Polaroid – review

Brief synopsis: When Tyler (Davi Santos) finds an old Polaroid Instamatic camera whilst clearing a house for the antique store at, he gives it to Bird (Kathryn Prescott) who also works at the same store and is an avid photographer. A shy loner, Bird is persuaded to go a party by her friend Kasey (Samantha Logan), because one of the high school boys who Bird fancies, Connor (Tyler Young) will be there.

Bird takes the old camera along to the party and takes photos with it. Shortly after the party, students start dying.

Is it any good?: Afforded a measly five-point one on IMDB, Polaroid is actually better than the opening of the film promises. It starts off with a pretty pointless scene that has very little bearing on the rest of the film but once that is out of the way, the film builds nicely to a satisfying conclusion and, thankfully, leaves no room for an unnecessary sequel. Better the usual fare on Netflix and worth a look.

Spoiler territory: Sarah (Madeline Petsch) is with a friend, Linda (Erika Prevost) looking through her late mother’s belongings. She finds an old Polaroid camera. Linda receives a ‘like’ on a picture she has posted to social media from ‘Craig’. She is mildly apologetic towards Sarah but also points out that she might have received the same response if she was more relaxed and took pictures.

Sarah tells her she wants to send him a picture but wants it to be more personal. She has Linda take a photo of her with the Polaroid camera. As they wait for the photo to develop, Linda receives a text and says she has to go.

Alone in the house, Sarah hears noises. The camera starts buzzing and humming. She searches around the house and hears breathing. A frightened Sarah keeps looking around. She gets grabbed by an unseen entity and is killed.

Sometime later, it is high-school photo day at Locust Harbour high school. A less than enthused Bird has her photo taken for the yearbook. The photographer asks if she wants to remove her scarf, Bird declines. The other students call her scarf girl. Bird leaves the school and spots Connor talking to friends as she goes to get on her bike. She takes out a digital camera to take a photo of him but gets nervous and decides not to when he looks her way.

She heads to the local antique store where she works part-time. Tyler, who also works there, brings in a box of items from a house clearance he has done. He tells Bird that he has something for her. He shows her the Polaroid camera. An excited Bird starts to mess about with the camera and takes a picture of Tyler. He tries to kiss her but Bird does not feel the same way and rejects his advances.

Bird heads home. At home, her mother (Shauna MacDonald) is getting ready to go to work. She leaves her daughter and Bird goes back to meeting about with the camera. Bird talks to her dog as she plays with the camera, wanting to take a picture of the mutt but the dog is wary of the camera and backs away.

Before Bird can take a picture, she is interrupted by Kasey. Kasey and Bird discuss their college decisions, with Bird determined to follow her late father’s footsteps into journalism and Kasey going away to college to get away from her family narrow-minded view on her sexual preferences.

Kasey persuades a somewhat reluctant Bird to attend Avery’s (Katie Stevens) end of year costume party. She tells her Connor will be there. Bird agrees to go. Later, Kasey and Bird join the playfully bickering couple, Mina (Priscilla Quintana) and Devin (Keenan Tracey) and head to the party.

In the antique store, Tyler is looking at an old slide projector. As he goes through the pictures he sees a strange, humanoid shadow. It disappears when he checks back but then reappears as he looks again. A weary Tyler picks up a hammer, certain that there is someone behind the projector screen.

There is nothing there. He checks the projector again. Hearing a noise behind him, he turns to see the entity (Javier Botet). Tyler screams. At the party, Kasey implores Bird not to be her normal loner self and to mix with people. Bird reverts to type and stands alone watching the party happen around her.

Connor approaches Bird at the party. As they are chatting, he asks her about the camera, noticing it in her bag. Mina and Devin come up as they are chatting. They want to take a photo together but Bird does not want to be in the photo and says she will take the photo with her Polaroid. As she is about to take the photo, Kasey jumps into the photo.

Avery comes up just after the photo op and notes that she had not been invited to the photo opportunity. She takes a picture of herself with the Polaroid. As the picture is developing, there is a knock at the door. The police have come. They are looking for Bird. She goes down to the police station and meets sheriff Pembroke (Mitch Pileggi). He tells her that Tyler is dead.

