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Flash Movie Review: The Child Prodigy

GATHERED IN THE HOUSE WAS A mix of adults and children for the celebration. Everyone was getting along and enjoying the food. The children were being kids with their usual interruptions of “She said” and “He did” complaints. There were a couple of incidents where a child was crying, but the adults quickly intervened to calm the child down. At some point a four-year-old came up to me and asked if I could read a story to him; in his hand, he already had a large hardbound book. I told him I would be happy to read to him. He led me over to the couch and told me where to sit. After the boy handed me the book he climbed up and sat next to me. I started reading out loud to him, pointing at the illustrations when they were being described in the story. He seemed to be enjoying the story and even asked me a couple of times to explain something further. At one point, I do not recall specifically what topic I was reading at the time, the little boy pressed his finger to a word on the page then turned and slapped me in the face. He giggled which angered me more. I closed the book, putting it down on the couch. Next, I turned to him as I started to stand up and lifted him at arms’ length away from me. We went right to his parents where I explained why I was not going to finish reading the book to him.      WHERE DOES A CHILD LEARN THAT it is okay to strike someone? It is a question I have always wondered about. Some of the reasons I have come up with include the child may have seen family members fighting or the child had been a victim of abuse and/or bulling or maybe the child’s parents had poor parenting skills; I honestly do not know. There is another option I have thought about based on my experiences when I was a small boy. There are just some kids who are bad. Now you may say there is no such thing as a bad child, but I would have to disagree. Maybe it has to do with a child’s environment; however, I feel children at some point understand the difference between right and wrong. If nothing else among their peers, they would be judged on their actions and realize what is and is not appropriate behavior. In school wouldn’t the child get an explanation on why they were given a detention or sent to the principal’s office? I think some children thrive on bad behavior. If you don’t believe me then see what the young boy does in this dramatic horror thriller.      HUSBAND AND WIFE JOHN AND SARAH, played by Peter Mooney (We Were Wolves, Rookie Blue-TV) and Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), quickly realized there was something special about their son Miles, played by Jackson Robert Scott (It, Locke & Key-TV). That specialness however had a good and bad side. I was somewhat surprised by this movie and I think it is because I enjoyed the acting from Taylor and Jackson. The script was a close copy of previous child horror film scripts; there were few new elements in this story. In addition, most of the scenes meant to scare the audience were telegraphed well in advance. I did appreciate at least that the writers and director kept the blood level to a minimum. There was an opportunity here to make something different and scary, but I have to chalk it up to “bad” decisions being made that turned this film into a bland movie watching experience.

 

2 stars    

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Flash Movie Review: Cold Pursuit

IT IS MY MAIN GROCERY STORE that I have been going to for over 10 years. Though the store is one of the grocery chain’s larger format stores, I can quickly navigate through the aisles with efficiency. After so many years I pretty much know where everything is located, and I must tell you that is the reason I do not mind shopping for groceries. I am such a routine person that I find calmness when I can go on automatic and not have to think about what I am doing; I am talking about the more mundane chores we do as adults. Pushing my shopping cart to the exact products I need to buy is a wonderful thing. I do not have the patience to wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, as I try to find something. It is such a waste of time. Another thing I try to do is go food shopping late at night when there are less people in the store. During these times I can be in and out of the store with several bags of groceries in under 15 minutes. When I walk in I know what to expect.      THE DATE WAS OCTOBER 10TH, A date I will never forget because that is when everything changed for me. My grocery store was closed for a short time after they spent months remodeling. The closure was to fully restock all the shelves and have their “Grand Reopening” celebration. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into a strange place. All the aisles had been redone; I did not know where anything was as I struggled looking for some semblance of normalcy. My bread was no longer in Aisle 2 as well as my cereal was now hiding somewhere else. I was distraught. Ok, maybe I am being a little too dramatic here; but I was not comfortable having to go up and down aisles, trying to find the stuff on my grocery list. In time I knew I would learn all the changes and go back to putting myself on automatic, to quickly make my way thru the store. I do not think I am the only person who does this, but don’t others like to know what to expect when going into a situation? Whether it is the grocery store, sporting event or instructional session; there are times where a person wants to know what they are getting into before committing to it. That is usually the case with this actor’s movies; you know what to expect from him.      BEING TOLD HIS SON DIED OF A drug overdose was not something Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Widows), believed; he knew his son was not a “druggie.” Nels was determined to find out how his son died, and he was not going to let anyone stop him. This dramatic action thriller also starred Laura Dern (Wild, Wild at Heart) as Grace Coxman, Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Kim Dash, Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched) as Trevor “Viking” Calcote and Domenick Combardozzi (Miami Vice, The Family) as Mustang. These days you know exactly what you are going to get when you see Liam Neeson in a film. He played the same type of character here as he has done before; an uber masculine, macho man who doesn’t appear to have the lethal skill set needed for the character but does. The only difference with this script compared to the others Liam has recently been in is this one had an element of dark humor. It wasn’t bad; but I thought there needed to be more of it, to tell you the truth. I was confused by Liam’s character; how did he get to be such a menace in this film, there was no back story. Still the story was not so different that it would stand out. I expected as much when I bought my movie ticket.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Miss Bala

