Killer Cove -Netflix(review)

Brief synopsis: dealing with a disgruntled ex-husband after her divorce, a woman’s life is thrown into more turmoil when she is stalked by a hooded stranger. A chance meeting with a handsome private investigator seems to turn her life about but all is not as it seems with the Romeo private eye.

Is it any good?: It’s called Killer Cove on Netflix, which is just as bad as its original title, Fear Bay. I think they probably just put in a few adjectives and nouns into an online title generator and came up with those, suffice to say the film is awful. The best I can say about this film is it was in focus and the beach house is nice.

Spoiler territory: Linda (Haley Webb) is helped by colleague and friend, Carrie (Cathy Baron) whilst putting a tiny rocking chair into the back of a van. The women chat about the owner, Bob (Roy Souza), and how he is having to let staff go having let ‘Peter’, who was really nice, go. Yes, it is that kind of script.

Anyhoo, the women keep chatting, Carrie worrying about what is going to happen when they get laid off, even though it was only a stop-gap job, taken because they had been laid off from their real jobs. So, irreplaceable they are not. Bob, the owner of the hell hole – Bayside Antique shop – they are currently employed in, comes and interrupts their griping.

The cad, asks them to do an inventory. Carrie tells him they are going away for the weekend and Linda notes there are only four hours left before they close. Utter bastard that Bob is, he reminds the ladies that times are tight and he needs it done. That told them.

As Linda counts plates, Eric (Jason Alan Smith), her ex-husband, comes to see her. He has left her multiple voicemails, why hasn’t she got back to him? Did she think he wouldn’t notice she had put up the price of the house – way over market value apparently – he needs her to sell the house so as he can get his share of the money.

He tells her to drop the price and leans in threateningly. His crass coercion is interrupted by Carrie, who tells him that if he is not shopping he will have to leave. She threatens to get the manager. Eric leaves but not before telling Linda to drop the price of the house. Later, as she and Carrie enjoy after-work drinks at a local bar, Linda admits that she should drop the price.

Carrie, psychobabble genius that she is, tells her she is hanging on to the house because it is the only thing she can control at the moment. Does she want to live in a home she purchased with her ex-husband? Linda says she does not. Carrie, wise one that she is, tells her to sell the house, take the money and move to the West Coast and find another job.

Linda is not so sure she would fare any better away from Bayside. Carrie, segwaying into a cheerleader, tells her that she is a brilliant interior designer and her resume is brilliant. Linda mentions that she is turning no heads at the moment, which turns out to be the perfect opening for pretty, luscious locked Tony (Donny Boaz), to crash into the conversation.

His good looks seem to immediately make Carrie’s panties moist, even though it is perfectly clear that he is only interested in Linda. Happy to be an unwanted wing-woman, Carrie encourages the union. Tony tells them he is a private investigator. Linda, who after quipping with the sleuth decides she is tired, gets up to leave. Tony gives her his card, in case she might require his services. As she leaves, Linda notices a man in a hoodie (Shawn Fitzgibbon) watching her. He makes no attempt to hide his shady nature.

Linda goes into a convenience store and sees the dodgy – and podgy – hoodie guy. She confronts him. He denies following her and tells her she is crazy before scurrying off guiltily. Back home, in her house by the beach, Linda is out on the back porch and sees a figure watching the house from the beach. She runs into the house, up the stairs – it’s a big house – and gets her mobile to call the police. No landline in her massive house then.

The police come and take some notes but do nothing beyond that. The next day, she is telling Carrie about the incident. Carrie, remembering that she is always required to give sage advice that is ignored, tells her that maybe it is a sign and she should move. Linda, plucky woman that she is and a little bit stupid, says she does not want to be forced out of her home.

Hoodie stalker man turns up at her workplace. He tells her that he knows her name and that of her friend Carrie, as well as where they both live. The appearance of Bob causes hoodie guy to run off. Linda calls the police again. This time a detective – it has happened twice you know – Groves (Owen Miller), is on the case.

Groves tells Linda that they will look out for the guy. She wants to know if they can’t do more to find the podgy guy in a hoodie, the only description she could have given him. Groves tells her no, they do not have enough information to identify the man. Shocking. She tells him she does not feel safe. He apologises but points out the bleedin’ obvious, telling her that they have other crimes to attend to.

Linda asks him if she should hire a private investigator – no idea where she might find one of them – Groves cautions against it, saying they tend to be more trouble than they are worth. Of course, totally ignoring the detective’s advice, Linda goes to see Tony. She tells him her concerns and also tells him she was advised against getting a private investigator.

Can he help her? Tony, flowing locks and twinkly smirk, assures her he can. The two come to an arrangement, Tony reducing his fee for her because he does not like stalkers and finds her kind of hot, though he does not say the last bit. Linda returns to her vast beach house, calling Carrie to tell her that she has hired Tony. This news makes Carrie especially giddy. It has no impact on the plot.

As evening falls, hoodie guy waits outside Linda’s house. He approaches the house armed with a tyre iron. Tony springs into action. Hoodie guy hits him with the tyre iron but that barely slows Tony down, who punches him a few times and grabs his wallet out of his back pocket. Turns out his name is Carl. Tony then gives Carl a beatdown and leaves him unconscious and concussed on the beach.

Tired from his exertions, he knocks on Linda’s back porch glass door. Linda comes to the aid of the slightly disheveled Tony. He asks her if she knows a Carl Ruston? She does not. Does not matter, he won’t be coming around anymore. Linda gets some ice for Tony’s bloodied knuckles and a t-shirt of her ex-husband’s because Tony’s got torn in his scuffle – no idea how that happened.

She gives him a salmon-coloured polo, saying she thinks it will fit, obviously forgetting how much smaller her husband was than Tony. It fits of course. This is not a clever film.

Linda wants to call the police but Tony dissuades her, telling her it could be awkward for him if they got involved, him having assaulted Carl. The two are chatting when the doorbell rings. Linda is not expecting anyone. She answers the door. It’s Eric. He is still raging about the non-selling house. He needs his money.

As they argue, Eric gets a little aggressive, grabbing Linda’s arm. Tony intervenes telling him not to grab her. Eric tries to punch Tony and gets head-butted for his troubles. Eric leaves, his manhood bruised. Linda, who seemed to have missed the whole Eric-throwing-a-punch moment, comments that Tony did not have to hit him in the face. Only someone who has never had to hit someone would say that. Should he have hit his shoulder?

Tony understands her disquiet and leaves. The next day at work, Linda is recounting the night to her therapist, sorry, I mean Carrie. Carrie thinks it is a good thing. Tony has taken care of the two things in her life that had been bothering her. Linda is not so sure. There was something about the intensity in his eyes. So there is that.

Linda says she does not think she will see him again. Tony immediately walks into the shop. Carrie makes herself scarce. Tony asks Linda out to dinner as he wants to apologise for causing her problems. She accepts. Somebody – and having seen the entire film I still cannot work out who – is watching Eric.

Tony calls to take Linda to dinner. He takes her for a picnic on the beach. She is, surprisingly, impressed by this romantic gesture. Surprisingly I say, because she lives by the beach. Her ex-husband must have been a real dolt never to have done that before! On the beach, Linda tells Tony about how she came to be in Bayside, get into interior design and meet Carrie. Yawn.

They get amorous on the beach as the sun goes down. The next day, Groves goes to Eric’s home. His home has been vandalised. He doesn’t think it’s a robbery. He tells Groves about Tony, saying he does not think he likes him and that he broke his nose. At Bayside Antiques, a chipper Linda strolls into work. Carrie wants to know how the date went but Bob, the slave driver, wants her to work.

Groves comes to see Linda. She tells him about Tony and tells him that Tony hit Eric in self-defence. Groves and Tony have history. Groves does not trust Tony and tells Linda as much. The detective leaves. Linda calls Tony to tell him about her encounter with Groves. Groves goes to see Tony. He tells him that he can see a repeat of the previous encounter and he would be happy to lock him up. He asks him what happened to Carl. Tony tells him that the police presence must have scared him away.

Eric goes to the store and harasses Linda about Tony. He tells her he is going to sue her because she will not sell the house, even though it’s for sale. Bob chases a young man out of the store as Eric storms off. The young man stole a watch and Bob asks Linda why she did not stop him or see him. She apologises. Bob wants to know why Eric was there. Another personal issue? He fires her because it is the reasonable thing to do.

Tony turns up outside of the store to surprise her but Linda tells him she wants to be alone. She drives home. Tony comes to her home and grabs her, bending her arm up behind her back. He tells her to fight, to not be a victim. She looks at a kitchen knife. Doesn’t grab it but she looks. She pushes him away. He tells her that it hurts him when she does not fight, that she needs to take control of her life.