Back home, a mourning Bird looks at the photographs taken by the Polaroid camera. She sees a worrying shadow, the entity, in the photo of Avery. Avery, home alone, hears noises around her house. Avery gets killed by the entity.

The next morning, Bird gets a call from Kasey telling her that Avery is dead. Bird goes back to the photographs. The entity is no longer in the photo of Avery. It has moved into the group photo. She tries to break the camera but it repels her. Bird is sure that the camera is the cause.

She sees Devin, Mina and Kasey and goes to explain her theory to them, showing them the group photo with the entity in it. Connor comes over to the table as she is talking to them. She tells them she saw the shadow in Tyler’s photo and then in Avery’s. Mina is sceptical. Devin too shows scepticism. Bird is convinced that they are in danger.

Devin says if she is that worried they should get rid of the photo. He sets the picture on fire. As the photo burns, the fire gets to Mina’s arm in the photo first. In the canteen, Mina’s arm catches fire. As Devin tries to put out the fire on his girlfriend, Bird realises that she has to put out the fire on the photograph.

They take Mina to hospital. Bird and Connor go to the antique store. Bird wants to find the case that the camera was in. Whilst in the store retrieving the case, she is chased by the entity but it is deterred when it comes into contact with a heat source. Meanwhile, Connor, who had been waiting outside the store, notices that Bird is actually in the photograph as well, having been caught a reflection.

At the hospital, a recovering Mina is told by Devin that her parents are travelling back to see her. He leaves her to go and get a nurse. Mina gets killed by the entity. Devin blames Bird. A guilty Bird leaves the group and goes off crying. Connor finds Bird. She tells him that she feels responsible for her father’s death because he had an accident when she didn’t want to go on a trip with him.

Connor and Bird investigate the camera’s origins. They find out that it belonged to a notorious child murderer, Roland Joseph Sable (Rhys Bevan John). He killed three high school children all of who went to Locust Harbour. They go and see Devin and Kasey and tell them about their findings. A still-grieving Devin gets into an altercation with Connor when he accidentally takes a photo of him with the camera.

Devin gets arrested for assault when he hits a policeman trying to calm the situation down, at the sheriff’s office, Bird and Connor try to explain the situation to Pembroke. They tell him about the camera’s history and the old Sable murders. Pembroke shuts them down, warning them not to pursue the matter. Devin remains locked up in a cell.

Connor and Bird find out that Sable’s wife, Lena (Grace Zabriskie), is still living in the town and go and see her. She tells them that he only killed the children because they had bullied his, their, daughter, Rebecca (Emily Power), and that had made her commit suicide. He has wanted to make the children suffer how his daughter had.

Devin gets killed in the sheriff’s office. Conner and Bird keep investigating. Sable’s widow had said there were four children but only three had been killed. They go back to their high school and look through high school yearbooks from the time and find out that Pembroke was the four children he was after. Kasey comes to the school to meet them. Pembroke finds them all at the school.

Bird threatens to take a picture of him, saying it is the only way to end the killings. She does not go through with it. Connor grabs the camera and takes a photo as Pembroke slaps the camera out of his hands. He tells them that it was actually Sable who tormented his daughter, taking inappropriate photos of her. They found out and he wanted them dead so as they would not expose him.

The photo of Pembroke develops. The entity appears, picking up the photo. Pembroke shoots at him but the entity tears the photo in half ripping Pembroke apart and killing him. The tree teens run. Connor gets separated from the girls and the entity goes after them. Kasey gets stabbed through the leg by the entity but manages to escape. Bird takes them both to the showers and puts them on full heat.

Connor finds them. Bird realises she needs to get to the camera. She and Connor go for the camera. Connor gets grabbed by the entity as they get to the camera. Bird takes a picture of herself to force the entity to come after her. The entity grabs her. She takes a picture of the entity and tries crushing it. It seems to work but as soon as she opens the photo, the entity uncurls, stalking her once more. She sets the photo on fire, killing the entity.

They take Kasey to the hospital. Bird throws the camera into the river. The end.

