Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The One I Love
What appears on the surface to be little more than a mumblecore movie about a couple whose relationship is falling apart takes a Twilight Zone-esque turn at the end of the first act and suddenly becomes something of a sci-fi drama. It’s difficult to talk about this movie without spoiling the twist, so I’m warning you now that if you have any interest in watching The One I Love without knowing where the film is going – and I recommend watching it that way – then skip the rest of this review. With their relationship on the rocks, Ethan and Sophie (Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss) go to a country retreat at the suggestion of their therapist to try and rekindle things. Once they arrive at the retreat, however, they discover that there are doppelgangers of themselves also living there, only these doppelgangers seem to only have the positive traits of the people they are imitating, making them seem as the more ideal mates. Ethan and Sophie then struggle to decide if they actually love their real partners, or would prefer to run away with the more ideal versions. The One I Love is a really interesting twist on mumblecore romance, a genre which I am not often fond of, and it goes in some weird and unusual directions. It’s unpredictable and fresh, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s as though a Woody Allen dramedy was turned into a science fiction film, and I’d love to see more mumblecore movies try something like this. The film didn’t resonate with me on any deep level, but for what it is, it’s very good. If you want something unconventional and weird while at the same time not feeling too removed from reality, then I recommend The One I Love.
4 out of 5

Odd Thomas
If I felt guilty about any of the movies I enjoy that are obviously stupid, then director Stephen Sommers would be my all-time favourite guilty pleasure director. His movies are always entertaining, funny and energetic, but they’re also extremely cheesy, and yet I enjoy every one of them. Odd Thomas was made by Sommers in 2013, and due to financial difficulties it never got much of a release, but it is just as much fun as the rest of his oeuvre. Odd Thomas (played by Anton Yelchin) and his girlfriend Stormy are food service workers in a California desert town. Despite his ordinary job, Odd (yes, his first name is Odd) is anything but ordinary, as he possesses the ability to see the dead. Using this psychic power allows Odd to help people in need. He’s generally viewed as a good samaritan who’s in the right place at the right time, and with the town police chief (Willen Dafoe) on his side, things are going well. But suddenly he spots weird demons beginning to congregate in the town – a harbinger of an impending apocalyptic event – so it’s up to Odd to save the day. If you’re a fan of horror comedy, Odd Thomas won’t contain many surprises for you. It has a very similar plot to Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, which isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion. There are laughs and scares, and a lot of neat ideas. The cast is great, with Anton Yelchin giving a charming and funny performance in the lead role. The real standout for me was Addison Timlin as Odd’s girlfriend Stormy, who manages to play the girlfriend every guy dreams of having without feeling unrealistic, oversexualized or objectified. All in all, if you like horror comedies in the vein of The Frighteners or John Dies at the End, then you owe it to yourself to check out Odd Thomas. I think it’s criminally overlooked.
3.5 out of 5

Director Jim Mickle gained a lot of attention from Stakeland, a post-apocalyptic horror movie set in a world overrun by vampires. The plot is a lone-wolf-and-cub tale about a vampire hunter called Mister taking a young man under his wing after the boy’s parents were killed. Together they wander the ruined and overgrown world, killing bloodsucker after bloodsucker on their way to a Northern settlement called New Eden. This is the kind of post-apocalyptic movie that lives or dies based on its main characters, and while Viggo Mortensen and Codi Smitt-McPhee did a fine job in John Hillcoat’s The Road, I actually found Stakeland to be a superior film thanks to great on-screen chemistry and acting from Connor Paolo and Nick Damici. The world Stakeland imagines is also a kind rarely seen in post-apocalyptic movies – that of an overgrown world that was abandoned but not destroyed, and still full of bandits, cults, and colonies. Besides The Road, Stakeland also reminded me quite a bit of the popular PS3 game The Last of Us, and I was engrossed for the entirety of it.
3.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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