Here Before


Laura thinks the little girl next door has been here before.

(2021) Mystery (Saban) Andrea Riseborough, Jonjo O’Neill, Niamh Dorman, Eileen O’Higgins, Martin McCann, Lewis McAskie, Grace O’Dwyer, Gina Moxley, Chrissy Hindley, Jesse Frazer, Terrence Keeley, Tony Flynn, Louise Matthews, Remi Shore. Directed by Stacey Gregg

The absolute worst fear any parent (but particularly a mother) has is to lose her child. Nothing can compare with the anguish that comes from having a child die while still a child. It is like having a part of you ripped away, a wound that never quite heals.

Laura (Riseborough) has endured such a loss. Her daughter Josie (O’Dwyer) had passed away in a car crash. By all external clues, she seemed to have made her peace with it; in the meantime, she’d had a son, Tadhg (McAskie) and she and her husband Brendan (O’Neill) were coping with life in a small rural village in Northern Ireland.

Then, a new family moves next door; Chris (McCann), Marie (O’Higgins) and little Megan (Dorman). Laura’s well-ordered existence of housework, chauffeuring Tadhg to school and back and running errands in town begins to unravel. One afternoon while picking up Tadhg from school, she notices Megan sitting forlornly by the gate, her mother late and a long wait for the little girl by herself alone. She asks for a ride home and Laura gives it.

The two begin to form an unusual bond, mainly because Laura is reminded of her own departed daughter. But as the bond grows deeper, it appears that little Megan knows much more about Laura’s family and the accident that claimed Josie’s life than she should – for instance, she knew that Brendan was singing just before the accident happened. Laura begins to wonder if Josie hasn’t been reincarnated as Megan. The closeness between Laura and Megan begins to worry Megan’s parents somewhat, leading to tensions between the two families. Is Laura, finally, cracking up? Or is there something supernatural at work?

This fine debut by director Stacey Gregg shows a firm and self-assured hand. She certainly knows how to create a mood, a feeling that there is something dreadfully wrong going on. She has some fine performances to work with as well, none finer than Riseborough who manages to convey a brittle psyche with a veneer of strength. If Laura is losing her mind, Riseborough isn’t going to make it easy for you to say for sure; Laura is perfectly aware at how crazy she sounds, but as the Irish might put it, she knows what she knows.

The mood builds and builds and but the ending, unfortunately, is a letdown. Much of the good will that Gregg builds up through the first two-thirds of the film is blown by an ending that I thought was something of a cop-out. Had she stuck to her guns, this might have been a mind-blower of a film, but as it is it is an intensely promising debut that is worth seeking out.

REASONS TO SEE: A truly unsettling vibe throughout. Riseborough reflects a fragile, brittle psyche escalating throughout.
REASONS TO AVOID: The ending is more than a little bit disappointing.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a fair amount of profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the feature film debut for Gregg, who previously worked in television and theater.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, DirecTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/15/22: Rotten Tomatoes: 83% positive reviews; Metacritic: 68/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Birth
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Those Who Walk Away

Programming Note


Normally on Thursdays we run our New Releases feature for the coming weekend. Given that basically there aren’t any this week, and since I’m down with the flu anyway, there won’t be a New Releases for the week of December 31. The feature will return next Thursday for the week of January 7th. Hopefully I’ll be over the flu by then! Until then, Happy New Year to all the Cinema365 readers!

Cruisin’ Along


Here at Cinema365 World Domination Headquarters, we love movies. We also love good food, travel and sitting on a balcony, watching the ocean flow by. Therefore, we are dedicated cruisers. With the pandemic holding the world at bay for about two years, we haven’t been able to indulge our hobby for awhile (nearly two years) but at last, the time has come where we feel it’s safe enough and dammit, we’ve earned a vacation. So starting tomorrow, the lights will be out, the presses will be silent and the posts will not be forthcoming…until Monday, December 13th when we return. Look forward to seeing you all there, preferably a little less stressed on our end.

Black Friday


Some people would kill for a good deal on Christmas presents.

