Escape Room

Movie Review: Escape Room (2019) - Room Escape Artist

Escape Room. Just to clarify, this is a review for Escape Room, not Escape Room, or the other Escape Room. Got it? Good.

That’s right, three movies all released essentially within a year of one another, all of them with a similar premise, all of them confusingly called Escape Room. Why couldn’t the producers have had a conversation and decided which would be called Escape Room, which would be Escape The Room, and which would be Escape? I’ve typed ‘Escape’ so many times now that I’m not sure I’m even spelling it correctly any more, and the Laptop is making a Sticky Keys noise at me.

I devised my own system for remembering which is which – there’s the big budget one which made it to Cinemas on a wide release (and has had a sequel which I’m now calling Escape 2room), there’s the one with Skeet Ulrich, and there’s the other one. This is the big budget one. Having watched all of them, I imagine I’ll get around to reviewing the others at some point. But this is the biggest, and probably the best.

The film starts with our six several characters being given a mysterious puzzle box which, once solved, presents them with an invitation to an Escape Room for the chance to win a big sack of cash. Any right thinking person would begin tingling at this point – spidey sense tingling – and move to another country because this is at best some cultish pyramid scheme and at worst the opening to the latest Saw movie. However, the people are intrigued and enticed by the promise of sudden wealth and meet each other in an anonymous office block. Almost immediately, the game begins but unbeknownst to the players, it’s a game of life or death. They must work together to solve a variety of rooms while possibly discovering why they were brought together, and who is doing this to them.

While the Saw comparisons are apt, and while the film gleefully recalls similar properties such as Cube, it’s a less visceral film. While there are plenty of inventive deaths, it doesn’t approach torture porn and is a much more mainstream type of horror. In many cases these films fall apart or hold together based on how likeable the characters are and how believable the story is. The characters are varied enough and have enough in built conflict to be engaging – there’s the scarred veteran, the gamer nerd, the Wall Street type, the innocent, the normie, the old guy – and while the story is ridiculous the script has the nous to keep everything fairly grounded. Putting aside the wealth and planning involved to develop such a scheme, the story relies less on contrivances than the Saw series. Unlike many films of this ilk, the film continues after the games end as we begin expanding the lore and posing more questions while giving snippets of answers. It’s clear that we’re being set up for a franchise, but like Alice In Borderland and Squid Game if the lore and questions are interesting then I’m happy to see more.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Escape Room!

The Lure

Review: The Lure - Slant Magazine

I’m no fan of musicals; it’s not that I have an inherent dislike for the genre, it’s more that they fail to live up to my expectation of what a musical should be. First and foremost – it’s still a film and should still tell an interesting story – most musicals are too trope reliant and have unconvincing and theatrical performances. Secondly, if music and song are key components of your genre, then I expect both to be good. In most musicals, the music and the songs are garbage. Finally – dancing. I don’t give a fuck about dancing. Like prayer, dancing should be something done in private, quietly, far away from me. Yet every so often, a musical comes along which seems to be made just for me – so much so that even the three criteria above can be ignored – The Blues Brothers, Disney’s Animated Features, The Happiness Of The Katakuris…. and there are probably others. When I learned that there was a Polish, explicit, sexually charged horror movie about mermaids which just so happened to be a musical, you’d better believe my brain, ears, and shlong were standing to attention.

The film begins promisingly; a rock band are chilling at night on a beach, drinking, singing, doing rock band things. A mermaid, or perhaps more accurately, a siren appears from the waves entranced by the music. Rather than pulling the men into the water and ripping them apart like the legends of yore, the siren and her sister reveal themselves to the band and decide to spend some time as land-lubbers. The sisters, named Silver and Gold, begin performing with the band and dancers and singers with the agreement that they won’t eat any band member. This works out well as the girls bring in approving crowds and the girls get to perform and perhaps fuck and kill random groupies and people they don’t like. Unfortunately, eating people isn’t a good look and the band members are kind of dicks. It seems this fairy tale is only going to end one way.

The Lure is full of ambition and humour and weirdness. It doesn’t all work, it doesn’t all gel together, and it doesn’t live up to its promise or hype. However, there aren’t many films of this ilk out there and it does about as well with its concept as you could reasonably expect it to. It isn’t overly bloody or gratuitous and it’s more likely the offbeat tone which will put people off. There’s only a fraction of a movie-watching audience who would choose to watch something like this, and a small percentage of that fraction who would enjoy it. I’m included in those metrics, and while I wish it was a little more tight, I applaud its existence. Both Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska are excellent as the sisters, the make-up and effects are very good, and the Eurotrash humour made me giggle plenty of times. The music is forgettable in most cases, but works well alongside the story, while the rest of the cast and the director are knowingly making something unique and ridiculous. Without going too deep, the themes of exploitation and coming of age are clear but can easily be ignored if you’re just in it for the weirdness. If you’re going to watch a movie about killer mermaids – it’s gotta be this one.

