By Andrew Buckner
The following is a collection of short reviews of movies that have been recently made available on video on demand. The Devil’s Candy and The House on Willow Street are, in addition to being showcased on the platform mentioned above, also currently showing in select theatres.
Rating: ** out of *****.
Though the general concept is intriguing, Assassin’s Creed (2016) becomes another popular video game series adaptation that is given mediocre treatment via wooden performances, uninspired action sequences, direction and writing . The story arc is also rather by the numbers. Skip it. 115 minutes. (PG-13) Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard. Director: Justin Kurzel.
THE DEVIL’S CANDY
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.
A masterful melding of metal, muse and the memorably macabre, The Devil’s Candy (2015), the latest horror film from writer-director Sean Byrne, perfectly parallels the paranormal with artistry. The result is a beautifully built, stunningly stylish, efficient and effectively ghoulish gem that constantly called to mind the cinema of Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Rob Zombie. Highly recommended! 79 minutes. Unrated. Starring: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby.
THE HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET
Rating: ** out of *****.
The House on Willow Street (also known as From a House on Willow Street) (2017) starts out as a unique take on the abduction tale. Sadly, after an intriguing first act, the film descends into the usual barrage of cheap jump scares and garden-variety demonic possession shtick for the rest of the runtime. Making matters worse: characterizations and storyline generally get the cold shoulder during these later stages. Such gives us no reason to care and no one to root for. The ending, as well as the effects, are especially tepid. A cliché-ridden disappointment. 86 minutes. Unrated. Starring: Carlyn Burchell, Gustav Gerdener. Director: Alastair Orr.
A MONSTER CALLS
Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.
J.A. Bayona’s film version of A Monster Calls (2016) is a well-meaning, respectable and generally faithful adaptation of screenwriter Patrick Ness’ young adult fantasy novel of the same name. Yet, it only intermittently recaptures the narrative poetry, beauty and deeply symbolic nature that made Ness’ work such a mammoth achievement. Additionally, the cartoonish creature effects and broad characterizations further hold the production back from hitting the mark of greatness. 109 minutes. (PG-13) Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver.