The Shining (1977)

The Shining Book Review

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Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining is a 1977 horror novel written by Stephen King. It is one of his most acclaimed works for many legitimate reasons as it truly is great.

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Sometimes human places create inhuman monsters

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First, let’s talk about the plot. It follows one family who stays at an empty hotel which is haunted and it eventually possesses the father who is in a weaker and more fragile state with his problems of alcoholism and some rage issues. I really found the story here to be not only entertaining, but also quite memorable and very well imagined. I liked how King used the supernatural elements in that they are present, but the familial problems still remain a major focal point of the book too.

I absolutely loved the beginning and the ending in particular is really good. That speech that Hallorann gives to Danny is not only incredibly moving, but also extremely quotable and just a perfect way to end the novel. I loved everything about that ending. As for its flashbacks, I mostly liked them as they definitely helped move the plot forward and give us more necessary details about the history of the hotel and I loved those passages, but I really found some of the middle parts of the novel lacking mostly because of some duller flashbacks being unnecessarily incorporated. But this is mostly a riveting and very well crafted storyline.

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The Shining Book Review

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The character development in The Shining is exceptionally strong with most of the characters being terrific. Jack Torrance is a strong character and I really liked his dilemmas and how he was portrayed as a complex human being. That was admirable as he is the kind of a man that could have easily been one-note. I liked Wendy quite a bit as well. I would have liked to have had a bit more emphasis on her, but she still remained mostly a strong female character whereas she also could have been quite the opposite.

Now, Danny is such an interesting character. On the one hand, I found some of his inner monologues to be very annoying. But on the other hand, he is a fascinating plot device because his telepathic abilities really drive the plot forward and influence the storyline significantly. I loved how that supernatural aspect was handled as it wasn’t overwhelming, but was still very well thought out and explained and it led to many powerful scenes. There aren’t many supporting characters to be had in The Shining and that is great as it led to a better characterization of its main characters and it led to a much more intense atmosphere, but Dick Hallorann is really good and I really liked his character and what the writer did with him. He is not only a strong black character, but also an incredibly likable one and I absolutely loved how he helped the family at the end.

I really enjoyed the writing here. Stephen King is usually excellent and I really enjoy his works and he is naturally great here as well. What I didn’t like were those inner monologues as they honestly did not work for me. They were too on-the-nose, too bombastic and frankly overused. However, that is the only problem I’ve had with the writing as everything else is fantastic. I loved his knack for storytelling and I absolutely adored his descriptive passages as those were some of the best parts of the book. He really knows how to create atmosphere and explain everything while also being great at creating tension and building characters. In terms of the writing, it is one of the writer’s best works.

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The Shining Book Review

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I loved the imagery here. That hotel is not only so unique and intriguing, but also unforgettable and I always wanted to know more about it which is why those passages about its history were some of the finest ones here. And that is a huge accomplishment as I usually dislike detour-like, overly explained parts like that, but here it worked wonders for the story and it led to a much better crafted work. The Overlook Hotel is just so fascinating, both in and outside. I wasn’t such a big fan of the ghosts here and those parts could have been more entertaining in my opinion, but I really loved those topiary animals as they were instantly memorable and definitely some of the dramatic highlights of the book.

Let’s talk about the action. This is the kind of novel where literally not much happens in terms of the action apart from that ending in the last ten or so chapters. And I loved that it was slower at first and more descriptive as it led to a fantastic build up. But I also really enjoyed that action later on. I was skeptical at first, but I was quickly persuaded otherwise as those parts were not only intense, but also simply riveting to read. I loved everything about the fight between Jack and Wendy, but I was just so happy with Hallorann’s major role near the end as I really enjoyed his chapters in the second half. The book was lacking in the number of characters at first and was sometimes a bit monotonous which is why I loved Dick’s role and how he tied up the storyline in such a perfect way, at least for me.

I really enjoyed the relationships between the characters and the interactions between Danny and his parents were great, but I loved the themes of the book quite a bit as well. Jack’s character is so complex and so great and I loved the fact that the novel focused on both the supernatural and the human aspect. It made this work all the more riveting for me. The happy ending in the end was earned, but it was also not that happy as well and very poignant. All in all, it was a perfect conclusion that couldn’t have been better. The first parts are also great and the only problem are some of the middle parts as some chapters do significantly slow the pace of the storyline and are unnecessary or boring and that was the only big problem I’ve had here.

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The Shining Book Review

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The Shining is not only original, but also extremely memorable. It wasn’t scary to me, but it was pretty effective in its atmosphere which was evidently greatly conveyed due to some terrific writing from King. The tone was really good here and the dialogue was also mostly great. The pacing issues were present at times, but the book was mostly riveting to read. And it could get pretty emotional in certain parts and pretty intense in others. But its imagery is what drives this novel and I just loved those descriptions.

The Shining has its pacing problems, but this is for the most part a riveting book which is not only an unforgettable, intense experience, but also a wonderfully atmospheric, really well written work that benefits from excellent character development, amazing imagery, superbly realized action and a beautiful ending. It truly is a terrific novel.

My Rating – 4.4

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Lost and Foundry (1937)

Lost and Foundry ReviewLost and Foundry Review

 Lost and Foundry is a 1937 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is a solid and unique, but still humorless entry.

Swee’pea goes to the factory and it is up to Popeye to save him from the machines. Now, this entry is famous for being the only one in which Swee’pea gets to eat the spinach and save Olive and Popeye. And yes, that development was pretty authentic and unforgettable. The plot is also really well realized with the factory setting being put to excellent use and with some terrific animation on display.

However, the humor in Lost and Foundry is incredibly disappointing. The film is never as funny as I had come to expect from a Popeye cartoon and that was a big problem for me here. And the scenarios with the machinery got pretty tired after a while. For those two reasons, this entry is never as unique as that spinach eating ending scene is and it disappointed me quite a bit.

Lost and Foundry lacks in terms of the humor, but is great in terms of plot with a greatly conveyed setting and that authentic ending sequence.

 My Rating – 4.1

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Pi (1998)

Pi Movie Review

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Pi Movie Review

Pi is a 1998 psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky and it is his film debut. It is such a strong, atmospheric film.

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When I was a little kid,

my mother told me not to stare into the sun,

so when I was six, I did…

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It is about a mathematician’s descent into madness and it uses its premise particularly well with many intriguing plot points. I really enjoyed the subject matter and the premise because they are quite unique and interesting and I loved how it explored the psychology of its protagonist. The problem here is that the second half is never as good as the first one owing to too many intense sequences that overtake the picture later on. But the ending is still really good and although weirdly positive, I still liked that as it was unexpected and well executed.

I liked the protagonist in Pi as Max is really well developed and he is such a troubled, tragic man. I enjoyed the emphasis on him as there aren’t that many other characters, but of the supporting characters, Sol is the highlight and I loved the relationship between the two.

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Pi Movie Review

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Unfortunately, the acting isn’t great. Sean Gullette is wonderfully cast for this role and is perfectly fine and serviceable for the most part, but is very mediocre in those more dramatic and intense moments as he didn’t sell me those scenes. As for the other actors, they are fine, but once again forgettable.

Pi is clearly influenced by the works of David Lynch and specifically his black-and-white features as the use of sound and photography is very reminiscent to those works. And I liked that as it is very suitable for this film tonally and visually. The sound effects are great and the score is quite solid. Yes, some of the score was too annoying to me, but it is well incorporated into those intense scenes.

Speaking of intense scenes, they are so well realized and blessed with for once great use of shaky camera that greatly contributes to its crazy feel. I loved those scenes, but the overabundance of them in the second half was problematic. Darren Aronofsky is such a good director and this is his first film and I really liked his first effort, though it isn’t one of his best.

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Pi Movie Review

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The black and white photography is really effective in this one. In fact, it is one of the best and most memorable modern black and white films as the film looks stunning and so atmospheric. This is such a visual feast for the eyes. The dialogue is also very good and I really appreciated how it isn’t condescending and too smart, but is mostly presented to a larger audience as it is easy to understand, mostly at least. The film is also a great mix of weird and psychological and although it isn’t that well paced, it is mostly an engaging and intriguing to watch movie.

