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Pet Sematary review #2 : no heart and feels rushed

Check out what Emily thought of the latest Stephen King horror

Emily

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Director:

Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Cast:

Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz

Run time:

101 mins

Rating:

“Pet Sematary”, based on the novel by Stephen King, centers around the Creed family and their recent move to what appears to be an idyllic part of Maine. They settle down in their new home hoping to spend some more quality time together, but quickly discover that there is more to their new property than meets the eye. They are about to learn an important lesson about death and how “sometimes dead is better.” Unfortunately, this movie is such a skeleton of its source material, with no heart and no thrills, that maybe the filmmakers themselves should’ve heeded this warning and left the brilliantly crafted book alone.

It appears that Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) have chosen to move into a their new home in such a hurry with their children 8 year old Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and toddler Gage (played by twin brothers Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie), that they failed to notice many details about their new residence, including its close proximity to a roadway frequented by truckers and exactly what their large scale property contains. Their elderly next-door neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) helps to fill in some of these details by sharing with them information about the local Pet “Sematary” located on their grounds. Having lived in the same town for his whole life, Jud knows from experience just how “sour” the land can be.

One day, when Jud finds that the Creed family’s cat Church has been killed by a semi truck, he takes it upon himself to share with Louis a magic place that exists in Ludlow. It’s a secret location deep in the woods beyond the Pet Sematary which is powered by an ancient spiritual force that can bring anything buried there back to life. Jud has Louis bury Church on these grounds even though he later warns that the things never return the same and even come back evil. Whether he likes it or not, Jud has created a domino effect within the Creed family where the lines between life and death will be tested and forever changed.

The novel was based upon real life events that Stephen King experienced when he and his family made a similar move while he was teaching at the University of Maine. Many of the story’s details mirror King’s own life, with the notable addition of the supernatural elements. King has always considered the book to be his scariest. It was written from a place of his deepest, darkest nightmares and provided a psychological thrill-ride that reminded readers: “Dead is dead.”

The novel should have been the perfect roadmap for an adaptation, but it would appear that the screenwriter Jeff Buhler (“The Prodigy”) and directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (“Starry Eyes”) were trying so hard to make modern audiences jump that they forgot all about the heart at the center of the story. It’s almost impossible to care about any of the characters because of the underdeveloped relationships, corny dialogue, and ridiculously cliché scares. There is no heart to the film at all, which is enough to make any audience member roll their eyes in disgust. Unfortunately, the script is such a mess that even Lithgow can’t save it. He should be such a perfect choice for the part of Jud, but he isn’t even on the screen long enough to care if he lives or dies.

Besides Gage (who you can’t help but care about with all that naïve cuteness), there is only one aspect of this film that stands out and is masterfully crafted: the sound design. Tim Walston and Matt Yocum must be applauded for their brilliant work on this film. Where the script and direction failed to provide any sense of thrills at all, the sound design saved the day. The use of surround sound is enough to keep viewers on their toes and looking over their shoulders. Unfortunately, those who choose to wait to watch this movie at home are going to miss out on this element and with it will go almost any redeeming quality that this film has.

“Pet Sematary” is so devoid of any dimension or subtext that people who have read the book will feel the same crushing defeat felt when “The Dark Tower” feature came out, another Stephen King book trashed and rushed in the cinema version. Those who haven’t read the book will find themselves looking around going, “So what?” Honestly, the only thing that is going to make anyone care about this movie is children being featured in a horror film so save your money and watch The Sixth Sense again instead.

Film Reviews

Avengers : Endgame review : a masterpiece designed for the fans

An epic battle to end all battles

K.T Simpson

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One year after “Avengers: Infinity War” and it’s all culminating into one big epic end – aptly named “Avengers: Endgame”. Of course being a film set firmly within a superhero narrative, nothing is really “the end” so I wouldn’t shed too many tears, Marvel fans – there is plenty more Avengers to come, with “Spider-man: Far From Home” coming in July and the standalone “Black Widow” film upcoming with Scarlett Johansson as the protagonist. Producer Kevin Feige has noted that he considers “Far From Home” the ‘end’ of the third faze of the MCU, rather than “Endgame”, but regardless – one thing we can expect from “Endgame” is one giant battle to end all battles.

It’s nearly impossible to describe the plot of “Endgame” without giving away all the surprises, so I won’t. We all know what happened at the end of “Infinity War”, and in “Endgame” the leftover Avengers seek to right the wrongs and the chaos that Thanos (Josh Brolin) creates after collecting all 6 Infinity Stones. With 50% of the world’s population wiped out, which includes a large chunk of the Avengers and their families, the team embrace time travel to essentially turn back the clock and return the world to its original state and its inhabitants back where they belong.

The big focus for “Endgame” is the survivors, working together to save their crew and the rest of humanity – Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). The all-star group is only scraping the surface of what’s to come, with each team member bringing something to the table to help locate the infinity stones and fix what Thanos broke.

What follows is an entertaining thrill ride of surprises, “Back to the Future” jokes a-plenty and a killer soundtrack that is reminiscent of said film: and when you see the credits roll and Alan Silvesrti’s name come up, it all comes together nicely. If you think it’ll be all doom and gloom, given the subtext of the entire narrative, you’d be wrong – with the script full of humorous quips that are perfectly timed and the best way to crack a smile after half your favourite superheroes were reduced to dust in “Infinity War”.

Dead or alive, you’ll see all characters in this time-heist flick, which is really a film purely for the fans. It’s the superhero of all superhero films, and a terrific nod to the 21 Marvel movies that preceded it. It promises goosebumps, fistbumps and all other kinds of bumps that you’ll expect from an epic like “The Avengers”.

