Autumn TV Recommendation: Haunted, Season 2 (2019)

The producers (or distributors) of Haunted really know what’s up with the timing of their releases. Last year Season 1 made my Autumn TV recommendation list just in time for Halloween and this year is no different.

Now there’s some discussion on the web about how real the cases are and honestly, I’ve decided I don’t really care. This show is very much my jam and also one of the few things that can freak me the hell out, especially when I’m making tea in the kitchen, home alone. Seriously.

Sure some of the stories are stronger than others but they’re all interesting in their own right. My standouts this season are the tale of the possessed woman dumped in a nursing home by her family (I’d never do this to you, Ma!) and the college students sharing their home with a demon called The Mimic.

There’s also a genuinely heartbreaking story about a young boy forced into ‘gay recovery’ by his church. That one’s particularly difficult to hear and unbelievable (maybe not) that this practice was still going on in the late 80s (maybe even later than that). I’m just happy he grew up and found happiness in New Orleans as an adult.

I definitely recommend this show if you fancy a quick spook injection. It’s genuinely eery and at times quite upsetting for the families retelling their stories. Which is sad but also… intriguing.

What are you watching?

Falling Inn Love, or: See What They Did There?

Free for all month is back thank God. I don’t think I can deal with another 2 hour+ melodrama, even if it does have good costuming and spunky musical numbers. Not for a little while, anyway.

To counterbalance the seriousness/worthiness of last week, I’ve chosen Netflix’s latest romantic offering – and it does exactly what it says in the tin. Lovely.

Falling Inn Love

When city girl Gabriela spontaneously enters a contest and wins a rustic New Zealand inn, she teams up with big-hearted contractor Jake Taylor to fix and flip it.

*Spoilers*

My Review

City gal Gabriela (Milian) is having a time of it. Keen to do well at her job in property development, she’s overlooked constantly by her douchey male counterparts, who – shocker – do not take her seriously at all. Even though she’s got some kick ass environmental ideas that could change the game forever. She’s also struggling with her boyfriend Dean (Bowyer-Chapman), who’s dragging his heels commitment-wise.

Then she’s made redundant and her relationship ultimatum backfires on her. So, one evening, pissed up and feeling melancholy in her PJs, she enters a competition to win a gorgeous little inn in picturesque New Zealand. All she has to do is write a little something about why she should win.

Well, Gab’s something of a dreamer and her piece easily secures her the prize and just like that, she leases out her San Fran apartment and hits the airport. (This movie absolutely taps into my secret fantasy of skipping town and starting over somewhere quaint and peaceful).

Gabriela finally arrives at her destination after a comedy of errors, during which she meets pretty boy Jake (Demos). The pair don’t exactly hit it off right away, Jake is bemused at how unprepared she is for the countryside, while she thinks he’s a smart arse.

When she claps eyes on the Bellbird Valley Farm Inn, she’s gutted to learn how rundown it really is. A shell of its former self and nothing like the glorious property she was promised. It does come with pet goat Gilbert though. And with a little help from her accommodating new friends; including a same-sex cafe owning couple, Norm from the hardware store and the delightful Shelley (Claire Chitham), our Gabs is about to turn it all around.

Jake turns out to be a shit hot handyman too which comes in er, handy when Gabriela reluctantly accepts his help. But could they be falling in(n) love? What do you think?!

Of course there are complications, rival B&B owner Charlotte (Anna Jullienne) wants to get her hands on the inn and have Gabs return to the USA as soon as possible. Meanwhile, she’s scheming to get Dean back in Gabriela’s life to ensure that happens. Which could throw a spanner in the new couple’s blossoming romance, to say the least.

And what of this incredible job she’s just been offered back in San Francisco? Oh it is all such a mess and it’s such a shame when Gabi was doing so well, learning valuable life lessons and making fresh plans! What’s a girl to do?

My Comments

If you’re looking for romantic comedy clichés then, baby you’ve come to the right place. In fact this movie would make the ideal drinking game companion. Suitcase rolling down a hill and getting run over by a car, driven by our romantic lead? Check. Inappropriate footwear resulting in a broken high heel? Check. Reckless but hilarious driving through town for the first time? Yeppers.

Oh, and Jake isn’t a dickhead, he’s actually a widower and therefore twenty times more sympathetic (aka attractive)? Hell yeah.

There’s also a romantic subplot about the previous owner of the inn and a pile of old love letters that helps Jake and Gab on their way to Lurvesville. FIL really reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie and that is its strength in my eyes. I just love them so much. We’re not here for gritty realism after all, this is all about escapism.