Tony tells her he was just helping her to find her inner strength but he will now leave. She stops him. Apparently twisting a woman’s arm is a bit of an aphrodisiac and she wants him. I’ll never understand women. I digress.

Tony spends the night. The next day, Linda asks why Groves does not like him. Tony tells her it is because of an old case in which an abusive spouse killed his wife and disappeared after he found out she had hired Tony. Groves, according to Tony, did a bad job in the investigation. Eric goes to get in his car. When he clicks the key fob, his car blows up.

Carrie comes to see her, now unemployed, friend. They hang out for the evening. Detective Groves comes and tells Linda that Eric’s car was blown up. He also tells her a different version of Tony’s story. He was having an affair with the client’s wife. He then tried to kill the client and the wife got caught in the crossfire. Their daughter saw the whole incident, ran off and got hit by a truck and died. The husband disappeared after that. Tony also has a background in explosives, having worked with them in the military.

Later in the evening, Tony sits outside her house listening to her and Carrie’s conversation having bugged the house. The two women decide to move to the West Coast, Carrie sick of working for Bob as well. Tony comes to see Linda. She gets Carrie to call the police from upstairs – maybe the signal only works upstairs in her house – and goes to speak to him.

Linda refuses to open the door but wants to know why he lied about his past. Tony tells her he was afraid that she would push him away. Carrie comes and tells Linda the police are on the way. Tony runs off. Carrie stays the night to keep Linda company. Linda cries at her own stupidity.

The next morning, Carrie leaves early to go and quit the antique store and begin packing her belongings. As Carrie walks back to her home, she is snatched by an unseen assailant. Linda cannot get hold of Carrie. She goes around to her home. She keeps calling her for the rest of the day. She falls asleep but is woken by a nightmare of Tony biting her like a vampire. She goes to switch a lamp on and finds the bug Tony planted.

Groves comes around in the morning and tells her they checked the entire house. There are no more bugs. Belatedly, Linda decides to mention that Carrie is missing to the detective. Groves asks if they discussed leaving town in the house. Yes. Linda realises that Tony must know and is convinced he is going to kill her. Linda goes back into her house, Groves leaves a few officers outside of her home.

She gets a call from Carrie. She is being held and Linda has to come to an abandoned warehouse. She is not to tell the police. Linda sneaks away from her home and goes to the warehouse. She finds Carrie tied up in the warehouse and frees her. Tony turns up with a gun and is looking around. Linda hits him with a brick and kicks him in the groin. She hits him again as he tries to speak to her. He drops the gun. A still disorientated Carrie tries to reach the gun but another man comes and kicks it out of her reach. He tasers Linda.

 Linda wakes first to find Eric holding her, Carrie and Tony captive. He had been embezzling money from his company and they had employed Tony to find out where the money was going. Eric realised Tony was onto him and planned to frame him for murder and get money from the sale of the house. He also had hired Carl to try and scare Linda.

As all this Scooby-Doo style exposition is going on, Tony gets a penknife out of his back pocket and begins to cut through his bonds. Eric decides he is going to kill Carrie first as he never liked her. Linda tells him if he kills Carrie she will tell the police everything. Eric says he will have to kill her too. What he was planning to do with her otherwise is anybody’s guess. Tony joins in the conversation, distracting him long enough to break his bonds. Free, he lunges and slices him with the knife.

They wrestle and fight. Eric knocks him to the floor and runs off. He leaves Tony with the gun. Kind of him. Tony frees Linda and goes after Eric, leaving Linda to free Carrie. Carrie is feeling fragile and can barely walk. They hear shots and Linda, leaving the weakened Carrie, runs towards them.

Eric has, somehow, gotten the gun again and an injured Tony is at his mercy. Eric hears Linda’s footsteps – how he knows it’s Linda and not Carrie is anybody’s guess – and begins to goad her. He points the gun at Tony. Linda creeps up on him and hits him with a breeze block.

Tony and Linda agree they are not going to work as a couple. Carrie staggers over and gets a hug. The police turn up later and give Carrie a robe whilst Groves asks a perfectly fine Linda about her physical state. An ambulance takes Tony to the hospital. Groves still thinks he’s dodgy.

Linda and Carrie pack up and leave town. Carl Ruston’s body washes up on the beach. Carrie asks Linda if she has heard from Tony since he left the hospital. Linda tells her she has not. She thinks he is trying to keep his distance. There is a bug in the car and as the car drives into the sunset, another car begins to follow them. The end.

Killer Cove is hokum and nonsense. The acting is bad, the script is worse and the premise somewhat nonexistent. There are red herrings thrown in almost by accident, a soundtrack that is pure television movie standard, half-finished characters and a script so bad I am surprised the writer, step forward James Palmer, a name strangely absent on the IMDB page for this film, let his name get on the credit roll at all.

Direction by Damian Romay is competent but nothing to rave about. This film is lazy even by made-for-television standards. You do not care about anybody in this film. Webb’s Linda is okay and you do not want her to get harmed but that is only because nobody likes a stalker.

Baron’s Carrie is in the film for exposition as is Miller’s Groves. I still have no idea who or why anybody was watching Smith’s Eric. All the acting in the film is rudimentary but it is hard to tell if they are all bad actors or if it is just that the script is so weak. I suspect it is the script.

Truth be told, I had pretty low expectations of the film – it’s called Killer Cove – and it has a score of four-point two, which I feel is a little generous. At eighty-seven minutes long, it is not a long film but it does not feel like a short one. Killer Cove is another wretched effort for the Netflix shite film graveyard. Avoid.

Girl on the Third Floor

Brief synopsis: a man moves to a rural townhouse as part of a deal with the federal authorities. The house is old and the man plans to renovate it before his wife, who is expecting their first child, moves down from their old home in Chicago. Strange things start happening around the house.

Is it any good?: Girl on the Third Floor is terrible. The acting is horrible. The pacing is cold molasses-slow and the directing is awkwardly basic. How Netflix keep finding films of such mediocre quality is some sort of talent in itself. Just awful.

Spoiler territory: Don Koch (C. M. Punk) moves into a large old abandoned house, in the suburbs, Portsmith, planning to renovate it before his wife, Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn), who is pregnant with their first child, moves down from Chicago to join him. For company, Don has his dog, Cooper. Don plans to stay in the old house whilst he renovates it.

He finds gunk behind a wall and leaves it. Okay. A marble comes out of the wall in an upstairs room and rolls down the stairs. The dog eats it. Makes no difference to the film or plot but it introduces the marbles.

The first person he meets is the local pastor, Ellie Mueller (Karen Woditsch), who rings the doorbell and welcomes him to the neighbourhood with a drink. Don tells her he moved there because they feel it will be a good place to raise a family. He tells her they are not particularly religious. Not that it matters because that plot strand does not go anywhere either.

The next day, Don calls Liz and, speaking to her via video phone, shows her the house. He never turns the phone around mind, so I’ve no idea how she sees the house. He decides to fix the oozing wall. As he is working, the power drill fails, its battery dead.

Don, obviously a person with anger management issues, rages as he goes to put it to recharge. He steps on a marble – a bit of a theme, marbles in this film – and that triggers another explosion of expletives. There is a knock at the door. It is attorney Manny Bharara (Anish Jethmalani) and he has some documents for Don to sign. He seems unreasonably disdainful of Don who, it transpires later, defrauded a lot of people out of money.

Later, Don goes into town to get some food. He goes to the local bowling alley. He meets the owner, Geary McCabe (Marshall Bean). He tells Geary that he has moved into the old house. Geary asks him if he is gay, as straight men tend to suffer in that house. Don, angered – there’s a surprise – by the questioning of his masculinity, says he is having a child. Geary is nonplussed.

Don returns home and is scared by Cooper moving around the house quietly. He is a dog. Not likely to be partying. He speaks to his wife by video and gets a peek at her cleavage – highlight of the film – and turns in for the night. The next day, whilst working on the plumbing under the kitchen sink, in perhaps the tightest space it is possible for to get one’s head into, and banging around with a mallet – a plumbing expert. Not. – smashes into a wall that releases black gunk all over him.

Don goes outside and washes himself off at a standpipe. While he is trying to clean himself, a woman starts giggling. He turns to see a young woman. He asks her why she is there. She tells him she likes the old house but it is usually empty. He tells her that he has bought it. She flirts a little more and leaves.

