Fatal Affair – review

Brief synopsis: After a traffic accident to her architect husband and their daughter going away to college, a lawyer decides to leave the city and set up a new practice in a coastal town where her husband can continue to recuperate. Whilst still working for her old city firm, she meets an old college friend in a meeting about a case.

The two reconnect and on a night out almost have a brief affair but she pulls back. The old friend does not want this second chance at having her to get away and becomes dangerously obsessive.

Is it any good?: The lazy title, Fatal Affair, probably answers the ‘is it any good?’ Question sufficiently. The trailer tells the less than original story and there are no plot twists to hold or pique one’s interest. Fatal Affair is lazy nonsense.

Spoiler territory: a couple are canoodling on a sofa, in front of an open fire. After making love, Deborah (KJ Smith) tells Travis (Jason-Shane Scott), she needs a drink of water and gets up and goes to the kitchen. As she pours herself a glass of water, she hears a noise in the darkened apartment.

She calls out to Travis as she makes her way back to the lounge where they were on the sofa. He is no longer there. She goes upstairs, into their bedroom. He is not there. She hears water running and smiles. She heads to the bathroom., disrobing as she sees that he is in the bath.

As she gets closer, she sees that the bathwater is diluted with Travis’ blood and he is dead. Deborah starts screaming. Her screaming is cut short as she is grabbed from behind and dragged out of the bathroom.

Ellie Warren (Nia Long) drives along a coastal road, heading to her new home. A lawyer, she is speaking about her final case that she is working on for the city firm she is leaving. Reaching her new home in Oceancrest, Ellie enters the new home and calls to her husband, Marcus (Stephen Bishop). Marcus, though fully mobile, is recovering from the after-effects of a traumatic traffic accident.

Their daughter Brittany (Aubrey Cleland), has gone to college. The couple have been together since college and had their daughter shortly after leaving college. Their respective careers, Marcus is an architect, took priority in both of their lives. Marcus feels a move from the city, and their daughter away at college, it is a good time for them to reconnect in their relationship.

The next day, Ellie is in the city for a meeting on her final case and meets up with her friend, Courtney (Maya Stojan), who works in the same building for another law firm. She wants Ellie to come out for drinks with her but Ellie tells her cannot because Marcus is cooking dinner. Courtney, not to be deterred, insists that she come out the next evening.

Ellie goes to her meeting and is surprised to see an old college friend, David Hammond (Omar Epps), at the meeting. He has been recruited by the firm for his expertise in hacking and information retrieval. After the meeting, David and Ellie catch up briefly. He asks her if they can get together but she tells him the same thing she told Courtney, she is busy. She gives him her card and tells him that he can call her.

Ellie and Marcus have a sterile dinner. David brings information for the case the next day, impressing the firm with his speed and efficiency. Ellie turns David down again when he invites her for celebratory drinks, telling him she is meeting up with Courtney. She quickly reconsiders and tells him he can come and meet them at the bar.

At the bar, Ellie gets a call from Courtney. She is stuck at work and will not be able to meet her. David sees Ellie just as she is ending the call. They have a few drinks together as they catch up. Ellie tells David that she is married but lies to Marcus when he texts to asks how the drinks with Courtney are going.

Ellie and David go to a night club. Still drinking, they get amorous in the bathroom. Ellie stops David before they go too far and leaves the club. David goes after her. She tells him that their actions were a mistake. She goes home.

The next day, as Ellie looks to put the night behind her, David is seeing his therapist, Dr Leigh Beverly (Fredella Calloway). He tells her that he is doing well and that he is seeing someone, alluding to Ellie. He lies, telling the doctor that she is getting out of a long term relationship. The doctor asks him whether he is over what happened to Deborah. David gets noticeably agitated.

Brittany comes to the new home to visit her parents. Back at work in the city, Ellie meets up with Courtney for coffee. As she leaves Courtney to return home, David stops her at her car. He wants to know why she has not returned his calls. Ellie tells him again that she is married.

At home, David continues to bombard Ellie’s phone with texts messages. She blocks him. Later, as Ellie and Marcus are making love, David watches them from outside. The next day, Marcus visits his wife at her new offices. They are expecting Courtney for dinner later in the day, so Marcus leaves Ellie at work. Later, with Brittany out with her boyfriend Scott (Jacob Gaines), Ellie and Marcus prepare dinner for themselves and Courtney. Courtney turns up with a guest. It is David. He pretends he is meeting Ellie for the first time and she does likewise.

At the dinner, an uneasy Ellie watches David comfortably lying his way through the evening. Ellie and David talk in the kitchen. She tells him that she has no desire to see him again. Ever. The next day, Ellie receives a parcel with a vinyl record in it. The record is one that was being played when they went to the club.

Ellie cannot get hold of Courtney. She meets with David again. She is angry and tells him to stay out of her life. David tells her they can have an affair, convinced there is something between them. As Ellie sets him straight about the state of their relationship, David snaps and calls her Deborah. Ellie wants to know who Deborah is. He does not answer. Ellie reiterates that she does not want to see him again.

Courtney comes to see Ellie in her offices. She is angry. David has told her that Ellie is stalking him and even shown her the text messages he has received from her. Ellie tries to tell her that David is manipulating her but Courtney does not believe her. Ellie begins to investigate David.

She heads to their old school and meets up with their old professor, Nicole (Kym Jackson). She asks her about David. Nicole tells her about Deborah, who was his ex-wife, being killed and how possessive of her he had been. She also tells her that David was obsessed with her.

David sneaks into Ellie’s home and steals some of her underwear. Brittany almost encounters him as she comes back from a night out. David keeps stalking Ellie. He sends her a video from their night a the club. Ellie tries to contact Courtney, who still refuses to take her calls.

Ellie decides to follow David. She follows him as he meets up with Marcus to play golf. She gets into his apartment and finds photos of Deborah and Travis making love the night they died. There are also photos of herself and Marcus making love. Courtney takes a call from Ellie. Ellie warns her about David, telling her he is with her only to get to her.

David catches the end of the call and asks Courtney about it. Courtney lies but they end up in an altercation and Courtney is knocked unconscious. Ellie calls the police and tells Marcus what has been going on with David. The detective, Larson (Lyn Alicia Henderson), comes to see them the next day. She believes that David has committed suicide as they have a body burnt beyond recognition and suicide note from David.

A relieved Ellie gets a call from her secretary, Linda (Estelle Swaray). She needs to sign some documents at the office. Ellie heads to the office. She finds Linda dead. She gets a call from David. He is at her home and has her family. Ellie calls detective Larson. Larson sends a patrol car to Ellie’s home.

Ellie rushes home and finds Brittany’s dead boyfriend on the back porch. David is waiting for her in the house. He plays the record he sent to her. Ellie gets into an altercation with David and knocks him out with a vase. She goes and frees her family, who are tied up in a bedroom. The family-run out of the house and see a police car outside.

The policeman in the car is dead. Marcus puts their daughter in the car and tells her to go. Ellie is attacked by David as she tries to use the police radio. Marcus fights with David and is getting soundly beaten. David throws him over the bannister. Ellie stabs David in the gut with a kitchen knife.

Marcus and Ellie run to the beach and up to a cliff edge. David gets the gun off of the dead policeman and pursues them. He catches up to them at the top of the outcrop. As they all fight, David ends up falling to his death off the edge of the clifftop.

Marcus and Ellie decide to sell up and return to the city. The end.

Final thoughts: written and directed by Peter Sullivan, with an additional writing credit for Rasheeda Garner, Fatal Affair is a plodding, underwhelming, thriller by numbers film that would have had a more inviting title if it was called ‘stalker man terrorises college crush twenty years later’.

Most of the cast have been in far better projects than this and probably turned up because, well, there’s a pandemic and work is not that plentiful. Also, the majority of the cast is black. It is perversely heartening to think that the lazy stalker trope can be utilised regardless of the race of the cast and with no urban references.

Still, Fatal Affair is rubbish. The script is plodding and mostly exposition, there are unnecessary characters, with Cleland’s Brittany not only adding nothing at all to proceedings but a complete personality vacuum. There was no good reason for the character.

Fatal Affair is not the worst film on Netflix but it is not good. At ninety minutes long it was still a struggle to get through, a real chore. The acting is fine but with the terrible script and the unoriginal story, one just does not care what is going to happen or, more pertinently, already know what is going to happen. Fatal Affair is not worth ninety minutes of your life, even in the lockdown.

Dangerous Lies – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A young married couple are struggling to make ends meet. The wife gets a job working for an eccentric old man and persuades the man to employ her husband to work in the gardens. When the old man dies unexpectedly, he leaves all of his worldly goods to the woman. The couple’s relationship comes under strain as they try to come to terms with their new circumstances.

Is it any good?: with a title like Dangerous Lies this film was was never going to be a masterpiece and so it proves. With a convoluted plot and a laborious, bumbling build-up, Dangerous Lies is a bit of a chore to watch.

Spoiler territory: Katie (Camila Mendes) works in Smile diner supporting both her and her husband, Adam (Jessie T Usher), as he studies. The plan is for him to find a job once he graduates so as she can return to school. As Katie works late shifts, Jessie picks up from the diner most nights. On one such night, the two return to the diner, after Katie’s break, to find that it is being robbed.

