A Double Feature Review!
The Night House
The Night House is a solid psychological thriller that masterfully takes its time building the suspense. The end results will send chills down your spine. Rebecca Hall’s emotionally gripping performance also helps excel the film. Director David Bruckner's (2017's The Ritual) newest horror flick had its world premiere at 2020's Sundance Film Festival. It would go onto be picked up by Searchlight Pictures and was finally released to theaters 18 months later. Bruckner's atmospheric horror picture engages the audience on an emotional and intellectual level. A type of engagement that slowly builds up the tension and thrills. Our spooky story follows Beth (a powerful Rebecca Hall), who is left alone in a lakeside home after the sudden death of her husband. Beth tries to keep all of the pieces together, but then, the nightmares come. During these nightmares, Beth feels a ghostly allure calling her. She soon begins to dig through her late husband's belongings, searching for answers from these dark visions.
In the end, Beth discovers something both truly strange and disturbing. Mysteries that I will leave for you to uncover yourself. Along with Bruckner's well-crafted suspense and tension is an eerie score by composer Ben Lovett (2019's I Trapped the Devil and 2017's The Ritual). The Night House is a horror flick that unended my expectations, delivering well-crafted scares and a rewarding ending. Hall's strong performance is the core of this picture, carrying it from start to finish. Sadly, I seem to be in the minority with this film. The Night House received a C- score from audiences on its opening weekend and, even from my showing, there was a group of three who walked out halfway through the movie. Personally, I thought this film was masterfully executed — it is a slow-burner, but one with rich rewards. I, of course, still recommend watching this film, especially if you are a fan of horror. In the end, The Night House came and conquered, sending chills down one's spine.
The Night House is rated R (Restricted) Some Violence/Disturbing Image | Some Sexual References | Language.
Directed by David Bruckner
Starring Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis Hall, Evan Jonigkeit, and Stacy Martin.
CODA is a wonder. A beautiful film led by a splendid cast and strong representation. A coming-of-age story that avoids the clichés, capturing what it means to be family. Emilia Jones gives a superb performance that’s combined with an important sense of inclusion. It’s simply one of this year’s best movies. Everything about CODA is perfect. CODA (child of deaf adults) is a beautiful picture, capturing a feel-good story with a big heart. Emotional, tear-jerking, and, at times, a little predictable — CODA is a sweet movie that offers warmth and affection. This crowd-pleaser offers a simple story that slowly packs a gut punch at the end. You won't know what hit you. We follow a blue-collar family living in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Ruby (a magnificent Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of her family: her parents Frank and Jackie (a strong Troy Kotsur and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin), and older brother Leo (a wonderful Daniel Durant) are all culturally deaf. Kotsur, Matlin, and Durant are also all deaf actors.
Ruby helps assist with the family fishing business while attending high school. She plans on joining the business full-time once she graduates. However, Ruby also has another passion of hers — singing. She decides to audition for the school choir, run by Mr. Bernardo Villalobos (a great Eugenio Derbez). Mr. V. soon realizes Ruby's natural gifts and raw talent. He encourages Ruby to audition for Berklee College of Music and offers her private lessons to prepare. Ruby accepts Mr. V.'s offer but also has to figure out how to continue assisting/interpreting for her family's fishing business. This also leads Ruby to the confrontation of her parents not understanding why singing is so important to her. Writer-director Sian Heder wonderfully executes this picture — gifting us with a funny, heartwarming, and vivid movie. CODA also represents strong inclusion for the deaf community, allowing their stories to be told.
CODA also fully develops its deaf characters on-screen through interpretations of self-sufficiency and sexual activeness. Past on-screen depictions of deaf characters have shied away from this, not allowing their character(s) to be depicted as fully human. This allowed CODA's actors (Kotsur, Matlin, and Durant) to break out and fully be themselves with their personification of their respected character. CODA had its world premiere last January at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Apple for a whopping $25 million. Apple saw something very special with this film. Consider it a front runner come awards season. CODA is a superb film with a big heart and a lot of love. It truly is one of the best films to come out in 2021. There were several moments during this movie where I found myself wiping away tears. So, bring those tissues because you'll need them.
CODA is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Drug Use | Strong Sexual Content | Language.
Now Streaming on Apple TV+
Directed by Sian Heder
Starring Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant, Eugenio Derbez, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and Amy Forsyth.
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