The App That Stole Christmas – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A successful app developer creates an app that eases the burden of shopping over Christmas. Unfortunately, his busy lifestyle sees him neglecting everything in his life because of the business. When he has an accident and falls unconscious, he wakes up in Santa’s warehouse and is tasked with making one hundred toys. 

Is it any good?: The App That Stole Christmas is fucking awful. The story is A Christmas Carol meets Wizard Of Oz-esque story, without the meanest of the central character or the sweetness. The story is not the problem. The telling of the story is. 

The acting is uniformly poor, the script is rubbish, the directing is crappy. It manages to at least be in focus and the music is okay but for a film that is only sixty-four minutes long, The App That Stole Christmas is a real chore of a watch. 

I had to watch the film in three parts, that is how much of an abomination I found this film. Even my computer stuttered at the awfulness of this film.

Spoiler territory: company CEO, Felix Rhome (Jackie Long), is on a business call whilst his PA, Merry – haha, very droll. No. (Mellissa Macedo), follows him with a clipboard and a document she needs him to sign because he is an important guy and needs to sign off on stuff. He goes to his office, no idea why he was walking around the conference room. Better acoustics maybe? 

Elsewhere, his wife, Ellen (Diane Howard), is receiving reflected praise for her husband’s app. His Bomazon company – I see what you did there. Jeff, please sue them! – have created an app that is brilliant for Christmas shopping. Yes, really. 

Ellen, who is in a socially distanced hairdressers, is chatting with effeminate (yawn) hairstylist, Jaiden (J. R. Taylor) and two other stylists, Samantha (Genevieve Helm) _ who is white so they really pushed the boat on names in this script – and Carly (Elise Neal).

A third stylist is cleaning up, Jessie (Amber Cornish). The two stylist leave after a brief conversation about who the best stylist is. Don’t care. 

Ellen leaves almost immediately afterwards, giving the keys to Jessie to lock up. So that scene was pointless. Back at Bomazon headquarters, Felix is giving Merry – haha, that never gets old. 

Except it does – orders about some such over the phone’s intercom. As soon as he has finished that conversation, literally the next second, Merry – haha…argh! – is in the office telling Felix there is someone to see him. It is JayQ (Jayq – that’s what it says on IMDB, maybe he is a rapper as well), about the app. 

JayQ comes into the office. JayQ tells him that his app is stealing quality time. They have been watching him and his company. None of this psychobabble seems to alarm Felix at all. 

He just defends his app as though this were a normal conversation. People love his app. JayQ tells him that that night, life as he knows it will change forever. 

Felix is still not at all alarmed by this. Nada. Nothing. This does not strike him as a usual remark. Anyhoo, Merry – ha. That’s all. – comes into the office to tell him he is needed. Felix gets up to leave and tells her to get rid of JayQ, not in a mafiosa way, unfortunately. 

The security guard (Torae Carr) is getting told off by Ms Booker. Felix walks past and they exchange a few words. Felix goes home and gets into a disagreement with his wife because….it serves some purpose? 

He wants to know where his son, Ben (Jalyn Hall) is. He is playing a video game. Felix goes to talk to his boy. 

The sullen little fuck, is playing games with his friends online – no cliché there then – his grandfather, Gramps (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), thinks he should be outside. Gramps and Felix getting into an argument about that. So there is that. 

Dinner gets delivered. Around the dinner table – everybody comes to the dinner table – Gramps complains about everybody’s obsession with apps.

Felix tries to restrict Ben’s access to his phone at dinner. Later, whilst in bed, Ellen and Felix argue about his constant busyness. Ben picks up his phone to play and Santa Claus is on the screen. Ben is shocked. Hmm. 

The next day in the salon, everyone is still raving about the Christmas app. What world is this?! As inane conversations continue, we see that the app is addictive. People keep shopping on it! Wow! 

In a board meeting at Bomazon – stop him Jeff! Stop him! – everybody is happy with the profits from the app and predict bigger profits the following year. Yippee. 

Felix walks past the security guard again and the guard bemoans his struggle to get gifts for Christmas. Felix, the magnanimous and generous boss that he is, tells him to get the app. Thanks, Felix! 

You can get anything you want on the app. What a great idea. Felix tries to get the details of the visitor he had earlier, JayQ, from security. There is no record of JayQ. 

Merry – fuck off – comes in and talks about another problem. They need another factory for some bollocks or stuff. Who knows, nothing is clear. Felix rings his wife. It is supposed to be date night but Felix is working. He has a business to run. Maybe he should employ a few managers….

Ellen goes to her no customers salon and waits all day. She bemoans Felix’s lateness as darkness falls. Felix manages to get a new factory. He sees that he is late for his date with Ellen and rushes out of the office. He crashes into the security guard and is knocked unconscious. 

Felix wakes up in Santa’s workshop. He sees JayQ and Ray (Ray J – names are not a creative consideration). Ray recounts his day to him, to see if he remembers anything. Felix does. 

It is late, Ben asks his mother if his dad is back yet. She tells him he is stuck at work. Back at the workshop, Felix is being told by JayQ that they know everything about him and he has been missing quality time with his wife and family. 

Ray reminds him how he used to make toys with his father but now he has created an app that steals time and makes people buy more stuff. Felix argues that his app has improved lives and made Christmas easier. He wants to see his son. Not worried about his wife then? 

Ellen calls the police, unable to get in contact with her husband. They tell her it has been less than forty-eight hours, so they cannot do anything. 

Back in Santa’s house, Santa (J Anthony Brown) tells Felix that he has to work making toys. Ellen is at the hospital. Felix is in a coma having been knocked unconscious at work. The doctor tells Ellen and Gramps he is dreaming. He can tell by the eye movement. Wow, wow, wow. 

Santa is telling Felix they need him to make toys. He hands him over to JayQ even as he protests. Ellen takes Ben home. 

He not hungry when she offers to make lunch. She offers him a cookie and he succumbs. Forgets his father for a cookie, bleedin’ kids. 

Felix is having a tantrum at Santa’s house. Santa tells him they just want him to make toys. Ray takes Felix to the workshop. Gramps waits by his son’s bed in the hospital. At home, an excited Ben runs to his mother, saying he heard his father’s voice in Santa’s workshop. 

Back at the workshop, Santa tells Felix he needs to make one hundred toys. Felix tells them he needs to call his family. They give him a phone but it does not work. 

JayQ gives him a useless pep talk. In the hospital, the doctor (Kenny Rhodes), who is, frankly, an embarrassment to the profession, tells Ellen of the multiple things that could be afflicting Felix but he has no idea which it is. They just have to wait. 

Felix tries to escape from Santa’s world and keeps running into invisible walls. He asks Ray how can he get out. Ray tells him that he will get out when it is time. Okay, very helpful. 

Felix enlists the help of Ray to make up his quota of toys in the hope of getting out of Santa’s world. 

Ben talks to Santa. Ben tells Santa he wants his dad back. They talk about other stuff but as I’m suffering this film for the second time I cannot be bothered to recount it. 

A morose Ben is consoled by his mother, reminding him of the time he got a telescope in time for a meteor shower. Sometimes things happen. Okay…then. 

Back at Santa’s house, Felix is woken up by Toc (Anthony McKinley). Felix tells him why he stopped making toys and how making the app made him successful. Toc tells him that he needs to spend more time with his family. I see a theme here….

Ben sees Santa again. Ellen walks past his bedroom and sees Santa on his phone. She watches the Santa’s house Livestream with him and sees Felix on the phone. 

Ellen tells Ben to get his clothes on. They head to the hospital. Back at Santa’s house, Santa tells him it is time to return home. After an unnecessary speech and heart to heart, Santa shakes Felix’s hand. He wakes up in the hospital. 

Felix wakes up and is contrite about his fast lifestyle – he works a lot, we get it – and tell everyone he is going to be different now. Felix leaves the hospital. Immediately. Beds are not cheap even if one is a millionaire. 

At home and it is Christmas Eve. Felix and the family have everyone come around for a party. Felix kisses Ellen. The end. Thank fuck. 