(2021) Horror Comedy (Screen Media) Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee, Stephen Peck, Michael Jai White, Bruce Campbell, Louie Kurtzman, Celeste Oliva, Ellen Colton, Peg Holzemer, Mark Steger, Andria Blackman, Mike Murphy, Chris Siepietowski, Stanley Bruno, Lonnie Farmer, Stephen O’Neil Martin, Ripley Thiebeault, Matea Thiebeault, Bates Wilder, Cindy Lentol. Directed by Casey Tebo

 

With all the holiday-themed horror movies that are out there, it was inevitable that one would be made for the holiest, most sacred day of the year – Black Friday. Yes, the day that retail giants pray for finally gets a horror film of its own.

It’s Thanksgiving and the employees of All Toys, a big box toy store – are there really any of those left? – are preparing to start their shifts to open the store at midnight for Black Friday. Ken Bates (Sawa) is a dad undergoing a divorce, bitter that he gives half of his already-meagre check to his soon-to-be-ex-wife and never gets to see his daughter. He compensates by drinking on the job, which began as a stopgap measure when he got laid off and still ten years later, there he is, and having a brief fling with Marnie (Baquero), who realizes she deserves better. Then there’s Chris (Lee), a germophobic young man who sees Ken as a cautionary tale and is already looking to find a path out of a dead-end retail job. There’s Archie (White), an older man making a little extra cash on the side; Emmett (Kurtzman), a brand-new employee still learning the ropes, and Ruth (Colton), a retiree.

On the management side is Brian (Peck), the floor manager who loves to flex what little power he possesses, particularly in regards to the hapless Chris, and Jonathan (Campbell), the genial, wants everyone to like him, manager who is as ineffectual as he is awkward. The employees gird their loins for what promises to be another sucky day at the store.

But their day is about to become suckier. An alien parasite has crash-landed in the store and has begun infecting hapless customers and a few of the employees, turning them into maniacal, violent zombies who infect other humans by dropping what appears to be a mouthful of snot onto their victims. The gross factor is reasonably high.

The zombies also possess something of a hive mind, and they’re up to something, something that doesn’t bode well for the remaining humans gathered in an employees-only section of the store. With the world going nuts all around them, they need to band together, overcome their differences and show those customers who’s boss.

Horror comedies are fiendishly hard to pull off; often they come off soft on the horror, or soft on the comedy. Fortunately, Black Friday manages to avoid that fate, although the humor does have a Dad joke vibe at times. Writer Andy Greskoviak appears to be making a comedy on unhinged consumerism, which seems to be de rigeur for almost any movie with the day after Thanksgiving as a setting. He doesn’t quite do it, missing opportunities to make meaningful points while going for the low-hanging fruit. While Campbell gives a speech that kind of goes down that road, it’s really the only moment that the script transcends the material.

While we’re on the subject of Bruce Campbell, can I just say that he’s still as amazing as ever? He is one of those performers that recognizes the line between underplaying and overplaying; he understands the character and gets them believable while allowing us to laugh at their foibles. He’s also a producer on the movie, and he’s really the best reason to see it. Fans of the actor shouldn’t miss his monologue late in the film; it’s one of his best.

On the other end of the spectrum is Michael Jai White. This is an actor who has made for some memorable action roles over the years, but is criminally underused. That trend continues as he is dispatched way too early, but he shines every time he has the ball. Somebody, anybody, please give this guy a leading role.

Sawa and the rest of the cast do solid work as well; there aren’t any performances that really are groan-worthy. Tebo relies heavily on practical effects and they’re appropriately gooey and disgusting. The issues with the film like largely on the technical side; the score is mighty annoying and some of the monster make-up is unremarkable.

The film’s biggest sin is the stereotyping. Brian comes off as a bitchy Joan Crawford gay man, which seems tone-deaf in 2021. Also, with the exception of Marnie, the women here are basically awful or zombie fodder and even Marnie doesn’t really have much in the way of characterization. I don’t think horror movies necessarily need to be woke, but avoiding tired cliches about various groups would seem to be a better idea than playing to them. Otherwise, the movie isn’t too bad and might even grow on you as it did me. Bruce Campbell’s fans should definitely find a way to check this out sooner rather than later.

REASONS TO SEE: The cast is solid and the movie grows on you.
REASONS TO AVOID: Too many stereotypes.
FAMILY VALUES: There is plenty of violence, profanity and gore.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The filmmakers used a closed store in Massachusetts that had been formerly a Babies R Us retail outlet.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, DirecTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Spectrum, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/29/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 65% positive reviews; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Willy’s Wonderland
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away

Becoming Cousteau


The ultimate oceanographer and his mini-sub.

