Tag Archives: Adam Wingard

Blair Witch (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Blair Witch Review

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid

Plot: After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 35% Audience 29%

Why I Watched It: Well it’s a horror film and yes I did see the other two films, no excuse I know.

Random Thoughts: This film was built once again my marketing, Adam Wingard had finished a film entitled The Woods but when they screened it for the first time the title was revealed as Blair Witch and social media went crazy. It was good marketing and on that level the film carried a buzz. Now Adam Wingard is a horror and genre favorite he made the very good The Guest, the flawed but decent You’re Next but he’s also made Death Note, that was not good and with Blair Witch he has now made two films back to back that were not his original story and I think that matters and it’s something it to think about when you watch Blair Witch. He’s taken over someone else’s franchise if you will.

What I Liked: I’m not a fan of found footage films, I think it’s a limited sub-genre and one that really has been done to death but here at least they’ve done it a bit better and made it that we’re not dealing with the dreaded shaky cam. So the film is easier to watch and it also makes sense to the story why they’ve decided to film the way they did.
The film is creepy and they build the tension well they throw some scares early and they also build the atmosphere and the sense of dread pretty well. The idea of the Blair Witch is a good one and they run with it pretty well.

The best part of the film has to be the last 15 minutes or so where the film does go full out horror and it’s scary and effective. Once they find the house the horror picks up.

What I Didn’t Like: One could argue this is not a sequel or reboot but almost a full on remake and with that the film is boring at times and lacks any kind energy to it, it feels like we’re watching a copy. Up till the end this is also a beat for beat remake and that was disappointing.

Also I think the whole set up is flawed so the brother of Heather from the first film goes to find here cause he saw an image on a tape from youtube? So it’s been 17 years and he thinks that his sister is still in a house that police say they couldn’t find. Now this brings up a few questions, if a person caught her on tape why didn’t they help her, also we see the image that could have been anyone and really anywhere so we start out very flimsy and also why do they think they can find it if the police couldn’t.

Another good question is when they get there weird things happen with time and things that are supernatural how come this didn’t happen to the police searching and also this is public woods not someone’s home so wouldn’t people be in there from time to time and where is the boarder to this strange Blair Witch forest. They try to make this story small, about a brother trying to find his sister but if people go missing and it’s been 16 years it’s a bigger story with a much bigger scope.

The other weak link is a combo of alright to not great acting and paper thin characters, all these people do is fight and bicker, yes like the first one and to be honest aren’t that interesting or likable. That’s a real problem with all these Blair Witch movies, we never see the Blair Witch, it’s not a character so it can’t carry the film it’s the victims we deal with and in all the movies they’re either under written or badly cliched written and that’s a huge flaw. It’s not like the Nightmare on Elm street movies where people went to see Freddy kill teenagers. We need to care about these people and we don’t.

Not a real fan of the ending as it’s very close to ending of the first one, I have a fundamental problem with something that can’t be beaten and in fact we don’t even know how to defeat the Blair Witch, there’s no rules, this movies hinges on not stopping the Blair Witch but finding a victim of her’s from 17 years ago.

Final Thoughts: The end part is scary and worth seeing but what leads up to it is cliched and boring. You have a choice watch the first or this one and if you’ve seen the first one then really you don’t need this one unless you want to see the 10-15 minutes of decent horror at the end.

Rating: 3/10

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You’re Next (2013) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier

YOURE NEXT

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Plot: When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 75%  Audience 59%

Why I Watched it: This got really good buzz in the genre community when it was doing the festival circuit and of course I love horror films.

Thoughts: Here’s one of those horror films that got over hyped before it came out, people were talking about how kick ass and great this horror film was in most cases the hype is better than the film. One thing I’ve learned about horror fans they see so much crap when they see even a decent film there lose their shit over it.  The other interesting thing about this film is it has a bunch of directors in the cast, so just for trivia sake it’s kind of fun.

What I liked: The premise and how it’s set up is pretty cool.  The film starts and it looks like a family drama, they get together and fight and blah blah then the dinner scene happens and the film not only becomes a horror film but a siege film.  Honestly that’s the high point of the film, if you didn’t know what the film was about that scene is a jaw dropper.  So the film becomes about these masked people attacking and trying to kill everyone in the house.  So it’s a home invasion siege movie cause it’s a very big house.

