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Quick-Thoughts: A24’s First Cow

This is the most ASMR movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. The sound crew must’ve had a blast making this one.

Unequivocally simple yet reasonably impactful, while there may not be a whole lot to say about First Cow that other “friendship” movies alike haven’t already aroused before, Kelly Reichardt’s subdued A24 debut is worth the one-time viewing for its handsome cinematography, relaxing personality, and cutesy, wholesome story of two 19th century BFFs, despite how starkly humdrum it may recall while exiting the theater. 

Verdict: B-

A24 Ranked, 2020 Ranked 

“First Cow” is now playing in select theaters.

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Quick-Thoughts: The Lonely Island’s Palm Springs

As excessively outspoken Max Barbakow’s directorial debut is when it comes to its philosophical preach on loneliness, the dilemma of life, and the practicality in romance, Palm Springs is still a comedically efficient riff on the classic Groundhog Day premise. While the rom-com’s chief story at hand is imprudently predictable—all-including the particularly rushed lovers’ tale that’s disclosed in an often perky attitude—the fascinating commentary on joining a life of no consequences yet leaving the subliminal proponents of your previously material exhibition one-note do play a fair game in redeeming the movie’s defects. SNL sensations, The Lonely Island, on top of that, deliver their anticipated snappy humor to suitable heights. 

The tiny film’s outturn is like the equivalent to vulgarizing a problematic pro-textbook on “the meaning of life” for casual viewers or those uninvested on the frustrating subject matter. It sparks a luxurious understanding of the medium’s basics without having to get too frisky with its complexions. Whether that satisfies you or not, it’s really up to the snobbiness or cluelessness of the beholder. 

Personally, I found both to be the case. Count me edging on the “satisfied” bunch, however. 

Verdict: B-

2020 Ranked

“Palm Springs” will be released in theaters this year.

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Quick-Thoughts: Pixar’s Onward

One day, one day I’ll go to a screening for a Pixar movie and not have a full-grown adult shout out the occurring plot on screen as if none of us in the audience knew what was going on. One day.

It’s always a pleasure to watch with the whole family a children’s movie founded on the ideas of society’s industrialization in mechanizing our once diligent duties in substitution of our work and creativity, the truth about powerful citizens who want to marginalize our significantly consequential history as a way to demean others and foster egocentric businesses, and the indefensible oblivion many have in not realizing the paternal power older siblings can have when one of your parents is dead. 

Semi-dark gags aside, Onward is genuinely the best Pixar movie I’ve seen since Coco, all though, I don’t know how much that’s saying—it’s really up to you to decide, or, dare to read my Toy Story 4 review! As an older brother myself, however, it admittedly struck a chord with me. Thumbs up!

Verdict: B-

Pixar Ranked, 2020 Ranked

“Onward” will be playing in theaters on March 6th.

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The Invisible Man is a Potentially Great and Poignant Movie Brought Down By Lethargic Plotting

There are 3 definitive things that all cultured citizens should consider before deciding on a movie to see:

1) Does the following movie have a reliable director and crew behind it? 

2) Does the following movie give off a challenging or distinctive personality?  

3) Does the following movie feature Elisabeth Moss playing someone who appears to be going bats*** crazy in it?

And yeah, that whole Elisabeth Moss aspect of this movie: brilliant. And blimey can Leigh Whannell direct a movie! After his knockout 2018 science-fiction action thriller Upgrade, it was no shock that The Invisible Man came as a sagaciously directed project. Whannell continues to impress with his sleek, clean-maneuvered camera motions and contrived framings that not only intensify the scenarios occurring on screen to rewarding degrees but also offer sharp formulations within its preoccupying action sequences. 

At the heart of what makes The Invisible Man a little more justifiable than the average, shlock horror picture, however, is its predominantly appropriate exploration of abusive relationships and the nauseating manipulation that often comes with it to its victims. The decision to make the leading character, played by Elisabeth Moss, Cecilia Kass’s experience that deals with this sort of misogynistic mishap almost came off as a perceptive metaphor for what it must actually feel like to be in an abusive relationship. Despite the movie’s storyline centering around a very fictionalized telling of an invisible ex-boyfriend haunting his ex-girlfriend, there is a great quantity of outlook to be wrung from the movie’s underlying memos. The movie’s material presentation of having you experience that constant feeling Cecilia obtains in always having an aggressor on your tail, judging and steering the wheel to every move you don’t yearn to make, justified a film that otherwise has flaws in its supplementary categories. Aside from the directing and obviously Elisabeth Moss and some of the other cast members, a majority of The Invisible Man’s themes appended a lot more substance that would’ve otherwise made the movie insufferably tedious. 

