REVIEW: HOSTEL (2005) 3.0/5



Be warned, this will contain some spoilers.

Right, I know. Bit weird posting a Hostel (2005) review in the middle of summer 2018, but I've only just watched it and had to talk about it.

The Hostel films get a lot of hate and admitting you enjoy watching them is almost frowned upon by many people, and understandably so. I can't speak for the other films in the series, but from what I have gathered from the first instalment, they are essentially unnecessarily over-the-top gore fests that cater for those with a bit too much morbid curiosity, giving them something to satiate their interest in blood and guts for two hours.

That said, I couldn't help but enjoy this first film.

Okay, yes... The acting is sub-par at the best of times. This is to be expected from a relatively low budget horror film, which shouldn't really be an excuse, but I wasn't offended by the lack of Oscar worthy performances. Everyone's here for the scares and the blood, not the engaging dramatic performances of the torture subjects. The lead characters are essentially crash-test dummies. We don't need to love them, they are there to be torn apart in a horrible way. Although it would be more engaging if the leads were more likeable and would up the horror if we actually rooted for them a bit more.

Not going to lie, for the first two acts, I actually found this film CREEPY.

As soon as the two protagonists go to this remote town in Eastern Europe and are greeted with plain stares from the various locals as they walk around, it gave me shivers.

Small moments when they are walking past a building and you see someone looking at them through a window are unsettling and give the sense that they (and the viewer who is on this journey to hell with them) have no idea what they are in for.

The third act is when everything goes a bit wrong, for the film and our leading characters, as it goes full balls to the wall like few films ever have or will.

The gore and violence is over the top yes, but that's the subject matter of the film and why 90% of audience members are here - so I won't hold that against it. I personally think that the idea of a place in which rich people pay to torture/kill people in whichever way they like is a great concept for a horror film. It's believable. With half the horrible things that go on in the world, it's really not that far of a stretch of the imagination to think some place like this actually exists. 

This is primarily, for me, what actually makes the film scary. The idea is so grounded and, if you've ever been travelling to a strange new place, you know you are completely vulnerable and often depend on help from the local people. If those people turn out to be unhinged, you are sort of screwed (as the character Derek realises literally when he wakes up locked in a room and tied to a chair with a sadistic man and his electric screwdriver). 

I also think the whole escape sequence is handled really well and is exciting throughout, taking us to a lot of cool places and providing exposition and answers to questions when we wanted them.

In addition, the ending is satisfying but still leaves that horror-movie bitter taste in your mouth as it doesn't finish happily with everything sorted and the bad guys locked away - there's still many places in which this could go (hence the sequels - which I will be watching in due course).

For me the main negative comes with the sort of mismatch of tone. This film is a torture porn movie, yet it's context does well to ground it in reality. When the gore is at it's pinnacle of 'disgustingness', the film loses the realism and becomes borderline cartoonish. For me, this relieves a huge amount of tension and seriousness from the film, and just became a display of grotesqueness. 

That said, Hostel kept me watching, so I must have found it entertaining on some level.

Does that make me weird? Not sure.

I can't see myself watching it too many times again though.

It does tap into your morbid curiosity and does make you wonder about the sick things that happen in our world.

Overall, I thought this was a good horror film. If you like disgusting gore and sadistic torture, this is the film for you kids!






Star Wars.

Whether it's good or bad, it's always good to watch a new Star Wars film. When the title explodes onto the screen and the classic John Williams music blasts your ears, it genuinely gives me tears of joy.

Even better when it's good. 

After the huge disappointment of Star Wars: Rogue One (2016), I'm so happy to say that The Last Jedi is a good movie.

Is it better than The Force Awakens (2015)? In short, no. In long, read on.

The film starts at the exact point from which The Force Awakens finishes. Rey with Luke, Finn recovering, Po being cool.

The film kicks off with one of the coolest space battles in the whole series, as we get to see Po, the acclaimed 'best pilot in the Rebellion', play around with the First Order.

It's during this early scene in the film at which you realise that The Last Jedi is really trying to put forward a lot more comedy than some of the other films in the Star Wars series.

Does the humour work all of the time? Not really. But when it does hit, it hits, and it all just adds to the fun vibe of the film. At points the humour can feel almost childish, which I'm fine with, because Star Wars should be aimed at kids and inspire them.

Adding to feeling more aimed at kids, there is a lot more CGI in this film. The Force Awakens did a lot with practical effects, particularly for some of the alien species, which gave it a great 'original Star Wars' feel. Whilst The Last Jedi has some practical effects, it's definitely more in the background compared to the CGI. Some scenes which are clearly heavily made by CGI can be also be fairly distracting which is a shame but don't take anything away from the enjoyment of the film.

