“How It Ends” A Netflix Film Reviewed By Case Wright – Some Spoilers


How-it-ends

How It Ends is a horror/thriller from Netflix and if you don’t watch, Netflix will probably make you.  The story begins with Will, an up and coming lawyer who is seeing the ultrasound of his soon to be son with beloved Samantha. Will is sweet, but the least manly man to ever unmanly.  He’s wound tight, nervous, and hyper-insecure.  Will needs to get Sam’s father Tom (Forest Whitaker) to give his blessing so Will and Sam can wed.  Will flies from the greatest city on Earth- Seattle to a totally ok City of Chicago to see Tom.

We meet Tom and his wife.  Tom is everything Sam is not.  Tom was a career Marine, manly, confident, and determined.  During the dinner, Tom does everything, but say to Will- You are a wimpy worthless un-man. Tom’s response is both whiny and defensive.  It’s just all kinds of awful.  Then, the power goes out nationwide with F-22s buzzing around Chicago AND all communications are down as well nationwide.  Tom asks if Will rise to the occasion and road trip to Seattle to find/rescue Sam.

I know, I know… this sounds like Taken et al, but it’s not.  It becomes a Father (in-Law) and Son survival story and we watch Will become a Man.  They leave in Tom’s Cadillac and hit the road to Seattle.  Immediately, they find that they cannot stay on the main roads to get there because rednecks try to steal their car at the first rest stop and then an escaped convict tries to murder them.  This is within the first half hour of this very action packed show and we still don’t know what caused the catastrophe.  We get hints, but it’s not Aliens …. I don’t think.  Frankly, I’m still not totally sure of all of the details of the disaster even now.

They decide to stay off the main roads and team up with a teen who has mechanical skills.  Along the way, people are trying to murder them for gas and supplies.  The teen that goes with them becomes part of Will and Tom tribe for a short time and has to kill to protect her new tribe.  Unfortunately, this is too much for the teenager to accept and she abandons Will and Tom to find her way forward alone.  It’s a very accurate depiction of societal breakdown.  During Katrina, towns setup armed checkpoints to prevent looting and mayhem.  I had friends in Mississippi during Katrina and they did exactly that.  They needed to shut ingress and egress from their communities to survive and they did so.  The communities acted like a tribe would.

Will has to learn how to shoot, drive and shoot, do a chest-tube, read people, give up trust, and murder.  We watch him change from a spineless nerd to a confident leader who will readily kill to protect his tribe.  During Will’s transformation, the tribal bond between Will and Tom becomes as strong as steel.   It’s a story that gets to the very foundation of what family does and what it means to be part of a tribe.  The moment the lights go out, we will go from Facebook likes to being real tribal humans again.

When Will gets to Seattle, it’s heartbreaking.  Seattle is totally destroyed….sniff.  It just gets you. Even the Clink…The Home of my Beloved Seahawks is gone.  THE PAIN, THE PAIN!  It’s like 2015 all over again! Will’s beloved is gone, but she left a note for her coordinates.  Therefore, Will has to go back on the road to find her and save her from whomever. This movie tapped into the essence of family and manliness and what it means to be part of a tribe.

Will finds Sam with a neighbor Randy who is at his mountain lodge getaway.  Randy is the epitome of our current society. He is a wealthy-techie-know-it-all-socially-awkward-creep who thinks that all of his thoughts are facts.  He believes that in this new society he will continue to be on top and he tries to take Sam as his own.  Not so fast, the world has changed- sorry the power was down forever so no more facebook updates for you.  Life has reverted back to a tribe-based system and Randy is left behind literally into dust.

I would recommend this film because it has tremendous suspense and dares to show us what we’ve lost trading our friendships for likes and retweets.  You never really know what caused the disaster because that is not the story.  The story is about the immediate reemergence of tribal life and how it enables people to determine rapidly who is a friend and who is a foe.  In essence, the film challenges us to see a possible positive to this new reality.  People are closer and snakes like Randy are easily identified and remedied for the good of the tribe.  We still survive, but we have to do it as human beings.

 

What Lisa Watched This Morning #189: My Little Girl Is Gone (dir by Ben Meyerson)


Today, I watched My Little Girl Is Gone, which premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network last night.

Why Was I Watching It?

As I stated above, My Little Girl Is Gone actually aired last night.  Usually, I make it a point to watch the latest Lifetime movie as soon as it airs but, last night, I was exhausted.  Seriously, SyFy’s shark week has taken a lot out of me!  So, I set the DVR and I watched it this morning.

