Archive | October, 2019

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

25 Oct

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Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Every actor needs that one role that’s perfect for them to display their true talents. For Jillian Bell, a comedienne best known for side roles in “22 Jump Street,” “The Night Before,” “Office Christmas Party,” and “Fist Fight,” among others, that role is taking center-stage in the comedy-drama “Brittany Runs a Marathon.” I’ll be honest—I wasn’t rushing to see this film because I’m generally not a fan of Bell’s previous works (she didn’t do a thing for me). But I’m glad I did, because now I’ve seen what she can really do when she’s in a starring role that shows exactly what an impressive actress she is.

She has her usual dry cynical wit that she’s become best known for. But unlike her previous outings in film, I don’t think she’s improvising as much as trusting the material she’s working with. And it’s a truly solid, character-driven screenplay delivered by the film’s director Paul Downs Colaizzo. (This film is also Colaizzo’s debut.) As a result, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” presents an effective coming-of-age story with an excellent performance from a more-than-capable leading lady.

If there’s something more special than a comedy that can make an audience laugh, it’s one that can make them feel. For every time I’m laughing through the film, there was also a moment with harsh truth to it that made me feel for the characters and the situations they were in.

The titular Brittany (Bell) is a mess. She’s a 28-year-old party animal. She’s often sarcastic and bitter and cruel. She’s selfish. She uses humor as a defense mechanism. (I mean, don’t we all, sometimes?) She can be cold. She needs to get her life together. What sets her on this personal journey to better herself is a trip to an inexpensive doctor who will hopefully prescribe her with Adderall. Who knew he’d be the real deal and show concerns for Brittany’s health given that she’s close to morbidly obese?

She of course laughs off the doc’s advice to lose 50 lbs. at first, but soon enough, she does take his words to heart and decides to take up running regularly. Her party-hardy social-media-obsessed roommate Gretchen (Alice Lee) doesn’t take the idea seriously, but luckily, their neighbor, Catherine aka “Money Bags Marge” (Michaela Watkins, one of today’s finest character actors), is a fitness enthusiast…thus, it’s time for Brittany to stop referring to Catherine as “Money Bags Marge” if she’s going to ask for her help.

And help Brittany, Catherine does. Brittany joins her running club, where they both meet Seth (Micah Stock), who is insecure about his being out-of-shape, since his husband is in shape and their kid has that certain children’s energy and Seth wants to get in shape before they adopt a second child. (That way, he can keep up, you see.) Brittany, Catherine, and Seth jog and work together in preparation for running in the New York City Marathon. Can Brittany lose the weight in time and change her life in the process?

Well, yeah—you can guess she does. But it’s not an easy road to walk (or run). Along the way, Brittany learns some difficult realities about herself, the people around her, and the attitudes she’s been giving towards it all. It’s compelling and works effectively. It’s also fun to see other people in her life, such as her brother-in-law Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery of “Get Out”—do I even need to say he’s hilarious in this?) and Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a purposeless millennial who also works with Brittany in the same dog-sitting job (and may also be Brittany’s potential love interest). They help Brittany open her eyes to who she is and the better person she can become, because she is the only true obstacle she has to face in order to change.

There, of course, has to be a clincher—a moment that really shows Brittany at her worst so that she can turn away from the others and truly self-reflect so that she can become a truly better person. And unfortunately, that moment, which occurs at Demetrius’ birthday party where she snaps at an overweight female guest, is my least favorite part of the movie. We’re supposed to see Brittany at the end of her rope before she bounces back and learns the error of her ways, but this scene wasn’t written as strongly as it could have been and it sort of came off as random rather than plausible.

But we still get to root for Brittany at her best after seeing her at her worst, and I’m glad to be rooting for her when (spoiler alert) she does run the marathon, as the title suggests. And much of it is not only thanks to a sharply written script but also to Jillian Bell’s sense of conviction that shows she truly has range as an actress. Brittany has so much baggage, but that doesn’t stop us from rooting for her and caring for her. “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is a pleasant surprise.

Looking Back at 2010s Films: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Oh boy…better call this one a “revised review.” Let’s get this over with.

I don’t know if it was YouTube film critic Chris Stuckmann who originally coined the phrase “Phantom Menacing,” but it stuck with me. It generally means when you’ve hyped yourself up for a film so much that you’re going to enjoy it no matter what, much like how the hype for a certain “Star Wars” movie (I think it was…”Attack of the Clones”) was built up so big that for years, fans were in total denial that it was a bad movie* until they couldn’t lie to themselves any longer.