Polaroid is not a bad horror film at all. It takes a little while to get going and the opening scene, featuring perhaps the most recognisable face in the film in Riverdales’ Petsch, is utterly pointless. Prescott is great as the ridiculously monikered, shy loner, Bird and is brilliantly contrasted by Logan’s Kasey.

The idea of voodoo-like photos is a good one and, though not used in the extreme, works really well for the story. Once Bird makes the connection between the photographs and her friends’ deaths, the film gathers pace and finds some urgency.

With a competent screenplay by Blair Butler and ably helmed by Lars Klevberg, the only real complaint from a horror perspective is that the film does not commit to the horror, visually, enough. There is very little blood in Polaroid and the lighting for the film is so dark that one can barely see what is going on.

At eighty-eight minutes long, Polaroid is around the standard length of an inexpensive, teen, horror and, with a 15 rating here in the UK, goes for jump scares over gore. A better film than its IMDB score would have one think, Polaroid is worth a watch if you like a horror film.

My Teacher, My Obsession – review (Netflix)

English teacher Chris Sumner (Rusty Joiner) and his daughter, Riley (Laura Bilgeri), move to a new town after Chris splits with Riley’s mother due to her having an affair. Riley, a bit of a loner, meets Kyla (Lucy Loken), another student who is also a loner, given to taking photos around the school campus.

Kyla sees Chris on his first day and takes a photo of him. Chris is an attractive man, something noted by Tricia (Alexandra DeBerry), the resident hot, popular girl at school. Kyla befriends Riley, even though she is besotted with her father. Kyla’s mother, Jess (Jana Lee Hamblin), begins to see a new man. It turns out to be Chris.

Kyla sees Tricia befriending Riley and gets jealous, warning her not to hang out with Tricia. Tricia tells Riley that Kyla is the bad one. Chris comes to take Jess out for a date. Kyla sabotages her mother’s date with Chris by spilling water on his clothes and suggesting that they have the date in the house.

Back at school, Kyla, having heard that Riley was hanging out with Tricia from her father, ignores Riley. Riley tries to talk to her but Kyla refuses. Kyla threatens Tricia. Her obsession with Chris is getting worse. She frames Tricia for bullying by planting pictures of herself in her locker, making people believe Tricia did it. She also steals Tricia’s mobile phone, sending sexual texts to Chris. Tricia gets expelled.

Riley gets her mother to look at Chris’ phone so as she can see the texts from Tricia’s phone. Jess splits up with Chris. Kyla immediately begins to seduce Chris. Kyla persuades Riley to have an eighteenth birthday party. At the party, Kyla seduces Chris in the bedroom. Riley walks in on them and is furious. Kyla’s goes up a level as she realises that Chris sees his daughter as more important than her.

How you like me now?

Riley tells Jess about her father and Kyla. Kyla tells her mother that she is jealous and that Chris is hers and they are in love. Chris tries to tell Kyla that they cannot work. She uses Tricia to get to him, framing her once again, this time for assault, breaking her own finger to make the attack look convincing. Tricia gets arrested.

In the hospital, Jess tells Kyla that she must not see Chris anymore. Riley tells her that her dad is going to stay away from her. Kyla believes that Chris still wants her, even as he tells her he has no interest in her. Chris tells her he is going to leave the school, as he realises her obsession is delusional. Kyla grabs a scalpel and leaves the hospital.

At the school, Kyla stabs Riley, telling her that Chris cannot have both of them in his life. She finds Chris in his office and threatens him with the scalpel, telling him that they can start a new family. He fights her off of him. She kicks out at him and he is knocked unconscious. A janitor, hearing the commotion, comes to check the office.

Kyla cuts his throat. She chases a still alive but bleeding Riley through the school corridors. They fight in the photography darkroom and Riley knocks her unconscious. The police and ambulance services turn up and take them all away.

Sometime later, Riley and Chris have moved again. Riley is going to college and Chris is about to start in a new post. As Riley drives off, Kyla pops out of the shadows. The end.

I want to shag your dad.

My Teacher, My Obsession is so much hokum. Obviously, with a title that bad, it was never going to be a masterwork or even passably good, but the filmmakers really did not even try to pretend they were making a good film.