(2021) Documentary (National Geographic) Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Vincent Cassel (narrator), Louis Malle, Phillippe Cousteau, Thomas Taillez, Fredéric Dumas, Simone Cousteau, Yves Omer, Bruno Capello, Claude Wesley, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Albert Falco, Jocelyne de Pas, Yves Pacalet, David Wolper, John Soh, Brad Matson, Susan Schefelbein, Francine Cousteau. Directed by Liz Garbus

Beneath the ocean’s waves is an entirely new world, a largely unexplored one, populated by strange and almost magical creatures. One of the first to explore that undersea world was former French naval officer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Aboard his ship the Calypso, he sailed the world’s oceans and brought the denizens of them onto television screens the world over. He became synonymous with the sea, an unlikely celebrity who didn’t seek the fame he received for his work, but would eventually leverage it to inform millions about the peril the seas were in.

In that sense, Cousteau was a Cassandra before his times. He was one of the first to warn of the man-made catastrophe that was ongoing in the ocean’s reefs and fisheries. He was a tireless advocate for conservation, calling for heads of state to cease using the oceans as a dumping ground, and to adopt reasonable limits for fishing. Not many listened, which is why his warnings are still being repeated, albeit more stridently now as the planet rapidly approaches a tipping point which might mean the end of human life on Earth. Sounds dramatic – but it’s sadly oh so true.

Cousteau originally meant to be a pilot for the French Navy, but a devastating car accident put the end to that dream. When a friend suggested swimming in the Mediterranean as a means to convalesce and another introduced him to skin diving, he was hooked. Soon, he was much happier in the water than out of it. He had also developed a passion for photography and he had a yearning to share what he was witnessing in the sea, and a restless desire to see what lay deeper. He helped design waterproof cameras and the aqua lung, an early predecessor to scuba gear.

His yearnings and desire led him to purchase a vintage mine sweeper which was renamed the Calypso and with funding from the French government, went out exploring. When that funding dried up, he found that oil companies were willing to pay handsomely for oil exploration in the Red Sea and he did that for awhile, which he would later come to regret.

His fascination with the moving image led him to make – with then-unknown director Louis Malle – a documentary called The Silent World which won the 1956 Oscar for Best Documentary. Producer David Wolper thought that it would make a great TV show and thus The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was born.

His wife Simone accompanied him on his voyages. She was essentially the business manager for the Calypso and den mother to the crew. Camera-shy and spotlight-wary, she largely stayed out of the limelight while raising their two sons, Phillippe and Jean-Michel, largely without the help of her husband whose busy schedule took him on lecture tours and speaking engagements around the globe. At the same time, he was carrying on an affair with Francine Triplet, who would become his second wife with whom he would father two other children (Diane and Pierre-Yves) while still married to his first.

As the Sixties became the Seventies, he began to notice disturbing changes in his beloved oceans. Areas that had been teeming with fish were growing nearly barren; coral reefs were beginning to show signs of distress. He saw the pollution that was going into the ocean and killing it long before anyone else, and created the Cousteau Foundation (who partially funded the making of this film) to raise awareness of human impact on the oceans and the need for conservation in the seven seas. It is an ongoing effort that continues even more urgently today.

When one of Cousteau’s children died tragically, he became a changed man. His tone grew darker and ABC cancelled his show because it was “too depressing.” His wife Simone died of cancer, opening the door for him to marry Francine. Even with a new family which he made sure to spend more time with, which was one of the regrets he had with his two sons with Simone,

Garbus utilizes a lot of footage shot by Cousteau and his team, curating it rather than presenting it as a normal documentary. She never gets hagiographic with her subject, talking honestly about his change of heart regarding exploitation of the sea (he once advocated for colonizing the sea floor with permanent human habitats) and how, in many ways, he shut his family out emotionally. He expresses his regrets, and downplays his triumphs. Garbus has a more impartial point of view and keeps a steady hand on the wheel. Unfortunately, there isn’t much here that a cursory Wikipedia search wouldn’t reveal, but that seems to be pretty much true of most biographies these days. In any case, the undersea footage holds all the wonder it held for young children first seeing them in the Seventies, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat.

