Movie Review Weekly Roundup: January 10 – January 16, 2021

Black and white photograph featuring a reel of 35mm film stock.

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.

Taxi Hunter (1993)

Director: Herman Yau.
Writers: Wing-Kin Lau, Kai-Chung Mak.
MPAA Rating: Unrated – Viewer Discretion is advised.
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller.
Length: 1h 29min.
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin.
Where To Rent: Alamo On Demand.
★★★☆☆ | Watched: January 10, 2021.

This movie is like Falling Down or Death Wish. Only it takes place in Hong Kong instead of America. The story proclaims taxi drivers are universally rude and obnoxious. And it also states that a Hongkonger on a revenge kick is still a super nice guy to other nice people. The undercover copy is a goofball who loves wearing American attire and act like a juvenile without a care in the world. Clearly, he is the comedic relief for the movie. His adult daughter acts more responsibly than he does. I honestly enjoyed the movie. Do not get me wrong. Grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy watching it!

The World of Kanako (2014)

DIRECTOR: Tetsuya Nakashima.
WRITERS: Tetsuya Nakashima, Miako Tadano, Nobuhiro Monma (screenplay); Akio Fukamachi (book).
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer Discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 58min.
LANGUAGE: Japanese.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 10, 2021.

When you are an alcoholic with anger management issues, the last thing you might want to discover is your estranged daughter is a drug addict who kept her wild lifestyle hidden from you. The movie is pretty heavy with its visual style, as the cool opening credits would be one specific example. I honestly enjoyed the movie more than I expected, even if it is pretty intense at times.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

DIRECTOR: Jim Cummings.
WRITERS: Jim Cummings.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Comedy, Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 11, 2021.

I had fun watching this movie. The story is about an alcoholic on a path of self-destruction more than it is about a werewolf. Some of the death scenes are pretty graphic, so watcher beware. Jim Cummings wears three hats for this movie: director, writer, and lead actor. He did a good job considering all the hats he wore during its production.

Relic (2020)

DIRECTOR: Natalie Erika James.
WRITERS: Natalie Erika James, Christian White.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 29min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 15, 2021.

The monstrous figure haunting a grandmother’s house is a symbolic representation of her progressing dementia. It is a thinly disguised analogy. But it works. It reminds me of how much The Babadook (2014) is a metaphor for the mother’s grief. What is with the Australian horror movies using supernatural symbolism to represent a woman’s emotional, physical, or mental condition? I did enjoy the story of Relic and the interaction between the characters. I viewed it as a story about a family’s emotional struggle with an aging relative more than being another supernatural horror story. It is a sad situation having to see anyone mentally digress due to the repercussions of dementia and other similar health conditions. You would like to help them get better, but it feels like the available options are severely limited.

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020)

DIRECTOR: Thomas Robert Lee.
WRITERS: Thomas Robert Lee.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 33min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

I love the eerie design of the movie’s atmosphere. The photography and music are a mood in itself. You could perceive this movie to be about a coming of age story, which you would be right. The center point of the story is a young woman who discovers she a witch by birth. She was born of an immaculate conception from a mother who practices witchcraft. She must be the spawn of the devil! I was intrigued by the movie for its mood and tone. It occurs in the 1970s but gives off the vibe of an earlier time. It feels like the 19th-century setting with a subtle hint of 17th-century religious overtone. I enjoyed the movie, even though it is a dark and twisted tale.

Black Water: Abyss (2020)

DIRECTOR: Andrew Traucki.
WRITERS: John Ridley, Sarah Smith.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Drama, Horror.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

First of all, I was unaware this movie is a sequel until after I rented it. But I would not be surprised if the first one is just as formulaic in plot and story as this one. From a broad perspective, I would summarize this movie as “Aussies in Caverns with Crocs”. It reminds me of another sequel film called 47 Meters Down Uncaged, which I would describe as “Yanks Splunking in Caverns with Sharks”. Monster movies like these are designable with reusable plot points and character tropes. The only changeable elements would be the story’s location and the names and gender of the characters. This movie is okay. But it heads down the highly treaded road covered with the tracks of predecessors.

The Call (2020)

DIRECTOR: Timothy Woodward, Jr.
WRITERS: Patrick Stibbs.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 37min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: Just Watch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell are the highlights of the entire movie. But their screen time is inadequately too short. The story is mediocre at best. I really love Lin Shaye’s performance in the early scenes of the movie. The four teenage characters are the typical fictional tropes for a horror movie. Their flashback sequences initiated by the minute-long phone call felt like recycled material from previous stories. For example, the tough guy comes from a troubled childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. The comedic, sidekick friend is guilt-ridden from a traumatic childhood loss. It goes on, so on and so forth. The movie is fine for a decent popcorn flick. But I am not going to be placing it on any top ten favorite lists anytime soon.

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