Don goes for a run. When he gets back and tries to use the shower, an old creaky, partially rusting shower, that he has just decided to stand under without testing, it all goes wrong and he ends up raging again. Don gets back to decorating. The young woman returns in the evening. Don invites her into the house for a beer. Don and the woman have sex. She leaves, Don, seeing her out.

He returns to the house and hears a loud crash. A ceiling in one of the upstairs rooms has fallen in. Don talks to Liz and, once again, shows her the damage without ever turning the phone. The next evening the woman returns. Don politely declines her advances. She leaves. Don goes to sleep and has a vivid dream about his wife and the young woman and is shocked awake by the same woman changing to a horribly disfigured woman.

It is the weekend and Milo Stone (Travis Delgado), a friend, comes to help Don. He looks at the collapsed ceiling. He does not think Don has enough tools. They get to work on the ceiling. Later, the two men head to the, now strangely bustling, bowling alley. Milo meets Geary and tells him how Don was a bit of a high roller in Chicago.

Geary jokes that Don swapped the penthouse for a whore house, telling them how the old house he has bought used to be a house-of-ill-repute. Don scoffs, noting that it has not been a brothel for over a century. The next day, Don wakes to find Milo already working. Milo tells him that his assistant has made coffee.

Don finds the young woman in the kitchen. He confronts her aggressively, finding out that she is Sarah Yates (Sarah Brooks) – everyone in the film is given a surname even though it is never used – asking her why she is there as he had explained his situation with his wife. Milo sees the exchange.

After Sarah has left, Milo confronts Don about his conduct. Don leaves the house, angry at having been called out for his decisions. He tells Milo if he does not like it, he can leave. Milo gets back to work. He hears a noise coming from the basement and goes to investigate. He sees Sarah. She hits him in the face with a hammer. An injured Milo tries to escape the basement. The disfigured girl is at the top of the stairs. Sarah bashes his head in.

Don returns and thinks Milo has left. Later he speaks to Liz, showing her – well not really, never turning the damn phone – the work they have done. A woman walks past whilst he is talking to her and Liz asks who is there. Don, thinking he is alone, looks around the house. He does not find anything. The next day he changes the locks.

He gets another visit from the pastor. She asks him if he wants to talk. He tells her it has been hard. She replies, somewhat cryptically, that the house is difficult. Cooper hears a noise in the house during the night and goes downstairs – a non-barking dog – to check it out. The next morning, Don wakes up looking for the dog. He ends up in the laundry room and finds the tumble dryer running. The dog is dead inside of it.

Don calls the police. Patrolman Weaver (Bishop Stevens) comes to the house. Don tells him that he thinks it was Sarah. Weaver does not know of any Sarah and there is no sign of a break-in to the property. Don rages. Again. The patrolman leaves his card, telling Don to call him if anything else happens.

Don sits in his front room drinking a beer. A marble rolls towards him. He looks up to see Sarah standing in the room. Don apologises to her for the way he treated her. He tells her he has a present for her in the kitchen. As she goes to the kitchen he smashes her in the head with a hammer killing her.

He wraps her body up and takes it to the basement, planning to bury her in the wall. He is interrupted by a call from Liz. She wants to know what he is doing. Don, the calm individual that he is, rages at her and ends the call. He returns to the basement and the body is gone. He searches around the house for her. He finds a child’s room with strange drawings on the walls.

He drills a hole in his wall and puts a camera into it – yes, I know, barely has tools but has a pinhole wall camera – to see what is in the walls. Something moves and starts giggling in the walls, spooking Don. He grabs a hammer and starts smashing into the wall. He finds Milo in the wall. In the other holes he has smashed in the wall – for some reason he smashes several holes into the wall at random heights – there is something breathing.

He goes to try and contact Weaver. A photo comes up on his phone. It is Sarah giving him the finger and a message: actions have consequences. He turns to see the disfigured woman emerging from a draw. A marble rolls towards Don and gets under his skin. A screaming Don cuts into his leg just below the marble and follows the marble as it travels painfully up his leg. I have no idea why he did not cut above the path of the marble, I suppose it would have shortened the scene.

It runs up to his neck and he puts the knife into his neck. Yeah, he does. He screams, writhing on the floor as the disfigured woman watches him. The marble bulges below his eye and pops out. Don scrambles across the floor screaming at the disfigured woman. She releases several more marbles.

Liz turns up at the house. She has come to surprise Don. She looks around the house and goes down to the basement. As she comes back up she meets Sarah. She is somewhat sceptical of Sarah’s story, that she works for Don. The doorbell rings. It is the pastor. Liz goes to tell Sarah that she is going to talk to the pastor but Sarah has disappeared.

Liz returns to the pastor and invites her in. The pastor tells her she would rather talk on the porch. The pastor asks her about her marriage, intimating that the house test marriages. Liz returns to the house. She sees an eyeball in the sink. She calls Don’s phone and finds it in the house. She goes and sees the pastor.

Liz tells the pastor about Don’s less than salubrious character, telling her he defrauded clients and cheated on her whilst she was pregnant. The pastor, who is not particularly helpful, tells her that some can make the house a home and some can’t. Okay then. Liz returns to the house. The house is a brothel with men everywhere and Sarah putting on a BDSM show. Liz, obviously emboldened and crazed by pregnancy hormones, walks around the house screaming for her husband.

Every room she goes into, something strange is happening. Liz, eventually decides she should leave the house but is stopped by Sarah recounting the history of the house. She then comes after her with a knife. Liz runs into a bedroom and locks the door. A bloodied Don emerges from another bedroom. Liz tells him they have to leave. Don says it is not that easy. He says he is going to change. He slices down the centre of his face and Sarah’s head is underneath his face.

Liz leaves the bedroom. She sees Milo in the wall. He laughs at her. The disfigured woman squeezes out of a hole in the wall but Liz smashes her head with a hammer. Sarah goes over to the corpse of the disfigured woman. Liz leaves the house. She finds the pastor sitting outside the house.

Liz looks to the pastor. She knew. The pastor says she did but everyone has to make their own choice – whatever the heck that means. Liz goes back into the house and bashes another hole in the wall, this time finding a mummified corpse – I’m assuming it is Sarah but there is no explanation and I’ve suffered this film twice! – she and the pastor bury the corpse.

Six months later and Liz has had the baby and has stayed in the house – because of course, one would – she comes to see the baby, telling it that they are going to the park after its nap. Liz leaves the room. Marbles drop into the cot where the baby is. Don looks down on the baby from a grill above. The end.

Girl on the Third Floor is awful on a level that is hard to explain. It is badly written, woefully acted – except for Dunn as Liz – and makes no sense whatsoever. The directing, especially when it came to verbal exchanges was amateur in the extreme, with each character just saying their line whilst in the shot. No reaction shots, no movement, no change of depth or distance to affect a particular vibe.

The film takes an inordinate amount of time to get going and the victims – Milo; undeserving plus black man always dying first, Cooper; undeserving though a smarter dog might have barked and Don; deserved but you’re beyond caring by that time.

Four people – FOUR – wrote this nonsense – Trent Haaga, Paul Johnstone, Ben Parker and Travis Stevens. Stevens also directs. How four people could read this and think it not only made sense but would make an entertaining film is beyond me. It is difficult to see what sort of story they were trying to tell.

There are – unfunny – elements of humour in the script but in no way could they have been aiming for a horror-comedy. The scene they show in preview on Netflix is one of the best bits of the film and nothing happens in that clip.

Girl on the Third Floor – one really has no idea how many floors the house has and it is a title with no meaning – is a wretched, uninspired, pointless and dreadful piece of cinema. Give the widest of berths.

Dark Light – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: After her divorce, a woman takes her young daughter and moves into her old vacant family home in rural Mississippi. When strange things start happening and her daughter disappears, she is the local sheriff’s number one suspect. The woman fights to not only clear her name but also to find her daughter.

Is it any good?: In a word, no. Dark Light flatters to deceive. It is visually well made and edited but the acting is poor and the script absolutely wretched. A film that just gets worse over its runtime. It is bloody awful.

Spoiler territory: Annie Knox (Jessica Madsen) is looking for her daughter. She moves quietly around her home, shotgun at the ready with a flashlight attached to the barrel, shouting for her daughter Emily (Opal Littleton). Around the house, Annie hears noises and footsteps. Doors close without warning and she is anxious at every sound.

She sees Emily in the elevator and goes to grab her. Emily starts screaming as Annie scoops her up. Annie hears a noise behind her and puts her daughter down, turning and shooting without looking for the target. She sees her ex-husband, Paul (Ed Brody) lying on the floor. A still tense Annie turns back towards her daughter and raises the gun once more. She shoots.