The characters from The Force Awakens were fantastically fleshed out, making there little need to do much more in the way of characterization in The Last Jedi. New additions like Luke, who is so Luke I was actually surprised. I was half-expecting Luke to be more Yoda-like (wise, mature and calm), but he is still Luke Skywalker from the original trilogy at his very core which was great to see (curious, somewhat whiny, but likeable). Likewise the new character of Rose is given suitable depth and background for you to support her and make her a welcome addition to the entourage. 

The two characters with the most depth and in this film are by far Rey and Kylo Ren. Every exchange and interaction between these two characters is absolutely first class and gripping to watch. I can't wait to see where their stories conclude in the last movie. Poe also has a great character arch in this film, and it's great to see so much more of his character here than we got to see in The Force Awakens.

At 2 hours 32 minutes, The Last Jedi is a loooooong film. But it doesn't really drag at any point which is impressive.

I will say that the film really only picks up for me after around the hour mark. Up until then the film almost felt generic and slightly messy. With no real progression in the story or characters up until this point I was beginning to feel disappointed. But the second and third acts of this film, where the story is propelled forward with unanswered questions being answered, various twists and turns coming in from all angles, it's truly riveting.

I have to give utmost praise to the writers on making this story as unpredictable as it could be.

All the action in The Last Jedi is again handled so well. There is one of the best lightsaber fight scenes in the whole series in my opinion. It seems so much more visceral than other fights we've seen before - not looking overly CG like in the prequels, and not looking slightly underwhelming (by today's standard of action) like in the originals. It feels almost Braveheart-esque (1995).

Having seen many theories online, I figured I had most of the answers already going into this film. However, I was surprised at where it was going throughout at pivotal moments in the film. 

On two occasions The Last Jedi sort of sends you down a road where you think everything you already knew is going to be flipped on its head (mostly relating to a couple of the main characters coming out to actually be baddies/goodies). However, it quickly straightens these twists out and gets back onto the more obvious path, which is somewhat disappointing but also necessary in order not to cause a giant uproar of rage from Star Wars fans across the globe and to keep the story simple enough.

One cameo from a character is probably the best cameo of all time (if you've seen the film you know which character I'm talking about), I don't even care I loved every single second that this character was on the screen, I was fanboying out.

There are also some other occasions which left me thinking like hmmmm can he actually do that though...? I mean I don't think I've seen a Jedi do that before why is he able to do this now...

But what da hell. Still cool stuff.

Also this film is rammed full of moments where the set up for the scene is THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY WE CAN GET OUT OF THIS ONE UNLESS THIS HAPPENS. Then 'this' will happen, fail, and they will find a way to get out of it which was an option all along.

None of these things are really big issues, and ultimately, I can't lie, it kept me entertained as hell.

The soundtrack is sick (obviously), no complaints there.

Here's some quick fire questions answered for you who have not seen it:

Is The Last Jedi a perfect film? Not at all.
Do I wish some things which happened in it didn't happen? Yeah.
Is every question which is answered a super satisfying answer? No.
Are there still a lot of questions left answered which now look like they probably won't be answered? Yes.

But overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good film, highly entertaining, and a great sequel to this great-looking trilogy.





Firstly, I am fully aware how random it is to review this film, but it's always been a movie I've loved and I watched it again the other day, so here we are!

There are not that many films which I know are not particularly good, that I just love for no explicable reason. But Never Back Down is one of them.

I think I watched this film for the first time at the perfect age. Never Back Down is a fantasy for any 14 years old male in 2008: fighting, MMA (just when it was really growing in popularity), girls, and family drama. I'm also massively into sports, and this film is a full on sports movie. 

I think a lot of its appeal is how it demonstrates how both talent and an insane amount of training are what make you great at a sport. Jake is a natural fighter, but an all-round sportsman, who plays American Football and only gets into MMA by force because he's so naturally gifted at fighting. Jake's brother is a great tennis player, and we see him training even in his house, hitting the ball against a wall repeatedly for practice. It's so satisfying to watch the montage's of Jake's training as an MMA fighter, as we know he's got the natural knack for it, but just needs to hone his skills. 

Secondly, I genuinely think the character motivations in this film are rather heart-felt. Jake's anger and complicated relationship with his mother are well founded and you really feel for what he has been through. It isn't as simple as Jake fighting to get a girl like most teen-movies. His past makes you really see into how this character is filled with constant guilt and anger at himself, which he can't help but sometimes take out on other people.

Even the 'baddy' in this movie, Ryan, played by Cam Gigandet (who does a great job to be fair to him at playing this douchey character), has his own problems which explain why he acts the way he does. Even Jake's trainer, also very well played by Djimon Hounsou, has motivations behind him. All these relatively well fleshed-out characters makes the film a lot deeper and meaningful than it necessarily needed or could have been.

That said, Never Back Down is, for the most part, a a fairly dumb movie.

I know American's are a lot more hyped up for things compared to most other people, especially compared to us Brits, but no school in the world would have such a social popularity hierarchy based off of people's ability to perform in MMA.

