Thriller Triple Feature – Blu-ray Edition

thriller triple featurePerfect Strangers directed by James Foley:

Rowena (Halle Berry – Catwoman, Monster’s Ball) is a woman who seems to have it going on when suddenly her world crashes down around her. She is a successful investigative journalist who seems to always get her man. There is not a secret that she cannot expose. When the story she is writing about an American Senator (Gordon MacDonald – The Thin Red Line) becomes too hot to handle her paper kills the story. Rowena does not play it that way and quits. Working on her own with her trusty, but a little too dedicated assistant, Miles (Giovanni Ribisi – Cold Mountain, Lost in Translation), Rowena stumbles upon a story with teeth when her childhood friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox – appeared in episodes of The X-Files and Providence), turns up murdered.

Grace seems to have had a link with wealthy and powerful ad man, Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis – Grindhouse, Die Hard). Rowena decides to go undercover at his ad agency to get the inside track on him. It becomes an uncomfortable game of cat-and-mouse between Hill and Rowena with her never knowing who has the upper hand. Despite the danger, Rowena stays in the game in order to the bottom of things.

It almost seems to me that since her well-deserved Oscar win of a few years ago that Halle Berry has suffered through the Nicholas Cage syndrome. It almost seems as if she has forgotten how to choose roles and how to act. This might seem overly harsh to you, but wait until you see this clunker. James Foley’s (Glengarry Glen Ross, Fear) Perfect Stranger starts out with much promise in the thriller genre, but then becomes full of such predictable twists and improbability that it becomes frustrating. If you want a film that will make you think then this is not the one for you. You might end up spending the time scratching your head, but that is about it. The script becomes such a mess that even Sherlock Holmes himself could not unravel the mystery of it.

Berry’s acting does not help matters in that she seems stiff and wooden throughout. It seems as if she has trouble with the tough girl with a past type roles. She is pretty ‘off’ throughout. Her saving grace is that she is pretty. Bruce Willis is, well, Bruce Willis in the film. If you like him then he’s there in all his glory. Giovanni Ribisi is his usual solid self. The film would have been less bearable without his mix of craziness, humour and boundless energy. After watching this film you’ll want to have remained strangers with it.

Special Features:

– Behind the Scenes – Virtual Lives: The Making of Perfect Stranger

 

Closure directed by Dan Reed:

Sometimes it is very interesting to watch an actor/actress portray a character that is very different from that which we are used to seeing them in.  During the 1990s and early 2000s Gillian Anderson was one of the best known television actresses for her role on The X-Files as Special Agent Dana Scully.  Scully was a medical doctor who was a very logical woman of deep faith in God.  Level-headed, intelligent and reserved, we associated Gillian Anderson with the character she played for nine seasons.  After the series ended it is understandable that the actress would want to go in a different direction.  In British director/screenwriter Dan Reed’s film Closure (known as Straightheads over in the UK) she finds that outlet to mixed results.

Being a rich and living in the upper classes of society, Alice (Gillian Anderson) is used to getting what she wants.  Surprisingly what she wants is a blue collar much younger alarm installer.  Adam (Danny Dyer – Greenfingers, Human Traffic) has gone to Alice’s upscale flat to install a high tech alarm video system.  The very efficient Alice comes home to find him asleep on a chair on her balcony.  Nonplussed she, however, does not get mad at him.  Rather she tells him to pour himself a proper drink while she takes a shower.  Adam uses the video system to watch Alice as she prepares to shower.  Afterwards she asks him if he would like to attend a party with her.

This is a posh party taking place at her boss’s country estate.  The blue collar Adam sticks out like a sore thumb.  Alice finds him smoking alone on the grounds.  Together they go into the woods and have sex.  On the way home Alice hits a deer and as Adam is about to end its misery the two are attacked by a violent group of men.  Adam is severely beaten while Alice is brutally raped.

The two are physically and emotionally damaged by what happened to them.  Each has a different response.  Adam becomes fearful and hesitant, very dependent on Alice.  Alice wants vengeance on the men.  A stroke of luck leads to Alice finding out the identity of one of the men who attacked her.  With a single-mindedness and skills taught to her by her father, Alice hatches a plan for revenge on the man who raped her.  Like a puppy dog Adam follows along with her despite his doubts and distaste for what she has planned.

Revenge is a subject that has been examined in many a film.  It is interesting as it is a human emotion most of us have felt and dealt with in our lifetimes.  This film is concerned with vengeance against those who have perpetrated the most heinous of crimes.  It contains plenty of sexuality and brutally violent scenes.  What revenge films do require is a feeling of sympathy towards those who have been wronged or brutalized.  This is sadly lacking in Closure.  Despite the fact that Adam and Alice have been brutalized by depraved types we don’t cheer for them when they put into action their plan for revenge.  This lack of empathy for the victims undermines the success of the film from the very beginning.

Another problem is the acting.  While Gillian Anderson does a good job her co-lead Danny Dyer is a disappointment.  Certain scenes are unintentionally humourous due to his lack of talent.  He has been totally miscast and I left the film wondering if it could have been a success if someone else played Adam.

With its short 76 minute run time Closure doesn’t overstay its welcome.  There is very little fat and it gets to the point very quickly with little lingering.  Still it underwhelms.

 

Wind Chill directed by Gregory Jacobs:

A male (Ashton Holmes – A History of Violence) and female (Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train, The Devil Wears Prada) college students are travelling together home for the winter holidays. The car they are in gets suddenly run off the road by a hit and run. The road, which is a shortcut decided upon by the Guy, is a very deserted stretch of road. With nothing in sight and the weather awful they try to figure out a way out of their predicament. Things become even harder when strange and scary things start happening. It becomes apparent that plenty of people have previously died on that stretch of road and are now coming back to exact revenge on the two.

While most of the film is riddled with horror/thriller cliches there are still moments that make it worth your while. That is mostly due to the second half of the film where things go off in a rather unexpected direction. Director Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL) has been wise enough to allow his two central characters enough time to breathe and grow. Allowing the viewer to be pulled into their stories and what is happening to them.

This is not a modern horror film in any way. It does not rely on gore as its main form of shock or tension. The tension is created through the situation and story. It is more like the old school haunted house films than something like Hostel or Saw. Psychological horror.

 

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