Annie gets taken away by the police for shooting Paul. A wounded Paul wants to know where their daughter is. The police take Annie away. The story goes back to Annie and Emily moving into the old house. Annie tells her daughter that this was where she grew up. Emily sees the elevator and asks what it is. Annie tells her its an elevator but no longer works.

Emily asks if her dad is going to live with them. Annie tells her no but he will visit. Later that night, Annie hears noises and goes to check around the house. She finds the front door open and shuts it. She checks the gap under the basement door. Something moving spooks her and then the door opens behind her again.

Back in the present, sheriff Dickerson (Kristine Clifford) is questioning Annie about her missing child. Annie is perplexed as to why she is being held, saying she would never harm her daughter. The sheriff points out that having shot her ex-husband, they cannot be sure of that.

Before Emily’s disappearance, Paul had turned up at the house unannounced to see his daughter. Annie is not best pleased to see him but she reluctantly lets him into the house to see Emily. He comes into the house and Emily rushes off to go and get a toy she wants to show him. Annie and Paul have an awkward, uncomfortable conversation.

Later that evening, Annie and Emily play hide n’ seek in the foliage of fields around the house. As it is dark, both of them carry torches. Annie, having grown up in the area, quickly finds her daughter, shining the light on her playfully. They keep on playing. A bright light shines on Annie. She thinks it is Emily but when she tells her to stop shining the light she does not reply.

Annie realises it is not her daughter and searches frantically for her. She looks back to the house and sees Emily standing on the roof. She rushes back to the house. She calls the sheriff. The sheriff tells her that the lights she saw in the field were probably local kids. Annie is convinced that they were not random kids playing in the field.

Annie checks out what she saw online and sees a video of Walter Sims (Gerald Tyler) talking about a humanoid race living secretly amongst the populace. Annie takes his details off of the internet. Annie sees lights shining from outside and rushes to Emily’s bedroom. Emily is fine. Annie goes outside to check what the lights are. She sees multiple lights shining around the field. She looks back to the house and sees something approaching her daughter.

Annie runs back into the house. The figure has disappeared. Annie calls the sheriff again and tells her the story of what happened. The sheriff is sceptical. In the present, sheriff Dickerson is not believing Annie’s version of events. In the past, Paul and Annie have another conversation. She tries to tell him that something is not right in the house. Paul tells her that she should not have moved back into the house, especially with her fragile mental health. He threatens to take Emily away from her.

Annie gets a monitor so as she can see Emily at night. She is woken in the night by a scream and looks to the monitor. Emily is not in her bed. She rushes to her bedroom and finds her daughter standing by her door. She wants to sleep with her. Annie continues to hear noises and goes to check the house. She sees a figure walking around the house. Emily disappears again.

She contacts the sheriff. The sheriff almost runs over Emily as she heads towards the house. Emily says to Dickerson that she does not want to go home. Emily also has a bloody nose, something that had happened earlier In the day also. The sheriff warns Annie that she is going to report her to child services.

Back in the present, the sheriff asks Annie about her gun purchases the previous week. Annie tells her that she bought them for personal protection. Earlier that same night, Annie had seen an alien taking Emily and had shot at it as it took Emily into the elevator. The elevator had then gone down. She had hurried into the basement to try and catch it.

Annie relays the story to Dickerson. Dickerson tells her she is going to jail. Annie is put in a truck with a police officer and another prisoner. The truck has an accident on the way, the driver having to avoid a cow blocking the road on a very rainy night. The truck goes down a bank and flips over.

Annie regains consciousness and frees herself. Everybody else in the truck has died. The police find the truck. Annie returns to her house and cleans herself up. She decides to go and find Walter Sims. Sims invites her into his house and tells him about his ancient alien beings theory. He is worried that Annie found him through the internet.

Annie tells him what she saw. He tells her that they target children to harvest their inner light, their energy. Annie wants to kill it. Sims locks her in his house and goes to find the aliens, fascinated by them and not wanting her to kill them. Sims heads to her house. He quickly encounters one of the aliens.

It attacks him and Sims runs to his car. He is driving away and is attacked again in his car. He escapes his car and runs into a railway yard. He is caught by another one and killed. The police find his corpse. The police go to Sims house and see all his notes about the missing children. Annie manages to get out of Sims’ house.

Annie heads back to her own house to look for her daughter. She hides when Paul comes to the house. He goes into the lift and is attacked by one of the aliens. Annie goes to get in the lift to look for both Paul and their daughter. She goes to the basement stairs but is chased by one of the aliens. She gets away but as she is about to go back into the basement, she is stopped by Dickerson, who is pointing a gun at her.

Annie puts her gun down. Dickerson is killed by one of the aliens. Annie runs as the same alien comes after her. She repels it by attacking it with a lampshade pole, shocking it. It does not die. Annie heads to the basement. She finds Paul and wakes him from unconsciousness. They both go looking for Emily. They see the alien feeding on energy from Emily.

Paul causes a distraction so that Annie can grab their daughter. As mother and daughter try to escape, they see Paul get killed. Annie slows the alien down by shooting it and takes her daughter back to the house. She douses the house in petrol. The alien burst into the house and attacks her. She slows the alien once again by first tasering it then shooting it. She sets the house on fire.

Annie and Emily get into Paul’s car and drive away. Emily asks if the alien is dead and Annie tells her it is. In the fields around the home, the light that shines from the aliens’ heads lights up the night. The end.

Dark Light is utter garbage. Written and directed by Padraig Reynolds, it is a film that gets worse over its runtime with a haphazard story, undefined antagonist and the least subtle script this reviewer has ever suffered through, with every utterance exposition. Reynolds can certainly direct the visuals and the film flows relatively nicely but he should get someone else to write. The script is first-year scriptwriting student bad.

I am going to kindly believe that it was the script that contributed to the wholly wooden performances by the entire cast. Admittedly, they did not have much to work with, every character speaking in the same manner, pace and cadence. The central character had no compelling reason to stay in the freaky house but did anyway.

If she did, Reynolds did not put it in the script. Annie suffered from depression. How do I know this? Because Paul comes right out and says it. He does not allude to it or talk around it. He just says it. Her mum had depression and committed suicide. Guess how I know? Bloody Paul and his helpful exposition!

Sims talks some bollocks about ancient, advanced aliens and then decides to go and meet them, even though he knows that they basically eat children and have done for years. As soon as he finds himself in bother he runs like Usain Bolt. He was also supposedly worried about being found via the internet, even though he had, in the video he had produced talking about the aliens, asked people to contact him!

Reynolds also could not decide how he wanted the aliens to kill people with them slashing, frying and, quite randomly, biting the unfortunate Paul in the neck. The aliens snatch children but the sheriff had never before been told of disappearing children even though Sims, the kook, had hundreds of pictures of missing children on his wall. Annie, who had already been spooked by the old house, decides to take her daughter into a field, at night, to play hide n’ seek. It was as if she wanted to lose the damn child.

Dark Light – a title that makes very little sense – is a mishmash of ideas all poorly executed. Scoring a, I can only say, generous four point two on IMDB, Dark Light is a film to give a wide berth. Wretched.

Love. Wedding. Repeat – review

Brief synopsis: After a near-miss, romantic weekend, Jack (Sam Claflin), is given another chance to reconnect with the woman of his dreams, Dina (Olivia Munn) at his sister’s romantic Italian wedding. Unfortunately, various circumstances conspire to make his efforts to reconnect with Dina challenging.

Is it any good?: Ever since Richard Curtis’ Four Wedding and a Funeral (1994), many a filmmaker has tried to repeat the same formula of love and wedding farce. Love. Wedding. Repeat starts promisingly and quickly deteriorates into puerile farce and jokes that go on too long. Disappointing.

Spoiler territory: Jack and Dina spend a brief weekend getting to know one another after his sister, Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson), introduces them knowing he is going to be in Afghanistan the same time as she is. As Jack tries to get up the courage to asks her out before he has to fly back home. Unfortunately, as he is about to talk to her, an old friend interrupts him and he misses his opportunity.

Three years later, Hayley is getting married in Italy and, in the absence of their parents, Jack is walking his sister down the aisle. The maid-of-honour – or man-of-honour – is Bryan (Joel Fry), a wannabe actor who, as well as being Hayley’s maid/man, hopes to meet a famous Italian director who is attending the wedding.

Other notables attending the wedding are family friends, boring Sidney (Tim Key), mildly hyper Rebecca (Aisling Bea), Jack’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda (Freda Pinto), with her new boyfriend, Chaz (Allan Mustafa) and, much to Jack’s surprise as he had been told that she could not make it, Dina.

