If you’re a horror fan, chances are you’ve heard of William Brent Bell. His disastrous 2012 found-footage gimmick The Devil Inside was nothing but an upsell to a [now defunct] website link showcased how the film’s “story” ended. The Boy (and its sequel) were also terrible but not as offensive as The Devil Inside. Bell has already made a name for himself with that 2012 film, but he’s back, with a vengeance this time around, with Separation. Aptly titled, the film tells the story of comic book artist Jeff Vahn (Rupert Friend), who is in the process of finalizing a divorce from his wife, Maggie (Mamie Gummer), and determining who will get custody of their child, Jenny (Violet McGraw). However, Maggie suddenly dies after being hit by a car, and Jenny’s custody reverts to Jeff. Maggie’s father, Paul (Brian Cox), believes Jeff had something to do with the accident, but more pressing matters are at hand as Maggie’s spirit begins to haunt Jeff and Jenny, with the latter having some spiritual “attachment” with her. And if you’ve seen Bell’s previous films, it’s no different here. Just a dull and dreary “atmospheric horror” picture with some of the worst acting of the year.
Granted, the acting isn’t all bad here. Rupert Friend and Brian Cox manage to hold their own even when the script starts to (quite literally) shit the bed. As of late, Cox has been an expert in playing irredeemable scumbags, and he brilliantly implements the talents he developed from Succession here seamlessly. It doesn’t matter if he pretty much plays the same dickish character as in the popular HBO show; Cox is always entertaining and seems to be the only one that truly cares about whatever film role he landed in, whether good or bad. On the other hand, Friend cannot carry a lead role in any movie. That was apparent in Hitman: Agent 47, but he seems determined to do good in Separation, even if the material is rather hackneyed.
How is it hackneyed, you ask? Well, for starters, it’s not scary. There’s a fairly creepy (if you will) ghost-like figure of a puppet that bends itself à la Pennywise/It that’s somewhat effective, but it’s only featured when Jeff has nightmares. Most of the “scares” happening in the film are inside Jeff (or Jenny’s) mind, which results in a rather weightless horror film. Maggie’s reincarnated spirit is as scary looking like the nightmare fuel wooden puppet in Steve Barron’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, whilst incorporating Udo Kier’s looks from that same film. [Side note: if you want to traumatize the living hell out of children, make them watch that movie]. It’s the only type of comparison I can recall since the film is still highly vivid in my memory, and everything looks so unsettling here. That’s a good thing, though, since the film has some sort of artistic vision.
The problem is: Bell and writers Nick Amadeus and Josh Braun don’t do anything with it to make it interesting in any capacity. Maggie is just…there…and passively haunts Jeff or the babysitter, Samantha (Madeline Brewer). And the more the film progresses, the easier it is to tell how apparent it is that it has absolutely nothing of interest to say about anything. Instead, it needlessly fills its time through tedious sequences in which Jeff has “visions” of “The Darkness,” which will eventually become the inspiration for his next comic, or he’ll try (and fail) to communicate with Maggie’s spirit through an Ayahuasca trip that’s both visually drab and completely unengaging. Heck, a drug this potent merits something truly insane, embracing its dark atmosphere to the fullest extent. Yet Bell never cares about any of that and solely focuses on how the “spirit” quasi-communicates to Jenny instead. But since we don’t spend much time with her, there’s no legitimate emotional connection to her or any of what’s happening in Separation. Oh, poor Jeff, he must fight Maggie’s evil father, who wants to take Jenny away from him, while at the same time worrying about Jenny’s mental state as Maggie’s spirit takes hold of her. If you don’t find that interesting, how about developing a will-they/won’t they relationship between Jeff and Samantha? Feels so 2000’s, right?