*sigh*

I Phantom Menace’d myself…with “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”

This was the 2010 film adaptation of the first novel in a young-adult book series called “Percy Jackson & the Olympians,” by Rick Riordan, about a kid (named Percy Jackson) who discovers he’s a demigod (in his case, the son of Poseidon) and goes on many different adventures as Greek mythology meets the modern world.

I LOVED the books! I read the first four all throughout my junior year of high school in my spare time, and the fifth (and final) one in the series was released just when school was ending. (What timing!) They were imaginative, witty, very funny, wildly creative, had great detail in its action, had great memorable characters–I could see a movie play in my head as I read all of these books!

So, when I heard that director Chris Columbus (who directed the first two “Harry Potter” movies) was directing an adaptation of “The Lightning Thief,” I was hyped…HYPED!!!

No way was I going to dislike this movie…not even when I realized the comedic dialogue in the novel were a hell of a lot more funnier than in the movie. (“That was great, GREAT demigod driving!” Who wrote this?)

I waited months to see it, and I was so excited. I finally saw it, and…I had to try and convince my friends that it was good, because I was in straight-up denial because even though I could see a lot of parts in the same spirit as the novel (even if it wasn’t entirely faithful)…and they knew that it was another bland, rushed, watered-down fantasy-adventure alongside “Eragon” and others (and more to come). They knew, and I didn’t see it that way…I didn’t want to, either.

It was still a fast-paced, fun adventure that happened to have the same names as the characters in the stories I loved. I had a feeling that once the sequels were released, people would think differently.

And three years later, in 2013, there was a sequel! An adaptation to the second novel, “The Sea of Monsters.” I went to see it and…it…just…wasn’t…anything special. Everything moved too fast. There wasn’t much room for emotion or background. There were some good, fun parts in it, but overall, it was kind of underwhelming.

And then I thought back to the first movie…

THAT was when I couldn’t lie to myself anymore–the “Percy Jackson” movies just didn’t have the same magic.

And it could have! That’s what frustrates me about it today, looking back.

But the main problem is Percy himself, who’s deeper and more complex (and also funnier) in the novel but is portrayed in the movie as a bland, half-witted teen who hardly does anything on his quest to appease the gods. Even when he decides to rescue his mother from the pits of Hades, his friends have to point out the obvious: that he has no idea what he’s doing. However, Logan Lerman, who can be a pretty good actor, does what he can.

There are some good things in the movie though–back then, they were enough for me to say, “Yeah, this is good.” Uma Thurman’s clearly having fun as Medusa, all the modern parallels to Greek legend are as interesting as in the novel (the Lotus Eater lair disguised as a casino is a great scene–see, that’s what I mean by saying much of the movie is in the same spirit of the books), Steve Coogan’s Hades is both zany and intimidating enough, and this may be a controversial opinion, but…I like this Grover (the satyr friend, played by Brandon T. Jackson) better than the Grover from the books.

But the big problem with the movie that I’m not glad it took me so long to notice–that the Hollywood studio, rather than rely on its source material to make something not only fun and engaging but also deep and compelling and REALLY imaginative…instead opted for a “Harry Potter” knockoff just to try and cash in on what’s popular. (Right down to having the director of the first two “Potter” movies!)

I Phantom Menace’d myself in February 2010, when the decade had just barely started.

I haven’t read the books in a long, long time. I wonder if the library has them…

*That’s really not fair–movies are subjective, and if you like “The Phantom Menace,” more power to you.

Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Last Airbender (2010)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

I’ve been spending too much time these past few months talking about films that I really like from this decade. Obviously, there are a few films that came out in the past 9 years and 9 months that I’ve disliked or flat-out hated.

“The Gallows.” “Movie 43.” “Fant4stic.” “Just Go With It.” “Jack and Jill.” “The Cobbler.” “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “Bachelorette.” “A Good Day to Die Hard.” “Left Behind.” “VHS: Viral.” “Contracted: Phase II.”

But there’s one……….one film that just aggravates me to my core with the very notion that it even exists…..

It’s “Movie 43.”

But “The Last Airbender” is a VERY close second!