Sidney, for some reason known only to him, decides to wear a kilt to the wedding, even though he is not Scottish and has no connection to Scotland, and spends the day adjusting himself awkwardly. Seeing Rebecca, Bryan is sent into a panic as she always tends to cling to him.

Jack is worried about seeing his ex as they parted on bad terms. Chaz is insecure about his manhood and spends the day challenging a less than amused Amanda, comparing himself to her past boyfriends. He also wears a suit that makes him look like he is in a cabaret. The wedding goes off without a hitch and the guests mingle in the ground of the villa the couple has gotten married in.

Sidney spots Dina and makes a beeline for her. He dominates the conversation, roping her into being his wedding buddy for the day. He leaves her to go and get some drinks. As Jack and Bryan chat, Rebecca comes over. Jack sees Dina and leaves a desperate Bryan to go and see her. Hayley and her new husband, Roberto (Tiziano Caputo), are moving amongst the guest when Hayley spots a drugged up Marc (Jack Farthing) staggering through the wedding guest.

She goes and finds her brother, interrupting his long overdue catch up with Dina, and tells him he needs to handle Marc, a man they both know from school. Jack has no idea how he is meant to subdue him. Hayley, who had been taking sleep medication in the run-up to the wedding, tells him to put some of it in Marc’s glass.

Reluctantly, Jack puts the medication into the glass before the guests go to the tables. Before the guests are seated, children at the wedding run around and change a lot of the seat placements. At the table, Jack ends up sitting next to his ex with Dina next to Sidney. Sidney believes that the seating is destiny and proceeds to bore her.

Bryan, who is meant to give a speech, has drunk the medication due to the swapping of the seating plans. Getting increasingly sleepy, he decides he needs to speak with the Italian director. He falls asleep in front of him. Jack tries to rescue Dina from Sidney by taking her to the bar but Sidney follows them.

Jack is forced to tell Sidney to make himself scarce. Hayley is still in a panic when she sees that not only is Marc still around but he is fully awake. Chaz confronts Jack. Jack tells him that he is totally over Amanda. Chaz goes into a rant about penis size. Perturbed, Jack returns to Dina but then spots the coked-up Marc and goes to speak to him. Marc tells them that he and Hayley slept together three weeks before. Jack puts Marc in a wardrobe.

Hayley confesses to sleeping with Marc on a drunken night as she felt vulnerable but she does not want to be with him. An extremely sleepy Bryan makes an embarrassing speech and destroys the wedding cake. Dina gets a call from work and has to leave. Jack goes after her, wanting to talk before she leaves. Amanda interrupts their chat.

Jack says that their relationship was miserable. Amanda head-butts him. Marc gets let out of the wardrobe and goes on stage and tells all in attendance that he and Hayley slept together. Roberto asks if it is true. He tells her that he cannot be with her. As they talk, Roberto falls over a balcony.

The story rewinds. The children exchange place settings in multiple scenarios with various outcomes. The final outcome sees Jack accidentally taking the sedative. The upshot of that is he ends up falling asleep as Dina tells him a story about her mother dying of cancer. Amanda tells him that Chaz wants to marry her but slaps him when he congratulates her. Bryan and Rebecca get together after he asks her why she likes him.

Jack intercepts Marc and talks sense into him regarding his obsession with Hayley. Sidney asks Jack for advice with women. Bryan gives a moving speech. Marc gets on the mic and congratulates Hayley and Roberto. Chaz splits up with Amanda. Sidney meets a lovely Italian woman, Cristina (Francesca Rocco).

Jack asks Dina if she felt the same way he did when they met in Afghanistan for a brief time. She says that she did but they missed their moment. A despondent Jack returns to the wedding and speaks to Bryan, Dina having left because of a work call. Their brief conversation persuades Jack to go after Dina. They kiss. The end.

Love. Wedding. Repeat is a collection of sketches taken too far. The overall story of the wedding is just a backdrop for some cliched and farcical humour that, admittedly, is initially funny but quickly becomes tiresome to the point of embarrassing. The humour is not even knowingly embarrassing in the way of the humour of Sacha Baron Cohen.

The acting is perfectly serviceable and everybody tries gamely to make the film work. It is shot in a beautiful location and is well-edited, bumping along at a good pace through its one hundred minute runtime. Written and directed by Dean Craig, based on the French film Plan de Table (2012), the film mostly suffers from not knowing when to let a joke end.

Mustafa’s Chaz spends the majority of the film speaking to absolute strangers about the size of his penis. Haha. That is not the only penis-related ‘humour’, with Key’s Sidney, telling anyone who will listen, how uncomfortable his kilt is.

Claflin’s Jack is required to channel his best Hugh Grant impression, bumbling when straight talk would have made more sense and Fry’s Bryan is more of a caricature than a person. The Italians have little to do in the film – it is a Richard Curtis rip- off, after all, English only, thank you – and just make up the scenery.

Munn, who I have not seen in anything worthy of her talents since Newsroom, is just in the film for her undoubted beauty. Any number of attractive actresses could have filled her role and had the same impact.

With a VoiceOver from Penny Ryder, who sets the scene for the fateful day and speaks of destiny, chance and options, the film has all the elements of a promising comedy badly executed. There is, ever since Four Weddings, an expectation from a wedding comedy, especially a British wedding comedy, that Love. Wedding. Repeat – a stupid title – just does not meet.

It is only mildly amusing, the characters are not engaging enough and a lot of the humour is not only overdone but, at times, misplaced. Love. Wedding. Repeat is not an unwatchable mess but it is not as good as it should or could have been. Not one to repeat.

Bloodshot – review

Brief synopsis: a marine is captured by a psychopath and asked for information relating to a recent mission. The psychopath kills his, wife in front of him, when the marine tells him that he is unable to tell him what he want s to know. When the marine vows to kill him, the psychopath shoots him, killing him. He is brought back from the dead by a military project.

Now enhanced, he hunts down the person who killed him and his wife but all is not what it seems.

Is it any good?: Bloodshot is total action hokum. Taking the ideas from multiple films and shows – The Six Million Dollar Man, Universal Soldier, Terminator, The Frankenstein Monster, Dollhouse – Bloodshot zips through its runtime, with Vin Diesel – returning to full Vin Diesel persona, post-Groot – adequate as the murderous, resurrected, marine trying to uncover his past.

Spoiler territory: Ray Garrison (Diesel) is a marine. Returning from a mission, he is happy to return to his wife, Gina (Talulah Riley), who is worried when he goes on a mission. He tells her that he always returns. They go to bed. He wakes up in the morning and Gina is gone. Two men attack him in his home and he quickly subdues them.

Fearing that his wife might be in danger, Ray goes looking for her. He bumps into a man on the way out of his home. A few steps later and he begins to feel dizzy. The man he bumped into drugged him. Ray comes to. He is strapped into a chair. The man, Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), wants to know about his past mission. Ray tells him he does not know where the orders come from.

Axe brings in his wife in the hope of persuading Ray to remember. Ray does not have the information Axe wants. Axe believes him but kills Gina in front of him. Ray tells him that he had better kill him because he will not get another chance. Axe kills him.

Ray wakes up in a hi-tech laboratory. A bespectacled man, Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), tells him that he is part of a military project and that he has been brought back to life. Harting asks if he remembers anything. Besides his name, Ray cannot remember anything.

Harting introduces him to KT (Eiza González). KT is also ex-military. Harting explains that he has a new technology in his body that will repair any injury he sustains. His division enhances injured military personnel with KT having her lungs enhanced, Tibbs (Alex Hernandez), who lost his sight, has ocular enhancements and Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), who lost his legs and has replacement limbs.

Ray thinks he is in a dream and decides to return to bed. Ray has restless sleep, having a nightmare that shows glimpses of his past. He goes to the gym and tests out his new body. He is super strong and he sees his body repair after any damage, as he notes when he hits a concrete pillar. He encounters KT whilst down in the gym. She is having a swim.

She invites him to have a drink with her. As they drink, a song comes over the radio and it triggers Ray’s memory of Gina getting killed and his own murder. Ray wants vengeance and decides to go after Axe. Harting mobilises his team. He contacts Ray, as the technology Ray has in his body allows Harting to connect with him directly. Ray tells him he will return but he has to kill Axe.

Ray uses all the technology in his body to track Axe. He tracks him down and kills him. He returns to the team and they take him back to the lab as, after the damage his body has sustained during his mission, he needs to be recharged. Back at the lab, Dalton goads Ray about his memories. As Ray goes back into regeneration, in the control room, Harting is talking to Eric (Siddharth Dhananjay), who is a computer wizard.

