Tag Archives: Rebecca Ferguson

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review By Philip Henry

 

Doctor Sleep Review

Director: Mike Flanagan
Screenwriter: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran

Following up one of the most revered horror movies of all time is no easy task, especially when that movie was also directed by one of the greatest directors ever. It’s like having The Beatles as your opening act, so you have to give Mike Flanagan points for even attempting this mammoth task. And then you have to give him even more points because he actually pulls it off; giving us a sequel that can sit proudly on anyone’s shelf next to its 1980 predecessor.

The film starts several weeks after what happened at The Overlook. Rather than de-ageing the characters and making them look like their faces are wrapped in digital cellophane, the parts of Wendy and Danny are recast for these scenes, and special mention must go to Alex Essoe for getting Shelly Duvall’s voice down to a tee. She may not look exactly the same, but in a blind test you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart by their voices. Dick Halloran is also back, this time played by Carl Lumbly, who slips into Scatman Crothers’s blazer like it was made for him.

The story sticks very closely to Stephen King’s novel. The opening scene sets the dark tone that the film will take when a child is killed by the True Knot – a group of nomads who travel the highways of America searching for children who ‘shine’ and then devour their psychic powers in order to live hugely extended lives.

When we first meet grown-up Danny – now Dan – he’s a mess. The sins of the father have transferred onto the son and he’s diving to the bottom of a bottle and wasting his life away drifting from town to town. But then he meets some kind souls in a small town and gets a job, gets into AA and gets his life back on track.

We then jump ahead eight years. A young girl called Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) while using her ‘shine’ grabs the attention of the True Knot. They see in her enough power to sustain their group for years, but she’s also come to the attention of Dan, so it’s up to him to try to protect her as the True Knot close in.

I have to admit when I read the book I didn’t see the cinematic potential, but Flanagan pulls some really amazing, exciting and scary scenes out of the bag and delivers a film that doesn’t rush to get where it’s going, but never bores you either. I suppose he learned how to sustain tension over a long period while making the excellent Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House – for my money, one of the best TV shows of recent years.

There are a lot of nods to The Shining but they never just feel like fan service. These stories are intertwined and the structure of this story is nothing like Kubrick’s film. Flanagan hasn’t just tried to redo what the 1980 film did; he’s taken the elements he needs from it but very firmly crafted his own narrative with its own look and feel.

The film ends up back at the now-abandoned Overlook Hotel so there are a lot of familiar locations and faces popping up and saying: ‘Hello, Danny.’ McGregor plays this brilliantly; you really get a sense of his fear going back into the lion’s den when it’s the last thing he wants to do. The creepy feeling as he walks through the ruins of his father’s final rampage made the hairs on my arms stand up.

I only have a couple of minor gripes. Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) is from Northern Ireland (like me!) in the book and I was looking forward to hearing my local accent in this movie, but it isn’t there. I think she’s doing some sort of Irish accent in the opening scene, but it seems to get forgotten after that.

The other thing is the recasting of Jack. As I’ve said, I enjoyed most of the recastings, but Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Shining isn’t something you should try to duplicate – and they don’t. He isn’t the over-the-top crazed Jack we remember, and frankly the conversation he has with Ewan McGregor could easily be lifted from the film and not do any damage, so why they have this exchange which stops the film dead for a few minutes, is beyond me. It’s exposition we don’t need.

I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s one of the better King adaptations and a film I will undoubtedly rewatch many times. It succeeds on its own terms and doesn’t rely on terrible CGI for scares, nor does it hold back on the violence just to reach the under 12 demographic. This is horror how it’s supposed to be. By not trying to be Kubrick, Flanagan has delivered an inventive, emotionally engaging film that leads you into a maze of redrum and supernatural scares, and then shows you the way out.

The Snowman (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

SNOWMAN

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: Peter Straughan (screenplay by), Hossein Amini (screenplay by)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg

The Snowman is based on a novel by Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø called “Snømannen” which came out over a decade ago and is about Detective Harry Hole (Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

The movie should have been an enjoyable thriller with a suspenseful storyline. The trailer itself painted this picture when we first got out first glimpse in July 2017. Instead what we have is a confusing plot that jumps around with no logic. Sometimes it helps to read the novel that the movie was based on and in this case that may have helped me. (although I have heard of people who have read the book and were still confused)

One of the saving graces of the movie is Fassbender who is a terrific actor and casting him perhaps gave a rather substandard movie a little credibility. His performance although isn’t his best, won’t do his reputation any harm and for any movie goers out there will realise that The Snowman’s faults do not fall with him.

With a cast of Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny and James D’Arcy I expected more. Unfortunately most of their characters were reduced to being almost irrelevant.

I believe this movie suffered on so many levels with it’s production that effected its standards and editing but some of the plus points in the movie is it’s visuals and cinematography. The stunning Scandinavian landscape was nice to look at and the lighting in the film and in particular the suspense scenes worked well. As too did the soundtrack with a tense sound used in the correct manner added a haunting vibe to the movie.

I would go as far to say that this film isn’t exactly a horror and more a thriller that resembled the X-File Movie from 2008 “I Want To Believe” If you are looking for a jump scare movie then this isn’t for you. It’s not the worst movie, but bad production and editing perhaps made this potentially one of the years biggest failures. I can’t recommend this.

Life (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh 

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Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds

I seem to have developed a bit of fetish for the horror/thrillers genre recently and next on my list is Life by Daniel Espinosa. It’s a clear Alien homage, which never quite hits anywhere near the heights of that classic. That’s not to say it’s a terrible film, it’s absolutely not. It’s visually beautiful, has a great ending and has it’s fair share of tense moments in between, but it lacks some originality and falls into the familiar pattern of the genre.

Taking place on the ISS (International Space Station), it follows the travails of six astronauts/scientists as they at first discover and then study a single cell organism hailing all the way from Mars. Things start off fine and dandy for the crew. Well after Rory’s (Ryan Reynolds) nervous, near death collision with the probe carrying the life-form at least. Hugh (Ariyon Bakare), the resident scientist begins trying to reanimate the alien organism almost immediately, finally succeeding after changing atmospheric conditions to mimic pre-historic Earth. They even give their new pet Alien the cute nickname Calvin.

Of course, things don’t remain this calm for long. It would be a pretty boring film and not much of a sci-fi thriller if it did. Things take a turn for the worst after the little organism begins displaying rapid, accelerated, growth and signs of keen intelligence. This only seems to concern Miranda (Rebecca Ferguson), who briefly narrates to the viewer, telling them as much, following a minor mishap involving a lab valve with Hugh that leaves the life-form in a temporary stasis. Her relief at its halted growth is short lived however when a guilt ridden Hugh decides to shock the creature back into action. The shit hits the proverbial fan at this point and one of the crew goes down in gruesome fashion (the first and certainly not the last) shortly thereafter.

The film then plays out like your archetypal horror/thriller thereafter with members of the crew dropping like flies, as Calvin grows ever larger, feasting on the fresh corpses of his victims. There’s the usual acts of stupidity you frequently see in this genre, which can be forgiven when it’s a regular pleb in a house, but you expect more these supposed intellectually superior astronauts. That’s reading like a absolutely hated this film, I know. Again, I have to stress, absolutely not the case at all. I actually quite enjoyed it. Just don’t expect any realistic, scientific, recreation here, much like Gravity, which shared a similar setting. It’s a horror film that’s very deliberately set in the extremely claustrophobic surroundings of a space station.

With that said, some of the choices the characters and film made did annoy my slightly. Whether it be Kat’s indefensible decision to not just push off from the station whilst being mauled by Calvin on a spacewalk; Sho’s harebrained choice to burn up nearly all the fuel, sending them into a decaying orbit in a fruitless effort to keep the alien outside; David (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miranda’s lack of empathy or will to save Sho when he was stranded on his own and they could clearly track Calvin; and the inconsistencies in the latter’s ability to survive with or without oxygen. At one point it’s outside in the vacuum of space for a sustained period, surviving just fine and then it’s desperately scrambling around in search of oxygen to sustain its life.

In terms of performances, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson see the most screen time and development, although even then there isn’t a great deal of the latter, which was another slight letdown. Gyllenhaal and Ferguson did a decent enough job here, the former was slightly passive aggressive throughout mind, but he played the role well enough. Ryan Reynolds had a brief cameo, which is about as much as I can say on that. The rest were more filler than anything else, who you fully expected to die as the film progressed. Maybe Hugh played by Bakare being the exception with a slightly meatier role. I wasn’t a fan of the character though and the emotionless delivery of the line “We’ve just let it back in here” summed him up for me.

Having said that, I enjoyed the early moments in the film as it built up the tension and the claustrophobic uneasiness of the middle act, in the confined corridors of the station, as the ravenous Alien roamed around unchecked, picking them off at random. The twist at the end was incredible too and one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long while. I genuinely didn’t expect it, despite the film hinting quite heavily in that direction, which is predominantly down to the excellent way that Espinosa handled the scene. It reminded me of The Dark Knight rescue twist in the way it kept the viewer on the edge of their seats right until the end.

Whilst I did enjoy aspects of this film and it kept me relatively engrossed until the end, it wasn’t anywhere near being what you sensed it attempted to be. I.e. An Alien clone. It lacked the character development of that film, which meant there was literally zero connection to any of them and I wasn’t fussed when they died. It was visually amazing however and the zero gravity shots were stunningly realistic, whilst the alien, Calvin, was well brought to life and interacted beautifully with the ‘real’ things on screen. Overall, I would recommend this film. Despite my minor grievances (I’m a tad anal at times), it’s a decent little, horror that should be seen for the final scene alone.

The Girl on the Train (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Director: Tate Taylor
Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay),  Paula Hawkins (novel)
Stars: Emily Blunt,  Haley Bennett,  Rebecca Ferguson

As paranoid as a curving bullet made of steel-melting jet fuel fired by a lizard-person.
Rachel Watson (Blunt) is a drunk who is prone to blackouts and fits of rage which effectively ended her marriage to Tom (Theroux). Even though Tom was caught cheating on Rachel with their real estate agent Anna (Ferguson), he’s portrayed sympathetically as he’s seen to be the one who’s often been at the wrong end of Rachel’s abuse and constant embarrassing behaviour, most notably when she caused a scene at an office party which lead to him being fired by his boss (Lisa Kudrow).

Now divorced from Tom, Rachel spends her time stalking and harassing her ex and Anna, who is now married to. Rachel is also living with her friend Cathy (Laura Prepon) but lies about having the job she was fired from. To conceal how bad things are for the depressed alcoholic Rachel, she spends her days travelling to the city by train so her friend won’t find out the truth. During these daily journeys Rachel is almost always drunk, which has become apparent to some of her fellow commuters.

The train journey she takes every day passes directly by her old house, now inhabited by Tom, Anna and their beautiful daughter. But, as is the case with a lot of addicts, Rachel develops new obsessions. Her latest fixation is Tom and Anna’s neighbours, Megan and Scott Hipwell (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans, respectively). Rachel idealises Megan and Scott’s relationship, imagining them as the perfect couple. Of course, all of this is based on fleeting glimpses of their lives as she whizzes past on the train through a haze of vodka.

When Rachel spots Megan, whom she has never actually met, kissing another man she drunkenly departs the train, distraught at the thought of Megan ruining this rosé wine-tinted fantasy she’s concocted to confront her. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing Rachel remembers as she awakes in her apartment from a blackout.

When Megan is reported missing and presumed dead Detective Riley (Allison Janney) questions Rachel, believing her to be involved somehow, due to reports of her unpredictable behaviour. This is where Rachel really goes off the deep end. Posing as Megan’s friend, she approaches Scott and informs him of the affair. Scott identifies the other man as Megan’s therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic. She then makes an appointment with Kamal, pretending to seek therapy. The irony is not at all subtle here.

It’s apparent that Rachel, like almost all addicts, can’t fully trust that even a broken clock is right twice a day. She goes from one erratic theory to another, pointing fingers in an attempt to solve the disappearance of Megan and finally have some closure to why, from her point of view, this perfectly happy young woman’s life was thrown or taken away. Rachel sees herself in Megan, but doesn’t want to let anything happen to ruin the latter’s life the way it did her own.

The truth is that Megan and Scott’s marriage is far from happy. Scott is jealous and controlling and has quite the temper. Megan is depressed and going through the motions. Kamal’s career would be at risk if rumours were to spread of him having an affair with a patient. And Rachel herself is erratic, has a history of violent outbursts and can’t seem to trust her own judgment.

The Girl on the Train is icy cold and fraught with peril. There’s an uneasy, almost sickly, tone pulsating throughout the film. Blunt is superb as the spiraling drunk. She plays Rachel with such empathy and sadness it’s hard not to root for her. Rachel is complex and that’s, in no small way, down to Emily Blunt’s performance. It’s hard to hate her but she’s also difficult to like.

Bennett’s performance as Megan is tragic. She’s icy cold and with good reason. Her early life, in a series of flashbacks, will break the hardest of hearts.

With tension like this it’s difficult to like this film. It’s difficult to like feeling tense for almost two hours. But it’s a compelling movie. Riveting, even. With such great acting on display it’s an enjoyable way to feel uncomfortable and frustrated.