OVER THE YEARS I HAVE LEARNED that each person handles death in their own way. I also know as one grows older the shock of death loses some of its harshness, in varying degrees. Without classifying them as friend, family or stranger; I knew a woman who couldn’t wait for her husband to die. At the first sign of sickness she immediately had him placed in a nursing facility; she did not want to have anything to do with him. He eventually did die in that facility. Going to a different extreme, I knew a daughter who could not accept the death of her mother. Every day she went to the cemetery to visit her mother, with a thermos of coffee and a sweet roll. She would take a folding chair with her and spend time talking to her mother while sipping her coffee, after pouring a cup for her mother that she perched on top of the gravestone. Next to that cup the daughter placed a piece of the sweet roll on a napkin. When she would leave, she would pour the coffee on the grave and leave the sweet roll. The next day when she returned she would find comfort in the absence of the sweet roll; imagining her mother must have taken it. In reality it probably was either a cemetery employee, bird or rodent. FOR MANY PEOPLE THEIR PETS ARE just as important as their family and friends. There was a man I knew who loved his pets so much that he would have them cremated. In his house he had a shelf devoted to the ashes of his pets; each pet’s ashes were placed in an urn that he would then line up across the shelf. Either resting in front of each one or hanging around the urn itself was that animal’s collar. If you think that is a bit extreme, what about those pet owners who have a taxidermist stuff their pets or freeze dry them for preservation? I have only seen such things on the news, where the dead pet could be curled up on a mantle or sitting up next to a potted plant. If I remember correctly didn’t the news report a few months ago about a celebrity who had her deceased dog cloned? The new puppy looked exactly like their previous pet. I am not one to judge; the way a person wants to handle their loss is up to them as long as it does not have a negative effect on those remaining. See what I mean in this horror thriller. MOVING FROM BUSTLING BOSTON TO PEACEFUL Maine was meant to slow down the hectic life of Dr. Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest), and his family. That all changed when their neighbor Jud, played by John Lithgow (Leap Year, Daddy’s Home Two), showed Louis a part of their land that was supposed to be off limits. With Amy Seimetz (You’re Next, Upstream Color) as Rachel, Jete Laurence (The Snowman, Sneaky Pete-TV) as Ellie and relative newcomer Obssa Ahmed as Victor Pascow; this mystery movie had an interesting style to it. I found some of the filming exceptional that added to the tension of the story. For me, as soon as I see an unkept cat I immediately think something is wrong with it and the cat in this film was giving me the heebie-jeebies. The downfall to this movie was sadly the script. I got tired watching the same scenario done in different ways. Though the acting was okay I never felt connected to the characters. It came to a point where I was looking forward to this movie being over as the dialog got cheesier and predictable. Because this was a remake, I felt the movie studio should have left this story buried and not try to resurrect it.