Final thoughts: The App That Stole Christmas is easily the worse Christmas film you will ever watch. It is so bad that they even get one of the actors name in the credits wrong! 

There is nothing at all to recommend this film. Even the fact that it is short does not save it. The acting is bad, the script is bad, the framing is bad, the….you get my drift. 

It is not as though a Christmas film has to be a masterpiece, all one expects is a bit of festive cheer; a middling rom-com with a couple of attractive people; a lonely child who gets loved in the end; a lonely person, man or woman, who is saved and has their faith renewed by Christmas, it’s not hard! 

Four people were involved with the writing of this crap – four! Jennifer Rapaport and Monica Floyd wrote the story – ha! – and Peter John and Miriam Bavly, the screenplay. Floyd is on directing duties. 

I can only assume this was the first draft or that they had a deadline by which to spend the production money because there is no way anybody, any single person, reads this screenplay and thinks it is ready to go. 

The app angle is so overused that when it is employed it needs to be done well. That is not the case here and the premise is bullshit. An app that has everyone shopping at Christmas? Really? Nothing like that exists and if it did, would anyone use it? The words “close the door” and “horse bolted”, come to mind. 

The App That Stole Christmas is a disgrace of a film and even a student filmmaker would be embarrassed to have made it. I can only think the production company behind it are laundering money but that may be because I watch too many telenovelas. That being said, unless you want to ruin your Christmas, I suggest you avoid this film. Awful. 

The Wrong Missy – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: After suffering a traumatic blind date experience, a single man encounters the woman of his dreams a few months later whilst on his way to a cross-state meeting. High jinx ensues when he mistakenly ends up asking the former blind date to accompany him on a work retreat instead of the woman of his dreams.

Is it any good?: No. Fifty-two people have somehow managed to give this a six on IMDB. I can only believe that they all worked on the film. This film is shockingly bad and not particularly funny, a bare minimum for a comedy. I suppose it was always going to be a tall ask if you put David Spade in the lead role.

Spoiler territory: Tim Morris (David Spade) walks into a bar and is messaged by his blind date. She tells him she is at the bar but is getting bothered by a guy. Tim spots a woman at the bar speaking to a burly guy and approaches.

He taps the woman on the shoulder and she turns to him. She is pregnant. Hilarious, obviously. Tim ploughs on, telling her that their table is ready. The guy asks him what he is doing? The woman is with him. Tim says to him that he does not want to make a scene. The man stands up and – big shock – towers over Tim. As he threatens to pound Tim, another woman interrupts.

Melissa (Lauren Lapkus) says she is the real date, saving Tim from a beating. As they make their way to the table, Melissa tells him she deliberately sent him to the large guy as an ice-breaker and to test him. She, who prefers to be called Missy – hence the ‘brilliant’ title – thinks it is hilarious. As do we.

Missy is…odd. An extrovert and gregarious, she talks nonstop, her verbal diatribe oblivious to the reactions of other people. Missy continues to babble on at the increasingly confused Tim. She tells him that they are perfect for one another because his grandmother told her so.

When Tim tells her that he does not drink, Missy assumes it is because he is a recovering alcoholic. Tim tries to tell her different. She pursues random reasoning as to why he does not drink. She switches her attention back to how perfect they are for one another. She then initiates a one-sided argument with the big guy at the bar, telling him that Tim is going to beat him up.

Tim makes an excuse and disappears to the bathroom. In the bathroom, he is caught by Missy as he tries to climb out of the window. He tells her he was going to come back into the restaurant, through the front entrance, to surprise her. This explanation is good enough for Missy and she leaves the bathroom. Tim falls out of the window and dislocates his ankle.

Missy, who is an expert at so many random things, resets his ankle. Three months later, a still single Tim is at work. His friend from the HR department, Nate (Nick Swardson), comes and tells him that he has news about the merger. Someone has been let go and he is in line for a promotion. His only competition is Jess, who is nicknamed the barracuda because….because it is funny…somehow.

Also, Tim’s ex-fiancée, Julia (Sarah Chalke), is going to be at the work retreat with her new boyfriend Rich (Chris Witaske). Tim tells him that since it is mandatory to go to the retreat, he will just have to accept it. Nate tries to tell him he needs to start dating again. Tim heads to the airport for a work trip.

Whilst walking through the airport, he bumps into a woman and both drop their belongings. As they exchange apologies, Tim is taken by her beauty. They gather their things and head to their respective gates. At the gate, Tim realises he has the wrong boarding card and goes to find the woman he bumped into.

At the other gate, he meets Melissa (Molly Sims), who is waiting for him at the gate, having also realised that she had the wrong boarding pass. The two have a drink and find they have a lot in common, really getting along well. They get along so well that they almost get amorous in a cleaning closet but are stopped by her needing to catch her flight.

Tim gives her his phone number and she sends her number to him. He catches his flight and is alone in his hotel room reading when he decides he wants to text her. He sends her a message and gets an immediate reply.

They keep texting through the evening. Later, Tim is in bed watching television and she texts. What is he wearing? Pyjamas. She asks for a dick pic. He is not sure but sends her the picture.

The next day, back in the office, Nate, who is privy to every aspect of Tim’s digital life – because of the hilarity that brings to the film – comments on his dick pics. He wants to see a picture of Melissa so they go and find her on the internet.

It turns out, she was a beauty queen in Maryland. Jess comes over to the two men. She tells them that when she becomes president they won’t be able to get away with so much.

Nate says to Tim that he has to invite Melissa to the retreat in Hawaii. He invites her and she accepts. Nate tells him that he will get them seated next to one another on the plane. On the plane, a nervous Tim is waiting for Melissa to turn up.

He has bought her flowers and has groomed himself for the occasion. Missy turns up. She is in the seat next to him and is just as wild and crazy as the last time they met. Tim realises he has been messaging the wrong Melissa. He is about to tell her that but she tells him she was about to jump off of a bridge when he texted her and so saved her life.

Missy gives Tim a dog tranquilliser because….it’s in the script? He wakes up to her giving him a handjob mid-flight. Tim is a little perturbed. The plane hits some turbulence, causing Tim to ejaculate and the laughs keep coming.

They get to Hawaii and as they go to check into the hotel, Missy ends up in an argument with three children who she swears at and verbally abuses. So there is that. They run into Tim’s ex, Julia, and her partner, Rich, at the reception. Missy notes the sexual energy between Julia and Tim. Rich, helpfully, tells her that they were engaged.

They go to the room and Tim tries to broach the subject of his mix up but Missy does not stop talking. Tim has to go to the company mixer, so leaves her in the room. At the mixer, their new boss, Winstone (Geoff Pierson), addresses all of the staff. He tells them he wants to meet all of them and their partners.

Tim tells Nate about his text mistake. Nate introduces Tim to Winstone, who immediately calls him Jim. What a card. Nate has been talking up Tim’s girlfriend, thinking he was bringing Melissa. He tells Tim that Winstone’s wife was Miss Texas. Winstone boasts how she was formally the girlfriend of Evander Holyfield. A strange boast indeed.

Tim tells the gathered that Missy is feeling poorly and probably will not be around. She immediately makes an appearance in a rainbow sequinned dress. Tim takes her to one side and asks her to tone down her exuberance. Nate comes to find him later and asks him to stop Missy as she is fortune-telling all of the employees in the company.

Tim stops her doing that but she goes on to party harder than anybody else in attendance. Later in the day, as Tim tries to bond with Winstone, he is told that Missy is going to dive off of a cliff. He goes and tries to stop her. She tells him that everyone thinks she is an expert diver and, as there are no diving boards, she will just have to dive off of a cliff.

Tim tells her that she should not do it. She jumps off the cliff and crashes into the rocks and trees and hits the sand below. Unfortunately, she does not die and the film continues. Tim takes a drunken Missy back to the hotel room and puts her on the bed. He lays on the bed next to her and is woken up in the middle of the night to her riding him violently.

Tim sneaks out of the room the next morning, going to a work’s yacht excursion hoping to see sharks. Missy comes running as the boat is casting off and jumps into the water and swims to the boat. The captain of the yacht is Komante (Rob Schneider).