The acting is hit or miss but for me Sharni Vinson is the standout, she has an interesting character and back story and what I liked about it is we learn about it as we go.  She gets to kick ass here and at one point the film almost turns into a Die Hard rip-off, and I guess in some ways it is.  Vinson is not only very good she pulls off the physicality, she’s a believable threat.

The action is pretty good and the kills are decent, the tension and atmosphere is good.  The one thing the movie tries to do is not only pull off the horror but also the why is this happening and who is behind it, I’ll give them credit for trying a bit more and actually trying to go full out.

What I didn’t Like: Even though I give the filmmakers credit for trying I do think they tried too hard and they throw too much into the film, I think it could have been tighter and more streamlined, they through a couple of twists too many into the mix, honestly they didn’t need it.  It kind of muddy the waters.  The film should have focused on Vinson fighting off the invaders but they decided to throw a bunch of family drama in there as well.  They also tried to get very weird and strange, there’s a scene where a character is trying to get another character to have sex on a bed where there’s a dead body and not only a dead body but a relative of the person she is trying to have sex with, yes it’s distasteful and really it’s weird for the sake of weird.  The one problem I’ve had with Adam Wingard’s films is he sometimes tries to force different genre’s together and conflicting elements and sometimes it just does work, square peg round hole.

Even though it’s only 95 minutes it drags, and the thing won’t end we have a couple of false finishes and I’ll be honest it was wearing out it’s welcome.

Final Thoughts: You’re Next isn’t a total waste, there’s some good ideas and a good lead performance and it’s a lot better than most horror films but it should and could have been better, so I was a little disappointed.

Rating: 5/10

Death Note (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

DEATH NOTE

Director: Adam Wingard
Writers: Charley Parlapanides (screenplay), Vlas Parlapanides (screenplay)
Stars: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley

Plot:  Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L.

Running Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 43%   Audience  26%

Why I Watched it: I know of the anime series and the manga, the trailer looked interesting and I wanted to see what Adam Wingard could do with the source material.

Random Thoughts: This is a Netflix Original Movie and it dropped on August 25th and I had already heard bad buzz about the film, now I will say this Death Note is  hugely popular, you have the anime series, live action the manga so there were fans waiting to see this and of course they were waiting with their knives out cause Death Note has a passionate fan base.  Of course the bad buzz comes from all the changes that were made, so my review will be about the movie I saw and not the earlier material.  I will say this from what I read and what I know, yeah major changes.

What I liked: The set up and what this note book The Death Note can do is a really cool premise, the death God voiced by Willem Dafoe is odd and a little scary and of course with Dafoe’s voice he’s creepy as hell.  The idea that you could write someone’s name in a book and kill them is a very good idea, it sets up right versus wrong, sets up playing God, fun stuff to play with in a horror/fantasy film. I want to single out the acting, Lakeith Stanfield is very good as L, he’s the best thing in this.  He plays a very weird, different, smart character but he does it in a very unique way, the way he moves, the way he thinks and acts is very impressive, it’s a full performance.  Shea Whigham is pretty much a plot device as Nat Wolfe’s dad but he’s very good here, he’s not a cliche at all, he seems a loving father and he has some really nice moments.  My favorite part is the tension with Stanfield and Whigham near the end there’s a scene at the dinner table that is so good between them, the tension is very high and the emotion is good, better than the actually finale.

What I didn’t like: The first part is decent to good but man the wheels fall off badly by the end.  The main problem with this is they take such a big and expansive world of the source material  and they try to jam it into 1 hour and 41 minutes, too much is loss here, it feels rushed and they take way too many shortcuts and it hurts not only the story but the characters as well.  One wonders why they didn’t make it a limited series at Netflix even if it was four episodes try and make it fuller and have more impact.  Right at the beginning the Death Note falls from the sky and Nat Wolfe just picks it up, I mean no build up, we know nothing yet, we don’t know him at all so we’re not invested at all.  The whole movie is like that, even the character of L should be so much more, if they took the time they could have developed a relationship between the two main characters, L is very smart and of course Light as the Death Note, could be fun cat and mouse and also we could explore each character, what they believe in.

