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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist can rightly claim to be one of the most successful haunted-house tales ever told and so a reboot of what is probably one of the scariest films of all time makes sense in that money-grabbing Hollywood kind of way. But as with so many reboots, Gil Kenan’s uninspired take on the 1982 classic proves that it’s no easy task.
The story is centred on the Bowens; a family of five who, due to the recent recession, have been forced to downsize their home and move to a more affordable neighbourhood. Having recently lost his job, Eric Bowen (Rockwell) and his wife, Amy (DeWitt) have been struggling to keep up with the mounting debts and finding the perfect home for themselves and their three kids; teenager Kendra (Sharbino), her younger brother, Griffin (Catlett) and their youngest sibling, Maddy (Clements) hasn’t been easy.
Settling on a semi run-down estate in a town where the pricing seemed to be just right, the Bowens are excited to get settled into their new surroundings. However, things soon go bumping in the night and both Griffin and Maddy – the latter of whom doesn’t seem to be at all bothered about making new ‘friends’ in the closet – begin noticing strange occurrences. Griffin is the first to voice his concern, however his parents think that he is just being overly-anxious about his new home – that is until Maddy goes missing only to resurface as a voice inside the family’s television.
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire – see Rabbit Hole – the script stays very faithful to its source material. It’s something to be commended, yes, but the horrors of old just don’t have the same effect as they did back then and this reboot lacks freshness, creativity and that extra little oomph needed to bring it into the 21st century. Subsequently, it’s difficult to assess as to how loyalists to the original will receive the film; on one hand, it stays close to the original, but on the other hand, there’s nothing new – no new angle, no new pull.
Luckily, the acting is solid and everyone involved turns in relatively convincing and connecting performances. One of the most versatile actors working Hollywood right now, Rockwell turns out to be a decent choice for the role of the troubled father and Clements - although, nowhere near as powerful as her predecessor - is creepily endearing.
In the end, though, Poltergeist 2015 is too weak to stand up to the original. One of the things that made the 1982 version the iconic horror it is today is that unnerving atmosphere and the unsettling energy which followed the story from beginning to end. For what it’s worth, Kenan’s keen eye and roaming camerawork manages to keep his audience on the edge of their seats, but the predictable jump-scares only serve to take away from tension.
Having spent decades in the making, Mad Max: Fury Road finds seventy-year-old director, George Miller, returning to the vast and the beautifully deranged Australian wasteland and anyone lucky enough to be invited for the ride, will immediately recognize its undeniable prowess and action-classic qualities that have been missing from the world of cinema for quite some time now.
Set in the heart of a post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, Fury Road is once again centred on former-cop-turned-drifter, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy stepping in for Mel Gibson) who, after failing to stay ahead of his pursuers is caught by ‘The War Boys’; an obsessive and a gasoline-loving cult working for a ruthless warlord and ruler named Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) who controls everything, including the desert’s water supply.
Forced to serve as a human blood bank, Max soon crosses paths with Imperator Furiosa (Theron); a formidable war rig driver who, during a routine fuel run, decides to go off course in an attempt smuggle Joe’s most precious ‘breeders’, aka The Five Wives, out of captivity. However, Joe’s army is hot on her tail, leaving her with no choice but to befriend the rugged Road Warrior who might be the only person to help her out of the mess.
One of the most striking things about Fury Road – and there are plenty – is how unapologetic and relentless the film is from the very first minute. The story – storyboarded way before even a script was realised – is conceived as one long chase scene and the experience of watching the truly great George Miller at work – who has bravely refrained from using much CGI- is awfully difficult to put into words. Wonderfully bizarre, shamelessly violent and mind-blowingly exciting, the film spends very little time introducing us to the story or the characters; the action does all of the talking and, although some might have a little difficulty connecting, the film doesn’t rely on any gravity to its plot and doesn’t apologise for doing so.
Everything is in the visuals and the gorgeous cinematography – zesty orange by day and steely blue at night – is one of the most arresting things about the entire production. The same can be said for the performance of the forever-flawless Charlize Theron, is captivating in her performance as the fearless Furiosa. Sporting a shaved-head and a bionic arm, you can argue that it is, in fact, Theron who drives the plot forward – we won’t get into the popularised notion that the film is a ‘feminist masterpiece’ here, but Hardy’s intended minimal dialogue and man-of-action persona in embodying Max, leaves room for Furiosa to emerge as the hero of the piece.
There’s nothing complicated about Mad Max: Fury Road; but in the landscape of the modern action genre, few films of this kind have been met with such wide acclaim. After years of anticipation, Miller and co more than met expectations. Bravo.