I blame two things that made people become afraid of the dark; that Scottish poem with the line “…things that go bump in the night” and Francisco Goya’s painting Que Viene el Coco which translates to Here Comes the Bogeyman. It is that damn Bogeyman that started this reign of fear when day turns into night. How many of us slept with a night light on or the bedroom door opened enough to cast a line of light into our rooms? I never had anything underneath my bed but I knew several kids who felt something could be hiding under their beds. If they had to get up in the middle of the night they could not just swing their legs out to the side of the bed to plant their feet on the floor. Instead they would stand up in bed then jump off like an Olympic long jumper, to get as far away from their bed as possible. These days there seems to be an industry devoted to products that help alleviate the anxiety of going to sleep. I know some families that have sleep machines that produce soothing sounds like ocean waves or wind chimes to calm their children at bedtime. It is funny, I never associated the dark with being scary; in fact, I considered nighttime safer than daylight due to some of the events I had to endure during the day. Darkness meant I was less visible which was a good thing for me. Daylight meant I was a more visible target. Who would have thought this horror thriller would now make me scared of the dark. THINKING it would be an easy target friends Rocky, Alex and Money; played by Jane Levy (About Alex, Evil Dead), Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps, Labor Day) and Daniel Zovatto (It Follows, Innocence); decided to rob the house of a blind man, played by Stephen Lang (Avatar, Public Enemies). They could not have been more wrong. Before I tell you about this film I want you to know I had some conflict with the story line. Since I do not want to give anything away let me just use the following scenario as a random example. If an abandoned building is fenced off with signs posted about its demolition and someone trespasses and gets hurt; who is responsible for the injury? So now back to the film; I liked the way the movie started up as it put the pieces of the story together with little explanation. The acting was good for a horror film but I thought Stephen’s performance was the best. Sitting in a theater full of people made the shock scenes more intense in my opinion. Though there were a few scenes that seemed repetitive and somewhat unrealistic, I did like the way the script threw in surprise twists. On the other hand, the reason the story worked for this picture was because it was based in reality. Many of the scenes seemed like they could have happened and we would have read about them in the newspaper. This film was a thrill ride that may cause you to sleep with the lights on.
2 3/4 stars
When I see they have a book in their hand or I know they like to read books, I feel those people will understand me quicker. I hope that does not sound judgmental, but it just seems I do not have to explain myself as much to a book reader. Maybe I think like this because I know what type of affect books have on me. They take me on a trip to another place without ever leaving my seat. The words paint a picture inside of my mind that let me experience things outside of my daily life; in turn, these pictures are projected on the back of my retinas transporting me into the shadows of the characters and places. Another benefit of reading is the way stories’ conversations open up my mind. It is like my brain is always under construction as new roads are constantly being paved to lead me to undiscovered lands of thought. I have mentioned in the past how I like seeing the movie first before reading the book; it provides me the voices I need to keep the characters separate in my head. In a way I believe books have given me the tools to be a better storyteller. Where movies allow me an instant escape through a portal to a different place, books have a way of becoming our friends. Now when the two come together, well check it out for yourself in this adventure comedy. Unhappy moving from a big city to a small town, the one plus to it for Zach, played by Dylan Minnette (Prisoners, Let Me In), was having a cool neighbor named Hannah, played by Odeya Rush (The Giver, The Odd Life of Timothy Green), living next door to him. Unfortunately her father did not feel the same way towards Zach. This comedic horror film was based on the wildly popular Goosebump series, though I do not know how much the story in this film had in common with R.L Stine’s books. Surprisingly I liked Jack Black (King Kong, Bernie) in the role of R. L. Stine since I have not been a big fan of his in the past. The rest of the cast which also included Ryan Lee (Super 8, This is 40) as Champ was quite good. There was a lot of physical activity throughout the film, maybe a bit too much; though I thought the special effects were fun. For young kids this hectic pace will keep them entertained; I just wanted a few places where there could have been some down time before ramping up the pace again. Though I have not read the books, the story was easy to follow and I could see why these books were best sellers. After seeing this fantasy film I would like to read a couple of R.L. Stine’s books to compliment what I had just seen on the big screen.
2 2/3 stars
Luck is such a fickle, fluidic vehicle of fate. You cannot depend on it because it is unreliable, at least for some folks. There are terms you may have heard such as, “Born with a lucky horseshoe up their bum” or “If they didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck at all,” that describe people who seem to be visited frequently by “Lady Luck.” I have noticed that when luck chooses to visit me in a negative way it usually returns in rapid succession once or twice immediately afterwards. Just this past weekend when I was trying to fly back home I wound up being stuck at the airport due to my flight being delayed. Upon the first delay I remembered thinking just my luck, I will have to find something to eat for dinner at the airport. Now someone could say I was lucky to find something to eat; but in my brain, I was upset because a mixed green salad, fruit cup, snack sized bag of chips and a small bottle of water cost me $21.00. When the flight was delayed for the second time I realized I would miss the opportunity to catch a film on the way home after landing. By the 3rd delay I was getting anxious because I did not know if public transportation would still be running. Finally arriving late at night, I missed the train as it pulled out of the station and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. Finally exiting at my stop it started raining as I walked 20 minutes to my car, parked at my office. I could certainly relate to the main character of this family comedy regarding having a bad day. ALEXANDER, played by Ed Oxenbould (Puberty Blues-TV), was used to having a bad day. However, when his family members all began to experience one of his typical bad days Alexander was not sure they would be able to handle it. Based on Judith Viorst’s book series, this comedic drama stayed at a steady pace thanks to the director. With Steve Carell (The Way Way Back, The Office-TV) and Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club, Valentine’s Day) as Alexander’s parents Ben and Kelly Cooper, the cast was well suited to handle both the comedic and dramatic sides of the story. The trailer was a good representation of the film; the unlucky events were consistent. There was nothing major in a negative way in this movie; I just found it a bit too fluffy for my tastes and a bit predictable. As for the rest of my day afterwards, this movie did not contribute either way in making it a good or bad day.
2 1/3 stars