HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: OCULUS

CAST

Karen Gillan (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Rory Cochrane (Argo)
Annalise Basso (Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Garrett Ryan (The Better Half)
James Lafferty (Underground)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Kate Siegel (Demon Legacy)

The film takes place in two different times: the present and 11 years earlier. The two plot lines are told in parallel through flashbacks with many cuts occurring between corresponding actions in each time frame. In 2002, software engineer Alan Russell moves into a new house with his wife Marie, 10-year-old son Tim, and 12-year-old daughter Kaylie. Alan purchases an antique mirror to decorate his office. Unbeknownst to them, the mirror is malevolent and supernaturally induces hallucinations in both adults; Marie is haunted by visions of her own body decaying, while Alan is seduced by a ghostly woman named Marisol, who has mirrors in place of eyes.Over time, the parents become psychotic; Alan increasingly isolates himself in his office, and Marie becomes withdrawn and paranoid. During the same period, all of the plants in the house die, and the family dog disappears after being shut in the office with the mirror. After Kaylie sees Alan interact with Marisol, she tells her mother. Marie and her husband fight, and one night while he’s away, she sees herself bleeding from an old scar in the mirror. She goes insane and attempts to kill her children but Alan overpowers her and later says the children are not to visit their mother who is unwell. When the family runs out of food, the children try to get help from their father. They figure their father is under the influence of the mirror and gives the same responses to all Kaylie’s questions, so Kaylie goes to seek help from their mother, despite her father’s warning to not visit her ‘sick’ mother. When she sees how her father has chained her mother to the wall and how her mother acts like an animal, she and Tim attempt to seek help from their neighbors, who disbelieve their stories. Attempting to contact doctors or the authorities, Kaylie discovers that all of her phone calls are answered by the same man, who admonishes her to speak with her father.One night, Alan unchains Marie, and both parents attack the children. Marie briefly comes to her senses only to be shot dead by Alan. The children try to destroy the mirror with golf clubs but fail in the attempt, believing they are hitting the mirror but only hitting the wall. Alan corners the children in his office but also experiences a moment of lucidity during which he kills himself by using his thumb to force Tim’s finger against the trigger of the gun Tim is pointing at Alan. Ignoring their father’s last advice to “run” the children see Marisol and various previous victims of the mirror appear as horrific ghosts. The police arrive and take Tim into custody. Before the siblings are separated, they promise to reunite as adults and destroy the mirror. As Tim is taken away in the back of a squad car he sees the ghosts of his parents watching him from the house.Eleven years later, Tim is discharged from a psychiatric hospital, having come to believe that there were no supernatural events involved in his parents’ deaths. Kaylie, meanwhile, has spent most of her young adulthood researching the history of the mirror. Using her position as an employee of an auction house, Kaylie obtains access to the mirror and has it transported to the family home where she places it in a room filled with surveillance cameras and a “kill switch”—an anchor weighted to the ceiling and set to a timer. Kaylie intends to destroy the mirror but first wants to document its powers, prove its supernatural nature, and thus vindicate her family.Tim joins Kaylie at the house, and after Kaylie presents much of her research about deaths associated with the mirror’s owners, he attempts to convince her that she’s mistaking correlation with causation in an attempt to rationalize their parents’ deaths as being caused by an external force. The siblings argue, and while perceiving no gaps in their conversation, they notice the houseplants begin to wilt, and upon reviewing camera footage they see themselves having performed complex actions they have no recollection of. Tim finally accepts that the mirror has some diabolical power and attempts to escape the house with Kaylie, only for the pair to be repeatedly drawn back by the mirror’s influence. They try to call the police, but are only able to reach the same voice who spoke to them on the phone as children. Seeing a hallucination of her deceased mother Kaylie stabs it in the neck with a plate shard only for her to see her fiancé stabbed in the same place and quickly die. Kaylie is convinced it can’t be he, because when she looked at the floor through her phone’s video camera there were no plate shards visible: no plate implies no stabbing. However, when she looks at the corpse through her phone camera she sees his corpse and is then convinced she has killed him. The pair begin to hallucinate and experience visions of everyone killed by the mirror. Apparently fed up, Tim activates the kill switch, which causes the anchor to descend and fatally impale a mirror-obscured adult Kaylie whom Tim then sees. The police arrive and arrest a hysterical Tim, just as they had arrested him when he was younger. As both a boy and adult, Tim claims the mirror is responsible. As he is taken away, the older Tim sees Kaylie’s ghost in the house with his parents and remembers their promise that they will destroy the mirror no matter what.Good performances from all including the kids. Very unpredictable and wholly inventive storyline. Even the cleverest plots and safeguards will not defeat the pure evil of the Oculus.

