Saturday, June 23, 2018


This morning I saw Hereditary, starring Toni Collette and Ann Dowd.

Annie (Collette) is a daughter, grieving the loss of her not-so-wonderful mother when her whole world seems to fall apart. Consumed with tragedy, she turns to a support group for those who have lost loved ones and meets Joan (Dowd), a kind woman who is experiencing a similar pain.

Annie hides this support group—and her friendship with Joan—from her family and tells them she's going to the movies instead. They're all processing their pain differently, but her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) does his best to move on in the most normal way possible, hiding the desecration of her mother's grave from her and urging their son Peter (Alex Wolff) to arrange for college testing.

What seems like a normal American family trying to navigate the fog of grief the best way they know how soon turns into a paranormal dance with something dark that Annie has unknowingly invited into their home.

Once she realizes it could be dangerous, it could be too late and we watch as the rest of the film unfolds into a mix of gotcha scares, creepy shadow shots and (somewhat) unexpected outcomes.

Why should you see this film? Toni Collette is a force. She's indifferent, grief-stricken, furious, depressed, deflated, defeated and terrified .. then back again. It's not all written in her lines, but it's seen in her face, over and over. Her performance rises above the majority of horror performances simply because it's so multi-dimensional. She's a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend and a freak ... all at the same time.

Is that all? Not necessarily. If you like trying to solve puzzles, you may enjoy the layers being peeled back here as the story progresses.

The ending, though? A bit conventional for a film that up until that point didn't subscribe to any horror templates.


Saturday, June 02, 2018


Last night I saw Adrift, starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

Tami (Woodley), a free spirit from California, falls in love with Richard (Claflin), a sailor from England. Their romance is flirtatious and fast, leading to a quick engagement and a commitment to sail the world together.

Blissful in their travels, they soon agree to take a job delivering a friend's yacht back to California and run into a horrific storm (what would be recorded as one of the worst hurricanes in history). The storm injures them and damages the boat severely. From that point on, every hour of every day is a battle for survival as they float adrift dangerously off course.

Based on a true story, if you've read the book by the real Tami, you know how the story ends, but this film is all about how the story plays out and both leads rise to the challenge. The acting is nothing short of terrific.

Witnessing this turmoil I was alternately cold, hot, tired, dizzy, hungry, thirsty and devastated. It's an emotionally draining film to watch, but also a testament to the absolute will for survival us humans possess.

What's more amazing? Tami was only 24 when she endured this living hell.

I enjoyed the agony of this adventure; the excruciating nature of it may not be for everyone, but it's doubtful anyone would argue it lacks merit.