Adam, even as Katie protests not wanting him to get involved, decides to intervene. He grabs a heavy frying pan and sneaks up on the assailant, Ray Gaskin (Sean Owen Roberts), and bashes him on the head, preventing the robbery. Gaskin gets arrested. On the same night, a diamond heist has also happened.

Four months later and Katie is working as a caregiver for an elderly man, Leonard (Elliot Gould). Leonard like Katie and happily chats to her as she brings him his daily medication. Back at home, Katie is telling Adam about how stressed she is feeling due to their financial situation. She also feels that Adam is not taking their situation seriously enough.

Katie tells Adam that, even four months on, she is still unhappy about him having intervened during the diner robbery, scared that she was going to lose him. She goes for a drive and ends up at Leonard’s house. He finds her on the porch, having heard footsteps and invites her in. She tells him about her financial woes. He asks her why she never mentioned it before but she tells him that it is not his problem. She asks him if Adam can do some work for him.

The next day, Adam joins her at the house, coming to work on the gardens. There is a knock at the door later in the day and Katie goes and answers it. Mickey Hayden (Cam Gigandet) is at the door. He tells her he is an estate agent and he has clients who have fallen in love with the house. Katie tells him that she doubts the house is for sale but takes his card anyway.

The couple keep working, hoping to clear their debts and even looking for a medical school for Katie to attend. Katie’s employer, George Calvern (Michael P Northey), comes to check up on her. She tells Adam that he has to stay out of sight as Calvern would not condone a husband and wife working together.

Later in the day, Leonard gives Katie her wage by cheque. She and Adam go to the bank to deposit the cheque. Katie is reluctant to do so when she sees that Leonard has given her seven thousand dollars. Adam persuades her to pay the cheque into the account and discuss it with Leonard the next day. From another car, Hayden is watching them.

Adam asks about Leonard. Katie tells him that he has no one, no relatives or spouse. They return to the house the next day and Katie goes to give Leonard his medication. Not finding him in his bedroom, she goes up to the attic, knowing that he likes to listen to music up there. She finds him dead in his chair.

Katie tells Adam and he comes and checks him. He finds a key next to the body. It opens a trunk that is in the attic. He finds various newspaper clippings and photographs of a young Leonard with a woman. The clippings seem to indicate that Leonard had not perhaps been truthful when talking about his life. Katie wants to call the police.

Adam pulls up the shelf and finds the rest of the trunk is full of money. He and Katie discuss what to do. Katie wants to report everything to the police, Adam persuades her that they would just make the money disappear. They call the police.

Detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander) interview the couple. She asks about their working relationship with Leonard and how long they have worked there. She asks about Leonard’s health. Katie tells the detective that Leonard wanted to be cremated. The next morning, Katie goes to see Calvern to get herself listed for work again. Adam asks her why is she going to see him, thinking about the money, she tells him that is what they both should be doing.

Adam sees that they still have the keys to Leonard’s house. Katie is told by Calvern that she cannot work whilst she is under investigation. Adam gets a call from an interview he went to. Though it went well, he did not get selected for a second interview. He returns to the house and counts the money.

Whilst in the house, he hears footsteps. He goes to check out the noise and gets knocked unconscious. He is woken by his phone, Katie calling. She meets at the house and is not too happy that the is there. Did he see who attacked him? No, he was hit from behind. He tells her there is nearly one hundred grand in the trunk.

They take the money and put it in a safety deposit box in the bank. They return to the car. They are still being watched by Hayden. Katie gets a call from the detective. They go to the station to see her. She asks the same questions she asked before, asking about Leonard’s relatives and wishes. She asks again if she is sure Leonard wanted to be cremated. Katie says yes. She tells the detective that they will take care of the funeral expense.

They are the only people at his funeral. At the funeral, she is approached by Julia (Jamie Chung). Julia tells her that she is Leonard’s attorney. She goes back to the house with Adam and Katie and tells them about Leonard’s will. Leonard left everything to Katie. Julia tells Katie that she needs an attorney but Leonard had paid her retainer already so she would be happy to help her navigate the will.

As she leaves, Julia is seen out by Katie. Julia questions whether both Katie and Adam will be on the same page when it comes to money. At dinner, Adam wants to spend money, wanting to go on holiday and be flash. Katie cautions against frivolousness, wanting to clear their debts. Adam wants to get a new car.

Having inherited Leonard’s house, they prepare to move in. Adam wants to leave all of their old possessions behind, happy to just buy new ones. Adam gets a call. Someone wants to talk to him about the diner incident. Adam goes to the police station and is seen by Chelser. She tells him that no one from the station called but the man who did the robbery, Gaskin, got killed in prison.

Hayden tries to persuade Katie to sell the house again, knowing that Leonard is dead. She kicks him off of the property. She discusses the meeting with Hayden with Adam. He says he is just after his commission. Katie goes to the bathroom and sees that Adam has purchased a new watch and it looks expensive. He tells her it is a cheap rip-off because his old watch stopped.

Chelser goes to the diner where the incident happened. She goes and sees Katie and Adam at their old place. They are preparing to move into Leonard’s. Chelser wants to speak to Adam but as he is not there, she asks Katie about the incident in the diner. She asks how often Adam picked her up from work. A few times a week she tells the detective.

Julia drops Katie home and Adam wants to know what they were talking about. Katie tells him that she wanted to see her. They disagree about information sharing as Katie did not know that he had spoken to Chelser. Adam apologises and tells her he thinks he is being followed. She asks him if he went to the bank. He did. She tells him about Hayden coming to visit. They both think he probably knows about the money.

Chelser investigates Adam and Katie. Katie wants to find out if the money could be problematic having been warned by Julia that they could lose everything if they are found to have done some wrongdoing. Chelser goes and sees Calvern. He did not know that Adam was working at the house. She shows him a copy of the cheque Katie received from Leonard.

In the house, Katie is in the garage. In the attic of the garage, she finds a corpse and a bag full of diamonds. She tells Adam. Katie thinks that it is the old gardener. They find diamonds on him. Calvern comes to the house but Katie turns him away. In the evening, Katie checks over the record she kept of Leonard’s medication. One of the bottles is empty.

Adam wants to keep the diamonds and get rid of the body. Katie wants to call the police. Adam stops her. What will they do about the money? Katie does not care about the money or the house. Adam does not want to be poor again. He tells her he will take care of the body. Later in the night, Adam catches Calvern sneaking into the house. He scares him causing him to fall down the stairs and die.

Chelser thinks that Adam is tricking Katie and that Gaskin, the robber, worked in the college Adam went. Katie goes to see Julia. She talks over her concerns and Chelser’s intimations. Katie goes to the bank. All the money is gone. She tells Julia that they found diamonds. Julia tells her that Adam is probably going to disappear and leave Katie to deal with the fallout. She returns home and finds Adam packing.

Chelser is called to the body that Adam dumped. He is identified as the former gardener at Leonard’s house, which is why Chelser is told about him. Adam tells Katie he checked up on Hayden. He is not a real estate agent, he is an ex-con and his last job was a diamond heist. He had an accomplice on the job, the corpse they found.

Katie wants to call the police but Adam thinks they should just run. He goes to change his clothes and tells her to get her things. Katie calls Julia and tells her that Adam is home but her call is interrupted by Hayden. He wants the diamonds. She does not know where the diamonds are. He tells her to call Adam. He takes her as a hostage as Adam emerges with a gun. Hayden discards Katie and shoots Adam who falls to the ground. As he goes to check he is dead, Adam shoots him dead.

Katie runs over to a dying Adam. He tells her that the diamonds are in the garden. Julia turns up at the house. She tells Julia they need to find the diamonds. Katie tells Julia that Hayden killed Leonard with an overdose. Julia talks too much, revealing more than she should know and Katie realises that she is after the diamonds.

Katie tells her she does not know where the diamonds are as Adam hid them. Julia goes to kill Katie but is stopped by Chelser. She tries to shoot Chelser and is killed. Four months later, a pregnant Katie is gardening. Chelser comes to see her. She tells her the case is closed and Adam’s name has been kept out of it. Chelser asks about the diamonds. Katie tells her she has no idea where they are. The detective leaves. Katie switches on the garden sprinklers and the diamonds sparkle in the dirt. The end.

Dangerous Lies – a lazy, uninspired, title for a film – is rubbish. It looks quite nice and the acting is good enough with literally every actor on show having been in far better fare but it is not good. The story is confusing and plodding, none of the red herrings work or makes sense, the timeline does not even line up.

Mendes’ Katie is set up as the moral compass of the film but, because she is in love, makes stupid decisions. Usher’s Adam’s love of money is another red herring, as is Gould’s Leonard’s mysterious past which is never explained beyond a few old newspaper clippings.

Alexander’s detective Chelser spends all her time trying to prove the married couple are dodgy but then decides it is just Adam who is dodgy. What the initial failed robbery has to do with the rest of the film is anybody’s guess, though they shoehorn in a weak connection somehow.

The fact that Adam risked his life to save a diner but then turns into a greedy idiot the moment he sees money just did not add up. Northey’s Calvern dies just to increase the body count and Chung’s Julia goes full Scooby Do exposition at the end as she explains the whole convoluted mess.

Written by David Golden and directed by Michael Scott, Dangerous Lies is so poor that it feels way longer than its ninety-six-minute runtime. Golden’s script has no surprises or originality. The story takes almost an hour to get going and by then one is beyond caring.

The film looks nice and is competently directed except for the overwrought music choice which is constantly foreboding and adds nothing to the near absent atmosphere. Dangerous Lies is an hour and a half of your life that you will not get back. Give it a miss.

