Tag Archives: Jenna Ortega

REVIEW: “X” (2022) A24

Paying homage to the slashers of previous decades is nothing new, but director Ti West’s new movie “X” definitely puts a different spin on this one, one that brings to definition a new term for film type: Porn-horror-emdy, as it’s truly a dark comedy, mixed with some of the weirdest horror yet seen, all the while shooting a porn movie.

It’s 1979, and strip-club owner Wayne (Martin Henderson), had gotten a group of friends, and employees, together to shoot a porn film that will make them all famous. There’s Wayne’s girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth), Bobby-Lane (Brittany Snow), and Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), who will star in this one of a kind film as of course, this won’t be just any old porn film. This is going to be a ‘good dirty movie’ as wanna-be serious writer, director, editor, and cinematographer R.J. (Owen Campbell), tells anyone who will listen, and he’s here to prove that it’s possible to do just that. He’s ready to do anything and everything it takes to make it so, and he’s brought along his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), as boom-mic operator. Of course, given that this is the lowest of low budget productions, the cast and crew are all together at a remote farmhouse in backwoods Texas, owned by an really creepy elderly couple who are supposedly unaware of what goings on are to take place. And as predicted, the bodies start dropping.

As the majority of the film revolves around this singular location, an old farm seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Texas, you know it’s just ripe for plenty of slasher turns, what you don’t expect is the who and the why. It helps here that characters are written well, likable and fun. Despite the sleazy-ness of the material they’re attempting to make, they don’t feel shallow or sleazy themselves. They believe in their work and the reasons for making it, and in turn, so do we the audience. While it may have been nice to get a little more depth out of them, they clearly have history and there are things hinted at that never get much development, they’re at least a decent crowd of folks who are fun to be around.

But the direction they take with some of the “horror” late in the movie is off-putting. It’s understandable what they are going for here and it’s point, and trust, the point does come across almost in all the wrong ways. It still doesn’t change how you feel which is unsettled, and grossed out, but not in the right ways, not in the ‘scared’ way. Luckily you have a wonderful kicking-it-back to the 70’s soundtrack, that bounces the film up a beat, along with a great cast doing a really great job. Most especially to take note of here is Brittany Snow, whose turn as a wannabe porn star makes for a hilarious return to horror for the actress, along withJenna Ortega, dubbed the ‘church mouse’, giving us a transforming surprise. Meanwhile, Mescudi does an formidable job as the guy full of bravado, a veteran who fears nothing, even when he should. Still, this is Mia Goth’s movie as she pulls double duty as both the lead character and as house owner Pearl. Even when buried under tons of makeup, her performance comes strongly through.

“X” is by far not a perfect film, and like pretty much all slasher films, there are some characters who exist just to get killed off in predictable fashion, and none of death scenes are horribly scary, but the true fear lies within the point of the film which can also be gag-able as well. Summing it all up, “X” is a trip, but the cast is a blast – the film isn’t as much so. But it’s definitely different.

Grade: C

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Premiere Review Screening: Tuesday, March 15, 2022 ~Courtesy of A24

“X” from A24 is in theaters Friday March 18, 2022

REVIEW: “SCREAM” (2022) Paramount Pictures / Spyglass Media Group

Ring..Ring.. Ring..Ring.. Yes – someone still has a landline and yes, what would “SCREAM” be if they didn’t. I mean they have to follow some traditions and this one is a MUST to have as they can’t deny us, the audience this one major plot point now can they. Well thankfully co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett agree.

The plot is simple and while it’s good to it all keep vague to not spoil it, it’s also exactly what you think it will be with the exception of this time around they’ve brought along with them a new cast of characters. New girls Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), and her older sister Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), as our female leads, essentially taking the spots of Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), they have the same chemistry of not really being close at the beginning. And then Ghostface returns to town proving he can still slash with the best of them, and turns everything upside down.

With her own set of suspects…errr… friends, Tara gets attacked by whomever Ghostface might actually be this time around and that list of new suspects is long. There is Sam’s boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid), along with Tara’s group of school friends, Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison), the twins, Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy-Brown), Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ammar), and Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) – who is none other than Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) son. Combining this new cast along with our old favourites – Gale, Sidney and yes, the now “retired” Dewey Riley (David Arquette), makes this film an absolute blast, with a lot of crisp, smart, but alas also cliched writing, that combines the nostalgia of what has come before with the infusion of fresh talent present here. Now this is how you return to Woodsboro.