REASONS TO SEE: Some truly spectacular footage, much of it shot by Cousteau himself.
REASONS TO AVOID: Doesn’t really add much more than you could find in a Google search.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity, a few disturbing images and some smoking.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Cousteau passed away in 1997 at age 87. His funeral was held in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/23/2021: Rotten Tomatoes: 100% positive reviews; Metacritic: 72/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Oceans
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Pure Grit

Son of Monarchs


We all yearn thttps://sonofmonarchs.com/o emerge from childhood as a beautiful butterfly.

(2021) Drama (Warner Media/150) Tenoch Huerta, Alexia Rasmussen, Lázaro Gabino Rodriguez, Noé Hernández, Paulina Gaitán, William Mapother, Juan Ugarte, Electra Avellán, Angelina Peláez, Emily Keefe, Jay Potter, Jarod Lindsey, Wendy Heagy, Daniel Fuentes Lobo, Gadi Rubin, Rich Miglio, Gisell Rodriguez, Maia Vogel, Fernanda Rivera, Maria Luiza Ceglia. Directed by Alexis Gambis

 

Butterflies are creatures of intense beauty and fragility. Their colorful wings delight us, and their migratory patterns can astound us. Butterflies have always been used as a metaphor, a desire that we harbor to emerge from our chrysalis – whatever it may be – as a beautiful, bejeweled butterfly and (hopefully) not as a dull, drab moth.

The parents of Mendel (Huerta) must have had great expectations for their son, naming him for a Czech scientist, but they didn’t live to see it happen, dying senselessly during a flood. This left Mendel and his older brother Simon (Hernández) orphaned, to be raised by their grandmother (Peláez) and a assortment of uncles. Mendel eventually left the tiny village nestled in the mountains of Michoacán where millions of monarch butterflies spend the winter to study the butterflies as a biologist for a lab in New York. Simon stayed to work in the mines and raise a family; Simon hasn’t forgiven Mendel for leaving Mexico and leaving Simon alone to cope with the grief.

But Mendel returns for the funeral of his grandmother to find that while most of his family is overjoyed to see him, particularly his niece Lucia (Avellan) who wants very much for her uncle to return for her wedding later in the year. Her father, Simon, is less happy to see Mendel and can barely keep a civil tongue in his head when his brother is around.

Back in New York, Mendel is introduced to Sarah (Rasmussen) who works for a non-profit and is a recreational trapeze artist (is that really a thing?) and the two begin to spend a lot of time together. Mendel can’t get over the ease with which Sarah flies through the air; this must be what it’s like to be a human butterfly. He also begins to experience vivid flashbacks of the horrible day in which his parents perished.

Although Mendel is reluctant to return to Michoacán, he eventually decides to do so, knowing that he and his brother must confront the things separating them that keep them from soaring through the winds like the brightly colored insects they both love.

Gambis, who is not only a filmmaker but also holds a PhD in biology, has a lyrical bent that is shown at various times in the film, as when a young Mendel is covered in a sea of orange and brown monarchs, or showing the beauty of the landscape surrounded by desolation wrought by the greed of men.

His script has some interesting points, but has a tendency to get bogged down on minutiae, so there isn’t the kind of flow you would like to see in a film like this. He is constantly throwing in dream sequences and flashbacks which also disrupt a film that needed a gentle rhythm. Finally, the whole use of butterflies as a metaphor is overused to the point of dreariness.

And these are large issues indeed, but not insurmountable ones and in fact the movie more than makes up for them with compelling performances by Huerta and Hernández, whose chemistry as two brothers, once close but now wary of each other and unsure not only how they got to this point but whether they can get back to what they once were at all. The two have a confrontation near the end of the film that is absolutely riveting and highly emotional; it is the highlight of the film and the centerpiece for it in many ways.

Cinematographer Alejandro Mejia fills the screen with bright butterfly-like colors, while Cristóbal Maryán contributes a score that is delicate and beautiful. The simplicity of life in the village is alluring when contrasted with the hectic pace of life in the Big Apple, although some may find that more to their liking. I found myself succumbing to the charms of the film despite its flaws, and perhaps even because of them. This is a very impressive first film for Gambis.

