Before I Wake (2016) Review

Last year for my month of horror in October, I reviewed three Mike Flanagan movies: Oculus, Absentia & Hush. This year I’m reviewing three more: Gerald’s Game (reviewed Tuesday), Before I Wake and Ouija: Origin Of Evil (reviewed yesterday). Let’s see how Before I Wake compares to the rest of his films…

Before I Wake (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Written by Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok

Music by Danny Elfman & The Newton Brothers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.

My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie, although I can’t exactly say it’s “good”. In my review of Ouija: Origin Of Evil yesterday, I complained about how that was just another predictable supernatural film. Before I Wake is again more of the same but the overall story and some of the imagery made it feel a little more unique than Ouija. I enjoyed the story & the characters enough to overlook its flaws.

I watched this for two reasons: Mike Flanagan as well as Jacob Tremblay, who I thought was fantastic in Room. Tremblay gave one of the best child performances ever in that movie so I was curious what he’d be like in something else, especially a horror that’s not exactly “Oscar-worthy” like Room. Yeah…. He’s fine in this movie but it’s a role any child actor could’ve done. It’s a shame it was a bit of a waste to use him in this but I suppose his name is big enough now to help sell an unknown film such as this one. I’m curious to see how his film Wonder will turn out. Hopefully it will be a better role for him but I suppose no role will ever live up to the Room role.

Oh, look! Thomas Jane is in this! I’ve come full circle in my Stephen King/Mike Flanagan Week since Jane was in King’s 1922. I like Jane & he was fine as the adoptive father. However – it was the mother, Kate Bosworth, who had the bigger role. She was good (as far as acting in basic supernatural horrors goes). I’ve always liked her fine so it’s good to see her in something as it feels like she’s sort of disappeared. Small spoiler but not really as it’s at the start of the film: Jane & Bosworth are adopting Tremblay after the tragic death of their own son. I often avoid movies involving the loss of the child as I find that subject matter too upsetting but I think Jane & especially Bosworth did very well in conveying their grief. It may be why I liked this movie quite a bit more than Ouija even though I’m giving it a similar rating: I just really felt for the parents in this and for Tremblay & the revelation regarding his nightmarish “gift” of having his dreams come to life.

As to be predicted, his dreams are at first nice ones that bring beautiful things, such as a room full of colorful butterflies, to life. I liked these scenes a lot – it was great imagery for a horror movie. I can’t find images of the butterflies online for some reason. Anyway, as also to be predicted, the dreams soon turn to nightmares and the manifestation of a scary spirit of some sort. Yeah, I know: We’ve seen this sort of thing in loads of movies.

The movie then goes the way of most supernatural horrors: the end is a little messy and you’ll either like it or you won’t. I personally liked the direction the story went & how they chose to end this one. I’ll say the “revelation” was one that I hadn’t immediately predicted so it gets bonus points from me for that. Yes, I enjoyed Before I Wake but, as most films in this genre, the story will be one that either does or doesn’t work for you. It worked for me.

My Rating: 6.5/10

My Mike Flanagan Movie Ranking (from least favorite to favorite):

6. Oculus
5. Ouija: Origin Of Evil
4. Before I Wake
3. Hush
2. Absentia
1. Gerald’s Game

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1922 (2017) Review

Welcome to Day 2 of Stephen King Movie Reviews! I already did a Stephen King Week back in September but, dammit, two more films have come out since so I couldn’t ignore them. I reblogged my reviews of It (2017) & Cell yesterday and tomorrow I’ll finish by reviewing Gerald’s Game. Today I’m talking about 1922

1922 (2017)

Directed by Zak Hilditch

Based on 1922 by Stephen King

Starring: Thomas Jane, Dylan Schmid, Molly Parker, Neal McDonough, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian d’Arcy James

Music by Mike Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A simple yet proud rancher in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate.