Milian is adorable while Demos isn’t exactly hard on the eyeballs, if you like that sort of thing. I love the supporting characters. Gab’s GBFFs Peter and Anaaki bring the lols and the fresh baked goods, while Shelley feels like a woman you’d genuinely go for a pint with.

The scenery too is breathtaking and this is the first Netflix original movie shot entirely on location in NZ, which is cool. Maybe running a B&B is my calling in life too?

Film details:

Starring: Christina Milian, Adam Demos, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
Director: Roger Kumble
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my heroine think of Falling Inn Love? Would she fly half way around the world to give it a makeover or leave it to crumble? Find out here.

Secret Obsession, or: Why Learning Photoshop Could Come in Handy Later

This week’s pick and the last in our fuck-ups month has thrown up A LOT of questions.

Recuperating from trauma, Jennifer remains in danger as she returns to a life she doesn’t remember.

Brenda SongMike VogelDennis Haysbert

*Spoilers galore*

On one hand this film is quite the waste of space and I’ve seen it twice now. On the other, it’s exactly the kind of movie Jill and I enjoy snarking about. It’s pure unadulterated trash and I don’t regret any of it, even if I’m still scratching my head about some quite major plot points.

Jennifer Williams (Song) is hit by a car and injured horribly after she is chased by a mystery psychopath in the rain late one night. Her head injury is so severe that she doesn’t remember much about the night or the last few years of her life. This is a bit of a bummer since she’s just got married to attentive husband Russell (Mike Vogel). Via the power of a well organised photo system and some adorable anecdotes, Russell is able to fill in some of the blanks – and Jen is relieved to learn how happy they were/are.

After a brief stint in the hospital – or maybe not that brief since there’s time for a ‘healing’ montage – Jennifer is released. Russell takes her home to their lovely house in the mountains and everything is perfect. The thing is, it is kind of perfect, with Jennifer’s every want and need taken care of. Odd then that she isn’t quite as relaxed as she should be in her own home (well maybe not) but as we all would, she starts snooping to try and remember anything she can about her own life. Hint: I bet his password is CreepyBastard69.

There are also a couple of additional flies in the perfect life ointment, including sexy Detective Frank Page (Haysbert) who, as a seasoned member of the po-po can smell a rat a mile off. When he questions a couple of witnesses from Jennifer’s bad night, he starts to piece together a worrying picture… There’s no freaking way all is as it seems.

And who’s the (also quite fine) dark-haired bloke who keeps popping up at the police station, hospital, everywhere? The sinister music that plays with his every appearance would have us believe he knows more than he’s letting on about Jennifer’s accident. But what?

Meanwhile, Jen learns her parents were killed in a fire and that she quit her job before the wedding, so the lovebirds can start a family. When she ponders where her friends and her phone are, Russell tells her her phone was lost the night she was attacked but he’ll get her a new one. Later, he reminds her there’s no phone service in the mountains – and that is the exact moment I would have left his sorry arse. You know, if I wasn’t walking painfully on a broken leg, with no money, no car and severe amnesia.

I’ll come back to this later but it soon becomes clear that there’s something rotten about Russell (I clocked it in the first ten minute) and this is only reinforced when he goes after the mysterious dark-haired bloke and kills him. When Jennifer wakes in the night, she witnesses her beau burying something in the garden. Clue, love: he’s not tending to his prize vegetable patch.

I don’t know how many red flags this girl needs but she is vulnerable so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Little by little she witnesses chinks in Russell’s nice guy armor, not least when he has a go at her for not wanting to fuck him, the selfish bitch. It is hard to watch Jennifer be gas lit by this sleazy fuck – and I spent a good deal of time shouting at the screen.

Luckily, Frank is a dog with a bone and he’s busy beavering away behind the scenes, finding out exactly who Russell is. He also uncovers the mystery of what happened to Jennifer’s parents – and to her real husband. Frank, it turns out has a tragic backstory of his own (because of course he does) which makes him even more determined to rescue Jennifer.

There’s a very sad segment in which he carefully picks out a birthday gift for his daughter who went missing years previously. Honestly though, this is meant to add depth to his character but it was cliché and pretty unnecessary. Anywho – both Frank and Jen are now on the same page – all they’ve got to do is find each other, right?

Well, I’ll let you find out how that works out but there aren’t many surprises here. Twitter seems to be awash with people left terrified by this movie but it’s very by the numbers and not very scary. I bloody love dramas about stalkers though, may I also recommend My Teacher, My Obsession?