Seriously, I hate this movie. I hate it SO much.

And the funny thing is, when I saw “The Last Airbender” on TV (I missed it in theaters–Roger Ebert’s scathing review kept me away from it…so instead, I saw “Twilight: Eclipse” that summer), I just saw it as a standard bad wannabe fantasy epic and reviewed it as such (1 star out of 4). I wasn’t as “offended” by it as many of my friends were….and then, I saw the TV show it was based on–“Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is an incredible show. Imaginative, fun, amusing, creative, awesome, thought-provoking, great storytelling, epic conclusion, all-around fantastic show! I LOVE it!

And then when I saw the film again, which is a live-action adaptation of the first season, that’s when I felt dirty. Like, I felt sick. And to make matters worse, it felt like it was subliminally giving me the finger while I was watching it.

Those who know me know my least favorite movie is “Freddy Got Fingered,” but I can at least give it some credit that it’s so surreal that I can understand its audience. But “The Last Airbender”…I just can’t….I can’t, and I don’t want to.

Where do I begin? Maybe with the obvious problem–it’s a 90-minute recap of the first season of the series. 90 minutes!! How much room does that leave for emotion and character development when you’re trying to unload 20 22-minute episodes into one movie? Very little. The only semblance of heart in this movie comes from the relationship between our antagonist Zuko (Dev Patel) and his uncle General Iroh (Shaun Toub). It’s brief but it is there.

You remember Zuko, right? One of the most complex characters in all of children’s entertainment? Started out as a simple villain but continued as something far more interesting and compelling? The guy you felt the utmost sympathy for by the middle of season 2? The guy who had his whole world shattered when he realized the truth about what he was fighting for and why?

Well, here, we just have some lazy exposition…lots and lots of lazy exposition that’s supposed to make us care for his cinematic counterpart.

That’s really what this movie consists of: explaining the universe and the characters’ journeys without making us get a genuine feel for it all. There is NOTHING in this film that makes me care in the slightest about what ANYBODY is doing in this movie.

The acting isn’t very strong either. I could tell Noah Ringer possessed SOME qualities of our quirky, charismatic, naive protagonist Aang–if only the first takes weren’t always used (I’m just guessing). Nicola Peltz is not Katara nor is Jackson Rathbone Sokka…I don’t care for who they are instead, either.

Actually, looking up the casting for the film, I found out that Peltz was actually cast first and that her billionaire father was a potential investor in the film’s budget (and her audition was “subpar,” according to a crew member), and so they had to base the casting of Sokka on which actor could play her brother. And apparently, Rathbone did well capturing Sokka’s fun, cocky persona in his audition and that’s why he got the part….CAN’T HAVE THAT, NOW, CAN WE??? Yes, it turns out producers felt the humor took away from the story and thus, Sokka was turned into a stiff, humorless jerk. What a crock.

So, great–I don’t care about the story or the characters, and I don’t think the writers, producers, or actors cared about it either. This is terrible. Especially for a fantasy film. Can you imagine if “Star Wars” didn’t balance out its mythos with its humor or its quiet moments or its chilling scene of Luke discovering his aunt and uncle’s charred bodies and realizing what he has to do? You wouldn’t care because there wouldn’t be any heart put into all the hocus-pocus! And that’s “The Last Airbender.”

…But the soundtrack is nice. It’s James Newton Howard–his scores are usually first-rate when the films they accompany aren’t so good. I’ll give the film its soundtrack.

I can’t place all the blame on M. Night Shyamalan…though I am glad we can move on from this horrid experience and recognize him as a good filmmaker again, thanks to movies like The Visit and Split which would come out much later. But at the time, this was the death sentence for Shyamalan–the time when no one wanted to stick up for him for this mess.

You’re still cool, Shyamalan…but never, EVER do this again.

Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Visit (2015)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

“The Visit” was a moderate success, but for M. Night Shyamalan, “moderate” was MUCH better than what he faced with his few previous movies. (Then, over a year later, he would release an even more impressive achievement with “Split”–better than moderate.)

And it was even enough to grant him a nod for the Razzie Redeemer Award, after being nominated for (and winning) a few Razzies for said-few previous movies. (Not that the Razzies are to be taken seriously, anyway.)

