be one of the film’s best characters. There she encounters Norman Bates, and his Mother.

If you haven’t had the privilege of watching “Psycho” then I recommend you make it a priority for Halloween! Many people cite “Psycho” as the first slasher film. While that might not be quite accurate, it certainly was monstrously influential and something special when it was released, and still something special to this day.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

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Movie Reviews: “Red Lights” (2012)

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Starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen, & Robert De Niro.

Murphy and Weaver star as Tom Buckley & Margaret Matheson, a skeptical group of paranormal researchers. They’ve debunked claims for years, yet to see something extraordinary and real, that is until world-famous blind psychic Simon Silver (De Niro) comes out of retirement. The closer they get to examining his stage show, the more horrible events happen around them. How far will they go to uncover the truth?

“Red Lights” held my attention for most of the duration, but lost me towards the climax. It’s an interesting concept close to my heart. The paranormal world had always fascinated me, as has truth seeking. This film does that field justice. The performances by Murphy, Weaver and De Niro are all as good as you’d think, but are slightly limited by script issues. This could have been fantastic with a more independent studio, but ended up just being all right. A lot of my overall feelings of a film depend on how they finish. Take that into consideration. Worth seeing though.

2.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “The Nameless” (“Los sin Nombre”) (1999)

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Directed and written by Jaume Balagueró.

Claudia is receiving cryptic phone calls from someone claiming to be her daughter. The problem? Her daughter was found brutally murdered 5 years ago. Claudia enlists help from a parapsychologist, as well as the old detective from the murder case, now retired, to help her follow a trail of clues that suggest the daughter may still be alive and in trouble.

Balagueró also co-directed “Rec” & “Rec2.” This is more of a thriller than a horror film, but was still very good. It’s a chilling Polanski style puzzle solver, unraveling the mystery behind the daughter’s disappearance piece by macabre piece.

The difference between this and most films like it that come out nowadays? Emotionally deep characters, and an interesting conclusion, which equals good writing. The mother, the detective and others all have personal private motivations for solving this case. It’s more real on that level. I’m surprised “The Nameless” isn’t more well known. I recommend it.

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Entrance” (2012)

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Suziey is followed closely and intimately throughout her day. She wakes up, feeds her dog, has coffee, walks to work, walks to the bar, comes home, goes to bed. Repeat. Within these daily events exists a tension. Suziey doesn’t allow herself to trust others, and typically people give her reasons not to. She is approached on the street by strangers, and shies away. She is followed by someone in a car, as she walks alone. She hears noises in the middle of the night. Is it all in her head?

The first hour of this film is a slow, tense buildup to the gruesome final half hour. It’s not for everyone. If you have patience and can pick up in the film’s undertones, then you are in for a nervous nail biting ride. I enjoyed it.

2.5 out for 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Take Shelter” (2011)

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Written and directed by Jeff Nichols. Starring Michael Shannon.

Curtis hasn’t been feeling well. He’s having bad dreams, hears the sound of thunder in his head, and sees ominous clouds in the sky. He believes something bad is coming! What does it mean? Despite worries from his wife and friends, Curtis constructs a large storm shelter in his back yard. He becomes obsessed, but is it without merit?

Fantastic thriller that kept me intrigued over it’s two hour running time. Standout performance by Michael Shannon that should have been included in the Oscars this year. Also some genuinely creepy moments in this film. I jumped a few times!
Definitely a must see.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars!

Film Reviews: “American Psycho” (2000)

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Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, and Chloe Sevigny.

Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a young, healthy, and successful New York business man. Perfection on the outside. So, what exists on the inside?

“I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly blood lust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.”

“American Psycho” takes a look at a man who has lost his mind, as if he once had one. He murders with axes and chainsaws while blasting music by artists such as Huey Lewis, and Genesis. When one of Derek’s colleagues tuns up missing, Detective Donald Kimball (Dafoe) comes around asking questions. How long can Derek wear the mask?

Messed up and impressive performance by Bale. Interesting insight into the mind of a killer told through an elitist individual everyone trusts and wants to associate with. Sometimes what is projected on the outside is the exact opposite of what’s inside.

3.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “A History of Violence” (2005)

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Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris.

Tom Stall (Mortensen) is an ordinary man in an ordinary small town. He has a wife, two children and runs a quiet diner. All of this changes one night when two men try to rob Tom and his waitress. He defends the diner, brutally killing both men in self defense, becoming a hero of the town. This unwanted attention draws in more trouble from Tom’s possible past. Strange men begin stalking him and his family, referring to Tom as “Joey.” Is Tom really who he says he is?

Fantastic thriller directed by Cronenberg. I felt uncomfortable the entire time, which is a good thing! Viggo handles the role beautifully, with just the right amount of intensity and vulnerability. Ed Harris was creepy as hell in this!

3.5 out of 4.0 stars.