The Night House: Film Review

The Night House

Searchlight Pictures

I’ve always thought Rebecca Hall was a terrific actress so The Night House is the perfect vehicle for her to show off what she can do – she gives an outstanding performance in this psychological horror.

The movie begins as Beth (Hall) returns home from her husband Owen (Evan Jongkeit)’s funeral. Although she’s still reeling from his sudden death, Beth insists to her friends that she’s fine to stay alone in the lakeside house that he built for them – that’s until night comes and she discovers a presence in the house. Is it her late husband trying to communicate? Something more sinister? Or is she losing her mind?

This film could have easily been a basic, generic haunted house horror but there’s far more substance to this than you might expect. Beth is a well-rounded, realistic and complex person who distracts herself from her grief by digging into her husband’s private life and discovering his shocking secrets. The film is as much about Beth getting to the bottom of the mystery about her husband’s sordid past as it is a supernatural horror and I thought both aspects of the film were written and executed incredibly well and there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming.

Director David Bruckner successfully creates a chilling atmosphere in the house, so much so that I got my jacket at the ready just below my eyes whenever nighttime rolled around. There are a couple of jump scares and plenty of moments that got my heart racing. The sound design also helps build tension and create an unsettling feeling – you can hear something moving but you don’t know what it is or how it will appear. Without getting too spoilery, I liked how whatever’s haunting Beth uses the house to manifest itself rather than appearing in corporeal form. As most horrors do, the scares start off small and then level up each night, building to a climactic sequence that I held my breath for the entire duration of. I didn’t love the ending and that has made me question how much I liked the movie, but as a whole, I enjoyed it.

The best element of the movie is Hall. She gives a staggering performance as this recently widowed woman who is grieving, struggling to cope with her shocking loss, medicating through alcohol, possibly losing her marbles and being haunted. That’s a LOT, but it seems effortless in Hall’s capable hands, and she throws her all into this role.

If you’re looking for a horror that is just wall-to-wall scares, The Night House isn’t for you. But if you want a substantial movie that’s a supernatural psychological horror as well as a study on grief then I definitely recommend giving this a whirl.

In cinemas Friday 20th August

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Godzilla vs. Kong: Film Review

Godzilla vs. Kong

I really didn’t think Godzilla vs. Kong was a film for me – I usually cannot stand watching two big CGI monsters fight each other and that is literally the plot of this movie – but the fight scenes here are a cut above your average and the film as a whole was way more entertaining than I was expecting.

The film, which serves as a sequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, stars Alexander Skarsgard as Nathan, a former Monarch geologist who is tasked with moving Kong from the safety of his giant dome on Skull Island, where he is looked after by Ilene (Rebecca Hall) and her deaf adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), into the Hollow Earth, the true home of the titans, to retrieve an energy source to supposedly stop Godzilla’s unprovoked rampages. As we already know from the franchise, there can’t be two alpha titans so Godzilla soon comes for his enemy Kong.

From reading this summary, you can probably tell that the plot is threadbare, contrived, and doesn’t make a ton of sense, but considering this is a film about a face-off between two massive monsters, you shouldn’t go in expecting a solid screenplay, well-rounded characters, or any sort of depth. This is a Blockbuster with a capital B; it’s all about the action and the spectacle so don’t expect anything else. It is silly, but it knows it is, and it’s a lot of mindless fun.

I usually tune out during action sequences after a while because I find them boring but these ones really captured my attention. None of Godzilla and Kong’s fights outstayed their welcome and they looked so cool to watch, from the fight choreography, the way they were shot, the slo-mo punches and jumps, and the setting. I particularly loved the Hong Kong battleground, with them being lit up by the colourful skyscrapers and just destroying the city entirely. The stakes aren’t super high because you know Warner Bros. would never kill such a profitable property off but it’s still great fun to watch.

Given the title, you might expect this film to be evenly split between the two titans but this is very much Kong’s movie, with appearances from Godzilla. I’m usually a big fan of Godzilla but I really was on team Kong this team around. He has just been so well designed that he has such an expressive face and I couldn’t help but feel sad when he did. I also loved his bond with Jia and their ability to communicate.

I’m surprised so many big names signed up to this considering how dull and paper thin the characters are. Hall and Hottle have a bit more substance thanks to their relationship with Kong, but Skarsgard, Demian Bichir as the CEO of Apex Cybernetics and Eiza Gonzalez as his daughter get so little to do and the human scenes are so flat in comparison to the rest. Normally I switch off in action scenes, but I switched off during those here. Brian Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison – who team up with Millie Bobby Brown to investigate what Apex is up to – were the only ones who tried to inject personality and humour into their characters and were mildly successful.

Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard, is much better than I ever expected it would be. If you just embrace the silly spectacle, you will have a great time. See it on a big screen if you can because it looks amazing.