Using the old “obsessive, stalker female” trope made famous by far better films—Play Misty For Me, Fatal Attraction, MiseryMy Teacher, My Obsession is so lazy that it is laughable. Loken’s Kyla does not even bother to begin as an even mildly normal student, introduced as a photo-snapping loner from the outset.

The moment she claps eyes on Joiner’s Chris, she is besotted. How her own mother seems to have no idea that her daughter is so mentally unstable is a little bit of a worry. Bilgeri’s Riley not noticing that Kyla seemed to have an unhealthy attraction to her father, even though Kyla was drooling every time she saw the man, is ridiculous.

Kyla’s genius—or the entire town’s stupidity—gets Tricia expelled and arrested, with nary a finger pointed in the direction of the crazed Kyla. Jess, prompted by her loony daughter, immediately thinks the worst of Chris just on the strength of a few texts.

Truth be told, all the glaring plot holes are not really an issue; the film and story, such as it is, is not aiming for coherence or even to make sense. Written by Patrick Robert Young, who I assume was drunk, and directed by Damian Romay, My Teacher, My Obsession, is an obsessive thriller by numbers, ticking boxes whilst bringing nothing at all new to the genre.

The acting is okay, with DeBerry’s Tricia probably being the best performance, which is saying a lot as she is on the screen for less than ten minutes. The rest of the actors are not bad, though they do seem to be acting, making their performances less appealing.

The climax of the film is rushed and makes a film that was already poor even worse, the script, which had not been particularly notable up until that point, taking a definite downturn in quality as Kyla goes fully homicidal crazy.

My Teacher, My Obsession is watchable for all of the wrong reasons. It will leave you incredulous at how bad it is, like a fake soap opera in a sitcom. If you are a fan of bad movies, you may enjoy My Teacher, My Obsession; otherwise, avoid.

Before I Fall -review (Netflix)

The English language is an ever-expanding, evolving, thing. Words get added, some fall out of the common lexicon. It is the usage of words that generally gets a word committed to language. In the eighties, before there was an influencer or even an internet, Thatcherism was a word absorbed into common parlance by virtue of the British press’ coining of the term over the period of the then prime minister’s reign.

Even on the other side of the pond, the term Watergate, once again a term coined by the press, has had every scandal, political or otherwise, since, given the ‘gate’ adage. In the present, with social media the western world’s dominant presence, a new word has entered the modern lexicon.

Personally, I am not a fan of this word. It is kind of stupid and adds nothing to the English language. The word is ‘bae’. ‘Bae’ is a term of endearment, a catch-all pet name, like ‘babe’, ‘sweetie’, or ‘darling’. ‘Bae’ is not a great word. But I digress. Well, actually it is not a digression but it is off-topic. To the review.

I’m going to die today. And again tomorrow…

Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) is from a well-to-do middle-class family and is part of a popular quartet of girls at her high school. Waking up on February 12th, dubbed Cupid day at school where the boys give girls a rose to show affection, she is picked up by the de facto leader of the quartet, Lindsay Edgecomb (Halston Sage). They pick up the other two on the way, Ally Harris (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi).

Sam, as they all call her, is planning to lose her virginity to Rob Cokran (Kian Lawley) and the girls rib her about it as they drive to school. At school, Cupid day is in full swing. As a teacher takes the class, Kent McFuller (Logan Miller) arrives late, apologising for his tardiness. The teacher continues. He interrupted again as three girls come into the class to deliver roses to the lucky ladies.

Sam receives an unusual rose from somebody. After the class, Kent catches up with her to ask her if she liked the rose. Sam is noncommittal, a little cold towards the obviously smitten Kent. He tells her he is having a party, as his parents are away. Will she come? Perhaps.

The four young women meet at lunch, chatting away. Juliet Sykes (Elena Kampouris), a timid and frazzled looking student, moves meekly through the cafeteria. Lindsay begins to loudly insult her, the rest of the girls joining in, laughing at Juliet’s expense. Later, in the evening, the girls all get ready together for Kent’s house party.

