The Silver Bullet ~ Goodnight Mommy

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Synopsis: In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother.

Release Date:  TBD 2015

Thoughts:  I gotta say, the horror genre is really stepping up its game as of late.  No doubt that each year will continue to see the release of any number of cheap-o scares courtesy of frugal studios tossing a few coins toward another found footage entry or franchise pic they can use as a tax write off.  But every now and then one or two gems will slide through, accurately heralded as standing head and shoulders above its higher-profile contemporaries.  The Babadook took 2014 by storm and It Follows made a nice show earlier in 2015.  Now comes Goodnight Mommy from Austria and, judging by the trailer alone, there’s another buzzy shocker on the horizon.  There’s a lot of frights and shocks crammed into the well edited 2 ½ minutes…including one horrific midnight snack that cemented my notion that I shouldn’t have watched it right before bed. 

The Silver Bullet ~ The Last 5 Years

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Synopsis: Based on the musical, a struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair.

Release Date: February 13, 2015

Thoughts: I have to admit that since its debut in 2001 I’ve struggled with warming to the small two-person off-Broadway musical being brought to the screen by director Richard LaGravenese (Beautiful Creatures). Not that the material isn’t good or the talent wasn’t there, I just found myself too removed from the proceedings to latch on to anything that truly moved me.

The first trailer for The Last 5 Years finally stirred something inside of me and I’m more interested than ever to re-discover this piece that quickly became a cult favorite for theaters big and small around the world. Borrowing ever so slightly from Pinter and telling it’s tale from the start and end of a relationship, all eyes will be on leads Anna Kendrick (about to score with Into the Woods, another popular musical adaptation come Christmastime) and Jeremy Jordan (Joyful Noise) to see just how sweet their three hanky musical romance will play out. Though it’s not based on a musical seen by millions, I think there’s a strong possibility this could be a sleeper success…

The Silver Bullet ~ Horns

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Synopsis: In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.

Release Date: October 31, 2014

Thoughts: I’ve said it before in my reviews of his recent work but I find it quite admirable at how out of his Harry Potter comfort zone Daniel Radcliffe is willing to go to prove that he’s more than the boy wizard. Though he reaches for the stars, too often I find him lacking but when he fails it’s never a total wash as the work itself has more interest that what his performance brings to the project. With Horns, Radcliffe (What If) is under the direction of Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D) a director known for pushing some American boundaries when it comes to the horror genre. Much of this comes down to graphic violence but there’s a sliver of social commentary in even the gravest of Aja’s works. Co-starring Juno Temple (Cracks), this horror-comedy might not make Radcliffe more lovable but could work in favor of the actor shedding his wizard cloaks for good.

Movie Review ~ Bachelorette

The Facts:

Synopsis: Three friends are asked to be bridesmaids at a wedding of a woman they used to ridicule back in high school.

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Rebel Wilson, Kyle Bornheimer

Director: Leslye Headland

Rated: R

Running Length: 91 minutes

Trailer Review: Here

TMMM Score: (5/10)

Review:   Oh Bridesmaids, what hath you wrought?  The 2011 mega hit made a big buzz because it was a film written by women, starring women, not just for women, and exceedingly funny.  First shrugged off as a female answer to the rowdy popularity of The Hangover, it quickly separated itself from the pack of imitators by matching that film laugh for laugh (often beating it).  Being released the same summer as the inferior The Hangover: Part II, Bridesmaids was one of the most talked about films of the year…deservedly so.

A year later comes another movie that draws obvious comparisons to Bridesmaids in tone, structure, and even casting (Wilson appears in both films but in different roles).  Bachelorette was written and directed by Headland who adapted it from her stage play and it’s not hard to see why the material would have worked well as a live performance.  Ribald humor, male strippers, and catty asides probably provided some nice laughs but having not seen the piece I can’t say how many characters/situations were added/embellished for the big screen treatment.

Providing a few nice laughs, Bachelorette unfortunately gets sunk in its multiple excesses of girls behaving badly.  None of the three leads are crafted as particularly likable characters so it’s tough to get invested in their shenanigans as they prove to be awful bridesmaids and lousy friends.  Without many/any redeemable qualities the women become exhausting cartoons and that creates a rift with the viewer.

It takes a rare performer to make an unlikable character involving and sadly Dunst is far from up to the task.  As the head honcho bridesmaid, it’s never clear why she’s friends with the bride (Wilson, operating in a far less quirky vibe than she has in Bridesmaids, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and the upcoming Pitch Perfect) or why she’s so dang angry.  Dunst just doesn’t have the timing, skill, or commitment for comedy and she’s in way over her head before the film is even half over.

Caplan and Fisher have demonstrated a knack for comedy in the past but here they are each playing such stereotypical roles that you know where they’re going to end up long before they do.  I’ve a feeling that Caplan will regret playing such a snidely clueless doormat and Fisher will wish she hadn’t played yet another total idiot but both actresses at least roll up their sleeves and dig into their parts which is more than Dunst can say. 

Like Bridesmaids, the men operate merely as pawns for the women to chew their scenery with.  It’s too bad that the talented guys aren’t called on to do more than move the show along without much functionality but Scott, Marsden, and especially Bornheimer do the best with what they have.

Headlund makes her directing debut here and perhaps a more experienced director could have taken her paper-thin script and made something of it.  As it stands, there’s not much style on display and the cinematography by Doug Emmett leaves much to be desired.  It’s nearly a point and shoot affair and one wonders if Headlund couldn’t envision her script outside of a confined stage-like setting.

It’s clear from the get-go that this movie got made simply because of the plot description in the hopes of another success with female audiences.  It’s not a total wash of a film, let’s be clear.  It’s just a glossy copycat film that is trying to capitalize on the success of a hit film without having to really acknowledge that fact.

Having been released On Demand before debuting in the theaters Bachelorette has been a surprise hit, moving to the top of the charts…becoming the first film to do so without first being released in theaters.  That may bode well for the film down the road when it’s released in early September…or it may signify that it’s destined to be a Ladies Night In experience.