1 ¾ stars
THERE ARE SOME FAMILY GATHERINGS THAT require a program to keep the cast of characters clear in one’s mind. I will avoid talking about my own since it would be easy for the family members to identify themselves in my stories. There have been many occasions where I have been included in another family’s event. From somber to joyful I have discovered each family has their own “baggage” whether they acknowledge it or not. Also, it has reaffirmed in me the belief that there is no such thing as a “normal” family. I was included in a friend’s family dinner where two sisters did not speak to each other because they had an argument months (yes, that is right months) ago. Do you have any idea how challenging it is to carry on a conversation where you have to address each person separately on the same topic? They never made eye contact nor referred to the other in any way; it was uncomfortable for me and yet the parents sat at the dining room table as if nothing in the world was wrong. The wildest part of it was when food was being passed around the table. Neither sister would hand the other any food going around; instead, would put it on the table to make the other sibling stand up and reach for it. Crazy, isn’t it? AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM, I have been at family functions where nothing was held back; family members were sharing the most intimate details about their personal lives. In other words, WTMI (way too much information). There would be no need for me to hear what type of physical characteristics a relative is looking for in a mate. Or how about sitting around the living room as 3 relatives get into a heated argument, calling each other names and swearing at the top of their lungs. I remember looking around to get a cue on how to react, but the other relatives were just sitting there sipping their cups of coffee and nibbling on their snacks as if nothing was taking place. At one point I thought I was entering a boxing match as the yelling relatives were getting up into each other’s faces. Now I come from a point of view where everyone has the right to express their feelings; but not during a heated argument. It should be a calm setting with no fear of retaliation. If you are curious to see an example of a family with issues, then feel free to observe what takes place with the family in this dramatic crime mystery. RETURNING TO HER SMALL HOME TOWN for her sister’s wedding was to be a happy occasion for Laura, played by Penelope Cruz (The Counsellor, Broken Embraces). But when a tragic event took place, the cracks beneath the family’s surface spread further apart. This film festival winning movie also starred Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, No Country for Old Men) as Paco, Ricardo Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes, Wild Tales) as Alejandro, Edward Fernandez (Biutiful, The Man with Thousand Faces) as Fernando and Barbara Lennie (Magical Girl, El Nino) as Bea. The acting in this film was excellent; whether it was joyful or heart wrenching, I was feeling the characters’ emotional states. With the acting so strong, this picture needed a tightly written script to keep the actors aloft. At times I felt some scenes went flat; luckily, there were not many of them. The other criticism I have has to do with the ending. It seemed to tidy as if it wanted to wrap up the story quickly. Otherwise, this picture still kept my interest as I wondered what other things this family had hidden below the surface. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars
FOR YEARS I THOUGHT I WAS JUST a suspicious person, but it turns out I was being instinctive. I used to get teased because out of all my friends I was usually the last person to trust someone. I have no explanation why I was always cautious around new people; maybe, just the things I experienced in life. Though I never thought about this before, I wonder if there is a connection to my biggest pet peeve: telling me you will do something then not doing it. Now ever since I can remember I always would say, “Trust is something a person earns; it is not given out freely.” There is something about a person being “super” sweet that makes me leery. I tend not to trust someone who is always happy; who never shows any other emotion besides happiness. In college I had a friend who grew up in a family where no one talked about their feelings. No matter what was going on in their lives their standard answer was, “I am fine,” or “All is good.” My friend would tell me about some of the issues taking place in the family but on the surface, no one would have ever guessed there was turmoil. THROUGH THE YEARS MY CAUTION AROUND sweet people served me well. There was a woman I used to work with who was on equal footing with me at the company. She appeared to be everyone’s friend; passing out homemade cookies and lending an ear to anyone who wanted to talk. I was not convinced, so I remained careful but cordial around her. She must have thought I was a challenge because the more I kept my distance, the more she would pour on the sweetness. One day she came up to me and asked if I wanted two tickets she had to a concert, because something came up and she would not be able to use them. I thanked her but declined. I do not know if this caused something but as time went on I noticed some of the work information she would give me was incorrect. If I had not been paying attention and checking her work, I would have been turning into my boss the wrong data. It came to a point where I had to confront her, by showing the incorrect information she had given me. She denied making the mistakes, trying to in a kind way blame someone else in her department. I did not believe her and felt good that I had never given her my trust. The same thing took place as I watched this dramatic mystery. RETURNING A LOST HANDBAG TO ITS OWNER found Frances McCullen, played by Chloe Grace Moritz (Let Me In, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), in a position of making friends with the sweet owner of the bag. A sweet older woman named Greta Hideg, played by Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Happy End). Their budding friendship would come with some conditions. This movie also starred Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave, The Guest) as Erica Penn, Colm Feore (Chicago, The Prodigy) as Chris McCullen and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, The Heavy) as Brian Cody. I thought casting Isabelle in this type of role was inspirational, since I consider her an excellent actress. Do not get me wrong; she and Chloe were wonderful, but the script was silly. There were things taking place that I felt were ridiculous. Without any character development the whole story seemed odd. It is too bad because there were a few scenes and surprises that were well done. The only other thing I can say about this picture is it reinforces my belief to be careful around someone who is heavy-handed in doling out the sweetness.