They go to the party and are having a good time. Rob is totally wasted at the party. Juliet turns up and screams at the four girls, calling them out for bullying her relentlessly. Lindsay throws a drink on her and everyone at the party begins to follow suit, embarrassing her. Juliet runs out of the party.

Where are you going? The party’s not finished!

Kent tries to talk to Sam but she shuts him down. The girls leave the party. Lindsay is driving through the rain. She asks Sam what the time is. Twelve thirty-eight. Lindsay hits something and skids the car flipping over.

Sam wakes up. She checks her phone. It is Cupid day. She continues through the day, confused to be living the same day again, right up to the crash. She wakes up on Cupid day again. She tries to change things, hoping that the next day there will be a different result. She avoids the party, persuading her crew to have a sleepover and watches the time tick past twelve thirty-eight.

They all get messages early in the morning. Juliet committed suicide. Lindsay shows no sign of sadness at her death, even though Elody points out that they used to be friends when younger. Sam did not know they had been friends.

Sam wakes up. It is Cupid day. She continues to relive the same day, the only person knowing what is going to happen at every moment. One day she decides to be a bitch to everybody, calling out Lindsay and alienating the other two. She sleeps with Rob at the party as she hears Juliet getting abused by Lindsay and the rest. She bonds with Kent.

She wakes up on Cupid day. She decides to try something different, bonding with her little sister and spending time with her family. She goes to the party to see Kent. She is hanging out with him and remembers Juliet. She runs into the night to try and stop her. She catches up with her and they talk. Juliet runs into the road and is hit by Lindsay’s car, which then flips over.

Sam wakes up on Cupid day. It is the last time. She knows what she needs to do. She tells those close to her she loves them, breaks up with Rob, stops Lindsay bullying Juliet. She kisses Kent and goes after Juliet again. She tries to talk her out of committing suicide but Juliet still runs into the road. Sam pushes her out of the way, saving her life, but gets killed herself. The end.

This is my dark phase…

Before I Fall is a good film. Utilising the much-used story device of reliving the same day, as seen in Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code and such, Before I Fall differs from those films in being a teen set drama. Based on a book by Lauren Oliver, the screenplay is by Maria Maggenti and it is directed by Ry Russo-Young.

At ninety-eight minutes long, the film moves along nicely, Deutch’s expressive face keeping you engaged for the entire runtime. Halston Sage, who holds her own opposite a brilliant Bella Thorne in You Get Me, is given a bit of a darker role in this as the catty Lindsey. The acting is good from all of the actors, even the underused eighties hottie, Jennifer Beale as Sam’s mother.

The directing is very fluid, with Russo-Young employing some great shot selections. There are lovely overhead shots, giving a sense of disorientation to Sam and tight shots on the girls as a group, reinforcing their closeness. Conversely, Juliet is shot mostly from far away, her alienation from the high school masses emphasised.

Maggenti’s script is also good. It is always a bit of a task making such a cerebral story work on the screen, especially as the central premise is for the story to repeat itself. Maggenti’s script manages to convey Sam’s rising frustration without it getting boring and repetitive.

Before I Fall is an entertaining film that gets better over its runtime. It is definitely worth watching on a lazy Sunday.

See You Yesterday – review (Netflix)

    Claudette ‘CJ’ Walker (Edna Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian J Thomas (Dante Crichlow) are best friends and science geniuses. They are both at the Bronx Science School and, with the summer holidays coming, are hoping to win a Science expo that is coming up in a weeks time. 

   CJ, though a genius and analytical thinker, is a bit of a hothead and prone to flying off the handle. When she runs into Jared (Rayshawn Richardson), her ex-boyfriend, in the local corner store, they get into an altercation and her brother, Calvin (Astro), steps in to protect her. 

   CJ and Sebastian are working on a temporal relocation experiment – time travel. They plan to go back one day and have created a backpack that can, in theory, create a portal to the past. After they trial the experiment for the second time, the first having failed, it works and they find themselves back to the day before. 

    Excited by their success, the two go back to the store where they saw Jared. Sebastian warns CJ about avoiding bumping into their past selves. Unfortunately, when CJ sees Jared again, she douses him with a slushy. In the resulting confusion, Jared ends up fighting with a confused CJ from the day before. Calvin intervenes again. CJ, the one who has travelled back, douses Jared with another slushy. He chases after her and gets hit by a car. They go back to their proper timeline. Sebastian is frustrated by CJ’s ignoring the possible consequences of messing with the timeline.