My Opinion:

1922 is a novella in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars. I love King’s short stories & novellas and did a list of My Top Ten Stephen King Books including a separate list of the story collections. In that list, I mentioned a few of the stories I liked or remembered the most from each collection and I see I put Full Dark, No Stars as my least favorite collection & I didn’t mention 1922. As I watched the movie, I realized that I did remember the story quite well – it’s just not a favorite of mine although it’s a well written piece of work. I feel the same way about the film adaptation: I don’t love the story & just couldn’t connect with it or with the characters but it’s a well made film with good performances.

I was happy to see Thomas Jane in yet another King film (I love The Mist). I can’t say I was able to connect with a male rancher in 1922 Nebraska plus he’s not exactly a likable guy what with the murdering of his wife & all that. I mean, she was an annoying bitch but, still, what a jerk. He also drags his sweet teenage son into the murder plot. My hubby also had a very hard time understanding the mumbly accent Jane put on but I wouldn’t say I had a problem with it. I reminded British hubby that Americans required part of Trainspotting to be subtitled. 😉



Stephen King loves rats. And corn.

I’d say that King often writes very rich characters but that wasn’t the case so much with this story. The movie did manage to improve on this a bit and I cared about what would happen to the son & his girlfriend (well, I already knew since I read the story but you know what I mean). The best scene in the movie involves the two young lovers. Other than that one scene, I think this is a movie that I won’t remember much years from now. Kind of like how I’d pretty much forgotten about the novella until watching the story unfold…

Don’t let me stop you from watching 1922. It’s a good film but set in a time period & a place that doesn’t really speak to me. It has a very slow pace, which I guess fits with the way of life of a 1922 farmer, but it made the film feel very long. In a way, it also sometimes doesn’t help when I already know the whole story. As the movie is slow & the characters are unlikable, my only reason for continuing to watch was because I always watch every King adaptation that I possibly can. 1922 is a faithful adaptation of a story that’s not a personal favorite of mine.

My Rating: 6/10


Stephen King also loves wells.

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that Mike Patton did the score for this film. I’ve always liked Patton & am still a Faith No More fan. The score really annoyed the hubby – he didn’t think it fit the film’s time period and there were different styles that were a bit all over the place. I kind of liked it & thought it set the somber mood well at times but, yeah, I suppose some might find it a little messy & distracting. Let’s watch a Faith No More video! Midlife Crisis is probably still my favorite song of theirs…

Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013) Review

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)

Directed by Erik Sharkey

Starring: Drew Struzan, Dylan Struzan, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Thomas Jane

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a 2013 documentary film directed by Erik Sharkey about the career of American film poster artist Drew Struzan.

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My Opinion:

I watched this documentary last year and kept meaning to review it. I don’t know how to review documentaries (or books! man I’m behind on book reviews). As a documentary, I suppose it was pretty good. I don’t watch too many of them unless I’m really really interested in the subject, though, and this one was right up my alley. I love movies (obviously) & movie poster art and Drew Struzan has designed some of the greatest & most well known movie posters. So I’ll warn you right now that I may end up talking more about his art than about the actual documentary.

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Personal Life:

What I liked about this documentary, as with any documentary, was finding out more about Struzan’s personal life as well as his work. They talked to him and to his wife a lot and they seemed to have a lovely, very close relationship (I love a good husband & wife team). I’d say Struzan came across as a bit bitter and angry over certain things (he got very screwed over by someone in his career so I can understand that anger). He was the very definition of a “starving artist” in his early days and his wife was always by his side. I think this documentary got the balance right in talking about his personal life as well as his art. I can’t find any photos of his wife (Dylan) in the documentary, which is odd as she’s a very important part of it. But I found the above photo here, on the website of an artist who met Drew. It’s an interesting article if you want to have a look at the link & get an actual artist’s perspective on things (I can’t draw anything other than stick figures. I can’t even paint a wall properly!).

