Ma and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions
Directed by Tate Taylor
The only reason this movie has gotten on anyone’s radar is because of Octavia Spencer, and frankly it did its job quite well. Sure, sometimes a horror film will pick up some serious talent like the new IT movie coming up or when Helen Mirren was in that crappy Winchester movie, but somehow this feels even MORE of a surprise and a genuine selling point. IT’s gonna sell itself no matter what, but by having one of the most popular actors of the moment (and in the prime of their career) showing up and starring in your crappy horror movie is a coup that very few films can boast, and yet somehow there she is; on all the posters, in all the trailers, and even having an Executive Producer credit to boot! What was it about this movie that convinced such a great actor to whole heartedly come on board, and was worth her immense talent and valuable time to do so? Let’s find out!!
Sue Ann Ellington (Octavia Spencer) is just your typical small town citizen. She works as a vet, she walks her dog, and on occasion it seems that she can be convinced to buy alcohol for the local high school kids. At least that’s what Maggie (Diana Silvers) finds out when she asks her to do it as she walks by the liquor store, and being the new kid in town she needs to deliver on the goods if she wants to get in with the popular kids. One of the popular kids is Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) who Sue Ann seems to recognize, and after a moment’s consideration decides to get them the booze they need. Not only that, she ends up opening her basement to them and other kids in the neighborhood as a safe and secluded area to drink where they won’t have to worry about cops and where Sue Ann will make sure no one gets their keys back if they can’t drive. In fact, everyone seems to be so enamored with her that they start to call her Ma and everyone wants to hang out at her house! However, things are not as rosy as they seem which Maggie picks up on after a while and she seems to have a dark side to her that’s just barely hidden beneath the surface. Perhaps it has to do with Andy’s dad (Luke Evans) who she knows from years ago? Maybe even Maggie’s mom (Juliette Lewis) who used to live here but moved away many years ago before returning? Well they’re all gonna find out eventually because Ma’s house seems to slowly turned from party central to a house of horrors! Will these kids learn of the terrible secrets lurking in Ma’s house as well as her tragic backstory? What is Ma planning now that she has the children of this town wrapped around her finger, and can she somehow realize what she’s doing is wrong before it’s too late? Okay, seriously. Did Octavia Spencer lose a bet or something to be in this movie?
I knew that while I was writing my review of this movie that there was no way I could fully express my utter bewilderment at what happens in the final twenty or so minutes without having a damn near incomprehensible rant right in the middle and without giving away HUGE spoilers. Well now that the review is finished and you can find out my thoughts (essentially spoiler free) there, I think now is the time to get all this built up frustration out in a constructive and hopefully coherent manner. Needless to say that this will contain ALL OF THE SPOILERS for the movie as so much of my problems with the logic of this (both from my understanding of technology and from the rules the movie sets for itself) is what is ultimately revealed by the end, so don’t read this before going to see the movie which I still recommend you do despite how much I HATED the ending. Before we begin though, there’s still one very important question to answer.
Why Do I Care So Much!?
Honestly? I don’t really know. I mean, one of my favorite movies of the year is The Purge Election Year, and can I honestly say that THAT movie makes any more sense than this one? Probably not, but I think it ultimately comes down to what each movie is trying to accomplish. The Purge: Election Year is upfront with what it wants to be and infuses every moment of screen time with that sense of purpose. There’s no bait and switch or a drastic shifts in tone that make you questions whether or not the filmmakers want you to believe in what is going on (beyond as a scathing and blunt metaphor for the current state of US politics), so it manages to stay consistent all the way through. This movie feels disingenuous when it eventually gets around to turning Nerve from a plot device into the main dramatic thrust of the final act as it turns out to be SUPER EVIL. To be fair, it’s not like they aren’t dropping hints throughout the movie (and Nerve at no point doesn’t come off like the worst kind of hacktivist bro-centric garbage) but the movie doesn’t want us to focus on that until the end and when it does I don’t feel the movie earned the right to use this sloppy and barely defined entity in the way that it does. The Purge has a backstory and mechanics. Nerve has neither and so its constantly pulling stuff out of its ass to make it more threatening than it has any right to be in this grounded (if SLIGHTY exaggerated) world that the movie takes place in. When shit started to hit the fan, it just didn’t feel necessary to me, and they were biting off way more than they had any hopes of chewing. Well then, let’s get to it! Spoilers form here on out! Oh, and FYI, I’m not an expert (or even all that smart) in ANYTHING I’m about to discuss, so if someone out there wants to point out how stupid I am and how any of this makes sense, then go right ahead.