Winstone asks Tim to come down into the shark tank with him. Missy goads him into going into there tank even though he is reluctant. His reluctance is because he is claustrophobic.

Komante tests his oxygen tank, putting the breathing apparatus in his mouth multiple times. It’s supposedly funny. The two men go into the cage. Missy finds some chum to throw into the water, even though there is a sign to not do that. Komante fights with her, trying to wrest the bucket of chum from her. It spills on Missy and she vomits over the shark cage. This causes a shark to come. Yes, yes it does.

The shark attacks. Tim escapes back to the yacht. Komante, whose hand is disfigured from a shark attack, punches the shark. Winstone is pulled out of the water, half-drowned. Missy revives him because she is an expert in CPR. obviously. Tim and Missy argue and she storms off. Melissa texts Tim.

Back at the hotel, Tim tells Missy he has to go to a meeting about the show he has to do as part of the weekend. She goes to the spa. Tim tells Nate that Missy went to the spa with his neighbour. Nate tells him that their neighbour is Winstone. She has gone with Barbara (Arlene Newman), his wife. Tim goes to try and stop her but is too late.

Tim wants to find out what Missy said to Barbara. She tells him she is a qualified marriage guidance councillor. Tim says she might need help as she wanted to jump off of a bridge. She tells him that she was bungee jumping. She tells him that she told Barbara to leave her husband. He informs her that Barbara is his boss’ wife.

Missy goes to talk to Winstone in the pool and ends up injuring him. She tells him she is a chiropractor and goes to his room to help him. Tim thinks he is going to get fired and prepares to leave for Portland. Missy tells him she has smoothed things over. She tells him that Winstone loves him.

It is the evening show time and Tim and Jess have competing shows. Tim goes on first and the show is terrible but Winstone loves it. Missy tells Tim that she hypnotised him into thinking Tim is his grandmother and hating Jess. Tim’s evening goes really well and he and Missy are beginning to get on, him seeing her in a different light.

Julia comes to see Tim but meets Missy. The two women bond. When Tim returns, Missy offers Tim the chance for a threesome. As the three get amorous, Tim and Missy keep accidentally excluding Julia by hitting her every time she approaches them. It is truly hilarious to somebody but not if you’re watching the film. Julia leaves unnoticed.

The next morning, Tim and Missy go for a walk on the beach. Tim gets the promotion due to Missy’s hypnotism. An angry Jess tells Missy that she is only there by mistake. A morose Missy sees the texts on Tim’s phone and decides to leave. Tim tries to catch her but meets Melissa in the foyer.

They go to dinner and he gets drunk and walks on his hands falling out of the window. He dislocates his ankle and tells Melissa he thinks he is falling in love with Missy. Tim returns to Portland. He tries to text Missy but she refuses to talk to him. He breaks Winstone trance and loses his job.

Tim sets up another blind date and accidentally sends her to Vanilla Ice – playing himself – as a joke. Tim steps in and tells her he sent the text. Ice tells her he did. They get back together. The end.

Final thoughts: The Wrong Missy is poor. It is not the worse comedy I have seen – step forward Handsome, The Spy Who Dumped Me and the truly awful The Little Hours – but that does not mean one should watch it. David Spade is not a lead actor or even a lead. He has been in a lot of comedy, none of it particularly high brow but he has been an amusing sidekick or secondary character in many shows and projects.

Spade is required to carry this film and it is just too awful and hefty a burden to bear. Lauren Lapkus is believable as the truly irritating and borderline psychotic Missy but is just wasted in this one-toned farce – and I don’t mean ‘farce’ in a good way!

Written by Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett, The Wrong Missy is a mess of a film that cannot decide what kind of funny it wants to be. None of the humour works, visual or written. Spade’s Tim finds himself accosted by the crazy Lapkus’ Missy, a premise that has been utilised in much better comedies before, Bringing Up Baby to name one such classic.

What made those work so well, besides a far superior script and better pacing, was that the only characters who were unusual or eccentric were the central ones. In The Wrong Missy, most of the characters are foolish, playing it for comedic effect. Directed by Tyler Spindel, the direction is okay. It is not good and does not aid the ‘comedy’ at all.

At ninety minutes long, The Wrong Missy – haw haw, great title. No – is not a long film, yet I still had to pause it halfway through to take a mental break from the torture of it. Somehow, it has managed to garner a six-point score on IMDB. Three would have been generous. I gave it a two and that is only because it does not overstay its welcome. Do not watch this film.

Surrounded – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Paige Lewis, a video blogger, invites her sister, Lindsay, to join her adventure-seeking group on a dive near a remote rock in the ocean. Not wanting to be stopped by any authority, Paige enlists the help of a dubious pilot to take the group out. The plane they are on crashes into shark-infested waters. As a group of sharks picks them off one by one, only Lindsay is left to try and survive the ordeal.

Is it any good?: Surrounded—Also known as Frenzy—is staggeringly bad. It is the kind of awful that I will reference, in future reviews, as a benchmark for wretched, unoriginal, poorly thought out, nonsense. Graham Winter, who scrawled this crap on a milk carton I’m guessing, should never be allowed to write anything ever again. Ever. Just awful.

Spoiler territory: Having invited her sister, Lindsey (Aubrey Reynolds) to join her group sometime before, Paige Lewis (Gina Vitori), a video blogger, finds that her viewership is drawn to her sister’s relationship with one of the group, Seb (Taylor Jorgensen). Paige decides to focus the expedition, at Seb’s behest, on Lindsay.

Paige’s crew, Seb, Lindsey, Kahaia (Lanett Tachel) and Evan (Michael New) are going on another expedition off the coast of a privately owned island. The pilot, Javier (Pope Bustos) cautions Paige, telling her that the waters around the island are restricted for a reason.

Paige laughs it off, paying him extra to switch off the plane’s transponder, so as nobody can track them. Paige tells Kahaia, who, being a long-time cohort of Paige, is excited by the clandestine nature of the venture. Lindsey, hearing the transponder’s off, questions the safety of such a decision. Kahaia tells her not to worry.

Seb tries to reassure Lindsey about the upcoming dive, telling her they have been planning the expedition for months. Kahaia mentions to Evan that Lindsey is likely to be sticking around now that she is with Seb. Evan agrees. They all get on the plane.

On the plane, Paige makes a short video boasting about the group going to dive in a protected sanctuary. The plane bucks. They can see the cove they are heading to, it is about half a mile away. Javier tells them he is going to take the plane down. Evan excitedly points out that he can see sharks.

The plane bucks some more. Paige tells everyone to hold tight. One of the wings comes off of the plane, and the door goes with it. Paige is sucked out of the plane. The plane hurtles toward the water, crashing and splintering into many pieces.

Lindsey surfaces from the wreckage looking and calling out to see if anyone else has survived. She sees a shark swimming around her. She remembers Paige asking her to join the group. Her reverie is interrupted by Kahaia calling her name. She tells her she saw a shark. Seb calls out to them and comes swimming over.

There’s something in the water? Yeah, us!

 

They spot a barely alive Javier. He tells them that they need to switch on the transponder in the plane’s tail. He also tells them that the cove has supplies for them to contact the mainland. Kahaia dives to find the plane’s tail. Lindsey tries to keep Javier conscious. Kahaia gets an inflatable life raft from the plane. Javier slips into unconsciousness and disappears into the ocean.

Lindsey and Kahaia get into the raft. Lindsey looks for Seb and sees him swim towards the cove. She calls out to him. He says he is swimming to the cove to get the supplies. Lindsey jumps into the water, swimming after him. She thinks they should all stay together in the raft. Seb tells her to go back to the raft. Kahaia spots three sharks swimming towards them.

Kahaia screams at them to get out of the water. Seb gets eaten by one of the sharks. Kahaia screams at Lindsey to get back to the raft. Lindsey starts to swim back to the raft. The three sharks are coming for Lindsey. She dips below them as they attack. She comes up and gets to the raft. The sharks circle the raft, bumping it intermittently.

Kahaia tells Lindsey that she was not meant to be in the group. She was only there as clickbait. She is not an adventurer. Kahaia tells her about surviving her second tour whilst in the army. The sharks attack the raft again, knocking the women out of the vessel.