At the first house party Jake goes to there are structured MMA bouts between people hahahaha. Ryan, introducing Jake to this, is even quoted: "And my personal favourite; Battle of the Exes!", where ex-boyfriends and girlfriends presumably fight out their anger towards each other.


So dumb.

But the good thing is that this movie knows it is a fairly dumb, high-school, testosterone-fuelled movie, and often pokes fun at itself for that, which is exactly what this film needed. All credit to director Jeff Wadlow for being so self-aware, and who later went on to write and direct Kick-Ass 2 (2013).

The soundtrack is also great - choosing some of the best from the 2008 music charts, with choices like Stronger by Kanye West and Teenagers by My Chemical Romance. All of this just adds to the fun and enjoyment of this movie for me.

Good-looking cast, funny script, great training montages... I'd say if you have no interest in sports or sports movies, you can definitely avoid this one. But if you do and you also like high-school movies, then definitely check it out. 





If ever there was a horror film which makes you feel dirty, the classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is that film.

As a kid, I would always look at the video/DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in shops and think to myself "This looks like a proper adults-only film...I can only imagine how violent and scary this is". Then my mum would poke her head down the aisle and tell me to put that film down and ask why on earth I'd like to watch a film called that. But the fact is it is because I knew from the age of 7 that this was a classic film, before I even watched it.

A huge reason to this is due to the title: The Texas... Chainsaw... Massacre... 

Just try and give me a more iconic title for a film. 

It tells you everything you need to know and paints a gruesome picture in your mind, setting you up for the maddening experience that plays out.

This was horror at it's absolute best, just before the classic 'slasher movie' concept was defined by 1978's Halloween, and it branched out from a period of horror films focused on the supernatural - right in the midst of the likes of The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). This ultra-realistic take on horror truly breathed new life into the genre, and will breathe new life into the horror genre when you watch it today, or even another 40 years from now. This is true cinematic grit, and a film which genuinely seems to have captured real-life horror taking place.

The fact this film is based on true events is sickening enough in itself, and then you watch the film and meet one of the most iconic horror movie characters of all time, Leatherface, and his inbred, disgusting family, and it takes it to a whole new level. I won't spoil anything which happens in the film, it's best to go into this film blissfully unaware of what you're getting yourself into, but these characters are GRIM.

One thing which really shocked me once I had watched this film, and something I give it great credit for, is the almost complete lack of blood and gore. A reminder, this film was made (in my opinion) in the golden age of horror cinema, well before the torture porn and complete overload of excessive viscera in modern-day horror. Don't get me wrong, in films like Hacksaw Ridge (2017), I believe that it is completely necessary to show the brutality depicted in that film in order to ground it and have the impact it needs to have on you. But in horror, I think excessive gore isn't always necessary.

Blood and gore can cause shock and disgust, but horror? Not really. Tobe Hooper knew this, and leaves much of the more graphic scenes open to your imagination.

And still, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fully deserves it's 18 rating because it is one of the most brutal and violent films ever made, without being overly 'graphic'. When someones head gets struck by a hammer, making them drop to the floor and inducing uncontrollable muscle spasms over their body, it is horrifying. But a shot of an open head wound showing cranial matter is not needed, and it's not given to you in this movie.

Of course, another reason that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre does not show violence on screen is because of it's extremely low budget, but Tobe Hooper never really makes this film seem like it had an especially low-budget. Low-cost horror films, like Paranormal Activity (2007) and even the original Saw (2004), can occasionally give the feeling of a made-for-TV-movie, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains incredibly cinematic throughout its run-time.

In fact, Hooper and the cast (which all do an excellent job by the way, I really can't fault any of the acting in this film) go so far and actually use the low budget as a strength. The incredibly grainy, dirty look of every shot, and the painfully hot sets in which the actors and crew had to endure whilst filming this movie provide a feel to this film which has never been able to have been replicated in all its glory, and probably never will. Which is a shame, but it also makes this film all the more special.

The sound in this film is probably the most horrifying aspect. The screams of Marilyn Burns unwelcomely scar a place within your brain, and will always echo in my mind when I think of this film. Utilising our senses in a different way than most horror films, by controlling our ears rather than always showing gruesome acts on screen for our eyes, also make this film incredibly refreshing and distinctive to any other horror film to come before or after it.

The cinematography in this film is epic but also incredibly grounded and realistic, providing a feel which, like I said earlier, makes you feel like you're watching real horror caught on camera, whilst also remaining cinematic and sometimes epic. One scene when Leatherface is simply sitting by the window, thinking about what's going on, is one of the most thought-provoking scenes in the history of horror cinema in my opinion. You can only guess what is going on in his head. Tobe Hooper once said, although I paraphrase, "This movie just shows everyone having a really bad day". And that is an excellent lens to view this film down. It grounds it in reality as, although the family and Leatherface are clearly sick and twisted individuals, they didn't ask for this to happen, and everything that happens are just a series of events which have really spiraled out of control.

