Here’s The Trailer For Spies In Disguise


Here’s the trailer for Spies in Disguise, an upcoming animated film that’s going to be released on Christmas!  So, who knows?  If you’re spending the holidays with the family, you may end up having to watch this.  That said, this movie might be kind of fun.  Will Smith getting turned into pigeon definitely has potential.

Here’s the trailer!

Lifetime Film Review: A Daughter’s Plan To Kill (dir by Ian Niles)


So, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Greg (Matt Dallas) has got a nice life and lives in a nice house and he’s got a happy family.  He’s married to Katie (Claire Coffee) and he’s got two teenage children who live at home, Lauren (Lauren DiMario) and Tommy (Liam Obergfoll).  However, Greg also has another teenage daughter out there, Samantha (Jordan Lana Price).  Greg was never in Samantha’s life when she younger so why not make up for lost time by inviting her to come live with him, his wife, and her half-siblings?

I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?

From the minute that Samantha moves in, there are hints that all might not be ideal with the situation.  Samantha is moody and frequently loses her temper.  When Tommy gets his first car, Samantha gets angry and demands to know why she’s never been given a car.  When its pointed out to her that Tommy’s been working hard to earn the car, Samantha accuses Greg and Katie of making her feel like an outsider and, to be honest, she actually does have a point.  I mean, if you’re going to invite someone to come live in your house as a permanent member of the family, maybe don’t make a big deal about how everyone but her is going to get a car.  It’s just common sense.

Meanwhile, all the boys at the high school are fascinated by Samantha, which makes Lauren feel even more insecure than usual.  Samantha alternates between pressuring Lauren to hook up with a shallow jock named Milo (Will Tomi) and trying to drown Lauren in the swimming pool.  “Didn’t any of you see her holding me under the water!?” Lauren demands.  “No,” her friends, “because you were under water.”

Greg’s response is to spoil Samantha, hoping to win her love and maybe some peace.  Katie thinks that Samantha needs some discipline.  As for Samantha …. well, she’s just planning on killing everyone.  Hence, the title of the film.

Let’s talk about that title because I really like it.  A Daughter’s Plan To Kill tells you everything that you need to know about this film but there’s also a wonderfully sordid bluntness about it.  There’s no ambiguity to be found in this title.  This daughter doesn’t have a “secret” or a “hidden past,” or any of that.  No, she has a “plan to kill.”  As a pretty well-organized person myself, I always appreciate someone who has a plan.

Anyway, plotwise, A Daughter’s Plan To Kill is pretty much a standard Lifetime evil family member film.  You know that Samantha’s bad as soon as she shows up and you spend most of the film amazed that no one else seems to have figured it out yet.  That said, the film’s definitely an entertaining example of the genre and Jordan Lana Price seems to be having a lot of fun in the role of Samantha.  Samantha may be evil but she’s evil with just enough style to be entertaining.

Is This The Worst Film Ever?: Right To Believe (dir by Chip Rossetti)


(To be honest, if any film has ever been worthy of being ripped apart and destroyed by the rhetorical fury of the Trashfilm Guru, it’s the one that I’m about to review below.  But I don’t want to force this movie on Ryan so I’ll do my best….)

The 2014 film Right to Believe is currently on Amazon Prime.  The plot description said that it’s about a reporter who is forced to “take a stand for his beliefs.”  Seeing as how the film was distributed by a faith-based production company, I assumed that this would be one of those tribulation films where one man refuses to accept the “mark of the beast,” which is why I watched.  It turned out to be something very different and something much worse.

Tony Morris (Christopher Hunt) is a local reporter who has somehow become the best-known person in his entire town.  Strangers literally walk up to him and say, “Hey, you’re Tony Morris from the paper!”  Tony, however, has been accused of fabricating a quote by the town’s corrupt mayor and, as a result, he’s been pulled off of the “Wilcox Trial” and assigned to write about the upcoming Gay Pride Day celebrations.  Tony’s also a Christian who thinks being gay is a sin.  (Of course, Hunt gives such a stiff performance that, when he first said that he had religious objections to the story, I assumed he was lying just to get out of writing it.)

Markus Fry (Timothy Paul Taylor) is organizing the Gay Pride parade.  He’s a former Catholic who appears to be perpetually hung over and who responds to every disagreement by theatrically burying his face in his hands.  Markus is also a friend of the mayor’s and maybe he can get the mayor to stop trying to ruin Tony’s career which means that Tony could go back to covering …. “THE WILCOX TRIAL!”

(What is the Wilcox Trial?  I have no idea but Tony never stops whining about not being allowed to cover it.)

Together, Tony and Markus solve crimes!

No, actually, they don’t.  Instead, they meet in a coffee shop called Abbey Road.  (Yes, the walls are decorated with posters of the Beatles.)  One would think that Tony could just interview Markus and then write up an impartial story about when the parade is going to be held, why Markus thinks the parade is important, and maybe include a comment or two from the people who Markus says are trying to get the parade canceled.  That’s what most professional journalists would do.  However, Tony is a Christian and his wife, April (Jenn Gotzon Chandler), insists that God wants Tony to interview Markus so that he can show Markus the error of his ways….

