“Sometimes Dead Is Better…”
Acting as the most recent entry into the Stephen King revival era which has been embraced gleefully both on the big screen and the small thanks to the success of the likes of It, Mr. Mercedes and Netflix’s Gerald’s Game, Pet Sematary is the latest contemporary adaptation of one of the American writer’s most well-known novels from 1983, acting as a completely fresh adaptation after the rather lukewarm reception given to the 1989 and original film version which on retrospect, hasn’t exactly aged at all well. Directed by the film-making duo of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, whose previous work includes the little-seen horror flick, Starry Eyes, as well as credits on the television version of Scream, Pet Sematary sees Jason Clarke (First Man) as Louis Creed, a well-respected and straight-thinking university doctor who after moving his family to a remote woodland house on the outskirts of Ludlow, Maine, soon begins to experience a wide range of supernatural and nightmarish encounters, all of which seem to stem from the discovery of the local titular graveyard, a particularly powerful area which seems to be much much more than a quaint location for the local deceased bunny rabbit.
With King’s original novel undeniably one of his most nihilistic and terrifying tales to date, Kölsch and Widmyer’s movie does impressively manage to transfer the overarching sense of dread onto the big screen for pretty much the majority of the film’s one hundred minute run-time, and with the added boost of a particularly haunting musical score from horror auteur, Christopher Young (Hellraiser, Sinister) and enough creepy fog and pitch black cinematography to make David Fincher’s Seven look like something from CBeebies, it’s fair to say that in terms of atmospheric setting, Pet Sematary circa 2018 doesn’t just tick the box for the horror genre, it absolutely smothers it. With a superbly crafted cast which features a quartet of impressive performances including John Lithgow (Dexter) as the wise and elderly neighbour, Jud Crandall, and Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) as Louis’ wife, Rachel Creed, the movie also benefits from the decision made by both screenwriters, Jeff Buhler and Matt Greenberg, to alter the central death at the heart of the story, a bold choice which is understandable in the way it makes complete cinematic sense whilst offering the chance for young Jeté Laurence to absolute oodles of fun with her role as the Creed’s young daughter. Whilst some differences to the novel do feel slightly jarring, including a shock-tastic ending which doesn’t carry the same impact as the book’s own conclusion, and the lack of real depth ultimately resulting in the film nowhere near as rewarding as the book, Pet Sematary doesn’t hold back on the sheer nastiness of the source material, and with a heavy dedication to King’s own written word, is a movie which is up there with the much better examples of what a Stephen King adaptation should ultimately look like.
Overall Score: 7/10
“This Year It’s No More Back And Forth At Christmas. It’s A Together Christmas..!”
With 2015’s Daddy’s Home being one of the few cinematic releases which managed to simply pass me by without me having the chance, time or perhaps the need to catch up and review it, the release of it’s inevitable sequel after the comedy hit became Will Ferrell’s highest grossing live action film to date brings with it a sense of heavy duty dread, particularly when reminiscing the more contemporary Ferrell releases such as The House and Zoolander 2, and whilst it requires quite an extensive amount in the American comedy genre to actually impress me, who would have thought that a Christmas themed sequel to a film which never really was asking for a continuation in the first place was actually somewhat quite good fun? With Mel Gibson and John Lithgow added to the cast as the fathers of Mark Wahlberg’s Dusty and Ferrell’s Brad respectively, Daddy’s Home 2 is a surprisingly sharp and witty sequel which although suffers from a overly formulaic plot, some interesting narrative swings and a completely saccharin sweet ending which nearly resulted in me chucking up into the nearest popcorn box, is throwaway comedy trash of the cheesiest order which just happens to be quite enjoyable.
With a script which ironically mirrors the Bad Moms Christmas approach by utilising the added input of an older generation to the plot and therefore the inclusion of much more acting talent, the inclusion of both Gibson and Lithgow does strangely work, with the latter using all his musky, outdated charm and guile to interfere with the family arrangements, and the latter’s penchant for cringe-laden conversations and weirdly intimate family relations managing to balance the widely cliched characterisation of pretty much everyone from child to elder. With rib-tickling set pieces managing to win me over from the start and Wahlberg being undeniably the star of the show, Daddy’s Home 2 does falter in an over-reliance on weak slapstick more times than necessary, whilst the inclusion of a strangely ill-judged gun scene is somewhat muddled in its’ execution, particularly when contemplating recent events in the US. Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t perfect, but nobody heading in was expecting It’s A Wonderful Life, and whilst some may feel the need to slate it’s cocksure and rather unsteady cinematic existence, it really isn’t worth getting angry about, and with that particular mindset in check, Ferrell’s latest is just plain dumb fun.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Sooner or Later, Different Scares People…”
Call it Taken meets A Beautiful Mind, Gavin O’Connor’s latest, The Accountant, is a wild ride of genre bending drama, focusing primarily on the titular accountant, Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff, who aside from being a mathematical genius relies too on his skills as a stone-cold killer to protect himself in the land of illegal book cooking for infamous criminal organisations. Sound preposterous? It sure is, and whilst a film such as Taken and the subsequent B-Movie-esque action thrillers that have seemed to take note of its’ success in recent times tend to dwell on their fundamental silliness, The Accountant seeks to look deeper into the characterisation of its’ leading character, a figure who is bound to the weakness or strength, depending on how you look at it, of his autistic nature and uses such to become the cold and calculated killer in the heart of the picture. Does this added air of differentiation result in the movie being more than just another throwaway action movie however? Um, not exactly.
Aside from being half an hour too long and featuring yet another annoying add-on character in the form of Anna Kendrick, following in the footsteps of the similarly annoying add-on character in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back recently, The Accountant is a film which tries to balance ambiguity with exposition for its’ plot whilst trying to tangle together too many plot lines in order to seem much more complex than it really is. Do they work? Not entirely, yet once the film does get going and into the realms of the B-Movie action genre it really wants to delve into, The Accountant becomes a much more enjoyable ride, one which doesn’t scratch above the surface of its’ silliness and just becomes another Taken, Jack Reacher and all the other recent action movie throwaways that have somehow become bankable franchises. All in all, The Accountant is pure baloney from start to finish, and the added mystery of its’ titular character’s differences only adds to the movies’ sheer silliness. It doesn’t break new ground but doesn’t dent the foundation either, it’s just too long and too ordinary to be anything special.