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It’s interesting how artistic types can sometimes be difficult but I liked how Struzan seems to have said “screw it” and lives for his wife & his art now. I’m difficult too but I have zero artistic talent of any sort so I don’t know what my excuse is… 😉 I’m not saying he came across as unlikeable – just that he does what he wants to do now & too bad if others don’t like it. I think more people should be like that, actually. He was far less grumpy than Paul Williams was in the Paul Williams Still Alive documentary that I watched at the same time. I suppose I should do a mini-review of that sometime too… Here’s my review: Paul Williams is a grumpy fart! Lol. Seriously, though, Struzan came across as a private person who’s very passionate about the things he loves and I have a lot of respect for people who are like that.

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Artwork:

First of all, I’ll say they did a good job getting some famous people to talk about Struzan and the work that he did for/with them (I especially loved Michael J. Fox’s enthusiasm for Struzan’s work – you could tell just how much he loved being a part of the Back To The Future posters). Speaking of grumpy famous people, they even got Harrison Ford to talk about Struzan! How cool is that? He must be the actor Struzan has painted more than any other… We also heard from Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, and Thomas Jane.

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I’m really glad they spoke to Thomas Jane about his part as a movie poster artist in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Struzan’s artwork was used in the beginning and Jane’s character is shown painting Struzan’s art for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which Struzan painted specifically to be used in The Mist). Three things I love all together: Stephen King, Drew Struzan & Frank Darabont! Wait… Four! Thomas Jane is a hottie. Anyway, Struzan showed Jane how to make it look like he was really an artist doing a painting then, being the perfectionist that he is, later told Jane that he did it completely wrong in the movie. I loved Jane’s re-telling of the story – he had a great sense of humor about it.

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Frank Darabont is clearly a big fan of Struzan’s as he’s had him do art for a lot of his work (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, and of course artwork for & in The Mist). George Lucas is also a huge fan and Struzan has done loads of Star Wars art for books, anniversary editions, etc. There are so many different Struzan Star Wars pieces that it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think it’s between Revenge Of The Jedi & this one, which was a collaboration with artist Charles White III:

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Struzan did the poster art for Hellboy but he also did an amazing piece for Pan’s Labyrinth, which the studio rejected (much to Guillermo del Toro’s anger). But del Toro is very proud to have this hanging in his home – I’d love to have this!:

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I hate how studios so often feel the need to have horrible, boring movie posters just featuring photos of the film’s stars these days. I understand that seeing the stars so prominently displayed convinces some people to watch a movie (I guess?) but it doesn’t work on me. I’m more interested in a film if it has a really interesting, artistic poster (I’m the same way with books. I’m drawn to books with good covers). Struzan paints the film’s stars anyway so I don’t know why anyone would ever choose some crappy photoshopped photo over a painting for a movie poster. I’d much rather see something like this:

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Summary:

I’ve decided to stop here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I sometimes feel ridiculous “reviewing” movies when I know as little about filmmaking as I do about writing. When it comes to art, I have even less experience or knowledge. I just know what I LIKE and I have a passion for film, music, books, and art & love discussing it with all of you in the same way that someone like Struzan has a passion for actually creating that art. Believe me, I’d far rather be creating it but I just don’t have that ability.

Second of all, if I continue I know I’ll just ramble on & on about all my favorite Struzan pieces. So, in the middle of this, I decided to do a separate list of My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces, which I’ll post tomorrow. I’ve actually not even mentioned a lot of my favorites, including the one that is my favorite Struzan poster, hands down. I’ll just mention this as I decided that my list tomorrow should focus on only his movie art: When watching this documentary, I had NO idea that Struzan had done album covers and that he did one of my all-time favorites for Black Sabbath. How on Earth had I not known that?! The Alice Cooper one is amazing as well:

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Love those! Like I said, I know what I like and I know that seeing Drew Struzan movie art makes me happy. As for this documentary, I really enjoyed it as I find the subject matter fascinating and it was great getting to know a little bit about this private and talented artist.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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