Kahaia gets eaten and Lindsey gets back into the raft. She is all alone now. Lindsey recalls how much faith Seb always showed in her. She sees a boat but is unable to get its attention. She decides she needs to dive to the plane’s wreckage. She gets a flare but has to use it to scare the sharks when they try to attack her.

Back in the raft, she sees Evan hanging onto a piece of flotsam. She makes her way over to him. As she tries to pull him into the raft, she realises that he is dead, his lower body eaten away by the sharks. The sharks come and take the rest of him. A distraught Lindsey contemplates committing suicide but decides against it.

She makes a paddle and heads for the cove. The sharks are still after her. They puncture the raft. Lindsey paddles furiously for the cove. She jumps off of the raft and swims for the cove, reaching it as one of the shark’s surfaces.

On the cove, there is a small cupboard where she finds some water and a flare gun. She sends up a flare. A short time later, she sees Paige. She was around the other side of the cove on a piece of debris. She cannot swim to the platform as she has damaged her leg.

Well, this isn’t ideal…

 

After a bit of effort, Lindsey manages to get Paige onto the platform. Lindsey tells her that everyone else is dead. They see a boat and the captain (Russell Geoffrey Banks) radios them, saying that they are coming to help. Lindsey tells him that there are sharks in the water. The captain tells his mate. They are shark fishermen.

The captain’s mate falls into the water when one of the sharks hits their boat. As the captain reaches out to help him, the shark bites his arm off. The sharks eat both men. Lindsey remembers Paige asking her and Seb to pretend to break up so as to increase views. Seb refused.

Back in the present, the sharks circle the platform. They decide they have to kill the sharks. They kill one shark by tying a rope to a rock. Lindsey jumps into the water as bait and as the sharks get close, Paige pulls the rock down onto the closest shark killing it.

Lindsey wants to get the harpoon gun that the captain dropped into the water. Paige gets some more rocks to try and distract the remaining sharks whilst she is in the water. The sharks are initially fooled but quickly head towards Lindsey. Paige jumps into the water, stabbing at the sharks. She gets bitten on the other leg and Lindsey pulls her out.

A distraught and dying Paige confesses to always having been jealous of the attention that Lindsey received, and even trying to seduce Seb. He turned her down and was planning to propose to Lindsey on the trip. Paige dies.

Lindsey kills a second shark by burning it up with some flammable liquid and the flare gun. The last shark takes Paige’s corpse. Lindsey jumps into the water and swims to the captain’s now abandoned boat. The engine does not work.

She straps a small blade to an oxygen tank. The shark bites the engine off of the boat. Lindsey strikes the nozzle off of the tank, shooting it into the shark and killing it. She is found by the coastguard. Some months later she records a video as a homage to her sister and the group. The end.

Surrounded is really not a good film. Scoring a paltry three-point one on IMDB, it could be argued that the score flatters it. It says more about my taste in women than the quality of the performance that I kept watching just because of Aubrey Reynolds.

Whilst Reynolds is very attractive and lithe, on this showing one could not call her a great actor. Truth be told, except for Taylor Jorgensen, the acting is pretty ropey from all in attendance. That being said, Reynolds, possibly because she has the most screen time, has the most ‘actor-y’ performance, a lot of her performance seeming more directed than character-driven.

I am contradicting myself a little as, on a repeat viewing, Gina Vitori’s Paige was quite a good character. Still, there is too much acting going on. With the addition of really poor CGI, and reusing of the same sequences, Surrounded looks cheap and amateurish. Graham Winter’s script is woeful, causing the actors mostly to talk at one another as opposed to with one another.

We are beautiful adventurers!

 

For a group that supposedly spends their lives going on dives, they are all remarkably awful swimmers. Though I suspect looking like you are swimming is quite difficult when your feet can touch the bottom.

It is, of course, Spielberg’s fault that we have suffered so many shark inspired thrillers. It is not his fault that some are so bad. He literally created a blueprint for how to make a shark film.

Directed by Jose Montesinos, Surrounded moves along briskly enough through its eighty-five-minute runtime. As I alluded to earlier, there is a lot of scene repetition, especially when it came to the sharks approaching. Some of these scenes were obviously just to fill the runtime. The runtime would have been better served with a more organic approach to the script.

The editing, by Don Money, is actually quite good in the film, with some great flourishes between the present situation and Lindsey’s memories. The music, however, is awful and overdone, as is the way with made-for-television movies. Relentlessly foreboding and too loud, it does not allow tension to ebb or build.

Surrounded is a silly film, poorly executed. It will leave you slack-jawed with how bad it is. Avoid.

Fanatic – review (Netflix)

Brief Synopsis: Rap superstar, Dom D takes advantage of his status and fandom, inviting voluptuous fan, Lexi, to his after-party. Dom D and Lexi hook up at the party. Five years later, Lexi hears Dom D is back in town. She goes to see him but is prevented from doing so by his security. Lexi kidnaps him.

Is it any good?: No. Fanatic is Misery with a bit of La Doña channelled through a hip hop veneer and bad amateur dramatics. It is badly written, acted and directed. The five-point-four score on IMDB flatters it.

Spoiler territory: Dom D (Hosea Chanchez), whilst performing a show in Washington DC, spots the highly attractive and voluptuous Lexi (Denyce Lawton) from the stage. He tells his security guy, Quan (Shawne Merriman) to go and invite her to the after-party. Lexi, who had gone to the show on her own, is caught outside by Quan. He tells her Dom D wants to meet her.

Lexi comes to the party, but is uncomfortable and leaves. Dom catches up with her and sweet talks her into spending the night with him. She succumbs to his charms. Five years later and Dom D’s life is very different. He is still in the music business and a bigger star than ever, but he is now married and settled down with Zoe (Michelle Mitchenor).

He returns to DC to do another show. Lexi, who is working as a nurse, hears about the show. She dolls up, and goes to the after-party, hoping to reconnect with Dom. She tries to get his attention at the party but is intercepted by Quan, who turns her away. A furious Lexi goes to the bathroom. She hides in a cubicle as she hears women coming into the bathroom.

Amy (Shantelle Lee Cuevas) and a friend come into the bathroom. They are chatting about the party. The friend wants to leave, but Amy is determined to get with Dom. the friend leaves Amy alone in the bathroom, fixing her makeup. Lexi comes out of the bathroom and attacks her, knocking her to the ground.

Dom, who is fulfilling a contractual obligation to be in the club, wants to leave and go home to Zoe. Sosa (Sticky Fingaz), Dom’s manager, tries to persuade him to stay, telling him how much money they are making with the club appearance. Dom insists on leaving. He and Sosa leave the club, Quan following behind.

Sosa sends Quan back into the club to pick up some drinks. Dom gets into the car as Sosa has a cigarette. Lexi knocks Sosa out and maces Dom. she then injects a sedative into him and kidnaps him. A confused Dom wakes up to find Lexi sitting atop him, telling him that they are meant to be together.

Zoe and Quan are at the hospital where a comatose Sosa has been taken. Officer Hardaway (Darius McCrary) tells Zoe that Dom has not been seen since Sosa was attacked and that he is the chief suspect. Zoe is convinced that he is missing.

Lexi tortures a less than compliant Dom. She sedates him again and goes to work at the hospital. At the hospital, she sees Quan and Lexi waiting for Sosa. Lexi kills Sosa. A still restrained Dom remembers how he met Zoe.

Zoe investigates her husband’s disappearance, going back to the club and speaking to the owner, Sylvester (Miguel A. Núñez Jr). He points her in the direction of Amy. Meanwhile, a chained up Dom tries to strangle Lexi. She stabs him and breaks his leg with a baseball bat. She sedates him again.

Zoe goes to see Amy. Amy tells her she was attacked by Lexi who she went to high school with. She says that Lexi was always a little crazy and stalker-ish. Lexi has put Dom into a wheelchair. He is still restrained. Zoe asks Quan to get her a gun. She uses her contacts as a journalist to investigate Lexi.

