Tag Archives: Betty Buckley

Split (2017) Review

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Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror and content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
Jessica Sula as Marcia
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Ana Taylor Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

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Split was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. M. Night Shyamalan has been starting to make a comeback with The Visit and from the trailers, Split looked like it has a lot of potential. James McAvoy particularly looks like he was going to give a tremendous performance. Having seen Split, I can say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back. This film was so great, with great acting, excellent direction and a mostly riveting story. Although it’s not quite the level of greatness of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Split comes very close. It has some issues but the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

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I will say that the first act of this movie is a little weak. It just didn’t really have me riveted all the time, the dialogue felt a little awkward at times and it was just okay overall, though McAvoy kept me interested enough. By the second act however, I was incredibly invested in what is going on. Shyamalan keeps everything riveting. Shyamalan in his films often makes the mistake of just having character spurt exposition, telling the audience information. Save for one scene with Betty Buckley in a Skype conversation, Shyamalan handles the information distribution a lot better, giving little tidbits of info, trusting the audience to follow along. This movie has a surprising amount of comedy, most of the time it works. A lot of it is about how odd and strange the situations are, which I like, Shyamalan knows that a lot of the film can be a little weird and he has fun with it. One other thing to note is that Anya Taylor Joy’s character does have some flashbacks to her past. While I understand the importance of them, I felt like they could’ve been done a little better. They felt mostly out of place and the choice of flashbacks could’ve been better. Now this film mostly is realistic but at a point it goes in a ‘different direction’. You really have to just go along with this direction, even if it feels jarring. The ending for me made this direction make sense. This ending of the movie is going to divide some people. I personally think it’s amazing. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Shyamalan’s earlier work, your mind will be blown. However it’s understandable that many people don’t understand the meaning of the ending. If you watch Split and don’t get understand it, just look it up.

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This is the best performance I’ve ever seen James McAvoy give. He had to portray 9 (of the 23) personalities, all with unique quirks, mannerisms and aspects to them. Not only that but he had to make it all feel real, not just cartoony and crazy. Sometimes during one shot he’d change from one to the other and you can really tell when this happens, all the personalities are very distinct. This couldn’t have been easy to pull off. There’s particularly one scene in the third act which really shows how fantastic of an actor he is. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. Anya Taylor Joy was also incredible as the main girl Casey. As previously stated, her character has a backstory, a pretty unfortunate backstory to say the least. Without revealing anything, Anya was very convincing as her and it was easy to follow her character. Betty Buckley plays Kevin’s psychiatrist and she was also great, especially in her scenes with McAvoy. If there’s any weak parts in terms of acting, it’s the other kidnapped girls. They weren’t horrendous but they are like typical horror movie girls, there wasn’t anything really to them.

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The cinematography is fantastic but that’s not surprising, since Shyamalan brought on the Cinematographer of It Follows. So naturally it looks great. The music by West Dylan Thordson was also really effective. Shyamalan really knows how to make situations creepy and unsettling, despite some issues in the story, I can’t really say at any point in the movie the direction faltered because it doesn’t really. This film has many legitimately scary moments, and went further than I thought it would.

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Now as I said this movie does have some problems with regards to its story really in the first act. However, all the positives of the film are so great that I almost forget about these issues. Everything from the acting, direction and most of the story made this such a surprising and great movie. And let’s just say that after the ending, I’m hyped for M. Night Shyamalan’s next project. However this movie is not really for everyone, just a heads up.

Carrie (1976) Review

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Carrie
Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Sissy Spacek as Carrie White
Piper Laurie as Margaret White
Amy Irving as Sue Snell
William Katt as Tommy Ross
Betty Buckley as Miss Collins
Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen
John Travolta as Billy Nolan
Director: Brian De Palma

The story of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a girl brought up, almost in isolation, by her psychotically religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie). After an embarrassing incident in the showers causes her fellow pupils to tease Carrie ruthlessly, her teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) disciplines them severely. Determined to have revenge, the other students hatch a plot against Carrie, which turns horribly wrong when Carrie’s strange mental powers are unleashed during the school prom.

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Carrie is based on the Stephen King book of the same name and is often called a horror classic today. Despite this, I don’t understand why everybody loves this film so much. Although I understand why is would be revolutionary in the 70s I don’t really think it’s a great movie today. There are good aspects, the acting by Sissy Spacek and the climax are well done. However I just wasn’t invested in the story that much and I didn’t find any of it scary.

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I have read the Stephen King book and I liked it, however I found most of the film version of Carrie to be quite boring and uninteresting. Scenes go on longer than they needed to and I wasn’t very invested in the story. This is surprising as I read the book and enjoyed it very much, so I don’t know why the scenes weren’t that interesting. The film is 1 hour 30 minutes so I don’t know why I found the film to be slow at times. I also didn’t personally find anything scary about the movie, though maybe it’s because of how dated it is. The last 20 minutes however are the best part of the film and after seeing it, I can understand why that part would be famous. However I don’t think it’s effective enough for the whole movie to be given all this credit.