47 Metres Below: Uncaged – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Four teenage girls decide to go and explore an ancient, submerged underwater, Mexican city. When one of the girls gets frightened by a fish, she knocks over a column the girls get separated. Found by a diver known by girls, they are about to leave the water when they find out there is a shark down with them. As they try to escape, their exit becomes blocked. The girls must now find another way out.

Is it any good ?: Ever since Spielberg’s 1975 shark classic, Jaws, filmmakers have been inspired to make similar stories. Uncaged, a sequel of to a 2017 film of the same name, without the ‘uncaged’ adage, blends the idea of Atlantis and Jaws for an underwater, jump scare, romp utilising every cliche. Mostly enjoyable spoiled by a ridiculous end sequence.

Spoiler territory: step-sisters, Mia (Sophie Nélisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) live very different existences in high school. Sasha is popular, whereas Mia is bullied and shunned. When Mia gets pushed into the school pool by Catherine (Brec Bassinger), another pretty high schooler, their parents, Grant (John Corbett) and Jennifer (Mia Long), want to know what happened. Both are non-communicative.

Grant, who had told the girls he would spend the weekend with them, has to work. An underwater archaeologist explorer, he is tasked with mapping the route of an underground city ahead of a team excavation the next week. He buys tickets for a glass-bottomed boat tour for the girls, enthusiastically telling them that they will be able to see great white sharks in their natural habitat, as an apology.

Sasha, who had plans to hang out with friends, Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone) protest. The parents insist that Sasha go with Mia. Grant also shows them a shark tooth he found. He gives it to Mia.

The next day, when the girls turn up for the trip, Alexa and Nicole come by and persuade Sasha to ditch the trip and join them. Sasha drags Mia along with them. The girls head to a remote part of Mexico, a lagoon, that Grant’s assistant, Ben (Davi Santos), had taken Alexa to. They stand on a ledge overlooking the lagoon. Alexa tells them there are two ways to get down to the lagoon, pointing out a lengthy passage.

Nicole immediately jumps into the water from the ledge. Alexa follows suit. Mia is reluctant to jump but after a little persuasion from Sasha, the sisters jump. The girls hang out on a dive platform and Nicole finds a whole lot of diving gear. Alexa tells them that it is for the crew that is coming the next week.

Sasha asks if they are near the underground city. Alexa tells her they are and that she Ben explored the entrance of the city. Nicole wants to go and see the caves. Mia is reluctant because it is dangerous. Alexa states it is dangerous but she can guide them. The girls all put scuba gear on. Alexa agrees to take them around the first cave once. Nicole is already in the water.

As the girls swim through the caverns, they use torches as no light penetrates down far enough to light the caves. The girls are all mic-ed up, so stay in communication. The trip is going smoothly and the girls are enjoying exploring the depths. They explore the ruins of the cave, lit by Grant and Ben’s earlier expedition. Nicole gets spooked. She thinks she saw something. She goes to explore. Alexa calls after her and gets no reply. The girls go to see where she is and find her looking at a fish. Mia tells them that it is a Mexican tetra fish.

The fish has no eyes. Because of the darkness below the surface, it has evolved without them and uses its other senses to track things and move around. The fish shrieks at Nicole, startling her and causing her to fall back into a pillar in the underground cave. Her flailing causes all of the girls to panic and they lose contact with one another temporarily in the confusion.

The girls all swim around looking for one another. Mia bumps into Ben. Alexa finds them and explains that they got separated. He asks her if they did not secure a guide line for exactly this sort of eventuality. They did not. Ben asks where Sasha and Nicole are, Alexa tells him they are by the exit. Before he can guide them out of the cave, he is taken by a great white shark.

Alexa and Mia freak out and head to the exit, telling the other girls what had happened. The shark comes after them but cannot fit into the tunnel of the exit as they try to escape. As the shark rams into the tunnel, the exit collapses, trapping the girls in the cave.

Sasha asks Alexa if she can remember how to get out of the cave. A panicked Alexa says she cannot. Mia says they can use Ben’s safety line. The other girls are worried about the shark. Mia says she thinks it is blind. The girls check their air tanks and venture back into the cave. They find the safety line and begin to follow it.

The line takes them deeper into the cavernous city. They end up in a burial ground. The line is broken. Alexa starts to panic. Mia leads them further down and they come across a grill. Alexa’s panic rises even more. Mia sees a mini motor and thinks her father, who is on the other side of the underground city working, must be nearby. The shark chomps into the motor. The girls cower as the shark swims above them. They find an air pocket and gather to regroup and try and find a solution to their predicament.

Unfortunately, the air pocket is going bad and the girls cannot dwell there for too long. Mia tells them that she will go and get help. She goes to find her father. Carl (Khylin Rhambo), part of Grant’s team, is working in the cave city. His light gets knocked over and he goes to investigate. He gets killed by the shark.

Mia hears a beacon and goes towards the sound. She finds the beacon and switches it off, keeping it. She loses contact with the girls and begins to panic. Her father finds her. Grant, who knows the cavern well, goes and gets the girls and guides them to an exit point. Grant has a manual winch that they need to use to get out of the water. Alexa goes first.

The shark returns and it has a friend. There are now two sharks. Nicole begins to freak out, jumping onto the winch and clambering over Alexa. Grant states that the winch cannot take the weight of both girls. It begins to slip. Alexa falls back as Nicole keeps climbing. Grant tells her to unhook from the harness. The harness gives way as Nicole reaches the lip of the opening.

She is dangling over the water, trying to scramble over the edge. She grabs a loose rock and falls back into the water. The sharks get her. A frantic Alexa grabs the alarm beacon and begins screaming. The sharks disappear. Mia reasons that the frequency of the beacon scared them off. Grant explains that they will have to find another exit. Alexa does not want to. He tells them if they stay there they will die. A shark immediately eats him.

Sasha talks a semblance of calm into the other two girls. They have to try and swim to safety, to open water. The girls go back into the cavernous city. Now in darkness, with only the flashing beacon lighting the way, the sharks reappear. Sasha gets sucked down by an underground current. Mia wants to go after her but Alexa stops her telling her there is no point.

Alexa sees the exit but Mia thinks the currents will drag them down. Alexa says not if they stick to the sides. They begin to pull themselves along the wall. As Alexa gets to the exit, a shark comes out and grabs at her. Her panic causes Mia to get flung into the currents. Meanwhile, Alexa frees herself from her oxygen tank and removes her mask, trying to escape the shark. Expelling all of the air from her lungs with her screaming, she quickly drowns.

A falling, flailing Mia, is grabbed by Sasha. They fight their way through the currents to another cave. They find an exit but the shark is circling again. The exit is narrow and they have to swim one at a time. Their air tanks are empty so they lose them in an attempt to squeeze through the gap. They make it to the surface.

Sasha sees a boat and they begin to swim towards it. A man on the boat cannot hear them as he comes out to throw chum into the water. The girls realise what he is doing. The boat is the one they should have been on with the glass bottom. They swim to the boat and freak out the passengers as they see them outside with the sharks. The crew try to get the girl into the boat. Mia gets one the boat but one of the sharks gets Sasha. Mia grabs a flare gun and goes back for her sister.

She shoots the shark and it releases Sasha. The crew pull Sasha onto the boat. The shark gets Mia. She fights it off with the shark tooth her father gave her. She gets back on the boat and the sisters hug. The end.

Written and directed by Johannes Roberts, with an additional writing credit to Ernest Riera, 47 Metres Below: Uncaged is a sequel to – a film I have not seen and honestly had never heard of – 47 Metres Below. It is a quite entertaining film and Roberts is a good director and there are some brilliant visuals in the film. The opening shot of Nélisse’s Mia falling into a pool, shot looking up from the water, is fantastic. It does not really add to the story, but it is a great shot.

Similarly, he makes great use of slo-mo – even in the farcical ending – and lighting. The jump scares work really well. The actors are also very good, especially the young quartet of actors, given that they are required to be frightened and screaming for a good deal of the runtime.

The underwater scenes – except maybe the obvious computer-manipulated strong current scenes – are pretty good, giving a good sense of disorientation and claustrophobia. The deaths are also well spaced out, even if some of them are predictable – you will definitely see both Stallone’s Nicole and Corbett’s Grant’s deaths coming – Tju’s Alexa’s death is a nice surprise.

The music works well, both with the choices for the lighter, popular stuff and with the more dramatic, danger alerting music good and well thought out. At only ninety minutes long, it is not a long film and keeps one engaged almost to the conclusion. Unfortunately, Roberts and Riera made the strange decision to write an ending that almost wrecks the preceding eighty-plus minutes. The ending stretches credibility in a film that was already farfetched and is the only misstep in an otherwise enjoyable film. Worth a watch.

An Affair To Die For – review (Netflix)

Brief Synopsis: A doctor, Holly, is driving to a remote getaway. As she drives she speaks to her husband on the phone. She tells him that her conference is going on all weekend and she may not have good reception. He tells her he loves her and they end the call.

Holly gets to the hotel. They have a reservation for her with her under the name of Mrs Alan. They tell her that her husband has reserved a suite. When she gets to the suite, he is not there but he has left a message for her. He has planned a kinky game for them. She waits in bed blindfolded and handcuffed. Someone comes in and has sex with her. She screams at them to stop. The person walks away.

