IT ALL COMES DOWN TO the packaging. The other culprit would be the marketing side. From the movie trailers I saw, the entire time I thought this film was another one based on a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It had all the trappings of being one with its love being lost then found again, adding in a crisis or a child; they all seem to follow a formula at least in their movie versions. Let me say I have not read any of his books so I do not know how they compare to the movies. Imagine my surprise after sitting through this picture to discover it was not one of his stories. The entire time I sat in my seat I could have sworn the story came from Nicholas. Oh, the other thing I want to mention is that I am not knocking down Nicholas’ ability as a writer; it is just the recent movies of his books have not been entertaining or well done in my opinion. To this day I think the most successful of the films has been The Notebook and wasn’t that back around 2004? I CANNOT SAY I WAS DISAPPOINTED when I found out the story was not associated with Nicholas Sparks, simply because I had low expectations when I walked into the theater. It would be akin to me being offered a tater tot and discovering they were made with shredded cauliflower instead of potato. If you happened to have seen the trailer for this film the film clips were precisely the kind the movie studios use to market a new Nicholas Sparks movie. I have noticed his films all seem to be the same story or at least idea now. From my experiences each of his pictures must have a scene that will make the audience members tear up. As far as I am concerned just because a script can make you feel sad doesn’t mean it is a wonderful, entertaining movie. Adding a sad scene into a story is like adding butter onto your oatmeal; it helps make it more palatable for the eater. In the case of this movie the oatmeal was at least 2 days old. WHEN COUNTRY MUSIC STAR LIAM Page, played by Alex Roe (The 5th Wave, Hot Summer Nights), returned home after being away for almost a decade; he had to come face to face with the woman he left at the altar. She did not come alone. This dramatic, musical romance also starred Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, La La Land) as Josie, John Benjamin Hickey (The Taking of Pelham 123, The Bone Collector) as Pastor Brian, Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man, Rated) as Billy and Tyler Riggs (Angels in Stardust, Boomtown) as Jake. The only positive things I can say about this film are I enjoyed the songs and this story would appeal to a narrow group of fans within the romance novel genre. The acting was almost non-existent though the character Billy was cute. I felt the directing and editing were poorly done; there really was not anything in this script that would come across as a surprise to anyone who ever saw a romance picture in their life. This was such a boring movie that I actually had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Honestly everything about this film made it seem as if it was made for a 2nd tier cable movie station; I could not get over how lifeless the characters were as if there was not a director on set to direct them to act. If you feel you are missing a dose of Nicholas Sparks’ words then maybe this film would satisfy your needs. I recommend you take your money instead and buy yourself a new romance novel.
1 ½ stars
WAKING UP FROM A deep sleep I immediately knew something was not right. It was still dark outside so the house remained richly seeped in muted shades of black and gray. My eyes were trying to adjust to the lack of light but my ears had already detected an unfamiliar sound. Lying perfectly still my brain was trying to decipher this foreign sound; a sound that I realized could be associated with some form of movement. There was a slight delay between my mental state and my physical body, but a surge of fear flooded across me when I realized there was someone in the house. Paralyzed with fear I could not move for all of my energy was diverted to my mind, as a stream of options for my next course of action popped up into my brain. The sound was coming closer to me. I wanted to scream something out but only dead air wafted out of my mouth, my vocal cords were frozen in fear. THE LAST THING I remembered was seeing a shadow growing up on my bedroom wall before I would wake up, panting for oxygen. This reoccurring dream happened to me several times over the course of a year. Having done some studies in the field of psychology, I was slightly familiar with interpreting dreams. What threw me off though was the intensity of this dream. Every time I woke up from it my body was in crisis mode, with my heart pounding and my breathing rapidly taxing my lungs. I would even hear my heart pounding in my ears. When I woke up it always took me several minutes to calm down because the dream felt so real. I literally would remain still in bed trying to make out any unusual sounds in the house. Once my breathing slowed down I would try to figure out the meaning behind this dream or more appropriate, nightmare. At least I never dreamt long enough to experience my own death; unlike the poor, unfortunate college student in this horror mystery. EVERY DAY STARTED THE same for Tree Gelbman, played by Jessica Rothe (La La Land, Summertime). She would wake up from a dream that ended with her murder and have to start the same day all over again, knowing that later she was going to be killed. She could not understand why someone wanted her dead. This thriller’s cast also included Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring, Flipped) as Carter Davis, Ruby Modine (Memoria, Shameless-TV) as Lori Spengler, Charles Aitken (The Girl on the Train, The Knick-TV) as Gregory Butler and Laura Clifton (The Alamo, The New Guy) as Stephanie Butler. For the most part the actors were adequate in their roles; nobody stood out for me except Jessica. I not only enjoyed her performance but liked the development of her character. Basically this story was a cross between the movies Groundhog Day and Scream. What made this film more palatable was its campy, tongue in cheek script. It didn’t take itself too seriously and had a few scenes that generated laughter out of me and the theater goers around me. There were no big surprises in this picture; sorority students were stereotypically portrayed and the dorm residents were either wholesome or nerdy. I did appreciate the absence of blood and gore from the scenes. This was light fare that at least for me did not produce any nightmares.
2 ½ stars