Tag Archives: Frank Grillo

Stephanie (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Stephanie Review

Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski (screenplay)
Stars: Shree Crooks, Frank Grillo, Anna Torv

Plot:  After a mysterious global crisis, a young girl is left alone to hide from a malevolent power that stalks her home. Her parents eventually return and the struggle begins to save their daughter.

Running Time: 86 Minutes

IMDB Score: 5.7

Why I Watched It: I wasn’t sure about this one but Frank Grillo and the fact it was kind of a horror movie won me over.

Random Thoughts: Akiva Goldsman is mostly known as a screenwriter and producer, now he infamous and famous he wrote A Beautiful Mind and also wrote Batman And Robin and he directed Winter’s Tale, so let’s say some people love him and other’s not so much.  The odd thing this time out is he didn’t write Stephanie, now I’m sure he did some changes but officially he didn’t write it.

The odd thing with this movie is I knew nothing about it and before it came on Netflix I didn’t know it existed.  I don’t think this got a theatrical release if it did i was small.  The reason I think it’s a hard film to put in a genre and if you try it won’t fit that well and also the film is kind of hard to explain without giving things away.

What I Liked: This is a very different film, and I like that.  So many horror films or genre films are just cliched and are just cutting and pasting from other films, Stephanie is something I hadn’t really seen before.  The film is very sparse, it’s not a big budget special effect film this is a very quiet film and to be honest for over half the film you really don’t know what it’s a about.

The film is pretty much made up of just the three main actors and all are good and young actress Shree Crooks is someone to keep an eye on cause she carries this film and most of the time she’s onscreen by herself.  Grillo and Torv turn up I would say about half way through and both are good.  What I like about their performances is that both are deal with the same thing but do it completely different, Torv is cold and kind of tense why Grillo is caring and hopeful and both work very well.

Like I said this is a very tough film to talk about and I think it’s why there hasn’t been a lot of buzz for the film, telling any of the plot pretty much gives the film away, this is one of those films you should go in cold, I did and I almost stopped watching it but I hung in and I was glad I did.  The film is a slow burn, we’re watching things unfold and we learn as we go and the film changes with each piece of new information we get.  For a horror/Sci-Fi film it’s more about the characters and emotions.  It turns out to be a gut punch movie. The biggest compliment I can give the film is that for most of it I had no idea where it was going, this film could have gone about 12 different ways and I would have thought it would have been valid.

What I Didn’t Like: The film is very slow to get started, the fact that the film is only 86 minutes and it still drags is a telling thing, we get way too much time just with Stephanie alone, it really does hamper the film, I’ll be honest after the first five minutes I started to get bored and like I said earlier almost stopped watching, no lie I liked the film but it’s a chore to get through the first 30 minutes.  Also the film’s tone is kind of off putting at first, the film toys with you and you’re not sure what’s going on and you’re also not sure if you care.

The other big knock is I don’t thing it’s much of a horror film there’s more Sci-Fi elements to it and yes there’s some tension but I wouldn’t say it’s a horror film.  The fact that the real plot is hidden from us also hurts us a viewer as we’re kept at an arm’s distance for most of the film so it made me fell a little detached and not completely invested. So this is kind of a spoiler but the film is a downer and a huge one at that so if you’re the kind of movie goer who likes their films to be nice and tidy and one where you’re smiling and happy at the end well this one is really not for you.

Final Thoughts: I liked it and I do think for people who are looking for a different take on a genre film this is well worth watching as it’s really under the radar right now but I will say the ending is a bit of a let down.

Rating: 6/10

Beyond Skyline (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Director: Liam O’Donnell
Writer: Liam O’Donnell
Stars: Frank Grillo,  Bojana Novakovic,  Jonny Weston

Plot:  A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

Running Time: 1 hour 46 Minutes

IMDB Score: 5.4

Why I Watched It: The cast, I’m a huge fan of Frank Grillo.