In the next room Everett, who Holly had been screaming for, is tied up. Holly’s husband, Russell, comes and unties him and tells him that his wife is not to leave the suite. He has Everett’s wife and daughter. Later, Russell calls his wife and tells her not to trust Everett. So begins a game of deception with no one sure who to trust.

Is It Any Good?: scoring a paltry 4.7 on IMDB, one would think that An Affair To Die For would be an unwatchable mess but truth be told, it is not a bad film. The tension is cranked up to 12 and the acting is first-rate.

The story is tight and keeps you guessing until all the possible options are exhausted. An Affair To Die For is an entertaining little thriller.

Spoiler Territory: Doctor and lecturer, Holly Pierpoint (Claire Forlani) heads to a plush hotel to meet her lover, Everett (Jake Abel), having told her husband, Russell (Titus Welliver), that she has a conference to attend. Reaching The Grand Deerward hotel she is greeted as Mrs Alan and told that her husband has booked the black diamond suite.

Dave (Nathan Cooper), the hotel porter, takes her to the room. In the room, Holly finds an envelope with a message from Everett. She chills out and then finds another gift from him in the form of some bondage wear and a blindfold. It asks her to put on the blindfold and handcuff herself to the bed.

She does as requested, waiting for him to return. He comes into the bedroom. He begins gently, caressing her. He then turns her over and begins making love to her. At first, she enjoys it but then he holds her head down, thrusting violently as she begs him to stop. He leaves her crying face down in the bedroom.

In the main suite area, Everett is tied up as Russell comes out of the bedroom. He tells a scared Everett that he is not to let Holly leave the suite. Everett, who is also married with a young daughter, is told the life of his family depends on it. Everett goes and un-cuffs a frantic and angry Holly. She immediately gets ready to leave. Everett gets a phone call. It is Russell. He warns Everett that the safety of his family depends on him following instructions.

Everett manages to get Holly to stay. Russell calls again. He is impressed by Everett’s powers of persuasion. He tells him that he has to keep her there until the next day. Everett goes and talks to Holly, lying about the sexual assault and apologising by saying he believed that was what she wanted. Russell calls Holly.

He tells her that Everett is dangerous and that he has had affairs before and she is just the latest in a line of women. With a thread of distrust between the two, Everett and Holly, they begin to break their own self-imposed rules, asking one another about their partners.

Holly tries to get help from a neighbouring room whilst on the balcony but there is no one there. Everett comes into the bedroom. Holly is in the bathroom, she says she is going to take a shower. Everett joins her. Whilst in the shower, Holly tells Everett that Russell works in surveillance. Everett is furious, realising why Russell knows what they are doing all the time.

Everett leaves the bathroom. He gets another message. He is to drug Holly. Everett starts searching the suite for cameras. Holly gets dressed and has the same thought; she should drug Everett. He comes and asks her to come and have a drink with him on the balcony. She comes out to the balcony but asks him if she can have a glass of white wine.

As he goes to get her the wine, she puts a drug in his wine. Inside, Everett has put a drug in the white wine. Back on the balcony the two toast as both drink. They are interrupted by a knock at the door. It is Dave with the dinner service. Holly tips Dave. They sit down to dinner.

They are having a fraught conversation about their relationship. There is another knock on the door. Everett gets a message. It is a picture of the tip Holly gave Dave with a message written on the note. At the door is another dinner tray. Under the tray is Everett’s wife, Lydia (Melina Matthews), severed finger with the wedding band still on it.

A flustered Everett returns to the dinner. Holly, seeing he is distressed, moves closer to him, acting as though she is trying to console him. She threatens him with her hairpin, telling him to tell her what is going on. Everett tries to reason with her but then overpowers her and tells her that Russell is behind everything. Holly does not believe him and fights him off. The drug she put in his drink starts to take effect. Holly gets up and realises that she too has been drugged.

When she wakes up, she finds herself chained to a wall. Everett wakes up and comes and sees Holly. He tries to go near her but she is too angry to let him near. She tells him to release her saying Russell will come after him. Everett goes into the adjoining room and finds Russell restrained in a wheelchair with his tongue cut out.

Everett un-cuffs Holly and takes her to Russell. Russell dies from his injuries. Everett’s phone rings, the voice is disguised. It tells him the message is for both of them. Only one of them can leave the suite. Everett picks up a kitchen knife. Holly begs him not to kill her but Everett insists he has to otherwise, his family will die.

The police knock on the suite door. Everett puts down the knife and goes to the door. While he is speaking to the police, Holly, who had found a note in Russell’s hand saying ‘safe’, open the safe and finds a memory card. At the front door, the police want to talk to Holly. Dave has gone missing. Everett wants her to tell the police that they have not seen him.

Holly tells the police the truth, the last time they saw Dave was when he brought dinner. They thank her for her help. As Everett answers a few more questions, Holly grabs the knife. When Everett returns, she brandishes the knife letting know the tables are now turned. They talk, him telling her how Russell was initially controlling everything.

Holly wants to know who is controlling things now. He does not know. Everett tries to talk Holly out of killing him but gets too close and gets stabbed. He dies. A phone rings. Holly answers it. The voice tells she is free to leave but if she wants to know who was behind it all she should comets another hotel room. Holly goes to the room. She finds a frightened Lydia tied up there. She frees her and tells her to wait whilst she goes to get help.

Holly sees a bank of monitors all with cameras to the suite they had stayed in. She puts the memory card into the computer and sees Russell installing cameras. Behind him she sees Lydia. Lydia comes into the room and tells her that she has framed her for all of the crimes, including Dave’s murder.

The women fight over the memory card. Holly overpowers Lydia. Lydia goads her, telling her that her daughter will pay for her sins. Holly kills her with a vase. Security burst into the room and apprehend Holly. The end.

An Affair To Die For is an entertaining 82 minutes of cinema. With the beautiful Forlani in the lead as doctor Holly Pierpoint and the ever-reliable Welliver and the not as well known Abel rounding out a strong cast, the plot holes are ably covered by the very strong performances.

Written by Elliot San and directed by Victor Garcia, An Affair To Die For is a pacy thriller that takes the already heightened situation—illicit affairs—and adds an extraordinary premise. That two people, who are lying to the people they love so as to see one another, are then forced to lie to one another to try and—in Everett’s case—save his family, and for Holly, to save herself, is mildly ironic.

The film is beautifully shot and directed, with most of it taking place inside the hotel suite, giving the story a sort of claustrophobia. It is also edited quite well, the filmmakers having the confidence to let the film be shorter rather than fill it with unnecessary scenes.

The weakest part of the film is probably the slightly rushed ending, with Matthews’ Lydia being exposed as the mastermind behind their ordeal. It was all a little bit silly and her being a borderline psychopath was a little bit of a cop-out, especially as she had been so meticulous up until that point.

Like I said earlier, the film only scores 4.7 on IMDB, a somewhat harsh score. It is definitely better than that score would suggest and is worth a watch if you have a spare eighty minutes.

Fractured – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Driving back from a family gathering, visiting his wife, Joanne’s, parents, Ray stops off to allow their daughter to use the bathroom. Whilst at the rest stop, their daughter, Perri gets frightened by a dog and falls, injuring her arm.

Ray takes her to the local hospital and the mother and daughter get taken for a scan. Ray goes to the waiting area and falls asleep. When he wakes up he goes looking for his wife and daughter, the reception has no record of his daughter. The only record they have is for him being admitted earlier in the day. Ray tries to find his family.

Is it any good?: Um, full disclosure, I am not a fan of Sam Worthington. It’s not that he is a bad actor or even an irritating screen presence, it is just that he seems to be in awful films or films I just do not find particularly good.

Hollywood seems desperate to make Worthington a star. He has been in one of the biggest films of all time, Avatar, but that film is not, in my opinion, as great as some would have one believe. Fractured is not very good but it is kind of interesting.

Spoiler territory: Ray (Sam Worthington) is driving his wife, Joanne (Lily Rabe) and their daughter, Peri (Lucy Capri) home from Joanne’s parents. Ray and Joanne are arguing. Their marriage is falling apart as Joanne does not feel that Ray is the man she married anymore.

In the backseat, Peri is playing with an electronic game. She interrupts her parents when her game fails because the batteries run out. Joanne tells her that they will pick up some batteries later. Peri then wants to go to the toilet, so they pull into a rest stop. As Peri goes to the bathroom, Ray goes into the store to pick up a drink for his wife and some batteries. He gets himself a coffee and grabs a couple of miniature whiskey bottles.

The clerk (Muriel Hogue) in the store watches himself suspiciously. When he places the items on the counter and tries to pay with a card, she tells him that she only takes cash. Ray does not have enough cash for all of the items. He puts the batteries back.

He returns to the car where his family are waiting. Peri is in the backseat again but she says that she has lost her compact. “Is it under her seat?” Joanne asks. She does not know. She thinks she might have left it in the bathroom. Joanne tells Ray to check under the backseat whilst she goes and checks the bathroom.

As Peri stands outside, Ray checks the backseat area. He spills his coffee on the seat and begins to try and clean it up. A curious Peri goes walkabout. She sees a stray dog and is frightened, shouting for her father. Ray turns around and sees the dog and tries to calm Peri down as she backs up towards some foundations behind her.