I remember, it used to be fun to make fun of Shyamalan. But I never lost faith in him. I mean, this is the same guy who made three of my personal-favorite movies (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs”)–I never even lost faith in him when he made one of my LEAST favorite movies (“The Last Airbender”). Even lesser films like “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” and “The Happening” still showed many signs of a director who kept trying different, inventive things, despite what people were thinking of him. But by the time “After Earth” came around, marketing execs were so nervous about the general public’s opinion of Shyamalan that they didn’t include his name in the trailers.

Thank God it was only a rough patch. Shyamalan wanted to go back to his roots, the times of making his first films (“Praying With Anger” and “Wide Awake”) with so little money and so much faith before he got his big chance with “The Sixth Sense” and even bigger chances since then. So, he came up with a small budget and made a horror film for Blumhouse. That became “The Visit,” and thankfully, it paid off and made everyone interested in Shyamalan again.

I really like “The Visit.” It’s a fun, entertaining horror film that blends terror and comedy really well, probably better than most horror-comedies. I mean, in most horror-comedies, the laughs are there but the scares aren’t very effective–“The Visit” had a great, unique balance. But here, especially in the final act, I’m laughing loudly at what’s going on and yet at the same time I’m genuinely concerned for these two poor kids who just wanted a pleasant visit with their distant grandparents!

I know with these long movie ramblings of Looking Back at 2010s Films, I’ve been giving away endings and analyzing them…I won’t do it here. I didn’t see the twist coming, and nearly everyone in the theater with me upon first viewing didn’t either–I remember hearing everyone gasp loudly, one woman exclaim “Oh no…”, and as for me, when the twist came about, I suddenly felt the world expand around me as everyone was coming together. But even if you DO know the twist, it’s still an entertaining thrill ride–“The Visit” is yet another one of those movies you have to see more than once, which you know I love.

The faux-documentary approach (yes, faux-documentary–NOT found-footage, as everyone labeled it) works…for the most part. It seems like a documentary a young, aspiring filmmaker would make. But the problems with it are that it doesn’t always FEEL like one. The most important reason for that: the video & audio are WAY too good for what these kids supposedly have to film everything. So while I think it would be more effective if it was more realistic in that sense, I still admire the overall spirit of it.

“The Visit” wasn’t a huge success, but it was just what Shyamalan needed at that point in his career. Audiences dug it and critics liked it (well, for the most part–sheesh, Richard Roeper, calm down with the one-star review, will ya!?). And then after “The Visit,” Shyamalan made “Split,” also for Blumhouse, which was so good it certified his status as a filmmaker worth following again.

Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Invitation (2016)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!

Sure, Tanner. Don’t analyze “The VVitch” because it scares the hell out of you. But “The Invitation?” No problem at all. Let’s just do it…

First, an excerpt from my review: “It requires a lot of patience and attention to get to where “The Invitation” ultimately builds up to, and I’ll admit my patience was tried a little with each possible answer they could give us to rising questions (without giving us the actual answers most of the time). But somehow, I knew the answer wouldn’t be as rational as characters would like Will to believe (or the audience to believe, for that matter), so I stayed with it, wondering what would happen, when it would happen, and how it would happen. And as much as I would love to talk about the back half of the film, when everything in the story goes to hell, I will leave it for you to discover, because believe me…it is worth it.”

Screw it, I’m gonna talk about the ending of “The Invitation” now. So, SPOILER ALERT and all that. Here goes…

All throughout the film, there are talks about how pain is optional and can easily be taken away. The hosts of this dinner party are part of a cult that two other guests (whom the others never met before) also belong to. They claim this isn’t a conversion, but it sure feels like one, especially when they bring up uncomfortable subjects that are obviously brought on by the cult’s teachings. They even show a video about the cult which features an onscreen death. But it’s no big deal, they say, because the person’s pain went away with her–but the guests are unnerved, because it’s A FREAKING DEATH ON-CAMERA!

Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is worried the more the night goes on, but when he addresses concerns, there’s always someone there to make them unwarranted. One of the party hosts, Will’s ex-wife Eden, seems happier now that she’s part of the cult, which itself is strange considering the emotional wreck she became after something terrible happened with their son. (But even she has her moments, such as when one of the guests labels her new philosophy about pain as “bullshit” and she slaps him harder than I’ve seen anyone slap anyone even in a comedic film.)

