A Quiet Place (spoiler free)

When it comes to critical and box office success, horror/suspense is not usually the first genre that comes to mind. So when a new scary movie comes out and is getting generally positive reviews while raking in money at the box office, it definitely triggers some additional interest in my book. The fact that this movie was directed, written, and stars the goofy guy (John Krasinski) best known as Jim Halpert from the hilarious show “The Office” is the icing on the cake. Mrs. Apologist and I really enjoy scary movies so naturally this one found its way to the top of our list to see.

I don’t want to spoil this movie with too much detail about the plot. This is a tale about survival in the face of mass devastation and death. We start off right away seeing the Abbott family doing their best to not make any noise as they search for supplies in a very empty small town store. It seems something has thoroughly wiped out everyone and everything. The painstaking effort to be as quiet as possible while on their supply run leads us to assume that too much sound brings a swift death. I’ll leave the rest of it for you to discover on your own. It becomes quite interesting to see how they function on a daily basis while living in almost complete silence.

What isn’t to like about this film? John Krasinski completely blew me away as he wrote, directed, and starred in this thriller that had me on the edge of my seat for almost the entire 90 minute run time. The pacing is near perfection as it doesn’t move along too quickly but doesn’t drag its feet either. The whole concept of “be quiet or you can die” was well done and I have never heard an entire movie theater sit in such silence! There are a few legitimate jump scares thrown in for good measure and believe me, they will make you jump. I loved the family in this movie, each actor/actress was convincing and I truly cared about their well being. John Krasinski is wonderful as Lee Abbott, the father doing all he can to keep his family safe from constant threat. He is joined on screen by real life wife Emily Blunt as she plays his movie wife Evelyn. Their on screen chemistry is powerful between themselves as well as their children. It is very refreshing to see such a unique entry into the horror/thriller genre.

I enjoyed this movie so much that I don’t really have any complaints for this section! Everything from the story to the suspense to the actors all added up to an superbly entertaining trip to the theater.

This movie is an instant classic in the eyes of this fanatic and I will be sure to add it to my collection the first day it is available. I get a kick out of the horror/suspense genre but too often I find movies too derivative or predictable or just flat out not scary enough. This movie checks all the boxes and felt refreshing in a sea of sequels and remakes. It may not shock you to discover that I give this movie an spectacular rating of 0 Apologies since I have been raving about this movie for awhile now. If you are a fan of the genre then this is a must watch but be careful not to make too much noise.

-Movie Apologist

Annihilation (spoiler free)

This movie is one of those that immediately snagged my interest from the very first time I saw the teaser trailer. Natalie Portman in a suspenseful sci-fi type movie? Sign me up! On top of that was the fact that this is the second movie by director Alex Garland (also directed Ex Machina which I really enjoyed) I was no doubt very excited to get to the theater to see this one.

Now I really will do my best to avoid any spoilers here since I think the story is a big strength. I also have not read the book this film is based on so I cannot say how closely it follows. Basically there is an area called “The Shimmer” that is gradually increasing its radius indefinitely. Very little is known about whats lies inside the boundary since no one seems to make it back out once they venture in. All that is known is there is a lighthouse that seems to be the origin for this abnormality.  Lena (Natalie Portman) is a biologist and professor who volunteers for an expedition inside The Shimmer with a team consisting of a physicist, an anthropologist, a paramedic, and a psychiatrist. Once inside The Shimmer the team seems to find more questions than answers: electronic equipment issues, memory lapses, unknown wildlife and plant life that seems to violate the natural laws. What is The Shimmer? What happened to the previous teams? How do they stop The Shimmer from encapsulating the entire world? Their mission to find the lighthouse and stop The Shimmer from expanding is not an easy one and we are just strapped in for the ride.

There is an abundance of strengths here. Natalie Portman delivers a terrific performance. She is strong, smart and very believable as she displays a full range of emotions, nailing every one of them. The director, Alex Garland, is truly gifted and his storytelling is compelling and keeps you invested to the very end. I really enjoyed the suspense throughout the film and he did a fantastic job sprinkling in with some genuinely terrifying scenes. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the majority of the film. This movie also happens to be gorgeous to look at. The world inside the Shimmer is full of wonder and beauty but, at times, also pure horror. Mrs. Apologist really enjoyed the science aspect as well.