THE SUN HAD NOT RISEN YET as I headed out onto the barren streets of the town. Leaving so early, the stillness around me had not been disturbed by any residents. I headed north towards the volcano, though I was not able to see it through the darkness. The road up, I was told, would be challenging due to its narrowness and thick underbrush. My rental car had relatively new tires since the mileage on the odometer was low; I figured the tread was sufficient enough to handle the twisting road. It would have been nice to be able to see the landscape around me, but I was only privy to what my car’s headlamps showed me. From what I could tell there were tall trees lining the roads at times, only being interrupted intermittently by mounds of earth that honestly looked like excrement. I had no idea if this was a natural or man-made phenomenon. Everything I heard about this volcano had to do with being on top; I did not find many references made regarding the trip to it. So far, the ride was uneventful; little did I know that would change soon. AS I CONTINUED ON MY WAY, I started to leave the town behind me. The spaces between buildings got further apart as nature was taking back her land. I did not know what to expect but there was no signage as I came up to the base of the volcano. I continued on my way as the road started to take me on a convoluted path made up of twists and sharp turns. Due to the slower pace I had to drive, I was concerned I would not make it to the top before sunrise. This was the whole point of my early car trip, to see the sun rise and watch what its rays of light would reveal inside the dormant volcano. As I ventured up I periodically glanced up at the sky to see if there was any trace of sunlight seeping into the darkness; gratefully the sky did not turn while I was on my journey. I finally reached my destination, parked and waited for the big unveiling. The first ray of light appeared then slowly began to spread out into the blackness; I had been looking forward to this for a long time. One thing I did not expect was a bank of rainclouds that were ready to pounce once the sun’s rays revealed them. The clouds rolled over everything around me, blocking me of the chance to see inside the volcano. After all the planning I put into this trip, I would not get the satisfaction of seeing it to its intended conclusion. I had the same feeling sitting through the last installment of this dramatic, science fiction trilogy. SUPER STRENGTH NEEDS TO BE MET by super strength, something a superhero could do. However, there are no such things as superheroes as far as we know, right? This mystery movie starred James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, Victor Frankenstein) as Barry and others, Bruce Willis (Death Wish, Looper) as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Avengers franchise) as Elijah Price, Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave, Ocean’s Eight) as Dr. Ellie Staple and Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River, Animal Kingdom-TV) as Joseph Dunn. Based on seeing James reprise his role as the Beast, I had positive hopes this film would be good. There were aspects I enjoyed; they revolved around the story between James, Bruce and Elijah. Sarah’s story line started out odd to me and by the ending I found the entire timeline for her ridiculous. I did not like the ending and thought the writing of the script lacked originality. If it was not for the four main actors mentioned before I would have lost interest in this picture early on. It would not have taken a superhero effort to produce a fitting conclusion to this trilogy instead of the silliness that took over it.
