There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2019 Netflix Halloween Countdown
For my third annual Netflix Halloween Countdown, I will once again be watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will be including an up-to-date table that ranks these movies from best to worst. If you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit, by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
When she was a child, Charlotte (Allison Williams) was a prodigy on the cello. She was truly gifted and earned her place in a special school for talented young cellists such as herself. The school only accepts the best of the best, and the school is extremely influential in the musical community. The opportunity is truly one-in-a-million, but it was all ripped out from under her when her mother got sick.
Charlotte left the school to care for her mother. Thus, Anton (Steven Weber), the man who runs the school, needed to find a new student, which brought him to Lizzie (Logan Browning). For all intents and purposes, Lizzie took Charlotte's spot. This was all many years ago, and Charlotte had an obligation to her mother, but now that her mother has passed away, Charlotte is looking to reconnect with Anton and to finally meet Lizzie after all these years. However, when they meet, Lizzie starts to develop symptoms of a deadly plague that has recently been devastating Shanghai.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Antagonist (+4pts)
Act One (-4pts)
Charlotte & Lizzie (+5pts)
The Perfection (-4pts)
Pro: The Antagonist (+4pts)
Some may find this confusing, but I liked the fluid nature of who the antagonist of this story was. If you split this movie into three acts, it seemed that each act had a different antagonist. At first, this felt a little confusing. However, the more I think about this story, the more I like this aspect of it.
People are complicated. No one is purely good, and no one is purely evil, although some are certainly more good or evil than others. This story definitely plays with that idea, and the changing antagonists consistently added new layers to this story. This story takes you, the viewer, on a roller-coaster of opinion regarding its main characters. The writers continue to play with what characters they wanted the viewers to like and dislike at various points in the movie. It was almost like they challenged themselves to see if they could make the viewer completely flip in their opinion of a character, then they tried to do that as much as possible. They did a really good job with this, and it made the story a lot more compelling.
Con: Act One (-4pts)
I thought the first act of this movie was extremely predictable. This was partly due to the fact that the trailer gives the entire thing away, but was also partly due to knowing what kind of movie I was watching. In this kind of movie, you expect plot twists and big reveals. With that in mind, when a certain character acted suspiciously, it was easy to see what that character was up to.
This made the flashback sequence pretty annoying. At the end of act one, after the first reveal or plot twist (or whatever you want to call it), there was a flashback sequence that literally rewinds the movie back to the beginning. It then shows you some things that happened off-screen before. These were things that you either already assumed had happened, or things that you did not need to have seen. It gave me the impression that the filmmakers thought they were more clever than they actually were. The flashback sequence happened in an almost "I bet you did not see that coming" sort of way, but yes, yes I did. This made it feel like a waste of time, and if you are a filmmaker and want moments like this to work, I suggest not giving them away in the trailer (just a thought).
Pro: Charlotte & Lizzie (+5pts)
I enjoyed the dynamic between these two characters. Charlotte was jealous of the life that Lizzie got, because it was the one that fate took from her when her mother got sick. Lizzie remembers first hearing Charlotte play when she was a girl, and has idolized her ever since. From there, the two characters go on a wild ride.
From Lizzie getting sick, to the roller-coaster of reveals that came after that, these two characters go through a lot during this movie. Lizzie got much more of a character change than Charlotte, but both turned into very different characters than they were at the beginning of this story, and both characters played a huge part in the other's story arc. At times, the characters were friends. At other times, they were enemies. They were two sides of the same coin, and this made it interesting to watch how their stories intertwined, like a couple strands of Twizzlers being twirled into one another to create a whole piece.
Con: Flashbacks (-5pts)
The almost fluid nature of who the antagonist was, was interesting on one hand. However, with the changing antagonist came a change in the direction of the story. It felt like there were three distinct sections to this story, which were all fine, but the transitions between these sections made the movie feel somewhat incoherent. At the end of act one, and then again at the end of act two, there was a flashback sequence that literally rewinded to show the viewer some things that happened off screen earlier in the story. If the filmmakers got rid of these flashback sequences and just showed everything on-screen chronologically, it would have made the movie flow a lot more naturally, and would have felt like a much more coherent story.
Pro: Unpredictable (+5pts)
The story was one that I really was unable to predict. The characters in this story had some crazy experiences, and after act one, I saw almost none of it coming. Acts two and three, were so different than what the trailer suggested this movie would be about, and this let me go into these acts with no expectations. This movie looked like it was going to be a horror. Instead it was a very eventful mystery, with elements of horror sprinkled throughout. As the movie was progressing through the first act, I thought it was going to be a very predictable, generic movie and I was very glad to be proven wrong. Instead, it kept surprising me, right up until the last shot of the movie.
Con: The Perfection (-4pts)
The Perfection was focused heavily on characters playing, and perfecting, the cello. This was fine, but I thought the cello playing itself got a little too much focus, and did not feel important enough, given what the characters of the story were going through. These characters endured a lot, and for what? Being able to play the cello? Playing the cello was Charlotte's passion, and playing the cello was Lizzie's entire life. Without it, both characters felt like they had nothing, and that is something that I had trouble relating to.
Charlotte was jealous of Lizzie's fame? I am willing to bet that 99% of the people who watch this movie could not name one cellist, so it is hard to buy into Charlotte's jealousy. It was also equally hard to buy into Anton's methods, because they were so severe, and it is hard to think that someone would be willing to go to such extremes over playing cello. This is not to say, by any stretch of the imagination, that I think that playing cello is easy, or unimpressive. Rather, I felt like there was a disconnect between these characters actions, and the passion that drove them to those actions. I just find it hard to believe that even the most passionate, obsessed cello players would think that any of the characters' actions were justified. Except for maybe Lizzie, I would be pissed off if I were Lizzie.
Grade: C+ (76pts)
I watched the trailer for this movie, and while it had a premise that interested me, the trailer left me disappointed. I felt like it gave away way too much. The first act of the story is about Charlotte meeting Lizzie, and setting up the characters’ relationship with one another. While the trailer definitely gave away the first act of the movie, making it very predictable, the story went into fresh territory for the second two acts.
One of the movie’s strengths was its ability to treat the role of the antagonist as a fluid thing. The antagonist of this story changes with each act, which made the story a lot more interesting, as it always felt like there was more to uncover. Another strength was the compelling dynamic between its two lead characters, and the unpredictable nature of their story. One of the movie’s weaknesses, I thought, was the filmmakers use of flashbacks, which made the movie feel somewhat incoherent as it transitioned between acts. Another weakness was the disconnect between the characters’ passion, and their actions, which made the characters hard to relate to. The movie had its strengths and weaknesses, which mostly canceled each other out, in my opinion, but I got some mild enjoyment out of the movie while it was on.
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