Ray tries to scare the dog and Peri falls into the foundations. Ray goes leaping after her. He wakes up to find Joanne screaming frantically over a prone Peri. She comes over to a catatonic Ray, hitting him and screaming at him. He pushes her to one side and turns away. He turns back a moment later and Joanne is back with Peri. Peri is awake but has hurt her arm.

Ray takes charge. He will get her to the hospital. At the emergency room, Ray struggles to find someone to look after his daughter. Joanne thanks him for getting them to the hospital so quickly. She likes his take-charge attitude. Ray is called to see the administrative officer(Dorothy Carroll). She wants to know if he has insurance. He does. She asks him about organ donation. Joanne says no; they do not want to sign up for organ donation.

She checks Ray’s insurance. They do not take his type of insurance. His insurance was attached to his previous employ. She asks about the prior dependent on his insurance, Abby Monroe. It was his wife who died eight years before. He asks if he can pay cash. She tells him she will have to check. That is fine.

Nurse Anne (Stephanie Sy) comes to take Peri to the doctor, doctor Berthram (Stephen Tobolowsky). As they walk through the ward, the nurse tells them about a head-on collision that involved several people, with multiple injuries. The doctor turns up and looks at Peri. He recommends a CAT scan, just to make sure her head is okay. He warns Ray that the procedure is expensive. Ray tells him it is okay, he would do anything for his family.

An orderly (Erik Athavale) comes to take Peri for the scan. They take the lift down to a lower floor. The orderly tells Ray and Joanne that only one of them can come into the scan area. Ray tells Joanne that he will wait. He returns to the waiting area. Some hours later, Ray wakes up. He goes to the reception to ask if his daughter’s scan is finished yet. The receptionist (Natalie Bailey), tells him there is no record of her.

The receptionist tells him that the entire staff has changed shift and the nurses and doctors he saw are off work. Ray goes looking for his family. He is collared by the hospital security, Jeff (Chad Bruce), and Doctor Lucado (Christopher Sigurdson). Lucado asks him what has happened and Ray recounts his story. The doctor checks the scan log.

There is no record of Peri having had a scan. Ray becomes aggressive. Jeff sprays mace in his face and nurse Anne administers a sedative. They put him in a room to hold him. Ray finds a couple of epi-pens and injects them in an attempt to counteract the sedative. He breaks out of the room.

Ray escapes the hospital and gets two police officers, Childes (Lauren Cochrane) and Griggs (Shane Dean) to look into his family’s disappearance. The two officers return to the hospital with Ray. They get the staff to cooperate with Ray’s assertions, making them call doctor Berthram.

Ray mentions his ex-wife Abby. Jeff says they can clear up the confusion by checking the surveillance tapes. They watch the tapes and there is no evidence of Joanne or Peri. The cameras only have one angle.

Ray begins to get agitated and another doctor, doctor Jacobs (Adjoa Andoh) comes to speak to Ray. She is a psychologist. She gets Ray to take them back to the rest stop where the accident happened. The police are there with sniffer dogs. They find a large blood stain and doctor Jacobs speculates that he actually killed his family and his mind came up with the story to protect him.

Officer Childes goes to arrest him. He takes her gun and points it at doctor Jacobs. He locks all of the police and the doctor up in a room and steals a police car, heading back to the hospital. He heads down to the basement. He encounters Jeff again and they fight in the lift. He ends up killing Jeff. Ray searches the basement level and finds doctor Lucado and some others in an operating theatre. He tells them to stop.

He sees Peri on the operating table and finds Joanne in a wheelchair nearby. He goes to take them out but is attacked by one of the nurses in the theatre. He shoots at a light, causing an explosion. He escapes from the theatre, taking his family with him. Another nurse tries to stop him and he shoots him in the leg.

Ray puts his family in his car and drives away. Ray’s mind recalls the true events of the day. Hid daughter died with the fall and his push on his wife killed her, impaling her on a rod. When he went into the theatre and took who he thought was his daughter, it was a young man who had been caught up in the car crash earlier in the day. A becalmed Ray drives into the sunrise. The end.

Fractured is an okay film. Unfortunately, the plot is spoiled ten minutes into the film by some poor direction, giving the entire Fight Club-esque plot away early in proceedings. Burdened with that knowledge—the film really could not have gone in any other direction—the film was just a laborious watch, waiting for the less-than-shocking reveal.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Worthington is a fine actor and, truthfully, I have nothing against the man but he really cannot pick a good film. Yes, he has been in some successful films but good films? Not really.

Because of the cack-handed way the plot is spoiled, the pace of the film is affected with one watching just to check if one’s suspicions are correct, instead of watching the story unfold. I cannot adequately impart just how much of an issue this is for the film. It just made the viewing experience pretty redundant.

The rest of the cast is okay, the acting good but pointless. Worthington’s Ray, whose is highly strung and understandably anxious, is met with anger and obstinance at every juncture, with only Andoh’s Jacobs’ working out that some sort of trauma was what had him acting in such a manner.

The shooting of the film is quite good, lensed beautifully. There are some disorientating effects and oft-kilter shots to add to the, blatantly obvious, splintering psyche of Ray. The music is, though not overwhelming, pretty one-toned, always foreboding and threatening.

Some may enjoy Fractured, even with the easily seen plot twist. It is not an unwatchable film and the acting is believable even if the story is not. Written by Alan B McElroy and directed by Brad Anderson, their creative decisions prevent an okay film from being a good or exciting thriller.

Fractured is a promising idea that is let down by poor editorial decisions.

A Stranger Outside – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis:

When pediatric nurse, Daphne Hart, loses her job in a hospital after a boy dies whilst under her care, her best friend, Kaci, gets her a job babysitting for a well-to-do family, who need someone to look after their diabetic son for the weekend.

After being spooked by the pizza delivery man and calling Kaci to voice her concerns, Daphne finds her life in danger, when a mysterious figure stalks her and seems set on killing her.

Is it any good?

Not really. A Stranger Outside, or Babysitter’s Nightmare, as it was originally titled, is a ponderous, slow-moving, more-promise-than-delivery, made-for-television, thrill-free thriller. A lacklustre script and the old adage of never acting with animals or children being aptly proven does not help proceedings.

Spoiler territory:

Claire (Katelyn Tarver) is babysitting, reading a bedtime story to one of her young charges, Madison (Hana Engelen). When the girl falls asleep, Claire leaves the room and is scared by Madison’s sibling, Seth (Samuel Engelen), who is wearing a mask. Claire sends him to bed, and then calls her boyfriend.

Claire invites him over to have pizza, telling him to come through the garage, so as to avoid the cameras. Claire gets a call from Mrs Gibson (Autumn Federici—voice), the children’s mother. She tells her that she thinks she saw someone in the house. Claire tells her that there is no one in the house, and maybe it was the pizza delivery man.

Claire ends the call. A masked figure comes out of a cupboard behind her, and puts a plastic bag over her head, suffocating her to death. Three days later, a tearful Daphne Hart (Brittany Underwood), is being told that she is to be released from her nursing position, due to negligence leading to the death of a young patient.

Judith (Nancy La Scala) explains to her that she did not want to let her go, but the deceased boy’s father was threatening to sue the hospital, and the board felt it would be best let her go. Judith tells her that she will be happy to give her a recommendation, for any position she pursues in the future.

Outside of the office after her meeting with Judith, Daphne is harried by her boyfriend, Jeremy (Mark Grossman). He tells her he tried to help her, but it was her responsibility to check the patients’ vitals. Daphne is angry at him because he knows that she only left her post because Dr Mixer (Michael Chandler) had said she could. Jeremy is reluctant to speak against Mixer. Daphne ends their relationship.

Daphne hands in her work pass, and talks to best friend, Kaci Washington (Shanica Knowles), who thinks she should fight the dismissal. Daphne, though not believing the boy’s death to be her fault, feels somewhat complicit in his death, and does not want to fight.

A few days later, Kaci goes to see Daphne. She has got her a temporary job. A well-to-do couple are going to a wake for the weekend, and need someone to look after their son. Daphne protests that she is not a babysitter. Kaci tells her the boy has diabetes, and they want a nurse to look after him. Why is the boy not going on the trip? He has a fear of flying. Reluctant after her ordeal at the hospital, Daphne wants to give it some thought.

Later on, Daphne calls Kaci, who is at work at the hospital, and tells her she wants the job. Kaci says she will contact the couple. Kaci sees a mysterious car watching her, from outside her apartment. The car moves off, as it sees her looking out. At the hospital, the mysterious figure that killed Claire creeps around the hospital. Kaci, who had left her post to go to the bathroom, comes back and finds the address for the job she told Daphne about gone.

Daphne goes to meet the mother, Karen Andrews (Reagan Pasternak), and her son, Toby (Jet Jurgensmeyer), who she will be babysitting. Karen tells her that she knows about her issue at the hospital, but a mutual friend of theirs had assured her that Daphne was a good nurse. Daphne asks when they will be returning, and Karen tells her that they will be back on Sunday evening.

Daphne takes the job. Whilst packing a weekend bag to go and stay at the Andrews’ house, Daphne hears about Claire’s murder on the news. The report says the police are looking for a pizza delivery driver, who was in the area at the time of her death. Home alone, she gets spooked by a knock at her door. She finds a note from Jeremy, begging her to get in contact with him.

The next day, Daphne goes to the Andrews’ home. She meets Toby’s father, David (Matt Hish), and Karen shows her around the house. It is a beautiful and large home, with a pool and vast outdoor area.