THERE WAS A NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT a celebrity so grieve stricken about the loss of her beloved dog, that she had the dog cloned. The puppy looked exactly like a younger version of her deceased pet. It appeared the celebrity had her pet cloned just prior to the dog’s death. From the experiences I have been a part of with pet owners, all of them did not immediately find a replacement for their furry companion; they allowed themselves to grieve and get settled into new daily routines first. I understand the love we have for our pets and we hate to see them go, but it is part of the life cycle. Besides the aching pain that is felt, I have had a tough time with the inevitable change of routines. Coming home expecting a happy greeting gets replaced with still silence. For some their daily walks were their only exercise or time for reflective thought. Just recently I was talking with a friend about the difference about two kinds of death. The one where the person/animal suddenly dies is harder on the remaining loved ones in my opinion. When the person/animal has spent an extended amount of time suffering before they finally succumb; then it is easier on the ones left behind because there is the element of relief that they are no longer in pain. WHO KNOWS BUT MAYBE THERE WILL come a time where anyone can clone their loved ones. Maybe the clones will be identical and start off right where the originals ended, but I have misgivings about it. For right now I have a fear that people’s loss of pain will drive medical companies to hurry something to market without knowing 100% that all will be fine. I get this image in my head of those gremlins from the movie that change into hideous, crazy things if they are fed water or given food past midnight. Can you imagine scientists cloning new life that will morph into creatures that cause death and destruction? I know love is a powerful force and the loss of love can be utterly debilitating for us; but that is the price one pays to be vulnerable and accept love into their life. Maybe because of all the movies I have seen or my vivid imagination, but right now there is something about cloning that frightens me. Long term we do not have enough information on what could happen. Due to my feelings I was hesitant to watch this mystery, crime film. WHEN A DEADLY ACCIDENT ROBBED HIM of the most important thing in his life scientist Will Foster, played by Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Matrix franchise), willingly risked everything to gain back what he loved the most. The only issue was no one could know about it. With Thomas Middleditch (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Kings of Summer) as Ed, John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster) as Jones, Alice Eve (Before We Go, She’s Out of my League) as Mona and Emily Alyn Lind (J. Edgar, Revenge-TV) as Sophie; this science fiction movie was startling in how it was poorly done. I mean bottom of the food chain nonsense. First, the acting was appalling; Keanu was wooden or better yet, lifeless. The script offered nothing new or exciting for me; pretty much everything taking place seemed to be a given. I will say, I was surprised by one twist in the story; but by that time, I did not care what was going on because I wanted the picture to end so I could go home. For me, this entire movie could be used as an example of what could go wrong by cloning a story that was done before.
1 1/4 stars
THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO A large scale amusement park, I wound up crying. I was used to the neighborhood amusement park that had rides that were geared to kids; but at this larger park I was not tall enough to ride the roller coasters. The fact that there was more than one roller coaster had at first surprised and thrilled me. Sadly, it only added more disappointment to my sadness. While my relatives waited in line for the coasters, one adult relative had to sit with me on a park bench that was designated as the destination spot for everyone to meet up again after the ride. If there was an easy ride close by without a long line, then I was able to ride it and get back before my relatives arrived. This was not the best consolation prize, but at least it was something to entertain and distract me. It only satisfied me for the moment until we all met up and I had to hear about the thrills the roller coasters provided for my relatives. And to add salt to the wound; by the time I was old enough to ride the roller coasters, the closest amusement park we used to visit the most closed down for good. FAST FORWARD TO RECENT TIMES WHERE it has been many years since I had ridden any roller coasters. I was at an event out of state next to a national amusement park. There were plenty of opportunities during the week to go to the park; which by the way had several famous roller coaster rides. Times sure changed for me as I discovered the waiting lines could take over an hour before getting on the ride. Nonetheless, I was successful on my first attempt at one of the large roller coasters. I was only riding it for several seconds before I realized I was getting queasy. My head started hurting as I was hurled through tunnels, turned upside down and spun around hairpin turns. I had to close my eyes and do everything I could not to get sick during what turned into a torturous ride. First, I was too young to ride roller coasters and now I was too old; here I thought I would have had so many years of riding and enjoying roller coasters. Truthfully, though, I do not feel like I am missing anything; once you ride a few they all seem to be similar and that is how I felt about this dramatic, mystery science fiction film. WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN $10,000.00, a group of strangers find themselves in a game that did not advertise it would end in life or death. With Deborah Ann Woll (Mother’s Day, True Blood-TV) as Amanda, Taylor Russell (Before I Fall, Dead of Night) as Zoey, Tyler Labine (Flyboys, The X-Files-TV) as Mike, Logan Miller (Before I Fall; Love, Simon) as Ben and Adam Robitel (2001 Maniacs, Cut/Print) as Gabe; the opening scenes held my interest. I could see where the premise of the story had potential; however, as the group of strangers went from one escape room to another it became the same to me with little difference. It felt like I was watching a cross between the Saw movies and the film A Cabin in the Woods. There just did not seem to be much surprise that held my interest. I also did not care for the way the story ended but understood what the writers and movie studio were hoping to accomplish—a film sequel. Maybe if I had not seen other pictures that did this type of genre better, I would have enjoyed this film more. As it stands, I won’t be disappointed or feel like I will miss something if they never do a sequel.