Nerve and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Well if they were gonna make a teenaged version of a David Fincher film, The Game is probably a good place to start. You don’t want to go with Se7en or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo right off the bat! Then again, he already made his own teen movie with The Social Network. Anyway, this new movie starring the less famous (though probably not for long) Franco brother as well as the star of Hotel for Dogs and Nancy Drew (Okay, she was also in American Horror Story and Scream Queens) seems to be trying to tell us something about social media and… I guess dumb asses on YouTube? Whatever this movie is about, it at least has an interesting (if super spoilerific) trailer, so is it possible there’s something actually here to chew on? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Vee (Emma Roberts) who’s on the cusp of graduating high school but isn’t sure what college she wants to go to. In fact, indecision seems to be her biggest defining feature; possibly brought on by the untimely (and unexplained) death of her brother only two years earlier. Now she’s about to leave the comfort of compulsory education while still never living that true HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCETM. Luckily for her, social media and… probably a bunch of libertarian basement dwellers, have JUST the thing for her; an online service called Nerve. Her friend Sydney (Emily Meade) turns her onto it, and it’s basically a webcam site only instead of whipping her boobs out for money, she’s given dares to complete instead. I’m pretty sure whipping her boobs out would have been at least half the dares if this was in the REAL world, but in this movie she’s basically given Jackass style stunts instead. Her “Just Friends” friend Tommy (Miles Heizer) is being a super wet blanket about all this which gives handsome as fuck Ian (Dave Franco) a chance to swoop in as another Nerve Player (you’re either a Player or a Watcher on Nerve) ready to take her on a city wide adventure with riskier and riskier dares for them to complete! Will these two make it through the night of dares with their internal organs intact? What is the true motivation of Ian who JUST SO HAPPENED to be in the same area as Vee? Just what are the evil puppet masters of Nerve planning!? Is it a pizza party!?
Jem and the Holograms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
We all saw the trailer and most of us had one reaction which was to try and repress our gag reflexes. It just seemed like a really poor adaptation of a cartoon that probably means a lot for many people and a much lesser version of what we’re currently getting from the IDW comics. Still, trailers aren’t always accurate in showing what a movie will ultimately be, and the director is someone I think has quite a bit of talent. Can they manage to make something at least half way decent of a series that’s ripe for an updated adaptation? Yeah… no. It’s not good at all. Just how bad did they screw this up? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) who lives with her aunt (Molly Ringwald), her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott), and her two foster sisters Shana and Aja (Aurora Perrineau and Hayley Kiyoko). Her father died some time ago which is why she and Kimberly are living with Claire Standish and her the other two and the only thing he seems to have left (the guy most not have had insurance) is a non-functioning robot he made and a pair of ear rings that sadly don’t do what you think they should do. All is not good at the house Pretty in Pink bought however, because the bank is foreclosing on them for… some reason, and Jerrica finds out about it. In what I guess is either a despite move to get internet famous or an outlet of her frustration, she puts on a bunch of make, hides in the shadows, and films herself singing a song she wrote. She’s too afraid to post it online because they had to put in at least SOMETHING Jem related (Jerrica’s fear of performing) but Kimber ends up getting a hold of it puts it online. Sure enough, a poorly filmed video of a girl singing while strumming an acoustic guitar becomes the next big YouTube sensation and everyone is instantly in love with whoever this Jem is. In comes the EVIL head of Starlight Records Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis playing a gender swapped version of Eric Raymond) to offer Jem a deal with her label. She eventually agrees, gets her siblings to go along with her (not the Aunt because who needs adult supervision these days?) and they begin their journey to super stardom with all its ups and downs, betrayals and reconciliations, romances with hot dudes, and everything else you’ve seen before. Oh, and the robot’s name is Synergy and it’s doing… something. Whatever. OH! And Rio is actually Erica’s son. Because why not.