Daphne asks Karen why she is trusting her with Toby, considering incident at the hospital. Karen explains that she herself, also with a background in medicine, did not notice when her son almost fell into a diabetic coma. She knows that Daphne will be extremely diligent.

In the house with Toby, the two quickly bond. Later on in the evening, Daphne orders a pizza for their dinner. The pizza delivery man, Barry (Sean Whalen), is particularly creepy. Having eaten the pizza, Toby falls asleep whilst watching television. Daphne gets him up to bed, and returns to clear up the debris of the evening. The doorbell rings. It is Barry the pizza delivery man. Daphne does not open the door, talking to him through the glass. He tells her she overpaid him for the pizza, and that he feels bad. She tells him to keep the money.

Barry asks about the family. She lies, telling him they have returned. He keeps questioning her and asks her out. She tells him she has a boyfriend. Barry eventually leaves. Daphne, still nervous in the big house, arms herself with a rolling pin. She calls Kaci and tells her about the pizza delivery man.

The next day, Karen calls to check-in. She tells Daphne that they may be out of contact, due to the area that they are going to. As Toby entertains himself, Daphne sits by the pool working on her resumé. She goes to check on Toby. He has fallen asleep. She hears something in the house and calls the police. Downstairs, Daphne is scared witless by the cleaner, Audra Simonetti (Arianne Zucker).

The two chat a bit, Audra proving to be very friendly. Daphne tells her she is recently unemployed, though she does not tell her about the incident. She asks Audra if she has kids. Audra tells her no. Daphne says it is not too late. Audra, cryptically, replies that it is for her. A policeman (Gavyn Michaels) rings the doorbell.

Daphne opens the door and tells him it was a false alarm. He tells her he will check around the house anyway. Audra mentions the murder of Claire, commenting that it was a good thing they responded to her call so quickly. Daphne agrees. Audra leaves.

In the evening, a now-awake-again Toby tells Daphne about his idea for a secret camera network, to protect homes. Daphne and Toby go to the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Daphne realises her phone is missing and goes back upstairs to get it. She hears a car outside and looks out to see Jeremy’s car.

She quickly checks around the house and the grounds, rolling pin in hand. As she closes one of the outside doors, she is startled by Jeremy. Seeing it is him, Daphne immediately starts to admonish him, asking what he is doing there. Jeremy pleads that he had no choice, as she refuses to return his calls.

She tells him to leave. He pleads with her to reconsider, even promising to tell how it was Dr Mixer’s request for her to get him coffee that had created the incident. Daphne refuses his offer and tells him they cannot get back together.

Jeremy goes back to his car. The mysterious figure is in the car and strangles him, killing him. Back in the house, Toby has woken up and Daphne gives him an insulin shot. She realises that she has misplaced her phone. She goes outside and looks for it, as Toby looks for it inside. No luck. She calls the phone from the landline, but it is inexplicably switched off.

The doorbell rings. Daphne, still wary after Jeremy’s surprise visit, grabs a large kitchen knife. She tells Toby to stay behind her. They go to the door, and to her relief, it is Kaci. She has brought food. They sit down to eat, and Kaci asks why she never texted her back when she said she was coming over. She tells her she has lost her phone.

Kaci calls her phone. It goes straight to voicemail. Daphne speculates that maybe the maid took it. She asks Toby if he knows the number for the maid service. Toby tells her they do not have a maid. Kaci says to him that the maid probably comes when he is at school. He tells her that they have never had a maid, as his grandmother likes to clean everything.

Daphne says the parents probably just hired them for the weekend. They finish eating, and as Toby goes to clean up, the two young women chat. Daphne asks if Kaci had heard about the babysitter that got murdered, not far from there. She had not. The pizza delivery man was the chief suspect. Kaci scoffs at the notion that the same delivery man would keep on delivering pizzas.

Kaci offers to stay the night. Daphne gladly takes her up on her offer, grateful for the company. She tells her that Jeremy had come around. Kaci thinks that maybe it is Jeremy who is messing about with her, trying to spook her by stealing her phone. Daphne does not think so.

They all get ready for bed. As the women are about to get to bed, Daphne remembers she had not closed the outside gate. They both decide to go and check it. Kaci says she will get her phone so as to use the flashlight. Kaki comes back and says her phone has gone missing. Daphne notices that the spare keys for the house are also missing. Both women are panicked now and begin to secure the doors.

They hear a car horn blaring outside, and a less-than-amused Daphne, followed by Kaci, goes out to confront Jeremy. They see him slumped on his steering wheel, dead. They run back towards the house and see the mysterious figure. The figure has a large kitchen knife and begins to stalk them. The two women run, but having secured most of the doors, are forced to circumnavigate the house in an effort to find a way back into the house. Finding an open door, the women get back into the house. The women split up, Kaci going to the kitchen to find her phone, and Daphne going to get Toby.

The mysterious figure comes into the house. Daphne finds Toby playing on his tablet. She tells him to be quiet and tries to get him out of the bedroom. Before they can leave, they hear the mysterious figure coming up the stairs. Kaci sets off her car alarm, in an effort to distract the stalker.

The mysterious figure ends up pursuing Kaci and corners her in the kitchen. They fight and Kaci gets killed, but not before she stabs the assailant with a corkscrew. Daphne tells Toby that they have to get out of the house. She tells him to go into the bathroom and talk into his walkie talkie, the other handset being in her room.

The mysterious figure goes to the voice. Kaci and Toby go back into his bedroom and climb out of his window. Toby is going into diabetic shock and needs an insulin shot. They get to Kaci’s car, and Daphne goes back into the house to get the keys.

She finds Kaci dead in the kitchen. She gets the keys and finds her mobile phone when she hears it ringing. The mysterious figure had dropped it during her altercation, with Kaci having had it the whole time. It is Karen on the phone. Daphne tells her that someone is trying to kill them.

The mysterious figure reveals themselves. It is Audra. Her surname is not Simonetti; it is Monrose, the same as the name of the boy who died whilst in Daphne’s care. She is his mother. She tells Daphne that she found her husband messing around with the babysitter one day. The babysitter was Claire. She killed her.

Daphne tries to explain to her that she was told to leave her post by her superior. Audra does not care. She blames her for the death of her son. Daphne runs out of the house. They fight by the pool, and she knocks Audra into the water. As Audra tries to get out, she hits her again.

Daphne returns to the car and has to give Toby an insulin shot. Toby recovers just as Audra comes and grabs Daphne out of the car. They fight again, and Daphne injects an insulin shot into her temple, killing her. A month later, Daphne goes to bid farewell to the Andrews. She is leaving Los Angeles and moving to Atlanta. They invite her in for lunch, and Toby says he will come and visit her when he gets over his fear of flying. The end.

A Stranger Outside is a poor, made-for-television thriller, using the crazed parent trope, plus a child in peril, to raise the stakes. The problem is, the stakes never seem particularly raised. The pace of the film is so slow, with feeble attempts at tension, and Underwood’s Daphne required to be frightened and nervous at every turn.

Written and directed by Jake Helgren, besides moving at a snail’s pace, the script is too actor-y, with most of the actors sounding unnatural, not able to live their characters. Underwood, who necessarily is on screen for most of the film, tries valiantly to inject emotion and some sort of urgency into proceedings, but the task is just too Herculean for her to bear.

As I alluded to earlier, young Jet Jurgensmeyer, as the diabetic Toby, steals the film. He out-performs everyone in the film, being cute and charming without being irritating.

There were other little things, as well. Underwood has a few tearful scenes and manages to muster tears in both of them. Unfortunately, when she cries, her makeup runs, leaving distracting streaks on her face.

There was too much usage of mobile phones as a plot device, and creepy Barry played a little too well by Sean Whalen, was just an irritating red herring. Having Zucker’s Audra stalk people dressed like an extra from the dark side of the Star Wars universe was also pretty underwhelming.

Truth be told, if Helgren had decided to make this a comedy, it might have worked. As a drama or thriller, it is just too ponderous and tension-free to work. A Stranger Outside can stay there. Give it a miss.

Running Out Of Time – Review (Netflix)

Brenda (Tasha Smith) is the widow of former chief of staff to the Senator (Michael Toland), Clarence Harper (Sean Dominic). Local reporter, Pamela Odell (Kearia Schroeder), a close friend of the family, covers the funeral on the news. After the funeral, the Senator, who was in attendance, comes and gives his condolences to Brenda, Brenda’s mother, Dolly (Telma Hopkins) and daughter, Kristen (Sydney Elise Johnson).

Pamela comes over with her husband, Cain (RonReaco Lee) to offer her condolences. Brenda tells her that she and the family are going to leave the city for a few days, and go and stay at their home in the country. The Senator calls Cain over. He tells him that with Clarence’s death, he will become the new chief of staff.

Brenda, Dolly, and Kristen leave the city and head to the country house. The three women settle in. As evening falls, Kristen takes Dolly some soup and her medication. The medication is for lung cancer. Dolly tells her to grab her flask from her bag. Kristen leaves her grandmother. Brenda comes to say goodnight to her mother. She sees that she is having whiskey with her medication, and comments that the mix of the two will knock her out.

The ladies retire for the night. Brenda is awoken in the night by somebody at the door. It is Cain, and he is frantic. He starts to apologise, coming into the house. He goes back to the front door and opens it to two masked men with guns. They come in and take them both hostage. Cain says to Brenda they forced him to bring him to her house.

