Category Archives: Thriller

The Midnight Matinee Review

The Midnight Matinee Review – The Midnight Matinee is an anthology of shorts released in 2017. The movie is presented in a format of 5 short films which has some interesting twist at the end.

The movie’s presentation kept me curious and engaged throughout. The entire presentation had a feeling of walking into a hall to enjoy variety entertainment. Each of the short films had thrilling moments and a very interesting end. The common theme seemed to be horror. I usually do not like run of the mill horror movies that has a horror for the sake of it. The Midnight Matinee had cleverly used the element of horror without creating a cloying effect.

In an old school theatrical style, every movie starts with a textual introduction and a sort of moral and sarcastic ending. This adds a new layer to the storytelling. In a pure Hitchcock kind of style, the suspense and thrills are created out of most common circumstances rather than bringing in some out of the world sequences. The first movie Open Sea is entirely taken in a found footage style of movie making. The ending makes it totally worth it. Having short bursts of stories gives less room to guess the ending which makes it an interesting watch.

Kudos to the writer, director and producer Justin Doescher and his team for experimenting a new way of story telling.

High Points: Theatre style presentation, Surprise twist at the end of the tale, the element of suspense and thrills.

Low Points: For folks who are not fans of found footage kind of treatment would not enjoy all the short films in this.

Overall The Midnight Matinee is a treat for all independent movie lovers. It stands out from the crowd for its unique style of presentation and the difference in treatment of the script. You would find it hard selecting which of the shorts you liked the most. The movie is available on Amazon Prime. Don’t miss it.

Must Watch

Maanagaram Review

Maanagaram Review – Maanagaram is a Tamil thriller released in 2017. The movie plot revolves around events that happen around Chennai on two nights where the incidents affect people who were strangers to each other till then.

Director Lokesh Kangaraj has created a well-knitted screenplay in his first full-length feature film Maanagaram. His short film Kalam in the anthology of shorts released under the name of Aviyal had been interested in how situations create difficulties and situations make it easy when unexpected. Maangaram follows the same pattern on a bigger scale. The lives of a Don, a police officer, a jobless youth stalking his love, HR manager, a new employee, a taxi driver, small-time kidnappers and school boy cross each other on a fateful night in Chennai. The knots get more complicated as the movie progresses and it makes the proceedings very gritty. The screenplay is engaging right from the word go.

The screenplay is engaging right from the word go. The eerie and uneasiness of a big city is created very well by the director in the first few scenes. When you start hating the city there is this dialogue “People would complain and speak wrong things about this city, but they would never leave it” He has created a very nice character to the city itself. Although it is dark it is very enjoyable. The performances of the lead characters help in moving the story ahead. There is also dark humor in the scenes where Ramdoss comes in. In particular, the episode of him walking into the school to kidnap a boy is hilarious.

High Points: A gripping screenplay, performances of the lead actors, dark humor. No songs which could have otherwise slowed down the pace.

Low Points: Due to the genre this may not appeal to folks who expect a linear tale with one protagonist.

Overall Maanagaram is an excellent first movie from Lokesh Kanagaraj. If you love dark action thrillers, don’t miss this one.

Worth a Watch

The Salesman Review

The Salesman Review – The Salesman is an Iranian drama released in 2016. The couple Emad and Rana move into a new apartment after their current apartment building collapses. Some unforeseen events happen that change their lives forever.

The movie has won the Academy Award for foreign film category for 2016. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a very emotional drama drawing parallels to the “Death of the Salesman” play by Arthur Miller which the couple is enacting in the theater.  The screenplay keeps you guessing until the end. The movie is quite engaging and there is never a dull moment. The climax as it unfolds explores the struggle between anger and forgiveness.

Shahab Hosseini’s performance is a standout in the entire drama. In particular, the way he has performed during the climax portion is impeccable. His performance is ably supported by Taraneh Alidoosti. Her looks convey more powerful emotions. Unlike some run of the mill thrillers where an action is thrilling here the way the characters react to a particular situation causes the thrill.