I really didn’t like what they did with Margaret Qualley’s character she’s a cheerleader, nice character description, of course she goes with Light and of course they become drunk with power and of course she becomes darker and tries to manipulate the situation.  The big problem is we don’t know who she is, she ends up as almost the main villain.  I had some problems with some of the acting but it wasn’t the main problem, I blame the script and I blame the director Wingard for not taking more care with this material.  The effects are cheap looking, the gore doesn’t do anything for the story. The worst part is near the end and a couple of songs they play, it’s jarring cause they’re cheesy as hell and they don’t fit what came before it. Bad choices, as I said the wheels come off big time by the end, characters make choices that don’t make sense, they even resort to the old “talking killer” we have a character have to tell us what he did and why, and yes two characters end up hanging off a ferris wheel.

Final Thoughts: It’s too bad cause as we know there’s a good story here, and I will say there’s some things to like here but the longer this film went the more I didn’t like it.

Rating: 4/10

The Guest (2014) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier

THE GUEST

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

Plot:  A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
Running Time: 1 hour 40 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Critics  90%     Audience   69%

Why I watched it: This film had huge buzz from the genre community and as you can see from the RT scores critics really liked it. So being a genre fan I really wanted to see it.

Random Thoughts:  It took me awhile too see it but it was one I really wanted to check out, I kept hearing it was a different film, a genre mash up and even a throwback film. The one thing I will say it’s trick to put this into a particular categorize, I guess calling it a thriller is close, I’ve heard some people call it a horror film and I think one of the reason it’s a cult film is because it is really different, a lot of films have that said about them but The Guest is not a Hollywood film and it’s genre to it’s core.

What I liked: The big thing this film has going for it is Dan Stevens, he is great in this film and it’s a really hard part, what he has to play and what he has to do makes or breaks this film, he is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s charming, he’s funny he’s badass and the one thing he does in this film is he does bad things, stuff that a bad guy would do but he does it in such a way that you almost feel for him.  What I like that he does he never goes over the top, this character has a lot going on, he’s military and clearly he did things that changed him but he comes off as a guy just trying to do what he thinks is right.  He’s a solider with a mission.

The film isn’t as good as Stevens is but I will say it’s a pretty good attempt at playing with certain genres and certain expectations and spinning them on their ear.  This is a brave movie, I would call it a throwback it does feel like it could have been a late 80′s movies.  I don’t know if I would call it a mash up or a blend of genres to me this is an action/thriller but not done in the cliche paint by the number Hollywood way.  The pace of the film is really could at first it seemed like a slow burn but I realize it was the film setting up all it’s characters and i should say that even though I praised Dan Stevens I do think the cast is good and the script and direction is spot on as well.

I like that a lot of stuff happens off screen, you hear of things that are done and you just see reactions from the main cast.  The neat thing here is that the script doesn’t treat the secondary characters as plot points or potential victims they’re pretty fleshed out for secondary characters.  Even though I don’t consider it a genre mash up the film does go very heavy with the violence in the third act and that might take some people off guard.

What I didn’t Like:  I think Maika Monroe is the weak link of the film, her performance was alright so I’ll blame the character she didn’t seem to fit and I thought she was more plot driven to do things than character driven, her whole purpose was to suspect something wrong was going on and at times I felt she reached, sure she was right but she didn’t know that and it seemed forced, it was like the filmmakers made a decision that one of the family members had to doubt the Dan Stevens character and sure it makes sense movie plot wise but it didn’t seem to happen organically.

The tone is tricky here but i get that’s what they were going for but I’m not sure the big over the top battle worked as well as other parts of the film, when it becomes a shoot out and epic gun battle some of the character work kind of gets lost  and that’s too bad, for me I guess I wanted it to be a bit smarter and clever.  Also didn’t care that they kind of turned Maika Monroe’s character into a final girl, that was a reach and to be honest i wasn’t really cheering for her.

Final Thoughts: I’m glad I watched it and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t live up to the buzz it was a very watchable and entertaining  film and for my money this was a star turn by Dan Stevens.

Rating: 7/10