They go and find Kristen. They leave Dolly sleeping, knocked out by the pills and whiskey. The men hold the three hostages in the lounge. Brenda wants to know what the men want, she tells them that they can have money. They don’t want money. They take her to the safe. What they are looking for is not in the safe. They are looking for a file. Brenda does not know about the file.

you can trust me… tell me where the file is…!


Cain tells the masked man that he knows him. He is the security agent, Spears (Dustin Harnish). Spears acknowledges that he is indeed who he thinks he is. Spears says they will have to execute plan B. He takes Cain and Brenda back to the lounge. Cain tries to overpower Spears, causing him to drop his gun. Brenda grabs the gun and threatens to kill Spears. The gun is not loaded. He takes it back off of her.

They take the three of them down to the basement and tie them up. Cain asks Brenda about the file. She tells him that she knows nothing about the file. He tells her that they have Pamela and his sons. Cain tells her about some files that Clarence found indicating corruption in the government and off-shore accounts. The captors come back and take Cain and Brenda.

They have Pamela in the kitchen. They do not feel like Brenda or Cain are cooperating. They kill Pamela to show they are serious. Spears tells Brenda that Clarence was killed with a poison that induced his heart attack. He tells her that he also plans to fake a history of her mental state and kill all of the family, blaming it on her, unless she gives them what they want.

The take them back to the basement and search the house for the file. Kristen manages to free herself and untie the other two. Brenda tells her to go and grab the grandmother’s phone and call the police. Cain causes a distraction, and Kristen escapes and gets the phone. The other agent, Trent (Paul Logan) goes after her. He catches her, but not before she calls the police.

The police come around and Spears tells Brenda to get rid of them. Dolly wakes up with the commotion and comes to see what is happening. Trent is holding a knife to Kristen’s throat. He does not want to go back to jail. Brenda gets rid of the police. Dolly and Brenda are taken to the basement.

Trent is getting antsy, he wants to kill them and leave. Brenda tells them she thinks that her lawyer might have the file. Dolly insults Spears. He knocks her out with a kick. Brenda attacks him in a fit of rage but is quickly beat down. Trent is still unhappy. He is worried about the police. He points his gun at Brenda. Spears tells him not to kill her.

Cain shoots Trent. It turns out he is the mastermind behind the whole ordeal. He grabs Brenda, they are going to go and visit her lawyer. He tells Brenda why he is executing his plan. Clarence did tell him about the corruption, and Cain had suggested they use it to further their political ambitions. Clarence had no interest in that. He also tells her he was the one who poisoned Clarence.

Cain wants the file so he can become Vice President, and eventually President. Cain takes Brenda into town to meet the lawyer. Back at the country house, Spears is preparing to dispose of Trent’s body.

He pours acid into the metal bath. Cain and Brenda collect the file. Kristen escapes again, freeing herself with Trent’s’ discarded dagger. She surprises Spears and stabs him in the thigh. He slaps her and she hits him with a tray causing him to fall into the bath of acid.

Brenda tells Cain to call Spears. Spears, who is dead, does not answer. Brenda hits Cain in the groin and takes the car. She drives back to the country house. Cain steals a car from a man at gunpoint and follows after her.

Back in the country, Cain catches up with Brenda. He persuades her that the best option is to blame Spears for everything, as long as he gets the file. Brenda insists on a copy of the file. A year later, Cain is Vice President. Brenda comes to see him at his inauguration. She pricks him in the back and he suffers a heart attack. The end.

Shoot him! Shoot him!


Running Out Of Time, produced, written, and directed by Christopher B Stokes, is an okay, patchy thriller. Following the well-trodden ground of corrupt and/or ambitious men within the political sphere prepared to do anything to gain power, Running Out Of Time is an occasionally clunky, unsubtle addition to the genre of such political thrillers.

Stokes, who was also behind the wretched We Belong Together, is much more comfortable when writing and directing subject matter that is more urban in nature. The first half of Running Out Of Time is so unnatural sounding and awkward it is as though Stokes has never heard of The West Wing, Absolute Power or Marathon Man, let alone seen them.

Visually, the film looks good if a little too teal and orange for my liking. The house in the country is absolutely beautiful and looks amazing in a high definition show house kind of way.

Stokes, for a veteran of some twenty-five directing credits, decides to use slow motion in the most random places, the slowing of the image not adding to the story or impact at all.

Stokes also, with a background in directing music videos, allows the music to overwhelm some of the scenes. There is a supposedly emotional scene when Smith’s Brenda is alone, thinking one can only guess—there is no montage sequence—about her recently departed husband. It is basically a music video, and it’s wholly underwhelming and a little jarring.

The fact that Lee’s Cain turned out to be the big bad was about as surprising as Christmas being in December. Having said that, once he revealed himself to be the mastermind behind the ordeal, the film improved greatly, the pace and script were much more suited to Stokes’ directing style.

At ninety-seven minutes long, Running Out Of Time is not an overly long film, and after the midway point, moves along quite swiftly. If you can get past the ham-fisted dialogue and exposition, and forgive the ropey acting, something that is exacerbated by the poor script, Running Out Of Time is a mediocre thriller worth a look if you have nothing else watch.

In The Fade – review (Netflix)

Nuri Sekerci (Nurman Acar) is happy. He is marrying the love of his life, Katja (Diane Kruger). Such is their love and devotion to one another that, rather than buy wedding bands, they have them tattooed on their wedding fingers. The marriage takes place in prison as Nuri is serving a sentence for drug dealing.

Some years later, Nuri’s life is very different. A Turkish national, he helps other Turkish nationals to settle in Germany and also helps ex-cons to reform. They have a son, Rocco (Rafael Santana), who Katja brings to Nuri’s office, as she is going to visit her pregnant friend Brigit (Samia Chancrin) and needs to borrow the car.

Katja leaves Rocco with Nuri as she goes to see Brigit. As she leaves the office, she notices a young woman leaving a new bicycle outside of the office. She calls to her, telling her that she should lock the bike up as someone could steal it. The girl says she will be right back.

Katja spends the afternoon with Brigit. When she returns, the roads around the office are cordoned off. There has been an explosion. Two people are dead and many have been injured.

Katja fights past the cordon, running towards the office. She is restrained by several police officers. Two people are dead, but the bodies are so badly destroyed that they will need DNA to test them. Katja goes to see if her family is amongst the survivors. They are not. The police take her home to get some DNA of Nuri and Rocco.

The tests come back positive; her husband and child died in the explosion. Chief Inspector Reetz (Henning Peker) leads the investigation into their deaths. He wants to establish if her husband had any enemies. No, none. Did she notice anything? No. Wait, there was a woman with a bike. It was new and had a large carrier attached to it.

Katja is bereft. Brigit stays with her as she grieves. The next morning, reports of the bombing are in the news. Nuri is portrayed as a convicted drug dealer. A photofit of the woman Katja described is with the report. Katja’s mother, Annemarie (Karin Neuhäuser), intimates that Nuri might have been mixed up with something that Katja did not know about. Katja gives the notion of short shrift.

Katja goes to see her friend and lawyer, Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto). Fava was a close friend of Nuri. She asks him if Nuri was involved in any of his old endeavours, Fava assures her he was not. She asks if they know who did it.

He tells her that they are looking at possible Eastern European connections. Katja does not think that is right. The girl who left the bike was German. The thought suddenly occurs to her that it was neo-Nazis.

Fava gives her a few drugs that he took off of clients. The next day, Nuri’s parents tell her they want to take his remains and that of their grandson’s back to Turkey, having decided to return to Turkey. Katja leaves the room. She goes and takes a line of cocaine. When she returns, she tells them no.

At the funeral, Nuri’s parents blame her for Rocco’s death. Back home, the police gain a warrant to search the house. They find the small amount of drugs Katja got from Fava. The inspector tells her that it is unlikely that she will be prosecuted for such a small amount of drugs. She tells the inspector that the Nazis did the bombing. Why? Because her husband was Turkish.

Katja feels overwhelmed with the police looking at her husband’s criminal past as a motive for his death. Back home, her mother intimates that Nuri corrupted her. Before Katja can react, Michi (Uwe Rohde), her mother’s boyfriend, tells her to pack. They are leaving.

Katja goes to the site of the bombing. She returns home, consumed by her depression. Brigit, who had been staying with her, leaves at Katja’s request. Katja continues to grieve, sleeping in Rocco’s bed, ignoring all contact. She slits her wrist in the bath, waiting to die. Fava calls. She was right, it was a neo-Nazi attack, and they have made an arrest.

The girl she saw, Edda Moller (Hanna Hilsdorf), and her husband André (Ulrich Brandhoff), stands accused of the bombing. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence against them and even André’s father, Jurgen (Ulrich Tukur), testifies to the fact that his son embraced neo-Nazi teachings.

The Moller’s defence lawyer, Haberbeck (Johannes Krisch), proves to be very effective, bringing into question not only Katja’s character but also the evidence in regard to his clients. They even have an alibi for when Katja says she saw Edda.

Edda says she was in Greece. The court acquits the couple, saying that though they do not necessarily believe the Moller’s to be innocent, the evidence presented was not conclusive enough to eradicate reasonable doubt.

Some time has passed. Katja goes to Greece looking for Nikolaos Makris (Yannis Economides), the man who provided an alibi for Edda. She finds him but alerts him to her presence by asking for the Moller’s. He sees her but she escapes. By chance, she sees his car passing after she stops to buy cigarettes. She follows him to the beach. He meets the Moller’s. They are living in a caravan on the beach.