The movie is in the midst of a brief limited run in New York, Los Angeles and a handful of other cities. It will arrive on HBO Max on November 2nd.

REASONS TO SEE: Beautifully shot, beautifully scored. The heat between Huerta and Hernández is realistic and powerful. The sequences of village life are lovely. A wonderful examination of the difficulties for even legal immigrants in America.
REASONS TO AVOID: Leans a little bit too much on flashbacks, butterfly metaphors and dream sequences.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity and adult themes.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The film won the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is given annually to the festival entry that focuses on science as a central theme or scientists as central characters.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: HBO Max (starting November 2nd)
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/19/2021: Rotten Tomatoes: 90% positive reviews; Metacritic: 76/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Identifying Features
FINAL RATING: 9/10
NEXT:
Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters

The Song of the Butterflies (El canto de las mariposas)


The art of Rember Yahuarcani recalls the legends of the Amazon.

(2020) Documentary (PBS) Rember Yahuarcani, Martha Lopez, Nereida Lopez, Santiago Yahuarcani. Directed by Nuria Frigola Torrent

 

The Amazon is a great, mysterious place. A significant portion of the indigenous people there – about 10% – have never had any contact with so-called “civilized” cultures. It is a land of lush greenery, of ancient trees and wisdom, of colorful creatures and people. It is a land that is sadly being stripped of its resources and seeing its native cultures dislocated.

Rember Yahuarcani is a painter, an artist who lives in Lima, Peru. He is a part of the White Crane tribe, which was once flourished but now consists of just two families. His grandmother Martha, who recently passed away, is his inspiration; she tells stories about the clan, from its mythology to the history she has seen. She survived the decimation that came from the rubber plantations, who killed off terrifying numbers of natives in their quest for profits. Indigenous peoples the world over can relate to those stories.

He has been at an impasse lately and decides to go visit his mother and father in the small village he grew up in. They are both artists as well and live much the same way as when Rember was a boy, teaching their grandchildren the stories of their culture, trying to preserve it as best they can. But Rember needs more, and ventures into Colombia where the remainder of their tribe lives.

This is a beautifully shot film and with the Amazonia region as a canvas, that almost goes without saying. It is the sounds, however, that make the movie sing. The flapping of butterfly wings. The buzzing of insects. The chirping of birds. The flow of water. The patter of rain. The songs of the aboriginal people of the region. Imagine hearing those sounds all the time. Preferably without the humidity.

Interwoven with all of this are archival photos of indigenous people in the employ of colonial plantation owners. We hear horrific stories of natives being burned alive, of having their skin flayed off. Discipline was brutal and the men who wielded engorged with greed and possessed of zero empathy for the suffering of others. This is the story of what colonialism has bought us; cultures essentially wiped from the face of the Earth, a lack of respect for nature and the workings of ecology. That colonialism is still with us, not just in Brazil where a tyrannical President seeks to eradicate the rain forest, turn it all into profitable farmland without caring one whit at what the world loses just so long as the profits keep rolling in. It’s no different here, only we call the colonialists “industrialists” and they enslave the working class here in subtle, but similar ways.

At times, the juxtaposition of the natural world and the horrors of the colonial world don’t mesh as well, and it can be rather jarring. Still, this first-time feature film from Catalan-Peruvian filmmaker is absolutely breathtaking from the stories of ancient wisdom to the tales of more recent horrors.

REASONS TO SEE: The sound is stunning. So is the cinematography.
REASONS TO AVOID: A little bit disjointed.
FAMILY VALUES: There is smoking and some discussion of genocide.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Before becoming a filmmaker, Torrent worked for several years at Amnesty International.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: PBS
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/19/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Embrace of the Serpent
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10
NEXT:
Emergence: Out of the Shadows

The Sleepless Unrest


A house ripe for a conjuring.

(2021) Horror Documentary (Gravitas) Kendell Whelpton, Cory Heinzen, Richel Stratton, Brian Murray, Vera Whelpton, Jennifer Heinzen, John Huntington, Anthony Cross, John Sparks. Directed by Kendell and Vera Whelpton

 

In recent years, television programs about amateur paranormal investigators have proliferated, with the 800-lb gorilla of the genre being Ghost Hunters. One of the places that TAPS never visited was the farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island where once lived the Perron family. Their experiences were later turned into the massive hit movie The Conjuring which in turn spawned a franchise. It seems kind of odd that TAPS which was based in Rhode Island never bothered to investigate a place supposedly as haunted as this – although it should be said that the owners at the time claimed that there was nothing particularly frightening going on in the home. In face, Norma Sutcliffe, ran a daycare center in the house for 20 years without incident.