    The next day, Calvin is at a summer cookout with his homie. They leave and Calvin gets shot and killed by the police in a case of mistaken identity. A distraught CJ works out how to power the backpacks so as they can go back further in time. The manage to go back further, but their plan to save Calvin is messed up by them encountering Jared and not having enough time to get to Calvin. They are too late to get to him and he is killed again. 

    They return to their own timeline and decide to jump back again. This time they plan to prevent the robbery that precipitated the events that lead up to Calvin’s death. CJ decides to go and warn Carlito (Carlos Arce Jr), the store owner, that he is about to get robbed. Sebastian in that timeline sees CJ and in the confusion, gets shot and killed. The Sebastian that CJ jumped back with fades away. 

    CJ jumps back and attends Sebastian’s funeral. Calvin is still alive. He finds the funeral notice from his own funeral that happened before the first jump. He makes CJ explain everything to him. CJ gets the help of Eduardo (Johnathan Nieves), another super smart student, to build another backpack. 

    She jumps back again and tries to save everybody. Though she saves Sebastian, she is unable to save Calvin. Back in the proper timeline, Sebastian realises that something did not go right and asks CJ for an explanation. She tells him what happened. He says that they cannot jump back anymore. CJ agrees but then traps herself in the garage where they conduct their experiments and jumps back again. The end. 

    Written by Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday is an interesting idea not particularly well executed. At only an hour and twenty minutes, it is a relatively short film, but it is told in such a laborious fashion that it seems to drag in parts. 

    Caught between serious drama, sci-fi and comedy, the film does not serve any of the genres particularly well. There are large swathes of the script taken up with an explanation on the workings of the time travel backpacks, information that adds nothing at all to the film. The popular and much used, ‘don’t mess with the timeline’ trope is utilised to good-ish effect in this film, though some of the story is more plot convenience than creative storytelling. 

    The acting in the film and the casting are very good. Unfortunately, only a few of the characters are written above caricature level, the rest mostly filling the roles of recognisable, even for a black person from the UK such as myself, stereotypes. 

    The directing, by one of the writers, Stefon Bristol, is just okay. There is a bit of filler stuff, the almost seventies like effects for the time jump sequences and the trying too hard to be emotive slo-mo as the kids are accosted by the police officers near the end of the film. The rest is just serviceable. The film is beautifully shot, however. 

    The film tries to broach some serious subjects; education, police murdering young black men, black community and ambition. Regrettably, it does not serve any of the subjects at all well. The film goes for visual punch, emotional and spectacle, over story. 

    I was really looking forward to See You Yesterday, as the concept and premise is quite interesting. Disappointingly, it does not deliver. See You Yesterday is not one to watch tomorrow or any other day. 


You Get Me – review (Netflix)

   Tyler Hanson (Taylor John Smith) is in love with Alison Hewitt (Halston Sage) a girl he has met after she moves to Los Angeles from San Francisco. Their relationship is going really well until they both go to an end of summer party. At the party, one of Alison’s exes from San Francisco, Chase (Rhys Wakefield), is at the party. Chase tells Tyler what a party animal Alison was in San Francisco. Tyler drinks too much and meets Holly Viola (Bella Thorne) whilst going to the bathroom.

   It turns out that they are both having a pretty bad night. Holly tells Tyler that she had been dumped, whilst he confesses that he is bummed over his girlfriend’s ex. A drunk Tyler confronts Alison and she ends up dumping him. Tyler leaves the party and goes out with Holly. They end up spending the night together and the next day, seemingly, bonding. Holly tells him that she is not from Los Angeles and that she moves around.

   Tyler returns home and gets a text from Alison. He gets back together with her. The next day, when Tyler is back with Alison, he sees Holly at school. She comes into the same class as him. Tyler tries to tell her that he is back with Alison. Holly is initially cool, but when Tyler tries to tell her that he does not want to see her anymore, she freaks out. 