He tells them about Katja. Katja, furnished with the knowledge of their location, builds a bomb. She goes to the caravan and places it under the caravan. She waits, the couple having gone for a run.

As she waits, she has second thoughts and goes and retrieves the bomb. She had been ignoring Fava’s calls, her mindset on a particular course of action.

She speaks to Fava. He tells her he is preparing an appeal and that she should come to see him tomorrow. She says she will see him in the morning. She returns to the beach the next morning. The Moller’s have returned from another run. She walks up to the caravan; the bomb is strapped to her. She opens the caravan, goes inside and detonates the bomb. The end.

In The Fade, or, to give it its original German title, Aus dem Nichts, is a sobering, emotional drama written and directed by Fatih Akin. A straightforward story of a heinous crime and its impact on various parties, the film is driven by Kruger’s central performance.

In truth, the story is more about grief than anything else. Though the story of neo-Nazi sympathisers destroying a family simply due to their origin is a powerful and emotive one, it is Kruger’s Katja who draws sympathy, even as it becomes increasingly evident that there can only be one resolution.

A slow burner of a film, In The Fade’s pacing, will not suit everyone. At one hundred and five minutes long, the first hour is raw emotional viewing as Katja struggles to deal with the loss of her family. Strangely, for a film incorrectly billed as a revenge thriller, In The Fade is more an observation of helplessness within a frame of civil society.

Katja’s mourning and pain are amplified by the legal systems inability to mete out any sort of justice. With this being a German film, the Hollywood ending, where she perhaps shoots all who are “deserving” in the face or throws them off of a building or some such movie-esque fitting comeuppance, never materialises.

Katja almost gives us the ending we want but decides against it. She is not a cold-blooded murderer. The final resolution was the only way for her. In The Fade is a compelling watch mostly for Kruger’s strong central performance. Though everybody else is good, it is Kruger’s film and, aside from the two lawyers, nobody else’s character is explored much beyond the surface.

In The Fade is obviously a film that was personal to Akin, with title cards at the end displaying how many neo-Nazi attacks have happened in Germany in the past year. It is a good film, but obviously, due to its subject matter, not an overly enjoyable one.

A Simple Favour – review (Netflix)

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed, single mother who, after the death of her husband, started a cooking vlog. She is overly nice and volunteers for every activity at the school her son, Miles (Joshua Satine) goes to, much to the irritation of the other parents.

All the parents agree that Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) is unlikely to volunteer for any of the upcoming fair’s activities. Emily runs PR for a fashion company, Dennis Nylon (Rupert Friend), and is the envy of the other parents.

When school finishes, Nicky (Ian Ho), Emily’s son, and Miles best friend, wants Miles to come for a play date. Emily, who has turned up in her Porsche to pick him up, agrees and invites Stephanie back to the house for drinks.

Stephanie is a little starstruck by the glamorous Emily, impressed by her stylishness, beautiful home, and confidence. Emily seems nonplussed by her own life, mixing the two ladies martinis. She tells Stephanie that her husband, Sean (Henry Golding), is an author, and he had written a well-known book. Stephanie knows the book, having read it herself. Emily tells her he does not write anymore.

Emily asks if she is divorced. No, Stephanie tells her, she is widowed. Her husband and brother died in the same car accident. She says that fortunately, her husband had life insurance, and she has been surviving on that. Emily bemoans her financial burdens, as she is the one who brings in the money.

Stephanie tells Emily that she will look after Nicky, pick him up after school if she ever needs it. A few days later, Stephanie gets a call. Can she pick up Nicky? Stephanie tells her it’s not a problem.

Emily meets her a little later in the park and takes umbrage when Stephanie takes a photograph of her, insisting that she delete it, even threatening to take legal action. Stephanie deletes the photo.

The ladies return to Emily’s house for some drinks again. Emily tells Stephanie that she and Sean had a threesome with one of Sean’s teaching assistants. She asks Stephanie if she ever did anything bad. Stephanie tells her that she kissed her half-brother. Emily asks if that was all that happened. Stephanie’s hesitation tells her that it was more than just a kiss.

The next day, Emily asks Stephanie to pick up Nicky again. Stephanie picks the boys up. Later in the day, she cannot get a hold of Emily. Two days later, she calls Sean. He is in England seeing his sick mother. Sean comes to see Stephanie when he returns, they call the police. The police initially look at Sean as the most likely person to be the reason for her disappearance.

Stephanie comes to his defense, saying she has seen how loving they were as a couple. Besides, he was in London. Sean stays over at Stephanie’s home. The next morning he gets up and makes breakfast for them and the boys. Stephanie, not used to having a man in the house for so many years, is immediately enamoured.

Stephanie tells her vlog audience about the ongoing Emily situation, enlisting their help to try and find her. She then takes it upon herself to go to Emily’s workplace, and see Dennis Nylon. She sneaks into Emily’s office and snoops around, finding a photograph of her. Stephanie pretty much lives with Sean as the police look for Emily.

Sean gets a call. The police have found a body in a lake. Sean goes to identify the body. It is Emily. Stephanie tells her vlog audience that Emily is dead. Stephanie stays with Sean over the funeral period. They end up getting together. Stephanie sees Sean at work, hugging a woman. She begins to suspect something is not right.

At dinner, Nicky says he saw his mother. Sean tries to tell him he must be mistaken, but Nicky insists that he did see her. Stephanie tells Sean she feels like Emily is still around. He tells her that Emily was not the person she thought she was. She asks him why he took out a four million dollar insurance policy on her. He tells her that Emily actually got the idea from her.

Tell me your secrets. All of them.

Sean asks her to move in with him. Stephanie agrees and clears all of Stephanie’s clothes from the walk-in wardrobe. When she returns with some of her own clothes, she is spooked to see the wardrobe back how it was before, filled with clothing. She then gets a photograph from Emily. Emily calls. She tells Stephanie to say hi to Sean.

Stephanie goes to Sean wanting to know if he and Emily are trying to scam her. He tells her that Emily is dead, and she is overreacting. Stephanie recalls telling Emily how her husband and brother died, with her husband killing both of them deliberately because he suspected that Miles was not his child.

Stephanie tracks down an artist, Diana Hyland (Linda Cardellini) who did a painting of Emily. Diana did not know her as Emily, she knew her as Claudia, and she was her muse. Emily/Claudia conned Diana out of a lot of money, even having her pay for her to get through college. Stephanie asks if Emily/Claudia ever mentioned Michigan. Diana gives her a sweatshirt that shows a summer camp she used to go to as a child.

Stephanie goes to the holiday camp. She finds some old photos of Emily. It turns out that she is a twin. She tracks down her parents. They live in an old, remote house, surrounded by land. Stephanie goes to the house and talks to her mother, Margaret (Jean Smart). Margaret tells her that one of the daughters was evil.

The daughters were named Faith and Hope, and they caused a fire in one wing of the house before running away. Stephanie records another vlog, knowing that Emily/Claudia/Hope will watch it. She contacts the insurance company, telling them she thinks that Emily may be alive. Emily comes out of hiding to meet up with an unsuspecting Sean. He had no idea she was alive.

Stephanie tells Sean that Emily had a twin. He did not know. Stephanie meets up with Emily. Emily tells her that her sister drowned, and she just used her drowning to disappear. Stephanie does not believe her. Emily killed her because, Faith, now a heroin addict, was trying to blackmail her for drug money.

Emily comes up with another plan, persuading Stephanie to frame Sean. He gets arrested for allegedly forcing Emily to stage her own death. Stephanie and Sean try to double-cross Emily, with Stephanie pretending to shoot Sean. Emily sees through the ruse and shoots Sean, wounding him. She is about to shoot Stephanie, but Stephanie tells her that they are live streaming, the police are on the way.

Emily tries to escape but gets hit by a car as she goes runs off. The police arrest her. Six months later, Stephanie is still vlogging, hitting one million subscribers. She also becomes a sleuth for cold cases. The end.

I love you, but I love money more!

A Simple Favour, from a novel by Darcey Bell, with a script by Jessica Sharzer, is directed by the ever-prolific Paul Feig, the director behind Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy and the Ghostbusters remake.

A little darker than his usual fare, Feig’s A Simple Favour is, nonetheless, a comedy. Anna Kendrick, best known for the Pitch Perfect films, is great as the Stepford-esque, Scooby gang’s lost member, Stephanie. She perfectly contrasts the striking Blake Lively’s Emily. Lively too is perfect as the compulsive, manipulative Emily.

The story zips along, Stephanie being understandably taken in by the seemingly sophisticated Emily, whose handsome, loving husband and beautiful home is a dream for Stephanie. That someone as luminous as Emily should want to be her friend, proves irresistible to Stephanie.

The film is a strong mix of straight forward thriller and comedy, with certain aspects of the film; when Stephanie goes to Dennis Nylon or the scenes with the other parents, played purely for laughs. The car crash that kills Stephanie’s brother and husband is horrific, with not a sliver of humour around the scene.

Sharzer’s script is sparkling, the conversations and voices of each character very distinct and deliberate. There are very few indulgent scenes, with the near two-hour runtime filled with a compelling story ably told by all on show.

A Simple Favour is a film that does not disappoint; amusing and entertaining in equal measure. Definitely worth adding to your watch list.