It’s also interesting to see how truly cheap the film’s VFX is, which exacerbates, even more, its penchant for early 2000s horror made by large studios. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film’s script were plucked from a list of unproduced movies made around that time that the previously defunct OpenRoad studios decided to…go for it in the hopes that it would revive their business. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Once its “twist” on who murdered Maggie gets revealed, Separation never really recovers. I don’t want to give it away because curious people reading this review may want to experience it for themselves at least once in their lives. So I’ll say this: it’s wild. It’s something you half-expect if you’re paying close attention to it, but it still absolutely makes no sense in the broader context of the picture. There’s something Bell likes to do and does it well, craft some of the worst endings I’ve seen in horror. It’s either non-endings, in the case of The Devil Inside, or ludicrous “revelations” in the case of his The Boy films and Separation. Here’s some food for thought: this entire film is ludicrous.
Separation wants to impress with its “slow atmosphere” and surprising twists. Yet, its twist reveals nothing strictly but turns the film’s serious setting into an unintentional comedy, absolutely deserving of every potential Golden Raspberry it will get. If you want a unique cinematic experience and continue to observe how William Brent Bell destroyed Giallo-like endings with his horror movies whilst seeing good potential squandered in an endless cesspool of…nothing…then Separation might be for you. Otherwise, stay as far away as possible [and from The Adventures of Pinocchio too…yikes.]
Easy To Survive Five Nights At Freddy’s
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Kat Conner Sterling, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson and Matthew Lillard
Directed by: Emma Tammi
Written by: Scott Cawthon, Emma Tammi and Seth Cuddeback
Based on the video game series by: Scott Cawthon
Produced by: Jason Blum and Scott Cawthon
Executive Producers: Bea Sequeira, Russell Binder, Marc Mostman and Christopher H. Warner
Chica and Mr Cupcake from Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal Pictures)
Recently fired and desperate for work so that he can keep custody of Abby, Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But Mike soon discovers that nothing at Freddy’s is what it seems. With the aid of Vanessa, a local police officer, Mike’s nights at Freddy’s will lead him into unexplainable encounters with the supernatural and drag him into the black heart of an unspeakable nightmare.
Movie Review (No Spoilers)
The movie takes its inspiration from the Five Nights At Freddy’s videogame series and the franchise of the same name. The franchise currently consists of a total of 20 video games (10 main games, 6 spin-offs, and 4 troll games), a total of 48 books (3 novel books, 21 anthology books, 8 graphic novels, 5 guidebooks, 3 coloring books, and 8 other books), as well as a horror attraction, Snapchat lenses, this movie, and an ongoing batch of merchandise.
We see Josh Hutcherson and Elizabeth Lail’s play the part of Mike Schmidt and Officer Vanessa Shelly respectively. They played their parts well and their performance definitely contributes to the dramatic effects within the movie. The story was nicely adapted from the narrative in the video games. Being familiar with the video games I expected Five Nights at Freddy’s to be filled to the brim with jump scares. Sadly, the jump scares were quite infrequent and there is definitely a lack of gory scenes, leaving you with the feeling that the animatronics might not be that scary at all. The animatronics were well designed.
The movie successfully delivers a plot twist at the end. The story ends in such a way that you can expect a sequel and I hope that if we get to experience another night at Freddy’s that we get to experience an even greater scare.
I rate this movie a 3 out of 5 based on expectations. As a fan of the game series you will definitely enjoy this because this movie takes a lot of the Five Nights At Freddy’s lore into account with a few variations.
I personally feel the trailer delivers a bit of a scare, however it reveals a little bit too much information about the story. There is a mid-credits scene and a potential secret audio message at the end of the credits. Feel free to stick around.
The Exorcist: Believer Review
The Exorcist Films
The Exorcist (1973)
Regan, a young girl, displays bizarre behaviour after playing with an Ouija board. Chris, her mother and an actress, consults two priests who conclude that Regan is possessed by a demonic entity.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
A priest is tasked with probing the death of another priest who died while exorcising a girl four years ago. However, the latter does not remember the incident and is under the care of a psychiatrist.
