13 Minutes


A sight you never want to see in your neighborhood.

(2021) Disaster (Quiver) Thora Birch, Paz Vega, Trace Adkins, Anne Heche, Amy Smart, Sofia Vassilieva, Peter Facinelli, Laura Spencer, Will Peltz, Yancey Arias, Gabriel Jarret, Tokala Black Elk, Shaylee Mansfield, Darryl Cox, Davi Santos, Ginger Gilmartin, James Austin Kerr, April Warren, Kyle Jacob Henry, Addison Metcalf, Lena Harmon, Allyson Crisofaro, Erin Herring, Leesa Neidel. Directed by Lindsay Gossling

Tornadoes are a bitch. They strike without any sort of warning and can leave apocalyptic devastation in their wake. Often, they hit small towns that are less able to recover as easily as a big city might.

In the small fictional Oklahoma town of Minninnewah right in the heart of Tornado Alley, things start with a distant rumble and troubling weather reports that bad weather could be in the offing. Veteran farmer Rick (Adkins) scoffs, having been through enough false alarms in his time to be skeptical at the words of warning coming over the TV. His son Luke (Peltz) is late coming in the night before, managing to miss a lightning strike on their barn that left it completely gutted. Dad, needless to say, is less than thrilled. ‘I hope she was worth it,” he tells him. The fact is, though, that there was no girl. Instead, Luke was spending the night with a man – Daniel (Santos), who works for his Dad (and by extension, for him).

Ana (Vega) works as a hotel maid for an insufferable boss who doesn’t like Hispanics much and her undocumented husband Carlos (Arias) less. Ana lets it roll off her back like water off a duck; she has saved enough for a down payment on a house, even though the supercilious real estate agent (Neidel) who deigns to sign the paperwork while in the midst of her salon appointment, then sniffs “It was barely worth the commission” behind her back after she leaves. Maddy (Vassilieva), who is coloring her hair, has problems of her own; she’s pregnant and the baby daddy (Kerr) doesn’t want to get married, and isn’t so keen on an abortion either, which is what Maddy wants – although when she goes in to the clinic, Tammy (Heche) insists on showing her an ultrasound of the fetus and trying to talk her out of aborting the child. Tammy, as it turns out, is married to Rick and is Luke’s mom.

Maddy is the daughter of single mom Jessie (Birch) who works at an auto repair place, putting up with the patronizing, the sexual harassment and the unreliable customers who wait until the last minute to get their emergency vehicles serviced. When Maddy breaks the news of her delicate condition, essie turns out to be ferociously supportive which might bring a tear to the softer viewer. Maddy also babysits Peyton (Mansfield), the daughter of TV weatherman Brad (Facinelli) and his wife (Smart) is the emergency services department head for Minninnewah. They have jobs to do, so when their sitter flakes out, Maddy gets the call.

All of this small-town drama will begin to recede into inconsequentiality when the town is given a mere thirteen minutes warning that they are going to be hit head-on by a massive tornado. Lives will hang in the balance depending on what each individual citizen does next.

I was surprised that I found the individual stories pretty compelling and while the cast is solid, it performs even better than I expected them to. Not to mention that the tornado sequence is authentically terrifying, even more so than the comparable sequence in Twister that had a far bigger budget to work with than this film did. We also see the devastation from the twister; the town is absolutely leveled and it’s hard to believe anyone survived the destruction, let alone the number that eventually did. On that note, I’m not sure how to address that without giving a spoiler away here; let’s just say that the movie is robbed of an emotional catharsis that it might have had. Some might even feel a bit cheated.

Some of the plot threads feel a bit melodramatic, coming out of disaster movie tropes that are a bit dated at this point. I think the movie might have benefited by having maybe one less thread – for example, the weather man and the emergency services director had little to do except look worried and give out advice on what to do if the storm hits directly. Also, I found it a bit disconcerting that people who had acted like complete and utter jerks throughout the movie turned heroic in the aftermath with one person who professed racist views taking care of an injured Hispanic tornado victim. That just seems inconsistent to me.

Still in all, this is surprisingly entertaining and the tornado and its aftermath are absolutely wonderful. I would recommend the movie highly just for those elements alone.

REASONS TO SEE: The tornado sequence is legitimately terrifying. Better than we had any right to expect.
REASON TO AVOID: Maybe one or two stories deteriorate into melodrama.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity, adult themes, sensuality and peril.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Several extras are former or current first responders who have actually responded to tornado disasters in the area the movie was filmed in.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/26/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 17% positive reviews; Metacritic: 41/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Twister
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
13 Fanboy

New Releases for the Week of October 29, 2021


THE FRENCH DISPATCH

(Searchlight) Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray. Directed by Wes Anderson

The latest from the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is described as a love letter to journalists, who are in this case stationed in a fictional town in France for an American newspaper during the 20th century. There, the stories published in the newspaper under the title “The French Dispatch” are brought to life.

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

Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Cinemark Orlando, Enzian, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for graphic nudity, some sexual references and language)

13 Minutes

(Quiver) Thora Birch, Amy Smart, Anne Heche, Peter Facinelli. On an ordinary spring day in a small town in America’s heartland, residents are given just 13 minutes warning to find shelter when the largest tornado on record hits the town head-on. Four families will experience the terror of trying to find loved ones in the chaos and fighting for their lives in the wake of complete and utter devastation.

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

Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs
Rating: PG-13 (for peril, bloody images, thematic elements and some strong language)

A Mouthful of Air

(Stage 6) Amanda Seyfried, Finn Wittrock, Britt Robertson, Paul Giamatti. A woman who writes children’s books about unlocking your fears has managed to get through life without facing her own. That all will change when her daughter is born and the trauma of her past is brought into focus.

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

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Amstar Lake Mary, CMX Merritt Square, Regal Oviedo Marketplace, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for some language)

Antlers

(Searchlight) Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene. In a small Oregon town, a middle school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with one of her students who has a dark connection to a terrifying ancient creature.

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

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for violence including gruesome images, and for language)

Daisy’s Dream

(Vertical) Starring the voices of Angourie Rice, Sam Neill, Sharnee Tones, Grant Denyer. An abundantly adorable quokka dreams of being named the World’s Scariest Animal. With not much hope of that happening on its own, she enlists the help of a former champion, a grouchy saltwater crocodile.

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

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Heart of Champions

(Vertical) Michael Shannon, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Alex MacNicoll. A college rowing team descends into petty infighting and bickering after finishing last in the national championship tournament. A new coach, an Army veteran, uses his experience to get the young men to move past their rivalries and work together as a unit.

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

Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: Premiere Fashion Square
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, suggestive material, partial nudity, and brief strong language)

Last Night in Soho

(Focus) Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp. A mousy aspiring fashion designer discovers she has the ability to project herself into the 1960s where she encounters a glamorous singer. But there is something far darker going on, and by the time she discovers what it is, it may already be too late to save herself.

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

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for bloody violence, sexual content, language, brief drug content and brief graphic nudity)

My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission

(FUNimation) Starring the voices of Tetsu Inada, Yûki Kaji, Kenta Miyake, Daiki Yamashita. Japan’s greatest superheroes track down the perpetrator of a dastardly chemical attack.

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

Genre: Animé
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for violent material, bloody images and some language)

Romantic

(Puri) Ramya Krishnan, Akash Puri, Ketika Sharma, Satya Aditya Bonepalli. Two young people fall deeply in love and begin to explore their sensual sides.

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

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Varudu Kaavalenu

(Sithara) Ritu Varma, Murli Sharma, Naga Shaurya, Viashnavi Chaitanya. Plot details not released.

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

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Army of Thieves
Horror Noire
(Thursday)
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Snakehead
Son of Monarchs
(Tuesday)
The Spine of Night

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Antlers
Army of Thieves
The French Dispatch
Last Night in Soho
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Son of Monarchs

 

 

Deadline (2009)


Maybe she should have taken a shower.

Maybe she should have taken a shower.

(2009) Psychological Thriller (First Look) Brittany Murphy, Thora Birch, Tammy Blanchard, Marc Blucas, Claudia Troll, Michael Piscitelli (voice). Directed by Sean McConville

Writers block is a bitch. When in the throes of it, you can’t think and you certainly can’t write. Everything feels wrong, like things are out of place and you can’t think where they are supposed to be. It’s frustrating and there is no sure way to break it.

Alice (Murphy) is a screenwriter with a deadline coming up. She is fast in the grip of Le Block but has good reason to be – her boyfriend tried to drown her in their bathtub, causing her to lose the baby she was pregnant with at the time. Her boyfriend was sure that she was sleeping around and the baby wasn’t his.

A producer friend with more money than sense offers up a decrepit Louisiana plantation he has access to for Alice and tells her that if she locks herself alone in there with a week’s worth of food and drink with nothing else to connect her to the outside world the words will start flowing like the Mississippi. Alice, despite the fact that her homicidal boyfriend is being released from jail, agrees to it despite the misgivings of her friend Rebecca (Blanchard).

So to distract herself from the blank pages Alice explores the crumbling mansion and in the attic discovers a box of videos taken by the house’s former owners and a camcorder. She begins to watch them and discovers they are of David (Blucas) and Lucy (Birch), a couple who simply left the mansion one night and never returned. Nobody knows where they are.

Alice discovers some eerie similarities to her own situation. Lucy, for one thing, was pregnant. And David was growing paranoid, thinking that the baby wasn’t his. And Alice is becoming more and more certain that Lucy haunts the old plantation. And that her boyfriend (Piscitelli) is stalking her and knows right where she is. Is all this really happening or is it a product of Alice’s paranoid imagination?

This was the last picture to be released during the late Murphy’s lifetime (another one, in the can, still awaits release later this year although she passed away four years ago) and it isn’t a bad one from her perspective. She nails the role nicely, giving Alice a kind of emotionally fragile veneer but with a personality that’s endearing enough to make you identify with her character. Even those who aren’t fans of her work as I am will find this performance worth checking out.

It’s a shame that she wasn’t given a lot more to work with. The script is fairly routine, with the usual jumps and twists that you expect to find in a psychological thriller/is the house haunted or is she crazy kind of movie. There are also some real head-scratchers here; why would anyone agree to go somewhere remote all by themselves when there was prospectively someone who wanted to do them harm running around on the loose? And if the couple disappeared, what were their videos doing in the attic, particularly if there was damming evidence on the tapes (i.e. Lucy’s murder)?

One gets the sense that the script was written in a hurry by someone with writer’s block just borrowing whole cloth bits and pieces from other movies. The concept is nice (although it could have gotten there with a little more logic) and there is some genuine creepiness to be found. Those and Murphy’s performance are pretty much the film’s saving graces but I wouldn’t look too hard for this one.

WHY RENT THIS: Decent performance by Murphy. Some chilling moments. Nice concept.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Basically kinda been there, done that. No real surprises and a whole lot of stuff that must be taken on faith.

FAMILY MATTERS: There’s some nudity, some disturbing images, a bit of violence and a fair amount of bad language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The DVD was pulled from Redbox shelves after star Brittany Murphy passed away 19 days after the video release.

NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: None listed.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: Not available.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: What Lies Beneath

FINAL RATING: 4.5/10

NEXT: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone