REVIEW: “UNHINGED” (2020) Solstice Studios

Standard

“UNHINGED” is the first film since Covid shut down theaters in March, that can only be seen at an theater (where open) or Drive-In. It’s not available on VOD or any streaming service and is a decent way to kick-off the return of the in-theater movie-going experience (again, where available). It’s a contemporary horror film that captures the anger and loss of civility that’s become all too commonplace in our society today in every aspect.

Russell Crowe stars as “The Man”.  and the movie begins with Crowe’s character brutally killing his ex-wife and her new lover and burning their house to the ground. And it’s only 4am. His day has just begun as he goes on to ‘run into’  a woman named Rachel (Caren Pistorius) who is just innocently driving her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman), to school and as happens when one is in a rush, she cuts him off. It all starts with the honk of a horn. Then a verbal altercation ensues. The Man tells Rachel she’s going to have a really bad day. And he lives up to that promise. decides to make this the worst day of her life and stalks and attacks her. This even includes preying on her family and friends.

For the next hour, she — and we — are under the menacing spell of this madman in a pickup truck. as we plow through many a ‘wow’ moments and there are, without question, the skillfully crafted car chases. But there is also many scenes, including one at a diner, that are disturbingly violent and scenes where people are not behaving in logical ways or making much sense, this one in particular being one of them. But all is not lost in thrills and I think somewhere along the line it’s loses the sense of what it wanted to be – a thriller suspense film, or a character study and cautionary tale of bad behaviour trying to teach us something about the worst of humanity, or as the ending lines suggest, a more campy fun thriller.

Whichever route works for you, I think some will definitely enjoy ‘Unhinged’ for the ride it does take you on and Crowe’s  performance as the maniacal “Man” is vicious, ugly and totally believable. Again, no matter which way you go,  it will absolutely make you think twice the next time you’re tempted to honk your car horn at someone.

Grade: C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

Review link: Courtesy of Solstice Studios

“UNHINGED” IS OUT NOW IN THEATERS (WHERE OPEN) & DRIVE-INS

“SLOW WEST” ~ REVIEW (2015) A24 FILMS

Standard

slow_west_poster-620x294

Release date: Friday, May 15th, 2015 in the U.S. ~ U.K. release date: Friday, June 26th, 2015

“Go West young man, Go West” – This was the old adage all Westerns were based upon for a time, told to drifting young men back in the day. And “Slow West” is just about that journey ~ with a twist, as it’s no ordinary Western. Trust me on this one.

Starting the film, we follow 16 yr.old Scottish rich boy “Jay Cavendish” (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journey across the old Colorado frontier of 1870s America in search of the girl he loves, “Rose Ross” (Caren Pistorius), who has fled to America with her father, “John Ross” (Rory McCann). As Jay begins his search for what he believes is his true love, he is completely unaware that Rose & her father are wanted, dead or alive, as murderers with huge bounties on their heads. Needless to say this has brought out numerous not so savory bounty hunters, who are all in search of them.

slow west 5

When Jay runs into bounty hunter extraordinaire, “Silas Selleck” (Michael Fassbender) who during an encounter with some soldiers, bails him out of a bad situation then offers his services of protection, for a fee of course, to escort him to where Rose is. As we listen to Silas, who confesses while narrating this quirky oft violent story, that this is really his whole ulterior motive in taking Jay along.

slow west 4

Hot on their trail is another bounty hunter “Payne” (Ben Mendelsohn), along with his group of cold-blooded bounty hunters. As an ex-member of the team, Silas went the lone route after clearly having different ideas on how getting quick cash through delivering bounties should go. Payne is not having any of it, as the he tries to convince Silas to come back to the group so it’s no surprise that both Payne and Silas have different views when it comes to the young man, but Silas still does whatever he can to protect Jay from them and the truth about Rose.
slow west 2

As per usual, Fassbender eats up the screen doing his best “High Plains Drifter” impersonation going even so far as having the ever present cigarillo hanging from the side of his mouth. The chemistry between Smit-McPhee and Fassbender is great, as we watch the pair soon develop a heartfelt, darkly funny, camaraderie that runs to the spine of the film. But don’t mistake this for an yippe-kai-yay uplifting buddy-western horseback ride through the wild west, because this world is filled with dark characters and even bleaker scenarios, but still has enough entertainment value to ensnare you in it. The graphic violence may come off as funny sometimes, but it works for a film taking place in the Old West.

slow west 3
While Slow West may be considered a Western, it also is a nicely done coming-of-age story about Jay becoming a man and Silas learning that there is more to life than living on the road. Jay’s complete naiveness for life in the Old West and though complete opposites, it somehow matches well with Silas’ stone cold attitude. As things move along, Jay’s determination to get to the girl he loves slowly starts to affect Silas. You notice as he starts having this father-son bonding with Jay by teaching him how to shoot a gun and even giving him his first shave. At the same time, Jay shows Silas the beauty of life, so it’s hard to tell which of these men are actually growing up.

The movie comes to a head in a brutal, climactic shootout that brings all the characters together in one final showdown that results in bloodshed and an oh-so-unpredictable death. The only sour point in its conclusion is it’s almost just a tad too neat and tidy. Slow West is definitely a very unique, different type western from those I’ve seen, but it worked. With it’s somewhat fairy tale-ness, witty humor, silly violence, it’s a worthy addition to this genres roots, but with a modern edged tone.

Screening at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Ray Stark Theatre – Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

RATINGS SCALE: A = OSCAR-WORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE; C = AVERAGE; D = NOT RECOMMENDED; F = SKIP IT ENTIRELY (+ OR – GIVES IT AN EDGE UP OR DOWN)