   Holly befriends Alison and Alison’s close friend, Lydia (Anna Akana). She also makes advances at Gil (Nash Grier), Tyler’s best friend. She gets closer to Alison and even goes and stays over at her house. Tyler is, understandably, worried about Alison finding out. He meets her step-mother, Corinne (Brigid Brannagh) by chance at the school. He finds out she is not where she says she is from. 

   Lydia is suspicious of her as well and voices her concerns to Alison. The fact that Holly has no internet presence concerns her. Moments later she has an allergic reaction to a smoothie Holly gives her, putting her in hospital. Holly’s relationship with Corinne is strained as her late father left everything to Corinne. Corinne tells her that she knows that she missed a couple therapy sessions. Corinne is a little frightened of Holly. 

   Holly tells Alison she is pregnant and the father does not want to know. Holly finds out that Alison has never met Tyler’s family. She goes over to his house and meets his sister. Tyler is furious. Holly tells him that they should be together and they are in love. Tyler tells her to leave and never come back, pushing her to the ground. She goes to Alison’s house. 

   Tyler goes to see Lydia and tells her about his indiscretion with Holly. He tells her he is going to tell Alison. When he goes to tell her, the next day, Alison already knows and dumps him again. Holly believes, with Alison now out of the picture, they can be together. Tyler tries to ignore her.

    Holly gets Tyler suspended for assault. Tyler tries to warn Alison that Holly is dangerous after he finds out her first name is Elizabeth and finds her online. He finds out that she has a history of mental problems. Holly kidnaps Alison and texts a picture of her to Tyler. He races over to rescue her.

   Holly is expecting him and has Alison tied to a chair. When a car pulls up, Holly disappears. Corinne comes in and sees Alison tied up. As she tries to free her, Holly suffocates her. Tyler arrives at the house. Holly is waiting for him. She wants to replay their weekend. Tyler just wants to find Alison. Holly has her suspended above them. Tyler frees Alison but Holly locks them in the house. 

   Holly catches up with them and holds a gun on them. She cannot decide who to kill first. Gil, who had been called by Tyler earlier, comes in and distracts Holly. She shoots Tyler in the shoulder and then tries to shoot Gil and misses. Alison takes the opportunity of Gil’s entrance to stab Holly with a poker. She falls into the swimming pool. The police turn up and she is arrested. Tyler realises he got lucky. The end. 

   You Get Me, another Netflix film, is a teen version of Play Misty For Me or Fatal Attraction, a couple of classic films about deranged women getting obsessed with a man after a carnal encounter. Not likely to be recalled with the same respect as those two films, You Get Me is, nevertheless, not a terrible film. 

    The opening, with the dreaded voiceover, is not promising, with Taylor John Smith’s Tyler telling us what we are watching as we’re watching it. After that slightly awkward starting point, the film settles down nicely, quickly getting into the main story and introducing the scarily excellent Bella Thorne’s Holly. Her dark eyes and slight smirk, hint at an underlying madness from the outset.

    Though it is a relatively straightforward thriller, madwoman-on-the-rampage, by numbers film, the acting and chemistry between the leads elevate the film to a watchable and enjoyable level. The acting is good across the board in the film, but it is Bella Thorne’s performance that drives the film. She is dangerous and sexy, coy and crazy, friendly and psychotic. Thorne projects all of these emotions perfectly, never overselling, letting her eyes do most of the work. 

    Halston Sage as Alison has the most difficult role. Being the unknowing party, and then a victim is an unforgiving role. She is required to be nice and trusting, whilst not being so dull that you hope she gets killed. Sage manages to get the balance just right, making Alison likeable without her being irritating. 

   The script by Ben Epstein is clever, allowing Tyler to be indiscreet with a license. The fact that Tyler, at an age of testosterone overload, is denied sex by Alison because she wants it to be real and then finds out she was a wild thing in San Francisco, is cute. That he succumbs so easily to Holly might be frowned upon by the overly prudish, but it works perfectly well within the framework of the film. 

    The film is well paced, with no unnecessary scenes shoehorned in for show. Directed by Brent Bonacorso, it looks impressive, with the camera allowing the story to be told by the actors rather than trying to impress with camera work trickery. 