A deranged Lexi is trying to convince Dom that he and she should be together. She looks through his lyrics notebook and becomes enraged when she sees lyrics dedicated to his wife. She works out his pin number and gets into his phone, checking out photos of Zoe. She rages at Dom about marrying Zoe, saying it should have been her.

At least we in focus right?

 

Zoe speaks to Officer Hardaway, who tells her once again that Dom is the chief suspect in regards to Sosa’s death. Dom lies to Lexi, telling her he remembers her. She questions him, wanting him to recall the details of their encounter. She realises he is lying and punishes him by cutting him.

Quan calls Zoe. He has received a text from Dom saying he is heading back to LA. Zoe has not heard anything. Does Quan believe that Dom would leave without her? Quan does not. He turns around.

Zoe’s friend, Timothy (Zac Titus), has news about Lexi. It turns out that she has a very troubled past. Lexi has been in mental institutions and had other issues. Lexi tells Dom that she wants them to be together. Dom tells her he loves his wife.

Zoe goes to see Lexi at her house. Lexi threatens her with a gun. Zoe receives a text from Dom’s phone. It tells her their relationship is not working out, and that he has gone back to LA. Zoe is not convinced. Zoe is back telling Dom she wants to have his baby.

Zoe returns her hotel room and is met by Officer Hardaway. He has received a complaint from Lexi. He tells her she should go back to LA. Zoe tells him that she is sure that Lexi has something to do with Dom’s disappearance. Hardaway tells her he can make life very difficult for her.

Zoe receives another call from Timothy. Had she looked at the information that he had sent? She had not had time. Timothy tells her about Lexi. Her father died of a stroke and she had a miscarriage. Her father did not know she was pregnant, because she had suffered a gang-rape and had not told him.

The entire incident had been recorded and released on the dark web. She had also been hospitalised several times for miscarriages. Lexi meanwhile, is preparing a bath to baptise Dom in. Zoe returns to Lexi’s home searching for Dom. She watches the tape of Lexi’s rape. Hardaway comes and catches her.

It turns out he was one of the rapists, and his guilt from that act, as well as his misguided love for her, has him helping Lexi in her warped life. Hardaway lays out his entire complicity in the snatching of Dom, and is helping her cover her tracks. Zoe records the conversation. She sends the conversation to her editor.

Hardaway approaches Zoe. She attacks him, knocking him to the ground. Both reach for their guns. Lexi has put a semiconscious Dom into the tub and hears the gunshot. She goes to investigate. Quan sees her leave the basement and goes to rescue Dom. Lexi finds Hardaway dead and tries to shoot Zoe.

Zoe confronts Lexi and tries to talk her down, telling her she understands her suffering. They fight and Lexi’s gun goes off. Lexi is shot. They call emergency services and Dom is taken to the hospital along with a still alive Lexi.

Some months later, Zoe is pregnant and receives a call from Dom, who is away on tour. She receives another call. It is Lexi, she says she is ‘wifey’ and a door opens behind Zoe. The end.

Fanatic is terrible. With a convoluted story by Allen Blackwell and script by Camara Davis and Paul D Hannah, the film takes the lazy stalker trope and tries to hide behind a soap-opera-esque, gang-rape storyline. It is a total mess.

Poorly directed by Keith L. Smith, it is shocking that Smith, a cinematographer of some one hundred and twenty credits, should have such poor shot selection. There are extreme close-ups that simply do not work, random off-kilter shots of Lexi and lazy tripod shots when movement would have enhanced the shot.

It is the story that is really poor though. Fanatic is a wretched piece of cinema, irritatingly relying on well-worn stereotypes to try and inject some sort of drama into proceedings. The ‘angry’ black woman in film, whether it be in comedy or drama, is such an overused stereotype it is becoming insulting.

Though Mitchenor’s Zoe was shown as a positive black woman, the rest of the film is so bad it hardly matters. Lawton’s Lexi, who was batshit crazy, waited five years to exorcise her crazy on Chanchez’s Dom. Five years? What was she doing? Hanging out in mental institutions? Her total madness did not stop her from getting a highly responsible job.

As is the case with a lot of these cinema/made-for-TV hybrids, the music is cranked up to eleven, and as subtle as a shit stain in white pants. The actors try to work with the clunky script, but it is just too woeful and proves beyond the cast’s herculean efforts.

Just whose idea it was to throw in McCrary’s Hardaway as the belated catalyst to Lexi’s craziness, I do not know, but it was not a good one. It just made a bad story worse, not to mention the need for murder mystery-like exposition scene for his involvement towards the end.

The horror film ending of Lexi still being around is exasperating and another reason to avoid this film. At ninety-one minutes long, Fanatic is not lengthy, but it is still too long for any right-minded person to sit through. With an estimated budget of one point two million dollars, it is a cheap production and it shows.

Fanatic is a cheap film and a bad film. Avoid.

White Chamber – Review (Netflix)

Paul Raschid grew up around filmmaking. His father, Neville, a producer, obviously had young Paul around the good and the great of British film from a young age. Perhaps he was even around international film, who knows, I am speculating, guessing. According to his IMDB profile, he studied film, along with English literature, at King’s College. If only he had decided to write a book instead of making films. Let me explain.

Written and directed by Raschid, and produced by his father, White Chamber is another woeful addition to the slew of tripe available to watch on Netflix. For some reason, Netflix is desperate to get into the film business. The fact that it is series that have been their strength seems to have been ignored, and they are going full throttle into film and film production.

As a person who watches a lot—a whole lot—of Netflix’s lesser-known films, English speaking and foreign, I can confidently say Netflix is not about to trouble the likes of Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, or Lionsgate. Onto the film.

The United Kingdom is in anarchy. Civil war has broken out and Zakarian (Oded Fehr) is the leader of a revolution vying to overthrow the government. A woman (Shauna MacDonald) wakes from unconsciousness. She is in a bright white chamber. A voice talks to her, asking who she is. She tells him her name is Ruth.

The voice asks her what she was doing. She claims to be nothing more than an administrative assistant. He tortures her, burning her, freezing her, electrocuting her. She asks to see who is taunting her. It is Zakarian. She recognises him.

Clean the stench of this film off of me…

 

Five days earlier, it had all been very different. A young woman, Ruth (Amrita Acharia) is an administrative assistant who has been recruited to a clandestine job within the government. She is to help with a secret experiment in which they test various drugs on a live subject within a white chamber. There are four people in the team; Dr Edgar Chrysler (Nicholas Farrell), Sandra (Sharon Maughan), Ruth, and the leader of the project, Dr Elena Chrysler (MacDonald), Edgar’s daughter.

In the white chamber is Zakarian. Ruth does not know what the project is, and Elena gives her questions short shrift, telling her she only needs to follow orders. Via food, they feed Zakarian various experimental drugs, and then test the effects of those drugs on his physiology through the chamber, increasing the temperature, lowering the temperature, electric shocks, nothing seems to faze Zakarian in his drug-induced haze.

The experiments continue over a couple of days. Ruth is uncomfortable with what she is seeing, Elena is seemingly taking a macabre pleasure in torturing Zakarian. She talks to Edgar. He tells her that Elena lost both her brother and husband in the war, her husband having joined Zakarian’s revolution.

Elena introduces another element. A woman. The woman is Anya (Candis Nergaard), she is in a chamber adjacent to Zakarian, separated by a glass partition. Elena lets him see her. They talk, Zakarian tells her that they will escape. Elena floods Anya’s chamber with gas. The gas is drugged causing Anya to act crazy. Elena drips acid onto Anya as Zakarian watches. Anya does not feel it.

I’m crazy, CRAZY….!

 

Zakarian is hooked on the drug they have been feeding him, but Elena does not want to give him anymore. She relishes torturing him. The four have a meeting, and Elena informs them that the experiment is finished, and they have decided on the drug. Ruth realises it was a drug compound they had found days before.

Ruth and Elena argue. Ruth tells her she should have spoken up and that the experiment was unethical. Elena stabs Ruth with a scalpel. Edgar tries to stem the blood from the wound as Elena begins to panic. Sandra takes the scalpel off of Elena and takes her bloody tunic. She disposes of the clothing and scalpel and presses an alarm.

