Review / Hush ★★★★☆

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Blumhouse have an excellent track record when it comes to producing low budget horror, if anything, a lower budget gives a horror a far more visceral feel.  Hush, on Netflix is another such example. With a relatively speaking, tiny budget of $1m, they have still managed to produce a compact, tense, vulnerable home invasion slasher.

The spin here is that our protagonist, Maddie, is a deaf author, living out in the woods, away from the hustle of the city. One night, she unfortunately lands in the path of a serial killer. Once our killer figures out that she is hard of hearing, he decides he will have a bit of sinister fun, and drag out the events, rather than simply committing the ordeal. Isolated in the wood, on her own, as a deranged murderer is stalking her outside,  and to top it all off, without the sense of hearing, it’s down to Maddie to find a route of escape from this nightmare.

The home invasion genre does produce plenty of engrossing films, The Purge, Don’t Breathe & Panic Room are all great examples, though you also have busts like the awful Breaking In, from earlier this year. Hush lands on the good side of that mark, using the lack of hearing gives the film a different edge from your usual break in thrillers. This allows the movie to set up some truly suspenseful moments, as our killer taunts Maddie.

At a run time of just 80 minutes, things are kept very concise, we never really know who or why our stalker is picking off his targets. But sometimes, it’s better to keep things simple, it’s just a crazed guy, picking of victims who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No need to add in a backstory if it’ll just add unnecessary layers.

The film does have two distinct flavors. The first half of the film, is an eerie horror, as our silent stalker tracks down our deaf target. Which sets up some great set pieces for the audience. Once the two eventually confront each other, it switches up to a thriller, as the two attempt to gain the upper hand in this deadly duel. I would have preferred if the tense horror vibes of the first half were stretched out a bit longer, the film would have been far more captivating. But that being said, the action capers once they start attempting to take each other out, is also done rather well.

There really isn’t too much to say in terms of true negatives, the short run time doesn’t really leave much time to fill out the plot, and we don’t get too much regarding why it’s happening. Why was she chosen? Was it just bad luck, is he picking certain targets? And the action at the finale does get a little too dramatic, but with a low budget movie, you adjust the expectations accordingly. If you browsing Netflix and just want a quick film to watch, Hush is definitely worth a view!

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Review : Searching ★★★★

We’ve already seen the ‘on screen’ format recently with Unfriended :Dark Web, where the majority of the action takes place on the screen of a characters computer. It’s a unique way of telling a story, which works rather well with the society we live in now. Whereas Unfriended used this method to deploy cheap thrills and deliver an incoherent story, Searching manages to be surprisingly emotional and intense.

Following the disappearance of his young daughter, Margot (Michelle La) , David Kim (John Cho) uses all the methods at hand in order to track down what exactly happened. After tracking her Facebook, Tumblr and other social media activities, things start to turn down a sinister avenue.

Director Aneesh Chaganty manages to weave a captivating tale, even though we only see the drama take place in one place, the desktop of David. The film feels very current, and the tech used are the real programs, giving the film that much more realism.  John Cho puts in a fascinating performance,  he is pretty much in all the scenes, and really has to carry the movie. Though he is commonly known for his comedic talents, his role as a worried dad, willing to do anything to find out the truth is wonderful.

The film makes great use of the mother’s passing, to convey emotion. Especially when David logs into the account of someone who has passed away. It provides an eerie vibe, with small details like an inbox with thousands on unread emails. There are several other small details hidden in the background that makes things so effective.

The film manages to relate to several issues we have nowadays, especially the trend of people trying to bandwagon onto whatever the next trending news is, in order to get some more likes or retweets. How easy it is to talk trash/meme a stranger online. or how people act in real life, as opposed to their online persona. One particular scene is done extremely well, and makes want to yell at the character on screen!