I also liked how it isn’t emotionally distant as these films usually are. It isn’t too emotional, but some scenes are quite well realized in terms of emotion and I liked how the film dealt with its themes with paranoia in particular being very well explored and dramatically depicted. Overall, Pi isn’t great as it is pretty flawed in too many aspects, but it is mostly an unexpectedly good, atmospheric early flick from the director and such an original, memorable film too.

Pi is such an authentic, memorable movie that is flawed in its acting and in its second half, but it is mostly really well executed with fantastic black and white photography, superbly incorporated sound, terrific intense scenes, many memorable sequences and such a unique, intriguing storyline that is always engaging to follow.

My Rating – 4

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Arctic Antics (1930)

Arctic Antics ReviewArctic Antics Review

Arctic Antics is a 1930 Disney animated short film. It is a clichéd early Silly Symphony – forgettable and dull.

Arctic Antics is far from a bad movie as it does have a pretty solid use of music with some fine musical cues and a good animation. I particularly liked the character designs as I found them to be an improvement over the previous Silly Symphonies. All of the animals looked cute.

However, the film is so slight to the point of being ridiculous. Nothing ever happens here and this is just an excuse to have animals and music together with no plot or characterization whatsoever. It is fun at first with its interesting polar setting, but it quickly gets tedious and repetitive with dull dance sequences. Overall, it isn’t bad, but it is one of the most forgettable entries in the series for sure.

Arctic Antics is well animated, but so forgettable and basically has a non-existent plot and characterization.

My Rating – 3

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Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Y Tu Mamá También Movie Review

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Y Tu Mamá También Movie Review

Y Tu Mamá También is a 2001 Mexican drama film directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. It is quite a good, albeit problematic flick.

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Life is like the surf,

so give yourself away like the sea

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The film is about two immature teenage boys who take a road trip with an older woman. The film is very interesting in its tone as it does have its charm and fun factor to it. But it is one of the most sexual films I’ve ever seen as it basically contains an explicit scene for every ten minutes or so. And yes, that bothered me as I do not like such an explicit approach. But on the other hand, I did find it suitable for this particular movie as the entire film deals with the subject of sex which is why it was necessary to portray it realistically.

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Y Tu Mamá También Movie Review

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Speaking of realism, there lies my problem. This film just isn’t realistic to me as it feels false in its ending. Everything that came before the ending was mostly okay, if a bit too hard to buy at times. But that ending, although definitely sad and memorable, is still totally ridiculous as I never really bought the choice from its two main characters to never see each other again as they were such great friends. And that entire homoerotic moment was also a bit difficult to believe.

The characters are fine. Neither of them is particularly memorable with the exception of Luisa. I predicted that ending and her role in the film much earlier which is a testament to the film’s unfortunate predictability, but I still found her to be a very interesting and likable character. And the two guys are fine and although annoying at times, they are mostly realistic in their depiction.

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Y Tu Mamá También Movie Review

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The performances are excellent in Y Tu Mamá También. Maribel Verdu gave such a good performance. Diego Luna isn’t as great, but Gael Garcia Bernal is quite good. But all three of them were great together. As for Alfonso Cuaron, this isn’t my favorite movie from him, but I still found it to be good and he did a great job directing it.

Y Tu Mamá También is really well paced with never a dull moment. It is very engaging to follow and mostly an incredibly entertaining and fun movie. I wouldn’t call it funny, it is somewhat funny at times, but not that funny. It is well filmed and it does have a sometimes annoying, but still realistic dialogue. It is professional both in its acting and directing.

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Y Tu Mamá También Movie Review

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It isn’t particularly emotional which was a flaw to me as the ending was forced in its emotion and heartbreak mostly because it didn’t feel natural or real. And the beginning is forgettable as it took me some time to get invested in its characters and its storyline. But the middle parts of the film are the finest and the film does succeed as a road flick as it has some fine scenery and a nice adventurous tone to it. The score is also solid.

Overall, Y Tu Mamá También did not wow me, never if I’m to be honest. And it annoyed me quite a bit with its sexual sequences, but I still found it to be different and memorable enough to be a good film and another strong turn from a very good director.