A dying Ruth releases Zakarian. A still high Zakarian attacks Elena, knocking her to the ground. He kills Edgar, biting into his neck and face, but is stabbed in the neck by Edgar during their altercation. Sandra opens the section to military personnel, believing they are there to help and is immediately killed.

The militia storm the complex. They come and find the bodies and a semi-conscious Elena. Zakarian has a twin brother who is the leader of the revolution. He puts Elena in the chamber. After he takes her out, he tasks her with creating a drug to help end the war. The end.

Good god, this film is awful! Ten minutes into proceedings, watching Shauna Macdonald writhing around in that bloody cube, as though it was some shitty, abstract stage show, I had to check how much longer was left in the film. The opening, with a montage of riot footage, bombings, some CGI-ed carnage, and Zakarian spouting bollocks about taking back the country, I knew I had made a mistake to start watching this film.

I am not one to hammer actors, however, the acting in this film is poor. The wretched script and story do not help, but the acting is still horrible. Acharia is the only actor who puts in the only passable performance. Nergaard’s Anya is so bad it is almost painful to watch, and the camera shots do not help at all.

Truthfully, it boggles the mind to think that Raschid grew up around filmmaking. Did he even watch films? His shot selection in this is just bad, with overuse of close-ups, and very little camera movement.

I like a tripod as much as the next filmmaker, but the occasional zoom would not have gone amiss. Besides the lacklustre execution of the story, there is no sense of the story actually going anywhere. Because one is only told about war and unrest across the land, and is not really given a character to empathise with—or is given the wrong character in Ruth to empathise with—one has no vested interest in proceedings.

White Chamber is the kind of film that reinforces the cynic in me, making me believe it is not what you know, but who you know that helps you to get ahead in life. How a project as god-awful as this could not only get made but find itself on Netflix is proof positive that nepotism is alive and well in the film industry. White Chamber is a turd. Avoid.

Girls With Balls – review (Netflix)

Um, okay. I was not searching for it, though I always suspected it was out there. Up until this point, Alien Warfare had edged it as the worse film on Netflix.

There had been some worthy challengers; Handsomea laugh-free comedy. Peelersan inept horror/comedy not even saved by liberal nudity. Day of the Dead: Bloodlinea zombie “horror,” really came close to taking the crown. Still, I felt that Alien Warfare remained, by virtue of the truly awful story and acting, not to mention the cheapness of production, the true holder of the title for the worst film. Until now.

Today, in the year of our lord 2019, on Saturday, the 27th of July, I endured one of the worst excuses for a film I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. Written and directed by Olivier Afonso, a quick peruse of his IMDB page shows that he is predominantly a special effects person. On this evidence, he should and must not give up his day job. Let me explain.

Ladies volleyball team, the Falcons, a disparate rabble, beat the Vipers in a final. One of their team, Morgane (Manon Azem), aggravates one of the Vipers players before the game. Morgane also ignores the team captain’s, Hazuki (Anne-Solenne Hatte), gameplay orders, deciding to execute her own plan, pushing Jeanne (Tiphaine Daviot) to the floor and stepping on M.A (Louise Blachére) to hit the winning shot.

As the girls celebrate, Serge (Joffery Verbruggen), the team physio, comes over to celebrate with Jeanne in particular. Coach (Victor Artus Solaro), who is celebrating with the rest of the team, notes that he did not know Jeanne and Serge were together. Serge goes to look after another girl. Jeanne is approached by a scout. He gives her his card, as he thinks she is a talented player.

The Vipers are not happy about the result and chase the team out of the building. The Falcons jump on the team bus and drive off. On the bus, Lise (Camille Razat), lets it slip that Jeanne was scouted at the game, much to Morgane’s disgust. Tatiana (Margot Dufrene) and Dany (Dany Verissimo-Petit) are an item.

Nice artwork. better than the film…

The bus breaks down and the ladies take a toilet break as Dany fixes it. Somebody is watching the ladies. They keep on driving. They take a detour, as the road they were travelling on is closed. They end up going to a very odd bar. The bar is full of misfits, all of whom are men. They stare at the women as they come in.

The barman (Denis Lavant) does not say anything as they speak to him, giving the coach a drink and staring at Tatiana. Morgane, ever the attention seeker, starts dancing on a table. A young teen boy approaches the table. The barman licks Dany’s face, so Tatiana slaps him. Morgane slaps the boy and the team is forced to flee the bar.

The team stops for the night, sleeping on the bus. The next day they are confronted by the Barman and various miscreants from the bar. The Barman shoots Dany in the hand. Coach runs off, and the girls flee into the forest. The girls separate into two groups; Jeanne, Tatiana, Dany and Lise in one group and Morgane, M.A and Hazuki in the other.

As Dany tries to tell the girls how to survive in the forest, she is shot and killed. The rest of the girls run. In the other group, M.A and Morgane bicker, and Hazuki tries to control them as she goes to scope out their situation.

Tatiana decides she wants to go back for Dany, leaving Lise and Jeanne. Coach is reproaching himself for running off and leaving the girls. Lise confesses to Jeanne she slept with Serge. Jeanne is understandably furious.

Hazuki, Morgane, and M.A come across one of their pursuers. Hazuki has a plan of attack, but when it comes to it, Morgane proves to be a real coward. As the pursuer is beating on Hazuki and is about to kill her, M.A shoots him.

Lise, feeling guilty about sleeping with Serge and tells Jeanne that she will draw the pursuers away. She goes off in a different direction. The pursuers follow her. Jeanne comes across a scout troupe singing in the forest and tries to tell them of the danger. They do not take her seriously.

The pursuers come across the scout troupe. the scout leader grins at them and indicates the direction that Jeanne has gone in. The pursuers nod acknowledgment and then blow his head off.

Two of the pursuers catch up with Lise. She dances to prevent them from killing her. They knock her unconscious. Hazuki, Morgane, and M.A come to a lake and get attacked again. M.A is knocked out and Hazuki is being drowned by the assailant. Morgane cuts his head off. She then accidentally stabs Hazuki. Realising she cannot save her, she deliberately stabs and kills her.

She tells M.A that the assailant killed her. Tatiana has returned to the bar and sees the Barman putting body parts through a grinder. She almost gets caught in the garage but fights her way out. She immediately crashes the car.

We don’t get many women folk in here…

M.A, Morgane, and Jeanne find one another. They go back to their bus. They attack the pursuers with volleyballs, taking them out. The pursuers get up and chase them. They catch Morgane. M.A and Jeanne are left to try and rescue everyone.

In the bar, the Barman has Morgane, Tatiana and Lise tied up and is deciding who to kill first. Jeanne finds a gun and sneaks into the bar. The Barman picks Morgane to kill first. Morgane, never a team player, begs him to kill Tatiana first.

The Barman goes to kill Tatiana but is interrupted by Jeanne blowing the head off one of the other bar miscreants. The Barman flees. Tatiana breaks out of her restraints and pursues the Barman. M.A, Jeanne and a freed Lise fight the men in the bar. Morgane is still restrained. Coach crashes into the bar. Coach starts beating all of the men up. Morgane is free and grabs a knife.

Morgane tries to escape but is stopped by Lise. She stabs Lise. Morgane is grabbed by one of the bar miscreants as Jeanne goes to tend to a dying Lise. Tatiana catches up with the Barman and kills him.

Jeanne and Morgane fight and Jeanne bests her. Coach tells the girls to get out of the bar. He blows up the bar. Tatiana, Jeanne, and M.A go and see Serge. Jeanne kicks him in the groin. The end.

Girls With Balls—I know, I know, it is a title that screams “terrible film!”—is utter tripe. I am not sure I can convey just how utterly rubbish this film is. The film is seventy-seven minutes long and feels about three hours long.

Even in the runtime, the film was padded with a god-awful “cowboy,” played by Orelsan—never heard of him, will not be checking him out either—who sang “amusing” ditties about the Falcons and their story. That took up about ten minutes of runtime.