The new owners, Cory and Jennifer Heinzen, were fans of the movie and when the house went on the market were eager to buy it. They currently operate the home as a kind of haunted Air BnB, inviting amateur investigators to spend the night.

Kendall and Vera Whelpton took them up on it and in fact spent two weeks there. Along with their friends and fellow amateur investigators Brian Murray and Richel Stratton, they set up dozens of cameras in the nearly 300-year-old house as well as motion detectors and other equipment, most of it homemade or repurposed. This documentary records their experiences.

Be advised first off – there is nothing here that is particularly spectacular, or definitive proof of spooks, spirits, or ghosts, malevolent or otherwise. Like most paranormal investigative programs, we get footage of doors swinging open by themselves, objects falling off of shelves, strange orbs flying across the screen (well, one only in this case) and plenty of bumps and knocks. Of course, anyone who has ever lived in a house that is more than a century old can tell you that these things aren’t unusual – old homes can be affected by changes in air pressure, and are often full of creaks and moans that have everything to do with the house settling into its foundation and less to do with the paranormal.

If I sound like a skeptic here, I’m really not – I like to think that I’m open-minded about the possibilities of the otherworldly. However, the Whelptons, The Heinzens, Murray and Stratton don’t even attempt to attribute their footage to anything other than the supernatural. One of the things that attracted me to the original Ghost Hunters was that their first priority was to actually investigate – they looked for rational, scientific explanations first and when those were all exhausted, then they might admit that there was a possibility of a haunting. There’s no evidence that they even considered anything like that.

What you get here are a group of people who believe what they want to believe and try to make their footage conform to that belief. I don’t doubt for a minute that they believe the house is haunted, or that the paranormal exists but they don’t even research the history of the home they’re investigating, or even mention what the Warrens (the real-life investigators who worked with the Perron family back in the 1970s) attributed the haunting to. That may be because much of the folklore surrounding the house has since been debunked; the Warrens cited Bathsheba Sherman, who lived on a neighboring farm, as a witch who was the source of the haunting (the film expanded greatly on the theory). In reality, there’s no evidence that Mrs. Sherman practiced witchcraft and most of the tales of her being a witch seem to be contemporary in origin. The murder that was attributed to have taken place on the property actually took place in Massachusetts. Town records also don’t verify the suicides that took place on the property which were alluded to in a book by Andrea Perron, one of the five daughters who lived on the property in the 1970s and who continues to assert that the property is haunted.

I certainly won’t contradict either Ms. Perron or Ms. Sutcliffe. Both women lived on the property after all and clearly love the house and the land it sits on, and who am I, a mere film critic, to doubt any of their experiences? If you want to see for yourself, the farmhouse is available for day tours, although stays in the farm are booked through the end of 2022. You can look into the farmhouse further at this site and if you’re interested in finding out more, the Heinzens would be happy to answer your questions. However, this documentary that was filmed entirely on their property is not mentioned anywhere on the website, although other programs, podcasts and blogs that did, are. It is conspicuous by its absence. Finding out the truth about the Conjuring Farmhouse is something you are unlikely to learn by watching this movie, though.

REASONS TO SEE: The researchers and the Heinzens are outgoing and genuinely believe in what they’re doing.
REASONS TO AVOID: Never delves into the history of the house – why is it haunted? – nor do they seem to attempt to find any non-supernatural explanations for any of the phenomenon witnessed.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some spooky sequences and some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Heinzens have two children who do not appear in the film.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, DirecTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Spectrum, Vimeo, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS:As of 9/6/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Mothman Legacy
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT:
Reminiscence

New Releases for the Week of August 27, 2021


CANDYMAN

(Universal) Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminski, Vanessa Williams. Directed by Nia DaCosta

Although the Cabrini-Green housing project has been torn down and gentrified into upscale condos, the horror of the Candyman remains. A young artist, hearing the background story of the urban legend, begins to paint macabre details of the crime that created the Candyman, unwittingly opening up a new portal to terror.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references)