The Exorcist III (1990)
Lieutenant Kinderman sets out to investigate a series of brutal murders with the trademark of a serial killer, The Gemini. However, he uncovers disturbing facts which leave him troubled.
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
While doing missionary work in Africa, Father Lankester Merrin comes across a boy who is behaving strangely. Further investigation reveals that he is possessed by an ancient demon.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
Father Lankester Merrin has his first encounter with a demon when a church is excavated from beneath the sand. Soon, he discovers several signs of devil worship inside the church.
The Exorcist: Believer
When his daughter, Angela, and her friend Katherine, show signs of demonic possession, it unleashes a chain of events that forces single father Victor Fielding to confront the nadir of evil. Terrified and desperate, he seeks out Chris MacNeil, the only person alive who’s witnessed anything like it before.
Movie Review (No Spoilers)
The movie doesn’t rush too quickly into the dramatic aspects of the film. It really provides a different feel to that of the predecessors. Olivia O’Neil and Lidya Jewett really brought their A-game and I really appreciated their performance. As always, the possessed voices are always done excellently. There is a treat for longstanding fans of the Exorcist movies with the return of Ellen Burstyn who returns as Chris MacNeil, which was teased in the movie trailer as well. The soundtrack along with the use of strategically placed jump scares contributed to the overall scare, however, most of the massive scares are closer to the end of the movie. I recommend watching the other Exorcist-related movies to really have the background. A lot of effort was done in the make-up, special effects and with the religious elements that have been factored into the movie.
Just a word of caution though, this movie is not for the faint-hearted and sensitive viewers.
There is no post-credits scene at the end, so no need to wait till the end. The official trailer I feel gives away a lot of the movie in terms of some of the plots, so watch perhaps the movie before watching the trailer. I rate this movie a 3.5 out of 5. Really looking forward to future projects in the Exorcist film series but I really hope they can deliver a scary surprise in a future sequel.
Catch it at a cinema near you!
Night Swim | Official Trailer — In Theaters January 5th, 2024
Release Date: 5 January 2024
Director: Bryce McGuire
Writer: Bryce McGuire
Based on: Night Swim, short film by Rod Blackhurst and Bryce McGuire
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production Companies: Atomic Monster and Blumhouse Productions
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle & Gavin Warren
Night Swim Movie Poster (Universal Pictures)
No running. No diving. No lifeguard on duty. No swimming after dark.
Ray Waller, a former major league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, moves into a new home with his concerned wife Eve, teenage daughter Izzy and young son Elliot. Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades Eve that the new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror.
Catch the trailer online now!
Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana Stars Despite Major Fumbles In ‘The Crown’
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD On November 16, 2023, the first instalment of Netflix’s final season of “The Crown” premiered, leaving me...
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire | Official Teaser
In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started – the iconic New York City firehouse...
The Marvels | New Clip — Marvel Entertainment
Carol Danvers gets her powers entangled with those of Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, forcing them to work together to...
Madame Web | Official Trailer — Sony Pictures
Spin-off from Spider-Man centering on a clairvoyant mutant named Madame Web.
The Marvels Going Higher, Further, Faster!
Plot Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme...
Marvel Studios’ Echo | Official Trailer — Disney + and Hulu
Maya Lopez must face her past, reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community...
The Book of Clarence | Official Teaser — LaKeith Stanfield
A down-on-his-luck man struggles to find a better life for his family while fighting to free himself of debt. Captivated...
Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”
Plot Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha,...
‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy
“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic...
Comic Book Movies2 weeks ago
Madame Web | Official Trailer — Sony Pictures
Comedy5 days ago
Netflix’s Crashing Eid Review: Love, Culture, and Differences
Disney +6 days ago
‘Doctor Who: The Star Beast’: Review | A Delightful Cosmic Adventure
Reviews2 weeks ago
‘Four Daughters’ Review: A Spine-Chilling Docu About Trauma and Extremism