The story I relate above makes more sense than watching the damn film. It is billed as a horror-comedy, but it has neither. No part of the film is funny and the horror is early-eighties style lazy, with just an over-reliance on blood splatter and severed heads.

Let’s talk about the story. There isn’t one. In a sentence, a team of women drive into a forest and are hunted and killed for fun. That is it. Not that a horror film needs a great story, but a little structure would not go amiss.

The acting in the film is actually not too bad. Given the material and the shocking filming, the actors are actually a credit to their profession. They should though, all find new agents. No one should be subject to this kind of tripe to make a living.

Girls With Balls has an attractive cast who gamely commit to Afonso’s ludicrous script. The script and the directing prove too much of a burden, their unwavering commitment to the cause unable to save or inject any sort of life into the film.

Girls With Balls is a truly terrible film. Even with everyone trying to make it work and the acting a definite cut above the laborious efforts in Alien Warfare, Girls With Balls is, nonetheless an awful, mind-numbingly, painful viewing experience.

Do not watch this film, there really is not enough alcohol to get through it. You have been warned.

We Belong Together – review (Netflix​)

Tracy (Draya Michele) is released from incarceration. She decides to enroll in college. Thomas Lewis is a recovering alcoholic who is trying to get his life together after a divorce from his ex-wife, Megan (Elise Neal). Because of his alcoholism, Megan got custody of their daughter, Brittany (Cassidey Fralin), who he has not been allowed to see whilst recovering.

Thomas is a professor of Greek mythology, and Tracy decides to take his class. In the first class, the students are introduced to Leslie (Jessica Vanessa DeLeon) a teaching assistant to Thomas, who has taken the class before. Tracy focuses on Leslie. Tracy bumps into Thomas outside of the class. She tells him that she is looking for a job. He hooks her up with a contact in a steak restaurant he knows.

The next day, Tracy comes in with a new hairstyle. It is the same as Leslie’s. Tracy catches up with Thomas after the class. She got the job thanks to his contact, and just wanted to thank him. While he is speaking to her, Leslie comes and interrupts. She tells Thomas she is going to be working late at the college.

Alone in the college, Leslie gets attacked by a shadowy figure, strangled, and thrown off of a balcony. The next day the class is cancelled due to Leslie’s murder. A couple of homicide detectives, Daily (Brian White) and Hanks (Alan Miller), come into the class to ask about the murder. They have CCTV photos of the suspect.

Tracy comes to see Thomas. She tells him that she and Leslie had become friendly and that Leslie used to pick her up from work. Thomas reluctantly agrees to pick her up from work following Leslie’s untimely demise. Thomas goes to the diner and meets Tracey, still having some reservations about the situation.

Thomas takes Tracey home, and she makes sexual advances towards him. He declines, telling her that he is still in love with his ex-wife. Also, he thinks that, as she is his student, it would be unethical. Thomas goes to see Megan. He tells her he still loves her and wants to work through their problems. She tells him it is too late.

do I seem crazy to you? Do I?!

The next day, Tracy comes to see Thomas again. He succumbs to her charms. They begin seeing one another. One evening, Thomas tells her how his son died whilst in his care, and though his wife did not blame him, he blamed himself and began to drink heavily, which is why he is teetotal.

Thomas tells his AA sponsor about the relationship. His sponsor tells him to be careful. Thomas goes to see Tracy and finds out that her parents died in a fire and that she is an only child. She takes anti-depressants for the trauma. Tracy says she has a surprise for him, and that he should get in the bed. She ties him to the bed and pours alcohol into his mouth, getting him drunk.

The next day, Thomas is late to meet his daughter. He is supposed to take her swimming. Tracy takes offense at him not wanting her to meet his daughter. While Thomas is out with Brittany, Tracy sends him an excessive amount of voicemail messages, even threatening to ruin his life.

She goes around to his house to see him, apologising for the messages. While Tracy is at the house, Thomas gets a call. Megan has been in an accident. Thomas tells Tracy he has to go.

He goes to the hospital and stays overnight, sleeping near Megan, who is in a coma. Megan’s mother, Diane (Valerie Pettiford) tells him to go home. She will call him if anything changes.

Thomas finds Tracy still in his home. He breaks up with her even as she refuses to accept it. He returns to the hospital. Megan wakes up. She tells him that she loves him. He asks if she was speeding, and she tells him no, her brakes failed.

Tracy goes to the hospital and gives Brittany a bracelet, telling her that she is her step-mother. The detectives come to talk to Thomas. They got an anonymous tip-off that he cut the brake line in his ex-wife’s car. While Thomas is at the police station, a mysterious man sneaks into Megan’s room in the hospital and post photos of Tracy all around her.

Thomas takes Megan home. Diane takes Brittany out to play. She gets kidnapped. Thomas finds her on the roof of Tracy’s building. While he is getting her back, Tracy goes to Megan’s house and tries to kill her. The police catch her before she can drown her.

Two months later, the police tell Tracy and Megan that Tracy Jacobs is, in fact, Laura Santiago, an escaped psychiatric patient. She was not an only child. She has a brother, who also suffered from mental problems. They both were incarcerated, suspected of killing their parents.

Tracy’s brother frees her from another institution. The end.

We Belong Together is, unsurprisingly, bloody awful. My description of it must seem incomplete and haphazard but, I promise you, it is better than the film. What is good about the film? Nothing.

The story is lazy, uninspired, unoriginal, boring nonsense. The acting is pure B movie level, the worst performance coming from the perennially pouting Michele. The worst thing about her performances is that she looks like she is acting all of the time.

The rest of the cast have been in better films than this, and so can be partially forgiven for taking a payday. Written and directed by Christopher B Stokes, who is better known for music videos, the film is, at least, shot quite well and in focus. So there is that.

The crazed girlfriend is a trope that has been used so many times, that, to make it work, one needs either an excellent script or a subtle, different take on it. This film has neither. The script is terrible, and it is as subtle as a baby screaming for a nappy change, feed, attention, or all three.

It is as if the director pointed the camera at the actors, and gave them an outline of what was meant to happen in the scene, let them improvise it, and went with the first take every single time.

The music is irritatingly ominous at all times, the editing is sloppy, and the focus on Michele’s admittedly not unattractive face, in some misguided attempt to allow us to witness her particular level of crazy, is amateurish.

We Belong Together—a line she shouts in desperation as this pile of poo was drawing to its conclusion—is a car wreck of a film, and one would do well to avoid watching it. You are welcome.

The Little Hours – Review (Netflix)

When servant, Massetto (Dave Franco), is caught having an affair with Francesca (Laura Weedman), the wife of his master, Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman), he is forced to flee rather than be put to death or tortured.

At the local convent, Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie) gets a visit from her father, Ilario (Paul Reiser). He tells her that the family is having difficulty raising the dowry and she will have to, much to her dismay, remain in the convent.

Alessandra meets up with Ginevra (Kate Micucci) and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) and the three nuns walk the grounds. They come across the convent’s handyman, Lurco (Paul Weitz), and Fernanda, who had berated him earlier, takes umbrage at him looking at them.

The other two nuns join in, screaming abuse at the startled Lurco. They then go and attack him. Elsewhere, Father Tommasso (John C Reilly) and Sister Maria (Molly Shannon) are preparing items made at the convent for the Father to sell at the market.

When the nuns are praying, Lurco speaks to Tommasso. He resigns his position, as he cannot take the bullying and abuse from the nuns anymore. Tommasso tries to persuade him to hang on for a few days, but Lurco leaves.

we’re obviously not nuns, so it’s funny….

A fleeing Massetto comes across a drunken Father Tommasso in the woods. Tommasso has lost the items he was meant to sell at the market, the only way in which the convent makes an income. Massetto helps him retrieve some of the items. He returns to the convent with Tommasso.

He tells the Father that he is in need of shelter. Tommasso tells him he can stay on at the convent if he will undertake the duties of Lurco. Massetto agrees. The nuns, Alessandra and Fernanda, come across Massetto the next day.

Fernanda confronts him for smiling at Alessandra. As she is threatening him with an axe, sister Maria, accompanied by Ginevra, stops her. She explains that Massetto is a deaf-mute and is replacing Lurco.