   Even though it is only given four point seven on IMDB, You Get Me is a far better film than the score would have you believe. By no means a classic, it is entertaining and good enough to take an easy ninety-minutes out of your day for. A solid seven out of ten. 



The Perfect Date – review (Netflix)

   Maybe I’m getting softer as I age. Films seem to have more of an emotional impact on me of late. Not that I was some soulless, hard-hearted, individual before, but I definitely do get much more of the feels when watching a film these days. 

    It could be that I’ve been overwhelmed with the sheer volume of films, shows and content I watch and am now having some sort of a breakdown. I mean, aside from a couple of god-awful horror films, a truly mediocre actioner and a couple of good and excellent series, I have been, of late, watching a lot of rom-coms.

   Admittedly, I do enjoy a rom-com. One I reviewed recently was even in my demographic, The Lovers. Generally, though, rom-com’s tend to look at young love or, as is the case with Netflix’s The Perfect Date, teenage love. 

    Brooks Rattigan (Noah Centineo) lives with his father, Charlie (Matt Walsh) his parents having divorced and his mother going off and marrying a wealthy man and having a new family. Brooks works in the local Sub sandwich restaurant with his best friend, Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis), hoping to save enough money to go to the college of his dreams, Yale.

    As he and Murph discuss how he is going to raise enough money to go to Yale, Reece (Zak Steiner), a rich kid who goes to the same school as them comes into the restaurant, bemoaning the fact that his father wants to pay him to take his cousin to the prom. 

   Spotting an opportunity, Brooks offers to take the cousin out. Reece takes him up on the offer. Brooks goes to the Lieberman’s house to pick up Reece’s cousin, Celia (Laura Marano). Celia, knowing her cousin paid for Brooks to take her out, is initially obnoxious. Brooks manages to win her over. She suggests, jokingly, that he rents himself out as a partner. 

   Brooks mulls the idea over. He asks Murph, who is a computer and tech wiz, to create an app for him. Business immediately takes off for him. He and Celia become friends with most people believing them to be a couple. 

   Celia likes Franklin (Blaine Kern III), a vinyl music-loving, street graffiti artist, who seems, at first glance more of a fit for her. Brooks helps her get with him. Brooks also has a crush. He wants to get together with Shelby Pace (Camila Méndes), a beautiful rich girl. Brooks and Celia hatch a plan for a public breakup.

   Celia, Brooks, and Murph go out. Celia likes Brooks more than she realises. Brooks has her firmly in the friend-zone, meticulously planning the breakup for a party they are going to. 

    The plan works perfectly for Brooks, with Shelby falling for him after seeing the breakup. Celia is not so into Franklin. She is also wounded when Brooks’ goes too far when doing their fake breakup. At another party Brooks, no longer in contact with Celia, takes Shelby to the party. At the party one of his ex-clients recognises him and he is forced to confess to Shelby. 

    Shelby dumps him for lying. Brooks writes a letter to Celia, belatedly realising that he really misses her. She reads it and forgives. They get together. The end. 

    The Perfect Date is a rom-com, coming-of-age film that is an easy ninety minutes entertainment. The central pairing of Centineo and Marano works really well, the chemistry between them strong enough for you to believe they could get together.

   The story is light and just about plausible within the rules of romantic comedy. The Perfect Date does not have laugh-out-loud moments. It is more of an amusing story rather a rollicking, situations for laughs comedy. 

   That is not to say it is not humorous, it is. It just leans more into the sweetness than the comedy.  There is no great mystery or surprises in the film. Every element in this pretty formulaic rom-com happens as you would expect it to. 

    Unlike other teen set, coming-of-age comedies, The Perfect Date doesn’t embrace the mean kid ethos overly. Zak Steiner’s Reece is arrogant and mildly condescending, but he does not view Centineo’s Brooks as anything more than one of the many students who, unlike him, does not come from money. Mendes’ Shelby is little more than eye candy, her involvement barely taking up fifteen minutes screen time. 

   These are minor gripes as overall, The Perfect Date is an enjoyable film that does and shows exactly what you expect. Nice.