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Sissy Spacek is great in her role, I really bought her as a girl who really didn’t fit in with other people and school and received abuse from her mother. Apart from her however, a lot of the acting was quite over the top. I don’t really understand why Piper Laurie was nominated for an Oscar. I didn’t find her performance that scary, she is so over the top that it was kind of hilarious (she actually thought she was filming a dark comedy, and I think that explains a lot). I can buy her being insane but there was never a moment where I was scared of her. In a lot of Stephen Kings books there are one dimensional bullies and Carrie is no exception. These bullies were flat characters with no real depth, they just hate Carrie. I found them to be so generic and I wonder how many people can actually take them seriously. To the film’s credit, the actors look like they are having fun playing them. The rest of the cast is serviceable, they aren’t great but they aren’t bad either.

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The cinematography is normal for the most part, nothing really special. However there were times when some of the shots aren’t that well done. There is a dance scene which spins around two people dancing and it goes on for like a minute and it gets quite nauseating. For the most part however, the main focus is on the story, and not on the style.

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If you are a horror fan and you haven’t seen Carrie, I still think it’s worth watching to make up your own mind about the overall film. To me the film was quite dated with some over the top performances and a plot which didn’t keep me engaged all the way through. Still, it’s not bad, it has some good parts (the best being Spacek’s performance) but I don’t see why this film today is so critically acclaimed and I don’t think it’s a horror classic, or a film that holds up very well. Not a bad movie overall, but definitely dated.

So what do you think about Carrie? Do you think it still holds up today or are you like me and think that this film is quite dated and not as effective now? Comment below and let me know what you think.

The Happening (2008) Review

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The Happening

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror scenes and violence
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore
Zooey Deschanel as Alma Moore
John Leguizamo as Julian
Betty Buckley as Mrs Jones
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

A strange, horrible and unprecedented crisis begins in Central Park. A high school science teacher (Mark Wahlberg), his wife (Zooey Deschenal) and a young girl do what they can to survive it.

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M. Night Shyamalon is a filmmaker that has taken a strange turn, he started off by making a few great movies but after that, his films have started decreasing in good reviews. The Happening promises to be his comeback, unfortunately if he does have a comeback, it’s not here. The writing is bad, the acting is wasted and sometimes hilarious and the story is not interesting, despite an initially interesting premise.

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In contradictory to the title of the film, I didn’t feel like much happened here. This film tries to be scary but fails; all the deaths are meant to be shocking and disturbing but because of how bluntly they are done, they come off as being hilarious; there is even a scene where someone turns on a lawnmower and lets it pass over him. The dialogue is also quite bad at times, so bad in fact that it is quite quotable, especially from Mark Wahlberg (“Come on guys, take an interest in science”). There are also some moments don’t add up to anything, such as when a guy is talking about hot dogs, and this is in a part of a movie where everybody is trying to survive and find out why all these events are happening. The characters aren’t very likable, the characters aren’t developed enough and any emotion they show is quite shallow; any sub plots with the characters go absolutely nowhere.

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This movie has some good actors but because of the script, they don’t have a lot to work with. Mark Wahlberg is completely miscast as a science teacher, he’s much better at tough guy roles and after watching his performance here you’ll understand why. He doesn’t seem to express much emotion here and to be honest, at times it looks like he’s a bit confused with the script; however that can lead to some unintentionally classic moments; check out the scene where he talks to a plant. Zooey Deschenal is a good actress but was unfortunately painful to watch here, she seemed to always have one blank expression on her face the whole time. There were no performances that lifted the film in being legitimately good; in fact the best performance is of a construction worker near the beginning that you see for less than 1 minute. I don’t blame the actors for the bad performances, I blame the script and the poor direction they were given.

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The cinematography is at times okay but there are some questionable moments; there is one painfully, painfully long close-up of Mark Wahlberg pleading with his group for time to think when trouble starts happening. Sometimes the camera is quite close to people’s faces that parts of their faces sometimes get cut off. There are also moments where the film literally tries to scare the audience with the wind, there are dramatic shots of people running and the grass around them is being blown by the wind. One thing I can say is legitimately good about this movie is the score.

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The Happening is not Shyamalon’s comeback and looking at his next two movies, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening for a while. Along with this movie at times being laughably bad, it just wasn’t that scary or very interesting. This movie is not very interesting and it’s a little boring at times. The Happening is called a movie that’s so bad it’s good; this movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it’s quite bad. If you are going to watch this movie, don’t expect to be particularly scared or interested. However whatever you expect, don’t expect a great Shyamalon movie here.