If you want a “Braveheart” style battle, you got it. If you’re after some clever pop culture references, take a big serving of that too. Furthermore, if you’re a big comic book nerd and just want a decent fix of superhero delight, “Avengers: Endgame” will deliver that as well. Oh, and if you want an appearance from the late and great Stan Lee – you will not be disappointed. But are you ever?!

Is it the best film ever made? No. But it does deliver in the hype we were all promised and is a spectacle more than anything else. The standalone Marvel films have more depth and substance to them, particularly on a character level. But “Endgame” promised the ending of all endings and that’s what you’ll get. Essentially it’s a fan service film, so Marvel fans – sit back and enjoy. “Endgame” delivers strongly on the nostalgia of the Marvel films that were delivered before it, and in a very clever manner. It is here that the film is most impressive, with the throwbacks to what has led them all up to this one final battle against Thanos. It’s a great way to see how it’s all tied together, and each film within the MCU has its part to play.

Though a long movie (3 hours and not a second under), it can be summed up very succinctly : “Endgame” is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s directors Anthony and Joe Russo at their absolute best, and something that will be proudly displayed on their trophy shelf.

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Film Reviews

Penguins review : a film the whole family can enjoy

All together now: awwwwwww

Mike Smith

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I don’t know what it is about penguins that make them so damn cute! Is it the way they walk? The fun they obviously have when they slide across the frozen tundra of the Arctic? The excessive fuzziness of their young? I really don’t know but I’m pretty sure they could do an all-penguin remake of THE EXORCIST, complete with projectile vomiting and self-gratification with a crucifix and people would go “awwwww.” Which is exactly the sound I made many times during a recent screening of “Penguins.”

Steve is an Adelie penguin looking for love. He and the other males in his colony are on a trek to find a mate. But the road to love isn’t easy. Especially when your pals are stealing parts of your nest in order to attract that special gal. And what are you supposed to do when you finally meet her?

A beautifully shot (over an almost three year period) film that manages to be both heart-warming and thrilling, “Penguins” gives the audience the “birds-eye” view of life in Antarctica. And it’s a pretty chilly one. Whether it’s having to walk miles upon miles to find food or teaching your chicks how to play dead when a leopard seal tries to eat them, it’s a hard knock life. Yet, it’s also one full of love and adventure.

Like “March of the Penguins” before it, “Penguins” is a film the entire family can enjoy. Kids will love it for the penguins’ parents for the story. Nature is on full display in this film and it’s one I highly recommend.

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Film Reviews

The Curse of the Weeping Woman review : fails to add any value to the Conjuring universe

Falls short of a decent horror

K.T Simpson

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“The Curse of the Weeping Woman”, known as “The Curse of La Llorona” in other markets, adds to the “Conjuring” franchise by introducing a new horrific entity for us to have nightmares over. In a world full of horror films, it’s becoming more and more rare for any film to stand out as an original addition, so let’s delve into “Weeping Woman” to see if it’s worth seeing…

“The Curse of the Weeping Woman” begins with social worker Anna Garcia (Linda Cardellini) confronting a trouble mother who has seemingly been abusing her two young boys. As she gets taken away from her children, the woman pleads that there is more to her story, and blames the ghost of La Llorona – otherwise known as the Weeping Woman – for hurting her children. Unfortunately for Anna, La Llorona targets her children next, and will stop at nothing to take them away.

As Anna digs deeper, she discovers the history of the Weeping Woman in an effort to defeat her and get back to normal life, saving her kids in the process. Anna seeks help from a local priest, Father Perez (Tony Amendola from “Annabelle” – and practically the only tie to the “Conjuring” universe) who has had history dealing with demonic entities, such as that seen in the Annabelle doll.

As a standalone horror flick, “The Curse of the Weeping Woman” would be your typical teen-scarefest, and if you like a good jump scare then you’re in the right place. Where it fails is adding anything of value to the “Conjuring” universe. Its attempt at linking it back is by referencing a few key things from the franchise, but unfortunately it feels like a late script change to give it a reason to be released theatrically. Ultimately, James Wan producing a film within the “Conjuring” universe without directing reeks a lot like INXS without Michael Hutchence – the beats remain the same but there’s nothing that stands out, it merely goes through the motions of your stock-standard horror flick.

Furthermore, “The Curse of the Weeping Woman” is choc-a-block full of horror cliches – furniture flying across the room, doors opening and slamming shut, spirits suddenly appearing in people’s faces and said people being dragged across the room. Not to mention possession and nearly drowning in the bath. Absolutely nothing about this film is an original concept and that’s where it really fails to be any kind of memorable.

As the film nears its climax, it becomes unnecessarily complex as they attempt to defeat the corpse bride – or La Llorona as she’s called. As with any possessed house/person flick, things ramp up very quickly, but the elements involved with facing the spirit head-on are largely complicated, to a degree that just leaves audiences scratching their heads. As a result, the film goes from mildly frightening to just plain boring, as we wait for the end. Referring to the aforementioned clichés, the back third of “Weeping Woman” throws them all into a single scene – which is why it gets so weirdly complicated.

Michael Chaves directs “Weeping Woman”, and in terms of directing style definitely has a unique take. A lot of the frights come from first-person camera view, engaging the audience as if they too were living this nightmare. Chaves is also set to direct “The Conjuring 3”, due out in 2020, so it will be interesting to see how he ties the film in to both this one and the rest of the “Conjuring” franchise.

Look, overall “The Curse of the Weeping Woman” isn’t great. It’s a weird film to shove into “Conjuring” folklore, when it probably would be more successful as a straight-to-VOD teen horror for those looking for just another mindless demonic possession film.

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