Beyond the fact that I’m trying to make room on my DVR (I’ve currently got about 7 hours of recording space still available), I also watched this movie because Lifetime has a history of good kidnapping films.  At its best, Lifetime is about bringing to life everyone’s most basic fears.  I don’t know any mother who wouldn’t be terrified about her child suddenly vanishing.

What Was It About?

It’s about kidnapping and murder and romance and all the rest!

Stephanie (Sarah Lind) is looking forward to a good life.  Not only is she about to make a fortune designing handbags but she’s also engaged to marry the handsome and rich Jameson (Robb Derringer).  Jameson is about to become the stepfather to Stephanie’s daughter, Caitlin (Dylan Raine Woods), and Stephanie is become the stepmother to Jameson’s teenage son, Shane (Braeden Carl).

There’s only a few problems.  For one thing, Stephanie’s ex, Henry (Philip Boyd), doesn’t seem to be too happy about the engagement.  Secondly, Stephanie is getting strange phone calls from someone who is telling her not to marry Jameson and warning that, if she does, her daughter will be abducted.  When Stephanie ignores the caller and marries Jameson, Caitlin promptly vanishes.

Could it be Henry trying to break up Stephanie’s marriage?  Or does Jameson have secrets of his own?

What Worked?

The film’s main mystery was a good one.  Even though the pay-off was a bit disappointing, I was intrigued by who had kidnapped Caitlin and I was also curious about what exactly Jameson was hiding behind his superficial charm.  Dylan Raine Woods and Braeden Carl both gave good and natural performances as the two stepchildren and C.J. Valleroy had some funny moments as Shane’s best friend, Eli.

What Did Not Work?

The mystery was intriguing but the solution sadly wasn’t.  The story’s ultimate villain was a bit too obvious. so it wasn’t really a shock when their true nature was revealed.

As well, it never seemed like there was enough panic when Caitlin disappeared.  Everyone seemed to adjust to her absence pretty easily.  At times, I found myself wondering if the family really wanted her back.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Caitlin handled being kidnapped with cheerfulness and positivity.  If I had been kidnapped at that age, I like to think that I would have handled it as well as Caitlin did.

Lessons Learned

Be careful who you trust.  The handbag business is ruthless af!

Music Video Of The Day: Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (1992, directed by Adam Dubin)


“At first I didn’t even want to play it for the guys. I thought that Metallica could only be the four of us. These are songs about destroying things, head banging, bleeding for the crowd, whatever it is, as long as it wasn’t about chicks and fast cars, even though that’s what we liked. The song was about a girlfriend at the time. It turned out to be a pretty big song.”

— James Hetfield, on Nothing Else Matters

Eventually, Hetfield did play it for the guys and Nothing Else Matters went on to become one of Metallica’s signature songs.  The song may have been inspired by Hetfield’s feelings about being away from his girlfriend while he was on the road but, as Hetfield explained it to Mojo Magazine, “It’s about being on the road, missing someone at home, but it was written in such a way, it connected with so many people, that it wasn’t just about two people, it was about a connection with your higher power, lots of different things.”

The video was directed by Adam Dubin and edited by Sean Fullan and is made up of clips from the 1992 Metallica documentary, A Year And A Half.  Along with the song, the video is best remembered for a scene where Lars Ulrich throws darts at a poster of Kip Winger.  Do you blame him?

For his part, Kip Winger has said about Metallica’s hatred of him, “That is why it’s the great irony that we ended up on that geeky guy’s shirt on Beavis & Butt-head, because Metallica couldn’t play what we play, they couldn’t do it, they literally — technically — couldn’t do it. And I’ll challenge those chumps to that any day of the week, but we could play their music with our hands tied behind our back. And so, I was a little teed off about that, but in the end, none of that shit matters…”

If you say so, Kipster.

26 years after the release of Nothing Else Matters, Metallica is still selling out stadiums worldwide.  And Winger?  Look for them at the closest county fair.

Let’s give the final words to James Hetfield:

“I remember going to the Hells Angels Clubhouse in New York, and they showed me a film that they’d put together of one of the fallen brothers, and they were playing ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ Wow. This means a lot more than me missing my chick, right? This is brotherhood. The army could use this song. It’s pretty powerful.”