Now, at this point, there’s a lot of different directions that the film could go.  It could become a creepy horror film, with Tony and his wife stalking Markus.  It could become a thoughtful discussion about the role of religion in a changing world.  It could become a character study of two men who both have strongly held beliefs.  To be honest, I was half-expecting the film to end with Tony finally coming out and admitting that he was gay himself because, seriously, his reaction to having to interview a gay man was just a bit too overboard.

Here’s the thing, though.  Yes, Tony and April are judgmental, self-righteous, and bigoted.  I mean, they’re portrayed as being so holier-than-thou that they reminded me of Steve and Sarah Newlin, the corrupt televangelists from True Blood.  Unfortunately, the film is totally on their side.  It takes a while for it to sink in because both of them just come across as being absolutely terrible people but, about halfway through this movie, a little light bulb turned on over my head and I said, “Oh My God, we’re supposed to like these people.  What.  The.  Fuck?”

Over the course of three days, Tony and Markus meet in that Beatles-themed coffee shop.  Markus sets up strawmen arguments.  Tony knocks them down.  Markus argues for science.  Tony does the whole, “But who do you think invented gravity?” thing.  Markus cites Kinsey.  Tony yells that Kinsey and Darwin ruined the world.  Markus asks Tony if he thinks the world is flat, because obviously that’s the only possible response that someone could have to someone attacking the theory of evolution.  Finally, Markus talks about being molested by a priest and Tony suggests that Markus look into gay conversion therapy.  At this point, you really want Markus to just punch the living shit out of Tony but instead, Markus thanks Tony for speaking to him respectfully.

But we’re not done yet!  Suddenly, a man pulls a gun in the middle of the coffeeshop and threatens to kill Markus.  Tony talks him out of it.  (If this movie took place in the 50s, Tony would be the segregationist bragging about not being a member of the KKK.)  What’s amazing is that, during the whole scene with the gun, everyone else in the coffeeshop just keeps drinking their coffee as if nothing’s happening.  I mean, it’s not that big of a coffeeshop.

And then Tony is approached by a woman who, because she’s wearing a leather jacket, we’re meant to assume is a lesbian.  She asks about conversion therapy….

I mean, my God!   As I’ve written on this site before, I have a weakness for low-budget, semi-amateur films and I’ve certainly never been the type to dismiss a film just because it has a “faith-based” theme.  But, seriously, Right To Believe is one of the worst and most thoroughly offensive films that I’ve ever seen.  From the terrible acting to the non-existent camera movement to the clumsy script, nothing works from a technical standpoint.  And that’s not even considering the film’s deeply homophobic message.

Being gay is not a sin.  Making a film this bad should be.

Lifetime Film Review: My Wife’s Secret Life (dir by Jason Bourque)


So, let’s say that your husband has cheated on you.

Now, obviously, the easiest thing to say is that you should just dump his ass but reality is always a bit more complicated.  The fact of the matter is that you’ve got two kids with him.  You two share a big suburban home.  He’s got a successful career as an attorney.  You’ve got a successful career of your own.  And he says that he’s sorry.  He says that he’ll never stray again.  Even if you’re not sure that you’ll ever be able to trust him again, you do love him.  So, you say that you forgive him.  You say that you’re giving him a second chance.  But the doubt and the pain still lingers.

What do you do?

How about having a one night stand with a near-stranger?

That’s what Laurel Briggs (Kate Villanova) does at the beginning of My Wife’s Secret Life.  She’s at a business conference.  Oddly, the hotel somehow screwed up her reservation and, as a result, she’s been separated from her colleagues.  She meets a handsome and charming man (Matthew McCaull).  One thing leads to another and Laurel ends up spending the night with this man.  (If you’re wondering why I’m not telling you the man’s name, that’s because he uses several over the course of the film).  That morning, when she leaves his hotel room, she makes it clear that she doesn’t want to see him again.  Laurel just wants to return home to her husband, James (Jason Cermak), and move on with her life.

Of course, this is a Lifetime movie so it’s not going to be that simple.  At first, Laurel’s one night stand doesn’t seem like he’s capable of taking the hint.  He’s the type of guy who shows up at your office unannounced and tries to guilt you into spending the day with him.  Then, eventually, he become the type of stalker who breaks into houses and leaves behind roses and poems by Lord Byron.  Soon, he’s not only stalking Laurel but he’s also pursuing a relationship with Laurel’s sister (Marnie Mahannah).

It turns out that our Lord Byron-obsessed stalker is more than just the typical type of obsessive who regularly shows up in Lifetime movies.  He’s got his own reasons for specifically targeting Laurel and her husband and it turns out that he’ll stop at nothing to accomplish his sinister goals….

