We’re into August and we’re getting a torrent of new films on streaming and in theaters. Below are five I saw this week! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Bodies Bodies Bodies (Theaters)
Starring: Amandala Steinberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold, and Lee Pace
About: The latest from A24 is a horror comedy, of sorts. It follows a group of friends who gather for a Hurricane Party. Sophie (Steinberg) is rejoining her group of friends with a new girlfriend (Bakalova) after a stint in rehab. David (Davidson) is hosting the party and full of angst, not exactly on solid ground with his girlfriend (Wonders). Alice (Sennott) brought her new beau (Pace), a much older man. And Jordan (Herrold) just seems a little bitter. They play some drinking games but when one turns up dead, the stakes go through the roof as the storm begins to intensify. This is part horror, part cultural commentary and part whodunnit. The thing is none of it works that well because the characters are universally vapid and unlikeable. The narrative drags and the big reveal at the end isn’t that hard to figure out. I didn’t the film was as clever as it was trying to be either. The cast is solid, full of some strong young actors. I just with this script and story gave them more to do. In the end, this is mostly a miss.
Rating: Rated R for violence, bloody images, drug use, sexual references and pervasive language.
Day Shift (Netflix)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Megan Good, Karla Souza, Snoop Dogg, and Eric Lange
Synopsis: This action film from director J.J. Perry finds Bud (Foxx) posing as a mild-mannered pool cleaner who is really a vampire hunter working in Los Angeles. After working a job on his own, Bud realizes he needs money if he’s going to convince his estranged wife (Good) to stay in Los Angeles. He turns to a friend (Dogg), who helps him get back in the Union. But, the Union boss (Lange) still has his doubts, forcing Bud to ride around with an inexperienced rep Seth (Franco), who’s real task is to find enough violations to bounce Bud out for good. All that gets more complicated when Bud angers a senior vampire (Souza), who makes a move against his family. This one has action and comedy. Foxx and Franco make for a decent pair and the rest of the film moves at a decent clip. Little here feels ground-breaking or original, but it’s a decent summer watch. If you’re looking for some action where you don’t have to think too hard, this one is for you.
Rating: Rated R for strong violence and gore, and language.
Emily the Criminal (Theaters)
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, and Megalyn Echikunwoke
Synopsis: Emily (Plaza) is a talented artist from New Jersey living in Los Angeles trying to catch a break. She works as a food delivery driver and is drowning in student debt. A previous felony conviction keeps her from being able to land a better job. When a co-worker hooks her up with Youcef (Rossi), she gets pulled into the world of credit card fraud. It might end up being the answer to her financial woes, or it might be her undoing. This is a fascinating film and a showcase for Plaza, who is incredibly talented and diverse as a performer. I enjoyed Plaza in this role and loved her performance. She sinks into the character and carries the narrative here. Writer/director John Patton Ford does a nice job spinning the story and letting Plaza and Rossi draw you in with their performances. This isn’t an incredible film, but it’s very engaging. It’s more than worth seeking out for Plaza’s work.
Rating: Rated R for language, some violence and brief drug use.
Starring: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Mason Gooding
Synopsis: As we open, Becky (Currey) and Dan (Gooding) are married and in love. They’re climbing a mountain with their friend Hunter (Gardner) when they unthinkable happens. A year later, Becky is struggling to move on, despite the prodding and support of her father (Morgan). When her friend Hunter arrives, she convinces Becky to get back on the horse, so to speak, and take on the challenge of climbing a defunct TV tower that does 2,000 feet into the air. When the climb goes wrong, Becky and Hunter as stuck and forced to scramble to survive. I’m afraid of heights. I didn’t take that into consideration going to this film, which is thrilling and terrifying. A good deal of that goes to director Scott Mann, who co-wrote the script with Jonathan Frank. It’s tense and intense, and it kept me on the edge of my seat and my stomach churning in a good way throughout its run time. It also hooks you with these characters. You want to root for Becky and Hunter, which is a credit to Currey and Gardner. Currey, in particular, gives a solid performance through some harrowing circumstances. This is the most engaging horror/thriller I’ve seen all year and has a cinematic scope that demands to be seen on the big screen.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for bloody images, intense peril, and strong language.
Secret Headquarters (Paramount+)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Michael Pena, Walker Scobell and Jesse Williams
Synopsis: Jack (Wilson) is on a camping trip with his family when he seeks a crash. As he rushes to the scene, he finds a downed pilot (Williams) and something else mysterious. Years later, Jack is estranged and mostly absent from his family, always busy with work. When his son Charlie (Scobell) comes to stay with him for a weekend, Jack is called away. Instead of heading back with his mom, Charlie and his friends stay, discovering secrets in Jack’s house that reveal his work is bigger in scope than Charlie ever imagined. This is a little family-friendly entertainment. Wilson is solid as Jack, while Pena has fun in the villain role. This is mostly about the kids, who are OK. Scobell is decent as Charlie and the film has a decent story. It’s a solid watch if uninspiring.
Rating: Rated PG for violence, action, language and some rude humor.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
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