Lastly, the shot I featured at the top is one of my favourite shots of all time. I think it's one of the most dramatic, and again, thought-provoking shots in the history of horror cinema. 

I would highly recommend watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre if you never have seen it. And if you've already have watched it, watch it again just to refresh your brain and give yourself a unique horror movie experience this Halloween.


REVIEW: HUSH (2017) 4.8/5

Source: GWy7aQEaI.jpg

Source: GWy7aQEaI.jpg

With Halloween up and coming, I thought it would be a good idea to share reviews of some excellent horror movies which are definitely worth a watch late at night this time of year. 

Hush is a small film, with very little buzz around it compared to what it deserves. The concept in itself gives me the shivers: Imagine being deaf and trying to fight off a sadistic murderer who wants to mentally and physically torture you before he kills you? This of course, leads to a very tense film, but also a film which offers so much more than what you'd simply expect going into it.

This film knows what it is and masters what it sets out to achieve. At just around 1 hour and 20 minutes, it doesn't hang around on anything unnecessary that would cause the film to drag at all. From the opening title to the end credits it is full of gripping content, which makes for a riveting watch.

With very little exposition, director Mike Flanagan expertly creates a great lead character in Maddie, with subtle cues which tell you all you need to know. Things as simple as Maddie receiving a one line text, reading it and quickly deleting it, tell you everything you need to know about the recent past of her character and provides her with real human-being-like depth. Additionally, unlike most horror films involving a cabin in the woods, a writer struggling from writers block looking for some solitude is actually a valid reason for somebody to be in this setup, and soaks the film in realism, making a truly immersive experience.

The lead character, despite not speaking a word in the whole film is very well fleshed out and likeable, and you really root for her to survive through this night of hell. On the contrary, the villain is an utter sicko, and you desperately want to see this guy taken care of. In fact, he is such a dark character that I struggle to think of a more realistic but over-the-top sadistic character in any other film in my recent memory.

You never leave Maddie's side the whole way through this film, and you see more or less everything from where she is as if you were there - the only difference being that you are able to hear. This makes for a very intense, but also very grounded and neatly flowing film. There's no jumping around locations or switching between perspectives which enables you to sit down and seamlessly enter this movie with no obstacles which remind you that you are watching a film. This keeps the movie intense and keeps you in this situation with Maddie the whole way, making it simple to watch, whilst also being very immersive.

Kate Siegel does a phenomenal job as the deaf Maddie, as does John Gallagher Jr. as the bad guy in this film. In fact, all 5 cast members do a great job. The direction is also really great; it's simple enough, but Mike Flanagan definitely displays some of his flair throughout as well, which mixes up way the story is told.

Hush is one of those films you can watch with a couple of friends, and enjoy as you all sit back in shock from the realistic but terrifying nature of the film, and ask each other "oh my god, what would you do in that situation?". It's a great, concise and easy film to watch around Halloween, and one I would definitely recommend seeking out.





In my opinion, Hacksaw Ridge is hands down the best World War II movie since Spielburg's masterpiece Saving Private Ryan (1998) - in many ways, I even prefer this film.

Telling the true story of Desmond Doss, a man who, for religious reasons, refused to carry a gun into battle but still insisted on drafting into the US army's frontline as a medic, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most emotionally driven films of 2017. 

By starting out in Desmond's childhood, and by seeing how his early experiences with violence shaped him into the man he grows to be, we gain a complete understanding of Desmond's character and his motivations. When first joining the military, he is seen as a liability by not carrying a weapon, and is ridiculed in training in effort to force him to quit. It's brutal to watch someone who you know is trying to do good get physically and emotionally bullied the way he does, but it makes the final act all the more fulfilling and humbling to see play out.

Like Saving Private Ryan (1998), Hacksaw Ridge in absolutely no way glorifies war. It makes it look like a living hell and reminds you how horrific it really must have been for those who fought (and saved lives) in it. Mel Gibson is well known for his lack of fear when depicting violence on screen, and Hacksaw Ridge is certainly up there as one of his most visceral films. Here, all the violence is fully justified as it is completely necessary to show how brutal war is, and it provides even further contrast to the humanity of Desmond Doss's character. Imagine Braveheart (1995), but with guns and flamethrowers instead of swords and shields, and instead of killing everyone, William Wallace was running round saving everyone, and you've got Hacksaw Ridge.

The film has an exceptionally well designed structure, and each act is enhanced by that which came before it. Hacksaw Ridge perfectly hits the beats it needs to in order to make you feel for the characters and be fully invested into the story it is telling.