Let us know what you think of The Lure in the comments!


Disenchanted' Review: Amy Adams & Patrick Dempsey in Humdrum Sequel – The Hollywood Reporter

Disney’s 2007 movie, Enchanted, is not only one of my favourite movies of that year but it may be my favourite Disney live action movie ever, before they starting remaking everything they ever did and bought everything else everyone else made. It’s a wonderful, almost perfect movie which is both reminiscent of the old-fashioned Disney movies of yore but with a modern meta, not cynical outlook. It’s a movie which had a start, beginning, and a happily ever after ending and in essence is a movie which doesn’t need a sequel. Yet here we are, fifteen years later, waiting to hear what happens after Happily Ever After.

That ‘what happens after Happily Ever After’ bit has become something of a trope in recent years as old franchises attempt to modernise and pull in both new audiences and fans of the originals. The trouble comes when we begin thinking of money rather than story – a problem increasingly plaguing Disney, although it’s always been an issue for them. It’s not an exclusive Disney problem, or Hollywood problem, but it is a problem. If there isn’t a natural need for a sequel to exist, if there isn’t a path to a story which makes sense and is at least as plausible and as interesting as the original, then your final product might make a bucket load of cash, but will likely be an inferior product.

Disenchanted starts off in a plausible fashion – many years have passed and Giselle is still happily married to Robert, living in New York with her Step-daughter Morgan. But where’s the rub? For Giselle, things have gotten somewhat stale. Memories of her magical upbringing and homeland have made her somewhat homesick, the daily grind of New York life has got her down, and having a teenage step-daughter isn’t quite the fairy-tale ending she dreamed of. Rather than simply existing in this malaise, she takes things into her own hands and decides the family needs to move to suburbia. It’s a shaky start to the story and just about makes sense for the characters, but things quickly fall apart once they make the move.

Life in the suburbs doesn’t seem any better than in the city – in fact, the story’s drama and resolution probably could have taken place without the family ever moving. The contrivances build up and a lot of nonsense is thrown at the screen in hopes of something landing. We have a local soccer mom type who becomes an evil queen, we have Morgan maybe falling for the evil queen’s son, we have Robert becoming an essentially non-existent character, and we have Giselle fighting against becoming a wicked stepmother. Not to mention magic talking scrolls, a magic wand with rules which are immediately broken, ogres, and old characters returning because why the hell not. Pick one strand and go with it, guys. It’s messy, but it never becomes a total disaster – it just feels, and looks, and sounds redundant. The magic that was there in the original, is thoroughly gone.

If a sequel was to happen, it should have been no more than five years after the original. Essentially the same story could have been told. While Amy Adams is as good as ever, and while I don’t tend to needlessly comment on someone’s age in reviews, in 2022 her Giselle is less convincing. The child-like joy and optimism simply doesn’t work any longer, and the jokes in the script don’t work. We can’t explain this away by saying the character isn’t the same as in the original, because we see that Giselle is the same in many scenes. Robert’s side arc about being a hero could be a deliberate attempt to explain his otherwise uselessness in the script as he struggles to find his place, but I think the downgrading of his character is simply to make room for the new characters.

Maya Rudolph, who has essentially been playing the same character post-Idiocracy, is fine but her story could probably have been cut from the film to instead focus on Giselle’s inner turmoil. The cat, the lackeys, the son – unnecessary filler. The performers are good, but it’s clear that no-one gives a shit about the material. Adam Shankman makes exclusively bad films, and while Disenchanted isn’t bad, it’s far from good and even further from the original. While the original performers may have been excited to live in their characters’ shoes once more, the director and writer don’t give them much to work with. While the original had a bunch of memorable, story-related, good songs, legends Menken and Schwartz fill the sequel with junk and only one standout moment – let it be said that Idina Menzel is a beast behind the mic – Love Power bringing some much needed quality to the final half.