I COULD BUY MYSELF PAINT, BRUSHES AND CANVAS; but that would not mean I am an artist. Even if I had an abundance of confidence, I could not pretend to be a painter if I had never done it before. Now, that is me; however, there are people who start or try something new and decide they are an expert in that field. I can see someone being passionate about a new-found skill and immersing themselves into it, but I would not consider them an expert. For example, someone discovers they have a knack with numbers. They decide to pursue it, taking all the math classes they could through their school years. Gaining as much knowledge as possible, they open the possibility of becoming a CPA, actuary or pursue their love of math into a teaching position. I commend such an individual because they represent one of my philosophies: do what you love, and the rest will follow. What this means is if a person can find something that they are passionate about and pursue it into a lifelong career; then everything in their life, including money, will fall into place for them. This is a beautiful thing when it happens; but one needs some self-awareness.      YEARS AGO, I WAS RENTING AN apartment in the city. I decided to paint the rooms, so I went out and bought a few cans of paint, choosing colors I felt would complement each other. I did what I felt was my best, being careful not to have any paint drips or streaks on the walls. It took me several days to finish the project because I was going slow since I had never painted before. When I finished I was pleased with the results. After I put the place back in order, I invited a few friends over to see my new apartment. One friend brought someone with them who after hearing I had done the paint job began to tell me the things I did wrong. The way she was talking I thought she was a painter or interior decorator. After listening to her comments, I asked her where she went to school for interior decorating. Imagine my surprise when she said she had no schooling for decorating; what she learned came from the magazines she read. I stood there and thought this woman had a lot of nerve critiquing my painting efforts; who was she to tell me what I should have done differently? I may have been fooled by her but that was not the case with the main character in this dramatic action thriller.      WHEN HER CLOSE FRIEND WENT missing Gloria’s search, played by Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin-TV), found her at the mercy of a drug lord. She would have to do things she had never done before. With Ismael Cruz Cordova (In the Blood, The Pastor) as Lino, Cristina Rodio (The Condemned, Red Hook Black) as Suzu, Damian Alcazar (Herod’s Law, The Crime of Padre Amaro) as Chief Saucedo and Ricardo Abarca (Motel Acqua, Cumbia Ninja-TV) as Poyo; I had a hard time believing this story because of the poorly written script. Gina did a good job of acting, but the rest of the characters were a bit cartoonish for me. The drug gang could have been more threatening, and the initial reason Lino became attracted to Gloria was ludicrous to me. Considering everything Gloria encountered I did not believe a person in that situation could have performed all the things that were shown in the movie, particularly the way the story ended for her. If the writers would have instilled a more threatening atmosphere with more grit, this film could have been better. After the picture ended I left not believing what I saw and not believing I had to sit through it.