The characters are all very well realised - no one is really good or bad in the black or white way which is so often the case in films. Every character you care about and spend a lot of time with experiences an arch of some kind, which makes it feel like like you've had a genuine experience and learned something from watching this film.

Andrew Garfield is fast-becoming one of my favourite actors, and he completely disappears in this role as all you see is his character, which is the best compliment I can give. Teresa Palmer and Hugo Weaving also give great performances as the people Desmond's character leaves back at home. Sam Worthington, after pretty much vanishing after starring in the biggest movie of all time Avatar (2009), is also really great in this film, and is one of the characters you end up caring most about.

I often find that you need to be in a certain mood to watch a World War II movie, as you need to be emotionally prepared for what you are about to watch. I think I'll struggle to ever watch Schindler's List (1993) or The Pianist (2002) again anytime soon, simply because of how much of an impact those films have on you emotionally. Hacksaw Ridge is above all an uplifting film, demonstrating the true power of the human spirit (as this story is true!) and restoring your faith in humanity. So is a film which I can see myself watching a few times and being awed by the power of the human spirit each time after watching.

You'll need to remind yourself that everything you're watching in this film really happened multiple times whilst watching this movie. Andrew Garfield has even been quoted saying they had to leave some of the things the real Desmond Doss did in order to make the film seem realistic - despite the fact they actually did happen in real life.

This film has a fantastic story to tell and one everyone should watch. Everyone should know the story of Desmond Doss, and it's portrayed in a beautiful way thanks to Mel Gibson's expert direction.





The Wizard of Lies (2017) is looking to be one the most overlooked films of the year in my opinion. A stellar Robert De Niro performance, great character study, and the fact that it's a drama which is more gripping than most thrillers make this film well worth a watch.

If you enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street back in 2013 (who didn't?), this film's depiction of crimes on Wall Street are portrayed in the exact opposite way to that. Which is a good and a bad thing. TWOWS's main criticism from many critics was that it glorified the extreme lifestyle of the super rich bankers who were profiting from ruining other people's lives without showing the negative consequences as much as it should have. This film solely focuses on the impact these crimes have on the people directly and indirectly involved, as The Wizard of Lies is a thorough showcase of the downfall of Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. 

The Wizard of Lies is a very dark and gloomy film which is incredibly gripping from start to finish. I watched this film on the plane having no idea what it was about before I turned it on, and I could not take my eyes off the screen until it had finished. However, if doom and gloom is not your cup of tea, you may find this film to be overly depressing, as it lacks more or less any kind of fun. Any scene which shows the lavish high-lives of those profiting from Madoff's scheme is nothing like those in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) or Wall Street (1987), as they are often brought down heavily in mood when the aggressive and controlling nature of Madoff's sociopathic character is displayed. It makes for tough-viewing as you watch him manipulate and coerce people around him into doing exactly what he wants. It's almost cringeworthy, and the sympathy you feel for those people stuck with him is highly depressing.

The consequences of Madoff's actions, not only to his victims, but to his family, is shocking, especially if you don't know the full story before going into this film like I didn't. This film also delves deep into the impact the media can have in influencing the public's opinion of people, and how this can destroy lives. It's a very intense film, and it doesn't give you much room to breathe as it batters you with the negative consequences of Bernie Madoff's crimes. It will certainly calm down the "Greed is good" Gordan Gecko mentality that was resurrected by TWOWS.

The fantastic cast in this film all bring their A-game. Robert De Niro obviously brings his Robert De Niro-isms to completely transform into Bernie Madoff - his performance alone makes this film worth watching. Sociopathic characters is what De Niro does best, it's fascinating to analyse all of his subtleties in order to peak some glimpses into what is happening in his character's mind. Michelle Pfeiffer is also great as Madoff's wife, to the point you can completely understand her character and motivations. Some of her decisions to stick with Bernie throughout his downfall are questionable on the surface, but her performance makes the character fully transparent and you understand the reasons behind what she does completely. Nathan Darrow, Alessandro Nivola, and Hank Azaria also give top-notch performances, and with the rest of the cast, are what make this film so mesmerising to watch, as you feel the need to see what happens to their characters at the end of the film.

The director also does a phenomenal job, and makes this biographical drama feel like a David Fincher-esque thriller at times. The camera lingers on characters faces, giving you the opportunity to read their expressions for insights into their thought-processes, making it really intense but gripping. Song choices such as 'The Great Pretender' by The Platters also go a long way in creating a pitch perfect mood for this film. 

One of the best moments in the film is when you see De Niro as Madoff manipulate someone into investing a large sum of money with his firm - I just wish there was more of this! This film focuses solely on the downfall of Madoff and how the consequences of his actions spiral out of control for those closest to him. I would have loved to have seen Madoff's rise, and how his lies built up into the empire he made for himself. Maybe another time eh?

I hope more people get to watch this film - I think it's held back by the fact it was made for TV. TV is dying people! HBO if you want to make more films like this, feel free, I'll watch it. But please put it on Netflix next time!