He tells Eric to recreate the story sequence. All of Ray’s memories are a scenario loaded into a computer. KT comes into the control room. Harting questions her wanting to know why she deviated from the script. KT is not happy about the programme. She knows that Harting is killing people who used to work with him on the technology.

Harting tells her that after the next mission they will be able to sell the technology to the highest bidder. He has one more person he wants to get rid of. Nick Baris (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson). Harting loads Baris’ image into the story scenario. They run the scenario, this time Ray remembering Baris’ face as the murderer. Ray goes after Baris. Baris is in London. Dalton is disdainful of Ray, tired of him repeatedly falling for the same scenario.

In London, Baris, knowing what Harting is working on, knows that someone is coming for him. When Ray begins to attack his home, he calls on Wilfred Wiggins (Lamorne Morris) to bring a special weapon that he has created. Wiggins, a computer geek of a higher level than Eric, brings a case. Ray is getting close to Baris. He tells Wiggins to ready the weapon.

Harting, who is watching the whole incident unfold, wants to know what the weapon is. Eric tells him it is an electromagnetic pulse weapon. Harting tries to pull Ray back but Ray shuts him out. He gets to Baris and kills him before he is able to use the EMP. Wiggins activates the EMP shutting down electricity across the city as well as Ray.

Wiggins revives Ray and tells him that he has been killing people who worked on the technology with Harting. Ray decides to go and find his wife. Harting sends Tibbs and Dalton to retrieve Ray. Ray finds Gina. She tells him that they split up five years before. She has moved on with her life and has a family.

Ray gets attacked by Dalton and Tibbs. Tibbs put a device on him and Eric shuts his body down remotely. KT is ordered to go after Wiggins after trying to defy Harting. He shows her that he can end her life-saving technology at any time, forcing her to do as he instructs.

KT tracks down Wiggins and gets him. Harting speaks to Ray in a virtual space. Ray tells him he is going to kill him. KT returns and lies to Harting telling him she could not get Wiggins. Harting, who had decided to kill Ray, decides to send him after Wiggins instead. KT infiltrates the virtual reality and speaks to Ray in the scenario. Harting realises it is KT. She has also allowed Wiggins into the computer code.

Harting goes after KT. Wiggins revives Ray. Harting tries to kill KT but Wiggins has altered her apparatus and he no longer affects it. Harting sends Tibbs and Dalton to kill Ray. KT heads to the computer control room and blows it up.

Ray fights Dalton and Tibbs. Dalton kills Tibbs whilst trying to get to Ray. Ray defeats Dalton. Ray goes after Harting. Harting shoots him with a missile. Ray’s body comes back together. He walks toward Harting. He shoots him again. Ray catches the missile and blows up Harting and himself.

Wiggins brings him back to life and tells him that he has refined the technology so as he does not need to recharge. Ray goes and talks to KT and they watch the sun come up. The three drive off into the sunset. The end.

Bloodshot is an okay, perfectly watchable action, sci-fi. With Vin Diesel going full Vin – sleeveless tee, swagger and a scowl. Bloodshot was never going to be one to tax the brain. The twist of him being controlled by scenario implants was a nice one and elevated the story above similar fare even if it is not the most original.

Written by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, from a comic by Kevin VanHook, Bob Layton and Don Perlin, the story is supposed to be a backdrop for the action but some of the action sequences are so laborious and over-the-top it is difficult to appreciate them. Directed by David S. F. Wilson, there is a lot of slo-mo employed for effect and too many of the action scenes are over-long.

The visual effects are quite good, very reminiscent of the latest Terminator films. Morris – best known for his turn in New Girl – is the light relief in the film and puts on a good English accent as the computer-genius Wiggins. González’s KT could have been any number of Latina actresses gracing our screens. Not that she is bad. It is just that the performance is not noteworthy.

Similarly, Heughan was always working uphill to make Dalton seem like anything other than a bully. Hernandez’s Tibbs leaves even less of an impression than González’s KT, such is the pointlessness of the character. Pearce, an actor who has turned in some incredible performances over his career, phones in another villain with a showing that any B movie actor could probably have brought.

As I have said, Bloodshot is watchable and quite good for the most part. The most eye-rolling thing is the CGI heavy, long to the point of boring, battle between Ray, Dalton and Tibbs. At one hundred and ten minutes long, Bloodshot does not feel as long as it is and moves swiftly through its runtime.

Bloodshot is a passable actioner and worth a look if you like a brain-in-neutral action film.

The Irishman

Martín Scorsese’s latest offering to cinema is the three and a half hour epic gangster’s story, The Irishman. Few can tell a gangster, or more specifically, Mafiosa story, better than or even as well as Scorsese.

Known for Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Casino, Raging Bull, Hugo, The Age Of Innocence, Shutter Island and so many other films, Scorsese has, generally, been at the peak of his directorial powers when recounting stories that involve the Italian-American experience. The Irishman is one such story.

Taken from the book ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ written by Charles Brandt and adapted for the screen by Steven Zaillian, The Irishman recounts the words of Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran (Robert DeNiro), a hitman for the Bufalino crime family and right-hand man to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), as well as a union leader himself. The Irishman chronicles his rise through the ranks, the killings he did, his estrangement from his daughter Peggy, portrayed with steely resolve by Anna Paquin, and the disappearance of Hoffa as recounted by Sheeran himself.

Scorsese unites all of the big guns for this one. DeNiro and Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino are, unsurprisingly, in attendance but he also recruits his original muse, Harvey Keitel, who plays Angelo Bruno and Pacino, turning in a stellar performance as Hoffa. This film gives film lovers the DeNiro/Pacino match up they have yearned for all of these years.

DeNiro, as one would expect, puts in a wonderful everyman performance in the film as the working-class Sheeran whose chance meeting with Russell Bufalino takes his life in a totally different direction. After being persuaded to do a few jobs by Russell, he is taken under the wing of the Bufalino family.

Russell, whose connections and tentacles were in every business, introduced Sheeran to the leader of the powerful trucking and distribution union, the Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa. Sheeran not only became Hoffa’s muscle but also became a close friend. This close friendship would prove ultimately costly for the increasingly nervous and mistrustful Hoffa.

Sheeran claims to have shot him twice in the back of the head. The body was then removed and incinerated. As the body was never found and nobody was ever indicted of his murder, it remained a mystery until Brandt’s book hit the shelves. There are those who dispute Sheehan’s claims but as this review is about The Irishman, which is, like many of Scorsese’s stellar works, biographical. I will take the story as close enough to the truth.

After five decades of filmmaking, Scorsese could be forgiven if he decided to go the route of other well-regarded directors and make pastiches of his own works. Though this charge has been levelled at him before, most notably for 1995’s Casino – a film I personally loved – following the tour-de-force that was Goodfellas, Scorsese has always been a director who has sought out varying film projects.

It is, however, in the realm of Italian-Americana where he has always excelled. If the story also happens to be biographical in nature all the better. From the staggeringly brilliant Raging Bull up to this year’s The Irishman, along with his longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese continues to produce captivating work. Make no mistake, even at a bum-numbingly 209 minute runtime, The Irishman is a riveting piece of cinema.

From the rich opening signature camera sweeps, through the casual, matter-of-fact violence, up to its no-man-can-beat-time conclusion, The Irishman is a film that pulls you into the world of mobsters, unions and persons who lived unapologetically outside of the considered norm.

Much is made of the modern techniques and computer wizardry used to de-age the near octogenarian stars in the early scenes, especially on DeNiro, who is in almost every scene. It is initially a little disconcerting. Not because it is not good more because one knows they are not young men and, most notably with DeNiro, in their physicality and gait.

The strength of the story and performances does quickly make this minor gripe an irrelevance. For us outside of the world of organised crime, the fascination, whether it is portrayed romantically like in The Godfather, or as a daily grind such as in The Sopranos or humorously as in Bullets Over Broadway, there is always a compulsion to watch. If it also pulls back the curtain on people in history whose names are fading like the few photographic images of them that exist, that is even better.

The Irishman takes the story of the little known Frank Sheeran and brings to life one of twentieth centuries greatest crime riddles, what happened to Hoffa? Offering a credible answer. If in the unlikely event that Scorsese was to retire after this film, it would be a fitting film to bow out on. Masterful.

Swiped – review (Netflix)

Ann Deborah Fishman should never be allowed to write or direct a film again. She should definitely not be allowed to write again. I’m not too sure she has encountered other people or overheard a conversation before. As for her grasp on relationships and their intricacies, on the evidence of Swiped, her film on Netflix, it is pretty tenuous. Let me explain.