 

REVIEW: HOSTILES

 

Starring

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Wes Studi (Road To Paloma)
Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad)
Adam Beach (Sucide Squad)
Rory Cochrane (Argo)
Peter Mullan (War Horse)
Scott Wilson (The Great Gatsby)
Paul Anderson (Peaky Blinders)
Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird)
Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick)
John Benjamin Hickey (The Ex)
Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World)
Tanaya Beatty (Artic Air)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave)
Scott Shepherd (Jason Bourne)
Robyn Malcolm (The Outpost)

Christian Bale in Hostiles (2017)In 1892, settler Rosalee Quaid and her family are attacked by a Comanche war group who kill and scalp her husband and also shoot and kill her three children. Only Rosalee manages to escape the attack by hiding in a small rock outcrop in the forest. In Fort Berringer, New Mexico, Captain Joseph Blocker rounds up an escaping Apache family and brings them back to the fort. He is then called to the office of Colonel Abraham Biggs, who informs him of his final orders before retirement. On a directive from President Harrison, he is to escort dying Cheyenne war chief, Yellow Hawk, and four members of his family back to their tribal lands in Montana.Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in Hostiles (2017)Under threat of a court-martial and loss of his pension, Blocker reluctantly accepts, despite his own gory history with the chief, who was responsible for the death of several of his friends and comrades. Blocker chooses the detail that will accompany him: his trusty old friend, First Sergeant Thomas Metz, long-time aide Corporal Woodson, and promising newcomer Lieutenant Kidder, fresh from West Point. Biggs also assigns to the detail a young French-speaking recruit, Private Desjardins.Q'orianka Kilcher, Rosamund Pike, Tanaya Beatty, and Xavier Horsechief in Hostiles (2017)They begin their journey but Blocker orders a stop and has the two native men put in chains. The group comes across the charred Quaid house and dead settler. Inside the house, they find Rosalee and her three “sleeping” children. Rosalee is initially hostile towards the Cheyenne family because of the attack on her family but agrees to sleep in their camp after some coaxing from Blocker. She is convinced to bury her family and join Blocker’s detail until their next stop-over. They are soon ambushed by the Comanche party, resulting in Desjardins’s death and Woodson being seriously wounded. After this attack, Yellow Hawk convinces Blocker that it is in everyone’s best interest to unchain him and his family. The next day, the bodies of the surviving Comanche party, who had managed to flee during their previous encounter, are discovered dead. Blocker deduces that Yellow Hawk and his son, Black Hawk, killed them thanks to Metz allowing them to leave the camp during the night.Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in Hostiles (2017)After a brief stop at Fort Winslow in Colorado to drop off the wounded Woodson and widow Rosalee, Blocker is asked to take disgraced Sergeant Charles Wills, who killed a family with an ax, to be court-martialed and hanged at his original post along the way to Montana. Joining Blocker’s company to oversee Wills are Corporal Tommy Thomas and Sergeant Malloy. Meanwhile, Rosalee decides to continue on with Blocker, despite being offered sanctuary at Fort Winslow until the next supply train at Christmas. One night, the women are abducted by three fur traders as they wash dishes in the stream by their camp. The company, assisted by Yellow Hawk and Black Hawk, track down the fur traders, slaughter them and rescue the women; however, Sergeant Malloy is killed. During a downpour, Wills fools Kidder into sympathetically undoing his chains, then kills him and escapes, but not before Blocker wounds him. Metz tracks down and kills Wills, then takes his own life, succumbing to decades of post-traumatic stress and guilt. Blocker subsequently makes peace with Yellow Hawk for all of the harms they have inflicted upon each other.Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in Hostiles (2017)They arrive at the chief’s tribal lands in Montana where he succumbs to his illness and is buried. A man and his three sons ride up, state that they own the land, and order Blocker and the rest of the group to leave with the chief’s body. Blocker informs them of his presidential authority but a brutal gun battle ensues leaving only three survivors: Blocker, Rosalee, and Yellow Hawk’s young grandson, Little Bear. In the final scene, Rosalee and Little Bear reluctantly depart on a train from Montana to Chicago, without Blocker, but, at the last second, Blocker steps onto the back of the train and into the carriage.Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in Hostiles (2017)Christian Bale delivers a knockout performance. As the conflicted & haunted Cavalry officer, Bale portrays the part with rare conviction. Its no new fact that Bale is among our greats, but ‘Hostiles’ shows us a side of his that may have just put him up there, right next to the all-time screen giants. What a wonderfully nuanced performance by Bale. Of the rest of the cast, Wes Studi portrays his complex part fantastically. Rosamund Pike is restrained. She’s controlled & believable all through. Jesse Plemons is solid, as always. Ben Foster plays a yet another unlikable character, with the perfect blend of menace & insanity. Rory Cochrane is first-rate. Timothée Chalamet makes a very brief appearance, yet he does his bit nicely. Stephen Lang, again in a cameo, is outstanding! Others lend good support.