REVIEW: IT (2017) 3.65/5



It (2017) has been receiving a lot of attention, particularly on social media, with rave reviews from audience members and critics alike, making me very excited as I sat down to watch this film. I have not seen the original 1990 TV mini-series of It, nor have I read the book, so I was able to go into watching this film knowing pretty much nothing, for which I am very glad as it means that I do not have the urge to compare it to the previous movie, and I am able to appreciate the film on its own merits.

It's strongest asset is the fact its story fully focuses on developing its characters, much like Stranger Things did last year. It is so easy to compare this film to Stranger Things (2016) - a fantasy/horror story set in the 1980's, with children as the main characters, and even sharing the same actor in a leading role with Finn Wolfhard. I can safely say that this guy is officially my favourite child actor of all time, he owns this role just as much as his role in Stranger Things, and provides much of the comic relief throughout the film. All the child actors in this film do a great job and embody their roles perfectly, and their different personalities create a realistic group that you want to root for. Jack Dylan Grazer is a highlight as a clean-freak, hypochondriac kid, and he has some great one liners throughout. The chemistry and banter the kids have throughout the film is also very realistic, just like it is in Stranger Things, except I'd say it's even better here. The bully character, played by Nicholas Hamilton is one of the least likeable film characters I've seen in a long time. I'm not sure what I was hoping for more in this movie; for his character to be captured by Pennywise or for the main group to bring Pennywise to his end - which definitely is not a bad thing and shows how much of a good job the script writers and director Andy Muschietti do at making you feel emotionally attached to the characters in this film.

Bill Skarsgård is certain to shoot up the ranks in Hollywood after a phenomenal performance as Pennywise. He dedicates himself fully to this role in a way which reminded me of Heath Ledger's Joker back in 2008. I do not envy him for being able to play this character, as it's incredibly difficult to become an over-the-top, creepy clown without making it come across funny, at which point the entire film would become a huge failure. Thankfully he fully throws himself into the role, and stays 100% scary throughout.

There was but one moment in this film made me laugh, when it should have been scary (I think... I honestly am not sure what emotion this moment was supposed to make me feel), I genuinely have no idea why it is in the film. This is not a spoiler don't worry, but when Pennywise does some dumbass, can-can-esque dance when he appears in one scene, it's actually hilarious and not scary at all. I'm certain other people must have had the same reaction to me: check out the video below for further insight into this moment of the film I'm referring to.

Honestly, why is that bit in this film hahahahaha? Someone help me out and tell me why it was there, it cracks me up just thinking about it.


A second gripe I had with It is that I think it may have tried a bit too hard to develop all of it's characters to make you care for them. Without getting into spoilers, I found that the home lives of two of the main group were actually more creepy than Pennywise himself, but also somewhat unnecessary and didn't really add much to the story.

For me, the strongest scene in It is by far the opening scene. It's a shame there wasn't more of seeing Pennywise interact with the children by just talking in the creepy way he does, as I found that this was much more effective than just the visual scares the film more often uses. When you see him talk to the children it provides you with subtle insights into his character, and you can begin to create your own backstory to his character and think about why he hates children so much, which I found to be a lot more intriguing and scary in itself.

That being said, the visuals in this film and the direction are truly great. The way the titles come onto the screen are a nice throwback to old horror films of the 1980's, and the cinematography makes every shot in It a feast for the eyes.

I also love the mystery in this film - I guess a large number of people who have seen this film have either read Stephen King's book or seen the original screen adaptation, but since I went into this film knowing nothing, I love how they maintained a lot of the mystery around Pennywise's character left open for the sequel (for which I am glad is set for release in 2019 rather than 2044...).

Overall, It delivers on being a very creepy movie, with excellent characters and a lot of great scenes throughout. 






Jumping off the success of Titanic (1997) Leonardo DiCaprio chooses to avoid following the money-generating mainstream movie machine (that’s a lot of m’s) and leads in a strange, largely misunderstood film considered a flop by most critics at the time, and one which has never really found much of a following since.

The Beach tells the tale of a young man named Richard who has embarked on a gap year to Thailand seeking to experience new culture, get away from the everyday life and find something greater in existence than getting drunk and partying like the average 20-something year old. When he comes across a crazy man named Daffy who gives him a map to a wonderful beach no one knows about, he brings along a couple (Françoise and her boyfriend Étienne) and ends up living on this beach in a secluded community of like-minded people.

I think The Beach never really found its audience because it's difficult to find the overriding story and plot in this film. Boy goes to Thailand, finds map, meets people, falls in love - fine, but so what? Even when you think The Beach is heading in the direction of establishing a love triangle, this abruptly comes to a halt. So what does it all mean?

The Beach is a difficult film to grasp because it is an exploration of meaning itself.