What doesn’t work for me is how opportunistic Russell is. I mean, *SPOILER* but Russell is the killer and not Jennifer’s husband, just a lowly work colleague with an all-encompassing crush. After killing Jen’s husband he went after the woman herself – only for her to get herself run over. Which opened up a whole new world of opportunity for him. What I don’t get is how quickly he put all the photos together to build a picture of their rich relationship history – those are some skills.

Also, dark-haired dude? His story arc comes to nothing. He’s a witness to the accident but what’s his motivation to follow Jen around and be all suspicious about Russell? He’s not even a friend from their previous lives! I don’t get it at all. (Perhaps my film bud will be able to tell me more).

Also, how long have Jennifer’s parents been lying there dead? Didn’t anyone miss them both?

Brenda Song isn’t terrible and she’s nice to look at but really Dennis Haysbert is the glue. The moral of the story is: trust no man and if you can, go home with the nice blonde nurse instead.

Film details:

Secret Obsession
Year: 2019
Director: Peter Sullivan
IMDB Rating: 4.3/10
My Rating: 2/5

What does my own secret obsession think of this straight to video nightmare? Would she take advantage of its memory loss or bury it six feet under? Find out here.

The Perfection

Ummmmmmmmmm. I have A LOT of thoughts about this movie, though it will be really hard to explain it – because it is one of the weirdest rides I’ve ever been on. I think maybe going into the movie with no idea what you’re in for would be the best way to enjoy it – so maybe hold off this review until you’ve seen it? Your call obviously.

When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte seeks out Elizabeth, the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.

Allison WilliamsLogan Browning

*Spoilers*

Charlotte (Williams) is a supernaturally talented cellist, forced to leave the prestigious Bachoff music academy to become a carer for her terminally-ill mother. When her mum passes away a decade later, Charlotte gets in touch with Anton (Steven Weber), the academy’s director. She’s invited to join him and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman) in Shanghai, where they are selecting their next musical prodigy.

Here she meets Elizabeth Wells (Browning), Anton’s star pupil and Charlotte’s replacement. Lizzie is, of course, an incredible talent and has already achieved enviable international success – but she’s also really cool. The girls hit it off and soon become very close. Very close indeed.

That night they end up in bed and Charlotte admits that Lizzie is the first person she’s ever been with, what with all the caring she’s been doing throughout her adolescence. Lizzie has decided to take some time off from music for once in her life and plans to do some travelling around China. It makes sense that she invites her new friend…

So the girls jump on a rickety old bus into the middle of nowhere, despite the fact that Lizzie is nursing the hangover from hell. Luckily, Charlotte is on hand to administer Ibuprofen and water every four hours.

When the pills don’t make Lizzie feel any better it becomes clear that there’s something very seriously wrong with her…

Honestly, from the bus ride onwards, all bets are off in this truly bonkers, grimy, fucked up masterpiece. I say this with love – the movie is one of the most bizarre I’ve seen in a long time and I loved every trashy moment. Just as you think you’re getting to grips with what the fuck is going on – you’re wrong. So very wrong.

I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say, if you have the instinct that Charlotte can’t be trusted then you’re onto something – or are you? As this whole tale pans out, nobody seems to be who they say there are – least of all Anton and Paloma – and Bachoff might just be a front for something other than nurturing the musical talent of tomorrow.

There are some grisly horror moments that work very well indeed, and are somewhat unexpected – and there’s a really jarring stop-rewind-play plot device that didn’t work for me but adds to the melodramatic tone.

It’s a rip-roaring, crazy, limb flying, stomach churning adventure for which you’re going to have to suspend your disbelief – but hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. That climax though – the last shot is, well, perfection.

WTAF.

Film details:

The Perfection
Year: 2018
Director: Richard Shepard
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store (2017)

A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Joan Cusack

*Minor spoilers*

A real quickie on Brie Larson‘s directorial debut, which appeared on Netflix this weekend. Reuniting Samuel. L with his Captain Marvel co-star, Unicorn Store is as whimsical and abstract as they come.

Kit (Larson) is a woman-child not doing so great. Failing at art school (at least in the eyes of her beloved professor), she finds herself back home, living in her parents’ basement. Her parents are well-meaning enough (played by blog favourite Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford) but are distracted by their new pet project and employee, Kevin (Karan Soni).

Adopt me please, Joan

Channel-hopping one day, Kit stumbles across an ad for a temp agency and decides to join the rat race as a new and improved version of herself. One who dresses appropriately for the office and drinks coffee.