Will has pain inside him because of the incident, and he’s learning to control it and not let it define him or drive him insane. He seems to have a nice relationship with Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who helps him keep his feet on the ground, so it can be argued he’s doing much better than Eden…that is, until the climax, in which it’s painfully clear that she just could not take living with her pain anymore and wanted to take everyone with her…

That brings us to the finale, in which the hosts propose a toast. Even though Will has been proven wrong and was chewed out for his suspicions, he still believes something is terribly wrong. He snaps and takes everyone’s glasses of wine and breaks them all, shouting “DON’T DRINK IT!” Of course, people are arguing with him again, so this might be just another one of those things in which he’s not going to come out looking good…and then one of the cult members attacks! “You’ve ruined it!” she exclaims before lunging at him and scratching him crazily.

This chick was already seen as crazy before (walking around the house naked, for example), so it may not be anything to prove Will was right…but then, it turns out Gina (Michelle Krusiec) has collapsed and died, having drank the wine. Will was right. The wine was poisoned and everyone was meant to drink it and die. The hosts, the guests, everybody–this whole night was not meant to be a conversion for the cult; instead, it was meant to be a mass suicide (or, actually, a mass homicide, since only four of these people were willing to die and they gave the others false pretenses).

This is when everything goes to total sh*t, with the apparent Plan B being to attack and kill all of the guests that resist (so, when we think one of the guests left the party early to go home…I don’t think she’s alive anymore). Thus, we now have a fight to survive, as Will, Kira, and everyone else tries to find a way out of the locked-up mansion before it’s too late. This is what the film was building up to, and by God, did it deliver the goods. This is one tense thrill ride with a ton of suspense and even a lot of drama, when Eden realizes everything she’s done has been for nothing, despite her new husband David reassuring her that they’re doing this for a good cause (to free people of pain…by killing them…).

And then, after Will and Kira and Tommy (Mike Doyle) survive and make it outside, we get…one of the most disturbing final shots I’ve ever seen in any movie! You see, earlier, Will noticed a red lantern hanging over the front of the house, which seemed odd. But now, he and Kira look over the Hollywood Hills and find that there are SEVERAL red lanterns lit at various different houses. Los Angeles is in chaos, with helicopters roaring and sirens escalating. What does this mean? It means that this was not an isolated incident. Other cult members must have been in on the same plan Eden and David tried to pull off, making this a night of death…

That…is incredibly disturbing.

And it made the film all the more memorable and scary. Just when I thought I was getting tired of the buildup “The Invitation” was giving me, it gave me one hell of a payoff that I will never, ever forget.

Looking Back at 2010s Films: The VVitch (2016)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

I can’t bring myself to watch Robert Eggers’ masterful horror film “The Witch” (or “The VVitch” as it’s more commonly labeled) more than once a year. Why? Because it always scares the hell out of me.

No, I’m serious–the first time I watched this film (on DVD and on a small TV screen, no less), I had trouble sleeping that night.

It’s a real slow burn with gloomy atmosphere and many disturbing implications and subtle imageries that just makes the final act all the more terrifying. It’s a good thing I went in as much detail in my original review as I did (without spoiling anything), because that’s really as much energy as I would like to put into describing “The VVitch.”

I even began the review by stating how proud I was of the many terrific horror films that came out in 2016 (many of which I already talked about in this Looking Back series). “The VVitch” came out much sooner than the rest (and was already labeled by critics as the best horror film of the year if not the whole decade), but I waited until late in the year to check it out. Even in my “2016 Review,” I couldn’t argue that “The VVitch” was the best horror film of 2016 because it was the only one that truly got under my skin…but “Hush” was still my favorite simply because it was entertaining. (There’s a difference between “best” and “favorite.”)

See? What new material can I add to my review of “The VVitch” that I didn’t already cover? (I mean, aside from I can only watch it once in a long while…) Well…let’s look to the IMDb Trivia:

-Stephen King was terrified of this film.

-Corn can be seen with signs of ergot, a hallucinogenic fungus that many attribute to real-life stories of possession and witchcraft.

-Most of the film’s dialogue and story were based on writings from the time.

-It is widely believed that a witch cannot recite the entire Lord’s Prayer, which makes it all the more uncomfortable when the two younger siblings are unable to.

Oh boy, I just read one about why the baby was taken in the beginning of the story…that just makes me feel even more unnerved, so I’ll just leave it alone. The scene is scary enough as is.