What boils down to the collapse of Blumhouse’s latest horror phenomena, nevertheless, where its preposterous habits in condoning its negligent plot writing and childish conveniences. How a movie so close to greatness can be solely jeopardized by immature narrative tactics baffles me. The Invisible Man suffers from the contagious “bread-crumb writing” (yes, I just made that saying up) where a certain action or incident is, without reason or logic, inserted into the sequence of events in order to have a certain turning event or following episode occur. Trying to keep it spoiler-free, of course, but the movie is repetitively accompanied by insufferable plot-holes and irrational character decisions that were fundamentally interjected to idly progress the story forward. The obnoxiously vapid and criminally ostentatious score didn’t help the staging of the movie feel any less distasteful when mingled with Leigh Whannell’s expert directing and some fine performances.  

I’m a little polarized by the conclusion to The Invisible Man, as well. It’s one of those endings that will please the stereotypical “cinephile” who thinks that any motion picture that leaves off ambiguously is instantaneously “high-art.” Truthfully, to me, it added nothing of nuance to the conversation and furthermore cloaked the strongest element of the movie’s motifs on the drawbacks of mistreatment. If anything, it makes the message seem more impractically obscured rather than solidified. There’s a sort of “petrifying empowerment” to the ending, sure, but it more so feels like a way to formulaically shrink the lessons that looked at the barriers of misogyny in a more psychologically down-to-earth and less theatrically stylized matter. It just appeared partially unsuitable to end a movie off vaguely when so much of the motion picture appeared quite strict on what it had to say thematically. 

I’m torn, to say the least. There’s a treasure of components to applaud when it comes to The Invisible Man, but the horrendous scripting is just something I am exhausted of seeing in Blumhouse’s reign of horror movies these days. It genuinely makes me consider whether or not Hollywood should even seek to hire out writers these days when they can get the same results if an A.I. wrote the film’s detailed plot layout. In this case, robot Travis Scott will probably be writing movies in no time! 

Verdict: C+ 

2020 Ranked 

“The Invisible Man” will be released in theaters on February 28, 2020.

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Sonic the Hedgehog is Abominable, Yet, Technically Not Nearly the Worst Movie You Could Watch With Friends or Family

It’s amusing how an almost strictly made for kids movie was so savagely pounced by a nostalgically spoiled group of internet-raving adults. Due to a poorly constructed “character design” back in the year 2019 that many reacted to as if it was a near end of the world scenario, Sega’s innocent project was pushed back four whole months; smh, as if children (the target audience) would actually give a damn about a CGI character design. However, in the midst of this state of affairs, the finalized product of this latest video game adaptation may either disappoint or alarmingly jolt fans who grew up with the classic Sega game due to its immature nature that perfectly reconciles the beats of watching a motion picture like a child again. 

However, as a movie, the blockbuster talk-about is an appropriate DVD rental snatch for your 5-year-old niece, and an unintentionally hilarious ball for you and your young adult/teenage friends to belly-laugh your butts off too. Despite the content of the blockbuster looking awfully unwatchable in its first few teasers, Sonic the Hedgehog turns out to be shockingly “meme-able” rather than just flat-out boring. So, like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, I enjoyed it in those regards. 

Jim Carrey is the only actor here who is admirably trying to give it his all, yet the atrocious screenplay Patrick Casey and Josh Miller have implemented here is so utterly awkward that it cannot competently mirror Carrey’s quirky acting abilities. The relationship between our main character’s Sonic and Tom is a prime example of “artificial chemistry” that is, might I add, side-splittingly counterfeit to a point of grave embarrassment. Jim Carry and his simp had more allure than these two underwritten dweebs. 

It’s a shame that, at least to me, all the intentional gags in Sonic the Hedgehog fell flat. Even the few kids and parents at my theater were dead silent the entire time. The iconic rendition of the character, Sonic is, unfortunately, one of the most obnoxious mends to the movie considering 75% of the jokes come out of his mouth. I also merely have the stomach to get into how generic this movie’s plot is and just how pathetic its endeavors to be “heartfelt” are—robots will definitely be writing our future projects if we keep this haphazardness up. The blockbuster is littered with dated movie references to keep the adult audience from falling fast asleep, which in of itself is just insulting. Sonic the Hedgehog additionally features possibly some of the most blatant uses of product placement in cinema that I’ve seen in a while. However, while they are blatant, they were god-tier leveled priceless in a sort of scornful manner. I mean, BEST OLIVE GARDEN ADS EVER. THEY WENT ON FOR SO LONG BUT I WAS ALMOST KILLED BY LAUGHTER BECAUSE OF THEM; BLESS YOU MOVIE

Sonic the Hedgehog is a film that could sincerely believe it to be competent and in-fashion, but deep down comes off as one of the biggest cinematic trolls of the century. It’s strictly “made” for kids and it does mean well, but then again, a 95 million dollar budget is enough to “save” more needing kids as an alternative…

Hey! But the CGI was pretty good though, and I’ve now discovered that I have a bottomless, driving passion for Olive Garden quips! 