Whenever something like a movie, book, or poem, explores the meaning of life and our purpose, we are never given a straight-forward answer, and that's how it should be. No one can tell you your purpose in life, art is there to provide you with triggers from which you will take what you want and discover meaning for yourself. No two people are likely to have the exact same purpose in life, you need to find your own, just like you need to find your own meaning to this film. The Beach lacks the clarity that the mainstream audiences which were initially attracted to this film need in a movie.

The Beach explores many topics as Richard searches for the meaning of life, but the one of the main topics it looks at is: the quest for total leisure. The inhabitants of the beach enforce strict rules to ensure that no one else finds out about their blissful retreat, which ends up with them sacrificing their morality and basic human principles. When people in the beach community have issues which could possibly lead to the wider society finding out about their beach, they are not allowed to seek help from anyone not on the island. We see how this is problematic when someone complaining of toothache, wishing to see a dentist, is pinned down and has the tooth removed amateurishly with a set of pliers. Richard who is new to the community is asked what he makes of this, to which he responds: "We have a secret here right? Sometimes people need to take a little bit of pain to keep it that way". This is the start of his characters descent into a state of blind selfishness, as the search for bliss overcomes him, like it has for the rest of the beach’s inhabitants.

The moral implications of maintaining complete bliss escalates when there is a shark attack and people's lives come into the question. Even then, after one member dies and another is left seriously injured, the one left suffering is only allowed to go to the mainland if he doesn't say where he was attacked, or he can choose to stay and take his chances. This part of the film is for me the most crucial moment, as you can clearly see how people have been completely taken-over by their pursuits of maintaining pleasure. 

The leader of the community, Sal, is the one who will only let him go and find help if he does not tell the full story of what happened, but the man suffering from the shark bite himself is the one who decides he wants to stay and take his chances with death. He suffers for days on end before the other group members eventually remove him and leave him for dead, as his moaning becomes increasingly annoying to them and ruins their peaceful resort. This explores the extent to which how people will sacrifice their morals and even great physical pain (as the suffering man chooses by himself to not leave the beach), in the pursuit of a leisurely life. Whilst in everyday life it doesn't happen in the same way as portrayed here, the same thing is happening when people work in an unethical way for money, in the hope it will improve their own quality of life, even if it is in the expense of someone else's suffering.

This selfishness is the key theme throughout the film. 

As Richard's character lusts over Françoise who he knows is in a relationship, he feels he won't be fully at peace until he gets what he wants: "All in all this really was paradise. Except for one thing: desire is desire". Françoise does the same and eventually gives into her feelings and cheats on her boyfriend Étienne with Richard.

There are 3 characters in this film who symbolise varying degrees of selfishness, and their ruthlessness to maintain their life of paradise: 

  1.    Étienne (the least selfish member of the group).
  2.    Richard (whose eyes we see through and sways in his degree of selfishness).
  3.    Sal (the most extreme selfish member).

Étienne stays strong throughout the film, not letting his selfish pursuit of happiness overcome his moral beliefs. When he knows Françoise has cheated on him with Richard, he is upset but he doesn’t his feelings come in the way of what will make her happy, and lets her and Richard be together without putting up a fight. He is also the only member to stay with the abandoned shark attack victim and keep an eye on him to check he's doing okay. Étienne is the one who raises concerns about the morality of this situation when his wounds turn green.



Sal refuses to let anything come in the way of her happiness, as she dictates the members of the community to obey her rules to keep the leisure of their beach despite their suffering, and cheats on her partner with Richard with a total lack of conscience as to how it may make her boyfriend feel. She wants to maintain her paradise by any means necessary and refuses to let anyone else's suffering come in the way of that. This is first seen when she doesn't let the man with toothache go to the dentist, then it escalates when she allows the victim of the shark attack be left for dead, and she reaches her most extreme when she pulls the trigger to attempt to murder Richard. She justifies trying to kill him with: "You let us down Richard. You brought us trouble.", showing that his life is less valuable than maintaining her leisurely life on the beach. By this point she is completely consumed by her greed of a life of complete pleasure, and Richard knows this as he tries to talk her out of killing him. He tells her it's over - murdering him in front of everyone won't leave everyone's minds, like how moving the shark attack victim away worked in enabling people to forget and keep the peace of their lifestyle. Murdering him in front of everyone would change them forever and Richard knows this from his experience seeing the 4 people he led to the beach get murdered by the farmers, which snapped him out of his maddened state of blissful seclusion.