SCREAM is a fun, intelligent horror film and the fandom should be quite happy here with it as it draws some good laughs for how the writers nail every piece of the dialogue, along with the film’s ability to recognize not only where it came from, but to play with it along the way. You’re along for the jokes as an audience, while it juggles every one of your expectations when it comes to what is on the screen. And while of course it has cliché galore and some cheese is thrown in, but that is sorta what the DNA of the franchise is notorious for now isn’t it?! Truly, what would a ‘SCREAM’ movie be if your characters didn’t get slashed and still be able to get up and walk around like nothing has ever happened. And that’s also what brings the humour – the quick funny one liners about what people “should” be doing in a horror movie is what made the original well.. so original.

And while the new cast is good and pretty solid in their respective new roles with any one of them being able to be and/or suspected of at one time or another, of being Ghostface. Noting that they remind you of characters of old is to be expected as well, but it is Jenna Ortega who is truly amazing here. She brings the solid teen vibes making being stalked by Ghostface seem realistic. But for all that they bring, it’s hands down the old school cast that brings it hard here. Every one of them brings back not just the memories, but their characters are more solid at this point as well. One can’t help but be entertained by it all.

With tons of slasher kills, some are not for the faint of heart, as they try to outdo each other in this area and while fun, the finale seems almost like they were trying a bit too hard to come up with too many twists and turns that are fairly obvious. But again, it’s mostly just some fun with cliché thrown in adding to the good old time slash – all in all – it’s a ..SCREAM!

Grade: B+

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Review Screening: Tuesday, January 11, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment

“SCREAM” IS OUT IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2022

REVIEW: “THE FALLOUT” (2021) SXSW FILM FESTIVAL

Finishing up my last review of SXSW Film Festival with “THE FALLOUT”, which was hands down one of the best films of the festival. Rather than being just a film on gun control, instead the films takes us through the various reactions and interactions that each person affected by it has after such an horrific event as a school shooting.

Vada Cavell (Jenna Ortega) is a 16 year old high school student who find herself in the school restroom when she hears gunfire starting up. We never see the shooter or the actual shooting itself, instead writer/director Megan Park starts the story from the point of view of Vada and Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler), as they find themselves hiding in the bathroom stall together in sheer terror of what’s happening outside of the bathroom. While in the stall, a battered young student Quinton (Niles Fitch), runs in to escape the gunfire as well and joins them. It’s important to note that none of them are friends with one another, as it happens to be in most schools, they are in very different friendship circles. Mia is the ‘popular’ girl, and one that Vada and her best friend Will (Nick Ropp), would probably never be friends with, and would also be the ones to make snarky comments about behind her back – most likely something done vise versa with Mia and her friends as well.

Vada, Mia & Quinton form an unlikely bond after the shooting, as Vada’s and Will are having a hard time connecting afterwards. He has channeled what happened to him in a completely different manner than the other three and becomes an anti-gun activist and spokesperson. Vada’s parents, Carlos (John Ortiz) and Patricia (Julie Bowen), are at a loss of how to help their daughter deal with something that no parent should ever have to. Taking the brunt of Vada’s complete change of life is her younger sister Amelia (Lumi Pollack), with whom she was very close to and now has no idea how to even talk about the most basic things of daily life with. Vada and Mia both struggle with their emotions, and start to depend on each other, while Quinton has some serious fallout to deal with as his brother was a victim of the shooting. Not only does he have grief to deal with, but the impact and toll it has taken on him as well, though eventually he and Vada get closer, though not in the way she tries to be. Unable to talk to her parents or deal with her younger sister, Vada does end up seeing a Anna (Shailene Woodley), a therapist with whom she finds it hard to open up to as her life has been forever altered by this tragic event.

With these type of shootings happening weekly here before the pandemic and now once again as things slowly ‘return to normal’, it’s beyond painful to see what anyone has to deal with during such a horrific event, but it’s so much worse when it’s kids. Kids who simply went to school that morning and never make it home and those that survive, aren’t equipped yet to deal with such trauma. It’s no wonder that the films portrays coping mechanisms such as alcohol, sex, and smoking some joints in attempts at self-healing by Vada and her friends. The film also doesn’t shy away from the difficulties they face in returning to school – or returning to anything resembling normalcy after attending the numerous memorial services for their classmates. Again, the writing and direction that Park shows, allows us the audience, to experience every aspect of Vada’s recovery, the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. And then, when we are least expecting it, throws us a gut-punch of an ending that stuns you to the core of your being.

Performances are key here and keep a strong eye on Jenna Ortega as you won’t forget this performance anytime soon and are sure to be seeing a lot of her in the future. Add in the strong writing and direction from Grace Park, and this film is sure to be one to stick with you for a long time to come.

Grade: A+

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Review screening: Courtesy of Prodigy Public Relations

“THE FALLOUT” PREMIERED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL – FULL RELEASE DATE TBA