1 ¾ stars
TO ALL THAT KNEW HER SHE was a successful businesswoman. She had owned through her life a few businesses; there was never an exact number because she was modest. With a good heart and kindness, she believed these two attributes would always set her apart from other business owners. Her companies were never staffed with many people; honestly, maybe a handful at the most. There was one company that operated over state lines, but for the most part her businesses were kept locally. I agree kindness and a good heart are wonderful attributes to have; however, I feel one also must have a head for business. All businesses involve making tough decisions that might not appear to be kind. The question is if you can remain honest and true then you can accentuate your success. In her case, she was too kind. Some of her employees took advantage of it. Oh, who am I kidding; they stole from her. As time went on, though sales remained steady, there was less money coming in then going out for bills. There was a problem here, especially when most of the company’s transactions were done in cash. You see, her employees would write up fake invoices that were lower in prices; so, they could pocket the extra money they officially charged the customer. A BUSINESS CAN ONLY LAST SO long with losses before it must close its doors. In her case, this pattern of thievery would follow her from business to business. I am sad to say she never learned from her mistakes until it was too late. The method she would use time and time again to try and keep her various companies open would be to tap into her personal savings. This would also include funds that were set aside for retirement purposes. By the time she was close to reaching retirement age she had no funds left. All those years of trying to be successful at her different companies through the years left her penniless in the end. It was a horrible situation and what made matters worse was the fact she did not have the skill to keep accurate records. The result of this was the reason she never won a court case, for those times she even brought an employee to court. Do you want to know what she is doing now? In her advanced years she is cleaning an apartment building to get a discount on her rent, while living on a small government subsidy. The main character in this crime drama chose a different route when he had to close his business. WITH HIS HOUSE IN FORECLOSURE AND his once thriving horticultural business decimated; the opportunity to make some easy cash was the reason Earl Stone, played by Clint Eastwood (Trouble with the Curve, Million Dollar Baby), decided to be a driver for an unknown company. All he had to do was not ask questions. With Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born, Joy) as Colin Bates, Michael Pena (12 Strong, Ant-Man franchise) as DEA Agent, Taissa Farmiga (The Bling Ring, The Nun) as Ginny and Dianne Wiest (The Birdcage, Rabbit Hole) as Mary; I liked this film more than I had expected. The pacing was steady and Clint, who also directed, created a character that one could easily see him being in real life. The story inspired by a true event was interesting, but I found the script was heavy-handed with its messages. It seemed as if the writers wanted to make sure we knew what we were supposed to be feeling for the scenes. Also, a bit more mystery and tension would have livened up this picture. Though predictable at times, I did not mind watching this film; I just hope I am never put into such a predicament in my “golden” years.