Y Tu Mamá También is too annoying and too explicit at times and its ending is definitely unrealistic and overly predictable, but it is overall a good and very memorable Cuaron movie filled with realistic characters, an interesting tone to it and some fine scenery. It is a problematic, but still quite a good Mexican film that succeeds as a solid road movie.

My Rating – 4

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Fowl Play (1937)

Fowl Play ReviewFowl Play Review

 Fowl Play is a 1937 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is a good, but in the end disappointing entry.

Fowl Play is about Popeye getting a parrot for Olive, but Bluto comes to spoil everything. This is one of those entries that have a fantastic premise, but the execution unfortunately falls short. The second half in particular is very typical and very forgettable and that is the main reason why I was disappointed in the whole film.

But the first half is much, much better. It starts off well and I liked the parrot quite a bit. The sound is great and I really liked the songs here. It is an entertaining and somewhat funny film, but because the premise and that parrot character is fun and new, the end product feels like a missed opportunity to do something new and exciting.

Fowl Play has good songs, a good parrot character and is entertaining, but the second half is weaker and it is overall a disappointment.

My Rating – 4

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The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Incredible Shrinking Man Movie Review

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The Incredible Shrinking Man Movie Review

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 science fiction film directed by Jack Arnold and starring Grant Williams and Randy Stuart. It is a solid, albeit a bit boring movie.

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Yes, smaller than the smallest,

I meant something, too.

To God, there is no zero. I still exist!

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The premise itself is a lot of fun and I liked the plot here for the most part. The beginning was a great introduction and I really liked the first half because it has some very moving sequences that actually explored this issue pretty well. It was great that it wasn’t just action and spectacle, but it focused on actual emotion quite a bit at times.

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The Incredible Shrinking Man Movie Review

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But, the second half was unfortunately a giant let down for me. The entire survival aspect to it was very boring to be honest because those spider sequences in particular were just way too long and repetitive. It was as if the movie suddenly stopped as it really became too slow and dull. And as for that ending, I’ve had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I really respect it for going against the formula and for being such an inspirational, really clever scene. But on the other hand, it did feel out of place as it was quick and sudden, but also very odd and somewhat not fitting for this film.

The characters are pretty good. Scott is fine, but I was honestly annoyed by his voice narration. The narration here was sometimes very pleasant and reminiscent to a book reading experience, but it was mostly typical and excessive. I liked Louise as she genuinely struggled with Scott and his shrinking problem and I really liked their relationship. As for the acting, it is nothing spectacular, but both of the actors deliver solid, satisfying performances for this kind of film.

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The Incredible Shrinking Man Movie Review

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The Incredible Shrinking Man is a strong movie on technical grounds. The special effects are absolutely fantastic for the time. Yes, there were moments where I could see that it was the effects, but mostly they were seamlessly incorporated into the action as Scott felt real for the most time and that is quite an achievement. And I liked that action. I was bored by the spider and construction sequences as those were too long, but that cat scene is definitely the highlight of the movie as it is so memorable and so well executed.

I’ve had the problem with the film’s score. It was definitely good, but it felt excessive at times with an overemphasis on dramatic and loud score during the action scenes and because those were long, the effect of the score was reduced. But the movie is pleasantly dramatic as well as emotional and heartwarming in tone and it does have at times pretty on-the-nose, but also at times clever dialogue. The sound effects are solid, but the pacing is problematic as the film is just 80 minutes long and feels longer which is never a good sign. It definitely is too boring which is unfortunate given its very entertaining premise. But it is unpredictable in its ending and sometimes very sophisticated. And its visuals are the highlights. The Incredible Shrinking Man is in the end a solid blockbuster of its era, but it never comes close to the best sci-fi works of the fifties due to its many annoying detractors.

The Incredible Shrinking Man has a fun premise, a pleasant emotional as well as dramatic tone to it, some very memorable action sequences and an interesting ending, but that ending was still odd, some of the action is too prolonged and dull and the film has an excessive use of narration. It is a solid, but very flawed sci-fi film.

My Rating – 3.5

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Let’s Celebrake (1938)

Let's Celebrake Let’s Celebrake Review

 Let’s Celebrake is a 1938 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is an interesting and sweet, but not as funny entry.