Verdict: D

2020 Ranked

“Sonic the Hedgehog” will be playing in theaters on Valentine’s Day.

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In the Future, Portrait of a Lady on Fire Will Be Considered One of the Greatest Romances of This Century By Many

I guess I never told you, readers, what happened to me the day I went to go see Portrait of a Lady on Fire back in October. It seems like this would be an appropriate time to tell you, anyhow. So, if you don’t know, I went to see The Lighthouse that same day in the afternoon up in LA—an event that I ended up being late to too. Afterward, I had to get some 8mm film developed because when I’m in LA, I usually take advantage to use its awesome resources to get some of my movie work processed. 

Being the idiot I am, I completely lost track of time, and I realized it was around the start of late afternoon traffic. Ultimately, I drove for almost five hours from LA to San Diego for the film festival. In the process of this, I also scraped my car, not one, but TWO times on my drive there. I also ended up missing the first three minutes of the movie. Evidently, as you can imagine, I was extraordinarily grouchy going into seeing Portrait of a Lady on Fire. In a sense though, that in of itself is a compliment for the movie, considering despite my s**t attitude, I still ended up giving the movie a high grade of an A-. You rock, Céline. 

So yeah, yeah, I know I’m making excuses but I wanted to preface this review before I start discussing why I love this special film even more on rewatch. There’s a specific qualm from my original review that I’d favor to go over in which I’ve completely changed my mind on. In this previous review of the movie, I had claimed that the cinematography displayed in the film was “50/50.” Maybe my possible migraine caused me to nitpick the hell out of the cinematography or I was just being needlessly pissy that the movie wasn’t shot on film or something, but I openly admit that I was wrong. Witnessing the colorful ornamenting of Portrait of a Lady on Fire is like walking around in Candyland. I officially retract what I had said about the visual look of this movie from my original review. Okay; cool. 

I empathetically profess Céline Sciamma’s masterpiece to having virtually FLAWLESS dialogue that evokes the genuinest indications of desirability. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel gave by far the best performances of 2019 alongside Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse—yet for very contrasting grounds. The two ladies’ subtle facial cues speak so essentially to the audience’s faith between these lovers. The execution of Sciamma’s feature-length, as I believe I had mentioned in my previous review, is arguably painted in perfection. 

I suppose the one argument somebody could make to discredit Portrait of a Lady on Fire is that from a “surface-level” point-of-view, the plot is foreseeable and accustomed. Even at that, it is the outstanding substance and contextual presentation of the actual movie that vindicates the debatably familiar structure—you don’t want your motion picture to be so heavy with thematic individualities that no viewers can possibly carry it. 

So yeah, if I could go back in time, I would definitely place Portrait of a Lady on Fire in the top 3 of my favorite movies of 2019 article. It’s frankly one of my all-time favorite romantic dramas amongst other cult classics such as Punch-Drunk Love or The Lobster—and in all fairness, it definitely has the best ending out of all of them too. F*****g fire film.

Verdict: A

2019 Ranked, All-Time Favorites, Favorite Romances 

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is now playing in select theaters. 

 

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Birds of Prey is a Harmless Comic-Book Movie That’s Currently Being Blown Out of Proportion

Warning: The following review is RATED R because some reckless movie reviewing asshole says an unnecessary amount of curse words to emphasize his point on this particular motion picture while also attempting to embody the raunchy stylistic directions of the film’s pizazz. 

Awwwwwww. A completely harmless comic-book half-pie-flick with a ton of blood, guts, and chaos starring a far from unlikable jumpsuit-wearing, sledge-hammering, and trouble-stirring ex-princess of the Clown of Crime, Harley Quinn. Cute! 

Wait, what was that? People are getting…heated…about this movie? What? But, why? Hold up a second, individuals are actually giving a shit that a by-the-numbers, forgettable DC movie has a minor, inconsequential social justice agenda…huh? By showing love or hatred through internet praise or protest? Aye-yai-yai. Hm. Let me take you fellas back to the very beginning from where this all started. 

