365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Life (2017)

Wow! Life > Alien.!

Yup. You heard that right. 2017 is off to a tremendous start! January, February, and March typically combine for the worst quarter of the year for movies. I've been reviewing movies since 2010 and each year has confirmed this belief. I didn't anticipate 2017 feeling differently but is slowly happening. First, there was the surprising Split, which I personally wasn't a fan of, but one that did fantastic with audience and critics. Then there was Logan, which at the time of this writing is one of my five favorite Marvel movies ever. Sprinkle in the surprise hit Get Out, the quality reboot Kong: Skull Island, the live-action smash success Beauty and the Beast and you already have five movies that, won't necessarily be up for awards at the end of the year, but will be remembered as success stories for 2017. Now add a late March release of Life, the Jake Gyllenhaal/Ryan Reynolds vehicle that has been wowing potential audiences with both extended trailers and television advertisements during some marquee events. And for good reason. The trailer drew my interest and, barring a complete rejection by the critics, I knew this would be a movie that I saw in the theater. I am actually surprised by the 66% critics score and even more shocked by the 61% audience score. This movie isn't necessarily a thinker in terms that you're going to get confused, but it does make you use your brain to follow along. For this reason, I don't expect an audience score to be 95% or whatever, but I would expect it to be much higher. Perhaps it was a little slow for some people at times. I certainly did not think so. I was hooked from the beginning and thoroughly engrossed the entire 103 minute run time.


The Shallows (2016)

Congratulations to all associated with, what will be, the biggest surprise moneymaking movie of 2016. Jaume Collet-Serra's (Non-Stop, Run All Night) The Shallows will have used a highly successful marketing campaign (which included showing its terrifying trailers during sporting events and popular primetime television shows) along with positive scores from the critics (75% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) on its way to making, my guess, more than $300 million worldwide by the time everything is said and done. This will make The Shallows the biggest non-superhero, non-G-rated movie to be released in the first half of 2016. It's exactly everything you would expect it to be and, for a majority of its audience, that will be perfectly fine. If you want an escape from reality fare, this could be the movie for you. If you want to take your thinking cap off for an hour and a half, this ould be the movie for you.  If you want a movie that builds upon each and every single scene in its quest to terrify you, this could be the movie for you. Even if you are just looking for a movie with beautiful cinematography, this could the movie for you. But if you are looking for something that is even the slightest bit believable or you care about any top of quality acting in your lead or sub-characters, The Shallows most certainly is not your movie.


It Follows (2015)

Total creep fest. 2015 was looking for a legitimate horror. While this movie has completely flown under the radar for the general public, word of mouth has allowed the independent It Follows to quickly become a cult classic. Not only is this the best horror movie of 2015, it is the best horror movie in years. Honestly, the feeling that I got while watching this movie was what I expected to feel in, perhaps, the most over-hyped horror movie of all-time, 1999's The Blair Witch Project. I think when I saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater, I was expecting to be scared in ways that I had never been scared before. I know that a few of the friends that I went with were completely freaked out and I was wondering if we had just watched the same movie. The Blair Witch Project is a different type of horror than, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think that perhaps as a 23-year-old, I hadn't yet adapted the idea that what you might imagine could be more terrifying than what you actually see. I've mentioned on this blog a couple of times that I need to go back and watch The Blair Witch Project just to see if I view it the same way that I did 16 years ago. By looking at its 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm willing to admit that I am probably missing something when I give it a grade of a D-. But this is neither here nor there. This about It Follows, which is much more like The Blair Witch Project than it is A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's 96% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes is very much on par to my view of the movie. It Follows is an instant horror classic.


Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro. Some people love the movies he has directed. Some people don't love them. I think I am starting to land in the second group. I know he found his early cult following with movies like Hellboy and Hellboy II while also receiving critical accolades for movies like The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth. For me, his movies aren't much watch (I've had Pan's Labyrinth on my list of movies to watch for years, but each time I think I might want to watch it, I put something else on instead). Hellboy and The Orphanage were both okay, but del Toro is no early M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). While Crimson Peak has had mostly positive reviews (69% on Rotten Tomatoes), it hasn't hit home with audiences. An inability to really categorize it as a humor, mystery, suspense, romance, and/or drama has hurt its marketing campaign. This movie attracted del Toro's best ever cast ensemble (Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston), but with an estimated budget of $50 million and only half of that amount accumulated in revenue from the first two weekends, Crimson Peak might barely break even. This movie is by no means great. It was an okay watch, but my life certainly would not have been altered had I not of seen it. I absolutely will never watch this movie again. It certainly is not a horror film so even though the previews look scary and it is categorized as horror, you're not going to be scared at all. If you like del Toro's other movies, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this one. If you've never seen one of his movies before (other than maybe Pacific Rim), I'd suggest watching either The Orphanage or Pan's Labyrinth at home and base your decision on your fondness of either of those movies.


The Visit (2015)

M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, The Sixth Sense) is no longer the master of terror. He seems to get progressively worse with each film. There are exceptions for some people I think. For example, I liked The Village more than I did Unbreakable and while other people panned The Happening, I thought it was okay. However, there is no denying that the man is a fraction of his former self. While he no longer deems it necessary to have a twist in every single movie, his last few movies, especially Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender, and After Earth have been absolutely dreadful. With The Visit, a movie he both wrote and directed, he tries something new. It fails. Miserably. At least for me it did. Their is an audience for it as evidenced by its $25 million in its opening weekend alone and has a 59% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But those who remember the masterful Shyamalan from 1999-2002 are not the same people who are going to enjoy this. The Visit seems to be some sort of mixture between The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Funny Games, The Strangers, and Goosebumps. I'll admit that this was the second movie of a Bryan Buser double and that it was the only movie that matched up when my first movie ended. I saw the movie by default and I was totally prepared to walk out at any point. In fact I anticipated it. However, there was something about it early on that kept me interested. And then when I looked at my watch and I was already 30 minutes into a 90 minute movie, I knew I would stick it out.