After such a powerful climax I felt bit hanging in the ending as it was open ended. I couldn’t immediately connect the interpretation that the director wanted us to have. However only later I got the emotional conflict portion between anger and forgiveness. You might be able to draw a different interpretation. If you do share it in the comments section. Although this is a well-made movie, I wasn’t sure if this is path breaking to win an academy award compared to the other nominations we had in that category.

High Points: A very engaging screenplay, The performance of the lead actors, the powerful climax and the conflict drawn between anger and forgiveness.

Low Points: If you haven’t read or watched the play “Death of a Salesman” you would find it hard to understand the parallels. The ending leaves you hanging for you to decide the conclusion.

Overall The Salesman is an excellent thriller drama and stands apart from the run of the mill thrillers. You would enjoy this more if you have watched the play by Arthur Miller. The climax being open ended may not connect with everyone.

Worth a Watch

 

Assassination Review

Assassination Review – Assassination is a South Korean action thriller released in 2015. During the Japan’s rule over Korea, an assassination is planned against the governor general and a pro-Japanese business man.

After director Bong Joon-ho, Choi Dong-hoon becomes my favorite director in the South Korean film industry. Choi Dong-hoon makes very stylish movies with an engaging screenplay with plots and subplots backed by high production value. I had liked his movie The Thieves. Assassination is, even more, a visual grandeur than Choi Dong-hoon’s previous movies.  The movie is a set in a period of the early 20th century. The sets and costumes are created with much detailing to make it convincing. The plot is equally engaging and keeps you hooked on till the end. The movie begins with a bang with the first assassination attempt and then jumps 20 years later where yet another attempt is made. The characters flow through the 20 years and there are some surprise twists with their transformation during this period. Although there are multiple characters in the movie every character connects with you and have some significant screen time. The stunt sequences are well choreographed with the highlight being gun fights. In particular, the final climax gun fight has been done well with so many characters. Choi Dong-hoon thinks ahead of the audience so you are always in for surprises.

Jun Ji-hyun delivers a very contrast performance compared to her role in My Sassy girl. Her performance is one of the highlights of the movie. Lee Jung-jae and Ha Jung-woo’s performances stand out.

High Points: Very stylish visuals, Period based sets, and costumes, Jun Ji-hyun’s performance the assassination attempt at the gas station, characterization of Hawaii Pistol, the Climax fight.

Low Points: There was never a dull moment for me in the movie so the shortcomings are too hard to catch.

Overall, Choi Dong-hoon has created a visual grandeur combined with some clever screenplay. If you love espionage movies or stylish action movies then you would love this one.

Must Watch

Split Review

Split Review – Split is an American psychological thriller released in 2017. 3 teenage girls are kidnapped by Kevin who suffers from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). The highlight being Kevin has 23 distinct personalities and there might be a 24th one yet to be identified.

I was lucky enough to have watched this movie without watching the trailer or reading promos, plot, and posters. The experience of walking into an unknown movie plot crafted by M. Night Shyamalan was indeed very intriguing. What sets the plot apart is the conflict within oneself has been portrayed through a set of split personalities within the character. The story slowly unveils some of the significant personalities through the eyes of the girls and the psychiatrist sessions. Every scene is well constructed to feed the audience with a new information and adds complexity to the knot in the plot. The curiosity of the 24th personality has been built well and the way the incidents lead to it is constructed well. Unlike earlier Shyamalan movies where the thrills come in after a slow build up, here it is maintained throughout.

James McAvoy’s performance is a standout in the movie. He has bought in the variations of this multiple personalities mannerisms and behaviors very well. His performance is so convincing in all the roles he has played. Anya Taylor-Joy has the other most prominent role in the movie. Her distinct looks add more mystery to the plot. The non-linear narration of her back story adds a new layer to the movie and convincingly merges with the main plot in the end.