2 ½ stars
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE EATING A wonderful meal and having leftovers from it. I am one of those people who loves to eat cold leftovers. Not every dish from a meal, but usually the main and side dishes I eat cold. Oh, and there is of course my favorite: cold pizza. Whether from a restaurant or homemade, having pizza right out of the refrigerator is my version of a delicacy. In the realm of home cooking I know there are times where one has a little bit left over from the food preparation. If it is some form of a soup or stew base, the cook can freeze it for later use. If it is a batter (remember I am all about desserts) there are multiple ways of using the small amount left in fun, new ways. One of my favorite memories of baking when I was a kid was watching the leftover dough get rolled out onto a floured surface then cut into 4-inch strips. The strips would get sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before they were rolled into crescent shapes and baked. They looked like fingers sometimes, but they were oh so tasty. NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE HAVING leftovers is not a good thing. This has happened to me where I bought an item that had to be assembled and I wound up having extra remaining pieces. There was nothing in the instructions about there being extra items; but of course, in my brain I wondered if the item would break right away. It would be like taking apart let us say a car engine and when you put it back together you had a couple of extra pieces. This would happen to a friend of mine who was into rebuilding engines. He did not seem to think it was a problem, but I was always nervous riding in any of his cars. Another example would be home remodeling where you figured out the amount of tile you needed for a floor or wall project and wound up with extra boxes that were non-returnable. I assumed that is what happened when I moved into my place; there was a stack of bricks left in the basement. Since I could not just throw them out in the garbage for pickup, I left the pile there for a few years until a friend of mine was able to dispose of them for me. So, you see there are some leftovers that can produce good feelings while others are just an annoyance. This horror, mystery thriller would fall into the latter category. WORKING AT THE HOSPITAL MORGUE MEGAN REED, played by Shay Mitchell (Mother’s Day, Pretty Little Liars-TV), felt she had seen everything since she had been a police officer. But when the door to the cold chamber drawer kept opening, Megan was about to see things she could not imagine. With Grey Damon (Oldboy, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) as Andrew Kurtz, relative newcomer Kirby Johnson as Hannah Grace, Nick Thune (Venom, Knocked Up) as Randy and Stana Katic (Castle-TV, The Spirit) as Lisa Roberts; the story to this film felt like parts left over from other stories that were pieced together. There was nothing new here that I have not seen before in some form. The script was lifeless, filled with clichés. Usually with films of this genre, I would hear audience members utter something at a scary scene; there was dead silence throughout the theater, which was telling. I was not familiar with any of the actors; but if I were them, I would omit listing this film from their resumes. Simply put I could not wait for this movie to be over. The only frightening thing to me was the film studio that gave the okay to make this picture.
1 ½ stars
I MEAN NO DISRESPECT TO ALL the understudies I have seen in theatrical productions, but the shows where the understudy stepped in for the headlining Broadway star left me feeling slightly disappointed. It was especially difficult for me when the show I was seeing was slated to open on Broadway, after its trial run. If it means anything I would feel the same type of disappointment if I bought tickets to a Florida amusement park and its major top ride was not open due to repairs. Am I any different from anyone else who wants to get exactly what they paid for? Now I will say when there is not a major actor in a theatrical production I do not pay attention to see if any of the roles will be played by an understudy. I guess I have always had faith in the producers and director that they have chosen a competent actor who could do the part just as well as the actor who was originally cast. A thought just came to me; I would be totally disappointed if I went to a restaurant for a specific meal I enjoyed only to find out they were not serving it that day. I feel disappointment is simply a part of human nature. THERE HAVE BEEN CERTAIN MOVIES I have seen that disappointed me. Maybe my expectations were set high due to the actors or director involved, but there have been times where I questioned why the film studio chose to make such a film. I remember when I was a kid there was a television show hosted by a man dressed up as a ghoul, warlock or zombie of some kind. It aired every week on the weekend, showing these old dated films. I always wondered if these pictures were ever released in a theater. There was a term for these kinds of movies; they were called “B movies.” Mainly they were low budget films; so, the actors were not the most poplar and the sets/costumes were not the best quality or sophistication. On a rainy Saturday I used to enjoy sitting down and watching these pictures. Some of the stories I remember were about killer tomatoes, 50-foot tall women and crazy aliens aka human beings in cheap looking rubber suits. B movie stories were always easy to follow as the scripts were kept to the minimum, both in words and depth of emotions. If you are not familiar with this type of film, this picture I believe wanted to come off as one of those B movies from a long time ago. ORDERED TO TAKE OUT A VITAL GERMAN radio tower on the eve of D-Day, a small group of soldiers discover something behind enemy lines that could change the course of history. This horror mystery movie starred Jovan Adepo (Fences, Mother!) as Boyce, Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Ford, Mathilde Ollivier (The Misfortunes of Francois Jane) as Chloe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Wafner and John Magaro (The Big Short, Liberal Arts) as Tibbet. For me this picture had a strong retro vibe. The reason I say this is because most of the special effects were done the old-fashioned way, with makeup and costumes instead of CGI. The story was simple which allowed the writers to focus on an abundance of action scenes. I did not mind these scenes but after a while it seemed as if I was watching one long chase scene, going back and forth from the Nazis winning one round to the US forces winning the next and so on. Overall this movie was more of a novelty for me, something that belonged on television during a rainy Saturday afternoon.
