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Chrichtonsworld Reviews COMING SOON / Brief thoughts / mini reviews The Pope's Exorcist, Scream VI, Champions, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Run Sweetheart Run, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Evil Dead Rise, Invitation to a Murder, Mafia Mamma, Dungeons & Dragons: honor among Thieves, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The vidiot from UHF, The Invitation, Army of Darkness, The Mother, Sisu, To Catch a Killer, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Stargate, Encino Man, Avatar: The Way of the Water, A House on the Bayou, Robots, The Infernal Machine, The Canonball Run, American Animals, Air, Possessor, Hypnotic, About my Father, Knights of the Zodiac, Orphan: First Kill, The Blackening, The Last Voyage of the Demeter, The Boogeyman, No One Will Save You, Heist 88, Strays, Talk to Me and A Haunting in Venice.

Listed here are titles I have seen lately but have not been able to write reviews for. It is my intention to write full reviews at my earliest convenience. But for the time being, I will share my (brief) thoughts on them. On second thought, some of these films definitely don't deserve full reviews, so the thoughts given will be final.

- The Pope's Exorcist (2023)
This film might not offer that many surprises, but is incredibly entertaining nonetheless because of Russel Crowe's performance. A fine example of what can be accomplished due to sheer acting power!

- Scream VI (2023)
At this point, the Scream films have become parody films in the same vein as the in joke Stab and the Scary Film franchise yet still manages to out some creative spins into the slasher genre. The true terror and dread is gone, but one can't deny that this was a lot of fun.

Also check:

- Champions (2023)
Very effective feel good film with Woody Harrelson. Nothing more, nothing less.

- Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
I get it. This is a parody on biopics. Some jokes really work well and will have you laughing hard. But some of them don't and will suck the life out of you. 

- Run Sweetheart Run (2020)
Ella Balinska proves she can carry films on her own. I was also very impressed how she was able to show the terror inflicted upon her. It's quite odd that this film flew under the radar since it's a neat little horrorfilm.

- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
What is this? Sure Ant-Man is featured in the title but for the rest he seems like a side character in his own film. All focus is on the female characters, in particular, Cassie Lang. I have nothing against the actress. I actually really liked her in Freaky. But not at the expense of Scott Lang. And that is exactly what happens. Above all, the action and spectacle is boring.

- Evil Dead Rise (2023)
When Bruce Campbell claimed this next part in the franchise was going to be awesome, I believed him. Then I saw a YouTube video of a fan being rather angry and was expressing his dismay and disappointment concerning the film after he just had watched it. Bruce mocked him. Something he often does, but usually for fun and to counter the opinion. Unfortunately, this is the first time I have to disagree with him. Evil Dead Rise is atrocious. The first ten minutes are good, but then everything goes downhill. Even reboot Evil Dead (2013) is vastly superior to this crap.

Also check:

- Invitation to a Murder (2023)
Agatha Christie type of murder mystery where Miranda Green (Mischa Barton) becomes a master sleuth in the same vein as Hercule Poirot. I don't know if this is to become a film series but I for one welcome it.

- Mafia Mamma (2023)
Honestly, this doesn't deserve a full review. It's easily one of the worst comedies ever made. The only reason I could stomach this was because of Monica Belluci. 

- Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)
Never played the board game but am familiar with the cartoon which is referenced to in the film. Fun and exciting adventure while it lasts.

- The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
Incredibly generic and average. I kept waiting for this film to display the huge fun factor that is part of this video game franchise. It pops up here and there, but is severely undermined by castrating Mario. He can't do anything for a long time. He was always the one who saved the princess and saved the world. But now, he is a loser who has to be inspired by Princess Peach to go above and beyond. It's utterly ridiculous.

- The vidiot from UHF a.k.a. UHF (1989)
Perhaps some of the jokes and parodies are a little dated. Then again, some of the jokes are ruthless and unapologetic. A wonderful comedy that is superior to the fake biopic.

- The Invitation (2022)
Incredibly pointless and boring vampire film.

- Army of Darkness (1992)
A Sam Raimi classic. This film might feel different compared to the first two Evil Dead films but make no mistake this definitely is the third part in the franchise. Little less horror but still very weird and very fun.

Also check:

- The Mother (2023)
Jennifer Lopez kicking ass a la John Wick? She wished. It's generic and very forgettable.