Sounds pretty melodramatic, right?  Well, I supposed it is but that’s kind of the point.  I mean, that’s why we watch Lifetime films.  We watch them for the infidelity and the dangerous men who have secrets and the women who make one mistake and then have to spend the entire movie dealing with the consequences.  Enjoying a Lifetime film is all about embracing the melodrama and this is a film that cries out for a hug.  This is a film that celebrates everything that we love about Lifetime.  Director Jason Bourque keeps the action moving at an enjoyably quick pace and he’s aided by a cast who keeps the action grounded in reality.  Villanova and Cermak have exactly the right chemistry to be believable as a couple struggling to keep their marriage alive and Matthew McCaull is a wonderfully magnetic force of chaos and destruction.  It’s an enjoyable film and, since it’s a Lifetime film, it will probably be aired multiple times between now and 2021.  So, keep an eye out for it!

Lifetime Film Review: Amish Abduction (dir by Ali Liebert)


Amish Abduction tells the story of Annie (Sara Canning) and Jacob (Steve Byers).

As you may have guessed from the title (and the trailer, if you watched it), Annie and Jacob are Amish.  They live in a simple home.  They dress modestly.  They ride around in a buggy.  Annie talks about how little she trusts “the English.”  They spend a lot of time working in the fields.  They appaear to be about as Amish as Amish can be.  However, it quickly becomes obvious that Jacob has grown disillusioned with Amish life.  He wants to leave the community and live with the English.  He’s even purchased a phone!  “Look at everything that it can do!” he says in amazement as he stares down at the screen in his palm.  He tries to give Annie a phone as well but Annie has no use for it.  Not yet, anyways….

However, it turns out that Jacob is not merely suffering from a second Rumspringa.  Jacob’s gotten into some serious trouble.  He’s been buying whiskey from one of the English, a redneck who likes to wander around in the Pennsylvania wilderness.  When the redneck starts acting like a jackass, Jacob kills him.  When the police show up at the village and start asking questions, the Amish keep quiet.  They want nothing to do with the outside world.

One morning, Annie wakes up and discovers that Jacob has left during the night.  He’s abandoned his culture, his religion, and his wife.  However, Jacob has taken their son with him.  Jacob is willing to go to court and demand custody.  Annie will have to leave the village and enter the world of the English in order to save her son from his increasingly demented father.

Ah, the Amish.  I have actually lost track of the number of movies that I’ve seen about the Amish.  Films about the Amish always emphasize the idea that the Amish are simple people who reject modern technology and still live the way that their ancestors lived back in the very distant past.  Inevitably, these movies always have at least one scene where an Amish person is amazed by a television or a radio or a phone.

Of course, the truth is far more complicated.  There’s a fascinating documentary called Devil’s Playground, that follows several Amish teens as they go through Rumspringa, which is a time when they can take part in the modern world and decide for themselves whether or not to be baptized into the Amish church or to leave the community.  As that documentary demonstrated, just because the Amish don’t take part in much of modern society, that doesn’t mean that they’re ignorant of it.  Unfortunately, most films take a far more simplistic (and rather condescending) approach to portraying the Amish.

That said, Amish Abduction is one of the better “Amish” films that I’ve seen recently.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that its a 100% accurate but it does mean that, at the very least, it treats its characters as something more than just outsiders to be gawked at.  Sara Canning, in particular, gives a good and heartfelt performance as Annie and the film presents her character and her concerns in a fair and even-handed manner.  She was particularly strong during one scene in which Annie has a nightmare about what it would like to become one of the English.  Amish Abduction may be about the Amish but it’s also about a woman trying to protect the most important thing in her life and who can’t relate to that?

The Tokoloshe: Movie Preview, Review and Trailer


Poster tokoloshe

Technicals:

Director: Jerome Pikwane

Writers: Richard Kunzmann and Jerome Pikwane,

Stars: Petronella Tshuma, Kwande Nkosi, and Dawid Minnaar,

Preview:

Busi, a young destitute woman with dangerously repressed emotions, lands a job as a cleaner at a rundown hospital in the heart of Johannesburg. Desperate for the money so she can bring her younger sister to Johannesburg, she must cope despite the predatory and corrupt hospital manager. When Busi discovers an abandoned young girl in the hospital, who believes she is tormented by a supernatural force, Busi must face her own demons from her past in order to save the child from the abusive monster that pursues them both relentlessly.

 

Review:

Between some of the other horror movies I have watched recently, and this one, South Africa is becoming a haven for independent horror movies (and I meant that in a good way). With mind f**kery and subtle scare tactics, this is one of the best horror movies I have seen this year! There is a good bit of subtitles in this movie, but, they never distract from the movie itself.

Would I Recommend The Tokoloshe?

Absolutely! As soon as you can spend your Bitcoins, Amazon coins, or any other coins you have and watch this movie!

Where can you see it?

The Tokoloshe will be distributed on all video platforms by Uncork’d Entertainment with Evolutionary Films on December 3rd.

Wait, What if  I can’t wait that long to see it?

Well, you’ll have to. But, until then here is the trailer!