Split

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I enjoy horror movies, I really do. Even better are thrillers, the ones that get your blood racing and keep you guessing endlessly. The problem with the horror and thriller genres is that it has become extremely hard, at least for me, to find quality films that meet or even exceed the standards put in place. Too many times the films become predictable or outlandish, with unsurprising tropes and not enough emphasis on story itself. Director M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his thrillers, so I was immediately intrigued with the trailer for his new film Split. Though some of Shyamalan’s past films have faltered along the way, Split marks a return to form for the director known for this twists and thrills.

Split follows three girls, who are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) with severe dissociative identity disorder. The girls must find a way to escape his 23 different personalities before the emergence of an even worse 24th.

Despite my few reservations, Split was a great film. It was a solid thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciated the story and the use of suspense and thrills in the film. I never knew what was going to happen next and even if I did guess, I was always surprised. Probably the highlight of the film for me was James McAvoy. He was outstanding in this film and his performance blew me away. Honestly I hope he receives more acclaim and awards for this film as I believe it to be his best performance. The task of the role is monumental enough, essentially playing 24 roles, but McAvoy accomplishes it flawlessly. One of the best scenes was one that required him to switch back and forth between the different personalities all at once. McAvoy shines here as his performance really made the movie.

I did have a few complaints about the film but not many. Though I appreciated the development of the main heroine Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), I found the other two girls kidnapped alongside her to be pretty useless. My main problem with the film, however, was the ending. Though I will not discuss it, as doing so will spoil the film, I found one final scene to be pretty jarring from what I expected. Though I suppose that was the purpose of the scene, I still believe Shyamalan’s decision to be completely unnecessary so I myself am choosing to ignore that scene. Everything else about the film though was well done.

Split is an interesting film. It’s discussion of dissociative identity disorders was fascinating and I actually liked the different genres that film picked up as its story developed. I would not recommend the film to those too faint of heart but I personally really enjoyed the film. If you are looking for a new thriller to watch, look no further. Split debunks everything you know to be true and will keep surprising you until the very end.

ALL IN ALL: James McAvoy is a tour de force in Split, a film that shines in the thriller/horror genre with great direction and a consistently twisting story.

Split 4 out of 5 ticket stubs

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Run Time: 1 hour 57 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

 

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The Conjuring 2

I love scary movies. I really do. I will admit that I only started watching them a while ago after trying to seem cool to my friends, but I have grown a deep love for the horror genre. The Conjuring series is no exception. I love the first Conjuring film. It is easily my favorite scary movie. Director James Wan, who has also directed classics like Saw, Insidious, and surprisingly Furious 7, is a master of suspense and thrills. The film does not rely on blood and gore but rather well-timed scares and growing suspense that provides a throwback to classic, old school horror films. Back at it again, The Conjuring 2 is no exception.

Directed by James Wan and based on a true story, The Conjuring 2 (2016) has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens now travel to London, England in order to help a single mother and her four kids who are being plagued by a malicious spirit.

I want to refrain from comparing The Conjuring 2 too much to the first film, but I can say for a fact that I enjoyed the first film more and found the sequel to be less scary. Do not get me wrong, The Conjuring 2 is a scary film. There were moments that genuinely made me jump. The suspense and thrills were strong. However, it lacked that fresh feel the first film possessed, perhaps due to familiarity.

The film felt somewhat messy, in its plot and visuals. There were scares but almost too many. Let me explain this. The first film drew out the suspense and packed in scares that were not as frequent but packed in a very strong punch. However for example in The Conjuring 2, the first few scenes that featured the demonic entity (I do not want to describe it any more so as not to spoil much), were absolutely horrifying. The film then made the mistake of showing the entity way too often to the point where it was no longer scary by the end of the film. The scares felt repeated and unnecessary at times.

The Conjuring 2 also felt a bit long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the film is a pretty average length but the pacing made it feel otherwise. A majority of the film was The Warrens along with other investigators trying to determine if the happenings were actually supernatural or not. Though this debate was actually a large part of the real life Enfield Case upon which the film is based upon, less of the film could have been devoted to that aspect. That being said, I found the first Conjuring to be a bit more believable than the second one. Also for those who have already seen the film, those Crooked Man visuals really took away from the tone and reality of it all. Shannon Kook who played Drew Thomas, the Warren’s assistant, in the first film had a small role in the second but really should have had more screen time in my opinion.

Nevertheless, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel. Again, James Wan is a master of horror so of course there are some great moments. I especially love his use of the settings and dark corners, making the audience really train their eyes and question, “Is there really something there?”. Though I was a bit thrown off by it, the film also focused many times on Ed and Lorraine’s relationship which was a nice breather from the suspense at times. Overall The Conjuring 2 is a well done addition to the Conjuring franchise and the horror movie library.

ALL IN ALL: Though not as strong and terrifying a film as its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel with some worthy scares and surprisingly warm themes.

poster from: http://diymag.com/media/img/Film/C/The-Conjuring-2/_1500xAUTO_crop_center-center_75/the-conjuring-2-poster.jpg

The Revenant

Oh man, how I have been looking forward to this film or what! So glad I finally got to see The Revenant recently because right now it is my top awards season contender. It was fantastic and deserves every single Oscar nomination it received (12 by the way!).

After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting team, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s, is forced to fight for survival and find redemption.

A few words to describe The Revenant: raw, intense, amazing, epic, beautiful…the list goes on! Coming off his work on the Oscar winner Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves praise for his excellent direction in the film. The grueling shoot and the work put into this film shows in every single scene. Probably my favorite aspect of the film was the gorgeous cinematography by the ingenious Emmanuel Lubezki (who also won awards for his work on films such as Gravity and Birdman). Chivo outdoes himself in The Revenant, with stunning camera work and the use of only natural lighting throughout the whole film. The result is breathtaking with shots that are as raw as they are delicate.

Let’s be real though. The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is The Revenant. Never before have I seen a performance like that, one that just requires so much commitment from the actor. Needless to say he was absolutely incredible and deserves every single accolade out there. The things he had to do in this movie! It is insane! His character is mostly silent throughout but the power of his performance is loud. Tom Hardy also did a great job in the film so I am glad he finally got the recognition he deserved through his nomination.

A revenant is defined as one who has returned, as if from the dead. Glass’s return is one that truly expresses the power of the human spirit. The backbone of the film is a gripping fight for survival and revenge with the only guidance of sheer will and a love for family. The Revenant is bleak but it is beautiful. The amazing feats of cinema and acting achieved in the film should be appreciated along with the epic true tale of Hugh Glass.