Kit does pretty okay at her new assignment, particularly when her quirky nature catches the attention of her (creepy) boss – but her focus soon shifts onto more magical things when she receives a series of mysterious invitations to a secret location.

Someone didn’t get the memo about Wednesdays

At The Store, Kit meets The Salesman (Jackson) who puts her through a series of tasks to prove she’s ready for the ultimate challenge – to care for a real life unicorn. Yep, I told you it was whimsical.

Kit, you see, has been dreaming of this since she was a child and there’s practically nobody else more qualified for the role. Still she has to prove she can keep it fed and surrounded by all the love she can, which means making sure her relationship with her family is in tip top condition.

When she hires Virgil (Mamoudou Athie) to help her build a unicorn stable, it seems like she might be opening herself up for a different kind of connection but how’s he going to take news of the unicorn?

Virg(il)ing on the ridiculous

While this is sweet enough and I did appreciate it, it’s perhaps just a little bit too cutesy for me. I stan Brie Larson so I was on board with the character of Kit – and I do appreciate a surrealist indie. I really enjoyed Virgil too, a somewhat reluctant partner-in-crime who soon gives himself over to the concept of adventure.

Larson’s increasingly flamboyant wardrobe definitely deserves a mention as does Kit’s assistant Sabrina (Martha MacIsaac), who harbors her own dream – to open an Etsy store selling jewellery shaped like miniature food.

Will Kit get her unicorn – or is all an elaborate con?

US is abstract but really it’s about putting away childish things and accepting adulthood – while still keeping just a little bit of magic back. Which is a cool message and one I personally endorse.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

The Dirt

April is now officially Biopics (or Based on a True Story) month, which I admit I only suggested so I could shoehorn in this movie this weekend. It’s been getting mixed reviews all over the shop so Lord knows what to expect. If nothing else at least it will be debauchery central up in here.

The Dirt (2019)

The story of how Mötley Crüe came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.

Starring: Douglas Booth • Iwan Rheon • Daniel Webber • Machine Gun Kelly

*Minor spoilers*

When a movie more or less begins with a female ejaculation scene (not portrayed nearly enough outside porn), you know you’re in for a ride. Whether it’s a good one or not is for you to decide for yourself though.

This is the rags-to-riches tale of how Mötley Crüe came to be pretty much the most rock n’ roll band ever to have lived (after S Club, obviously).

We begin with the metaphorical birth of Nicky Sixx (played as an adult by pretty boy Douglas Booth) – born into the world as Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. Barely a teenager, sick of his mother and done with an endless parade of deadbeat step-dads, he frames her for assault and takes off on his own, stopping in only to officially change his name forever and burn Frank’s ID.

Sofa-hopping and just about getting by with his current band Sister, one night he meets a fan in the form of drummer Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly). The pair soon form a new band (and friendship) – and recruit surly lead-guitarist Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and lead-singer Vince Neil (played superbly by Daniel Webber).

Beetlejuice’s new look was pretty well received

Tommy Lee – in contrast to Nicky – comes from a harmonious home, supported in his creative endeavours by happily married parents. This leads him on a quest to recreate their whirlwind magic for himself, which explains the multiple marriages in his history (no shade).

Mick meanwhile, is hiding a secret health condition which is slowing him down big time, while Vince is the charismatic front-man with the world (and all its babes) at his feet. As the band sign to a label and begin to take the world seriously by storm, their trouble really begins – and I can’t imagine being able to resist half the temptations afforded to them myself.

This scene is pants

In short drugs, booze and broads are the order of the day but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?!

You can kind of imagine most of it but key moments include the 1984 vehicular manslaughter of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle (Max Milner) at the hands of a drunk driving Vince (and subsequent super lenient jail time), touring with Ozzy Osbourne (Tony Cavalero) and the near-death of Nicky Sixx by heroine overdose.

Tommy loses the love of his life Heather Locklear (Rebekah Graf) because he can’t keep his T-bone in the pantry – and Mick finally has hip surgery. There’s rehab, there are arguments and relapse – and there’s a life-altering event in Vince’s life that is even more prolific than the car accident.

The question is, after everything they’ve been through can our rockers pull it together and see it through to the end – or will they burn out like the brightest star?

That shit is bandanas

The Dirt is entertaining, I’ll give it that. I liked the brief time we spent with Ozzy who I think was cast really well. I know for a fact I was here for those infamous rock n’ roll shenanigans and watching him licking up his own piss and snorting ants was fucking disgusting but also the kind of wildness I expected.