1 ¾ stars
IS THERE ANYONE WHO DOES NOT wonder where those stains and marks come from in a hotel room? I for one cannot ignore them when I see them. This is why I am never 100% comfortable when I am staying at a hotel. On a trip to the southwest I stayed at a hotel that was one of the tallest buildings in the city. When I walked into my room everything looked fine. Just like most hotels I have stayed in; this one had a bed, 2 nightstands, an armoire, a desk, an easy chair and a floor lamp. When I walked into the bathroom I was immediately horrified because there appeared to be a blood-stained streak on the shower curtain. My mind was flooded with scenarios that could have caused blood to get splattered in the bathroom. I was not going to attempt to clean it, nor could I simply ignore it. If that was not enough, I decided to relieve my bladder before going downstairs to request a room change. When I went to flush the toilet, the water gurgled inside the bowl but never flushed down; it looked as if the water was simmering close to a boil. I wasn’t about to wonder what was causing the toilet not to flush. The room and in turn the hotel creeped me out. ON ANOTHER TRIP I BOOKED A ROOM in this huge, old majestic hotel. I do not remember the year the building was constructed, but it was originally built as an apartment building. With terra cotta appointments on the façade and a lobby that looked like it came out of 1920’s detective story, I thought the hotel was cool looking. The elevators with jet black doors and silver trim creaked as they traveled up the floors, slightly unsteady like an elderly patient. When I walked into the room I was met by a wall that had worn-out flocked wallpaper. As soon as one entered the room they had to make an immediate right turn to go into the living space. It appeared the original apartments must have been carved up to form the hotel rooms; the room had odd shaped corners and the bathroom door nearly grazed the toilet bowl when it was being closed. There was something about the hotel that made me think about the original residences who must have resided here earlier. During my stay little things happened such as the lightbulb burning out and the water faucet groaning whenever it was turned on. I stayed there despite the odd sounds and my concerns for my safety and hygiene. But I will tell you this; I would rather stay in either of the hotels I mentioned than the one in this mystery thriller. A GROUP OF STRANGERS CHECKED INTO the El Royale but not all of them would check out. This dramatic crime film starred Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Father Daniel Flynn, Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Mr. Selfridge-TV) as Darlene Sweet, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Emily Summerspring, Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, Million Dollar Arm) as Laramie Seymour Sullivan and Chris Hemsworth (Thor franchise, 12 Strong) as Billy Lee. I enjoyed the cast and the diversity of the characters they portrayed. This picture had a great look to it with a smoldering script, which allowed every actor a chance in the spotlight. I also liked the way the pieces of the story fit together; however halfway through I started to get bored. It seemed as if scenes were written with less detail and emotion. Sometimes it appeared shocking twists were put in for the sake of shocking the viewer. For me this was not as much of a thriller as a slow burn and I had no desire to book a room at this hotel.
2 ¼ stars