- Sisu (2023)
From the writer / director who gave us Rare Exports and Big Game, Sisu is a complete disappointment. It starts out well, but then dissolves into a giant boring mess. I can't take anyone seriously who have claimed that this film is like John Wick with Nazi's. It's not. All the action is boring and bland. 

- To Catch a Killer (2023)
Somewhere underneath, there is a strong thriller present. Unfortunately, they have forgotten to put in terror and dread. Instead, you get a drama where none of the characters have any development. Real shame. But for the most part it's decent.

- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
One real terrifying scare is not enough to make this worth your while. The dread and creepiness is completely absent. I'm really starting to wonder whether Guillermo del Toro understands horror.

- Stargate (1994)
Old school science fiction adventure that is quite bold and epic. This started one of my most beloved franchises.

- Encino Man (1992)
Believe it or not. This one is worth it because of Pauly Shore. He is the one who provides the most laughs. That being said, this comedy hasn't aged well. 

- Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
I wasn't really waiting for a sequel to Avatar. I absolutely loved it back when I first saw it in the cinema. How couldn't I? The 3D was beyond what I had experienced before. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the need to watch the sequel in the cinema. Now, after having watched it, I can say that I am a fool. Not only is this sequel better than the original, it actually has turned me into a believer. I was so involved with the characters and the world and didn't want the adventure to end. James Cameron has delivered a true cinematic experience. I can only imagine what the 3D must have been like!

- A House on the Bayou (2021)
Decent enough. But doesn't really scare or terrify you. This almost feels like a lost tale of The Twilight Zone.

- Robots (2023)
I laughed a couple of times. But it soon becomes apparent that the film doesn't delve deep enough into the themes that are touched upon. Especially these days, a more critical look at humans and their humanity would have been welcome.

- The Infernal Machine (2022)
Leaves you guessing for a long time. But it fails to deliver in the end. Guy Pearce is solid as always.

- The Canonball Run (1981)
Old school comedy featuring several actors and celebrities who will make it worth your while. Next to the cars, there are quite a few hot women present that also increase the fun factor.

- American Animals (2018)
Easily one of the most boring and pointless heist films ever made. At first, it seemed quite clever and sophisticated. Only to find out that the heist itself was not as advertised. In fact, it was pretty sad to witness how pathetic the thieves were. Especially in relation to the librarian. 

- Air (2023)
At first, I thought this was going to be a rather dull and predictable film. Then I realized, that Nike was struggling. (In hindsight, this must be a big lie so do take it with a grain of salt.) I had no idea this was the case. It's fun to see Matt Damon's character to lure in Michael Jordan and co so that Nike could turn into the corporate giant of today.

- Possessor (2020)
Total failure. I wasn't invested nor was I impressed with the body horror. The lack of real story and character development is what has me stumped the most. What am I supposed to be getting from this film? Am I supposed to care for the evil assassins who not only murder their targets but at the same time ruin the lives of their loved ones?

Hypnotic (2023)
Might seem similar to Inception, but it's nothing like it. High concept films like these need to be believable to a certain extent. There shouldn't be any doubt in the world that is presented until the story warrants it. Twist and turns are to be expected, but they need to be surprising. Almost everything in this film is predictable to a tee. I was very willing to be taken on a trip only Hypnotic doesn't even try. It's weird to read that this film does seem to be a passion project of writer / director Robert Rodriguez.

About My Father (2023)
When Sebastian Maniscalco tells stories about his wife and father in his stand-up, it's funny. Somehow these stories aren't as delightful on film. For whatever reason, About My Father doesn't go far enough. The comedy is absent, and it's quite clear where the film is going. A giant waste of your time!

Knights of the Zodiac (2023)
I wonder who this is marketed for, since even for action aficionados, this film is immensely average! If the idea was to start a Sain Seya franchise, they failed. Even with the little lore that is talked about, the story is too minimalistic and too generic. There is one saving grace, though. Mackenyu Maeda. He is the son of Sonny Chiba and like his father is an actual martial artist. I hope to see more from him. And yes, Sean Bean dies!

- Orphan: First Kill (2022)
What can this prequel add to events with the major surprise element gone? I was quite sceptical. But as it turns out, Esther has more tricks to show us. It won't wow you, but there is enough there to give you a reasonable viewing experience. 