Random Thoughts: I saw the first movie Skyline and to be honest it wasn’t very good an mostly boring and I don’t recall a lot about it but I do remember enough to know this is a very loose sequel, title and a basic plot but nothing else.

What I Liked: This is a very strange but oddly entertaining movie, my goodness this film has everything and the kitchen sink.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into and what I got was a very action Sci-Fi film, it’s almost three movies in one it doesn’t all work but no one is sleep walking and the film does have a good tone and energy to it.

As I’ve said many times I’m a fan of Frank Grillo but he’s getting typecast as a hard bitten but flawed cop and a guy who’s in B-Movies, now he makes the movie better but I do wish he got better material, he’s good here cause not only does he get to act but he also fights and gets to show he can be a very effective physical actor.  He’s really the glue that holds this very strange plot together.

I say this film is odd  and strange because it is, and I think it’s a hard movie to describe cause he goes all over the place but it never loses the story or the characters.  The film has it’s problems but the film looks pretty good for the budget and also this has a huge scope this starts off as a small story and gets real big real fast.

I also have to hand it to them for not only random casting but global casting, any film that has Grillo then adds two actors from The Raid, Uwais, Ruhian, Bojana Novakovic and Huggy Bear from the old Startsky and Hutch series I mean how can you now like that cast in a action Sci-Fi.  The cast is the best part all do their best and of course the two Raid actors get to do some fighting and a hi-light we get Grillo fight Uwais.

I liked the look of the aliens and also the story, it’s out there but harvesting human brains so they can put them into robot workers is different and I liked it and they did some twists with it, how yeah I forgot to mention there’s also a quick growing baby that might be the solution to the alien attack/invasion.  See truly it has something for everyone.

What I Didn’t Like: I won’t call it a mess but it’s close, I think they tried way too much stuff and some of that stuff just didn’t fit as well they did stick some round pegs into square holes here, but God love them for trying and not being cookie cutter but the film does have some large plot holes and the tone and energy changes a couple of times, there in LA then in an Alien spacecraft then back to earth it’s a crazy ride.

There’s something else that I didn’t dislike but did not understand at one point Grillo sticks his hand in something in the alien craft and gets “weaponized” not sure how and not sure what it did but it also goes away then he does it again.  There’s times when the film edges to the silly and they loose the handle on the plot and actions.

The ending is over the top and it’s really the only time the film relies on cliches, it’s fine but the film does drag and the ending doesn’t have the impact it should.

Final Thoughts: I love genre films and I at times really love flawed genre films and Beyond Skyline is flawed but fun I enjoyed the ride.

Rating: 6/10

Demonic (2015) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Demonic Review

Director: Will Canon
Writers: Max La Bella (story), Will Canon (screenplay)
Stars: Maria Bello, Frank Grillo, Cody Horn

Plot:  A police officer and a psychologist investigate the deaths of five people who were killed while trying to summon ghosts.
Running Time: 83 Minutes
IMDB Score: 5.3

Why I Watched It: It’s a horror film and I’m a big Fran Grillo fan and I also like Maria Bello

Random Thoughts: This sat on the shelf for awhile, it was produced by James Wan.  Also just a heads up Frank Grillo and Maria Bello get top billing but they’re really not the leads it’s standard PG-13 teenagers and ghosts story.

What I Liked: Frank Grillo and Maria Bello we’re both good, Bello really doesn’t have much to do but I would totally watch them team up for their own horror movie or even a cop show.  They had good chemistry. I will say the film tried to have a couple of twists, one was decent but by the time it came I really stopped caring.

What I Didn’t Like:Pure and simple this is just the same old same old haunted house ghost plot with kids going in to investigate what really happened to this famous haunted house.  The teen or 20 something characters are all stock and really none of them are fleshed out or the least bit interesting, we of course get the geek, the weird hot girl, a love triangle and of course lot’s of backstory connecting one of them to the house.