The rule of third has been broken and an exact symmetry appears in the visual. Everything in the visual is so balanced in the center of the screen much like Kubrick’s obsession with symmetry.

High Points: Plot Structure, James McAvoy’s performance, Thrills maintained throughout the plot, a convincing end to the story.

Low Points: M. Night Shyamalan’s sees a thing in a way many may not see. Some may sense a bit of weirdness in the thought process and the movie would not connect with them. You can’t take kids to this movie.

Overall, Split is a good come back for M. Night Shyamalan and the movie ends with a promise to a sequel. If you love psychological thrillers, movies with complex plots then you should not miss this one.

Worth a Watch

Kavan Review

Kavan Review – Kavan is a Tamil thriller released in 2017.  Thilak an aspiring Television anchor takes on the task of exposing an unethical practice of the media to sell news.

(Since IPL 10 has started I have used cricketing metaphors :))

Director K V Anand has batted in his home turf. He has also eliminated some of the mistakes in his recent movies. Instead of playing defense there are sixes flying all over the park in the first half. What happens to a match that starts so exciting and a wicket falls? Even some good stroke play gets boring. Kavan’s wicket falls in the interval block. The second half becomes a customary end to the proceedings with some cliched twists.

The first half of the story not only introduces the main characters of the plot but also introduces what happens in the media world to the audience. The tiff between the two lead characters, the social issue all of them adds extra flavour to the whole scene. The only flaw you could point out is some of the elaborate scenes of the reality show and lengthy TR dialogues could have been made crisp. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining first half and sets up your excitement for the second half.  K V Anand also has teased the audience with a dramatic interval block but reverses it to what fits in with the story.

The second half is a let down for me. Although the social issue takes the center stage, the script runs out of ideas for moving the story adding additional knots and removing them very convincingly. Everything looks a bit artificial. In the climax scene, there is no tension at all as you know the hero is going to win as he has the upper hand. If you had empathized on the villain you might have some thrilling moments here.

Coming to the checklist of KV Anand, many of it is fulfilled in this one like a party song, romance on the top of a high mountain peak, KV Anand trolling himself, a social issue. But for one thing having a song after the death of a character.

High Points: Very engaging first half, the core plot of exposing unethical media practices, Vijay Sethupathi and Madonna Sebastian’s screen presence.

Low Points: Lengthy dialogue scenes, Cliched second half.

Overall Kavan would be a treat for masala movie lovers where you want to watch a movie without thinking anything. Hence this gets a Worth a Watch verdict.

Worth a Watch

The Girl on the Train Review

The Girl on the Train Review – The Girl on the Train is an English mystery thriller released in 2016. The movie is based on the novel of the same name written by Paula Hawkins. A woman becomes an alcoholic post the separation from her husband. In her daily commute to New York by train, she sees an attractive couple residing in the neighborhood of her ex-husband. The everyday glimpses of their life catch her attention that it soon it turns into an obsession.

I haven’t read the novel. However seeing how the movie goes I believe the movie has done proper justice to the novel. Director Tate Taylor has given life to the characters in the novel. The movie starts with a bang. While the lead lady gets curious about a couple, the audience gets curious about the lady herself. Post the initial establishment of the character the pace takes a nose dive and moves at a snail pace till a major turning point around 30 minutes into the movie that shakes things up and we are glued to the screen once again. From then on it is a very thrilling ride. Although I could predict the ending, I still loved the way the movie has been shot and enjoyed watching it.

Emily Blunt has played the role of an alcohol addict very well. We travel and see things in her perspective throughout the movie.

High Points: The plot of the movie is engaging, the performance of Emily Blunt, the suspense is held throughout.

Low Points: The initial 30 minutes of the movie is slow, however, the remaining 90 minutes make up for it. The role of the detective didn’t gel well in the movie. I believe in the novel the character might have been explained better.

Overall if you love mystery thrillers you can’t miss The Girl on the Train.

Worth a Watch