Disenchanted, like Enchanted probably would have worked better as a standalone. They could have had this straight to streaming curio unencumbered by the pressure of living up to a brilliant original. Instead, the memory of the original looms large, almost as large as the time gap between the two films. I’m not one to say that inferior sequels or remakes destroy the legacy of the originals, watching Enchanted again knowing that this came afterwards will certainly play on my mind a little. While some of the performances are sound, while the animated portions are good, this is simply too long, too bloated, and too late, not as smart, not as funny, and lacks the magic which made the original a one of kind film.

Let us know what you think of Disenchanted in the comments!



Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1980!

Terror Train (1980) | MUBI

The Changeling

Before I get attacked – I like The Changeling. I probably would have liked it more had it not been so hyped for me. This was a film which kept slipping through my net – I’ve been a huge Horror fan since childhood, but as much as I heard people and magazines talk about The Changeling as a true classic, it never seemed to be on TV or available to buy. As such, I didn’t see it until I was older and I was expecting it to be on par with what I deemed to be classics. It didn’t live up to any of my expectations and I never found it to be particularly frightening. However, it’s classy, it’s not your run of the mill teen-bait of the period, and I’m a big fan of Jean Marsh who appears very briefly.

Flash Gordon

This was a film which was everywhere in my childhood, and one of those which I never enjoyed. I know it’s meant to be camp and cheesy and everything else, but young me felt that this was just shit. Older me doesn’t have a much better opinion of it.

The Jazz Singer

Me and musicals – there’s probably going to be at least one musical entry every where. This is one of those Hollywood go-tos – if in doubt, remake a generic, inoffensive standard with a modern cast. No-one in the cast is convincing, the story is a mess, and the music is crap.


For a long time, I didn’t trust anything by Robert Altman because he made this movie. Of course, I was wrong, but I disliked this movie so much when I was young that I not only avoided his films for an age, but it left me with a sour taste for Robin Williams too. Luckily both director and star have made monumentally better films.

Terror Train

It was the age of the slasher, and that meant that barely a week would pass without a new and shitty low budget Horror movie featuring a masked killer would be released. Poor Jamie Lee Curtis was being typecast to oblivion in this period – luckily she had the talent to rise above, and luckily she was still making genuinely great movies in this period too (The Fog), but she would still pop up in this sort of crap. It’s fine, it’s generic, it has a ridiculous plot, it’s not scary or interesting in the slightest. David Copperfield is in it (as a magician), Ben Johnson is in it… it’s an amusing cast. I generally like movies set on trains, but this film doesn’t use the setting to its advantage. It’s just another one of those ‘prank went wrong, dude gets revenge’ movies.


Where do you even start with this? It feels like a movie made by people who saw a movie once, just one, and thought ‘I can do that’. Plus, it’s another musical.

Let us know in the comments what your least favourite movies of 1980 are!

1984 Academy Awards – An Introduction

The 57th Annual Academy Awards (TV Special 1985) - IMDb

The 57th Academy Awards were presented by Jack Lemmon, overseeing films such as Amadeus, A Passage To India, and The Killing Fields which all received multiple nominations. As is the case with most years in the 80s, there are a number of cult and high entertainment movies which will feature heavily in my choices.

Honorary Awards went to Jimmy Stewart, David L Wolper, and The River while Linda Hunt, Kathleen Turner, Tom Selleck, Michael Douglas and other handed out the awards. Performances came from Ray Parker Jr, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, and others.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see what my picks in each category will be, and feel free to leave your own choices!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1981!

Chariots Of Fire

It’s not that it’s a bad movie – clearly it’s not. It’s just that it’s so English, it’s so British, it’s so dull, and as a normal (innocent) man I primarily watch movies to be entertained. When I watched this as a youngling, I was not entertained. When I watched when I was older, I appreciated the performances but was annoyed by the pacing, the preaching, and by how static it feels.

Omen 3: The Final Conflict

What a dull and disappointing way to conclude what could have been one of the great Horror trilogies. The original is still strong enough that it remains a classic and the sequel is fun enough to suggest that the trilogy deserves to be mentioned in discussions of Best Trilogies, but Part 3 has little to connect it to the previous entries in terms of casting, tone, and quality. What is so interesting about the original is that it genuinely feels apocalyptic; the good guys don’t win and humanity looks like it is fucked. Part 2 is interesting as it presents a twisted Damian just going about his life as a teenager, gradually being manipulated and swung back into the path of evil. Part 3 is a bunch of guys in suits talking about star signs and politics. Sam Neill is a great choice for the grown up and powerful Damian, but outside of a single decent gore gag there’s almost nothing to recommend here.