Not too much to complain about in this one. Despite having a pretty good pace, I thought it was just a hair too long at 115 minutes. Especially towards the end it sort of drags out some scenes in an attempt to really set the tone. Another small issue was that  they don’t really go into many details with the science aspect of things, so it can be a little confusing. Another possible drawback is that there are some pretty gruesome scenes that may be too intense for some viewers.

Even though I felt it was slightly on the long side, I really enjoyed the movie as a whole. It was nice to have a different genre of movie choice from the usual lot of comedies and super hero flicks. I don’t have much of an expertise or background in science, but that did not stop me from having a great experience. The story had me hooked from the first scene and the suspense definitely kicked my heart rate into overdrive on several occasions. Portman delivers one of the strongest performances of 2018 so far and Alex Garland proves he has top notch skills as a director despite his short portfolio. Annihilation has set the bar fairly high for movies in 2018 with a well deserved 1 Apology. Check it out if you enjoy suspense and/or science fiction.

-Movie Apologist

Don’t Breathe

This movie was on my must watch list from the very first preview that I saw in the theaters. “Don’t Breathe” appeared to hit all the check marks for what an amazing horror movie should have: believable story, taut suspense, jump scares, and very good reviews. One review called it “the best American horror movie in the last 20 years” which is a very bold statement and also definitely adds to the anticipation. Each time the preview came on it drew me in and the hype would build a little more. Unfortunately this movie fails to meet the hype that was generated.

The plot is very basic. We follow a trio of young thieves plan to break into an old, blind man’s house to rob him of a massive fortune they believe he has. They have performed many other burglaries without any incidents so how could they go wrong picking a blind man as their next target : all they have to do is drug the man’s dog, bypass the security system, drug the old blind man, find the safe, get the money and get back out. The plan seems foolproof but it does start to fall apart as the old man proves tougher than they thought. He is former military and is not about to just give up his money or his secrets. I won’t spoil any of those secrets that come along as they try to spice up the simplistic story. I will say that while I wasn’t terribly impressed with any of the twists I also wasn’t able to see them coming.

There are not many strengths that I found during the 88 minute run time but there are just a couple. Any time a plot twist can sneak up on me without me predicting it would have to be put into the strength column even if the twist isn’t that great. Another strength is that it breaks away from the cookie cutter type horror movie: there are no ghosts or demons or found footage scenes which seem so popular right now. I would also say that the relatively quick running time should be considered a strength. You don’t have to sit there for 2 hours watching a movie you aren’t enjoying.

Where do I start with the weaknesses in this film? There are so many to choose from. I’ve mentioned the simplistic plot earlier but in addition to that the characters are a major weak point. We have no connection to them,  why are we to care who lives and who dies? The film also tries to switch the protaganists and antaganists a few times to keep fresh but it just made me not care about all the characters. The acting is really nothing special from any of them and there are only 4 characters to choose from so not too much variety on that front. The entire movie is poorly lit so it is hard to see what is going on sometimes. But one of the biggest issues with the film is that its supposed to be a horror/suspense movie yet I didn’t find myself on the edge of my seat or even scared one time.  Mrs Apologist, who is probably the most easily scared movie viewer I know, was not in suspense for the entire movie and I didn’t see her flinch from any jump scares. I also felt the movie unnecessarily extended the film with added content and forced dramaticism that didn’t add any value to the story.

Overall this movie really let us both down. All the glowing reviews and well made previews built “Don’t Breathe” into a juggernaut with expectations that it just couldn’t meet. A horror movie should be suspenseful, it should be scary. It should not be boring and miss all the marks in both suspense and scares. It leaves a lot to be desired and earned 6 Apologies from me. There are much better choices if you’re looking for a good scary night on the couch or in the theater.

  • Movie Apologist