DURING A SOCIAL FUNCTION, I WAS introduced to a guest who had recently started an exercise regimen to get back into shape. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance who knew about each of our fitness journeys. Our conversation only lasted a few minutes; but when it came time to separate, I could not remember his name. I simply said it was nice to meet him and wished him luck on reaching his fitness goals, before I moved on. For the next couple of minutes, I tried to reconstruct the beginning of our conversation when we had been introduced, hoping I would recall his name; it did not work. I was annoyed because I could remember every detail about him, from the color of his socks to the buckle of his belt, but not the name. I found it weird that sometimes I can easily remember a person’s name and other times I have no clue. Considering the fact, I teach multiple classes and work with a multitude of employees at my job; I have retained a long list of names in my memory banks. I would like to know what factors trigger my brain to remember a person’s name. ONE WAY I CAN RETAIN A PERSON’S name is if they have the same name of someone I already know, or their name is similar to a well-known celebrity. However, there are a variety of things that hinder my ability to memorize names. If a person avoids eye contact during a conversation, it is likely I will not remember them. Another cause for me not to retain names is if the person does not hold up their end of the conversation. I feel if a person does not ask any questions, then there is little reason to converse with them. In these types of circumstances, I have found the individual is forgettable. The art of conversation appears to be under siege to me. I do not want to sound judgmental; but what is the point of carrying on conversation with a person who does not ask questions or engage with you? I must assume they are not interested in either me or the topic being discussed. Usually, I will converse on multiple topics and ask open ended questions to help both of us start up a conversation. If this doesn’t produce anything then I end my time with the person and gracefully remove myself. The reason I am telling you about this is because for the first time, when I sat down to write my review of this animated, adventure comedy I could not remember the story or several of the characters. DURING AN ARGUMENT BROTHER AND SISTER Charlie and Marla, played by Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, American Gothic-TV) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), suddenly found themselves transported to an animated world where they would discover the true meaning of family. With Jim Gaffigan (Away We Go, Chappaquiddick) voicing Del, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man) voicing Rex Dasher and Dan Navarro (The Book of Life, American Dad-TV) voicing Viking Leader; this film was one long series of product placements. I did not mind the non-animated scenes; but after that, I found the script to be one long bore. There was no humor, adventure or fun musical numbers; in other words, this was a generic version of the Lego films. At 7:00 pm on a Friday there were a total of 3 people in the movie theater and that is including me. I do not know what the film studio was trying to do, but this picture was that one holiday gift that came broken and was not worth fixing, so it gets thrown away. With an extra scene during the credits, the studio really wants to do a sequel? If I were you, I would not engage with this poor example of an animated movie.
1 ½ stars
THE KIDS IN THE CLASSROOM SETTLED down when the teacher came in with a new student. He was thin with long legs under a shorter torso. With all of us looking at him the teacher introduced him; his name was nearly identical to mine except for the first letter. He was directed to an empty seat. When he came up to his seat he dropped his notebook and pencil box on the top of the desk, making a loud smacking sound. The way he sat in his chair was weird looking to me. He was slouched down, with his legs sprawled out and one arm propped up on the back of the seat. No other student in class ever sat that way as far as I could remember. The teacher noticed and asked him to sit properly in his seat. I thought there was a slight pause before he acquiesced. During the rest of the day there were other peculiar things he did. Like at recess, he had no interest in joining any of the games the students were playing on the playground. Instead, he leaned back on the fence and stared at the school building, only shifting his gaze at times to the students around him. HE BECAME WHAT ONE COULD REFER to as a “bad influence” on some of the students. There were already a few students in class who were not nice to the other students. With the addition of this new student, they got bolder with their actions and looked to him as their leader. For example, with the girl who sat in front of him he smeared petroleum jelly on her long pigtails. She was not aware until later when she was playing with one of the pigtails and her hand felt the greasy mess on her hair. The look on her face was one of horror. When she told the teacher, the new student denied it. Without proof, since he had hidden the jar of jelly in another desk, nothing happened to him. But the teacher started to keep her eye on him. I was sure she knew he was the culprit. Except for the small band of boys who hung around him, he never fit in with the rest of the class. It was such an odd thing to me because I had to work extra hard to just fit in, so as not to stand out among the students. I know it can be hard to be the new kid; you can see for yourself in this updated version of a past, horror movie. NOT HAVING BEEN ABLE TO MAKE friends yet in his new neighborhood Andy, played by Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, Outcast-TV), received a special gift from his mother. It was the most popular toy on the market and Andy’s mother Karen Barclay, played by Aubrey Plaza (Dirty Grandpa, Ingrid Goes West) was sure the doll would become Andy’s first friend. She should have asked the doll first. With Mark Hamill (Star Wars franchise, Airborne) voicing Chucky, Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis, Widows) as Detective Mike Norris and Tim Matheson (Redline, The West Wing-TV) as Henry Kaslan; this latest version of the Chucky saga was already at a disadvantage for me. Remembering the older films, this one did not have the tense shock value needed to bring the story to life. Chucky’s antics were easy to figure out and that is even with holes in the script. There were different avenues available to make this story compelling if only the writers would have worked harder in giving deeper emotions to the characters. There were a couple of amusing lines, but, I could not tell if the script was trying to be sinister or campy. Compared to other film choices out there presently, this picture does not have the chance of fitting in. There were several bloody, violent scenes.
1 ¾ stars
It was a sliver of light no bigger than a pie slice, just long enough into my bedroom to see. I never had a night light as a child; probably because all the electrical outlets in the room were hidden behind furniture. Instead the bedroom door was left ajar, allowing the light outside to cast a calm glow into my room. It wasn’t like I thought there were monsters under my bed or someone could come through the window and steal me; we lived on a high third floor. I just wanted to see the silhouettes of all the things in the room with me. Darkness did not necessarily scare me, but for some unexplained reason I knew I had to be more careful. Where this thought came from I honestly do not know; what was it about darkness that made people leery? I can remember going to the city zoo and walking through their animals of the night exhibit and immediately thinking the animals were “scary.” The bats in particular I thought were evil and this was before I even knew about Dracula. Seeing them fly around their enclosure lit only by black lights, they not only were scaring me but the visitors around me. This type of fear is not exclusive to just nocturnal animals. I knew some people who did not like cats as pets because, as they would say, they slink around in the dark and you never know what they are thinking. What is it about the darkness that scares so many people? This horror film will give you the answer. MARTIN, played by Gabriel Bateman (Annabelle, Checkmate), was falling asleep in class. School officials needed to call in and talk to his family to find out why Martin was not getting enough sleep. The answer was not so simple. This picture was a surprise for me. I found the bare bones script and lack of CGI effects refreshing. The reason I say refreshing is because the movie had an old fashioned horror film vibe to it. With a simple premise and good acting from the cast which also included Maria Bello (Prisoners, A History of Violence) as Sophie and Alexander DiPersia (I am Legend, Forever) as Bret, I enjoyed the way the director built up tension throughout the scenes. Simply using darkness as a tool, the anticipation and shock value provided me with some fun “cheap thrills.” I thought Teresa was perfectly cast in the role of big protective sister to her little brother. Maybe it is just me but I liked the idea of having a strong female lead since many horror films tend to cast women as the helpless victims. There were a few scenes that showed blood but there was not the gore that sometimes comes with it. I think this film would have a wider appeal because most people can relate or understand the fear so many associate with darkness. As I said earlier this had the flavor of an old fashioned horror film; but do not take it for granted, you may think twice about turning off the lights tonight.
2 ¾ stars