It’s always nice to know after admiring a film that the writer/director actually did his homework, and that the master of horror himself (King) praised it as a result.

I have nothing else to add here, except I look forward to seeing Eggers’ next film “The Lighthouse” very soon.

My original review for “The VVitch” can be found here: https://smithsverdict.com/2016/12/10/the-witch-2016/

Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Gallows (2015)

22 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films…I didn’t say all the films I look back upon had to be the ones I liked.

I mentioned I’m a supporter of the “found-footage/fake-documentary” angle, but I also mentioned there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it…with that said, I hate “The Gallows.”

Not only does it have the most forced explanations possible for why this film “needed” to be seen through the perspectives of the characters’ video cameras (seriously–it didn’t add a thing), not only is the writing atrocious, not only are we subjected one of the most forced plot progressions ever (for the sake of “twists” that hardly make any sense anyway)…but making Ryan the main character made this one of the most unpleasant experiences I ever had watching a movie. I detested this snot-nosed little pissant from the moment he first appeared on-screen to the moment where he finally gets his comeuppance–in a horror film, that’s a very bad decision!!

OK…let’s TRY to be fair here.

To be fair, none of the other characters are relatable or likable either. Even Reese, the typical bland, shy, charming, awkward teen we’re supposed to sympathize with, isn’t so charming after all. I would give props to the directors for not making him the lead, but…Ryan?? F**king Ryan??? WHY??

OK, enough Ryan-bashing. I did enough of that in my original Smith’s Verdict review already.

I mentioned in my review that I like the idea of a horror story taking place in a school, but I will admit there IS actually something else I like about the film. Switching from camera to camera is a given lately in found-footage movies, but the way they do it here (showing the other camera’s perspective to show what happened EARLIER, when we only heard sounds based on something that may have happened off-camera) is actually mildly effective.

Maybe I’m just jealous of this film. It was made for a small budget, independently, and then New Line Cinema picked it up for distribution, some changes were added, and it was released to theaters. And I don’t mean limited-release. I mean wide-release, multiplex, seen nationwide. That baffles me… I mean, kudos to the filmmakers who obviously had a dream, but…

Screw it, I don’t want to be too mean. And the film was already critically panned, pretty heavily.

Except from Richard Roeper, one of my favorite critics still writing today…you know what, I’m gonna look up his review of “The Gallows”…

“One of the strengths of ‘The Gallows’ is it knows how a cheery, bustling place during the daytime can become a creepy hall of horrors in the dead of night.” …That’s the opening paragraph, and I agree 100%. But let’s keep going…

“This is the kind of movie where you can anticipate the next big shock and it usually arrives right on cue, and yet it still gets you right in the gut.” Well, good for him, but when I “anticipate” the “next big shock,” it’s because I know it’s setting up for a predictable jump-scare, followed by a loud musical sting that shouldn’t even be there if it’s found-footage.

“Even with some plot holes as gaping as the Grand Canyon – OK, as gaping as POT holes in Chicago after the spring thaw – its effectiveness cannot be denied.” I disagree, but that’s the kind of Richard Roeper biting dialogue I’ve always loved.

He goes on to describe the plot and thankfully, he agrees that putting on the same play that still got a student killed years ago is a REALLY stupid idea. But… “This is the first of about 30 stupid decisions made by key characters, but what horror movie DOESN’T feature the leads doing really dumb things?”

Roeper, what are you doing to me, man? I’m starting to agree with your positive review!

“At times it makes no sense for any camera and/or phone to be recording the madness as characters shriek and run and howl and cower and yell at one another, but ‘The Gallows’ stays true to the ‘found-footage’ rule of never once stepping outside the conceit that all of this was recorded by participants in the story.” There are better found-footage movies that have better explanations as to why the cameras are consistently rolling…I can’t get into this one.

OK, so clearly, Roeper liked this movie for the same reasons I did not. (He didn’t even seem to mind Ryan as much as I did.) Film is subjective, and there are no exceptions. it would’ve been easy for Roeper to pretend he didn’t find any sort of entertainment value in this thing, just as it would’ve been just as easy for me to claim I liked it.

I will NEVER like this movie. And if I ever go see its sequel (which is already on-demand at Amazon Prime, last I checked), I’d be doing so kicking and screaming my way in. But if you do…I won’t mind.