However, while there are loads of sex and drug scenes, it didn’t go quite as far as I wanted. I *think* in some ways it’s because of the casting of the band. While Machine Gun Kelly is a pretty solid Tommy Lee, he makes the character seem almost wholesome. And Nicky is positively baby faced. I don’t buy them as seedy adults, I’m sorry.

I hardly know anything about the band apart from Tommy & Pammy’s sex tape – and the fact my horrible ex really fucking liked them – so maybe I’m wrong about that. There’s a chance they’re perfectly cast and I just don’t know it but honestly, I don’t think so.

Women do not get a good deal in this movie. They play either mothers or whores (sometimes both simultaneously) and that says a lot about the mindset of the group at the time. I suppose, even though I don’t like this one bit, it’s to be expected.

Always time for a cheeky Nando’s, even when you’re uber famous

I would have liked to know more about the crash if I’m honest and seen more evidence that it played on Vince Neil’s mind at all. From this portrayal it isn’t clear. However, I think he was played beautifully and I felt a lot when bad things happen to his family (even though wife and daughter are incredibly 2D).

I HATE the breaking of the fourth wall though, it’s so overused these days. The interruption every now and again to correct a so-called storyline fact is supposed to be cute but it’s just grating. So yeah, I had fun but that’s about it. It’s quite average really and that’s a shame considering the collection of true characters in the band.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my rock star think of this one? Is she ready to follow it around the globe in a halter neck or would she rather drop it from the label? Find out here, fuckers.

Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

*Minor spoilers*
This is a film I really wanted to love based on its cast and premise. Unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well as it could.

Set in the pretentious and fickle world of art, it centers around a gallery – Haze – run by former punk-rocker, Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo). One evening, lauded art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) attends an exhibition at the gallery with his friend, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who also works there.

Morf is in a relationship with Ed but is deeply unhappy so he starts up with Josephina instead. Around the same time, Josephina returns home to her apartment block to find one of her elderly neighbours dead after a fall. The neighbour, Vetril Dease is a painter and J sneaks into his apartment after the fact to discover a vast collection of brilliant paintings.

On thin ice and recently demoted by her boss Rhodora, this is J’s opportunity to re-balance the scales and score big on the art scene. So she presents herself as Dease’s representative and a post-humous star is born. Unfortunately for Josephina, there’s more to Dease and his work than meets the eye and eery shit kicks off.

Rhodora, obsessed with the paintings, exhibits a small collection immediately and orders J to put the rest in storage. As desire for Dease’s art grows, including massive interest from art curator Gretchen (Toni Collette) and artist Piers (John Malkovich), Rhodora seeks to ensure the rarity of his paintings by hiding most of them away. Sadly this is not done fast enough and one by one our collection of central characters begin to suffer terrible accidents.

Velvet Buzzsaw is a thriller/horror with a supernatural edge. Although it is not as good as I wanted it to be, it is interesting. There are multiple deaths that really go to town creatively and I loved them. There a couple that really spoke to me as they incorporate two of my biggest loves: graffiti and tattoos.

Although this is heralded as a horror and it does explore some overt horror themes, it isn’t that scary. It has a creepy tone that I did enjoy, and all the darkness of Dease’s apartment and paintings is stark in contrast to the bright light surfaces of the gallery interiors.

The whole scene in fact is wonderfully pretentious which I also dig. A little bit of pretension never hurt anyone I always think. It sends up the art world well and there’s a definite tongue-in-cheek dig at the eccentrics who inhabit it. Almost all the film’s characters are the worst – Morf and Josephina absolutely included – but you can kind of respect them for their hunger. Stranger ThingsNatalia Dyer pops up as poor gallery employee Coco who always seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, although this isn’t director Dan Gilroy‘s best work – that would be the mighty Nightcrawler (2014) – I’m still interested to see what he does next.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Maniac

Maniac (2018)

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, a depressed computer, a series of mind-bending simulations and a seemingly predestined shared destiny – what’s not to love?

Honestly, not much. While everyone seemed to be tooting on about this when it first dropped on Netflix, I had a hard time getting past the first few episodes. But I wanted to give it a fair go, given its cast and I’m so glad I did.

I found it to be thoughtful, beautiful, funny and heartbreaking all at once. Like, honestly so profound in places that I thought my own heart might burst out of my chest and jump across the floor.