The acting isn’t great from the younger cast but again granted they’re working with cliches, but they’re mostly bland there is much a difference when Grillo and Bello are on screen cause they have presence but really all there doing is trying to solve what happened, oh didn’t I tell you the film is told in flashbacks.  Trust me there isn’t a ghost/haunted house cliche this movie doesn’t wheel out.
So we have two plots,the story in flashbacks, and then Grillo being a cop and Bello a shrink trying to piece together what happened with the help of the survivor and yes we know who’s made it from the beginning and hell yes that drains any tension they might have had as we go through the flash blacks to see how they died.

There is nothing new here, nothing not even one small nugget, it’s cut and paste film making.  They had two good actors but they have very little do and even their characters aren’t that interesting, we don’t even find out if they were dating or married or something in between.  The biggest flaw is the film is not scary not even a good/bad jump scare, there is almost no tension in this film and to the point it’s boring as hell.

Only good think to say about the film is that it’s just over 80 minutes, clearly this got cut down and I’m willing to bet Grillo and Bello’s scenes are on the cutting room floor somewhere.  Why make an adult horror film when you can just throw in stock teenage victims.

Final Thoughts: A boring horror film with no scares and sadly they wasted two good actors.
Rating: 3/10

Wheelman (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier


Director: Jeremy Rush
Writer: Jeremy Rush
Stars: Frank Grillo, Caitlin Carmichael, Garret Dillahunt

Plot:  A getaway driver for a bank robbery realizes he has been double crossed and races to find out who betrayed him.

Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes

IMDB Score: 6.5

Why I watched it: Really liked the trailer and I’m a big fan of Frank Grillo, think he’s very underrated.  Plus this looked like a throw back movie, no CGI, almost refreshing.

Thoughts: This is a Netflix original movie and I like the fact that this is a small genre film and also it gets someone like Frank Grillo to be the lead, I really hope Netflix makes more of these films cause it gives some very good actors that aren’t box office names a chance to carry a film.

What I liked: Without a doubt this is a throw back, this film takes it’s time, it’s not slow and it’s only 82 minutes so it’s not padded but it’s a film that goes at it’s own pace. The other thing I like is that the film unfolds, we don’t know what’s going on at first, we’re along for the ride we learn things as the main character does.  This really helps with the tension cause as the Wheelman deals with the twists and turns so do we, we can’t think farther ahead than the him he does cause we don’t have a clue what’s going on.  I was also surprised that the film is very complicated, this isn’t just a car film or a chase film this has a pretty well written crime story to it.

The film is carried by Frank Grillo and he’s very good, he gets to have all the beats, he’s a bad ass, he’s a dupe, a father, a good guy, a shady guy and also someone who thinks, the key with this film is the tag line drive fast think faster.  The film is pretty much real time, well at least it plays out in one night and it does feel like it and that also helps with the atmosphere and tension. What I like about Grillo has an actor is that he has an edge but he’s very charming and likeable.  He can pull off the action and also the acting which is tricky now a days.

Another thing I want to touch on, early in the film the whole thing is in the car and a lot of the tension is Wheelman on the phone this is how the plot is basically unfolded and I thought it was very smart, every call was something for him to deal with, his daughter, his friend and also the bad guys.  A clever way to keep the plot moving and also the tension.

The look of the film is very cool it’s all at night and it makes everything more scary and puts you on edge.  I would keep a lookout for this writer and director  Jeremy Rush, this film is well written and directed very well, this film does an interesting thing on two occasions the film stays with the car as the lead is off doing something, in one scene Grillo goes into a bar to get someone but we don’t go in as viewers we stay in the car and we pick up the action when they come out, it was very effective cause it puts you on edge and keeps you guessing on what’s going on.

What I didn’t like: Honestly not a lot, I have nitpicks, one the character of the ex-wife is a cliche and a very tired one.  The throw the Wheelman’s daughter into this and I’m not a big fan of throwing kids in danger just for added suspense but to the film’s credit it does make it work but early on it seemed forced.

Final thoughts: I really liked this film it’s a solid B-Movie but done very well and done seriously, this is not a light film there’s weight to it.  It’s a crisp and well told story.

Rating: 7/10