John Cho’s absorbing performance helps Searching crafting an emotional rendition of Gone Girl with internet era look.
Review Searching (2018): While the presentation using only electronic device screens is a gimmick we’ve seen in Blumhouse horror, Unfriended (2015), Searching is always a Gone Girl as viewed through screen with sense of limitation the size of Rear Window (instead the window is an artificial window—be it browser window or chat window).
It opens with a montage of Kim family’s history as seen via a Windows XP PC from the moment that Margot (Michelle La) was born to a happy Korean-American couple, David (John Cho) and Pam (Sara Sohn). There goes a happy growing-up together montage that kind of reminding me to Up (2009). Yet, it wasn’t long until the tragedy comes. After a series of unanswered phone and FaceTime calls, Margot never shows up. She’s gone, technically missing (soon to be presumed dead?). Through projected screens of iPhones, PC and MacBooks, David browses through social media, search engine and every resource he can find on the web to find his missing child. Continue reading “Review Searching (2018)”
The saccharine-heavy rom-com effectively uses its overly familiar ‘fake-first-date’ tropes to make a sweet & uplifting teenage love without over-abusing its sugary potential.
Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: “Make Teenage Romcom Great Again” should’ve been a tagline Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (referred as To All the Boys on later paragraphs) carrying because it indeed does it. Based on a novel of the same title by Jenny Han, this Netflix production is a clichéd, sugary romcom with manipulated yet effective plot that will make audiences smile ear to ear.
To All the Boys revolves around the life of a 16 y.o. Korean-American girl, Lara Jean (Lana Condor, Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse) who loves to read romance novels and fantasize her older sister boyfriend who happens to be their next-door neighbor, Josh (Israel Broussard, The Bling Ring). When her older sister, Margot, leaves to pursue education in Scotland, Lara Jean is living a mundane life with her father and her little sister, Kitty, but not for long. An embarrassing incident happens, letters—that Lara Jean has written to the boys he used to love/have crush on but she never actually sent—unknowingly get sent to the addressees, which includes Josh and a childhood crush, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo—the guy from Camila Cabello’s Havana), a jock and boyfriend of her high-school (sort of) rival. Continue reading “Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)”
Injected with exuberant energy (especially with Iko Uwais’ relentlessly slick action sequences), Mile 22 wasted it off with inconvenient hip-hop montage, bad writings, bad narrative-structures and ridiculous dialogues.
Review Mile 22: It’s disheartening that, unlike Peter Berg’s previous three works (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day) which shows his craftsmanship in authentically reenacting tragedy with blatant details but smooth side for sympathy, Mile 22 is more like a mess here and there. The blatant details are mostly missed; the sympathy are stripped off completely; sadly, the heart of the narrative that excels in his previous movies is non-existent.
Bringing back his favorite collaborator, Mark Wahlberg, to team up with hottest action stars, such as Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2, Beyond Skyline), Mile 22 seems to promise relentless spectacles. At least, the premise might look enticing as we are lured to the movie’s opening raid sequence which shows us a lot of explosions, blood and bullets. From there, it’s apparent that Berg tries to showcase style-over-substance action machismo with exuberant energy. However, as the story progress, it’s clearly seen that the energy isn’t channeled properly. Continue reading “Review Mile 22 (2018)”
Sebelum Iblis Menjemput is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead.
Timo Tjahjanto’s (half of The Mo Brothers) May the Devil Take You (originally titled ‘Sebelum Iblis Menjemput‘) is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead who lives too far abroad that it gets tangled deeper in the hardcore nastiness of occultism. The nightmare it introduces might feel close and yet so far; but then, this bone-chilling and blood-gushing diabolical phantasmagoria is a guaranteed tough watch. It’s definitely not for the fainted heart; but, most definitely, it’s not for the pious heart.
Pedantic resemblances to its influence is inevitable, however, May the Devil Take You is bold enough to differ in all its nightmarish way. While it’s a cabin-in-the-wood story—only the cabin is changed into an abandoned resting villa (well, it’s a holiday cabin for Indonesians after all) with a ridiculously hard locked door to basement and a strange entity’s first-person POV as well, it’s not a groovy ordeal; it’s a pure horror that embraces every notion in Stephen King’s infamous quote, “nightmares exist out of logic.” Continue reading “Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput / May the Devil Take You (2018)”
As if bringing Statham diving back to the depth isn’t enough, The Meg plunges him into a mediocre B-movie party.
Movie review The Meg (2018): The Meg should be okay if it sticks for two purposes only. To highlight Jason Statham—recently has made quite a name as an action hero—in his diving tenure reunion is the first. To see that same Statham fights a colossal, prehistoric shark in the open ocean, both sides’ home ground, should be the second. The rest should be history. Alas it’s not a history we expect it to be. A series of historical meme is what it eventually deserves.
Fashioned as a pseudo sci-fi blockbuster (if there’s another sky above the sky, there should be another ocean under the ocean), The Meg unravels the beast right from the start to f*ck Jonas’ (Statham) rescue mission. There’s a few years gap between the opening and the ‘real story’; however, the focus gets back to Statham almost immediately when a deep sea research team is trapped in the bed of the ocean-under-ocean. The rescue mission apparently unleashes the Megalodon to the open water. For that, Statham’s Jonas must fight it before everybody on a tourist-laden beach becomes easy prey. Continue reading “Review The Meg (2018)”
Kafir is a well-crafted horror of local occultism culminating in visceral, over-the-top payback.
Review Kafir (2018): After the gruesome death of the father, a family is plagued by mysterious atrocities in amidst of overwhelming grieves and senses of isolation. Simple as it may sound, Kafir (subtitled ‘Bersekutu dengan Setan’, trans. ‘selling one’s soul to the devil’) is surprisingly delivering an above-average performance among Indonesian new-wave horrors.
In Kafir, the terror comes when the recently widowed Sri (Putri Ayudya, delivering one of the best horror performances in the recent years) begins to believe that an insidious force is preying on her family. Starting off with her husband (Teddy Syah), the malicious energy she allegedly guesses as a result of ‘santet’—a form of evil spell in local occultism—gets enraged in endangering her and her two children (Rangga Azof and Nadya Karina). From there, Kafir presents downright (while not consistently) terrors in whatever forms it can have (including in its tackiest form, to be honestly speaking). Continue reading “Review Kafir (2018)”