 

1 ¾ stars            

Flash Movie Review: Serenity

IT WAS AN OUTDOOR SHOPPING CENTER made to look like a town square. I was not interested in how it looked, only needed to go to one store located somewhere inside. Within the first minute of turning into the mall I was already annoyed by the parking lot; it was set like an English garden maze, except the green hedges were replaced with concrete curbs. From the posted signs I knew I had to be somewhere in the right area, so I decided to park and make my way on foot. Luckily the store was easy to find and once inside I quickly found what I was looking for before I headed back to my car in record time. Next on my to do list was going to the bank. I asked the virtual voice assistant on my phone for the nearest location to a branch of my bank. Directions were offered which I followed out of the parking lot. I made my way down the street for a short time, just past the shopping mall. Being told to turn down a side street I would up winding my way south, having to stop at each intersection because of stop signs. Finally coming out onto a thoroughfare I was instructed to turn west. The next thing I knew I was back at the shopping center and right there was a sign pointing me to the bank.      I FOUND IT ANNOYING THAT I HAD to drive out of the mall, through a residential area, only to be directed back into the mall. It made no sense to me. Maybe there was some reason why the interactive assistant had me drive that way, but I found it confusing. These days I find many things confusing and it is not because of an addled mind. It just seems as if common sense is becoming a rare commodity. Later in the day I was at a condominium building and the elevator had a handwritten sign taped inside that said, “Due to the freezing temperatures it is suggested the cabinet doors under all sinks are opened to prevent pipes freezing. This made no sense to me; how would pipes freeze in a unit of a multi-storied condominium building? Don’t all the residents get their water from a main line that then divides out to each unit? I could spend all day listing the things I come across that make no sense to me; but instead, I will just let today’s movie show you what I am talking about.      THE QUIET PEACEFUL LIFE BAKER DILL, played by Matthew McConaughey (Gold, The Dark Tower), had created for himself came apart when his ex-wife suddenly appeared with a desperate plea to save her. This dramatic thriller also starred Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, The Intern) as Karen Zariakas, Diane Lane (Trumbo, Secretariat) as Constance, Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest) as Frank Zariakas and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Duke. I actually think the actors could have handled anything that got thrown to them, but I do not know how they maintained their composure with this bizarre script. Their first clue, I believe, would have been their initial read through of it. The story made no sense to me which added to my boredom. Maybe the writer wanted to create a twisted, sexy, tension building story but all I found were things that made me scratch my head in confusion. It is a shame because I enjoyed the look of the film and particularly the setting, which was this idyllic island. There is already enough I encounter that dumbfounds me; there was no reason why I needed to pay for my confusion by watching this picture.

 

1 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: The Possession of Hannah Grace

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        

Flash Movie Review: Robin Hood

IT WAS GOING TO BE A NIGHT AT the theater, to see a stage version of a classic musical movie. I remembered parts of the film and its iconic soundtrack. Back when the movie was made the studio used actors who were already considered legendary figures. The musical I was going to see now got its start on Broadway; I was seeing a version of it at a popular, regional theater. One big difference between the two productions I already knew and that was the regional theater staged their shows in the round, where the stage was in the middle of the theater and the audience sat all around it. This was not going to be a problem since I had been to this theater several times and all their shows were staged with the audience in mind, making sure the cast had plenty of opportunities to face each side of the audience. Sitting in my seat with the lights dimmed, the orchestra began to play. I listened to the familiar music, recalling the scene where the music was used in the movie. From there the musicians began to play something that was unfamiliar to me; I had no recollection of it. Little did I know there was more to come.      MAYBE PART OF THE BLAME FALLS ON me for having high expectations. You see, I expected this production to have the same high caliber of singing and dancing as the movie. The male lead’s singing voice was not able to bring the same joyful power as the actor from the film. This one particular song from the movie that still gets airplay today was not given its fair amount of stage time; the cast only sang one refrain from it. I could not believe it. After looking forward to seeing this movie come to life, so to speak; I was let down by what I was watching on stage. This production was nothing like the movie. I do not know how you feel about it, but I do not like when things are loosely created out of established stories. If they would have given this stage show a different title then I would not have had the same reaction, except for the male lead’s singing. Call it whatever you want but do not sell it as a similar production based on the classic story. It is not always a good idea to introduce some random idea that has no place to reside in a story just to freshen it up. This action adventure picture is proof of it.      RETURNING FROM THE WAR FRONT ROBIN of Loxley, played by Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Legend), came back to a home in ruins and a girlfriend who no longer was there. Adding in the poverty he was seeing all around him, there was only one thing Robin could do; he would have to go undercover. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Little John, Ben Mendelssohn (Animal Kingdom, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sheriff of Nottingham, Eve Hewson (Enough Said, Bridge of Spies) as Marian and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Private War) as Will Scarlet; this thriller was silly, both in the script and visually. I dislike when writers introduce things into the story that were never part of the time period. An example here would be a version of a Gatling gun for arrows; how in the world did the writers come up with this for Robin Hood? I guess they were too busy creating elaborate fight scenes. The miscasting of Taron and Eve was evident since there was no chemistry between the two. Dressed in odd clothing and ridiculous special effects this film succeeded in one thing: it robbed me of my available time.