- The Blackening (2023)

People who are expecting another Scary Movie or Meet the Blacks will be disappointed. They easily could have gone that route. Yet, surprisingly, the film is quite reserved. There are some jokes. But perhaps they were too focused on the mystery elements. For a veteran like me, I pretty much knew what was going on. But I am sure that some people will find the twist amusing. The characters were likeable, I only wished the film had stepped it up a notch by being unpredictable and clever.

-The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)
Premise wise, I was all on board. The setting could and should have been the ideal playground for Dracula to be unleashed on. While the film certainly is very serious it lacks real tension and suspense. The one thing that bugged me about this part of the Dracula story is why he is so reliant on strangers? As I understood it Dracula was very wealthy. Surely, he could have afforded his own ship with minions and blood vessels to make his journey to England a very pleasant one.And let's say that Dracula couldn't buy a ship. Why couldn't he fly? Wasn't he capable of turning into a bat? He could have flown himself with brief brakes to avoid the sun. But ok, whatever. They do give a cause why Dracula is forced to come out of his coffin to prey on the crew. How the crew responds to this should have been the most compelling. And it's dreadfully tedious. While I definitely am not a fan of diversity hires in period films I was willing to overlook this as long as this film was able to give me some terror. It's as predictable and stupid as they come. Sure it's not bad. But that doesn't make it good.

- The Boogeyman (2023)
Another failed attempt. The Boogeyman is THE most known monster out there. He is the one who hides under your bed or in the closet. He is the one your parents always dismiss and claiming that he doesn't exist and is a figment of your imagination. In my opinion this is one of the easiest monsters to make a horror film about. Everybody and their mother have felt the fear when young and all alone in the dark. It's such a basic fear to tap into and somehow the people involved with this film can't seem to portray this fear. It becomes more fun when you treat it like a creature film. But still, it simply lacks the much needed dread to remain compelling.

No One Will Save You (2023)
For the most part, this film will deliver on dread and terror, through clever use of tension and suspense. It's admirable how much is conveyed to you emotionally without too many words. I do think that the film does get a little over the top and messy towards the end. While I have no huge problems with the chosen ending, I don't agree with it. But overall, I did have a good time watching it, so I can recommend this one.

- Heist 88 (2023)
Heist 88 starts out quite good, Courtney B. Vance does a real good job of playing a charming criminal who is capable of coldheartedly shooting you if he deems it warranted. He often looks in a way something is up. So I was counting on him to offer the real surprises. Then events start happening and I kept waiting and waiting and nothing spectacular occurred. In fact the twist was so stupid and insulting, I couldn't believe I actually thought that this was going to be good. I mean the acting is decent and the soundtrack (Lo-fi) was stellar. But the story was disappointing. Especially since the ending is different from the true story. And I don't have problems with changing up the ending but would it have hurt to have some more twists and turns? I would stay clear from this film since it will feel like a waste of your time!

- Strays (2023)
Strays is supposed to be an adult take on those dog films we used to watch as kids. At least, that is what it looks like. The trailer did make it seem it was going to be a fun affair. Unfortunately, Strays is gross and dirty for all the wrong reasons. It's not smart nor clever. Yes, I laughed at some jokes because sometimes there were some funny moments. But for the most part it's boring and repetitive. I read somewhere that this film is pushing limits. No, it's not. Not one bit. Only immature people would think it is. Watch the trailer and then forget about it's existence. Trust me!

- Talk to Me (2023)
Somehow this got touted as the scariest film of the year. How and why? The premise itself is compelling. But everything else is simply not delivering dread or terror. It's like this film is copying certain tropes of those ouija board films and concept ones like It Follows but with the scary elements taken out. It's brutal and violent only never frightening. I was immensely disappointed with this one. Not worth your time. All hype and nothing else! In hindsight, I was very harsh on It Follows, but while that one also was mostly hype its concept is superior.

A Haunting in Venice (2023)
Ouch. I was looking forward to this one since I really enjoyed Death on the Nile. But this one hurt. Sure it had an interesting premise yet I was never truly compelled about them. Red herrings are invented for a reason so why not use them? It's one of the most fun elements in a mystery film especially if everybody in the film except Poirot could be the killer. Apart from the nice visuals and solid acting there is nothing to enjoy. The whole film is a total bore!

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