James Singer (Kendal Ryan Sanders) is a nerd and computer genius about to start his freshman year at college. His divorced mother, Leah (Leigh-Allyn Baker), wants him to socialise, and meet other people, as she worries his adherence to computing has made him a bit of a recluse.

At the college, James’ roommate is a womanising, party boy named Lance (Noah Centineo). Lance immediately gets to womanising, as do his two friends, Wesley (Christian Hutcherson) and Daniel (Nathan Gamble). After almost getting caught with a girl by his father, Lance decides he needs a better way to meet women. Discussing with his brain trust of friends, they decide they need an app.

The app cannot be like any app that is presently available. There have to be certain criteria. The app user cannot know any names or want a relationship. They also have to agree to leave after the hook-up. The problem is, even though they are all doing computer science as their major, none of them knows how to build an app.

James runs into his crush, Hannah (Shelby Wulfert), who he inadvertently embarrassed at the school prom. She does not want to talk to him. He talks to her anyway, walking her back to her room. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley realise that James is their best chance to get their app made. They go and tell him they want him to make an app.

James refuses. He has no interest in making a hookup app. When Lance tells him that he could make enough money to go to an Ivy League college, James agrees to make the app. His only stipulation is nobody must know he is the creator of the app. They agree.

James builds the app, and it is a massive success, with everyone on it, in the college, getting on the app. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley go to a club and find that the app has gotten out into the wider world, and is proving popular. Back at the college, the four boys overhear some of the girls talking about how badly they have been treated via the app.

I don’t get sent many scripts anymore!

At Christmas break, James goes to his grandparents home for the holidays. His mother lives there after the divorce, along with his younger sister, Ashlee (Kalani Hilliker). James finds out that even his mother is on his app.

At the family Christmas dinner, James father brings a date, Tiffany (Maddy Curley), a woman closer to his daughter’s age than his own. Leah does not take seeing her ex-husband’s new girlfriend too well, especially when she hears that she is moving in with him.

Leah uses the app to find a date. James gets Ashlee and his father to follow her and they watch the date. The date does not go well; Leah is thinking of it as a normal date and is trying to get to know the man she meets.

James asks his grandparents and some of their friends some personal questions. He then sees his mother trying to use his app again. He shuts down the app. He shuts down all of the dating apps. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley freak out as they realise the app is down.

They come after James. He hides out at Hannah’s fraternity house. He tells the girls he wants to build a new app and needs their help. Lance decides to release the fact that James created the app. Hannah, who was not on the app or social media, does not know. The boys tell her. James tells the girls that they do not need an app, as the guys all want them.

Hannah confronts James about the app. He says he built it because he thought Hannah would join it as well. He tells her he loves her. She forgives him. Lance gets told he will have to repeat his class the next year. Lance asks a girl out to dinner. The end.

we are… the braintrust!

Swiped is terrible. It is basically a dig at apps such as Tinder but is done in such a crass and ham-fisted way, it fails on all counts. The filming and shot selections are amateurish in the extreme, with the lighting so harsh, every blemish and pore on the actors shows.

With most of the film based around talking and relationship exchanges, it is down to the camera to create some sort of movement, some life. Unfortunately, the camera is generally just plonked onto a tripod and focused on talking heads, highlighting every surgical mark and wrinkle in the more mature actors, and every spot and pimple on the younger actors.

I say ‘actors’ but, was it not for the sheer number of films I watch, I would have thought that this entire cast was made of friends of the director or random people off of the streets.

The performances are, to put it kindly, uneven. Having said that, the script is so wretched it reminds this reviewer of the infamous car wreck of a film Caligula, from 1979, that had a whole slew of talented actors risking career suicide for what turned out to be a soft-porn film.

Unlike Caligula, Swiped does not even have the good grace to have the curiosity value of nudity. It is just bad, and not in an amusing way. This is something that is becoming all too common on Netflix, a comedy without laughs. Swiped is trying to satirise the likes of Tinder, but can you really satirise something that is so self-aware? Not really.

I can only believe that Fishman put herself in crippling debt to get this film made because I cannot believe that a production company put up the money for a script as inept as Swiped. At Ninety-minutes long, the film feels longer simply because it is such a painful watch.

It does not flow particularly well, and the frankly horrible resolution at the end, where James tells the ladies that they are the power, basically takes Shakespeare’s message from Taming of the Shrew, a play written over four hundred years ago, and weakens it.

Swiped is ninety-minutes of your life you will never get back. There is no good reason to watch this film. You have been warned. You are welcome.

The Debt Collector – review (Netflix)

     French (Scott Adkins) is struggling to keep his traditional martial arts dojo open. He has got very little money coming in and another, more profitable martial arts operator, Roger (David William Ho), is trying to buy him out. French is also behind on his rent and needs to make money fast. He asks a friend, Alex (Michael Paré), to get him some work. Alex tries to dissuade him from that path. French says he is alright with it. 

    Alex sends him to Tommy, a local collector. Tommy takes him on, pairing him with a long-time collector, Sue (Louis Mandylor). They do a few collections together and French proves to be an excellent asset.  Tommy calls them in for a special job.

    They all go and see Barbosa (Tony Todd), a mobster who lives a faux Hugh Hefner/Scarface life. He wants Tommy’s men to find and punish a man called Connor Mulligan (Jack Lowe). He tells Tommy that Connor stole money from him when working for him in at one of his clubs.

Tommy asks how badly does he want him beaten. Full treatment, a good beatdown. Barbosa also has a fiancee, Amanda (Rachel Brann) who has a thing for Connor, though she acts as if she could not care less. 

    Sue and French begin to do the rounds. They go and see various people who know Connor. All of them say the same thing; Connor is a really good guy and Barbosa is setting him up. One of the tips tells them to follow Amanda. She leads them to Connor. They are about to put a beating on him but are interrupted by his young daughter, Laine (Josie M Parker). 

    Connor explains that he fell in love with one of the girls who worked for Barbosa, the mother of Laine. Barbosa did not like it and took it out on the woman, beating her whilst she was pregnant. She died and Laine was born prematurely.

Conscience gets the better of French and he persuades Sue not to beat up Connor. They meet Amanda on the way out of the building and she tells them that Barbosa is setting them up and has sent men to kill Connor.

     French and Sue go back up to Connor’s apartment and save Connor. They take a couple of guns from Barbosa’s henchmen and a gunfight ensues. Sue gets killed during the gunfight. French also takes some shots but escapes the apartment. Tommy comes into the apartment. He tells Barbosa he knows he set them up and kills him. 

   French staggers bleeding to the car and tries to drive away. Connor and Laine, having got away, have dinner in another city. Laine asks if the cows have a good life before they become steaks. Connor tells her they do. The end. 

    The Debt Collectors is an okay actioner starring Scott Adkins. Adkins is not a very good actor. He is a great martial artist, which his sixty-plus film credits more than demonstrates. He is just not an actor. Not that that really matters. The action in The Debt Collector and pairing him with Mandylor ably hides his deficiencies. 

   Written by Jesse V Johnson and Stu Small, with Johnson also directing, there is a strange artistic choice of interspersing the film with scenes of cow rearing and farming and, towards the end, slaughter. It is supposed to, I suspect, mirror the story. Unfortunately, the film and story is simply too weak to accommodate oblique references. 

    The main story of the collectors being double-crossed by Barbosa, whilst good enough for the film, is not introduced until fifty minutes into the film. The film is only ninety-five minutes long. Before that story is introduced, the film is just a collection of fight scenes, the initial story, of French trying to raise money for his dojo and rent, forgotten. 

    The script is perfunctory rather than good or bad, moving the story from one fight scene to the next. There is a little character development, but not much. It really is not that kind of film. This is the kind of film where you just tell the actors ‘you’re a bad guy’ or ‘you’re a good guy’ and they work out the details on the fly. 

   For a director with fifty credits to his name, Johnson made some odd creative decisions. Besides the excessive cow love, he also put in an unnerving amount of fade to black scenes, which really did not go with the story or the character.

Fade to blacks are usually employed either at the end of a film or after a particularly emotional scene. I’ll give you one guess as to which of those two options was not employed in this film. 

    As much as I have pointed out the many flaws in The Debt Collector, it is a watchable and enjoyable film. If you are expecting high concept or story, you will be sorely disappointed. If you approach it with the intention of watching a film where a lot of people take an ass-whooping, you will probably enjoy it. 

