Capsule Reviews : The Conjuring : The Devil Made Me Do It, Flashback, Introducing Jodea, We All Think We’re Special

A look at some of the new streaming and theatrical releases this week

Flashback

Belonging to the same subgenre as morbid time-travel flicks “The Butterfly Effect” and “Predestination”, Christopher MacBride’s “Flashback” pushes down on the rewind and fast-forward buttons, chronicling the tale of a young man who has unremitting flashbacks of a woman who disappeared in high school. It’s up to the audience to decipher what’s going on here, and without giving too much away, the film’s motivation isn’t to solve a murder or kidnapping.

Clever, sure, but as confusing and too twisty to keep up with. Some screenwriters need to remember that John Nash and Will Hunting aren’t the only guys who enjoy movies.
One thing “Flashback” is successful at is remind us of young actor Dylan O’Brien’s versatility but more so, undeniable talent. A better vehicle is surely just around the corner for him.

 

Introducing Jodea

While not quite the caliber of a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan classic, nor other splashy Hollywood rom-coms like “Pretty Woman” or “The Wedding Planner”, director Jon Cohen‘s film and the performances within mostly hits all the right notes as far as undemanding comedies go. A nice dinner, glass of wine and bag of potato chips would accompany it well.
Pic tells of a young woman (Chloe Traicos) who convinces a Hollywood type to give her a big break. Taking its cue from “Pygmalion” , the man’s agent bets him he isn’t able to turn the woman – a poor actress- into as big a star as he is.
As an introductory piece to multi-hyphen Chloe Traicos, who also penned the script, “Jodea” is mostly a success and hints at better things to come.

 

We All Think We’re Special

Frequent bit-player Jared Bankens (whose credits range from “Venom” to “Bill and Ted Face the Music”) is awarded the kind of killer part good demo reels call for in “We All Think We’re Special”, a Kirby Voss-directed piece about a friendship severely impacted by one man’s struggle with a black dog. As Ed, the friend that is forced to detox a friend in desperate need of assistance, William McGovern is equally convincing.
As an education tool about the dangers of addiction and the importance of acknowledging mental health, as well as a thrilling piece of entertainment, Voss’s film delivers on all counts.

 

The Conjuring : The Devil Made Me Do It

The well-regarded horror franchise enters ho-hum territory, spilling out a story of a man who uses ‘it wasn’t me, it was the devil’ at his murder defense.
Based on the true story of an exorcism plague, this one sees paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) help out on a dispossession which ends with a man (Ruairi O’Connor) asking the possessor to enter his body instead of his girlfriend’s little brother. Later, when he murders his landlord, the Warrens attempt to prove the young man’s claims.
If films were awarded full stars based solely on performances, “The Conjuring : The Devil Made Me Do It” would snare full marks. Unfortunately, while Wilson and Farmiga are dependably solid as the ghostbusting Warrens, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s script and Michael Chaves’s direction is conspicuously weedy when compared to previous instalments in the series. Like the “Saw” franchise, which suffered greatly after director James Wan handed over the reigns to less capable point-and-shoot types, “The Conjuring” brand suffers when not steered by Aussie prince of horror.
If the “Conjuring” franchise is to survive an inevitable future of forgettable late-night cable fodder, Warner might want to convince Wan back into the director’s chair.
As a standalone horror, one that didn’t follow two exceedingly well-crafted supernatural horror films, “The Conjuring : The Devil Made Me Do It” offers plenty to hold fans of the genre over. From some well-executed, physically-crafted moments of terror to a reasonably compelling storyline, it’s anything but dull – well, most of it anyway.

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