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Brightwood (2022) – Movie Review

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Brightwood (2022) – Movie Review

Brightwood, 2022.

Directed by Dane Elcar.
Starring Dana Berger and Max Woertendyke.

SYNOPSIS:

A couple having relationship troubles find themselves running around in circles after going for a jog at a local beauty spot. 

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There is a nightmarish quality about Dane Elcar’s debut Brightwood that recalls the darkest conceptual anxieties found in the best of classic Twilight Zone episodes. A mind-twisting mix of horror and hellish metaphysical sci-fi, the film plays with nasty metaphors in an assured and poetic manner. 

The mind-mashing movie follows Jen and Dan, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Dan (Max Woertendyke) is seriously hungover after a night drinking too much and getting overly-‘friendly’ with Jen’s colleagues and boss.

Jen (Dana Berger), unsurprisingly, has had enough of her partners’ irresponsible attitude to life, and lets him know in no uncertain terms. The two attempt to hash it out a local beauty spot. After jogging and discussing their various problems they realise that they keep on returning to the same position at the edge of a ‘big pond’ – a lake as Jen points out – with a ‘no swimming’ sign. Any attempt to get out of the loop has no effect, and they find themselves back at the sign again.

The horrible paradox gets even worse when they are chased by a nefarious hooded figure. Essentially trapped in the area, Jen and Dan are forced to work together to try and find a solution. 

Brightwood is an imaginative piece with some neat touches of dark humour. The overall concept of a couple literally going round and round the same terrain is nicely done, and the two leads have a real charm. The setup is strong and the first half hour is particularly good as there is a sense of mystery and weirdness that is well presented. 

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The very nature of the film is partly formulaic by necessity – and some might find that it excessive. However, it is needed to make the more shocking parts of the interactions with the mysterious antagonists stand out even more. 

Personally, I felt that Brightwood is an excellent effort from a filmmaker with a lot of imagination. The script – also written by Elcar – has some amusing lines in it, and the two characters’ relationship is a believable one. The contrast between the duo’s marriage counselling session on the run and the weird riddle of the inescapable woods makes for a curious story. 

It’s a story well worth catching, and the ultra-low budget thriller offers up a welcome slice of dark entertainment. The creative little touches such as Jen’s earphones duplicating where she drops them as the two lap another loop add a dreamlike oddness to the whole. This, plus solid cinematography of the verdant woods and dark lake (definitely not a pond) help to bring out a cool little film. Judging on this alone, it will be interesting to see what Elcar does next.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★  

Robert W Monk

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

 

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Movie Reviews

Bad Newz Movie Review: Vicky Kaushal and Ammy Virk’s hilarious rivalry elevates this laugh riot

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Bad Newz Movie Review: Vicky Kaushal and Ammy Virk’s hilarious rivalry elevates this laugh riot
Story: Saloni Bagga (Triptii Dimri) gets pregnant with twins conceived through a rare phenomenon, heteropaternal superfecundation, which means there are two biological dads. In a hilarious rivalry, the would-be papas compete to win her heart and fatherhood. Whom will she choose?

Review: In the laugh riot that comes after Good Newwz (2019), Saloni Bagga dreams of culinary stardom and resists her mother’s marriage pressure until a whirlwind romance and marriage with Akhil Chaddha (Vicky Kaushal). While she craves career glory, her husband longs for a family, as his carefree attitude creates friction in their relationship. An incident throws her dreams and job into disarray, forcing them to acknowledge their incompatibility. Divorce ensues, and Saloni seeks a fresh start in Mussourie. There, she has a one-night stand with her boss, Gurbir Pannu (Ammy Virk).

Fate throws another curveball: Akhil reappears, and on the same night, things get tangled again. Six weeks later, a bombshell drops—Saloni’s pregnant with twins, and a paternity test reveals both Akhil and Gurbir are fathers! This unexpected twist sets the stage for a side-splitting battle between the two men, each vying for Saloni’s love and a shot at fatherhood.

Two heroes in a comedic duel for the heroine feels like a familiar rom-com setup. The plot might not surprise you, but the film shines in its outrageous humour. While the script and screenplay remain on uneven ground, director Anand Tiwari and writers Tarun Dudeja and Ishita Moitra understand that laughter is the key ingredient. Jokes and one-liners (by Dudeja) pepper the narrative, ensuring you’ll chuckle even after a supposedly serious scene. The film feels light and breezy, with the cast seemingly having a blast themselves.

Highlights include hilarious self-referential jabs at Karan Johar, from Akhil’s (Vicky Kaushal) possessiveness over a Katrina Kaif poster to Gurbir’s deadpan declaration that he’s “no Manmarziyan’s Vicky Kaushal” (referencing another Kaushal rom-com). These playful nods at Bollywood tropes add another layer of amusement and will crack you up.

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The film’s pacing suffers from a rushed first act, as Akhil and Saloni’s romance, marriage, and subsequent split feel underdeveloped. Similarly, Saloni’s fling with Gurbir lacks depth and is unconvincing. While the soundtrack boasts catchy tunes like Raula Raula, Mere Mehboob Mere Sanam, and Jaanam, their rapid-fire placement disrupts the narrative flow. Repetition in comedic situations and a predictable plot further hinder the film, especially in the second half, which feels overstretched.

Vicky Kaushal shines as the self-centred and loud Punjabi who eventually undergoes a satisfying character arc, learning to prioritise Saloni’s dreams. His impeccable comedic timing and energy are matched by Ammy Virk, who holds his own as Gurbir, the other more polished father figure in the chaotic equation. The best scenes are between the duo and their strong chemistry enables the comedy to roll out effectively. Triptii Dimri looks pretty and pulls off emotional scenes but struggles with comedy.