     Though it is obviously no John Wick, The Debt Collector is an enjoyably silly romp for ninety-five, brainless, minutes. 

My Top Ten Comedies

     Everybody likes to laugh. Whether it is with friends or alone, at something you have seen on social media, television or read, laughing is something that is enjoyed universally. There are few things in life that bring more unfettered joy, a total disconnect from any worries or stress, than a good hearty, unrestrained laugh. 

    With this in mind, I thought I would list my favourite comedies. In an effort to keep the list somewhat organised, I will only be listing ten, because ‘my ten favourite comedies’ is a clickable title. I will be sticking to true comedies, so there will be no rom-coms, as much as I enjoy them, action-comedies or any other genre-slash-comedy. 

   And, crucially, they all have to have contained a scene that made me laugh uncontrollably. I’m talking tears streaming down my face, was unable to hear the next scene funny. With these criteria in mind, here is my list of the funniest films, in no particular order, I have enjoyed over the years. 

   The first film I’m going to list is Eddie Murphy’s funniest and most quotable classic, 1988’s Coming to America. Murphy was already a big star by the time Coming to America came out, having made his name in the buddy classic alongside Nick Nolte in 1982’s 48 hours and starred in another comedy classic opposite Dan Akroyd in1983’s Trading Places. 

   But it was in Coming to America that Murphy really showed his comedy chops. Not only did he play the central character of Prince Akeem, he also took on other smaller roles in the film, as a barber, a Jewish man and soul singer. Along with Arsenio Hall, who also played multiple characters, Murphy is hilarious as the crown prince of a fictional African country who goes to America to find a bride. 

    Not only does the film contain multiple laugh-out-loud scenes, it also features a, at that time, unknown Samuel L Jackson in a small, expletive-filled scene. A classic comedy that even after many viewings is still funny. 

   My next film is a film that spawned many a copycat but was never bettered. Starring Leslie Neilsen, who would go on to make such films his stock-in-trade, Airplane (1980) is a brilliant spoof on the popular disaster movies of the seventies. Containing brilliant visual gags and a script full of comedy gems, the film works mostly because the entire cast plays it absolutely straight. 

    From the memorable ‘assume crash positions’ which sees the passengers strewn about the plane, to the slowly going maniacally crazy air traffic controller, played by Lloyd Bridges, who through the whole ordeal list the various vices he picked the wrong week to give up. Airplane is a classic of its type that has never been surpassed or equalled. 

    Next, on my list, I’m going back to the thirties, 1933 to be exact. That is when my favourite film of the comedy quartet that were known as the Marx Brothers came out. Duck Soup finds the four brothers in the fictional country of Freedonia. 

   Rufus T Firefly (Groucho) is the ruler and the country is in dire straits. He plans to marry a wealthy widow, MrsTeasdale (Margaret Dumont). But when he finds he has a rival in Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) from the neighbouring country, Sylvania, he decides to declare war. 

    Not only is Duck Soup a brilliant farce, it is also the source of the often copied mirror scene. When Firefly hears a noise in the night he goes around his home checking. He comes across a door-sized reflection of himself, Harpo as Pinky, dressed exactly the same. Suspicious, he tries to outwit the doppelgänger. If you have never seen Duck Soup, it is worth seeing for that scene alone. 

    Staying in the thirties, next on my list is Bringing Up Baby(1938). Cary Grant plays David Huxley, a palaeontologist who is trying to secure a million-dollar donation for his museum. He meets the flighty and quirky Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn) and chaos ensues. 

     Susan takes a fancy to David and, as a way to keep him around, tricks him into helping her out with a gift bestowed on her aunt Elizabeth (May Robson), by Major Applegate (Charles Ruggles), a tamed tiger named Baby. Aunt Elizabeth is also the benefactor whom David is hoping to get the donation from. 

     Grant’s and Hepburn’s comedy timing is something to admire, considering both also did many dramatic roles. Directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, Bringing Up Baby is a film that is timeless in its ability to amuse. 

    A more recent film for my next pick is a film starring Melissa McCarthy. I have been a fan of hers since her turn as the happy chef Sookie in the brilliant dramedy series, Gilmore Girls. McCarthy has been in many, mostly good, comedies; Bridesmaids, The Heat, Identity Thief, Ghostbusters, Tammy, to name a few. 

   It is in 2015’s Spy that McCarthy excels as the CIA office drone, Susan Cooper, who is forced to work in the field when the identities of all the field operatives are compromised. Playing opposite a surprisingly funny Jason Statham as the macho Rick Ford, McCarthy shows her full comedic repertoire here, from goofy and clumsy to potty-mouthed and caustic. Spy is a laugh fest. 

    Now to a comedy that should not work. A comedy that is a guilty pleasure even though it is not a secret. A comedy whose premise is so stupid it could only have soared or crashed and burned. I am talking about the gender/race swap craziness that is White Chicks. 

    White Chicks, starring two of the brothers, Marlon and Shawn, from the comic dynasty that is the Wayans’, sees the two black FBI agents go undercover as two white, blonde sorority girls to foil a kidnap plot. Told you it was ridiculous. As well as some brilliant gender gags and race-baiting humour, there is a standout performance from Terry Crews as Latrell Spencer, a big black man who embraces everything white. White Chicks is really a bad film that is somehow a good comedy. If watched with low expectations, it is an enjoyable romp. 

    From a bad gender swap comedy to a classic. Going back to 1959, I am picking the Billy Wilder film, Some Like It Hot. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play Joe and Jerry, a couple of musicians who find themselves on the run from the mob after witnessing a hit. 

    They dress as women, adopting the names Josephine and Daphne, and join an all-female band on a train to Florida. Joe/Josephine is attracted to Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) and so adopts another identity – Shell Oil jr – to try and woo her. Jerry/Daphne is trying to repel the attentions of a true millionaire, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown). 

    The two men also have to avoid Spats Colombo (George Raft) who wants them dead. A sparkling comedic property that, even after all these years, still works on multiple levels.

     The youth of today do not know what they are missing when it comes to this next comedy gem. With an Oscar-winning turn by a then-unknown Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito, the long-suffering girlfriend of Vinny Gambini, a fantastically streetwise Joe Pesci, the film, My Cousin Vinny, is comedy gold. 

    When a road trip across America finds New Yorkers, Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) arrested for murder in rural Alabama, the only lawyer they can afford, because he’s free, is Bill’s cousin, Vinny. 

    My Cousin Vinny has so many great scenes, it is difficult to pick a favourite one. With the acting good across the board and the late Fred Gwynne, as Judge Chamberlain Haller, excelling. My Cousin Vinny is a must-watch film for any fan of comedy.

    Before he went a little existential, Jim Carrey was a comedy superstar. In 1994 he had a particularly good year, releasing three great comedies. First came Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Carrey’s manic energy perfect for the animal obsessed private investigator. That was followed by The Mask, which saw another high octane performance from Carrey. Finally, that year, came my penultimate pick for a place in my top ten, Dumb And Dumber. 

    Playing opposite an equally funny Jeff Daniels, who plays Harry, Carrey is Lloyd. Together the pair play best friends whose matching levels of stupidity see them get into situations and crises they are too inept to get out of. 

     The buffoonery of the two is something to behold, their lack of intelligence making an amoeba look like a genius. Written by the Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby, Dumb and Dumber is one of their standout works along with Shallow Hal and Something About Mary. Dumb And Dumber is idiotic humour at its best. 

   My final pick is from the mind of B movie action star Michael Jai White. White, a highly accomplished martial artist and passable actor, who has graced screens both large and small for the past couple of decades. 

   Appearing in frankly too many forgettable roles to mention, as well as some respectable fare such as a recurring role in the television series Arrow and Nolan’s The Dark Knight, White created a cult film in 2009 with a pastiche of seventies blaxploitation films. 

    Black Dynamite was clever and funny, nostalgic and knowing, an unexpected gem of a comedy, relishing in the many quirks and novelties of the blaxploitation era. With White playing the lead role of Black Dynamite, a mixture of Shaft (1971) and Jim Kelly’s Black Belt Jones (!974), he looks the part and is perfect for the all-action role he created for himself. 

    There are a few more films that could have made it to the list – The Odd Couple, Uptown Saturday Night, Blazing Saddles, The Lego Movie, The Hangover, to name a tiny few, that is without even delving into the silent era classics. 

   Comedy is such a personal thing that to proclaim my choices, which in truth are changeable, definitive would be foolhardy. For me, the ten films I have listed are all films that have given great joy on multiple viewings and even to think about scenes in many of the above would bring a smile to my face. Everybody loves to laugh.