Available for premium rental at home now

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Teen Spirit: Film Review

Max Minghella – who you’ll probably know from The Handmaid’s Tale and The Mindy Project – has made his writing and directing debut with Teen Spirit, which is basically a dramatisation of shows like The X Factor.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: Film Review

I had no idea what to expect from Professor Marston and the Wonder Women when I saw it at the London Film Festival and I came away so impressed that it ended up in my top ten list.

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My top ten films from the BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

The London Film Festival is over for another year! I posted a lot of reviews from LFF over the past two weeks and it’s understandable if you missed some, so I’ve created a handy index with links to all my reviews, starting with my top 10!

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: LFF Film Review

With quite a lot of films on the LFF schedule, you know from word of mouth beforehand whether it’s supposed to be good, but there are a small few that take you completely by surprise. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women comes under the latter. I had no idea what to expect and I came away so impressed.

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Christine: Film Review

christine

I love films which shine a light on incredible stories that you would simply not believe were true because they are so remarkable or insane. Christine is one of those tales, which tell us all about Christine Chubbuck, a 29-year-old news reporter who shot herself in the head during a live TV broadcast in 1974. How has this story not been told onscreen before?!

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Christine: LFF Film Review

christine

I love films which shine a light on incredible stories that you would simply not believe were true because they are so remarkable or insane. Christine is one of those tales, which tell us all about Christine Chubbuck, a 29-year-old news reporter who shot herself in the head during a live TV broadcast in 1974. How has this story not been told onscreen before?!

[Read more…]

Iron Man 3: Review

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The reason I loved this movie was because it was funny, it had heart and it wasn’t just your standard action movie. There wasn’t constant fighting and it was very dialogue driven. It was clever, witty and hilarious as well as subverting genre expectations for comic effect.

Robert Downey Jr returns as Tony Stark in the third (if not final) instalment in the Iron Man trilogy. He is having nightmares after what happened in the Avengers and is having difficulty coping, so he has put all his energies into refining the iron suit. As you saw in Avengers, he is now with his assistant (now CEO of Stark Industries), Pepper Potts, played by the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. The military now use an iron suit which is manned by Rhodes (Don Cheadle), called the Iron Patriot.

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Things seem to be going smoothly for Stark until a terrorist starts threatening the US with bomb attacks. The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) seems like his most powerful opponent yet but everything is not as it seems. The reveal is hilarious because the villains in action movies are usually so one-dimensional.

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It is different to the usual action formula, which I love. It seems to be more focused on making Stark look cool (easy job!), having witty dialogue and being incredibly funny. I laughed more at this than I do intentional comedies these days. Stark is a fallible hero and this is evident from the movie- his suit doesn’t always work,  or it is a prototype not fit for fight/flight or it just listens to JARVIS rather than him. There isn’t really a single fight sequence where Stark gets to kick butt with an all singing and dancing suit. Something seems to go wrong every time and while I liked how refreshing that was, proper action nuts would have been craved a serious battle.  

Guy Pearce plays baddie Aldrich Killian

Guy Pearce plays baddie Aldrich Killian

I actually preferred all the down-time moments when we just listen to Tony talk and be all charismatic rather than all the action scenes. I didn’t really like the “evil” Tony faced and while Guy Pearce plays the baddie perfectly, I did think the whole “Extremis” concept was rather crazy. The action scenes got boring after a while, especially as an iron suit versus a red-hot super soldier battle can go on forever.

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I loved that Gwyneth got to don the suit and kick some butt, she definitely has more to do than in the previous films and I think that’s great. Before, Tony used to treat her like crap whereas in this movie, he realises how much she means to him and that’s where the film gets its heart. The best part for me is when Tony is in Tennessee and meets a young boy named Harley. He becomes his sidekick briefly and helps him fix the suit. The dialogue between them is hilarious. Kingsley’s Mandarin character had a brilliant twist which he plays perfectly and Rebecca Hall was frankly underused and poorly defined.

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This is far better than two and I would whole-heartedly recommend it. It is less action focused than the others and focuses more on Tony as a person but I still really enjoyed it. The plot is as sketchy as any action movie but the dialogue, humour and amazing cast make up for it. As a side note, stay until after the credits to see a hilarious scene with the Hulk!

Kate Winslet’s ex dating Rebecca Hall

Kate Winslet’s ex husband Sam Mendes is now dating actress Rebecca Hall, who was considered a reason for Kate and Sam’s divorce earlier this year.

During their divorce, Sam’s friendship with Rebecca was cited as a problem as they were close and were spending a lot of time together. At the time, Sam said the allegations were “untrue and ridiculous.”

A rep for the new couple have confirmed their relationship but did not reveal any extra details.

Kate is now dating Sir Richard Branson’s newphew Ned Rocknroll.

I can’t believe this! It makes you wonder whether there was actually something going on between Sam and Rebecca all along and they have kept it hidden until now. It is definitely very suspicious.