 

1 2/3 stars       

Flash Movie Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

FROM THE CLASSES I ATTENDED AND the personal stories that were shared with me, I would have thought after all this time I would have a better understanding about the parent/child relationship. Even to this day I still can be surprised by the things I see and hear regarding children and their parents. There is a mother I know who was told by her daughter that the only way she could see her grandchildren would be if she goes into therapy. That is all I know but I can assume something intense happened between the daughter and her mother. There is a father I know who has many prejudices; essentially, he doesn’t like anyone. His daughter is the complete opposite, gratefully. It has come to the point where the daughter tries to avoid social functions with her Dad because she knows he will be offending someone before the evening is over. This is the thing that fascinates me; where the daughter turns out to be a complete opposite to her father, there are other children who turn into their parent(s). How does that happen? I know a man who has the same prejudices as his deceased father; it makes me wonder what type of environment the boy was raised in. As I have said before, no one is born being a racist, sexist or prejudiced; it is something that gets taught.      NOW WHEN IT COMES TO BULLYING and abuse, studies have shown a majority of those who act these out were themselves victims to it. I believe it because I have seen it happen. There was a kid in my neighborhood who was a bully; he took pleasure in tormenting other kids. It turns out his dad picked on him, hitting or slapping him besides calling him names. Of course, it doesn’t excuse the son’s behavior and I am guessing the father was abused or bullied when he was a kid. When I was in college one of my classes spent time looking at ways to stop this vicious cycle of abusers creating more abusers. Think about it; parents are supposed to be the protectors of their children. It seems to me when something is off, the home environment becomes a breeding ground for the unhealthy behavior to flourish and be handed down generation to generation. I find it awful and sad. There was a time in school where I felt every human being needed to go into therapy; to help them understand themselves and become of sound mind and body. This certainly would apply to the sisters in this dramatic, crime thriller.      HAVING A REPUTATION FOR BEING A BRILLIANT computer hacker; how then was Lisbeth Salander, played by Claire Foy (First Man, Unsane), set up so easily? It would have to be from someone she knew. With Beau Gadsdon (The Crown-TV, Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story) as young Lisbeth, Sverrir Gudnason (A Serious Game, Borg vs McEnroe) as Mikael Blomkvist, Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Selma) as Ed Needham and Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049, The Best Offer) as Camilla Salander; this movie was mostly all about the action. I thought Claire did a fine job in the role, but it did not stretch her due to the weak script. By the end of the story I found the script to be silly and a letdown. There were a few exciting scenes; but I found most of the acting one dimensional, without much focus to it. While watching some scenes I thought it was odd that Lisbeth could be easily followed considering she was such a computer “genius.” If the producers plan to churn out this level of work, then we need an intervention to make them stop.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Hunter Killer

MOST EVERYTHING SHE WAS SAYING I understood, but I did not have her gift for figuring out how to alter the taste of home cooked food. Our conversation started when I mentioned I tried a new recipe. The food I made was too spicy for me; my mouth was tingling with heat from each bite I took. She asked me why I did not add this certain ingredient to dull the heat. I explained I had never heard about it, that I just followed the recipe which was new to me. From there we got into a conversation about the different things one can do to make your food taste sweeter or saltier, spicy or plain and so on. After she mentioned her different examples for change, I asked her if she follows the recipe when she is making the food. She told me she glances at the recipe but changes the measurements and items. And that was the major difference between us; there is no way I can cook like her. I must follow the recipe exactly; I cannot cook by putting a little touch of this or a small bit of that into the food preparation. Still somewhat new to this whole cooking thing, there is no way I can experiment and hope the meal will be good.      THE SAME THING GOES FOR RESTAURANT food. Unless there is something seriously wrong with the food I ordered, I will not return it. Granted I am always making changes to most things I order from a menu due to personal tastes or allergies; so, when my order is brought to the table, I expect it to be to my liking. Other people may do things differently. I have one friend who always returns their order; it is either not hot enough or according to them it has no taste. There is another friend who rarely returns their meal. She keeps a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. If she doesn’t care too much for the way her food tastes she will take out her hot sauce and shake some of it on top of her meal. No matter what the item is she will add her hot sauce. To me, just because you like the taste of heat doesn’t make the meal better; if anything, I would say it makes it tolerable. Some of the things she has ordered I would not touch with a 10-foot pole, but she doesn’t care. As long as she experiences that burning sensation in her mouth, she will eat anything. I would have to say the same about today’s action thriller. If you just want to see action and don’t care about the script, then this would be your movie.      HIS FIRST COMISSION AS A SUBMARINE commander and Captain Joe Glass, played by Gerald Butler (Den of Thieves, Gods of Egypt), found himself in the middle of an international crisis that was about to go nuclear. With Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, The Space Between Us) as Charles Donnegan, Common (The Hate U Give, Suicide Squad) as John Fisk and Carter MacIntyre (Drop Dead Diva-TV, Benched-TV mini-series) as XO Brian Edwards; this movie was made for someone who just wants to feel thrills without concerns about the script or acting. I found the story silly as it seemed farfetched while jumping from U.S. Navy Seals scenes to submarine scenes to Russian ones. The script was a catch all for the films previously made from this type of genre; the thread that kept it together was the thrills for me. I enjoyed sitting in my seat and not thinking about what I was watching on the screen. Oh no, maybe I am turning into my friend who can tolerate mediocre food by splashing some hot sauce on top of it or in my case a smattering of thrills.

 

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Halloween

THERE ARE CERTAIN EVENTS IN OUR life that we can never let go of or forget. I have a relative who has never liked clowns; whether in person or on television, this relative had a strong reaction the first time she saw a clown. She and her family went one day to a local carnival that came into town, pitching their tents and rides in a nearby neighborhood. They were walking around, checking out all the rides, when a man dressed up as a clown spotted them and started to make his way towards them. Waving his hands in the air while laughing out a “helloooo”, the little girl looked at him and let out a shriek. Before her parents could pick her up and console her, she picked up a rock and threw it at the clown. The rock fell short, but it made the clown stop in his tracks as the little girl ran behind her parents. It took some time to calm their daughter down, deciding it was best to leave the carnival. I am here to tell you that little girl has never forgotten that clown and wants nothing to do with any clowns even up to this day.      THAT LITTLE GIRL IS NOT THE only one who carries a fear for something from one’s childhood. One thing I am still afraid of are bats; not the baseball kind, the flying ones. When I was a little boy I was traumatized by a bat that got into our house. I still remember exactly when it happened. It was an early Saturday morning and I was the first one who had woken up. I had gone into the living room to turn on the television, so I could watch Saturday morning cartoons. As I was lying on the floor with my pillow and blanket I heard a sound above my head. It sounded like loose clapping. When I looked up I saw a large, dark thing flying around the upper window panes. I freaked out and let out a scream as I covered my head with my blanket and raced back to my bedroom. My yelling woke up the family as you can imagine. Everyone came running out to look for me. I never saw but heard it took a broom and plastic trash bag to get the bat out of the house. Another thing that has bothered me all these years are louvered closet doors; all because of this movie franchise.      IT HAS BEEN 40 YEARS AND a day hasn’t gone by where Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, A Fish Called Wanda), hasn’t thought about the man who almost killed her. Her nightmare isn’t about to end just yet. This horror thriller also starred Judy Greer (27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30) as Karen, Andi Matichak (Miles, Evol) as Allyson, Haluk Bilginer (Ben-Hur, The International) as Dr. Sartain and Will Patton (The Postman, The Punisher) as Officer Hawkins. This was one of the best sequels I have seen this year. I thought the writers created a believable chapter for this film franchise. There was a mixture of nostalgia, campiness and old school thrills in the story. I feel those who at least remember parts the first movie will better enjoy this picture. There were a few brief bloody scenes, but I appreciated many of them were more suspense filled with visual clues than actual violent gore. I did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did; for me, I felt most of my emotions were tied into my memories of my life back when I saw the first film. Which probably has kept fueled my dislike of louvered closet doors all these years.

 

3 stars             

Flash Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

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

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