On the negative side, there really isn’t too much to frown upon, the only issue I had was the fact the film’s promotional material, actively mentioned a big twist, which isn’t really that shocking. It was obvious the film would have a twist, and it felt strange that they felt like it needed to be mentioned, especially as the twist felt rather rushed. The film’s trailer also reveals far too much of the story, and would have preferred if they kept more of it a secret!

Searching is by far one of the best movies of the year so far, and is getting the critical praise it deserves (still at 92% on RT!), Cho really turns this film into what could have been a fairly average film, to a great one. It also contains probably one of the most emotional openings to a film since Up! And that’s saying something!

The Vault : Inception (2010)

Following on from the immense success of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, who had already scored hits such as Memento & The Prestige, was creating huge buzz and excitement with whatever his next project would be. What we got was a superbly stylish, deeply layered (pun intended!) movie. Inception may have been very ambitious with its design, but it has provided fans with several unforgettable scenes and a simply iconic score.

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Dom Cobb (Di Caprio) is what they call in his business, an ‘Extractor’, along with his partner Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), they enter the dreams/unconscious of people to extract information, mainly for corporate espionage. After a botched mission, Cobb is offered a chance at redemption, and an opportunity to go back home, only if he carries out something known as ‘Inception’, the concept on planting an idea in someone’s mind. As skilled as Cobb & Arthur may be as Extractors, the idea of Inception could be even beyond their talents. But with the chance to see his children back home, he puts together a team, and heads out on his mission.

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Off the bat, the movie is a visual treat; the dream concept allows the movie to create amazing set pieces, such as the mesmerizing folding streets of Paris, to the dazzling exploding café scene. There’s also the stunning corridor confrontation, in which Arthur is forced to fend off foes while the halls start rotating. What’s more incredible is that the entire scene was filmed within a structure, with no CGI! Everything is filmed perfectly, to make it look absolutely on point. With the cast all suited and booted, and the dream world setting, it is one classy film.

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The cast is incredibly strong, you have Di Caprio as the star man, but the supporting cast are also a joy. Tom Hardy excels as Eames, his constant bickering with Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and generally all round charm shines through. Ellen Page is the talented Ariadne, who has the most vital role in the operation. Her young character is pretty much how the audience feel at various points, pretty confused at times! You also have the likes of Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard all contributing to a stellar cast.

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(Clockwise from TOP left) LEONARDO DiCAPRIO as Cobb, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT as Arthur, CILLIAN MURPHY as Robert Fischer, TOM BERENGER as Browning, ELLEN PAGE as Ariadne, TOM HARDY as Eames, and KEN WATANABE as Saito in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Legendary PicturesÕ sci-fi action film ÒINCEPTION,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The plot is one that will take multiple viewings to really get any sense of what’s happening! To put it simply, there are layers, so many layers! In order to get an idea deep into someone’s unconscious, will not only require going into the dream of their target, but also several dreams within that. It can be a convoluted mess, and at times, you will probably not really grasp the finer details. But that’s what repeat viewings are for! The storyline may leave you puzzled at times, but the sheer spectacle and scale of the movie more than make up for it! It is an audacious project, and it has to be applauded for it. After multiple viewings, things will get clearer, and you’ll enjoy the movie even more!

Let’s not forget to mention the score, which is put together by legendary composer Hams Zimmer. Tracks such as the triumphant ‘Time’, and the pressing ‘Dream is Collapsing’ are synonymous with the film. The recurring lyrics from Non, je ne regrette rien will be stuck in your head after watching this, and then there’s the now iconic BOOONG! This now appears in pretty much most trailers nowadays! Combining such a quality score with the slick production, produces one impressive looking, and sounding 2.5 hours!

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Though as great as it all looks and sounds, Inception will not be for everyone. The film is very dialogue heavy, with various key plot details hidden within various speeches. It is also a very slow burner, with the operation not commencing well past the first hour. The finale is also quite perplexing, especially if you weren’t paying attention in the finer details. But don’t let that take away from what is a thrilling, cerebral, and  enjoyable film.

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