With a hilarious premise and two funny men, this one’s a laugh riot. Even when the plot takes a familiar turn and stretches, the witty dialogues and spot-on comedic timing from the cast ensure you’re consistently entertained.

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Movie review – Twisters

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Movie review – Twisters

I’d rush into a tornado to save Glen Powell. Twisters feels like this year’s Top Gun: Maverick, a crowd-pleasing epic theater experience that feels like a throwback summer blockbuster in the coolest of ways. Much like the latter-mentioned legacy sequel, Twisters supersedes its predecessor in just about every way while bolstering new stars and bringing new thrills. 

Twisters follows tornado trackers Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Javi (Anthony Ramos) who look to test an experimental new tracking system. They come into contact with the charismatic yet reckless Tyler Owens (Glen Powell) and his gang of social-media-driven Tornado wranglers. The film is directed by Lee Isaac Chung, who also directed 2020’s Minari

Powell always thrives in the lovable douchebag role. His character in this movie feels like an evolution of Hangman in Top Gun: Maverick. Side note, Powell would make a good Indiana Jones. A handsome, tall, and gruff nerd who’s likable and charismatic. I especially felt this while watching this year’s Hit Man and Twisters only helped to exemplify it. 

Edgar-Jones shines in her first huge role, bringing loads of heart. The romance between Edgar-Jones and Powell was very push-and-pull in a very fresh way. The characterization in this film also really outdoes its predecessor.

Everyone has much more nuance and depth, reflecting the way movies are made today. I wish Ramos had been given more to do and work with, but he does get some solid emotional beats with Edgar-Jones. It’s also really funny seeing David Cornswet play the exact opposite character of Superman, a corporate shell who doesn’t care about people.

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I already know that country stuff is gonna pop off when this movie gets really popular. But it was a smart market to capitalize on with how popular country music is now. Artists like Beyoncé and Post Malone tapped into the genre and now so has modern Hollywood. 

I attended its premiere in Los Angeles, thanks to 1iota (1IGOATA) for the opportunity. It was so cool to be able to see the premiere set designed to look like it had been through a storm and to get to see all the people who worked on the movie in person. It’s one of those things that reminds you of how cool Hollywood is and can be.

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Movie Reviews

Film Review: 'Oddity' is a Little Chiller That Shows a Lot of Atmospheric Promise – Awards Radar

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Film Review: 'Oddity' is a Little Chiller That Shows a Lot of Atmospheric Promise – Awards Radar
IFC Films

Dread is a great tool for horror. Even if nothing overtly terrifying is happening on screen, if there’s an element of dread on hand, you’re primed for anything. Horror uses it better than any other genre, so a good genre filmmaker can go to town. Oddity is a solid example of this, as a horror movie bathed in dread. It’s nothing like the recently released Longlegs, but then again, what is? Taken on its own, this is an effective little fright flick.

Oddity is the sort of film that works best as a calling card for its director. Beyond that, the atmosphere on display is worthy of praise. The story itself is a bit on the light side, but it winds up coming together in a pretty interesting way. If you like smaller horror films, then this is one to check out, as it delivers far more than it doesn’t.

IFC Films

One year after Dani (Carolyn Bracken) has been brutally murdered at the home in southwestern Ireland she shared with physician Ted Timmis (Gwilym Lee), the latter is still living there. He claims it’s because it’s close to his job at a nearby psychiatric hospital, though others think there’s more to it than that. Ted’s former patient Olin Boole (Tadhg Murphy) has been pegged with the slaying, though again, not everyone thinks that was the case, especially when Olin was savagely killed shortly thereafter. When Dani’s blind twin sister Darcy (also Bracken) shows up on the one year anniversary of the murder, she startles Ted and his girlfriend Yana (Caroline Menton). Darcy is a medium and has a gift for him, one that he’ll wish she had not brought with her.

From here, the supernatural begins to rear its head. Darcy has a wooden mannequin for Ted, which belonged to her and Dani’s mother. He’s not interested, while Yana is hugely put off by her and the doll, but they want to be polite. The longer Dani is around, and the more trance-like she gets, the more scared Yana gets, eventually with very good reason.

IFC Films

The cast lends an effective seriousness to the proceedings, even if no one here outright blew me away. The main trio of Carolyn Bracken, Gwilym Lee, and Caroline Menton anchor things with a quietness that is almost more befitting a drama. Bracken gets to do some interesting things later in the game, while Menton gets to be effectively frightened, but they’re all in service of their director’s vision. In addition to Tadhg Murphy, the supporting cast includes Jonathan French, Joe Rooney, Steve Wall, and more.

Filmmaker Damian Mc Carthy should have a nice future in horror, given his sense of atmosphere. He utilizes dread and some occasionally gnarly visuals to good effect. His direction is ahead of his writing, as the pacing is a bit slow, but it eventually comes together. Oddity lives up to its name, but it does feel longer than it’s under 100 minute running time. Once Mc Carthy tightens things up a bit, his next work will not just be good again, but almost assuredly great. I’m bullish on his talent, that’s for sure. At a certain point, you’re stressed at the horrific possibilities, which is huge within the genre.

Oddity never ascends to the next level, but as a small fright flick with some strong atmosphere, it works. The sense of dread and potential for terror is there, so when Mc Carthy makes another genre effort, I’ll be there. He’s got the goods.

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SCORE: ★★★

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