A Rescue of Little Eggs

(Pantelion) Starring the voices of Mauricio Barrientos, Bruno Bichir, Carlos Espejel, Maite Perroni. A cocky rooster and his fowl partner undertake a dangerous trip to the Congo to recover their stolen eggs from a gang of Russian thugs.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: PG (for rude material and action)

Annette

(Amazon) Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg, Devyn McDowell. A stand-up comic falls in love with a world-famous opera singer and together they have a child of unique grace and an exceptional destiny. This is the latest from visionary director Leos Carax.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Musical
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona (also on Amazon Prime)
Rating: R (for sexual content including some nudity and for language)

Curiosa

(Film Movement) Noémie Merlant, Niels Schneider, Benjamin Lavernhe, Camélia Jordana. The true story of a love triangle (okay, a love square if you must) featuring French author Pierre Louÿs, his best friend, his best friend’s wife, and a passionate Algerian woman.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Death Rider in the House of Vampires

(Atlas) Devon Sawa, Julian Sands, Glenn Danzig, Danny Trejo. A lone mysterious rider crosses the desert to find the Vampire Sanctuary. Once there he takes on all manner of bloodsuckers as ex-Misfit rock star Glenn Danzig reaches for new heights.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror Western
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Fashion Square Premiere, Regal Pavilion Port Orange, Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

The Final Set

(Film Movement) Alex Lutz, Ana Girardot, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jürgen Briand. A tennis player in the twilight of his career looks back at unfulfilled potential that marked it. Although his wife and mother advise against it, he decides to take one last crack at the French Open championship and against all odds makes his way through the tournament – until he is matched with a young prodigy who reminds him of his younger self.

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Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Flag Day

(United Artists) Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Norbert Leo Butz. A young woman has a complicated relationship with her father; on the one hand, he made her life feel like a grand adventure; on the other hand, he was a notorious counterfeiter constantly on the run from the law or in jail. This drama, based on a true story, is directed by Sean Penn and stars his real-life daughter.

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Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for language, some drug use and violent content)

Ichata Vahanamulu Nilupa Radu

(A1) Vennela Kishore, Meenakshi Chaudhary, Sushanth, Sambaa Siva. An architect with a loving mother and a beautiful girlfriend finds his life going haywire one day when he parks his bike in a “No Parking” zone.

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Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Classic New Smyrna, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over

(Kino Lorber) Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, Danita Sparks. The career of Lunch, a legendary No Wave musician and underground performance artist, is chronicled by her friend and collaborator Beth B. This is the latest installment of the Enzian’s new Meet the Filmmakers series.

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For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Music Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian (Monday only)
Rating: NR

Mama Weed

(Music Box) Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani, Liliane Rovere. A translator on the Paris narcotics unit who is deeply in debt trying to pay for the long-term care facility in which her mother resides comes into a stash of narcotics and uses her insider knowledge to become Mama Weed, salesman extraordinaire of the wacky weed.

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For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Crime Comedy
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

No Man of God

(RLJE) Elijah Wood, Luke Kirby, Robert Patrick, Aleksa Palladino. As Ted Bundy awaits execution for his numerous crimes, FBI profiler Bill Hagmaier interviews the serial killer with the hopes of using the information he gleans to identify other criminals in the future. The dialogue is taken from the actual transcripts of the interviews Hagmaier conducted.

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For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Crime Biography
Now Playing: Enzian
Rating: NR

Sridevi Soda Center

(Zee) Anandhi, Sudheer Babu Posani, Pavel Navageethan, Rohini. Based on an actual incident, the film depicts a love story taking place amidst the caste system and politics of rural India.

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Genre: Musical Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Classic New Smyrna, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Together

(Bleecker Street) James McAvoy, Sharon Horgan, Samuel Logan. A couple whose relationship is deteriorating are suddenly stuck together by the pandemic lockdown. This is the latest film from Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry.

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For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, CMX Plaza Café Orlando, CMX Merritt Square
Rating: R (for language throughout)

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

A Wake (Tuesday)
Afterlife of the Party
(Wednesday)
Blob Blob Fish
(Tuesday)
He’s All That
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms
(Tuesday)
Vacation Friends

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Annette
Candyman
No Man of God
Together