Let’s Talk About Nightmare Shark (dir by Griff and Nathan Furst)


Right now, we’re in the middle of SyFy’s Sharknado week.  On Sunday night, SyFy will premiering what they say is going to be The Last Sharknado.  In the days leading up to that moment, they’ve been reshowing all of their classic shark films and premiering a new shark film each night!

Thursday night’s premiere was Nightmare Shark!

Nightmare Shark kind of swam out of nowhere on Thursday and it ended up impressing the Hell out of not only me but almost everyone that I was watching it with.  There’s a neat little twist to Nightmare Shark, one that will be appreciated and loved by anyone who watches SyFy shark films.  In fact, it’s such a wonderful twist that I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet.  At the same time, I really can’t review the movie without revealing the details of the twist.

So, consider this to be your SPOILER WARNING!  If you haven’t seen Nightmare Shark, just take my word for it that it’s a scary and effective SyFy shark film and stop reading.  Because what follows is going to spoil a huge part of the film for you.  Here, I’ll give you a few minutes to navigate away from the page before I continue.

Here’s a picture of a cute kitty that the rest of us can look at while you leave:

Okay, let’s continue.

Shared cinematic universes are all the rage right now.  In fact, SyFy already has one of its own.  Ian Ziering making a cameo appearance in Lavalantula established that both that film and its sequel took place in the same chaotic universe as Sharknado.  Well, Nightmare Shark established a second cinematic universe.

The film itself deals with a group of shark attack survivors who, having been plagued by shark-related nightmares, agree to take part in an experimental drug trial.  What they don’t suspect is that the outwardly benevolent Dr. Novak (Tony Amendola) actually worships a Hawaiian shark god and his plan is to use them and their nightmares as a way to bring the shark out of their dreams and into the real world.  Among the survivors are Jolene (Lulu Jovovich) and Rob (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Gina (Rachele Brooke Smith) and Kaplan (Bobby Campo).  Fans of SyFy shark movies will immediately recognize them as the protagonists of, respectively, Trailer Park Shark and Atomic Shark.

So, there you go.  All three of these films take place in the same universe and personally, I would toss Ghost Shark in there as well.  (The Hawaiian shark god definitely seemed to have a bit in common with the Ghost Shark.)  Just as there’s a Sharknado Cinematic Universe, there’s also a Griff Furst Cinematic Shark Universe.

That was a wonderful Easter egg for all of us longtime fans of SyFy shark week.  Since, with the Sharknado franchise wrapping up, this could be the final shark week, Nightmare Shark also gave us a final chance to spend some time with some of our favorite shark movie protagonists.  Unfortunately, not all of them survive their nightmares.

Compared to the whimsical tone that’s present in most SyFy shark movies, Nightmare Shark was a seriously dark film.  Make no mistake about it, this was definitely a horror film.  In fact, it featured some of the most effective jump scenes that I’ve seen in a SyFy film.  The nightmares were all nicely realized and properly surreal.  The film did a good job of keeping viewers off-balance.  You were never quite sure who was awake or asleep and you spent most of the film looking for little clues at to whether we were seeing the real world or the dream world.  Though the film’s influences were clear — A Nightmare on Elm Street was a big one — Nightmare Shark still did a great job of establishing its own wonderfully twisted identity.  Among the cast, the clear stand-out was Tony Amendola, who was enjoyably sinister as Dr. Novak.

Nightmare Shark was an effective horror film, one that proved that there’s still new twists and scares to found in shark week.

Music Video of the Day: Freeway of Love by Aretha Franklin (1985, directed by ????)


From an episode of Good Times:

“I didn’t know Benjamin Franklin was on the hundred-dollar bill!”

“Who did you think was on it?”

“Aretha Franklin!”

 Of course, Aretha Franklin was never on the hundred-dollar bill but maybe she should have been.  The singer, who earned the title Queen of Soul, was one of the most influential artists of her time.  When she died yesterday at the age of 76, tributes flowed in from other musicians who were proud to say that she was one of the people who had first inspired them to sing.  Aretha Franklin paved the road that so many other artists have followed.

One of her biggest hits was Freeway of Love, which is also today’s music video of the day.  Appropriately, the video was filmed almost entirely in Detroit, the home of Motown.  Portions of the video were also filmed at Doug’s Body Shop in Ferndale, Michigan.

Keep an eye out for Clarence Clemons and his saxophone.

RIP, Aretha Franklin.