On the whole, ‘Hostiles’ demands a viewing on the strength of its sheer merits. Don’t Miss This One!

REVIEW: PUBLIC ENEMIES

CAST

Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Christian Solte (Road To Perdition)
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe)
Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2)
Emilie De Ravin (Roswell)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Matt Craven (Timeline)
Leelee Sobieski (Roadkill)
Rory Cochrane (Argo)
Casey Siemaszko (Young Guns)
John Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe)

After killing Charles Floyd (Channing Tatum), FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) is promoted by J. Edgar Hoover (Crudup) to lead the hunt for bank robber John Dillinger (Depp). Purvis shares Hoover’s belief in using scientific methods to battle crime, ranging from cataloging fingerprints to tapping telephone lines.
In between a series of bank robberies, Dillinger meets Billie Frechette (Cotillard) at a restaurant and woos her by buying her a fur coat. Frechette falls for Dillinger even after he reveals his identity, and the two become inseparable.
Purvis leads a failed ambush at a hotel where he believes Dillinger is staying, and an agent is killed by Baby Face Nelson (Graham), who escapes with Tommy Caroll (Garrett). Purvis requests that Hoover bring in professional lawmen who know how to catch criminals dead or alive, including Texan Charles Winstead (Lang).
Police arrest Dillinger and his gang in Tucson, Arizona, after a fire breaks out at the Hotel Congress, where they are staying. Dillinger is extradited to Indiana, where Sheriff Lillian Holley (Taylor) has him locked up in the Lake County Jail in Crown Point. Dillinger and other inmates use a fake gun to escape. Dillinger is unable to see Frechette, who is under tight surveillance. Dillinger learns that Frank Nitti’s (Camp) associates are unwilling to help because his crimes are motivating the FBI to prosecute interstate crime, which imperils Nitti’s bookmaking racket, thus severing his connections with the Mafia.
Carroll goads Dillinger into robbing a bank in Sioux Falls with Baby Face Nelson. During their escape, both Dillinger and Carroll are shot, and they have to leave Carroll behind. The group retreats to the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin and realize their haul is significantly less than Nelson said it would be. Dillinger hopes he can free the rest of his gang from prison, including Pierpont (Wenham) and Makley (Stolte), but Red Hamilton (Clarke) convinces him this is unlikely.
Purvis and his men apprehend Carroll and torture him to learn the gang’s location. Purvis organizes an ambush at Little Bohemia. Dillinger and Hamilton escape separately from the rest of the gang. Agents Winstead and Hurt (Frye) pursue Dillinger and Hamilton through the woods, engaging in a gunfight in which Hamilton is fatally wounded. Trying to escape, Nelson, Shouse, and Van Meter hijack a Bureau car, killing Purvis’ partner Carter Baum (Cochrane) in the process. After a car chase, Purvis and his men kill Nelson and the rest of the gang. Hamilton dies that night. Dillinger meets Frechette, telling her he plans to commit one more robbery that will pay enough for them to escape together. When Dillinger drops her off at a tavern he thinks is safe, she is arrested. Frechette is beaten during interrogation to learn Dillinger’s whereabouts, which she does not reveal; Purvis and Winstead eventually arrive and intervene. Dillinger agrees to participate in a train robbery with Alvin Karpis (Ribisi) and the Barker Gang, intending to flee the country the next day. He receives a note from Billie through her lawyer, Louis Piquett (Gerety), telling him not to try to break her out of jail.
Through Zarkovich, Purvis enlists the help of madam and Dillinger acquaintance Anna Sage (Katić), threatening her with deportation if she does not cooperate. She agrees to set up Dillinger, who she believes will come to hide out with her. Dillinger and Sage see Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theater. After the film, Purvis signals other agents upon seeing them leave. Dillinger spots the police but is shot before he can draw his gun. Winstead listens to Dillinger’s last words. Purvis goes to inform Hoover of Dillinger’s death. Winstead tells Frechette, still incarcerated, that he thinks Dillinger’s dying words were, “Tell Billie for me, ‘Bye bye Blackbird'”. Billie sheds a tear – ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ was the song the houseband was playing when Billie and Dillinger first met each other and danced together in a dinner-club. The closing text reveals that Melvin Purvis quit the FBI in 1935 and died by his own hand in 1960, and that Billie lived out the rest of her life in Wisconsin following her release in 1936.
 Depp at his best. Not too be underrated,  A really enjoyable film.