Later that day, Alessandra pours her heart out to Massetto in the toolshed, sister Maria had told her that all her work was stolen when Father Tommaso, as far as she knew, was attacked by bandits.

Outside of the toolshed, Ginevra has seen her go into the shed. Fernanda asks Ginevra why she is hiding in the woods. Ginevra tells her she saw Alessandra go into the shed.

Tommasso and Massetto drink at the end of the day, the Father is the only person who knows he can talk. The nuns have a late-night rendezvous of their own, Fernanda and a friend, Marta (Jemima Kirke) go to Alessandra’s dorm and the three start drinking and getting merry. Ginevra, who is a bit of a busybody and quite uptight, comes to complain about the noise.

Fernanda pulls her into the dorm and gets her drunk. Ginevra ends up in a lesbian tryst with Fernanda. The next day, Alesandra tries to seduce Massetto but is paused by the church bell.

Fernanda sees dirt under Alessandra’s fingernails and works out that she was with Massetto. Ginevra tries to talk to Fernanda about the night before, but Fernanda is not interested.

I’m sexy, aren’t I?

Fernanda goes to Marta to get her help to seduce Massetto. She gives her a potion made from herbs that she pours into her eyes. Ginevra confronts the two women. The next day, Massetto sneaks into Alessandra’s dorm. They are getting amorous, but Massetto gets startled by an old nun coming in and sitting down to sew.

Alexandra realises he can talk. Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen) has come to the convent to check proceedings. As sister Maria and Father Tommasso try to keep him from looking at the finances too closely, Ginevra comes into the office to raise concerns about Fernanda.

Ginevra makes a potion from the same roots, but instead of pouring it into her eyes, she ingests it. The potion has a hallucinogenic effect on her and she begins to act oddly. Alessandra confronts Massetto. Before she can get the full story, a wild Ginevra comes into the shed. She confesses to Massetto that not only does she prefer women, she is also Jewish.

Fernanda comes to the barn and takes Massetto away to the forest. Ginevra and Alessandra follow after them. In the forest, they see loads of other women, as well as Fernanda and Marta. They are witches. The women dance around a pyre naked. Ginevra, still feeling the effects of the root, joins them, dancing and screaming wildly.

Marta is trying to do a ritual that involves sacrificing Massetto. When she sees Ginevra going wild, she goes to stop her. Fernanda tries to complete the ritual and Alessandra stops her. Ginevra runs back to the convent and wakes everyone, telling them what is going on. Massetto confesses to being the instigator of problems at the convent.

Massetto is taken by Lord Bruno. Bruno tells him the is not going to kill him as he wants to torture him for a long time. The nuns, Alessandra especially, do not want Massetto to die. They decide to go and rescue him. Tommasso, who had been sent to a monastery, meets up with Sister Maria. They kiss. The end.

shouting is funny!

The Little Hours is supposedly a comedy. I have watched funnier boxing matches and I do not mean where the referee accidentally gets punched. I talking about brutal, bloody battles, where one of the fighters suffers a near-death experience. Still funnier than this film.

I watched the first 30 minutes of this film and then left it for a week, so distressed with the awfulness on show. Based on a book, The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio, I can only assume, having not read the book, that the book is amusing. The film most definitely is not.

Written for the screen by Jeff Baena, who also directs, I can only think he found the book hilarious. That or he is a mortal enemy of Boccaccio’s, hellbent on destroying his name and reputation.

Nothing in this film is funny. All the characters are underwritten, most of the performances are underwhelming. Even Plaza, a mainstay in Baena projects and in a relationship with him, barely acts, just snarling on the screen and relying on her snarky persona. Brie is pretty, which is pretty much the only requirement for the role.

Micucci is the only one who does any real work as the busybody Ginevra, being a constant irritation and, later in proceedings, going completely loony. Still, none of it is funny. The Little Hours is like a Carry On film without any of the humour. Worse, it is like a porn film with no porn.

The nuns spend the entire film in a perennial state of horniness, but there is very little in terms of double entendres or even sexual innuendo. All the efforts at humour in the script are one-toned, the conversational exchanges lacklustre and quip free.

The most amusing thing in the whole film is Lord Bruno’s guards, Paolo (Adam Pally) and Gregorio (Jon Gabrus), who make a feeble attempt to chase after Massetto in the begin of the film and are easily distracted towards the end of the film for his escape. They are in the film for less than 10 minutes. The film is 90 minutes long.

The Spy Who Dumped Me and Handsome are two truly terrible comedies I have suffered on Netflix. The Little Hours matches both for sheer laugh-freeness and ineptness. Avoid.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate – review

     The B-roll of Los Angeles at night is quite good and the title cards are accurate. These are the only positives I can find in the absolute abomination that is passing itself off as a film, The Haunting of Sharon Tate. Everything about the man behind the camera and story and script, Daniel Farrands’ – I refuse to call him a filmmaker, director or writer on the strength of this – project, is bad. 

    Starring Hilary Duff – really embracing her surname in this performance – as the tragic Sharon Tate, Johnathan Bennett as Jay Sebring, Lydia Hearst as Abigail Folger and Pawel Szajda as Wojciech Frykowski, all friends of Tate and victims on that fateful night in 1969. Another victim, Steven Parent, is played by Ryan Cargill. 

   In possibly one of the most tasteless imaginings in cinematic history, Farrands’ fashions a story in which Tate is haunted by visions of her and that of her friends’ gruesome deaths. Farrands researched the Tate incident thoroughly before making the film, so knew the story well. He even went as far as to interview people who had actually known Sharon Tate. There is also a strange interview given by a not yet quite famous, or infamous, Tate, where she speaks of seeing a body tied to the staircase, with its throat cut. 

    By all accounts, Tate had been a sweet and lovely soul, loved by all who knew her. Farrands seemed to have ignored that and just told Duff to act overly hormonal and paranoid for the entire film. The acting in the film is really, really bad. It is so bad that I am forced to use alliteration, as opposed to a more flamboyant adjective, to emphasise just how awful the performances are. They are really, really, really bad. 

    As if the god-awful performances are not enough to contend with, the music is a relentless assault on the ears. By midway through the film, I had a headache that would not abate. The constant high tension strains and choppy camera work just addled my brain and added to my discomfort. Perhaps that was the filmmaker’s intention, but I doubt it.

   For the first hour of the film, after recounting the original murderous events of that night in 1969, we are subjected to an endless stream of Tate’s nightmarish premonitions, all of them extremely violent and bloody. The Manson clan, and Manson himself, played by Ben Mellish, are portrayed as stalking, psychopaths, their simmering bloodlust waiting for an outlet. 

   Farrands decides to explore what might have happened if Tate had had a premonition. Not a nightmare that was somewhat foreboding, but an actual, beat for beat, premonition of the events of that final night in 1969. He decides that, perhaps, they may have fought back. Perhaps they would have been the ones doing the killing, turning the tables on Manson’s rabid following. 

   It is, in some perverse fashion, a bold homage to the lives of the five victims of that night fifty years ago. The rewriting of history, the good guys winning, this what any right-minded person wants to see in life. The Haunting of Sharon Tate tries to give them, albeit fictitiously, that win. Unfortunately, the film is terrible. 

    The script is just woeful, the speech stagey and unnatural. The four central characters are supposed to be close friends, in fact, Tate and Sebring had been an item before she got together with Roman Polanski. You would not be able to tell it from the performances. You know that they had been a couple because of the subtle, as a punch in the face, exposition that is used as Sebring drives Tate up to stay in the house in which they would all eventually die.

     At just over ninety minutes, The Haunting of Sharon Tate is quite a painful watch. With the slightly strange decision to mix in some real-life footage with the reimagined story, the film is, at points, an uncomfortable watch but not in an artistic or profound way. It is just too bad a film for that. 

    The murder of Tate and her friends half a century ago continues to fascinate and shock because there was never any explanation, reasonable or farfetched, that could make the incident understandable. 

    The Haunting of Sharon Tate is the first of three films based on or inspired by those murders. One can only hope that the next two efforts are more palatable and better executed than this one. Avoid.