Richard has the most interesting character to study as he has multiple character arches. He begins as a normal young man and becomes gripped on his pursuit of leisure nearly as much as Sal, as he grows to be fine with people experiencing pain to keep the beach a secret and is easily convinced what he is doing is okay when Sal justifies her affair with him. Richard even kills the man injured from the shark attack – whether this is to put him out of his misery, or to put him to his end so he stops disturbing the peace on the beach, it is not clear, but I believe it is the latter. It all becomes too much for him when he is removed from the group and forced to undergo some pain of his own to maintain the secret of the beach - he is told keep lookout on some people he gave a copy of his map to, to prevent them coming to the beach and possibly ruining their bliss. He ends up like Daffy, the character who he meets at the beginning of the film and provides Richard with the map. Daffy seems crazy and is clearly unstable, like how Richard becomes when he is excluded from the beach community. These two characters enter this state when they leave the beach because they have become obsessed with the idea of maintaining a feeling of total leisure, but are unable to do this in the real world. Richard only snaps out of this state when he sees the people he led to the beach get murdered by the farmers, and he realises that chasing the dream of a perfect life comes at a huge price, one which he is morally unable to carry on paying. Richard in the end, goes back into normality and realises that total bliss is never maintained, but that's okay, because just experiencing a moment of it will live with you forever. The selfish greed that people have to try to maintain a blissful life at all costs is unnecessary, and it leads to dire moral consequences and will overcome you until you believe what you are doing is fine, like the character of Sal.

The Beach in my opinion is a great film. It explores topics such as selfishness and the meaning of life in a unique way, and also gives us an incredibly underrated performance by Leonardo DiCaprio. I'd love to know your thoughts and if you agree with my analysis, let me know in the comments what you think!

REVIEW: GET OUT (2017) - 4.65/5



Get Out is easily described in two words: great fun. Whilst being an incredibly tense movie at times, with real chilling moments, it is a highly enjoyable film for everyone. So, even if you don’t like horror films, I recommend watching Get Out for its pure entertainment value and social satire alone.

Get Out manages to avoid the jump scares, clichés and excessive violence that are ever-present in horror movies today, and is able to create a genuinely eerie atmosphere, which grips you right up until the movie’s climax. It also becomes one of the only horror films in recent memory to have truly interesting characters, with the character of Chris's friend, Rod, being a definite highlight. 

Many people have been confused at Get Out, asking whether it is attempting to be a horror film or a comedy. Whilst this isn’t exactly a good thing - people who have seen a movie should be able to tell what genre it is - I think it is because Get Out’s script creates such real characters. The characters in Get Out react in a way which is so accurate to how someone in reality would if they found themselves in an over-the-top horror movie scenario like this. Most real-life human beings have a sense of humour, and so does Chris's character, as we see when he initially finds the weird things happening around him somewhat amusing. It's also very real for his friend to make jokes about it, before the seriousness of the situation hits.

It's rare to see so much comedy in a horror film because humour has to be used carefully in order to avoid completely removing the tension out of a scene. Luckily, Get Out tiptoes along the border of the horror-comedy genre, without stepping over the line, and manages to hold back enough to remain a true horror film which generates real scares, but also has a good handful of comedy scattered throughout.

The acting in this film is superb. Daniel Kaluuya's perfectly embodies an everyday guy who has found himself in a horrific situation. Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, and Caleb Landry Jones all also do a great job at portraying their characters within the Armitage family. The direction is skilful, and provides one of the most exciting directorial debuts in recent years, as Peele provides many throwbacks to old horror movies, such as Halloween (1978) - with the setting of the opening scene being similar to the neighbourhood in which the classic slasher movie took place - whilst also providing a modern, independent movie feel. Peele does a great job at wrapping the things he has to say up into a thoroughly entertaining movie.

One gripe I initially had, is that Get Out is very predictable, and you know where the film is heading once you meet key characters in the Armitage family. However, whilst predictability is not often regarded as a good thing, here, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it actually adds to the film in some way. Once you know where the film is going, it becomes enjoyable to see how the events slowly unfold, and to watch as Chris's character begins to clock-on to what’s going on. It creates a pantomime-like experience, where you, the audience member, wants to yell at Chris’s character at the trouble which is coming up behind him, as we root for Chris to 'get out' before any harm comes to him. But the odd nature of the film taps into that sadistic curiosity we all have where we also want to let it play out so we can see the Armitage family carry out their plan and find out answers as to why they do it. So, here the predictability of Get Out actually adds to the movie in a positive way.

At times, Get Out can seem a bit far-fetched, as towards the end it breaches into sci-fi levels of medical superpowers. This clashes with the sinister realism and the feeling that this could possibly happen in real life, which is set up so well in the first half.

But Get Out isn't a film which should be taken 100% seriously. Its goal is to be entertaining, and it succeeds, very well. It’s difficult not to finish this film once you start it, and Get Out provides great re-watch value as mysterious things which happen throughout can be all explained with the knowledge of everything which is explained in the end - the clues to which can be found on repeat viewings.

Get Out is a great and incredibly fun film for all movie fans, and especially for horror buffs. It's smart, witty, funny, creepy, and provides a unique and entertaining social commentary over the top, as it plays with the topic of inter-racial relationships.