On Golden Pond

When I was young this looked like a movie for Grannies. No that I’m old… it still looks like a movie for Grannies. Ask me again in another 30 years…

All Night Long

Romantic comedies aren’t my thing, Streisand isn’t my thing. In truth, it’s not as bad as the reputation it has built up has suggested and it’s perfectly watchable thanks to the performances, but it’s not very funny and at no point did I find any of it realistic or the characters interesting.

Let us know your least favourite films of 1981 in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1982

Why Silver Shamrock Didn't Return After Halloween III


It should go without saying at this point, but for those at the back I’ll say it again; I don’t like Musicals. Outside of your Disney animated features, there are only a handful of Musicals I can say that I truly enjoy, and a few more I can tolerate. In general, the genre does little for me. When you throw in a central child character, or several of those, it makes matters even less enjoyable for me. Still, those aren’t the main reasons why Annie is on my list. No, there’s a little story behind this one. It’s not very interesting, but read on anyway.

In Primary School, every so often we would get to watch a movie. Typically towards the end of a term. The whole class, or the whole year would be cramped into one of the non-classroom rooms, made to sit cross-legged on the floor, and we would wait with feverish anticipation for the old 22inc TV to be wheeled into the room. There was a few films we would be forced to watch over and over, but that was fine because anything was better than actual work (unless they made us watch old re-runs of Geordie Racer). On one occasion, the teacher in charge whipped out a copy of The Witches. Yes! Finally, we would get to watch something with a bit of guts, something maybe a little scary even, something with an edge – plus, I was a Roald Dahl fan and I hadn’t seen the thing yet. We watched – I loved it – that is until we reached the infamous transformation scene. Some of the girls in the room got a little, shall we say, upset by what was on screen and the VHS was immediately popped out. WTF is this, I probably exclaimed. I watched in horror as a new VHS appeared in the teacher’s hand, one adorned with an overly grinning redhead child. It was in that moment that I vowed to become a serial killer, slaughtering anyone who dared to replace a horror movie with a musical. Or something. I didn’t like the movie, get it?

Friday The 13th Part 3

I don’t have much against this film – it’s just that by this point in the series it had already run out of ideas. I’m not a huge fan of the franchise, but the selling point here is the 3D. It’s hilarious spotting all of the crafted for 3D shots and how bizarre and obvious they look in 2D. It’s an 80s slasher, so beyond the technical shenanigans it does nothing original and what it does have, it does more or less adequately.

Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch

Before anyone goes off on me – yes, I KNOW the original plan for the Halloween franchise was to have a self-contained story in each entry, and I KNOW that people complained that this one was unrelated to the others and so they centred every other entry on Myers. I don’t care that this movie doesn’t have Myers – in fact, this was the first Halloween movie I ever saw. It’s on my list because it’s shite. It’s always been shite. I enjoyed it as a kid – the whole countdown jingle, the Seasonal vibe, even some of the cast and gore. But it’s just a poorly made, poorly acted film which I can’t help but notice its flaws the older I get and the more I watch. It’s a curio to be sure, and I don’t hate it, but it’s easily the worst in the franchise even if it does get points for trying something different.

Honkytonk Man

I could have populated this entire list with musicals this year, but in truth I don’t really hate any of them. I don’t particularly about any of them. This makes the list because there isn’t a lot I dislike in 1982, only making the cut because when I see Directed By Clint Eastwood and Starring Clint Eastwood, the only things I want are guns and snarling grimaces. This would be a much more enjoyable movie for me if it was anything other than Country music.

Grease 2

It’s Grease 2. It’s like the first, but rubbish.

Let us know your least favourite movies of 1982 in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1983!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s 1983 – the year I was born. Don’t dox me. As well as the unfortunate error of me being unleashed upon the world, there was also a bunch of terrible movies. Here are a few.


Look, Christine is by no means a bad movie. It’s more that – when you mix my favourite Director with my favourite Author, you expect the result to be the greatest thing ever made. Christine is merely fine – good effects, okay performances, rubbish soundtrack – but it feels like a blip in Carpenter’s peerless run. I like it, but it’s not as good as I want and hope it to be.

Educating Rita

English movie comedies, especially in the 80s, are not my thing. They all follow a close formula and they were (and are) not as appealing to me as what was coming out of the US in the same decade, or as what England was producing on the small screen. Educating Rita is better than most, but there’s a very limited enjoyment I can get from this as a piece of entertainment.