I don’t know how well I can describe it but Maniac focuses on Owen (Hill) and Annie (Stone), two quite damaged individuals who find themselves part of a new and potentially life-changing drug trial, run by Dr. Muramoto (Rome Kanda) and his colleague, Dr. Azumi Fujito (Sonoya Mizuno).

Both our protagonists have their own battle ahead. Owen Milgrim lives with severe mental health issues. He is also due to testify on behalf of his brother (Jesse Magnussen) in court, after he commits a felony. Increasingly, Owen disconnects from the world and from his family, struggling with suicidal notions.

Annie Landsberg grieves the death of her younger sister in a car accident and is driven to take extreme action to face what’s become of her life since. And so the two find themselves loosely acquainted, both test subjects in Muramoto’s lab. The tests are surreal and immersive, not to be discussed with the other patients but to be dissected at length after the fact.

When Muramoto drops dead suddenly, seemingly an addict of his own experimental drug (and the very pill the subjects have been taking prior to their simulations), Azumi calls in Dr. James Mantleray (Justin Theroux) to take his place. James it seems was one of the founders of the experiment, which is set to address and then fix all the misery of the world.

You didn’t think it would be that simple though, did you? Well of course it isn’t, as the project is plagued with issues. In fact, the only thing that seems sure in this whole trippy scenario (and all the wonderfully vivid simulations) is that Owen and Annie will find themselves together, their lives somehow entwined. Which isn’t supposed to happen.

The rest is up to you but it’s a Technicolor study of loss and life and love and mental anguish. Of accepting your limitations, of taking a leap of faith – of not being ‘normal’ and doing it all anyway. I adored it and by the last episode I actually felt deflated. Maniac has lit up this dreary week and engaged me fully. I want it back.

Have you seen Maniac? What did you think?

TAU

The Blog Collab is back and ready to rock with a Free For All January. Thanks for bearing with us while we took our Christmas break. Both Jill and I were having trouble getting into the festive spirit and agreed we didn’t want to do Christmas movies this time around so we had a rest instead.

Welcome back!

*Minor Spoilers*

TAU (2018)

The premise here is quite neat. ‘Streetwise’ (read: slutty, unlikely to be missed) people are kidnapped by an amoral scientist and harvested for their brains for a ground-breaking, game-changing AI project. When Alex (Ed Skrein) kidnaps Julia (It Follows’ Maika Monroe), he bites off more than he can chew. This girl values her life and she’ll fight hammer and nail to get it back. Fuck you, Alex, you Nicholas Hoult-looking loser.

With the help of the Artificial Intelligence system that runs his space age home – TAU (voiced by Gary Oldman) – and multiple drones/a massive clunky robot, Alex is able to strike fear into Julia. To a point. As our plucky girl realises her value to Alex she begins to negotiate a deal with him – give her back some of her home comforts and eventual freedom, in exchange for her co-operation. For a while it seems a kind of pseudo-harmony could be possible but Alex is under pressure from his investors and is also a cold fish who doesn’t suffer fools, so the pair soon fall out.

Meanwhile, Julia seems to have found another way. She’s found a chink in TAU’s armor and the more time the AI and the girl spend together, the more she works her way beneath it. TAU, you see, appears to be the victim of an abusive domestic situation and Julia can use that. By convincing TAU he’s human like her, and honing in on his love of music/growing curiosity about the world outside, the more she can get him onside. It’s a game of wits and it’s quite sweet. But will Alex notice this and put paid to Julia’s games before she escapes? Or will he use her and then erase her as he has so many before her?

Well, despite the quite charming narrative, this film is not great honestly. It has such potential and I really enjoyed Julia as a character but it doesn’t have quite the oomph I expected. Maika Monroe is one to watch after It Follows and the gloriously trashy The Guest and she’s definitely the stand out here, I just wish she’d had worthy material to work with.

I’m also glad they made the central relationship about Julia and TAU and not Julia and Alex, who frankly was a wasted character. I get that he’s supposed to be a man with his eyes on the prize but we never get anything from him. He’s so 2D it’s offensive and maybe that’s the point, that the creator of such advanced AI would end up being less human than his pet project.

While we’re here though, should such sophisticated Artificial Intelligence be that easy to manipulate? As far as I can see, Alex has one job and if he can’t even keep his home in order…

All in all, not a disaster but not amazing either. Poor old Netflix seems to be in a rut churning out mediocre Sci-fi originals at the moment and I hope that changes soon. I should have chosen Mary Shelley instead (and will in the coming weeks).

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my beloved think of this bad boy? Would she save it from itself or prefer to erase all memory of it? You can find out here, as always.