Let’s Celebrake is never unfortunately funny. I never laughed, not even once and that is definitely a big problem this entry never overcame. Another problem is that third act with the dance sequence being sweet, but way too prolonged, lasting for minutes.

However, I still liked this entry because it was very unusual for a Popeye short in that it did not focus on Bluto and action, but instead on Popeye and grandma Oyl who is such a memorable character. I loved Popeye here because he showed his sweet and genuinely wonderful side as he was so nice to the old lady. That entire premise is pretty original and even though it needed more energy in its execution, this was still a fine Popeye entry.

Let’s Celebrake lacks in terms of humor and energy, but it compensates with an original plot and sweet Popeye.

 My Rating – 4

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Jerry and Jumbo (1953)

Jerry and Jumbo ReviewJerry and Jumbo Review

Jerry and Jumbo is a 1953 animated short that is the 74th Tom and Jerry cartoon. It is such a funny entry that is even an improvement upon its predecessor.

Yes, Jerry and Jumbo is the second Tom and Jerry film of 1953 and it is even better than ‘The Missing Mouse‘ which is so great. Its protagonist and his name are obviously influenced by Disney’s ‘Dumbo‘, but thankfully the similarities end there as the plot is very different. I liked Jumbo and this is one of the best films where Jerry befriends an animal against Tom.

I honestly got annoyed by some of the action here as it was very typical and the entire entry could have put its elephant character to an even better use, but it was overall an entertaining and well crafted film with its humor being exceptional. The idea of Jumbo painting himself as a mouse is brilliant and it led to many great scenarios of which the ending is my favorite. That maniacal laughter from Tom is just brilliant and his going insane here definitely leads to one of the best moments ever in the series, so great and just hilarious.

Jerry and Jumbo is such an entertaining, hilarious entry with a good use of its new character and a brilliant ending.

My Rating – 4.2

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Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome Movie Review

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Videodrome Movie Review

Videodrome is a 1983 science fiction horror film directed by David Cronenberg and starring James Woods. It is such a disappointing, disgusting film.

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After all, there is nothing real outside our perception of reality, is there?

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Videodrome is a perfect example of a film having a great concept, but eventually being undone by its problematic execution. And that is essentially what happened here. You have a plot that is not only relevant, but also extremely original, especially for the time. And you have the execution which is overly violent and gory and just too disappointing in terms of storytelling and overall impact.

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Videodrome Movie Review

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The characters are so forgettable with neither of them being either likable or memorable and none of them is particularly well developed. I know that horror movies do not have strong characters, but this was slight characterization even for the genre. As for the acting, it is solid, but nothing to write home about. But James Woods is quite solid in the main role.

Videodrome is such a repulsive movie. Yes, there weren’t that many gory moments to be had in its first half, but when they came, they disgusted me how horrible they were. Those scenes with stomach splitting are especially gruesome and unpleasant to watch and I just skipped them because I hate such scenes. I totally get that this is a horror flick, and a body horror one at that, but instead of having just a couple of those sequences, Cronenberg focused way too much on that gore instead of the plot and drama.

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Videodrome Movie Review

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Yes, I found David Cronenberg’s direction here to be very troublesome indeed. The pacing is fine as the movie is entertaining to watch and lasts for just the right amount of time, but it is never particularly likable because it is too violent and there isn’t any character to root for here. That was unfortunate. The premise itself is awesome admittedly and this is one of the most original films of the period. I also liked some of the imagery here and although those violent scenes were repulsive, they were still brought to life really well with some spectacular special effects, especially admirable for its time. Its first half is quite solid, but everything that came in the second half was either annoying or disappointing which is why this film had the potential to be great, but unfortunately that never came to fruition.

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Videodrome Movie Review

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Videodrome is such a disappointing movie with a solid first half and such a terrific and original premise, but the execution is awful with too much gory and plain repulsive sequences, unlikable characters and an unfortunate emphasis on gore instead of good storytelling. It had a great potential, but it was wasted with those poor choices and it ended up being a very frustrating movie.

My Rating – 2.5

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