Category Archives: thriller

In The Shadow Of The Moon – Jim Mickle (2019)

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And again a not too good Netflix film.

Two policemen go after a mysterious killer. When the job is done, the killer proves to be able to return again and again. Having put his teeth in the case, investigator Locke thinks to have found a way to stop the killings.

So far the film is an alright thriller with some action. Towards the end the director felt the need to explain the story and put some drama in it, the result of which is pretty annoying.

Not bad, but certainly not very good. You better do not know too much of the story, otherwise the film will be even less interesting.

Extinction – Ben Young (2018)

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Peter lives in a near future and has apocalyptic nightmares. As you can see on the cover and judge from the title, aliens come to make mankind extinct.

The film has a good tension when Peter and his family are hunted by strange creatures. During their attempt to escape, some obligatory drama is presented. Then comes a somewhat unexpected plot twist which is fairly interesting.

What is less interesting, is that the film becomes very explanatory in the second half all which is laid on a bit too thickly in the end making “Extinction” but an alright film.

Dark (season 1 and 2) – Baran bo Odar & Jantje Friese (2017/9)

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I do not have much luck with films on Netflix, especially not “Netflix original” films. This “Netflix original” series are excellent though.

In spite of the English title, “Dark” is spoken in German. The first season starts with the mysterious disappearance of a boy. We learn that 33 years before something quite similar happened.

Initially there are some (torture) horror elements which are quite unnecessary and do not really have a function in the story either. I guess it is to raise an atmosphere in which the ‘bad guy’ can be pinpointed so that the viewer can be put on the wrong foot later on. Especially the first season is moody and fairly dark. The mystery that surrounds the village of Winden with its nuclear power plant slowly becomes clear. From then on, and particularly in the second season, this red thread is constantly twisted and turned.

The characters of the series get new faces often, which in some way makes clear what is going on and makes you ponder the underlying idea of the series. Scenes go from surprising to unlikely, but the atmosphere remains very strong. There is a minimalist soundtrack that consists mostly of just low noises and drones. Here and there is a scene with wonderfully surprising use of music.

The second series mostly stretches what we already know and at the end a new angle to the story is given with a massive cliffhanger. Hopefully the series will not be milked out into a seven season series…

Try to not read too much about the series before watching it. It is enough to know that they are dark, slow, minimalist, surreal and pretty good.

Tau – Federico D’Alessandro (2018)

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Again a Netflix original which is alright, but not really good.

After being kidnapped Julia finds herself in a cell which proves to be part of a high-tech house in which she is kept for testing. The Tau from the title is the AI system that runs the house for its master and simultaneously the system that needs to be improved by investigating the human brain.

In the beginning the film suggests becoming one of these torture horrors, but fortunately this is not the case. The director has some amusing findings, but also less so, regarding the high-tech house. Tau communicates with its master Alex, but only when Julia manages to communicate with it, a mildly interesting situation occurs in which Tau is a rather child-like AI system that likes music and poetry. Of course Julia is going to try to use that to get out of her situation.

Like I said, the film is alright, but not really good. The stages look good, the story is alright. I am going to have to find a way to find actually good films on Netflix…

Mute – Duncan Jones (2018)

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I actually wanted to watch some sort of fast action film, but instead I got a drama with some thriller and action elements playing in the future.

The setting seems to be Berlin from before the wall, but then in the future. Barman Leo falls in love with a colleague, but then she disappears. Trying to find out what happened to her, Leo lands in the world of organised crime.

“Mute” has got some great stages and weird scenes reminding of the films of Terry Gilliam and the like. Then there is some not-too-strong Hollywood action and ‘mystery’ and a very weak story.

IMDB.com currently has the film at 5.4 which does not do justice some to good findings and great scenes, but overall I must say that once again this Netflix film is alright, but not really good.

Angel Heart – Alan Parker (1987)

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A young and not too convincing Mickey Rourke as private detective is hired by the nicely creepy Robert the Niro to find out if a certain man is dead or alive.

The film unfolds as a descent, gloomy thriller in which Harry Angel (Rourke) slowly walks into a swamp of black American culture with first music and later Voodoo.

This works just fine until the very weak end in which Satanism is dragged in and the film has its obligatory ‘surprise’ final. The last third pretty much kills what started off nicely.

Crying Freeman – Christope Gans (1995)

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I thought that I bought some hip action film as a ‘spare film’, but only when I put it on, I noticed that it was directed by Gans who made some more descent films.

The freeman from the title is a killer for the Chinese maffia. When a woman sees him working, she is supposed to be killed too, but the freeman has second thoughts.

Then we jump forward to a feud between Japanese and Chinese maffia and the freeman’s mythical reputation. The film being based on a comic gives it a somewhat ‘poetical vibe’.

What really adds to the atmosphere are the slow, stretched scenes with 1990’ies synth music, very moody. The scenes are often dark. There are some weaker scenes, but overall I found “Crying Freeman” unexpectedly moody with here and there a violent shootout.

Under The Silver Lake – David Robert Mitchell (2018)

The shallow lives of rich Hollywood kids circles around fast sex and elaborate parties providing the director the opportunity for lots of sex and nudity. Then the main character, Sam, goes to find a neighbor that disappeared and stumbles into a puzzle leading to some sort of mystery which is equally shallow.

The film is pretty awful. If it was the director’s idea to show the shallowness of this type of living, he succeeded. Did he want to make a mystery thriller for adolescents he failed, at least, to me by and long no adolescent anymore.

Better leave this one on the (virtual) shelf.

Shadow Conspiracy – Georges P. Cosmatos (1997)

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A typical, yet descent, spy action thriller for its time.

Bobby Bishop (Charlie Sheen) is a rapidly rising star in American politics. Under the tutelary of Jacob Conrad (Donald Sutherland) he became senator and special adviser of the president.

Then suddenly he becomes the subject of a violent hunt. Chased by a contract killer and later all federal forces, Bishop tries to figure out who is behind it all.

Willard – Glen Morgan (2003)

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The film starts in a promising way. After the amusing (but rather long) opening credits, the first scenes suggest that this will be a weird and gloomy comedy reminding of the films of Jeunet.

Willard from the title is a nerdy man living with his elderly mother and working for an asshole boss who now runs the company that Willard’s father founded. He grows a friendship with the rats in his basement. A white rat he calls “Socrates” who becomes his only friend. A big, grey rat is (Big) Ben.

The concept soon runs off to silly, even childish scenes with rat training and eventually Willard terrorizing his boss with his rats. Then Ben starts to turn against Willard. In big steps the film runs away from what I like and it turns out to be quite awful. The stars below are mostly for the first 10 minutes.