Jaws 3-D

The Jaws series gets a bad rap. The original is one of the best films ever made – any sequel would struggle to match it. Jaws 2 is a very good film and remains the second best shark movie of all time. The third and fourth movies are genuinely awful. I’ve seen 3D multiple times, and while the 3D stuff is dated and laughable now, it’s just such a step down in quality. It looks cheap, the performances and characters are bland, and the story is muddled – a shame because I loved the idea of the shark in a water park idea.

The Keep

When I was first getting into movies as a ‘serious’ thing, not just as a viewer for entertainment but as someone who wanted to understand the movie-making process and who the people who made movies are, I had my go to list of directors, writers, and performers. When you make such a list, if there are names who made films before you were born or at a time before you took movies seriously, chances are there’s at least one film on that list which sounds like a hidden gem which you must track down at all costs because it sounds like just the sort of thing you’ll love. For me and John Carpenter, that was Body Bags. For me and Michael Mann, it was The Keep. Maybe I hyped the film up too much in my own mind, but how could a film directed by the guy who made Heat, a Horror film about Nazi’s being besieged by an ancient supernatural force in a castle straight out of Dracula possibly be bad?

The film is a mess. As it currently stands. Somewhere out there, rumour has it that there is both a 2 hour plus, and a 3 hour plus version of the film. Now, those could simply drag out the torture, or they could fill in the holes in the story so that the thing makes sense and becomes scary/interesting. We may never know.

Never Say Never Again

We can all agree that Die Another Day is the nadir when it comes to Bond movie, but the unofficial Never Say Never Again comes quite close. Basically a remake of Thunderball updated for the 80s with a sexier actress and a more geriatric Connery, the selling point was of course that Connery was playing 007 again. Even with the talent involved, it somehow feels cheaper than the mainstream Bond series, and there’s just less of everything which makes me love those films. It’s a shame Basinger never made it over to the main series, and I would have liked see Atkinson appear there too, even though he’s not great in this.


I mean, credit to Streisand for making the thing, but it’s just not my kind of thing. Too much singing, too much theatre… just too much.

Let us know your least favourite movies of 1983 in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1982!

10: Q (US)

I love me a good monster movie, and this was one of my favourites while growing up. Anything with dinosaurs or mythological creatures or stop motion beasties – sign me up. This has the added bonus of Michael Moriarty skipping about the place, you’ve got Shaft doing his thing, and you’ve got Bill from Kill Bill killing stuff. It’s great.

9: The Wall (UK)

The Wall is one of the few albums that tells a coherent story and which you can easily visualize playing out in your own mind. My head canon version looks nothing like the official version, with its walking hammers and grotesquely, monstrous obese types. It’s a great album but a hard listen. This is a great movie, but a hard watch.

8: Poltergeist (US)

While I’m by no means the biggest Poltergeist guy on the planet, it’s such an effective little shocker that its iconic status is well merited. It has some great scares and is one of those films which always seems to hold up with every new generation.

7: Creepshow (US)

The next batch of five films on my list are all equally beloved as massive favourites, but they’re not quite on par with my top two. Creepshow takes a bunch of my favourite things – Horror, Comedy, Comics, Anthologies, Icky Stuff, Stephen King, and George Romero, and shoves it all together in a wonderful little gruesome package. Lots of little stories, self-contained and with their own casts, each with a little Grimm’s Fairy Tales style moralizing, and they’re all lovely. Watch it.

6: 48 Hours (US)

Possibly the best buddy cop comedy movie of them all – though Lethal Weapon usually takes the credit.

5: Blade Runner (US)

It’s Blade Runner – you know it, and if you don’t, you’re probably on the wrong site.

4: Rocky 3 (US)

The third Rocky, is maybe the weakest until part 5, but is still damn good.

3: First Blood (US)

Peak Stallone, all stealthy in the woods.

2: The Thing (US)

Covered in my Top Movies Of The Decade post

1: Conan The Barbarian (US)

Covered in my Top Movies Of The Decade post

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Essential Movies – 1965 – An Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

For the mainstream view – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. Dr Zhivago (Top Grossing Choice)
  2. Kwaidan (Academy Award Choice)
  3. Thunderball (Critic’s Choice)
  4. Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors
  5. Faster Pussycat Kill Kill
  6. Repulsion
  7. The Sound Of Music
  8. Alphaville
  9. The Greatest Story Ever Told
  10. The Cincinnati Kid

What are your Top Ten Essential Movies of 1965?