100 Word Review – Green Room (2015)

From Jeremy Saulnier, writer and director of Blue Ruin, comes a thrilling horror that hits all too close to home.

Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat) and their band mates find themselves performing to a group of right-wing extremist skin heads in America’s deep South. When they see something they shouldn’t have, they come face to face with the club’s owner, the terrifying Darcy (Patrick Stewart).

Tense and horrible in parts, this film hits a nerve in the current political climate and the darker side of the world of punk music. It’s currently on Netflix and definitely worth a watch.

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100 Word Review – Money Monster (2016)

Walking that fine line between socio-political commentary and thriller, this film stands out.

Lee (George Clooney), presenter of financial advice TV show Money Monster, is held up at gun point live on the air after some of his advice goes bad. Under the direction of his producer, Patty (Julia Roberts), Lee is forced to put his life where his mouth is.

Jodie Foster’s direction succeeds in adding extra dimensions to an already punchy script. Politically challenging, it manages to be a thought-provoking thriller that keeps an audience on the edge of its seats while poking holes in society’s capitalist greed.

100 Word Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Not quite sure what, if anything, this film has to do with Cloverfield, but it is worth watching for at least one thing; John Goodman.

After being involved in a car crash, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself locked in a fallout shelter being told by Howard (Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) that outside the world is ending.

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) is among the screenwriters on this very strange film that sits somewhere in the thriller / comedy / Sci Fi / drama genre. Goodman is equal parts wonderful, hilarious and terrifying.

It also has a truly brilliant trailer:

100 Word Review – Saw (2004)

Although Cary Elwes will always be Westley, this has to be counted among his best performances. Ignore the rest of the franchise and consider this as a stand alone work of art and horror.

Two men (Elwes and Leigh Whannell) wake up in a dingy bathroom to find they are chained to the wall as part of a sick game set up by a notorious serial killer, with only a saw to help them escape.

It’s emotional, visceral and twisted, with enough plot to keep you on your toes throughout. This isn’t a slasher; it’s a psychological thriller with gore.

100 Word Review – The Voices (2015)

The best word to describe this film is ‘weird’.

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a likeable mentally unstable man working a dead-end job. When he follows the advice of his pets and pursues his office crush (Gemma Arterton) things get dark pretty quickly. And that’s just the beginning.

Written by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2) and directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) it sits on a very stylised fence between horror thriller and quirky comedy.

If you don’t like bloody films, this is not the one for you, but otherwise do watch it. Anna Kendrick costars and Reynolds is magnetic as always.

100 Word Review – Insomnia (2002)

Psychological crime thrillers don’t come much better than this. 

Homocide detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is sent with his partner (Martin Donovan) to investigate a murder in a small town in Alaska. Trapped in the perpetual daylight of an Alaskan summer and growing tensions, insomnia sets in…

Co-starring Hilary Swank and Robbin Williams and directed by the one and only Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception, Interstellar), this film is tense beyond belief. It’s exhausting in the best possible way, placing you squarely in Will Dormer’s shoes.

Pacino and Williams are mesmerising, Swank’s sublime and Nolan’s clearly doing what he does best.

100 Word Review – All About Eve (1950)

A magnificent example of classic Hollywood.

Star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) believes that ingenue Eve (Anne Baxter) is trying to climb Hollywood’s career ladder by using her as a stepping stone.

It’s a truly twisted tale of deception, ambition and betrayal.

Witten and directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz (Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls), this film has won six Oscars including Best Directing and Best Screenplay and was nominated for a further eight. It even beat Sunset Boulevard for Best Picture and holds the record for the greatest number of female action Oscar nominations. It is currently number 100 on IMDb’s Top 250 films.

100 Word Review – Misery (1990)

Kathy Bates is extraordinary in this film.

Acclaimed writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan), whose car comes off the road on an isolated highway, is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Bates), his biggest fan.

A wonderful, terrifying thriller about the power of fame and idolisation.

I’ve never been more scared of anyone than I am of Bates in this film. She won an Oscar for her performance. Adapted by William Goldman (The Princess Bride, Marathon Man) from Stephen King’s novel and directed by Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap), it’s a story constructed by master storytellers, delivered with perfection.

100 Word Review – The Machine (2013)

A wonderful example of modern British Sci Fi. 

Set in a future where Britain is at war with China. Vincent (Toby Stephens) is a brilliant scientist with a tragic past, working with Ministry of Defence money to develop artificial intelligence to help his ailing daughter. But what’s the true cost of his research?

Written and directed by Caradog W James, with Caity Lotz and Denis Lawson co-starring, it is a truly thrilling cinematic experience. There’s something of the Film Noir about it.

Is it a fable for the future or a dark foreboding for the present? Either way it’s wonderful.

100 Word Review – The Innocents (1961)

A truly chilling adaptation of Henry James’ classic gothic novel The Turn of the Screw.

Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is a young governess hired by an absent uncle to look after two young children in a large house with a mysterious past.

The trailer for this film is extraordinary (see below) but to my mind it fails to accurately capture how terrifying parts of this film are. I am a wuss, but it is full of suspense and dread.

Directed by Jack Clayton (The Great Gatsby, Room at the Top) and adapted by Truman Capote, this is skilled cinematic genius.