Hi! My name is Evan Ambrose, but you can just call me Evan. I’m a moderately young writer/filmmaker from San Diego, California and I fancy talking about movies around the clock. But enough about me; that’s not why I brought you citizenries here to talk. I’m here because I want to dig at the roots of why Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is whipping up a wee pot of controversy. 

Back in the year of 2016, a DEVISTATINGLY hyped-up DCEU movie, also known as the movie that shall not be named, ended up being an utter DISASTER—don’t tell anyone I said this, but that wretched movie is called Suicide Squad. That poor, dear flick additionally happened to be the movie to introduce Margot Robbie’s spectacular interpretation of Harley Quinn, and the film was planned to set up the villainous world of the DC universe. Unfortunately, after the fact that countless had witnessed such a dumpster fire of a motion picture, nobody really desired a sequel or spin-off to the movie that shall not be namedwink wink, Suicide Squad. A couple years later, Birds of Prey was rumored amongst the internet as possibly being a “feminist movie”—GASP. And, as speculation causes, both men and women began not caring about what the actual cinematic (AKA, important) content of the follow-up was going to hopefully feature, but began either getting aggravated or preachy about the likes of a movie being feminist-oriented. 

Now, I have finally gotten to witness the movie myself (and you should too if you’re one of those low-lives who are currently criticizing or applauding a movie before it even comes out) and conclusively, while the movie does cover such topics as misogyny and female empowerment lightly, it is but only a sliver of the cake that feels more tacked onto the final product than it does appear fore-fronting—so quit your bitchin’ and whinin’ and enjoy or don’t enjoy the damn movie as a MOVIE. Okay, FABULOUS! Glad we understand one another now! 

Margot Robbie’s gracious return to the ferocious Harley Quinn character was effortlessly the greatest blessing of Birds of Prey. Unlike recent DC failures such as Suicide Squad and Justice Leauge, this new movie advantageously has a leading character that we can latch onto rather than subconsciously forget. The extroverted, cartoonish style of Birds of Prey is affectionately reminiscent of the zany Harley Quinn comic-books and not only added flavor to the movie’s presentation but will simultaneously please geeky accuracy fans as well. The violent, over-the-top, and creatively designed action sequences were also comically set-up to the point of recapturing the lampoon flair of Harley’s imaginative yet cuckoo world from the source material. Nevertheless, the questionable choreography of these battle scenes is sometimes iffy in its department. For newcomer to the blockbuster business director Cathy Yan, however, the work displayed in Birds of Prey’s colorful presentation is somewhat meritorious. Yipee! 

Sadly, my readers, that is around the extent of Birds of Prey’s value. What absolutely stings this flick in the ass, is, well, a number of things actually. Its aimlessly fucked-up timeline creates unnecessary confusion and degratification. The migraine-inducing attempts to flesh-out numerous characters (sidekicks, villains, officers of the law, etc.) into an hour and forty-nine minutes of screen-time felt very familiar to the defective realms of the clunky Suicide Squad. The plot is unbearably formulaic and uninspired with predictable character arcs, slothful writing, serendipity scattered throughout, and a distracting original soundtrack—so just about everything you’d come to expect from your run-of-the-mill DCEU blockbuster at this point! 

So you may be asking yourselves, does this all bum you out, Evan? The medicoreness of the picture, does it bother you? No. Frankly, I’m fine that this movie exists. I didn’t regret watching it nor did I enjoy watching it, it was just everything I’ve come to expect from team-up, comic-book blockbusters at this point, and I’m much too careless to get aggravated at another one of these second-rates existing. To the people though who are blowing this typical anti-hero flick out of proportion through political absurdity, as Ms. Harleen Frances Quinzel herself would suggest, get yourselves a nice, juicy, possibly expired breakfast sandwich down at your local corner store, and chill the hell-o out, okay? Marvelous! 

Verdict: C-

DCEU Ranked, 2019 Ranked 

“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” will be released in theaters February 7, 2020.

 

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Every 2020 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Film Briefly Reviewed + More!

2020 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films > 2020 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Films

And, by a looooooooong shot too. 

Hair Love (2019)

You people with perfectly straight hair have nooooooooo idea what it’s like. And this is only coming from a dude! 

Damn this is the best Pixar film I’ve seen since Coco—it’s not actually Pixar so please don’t let that joke fly over your head; thank you very much. I wish the final scene didn’t feel so tacked on though considering how obvious the secret “YouTuber’s” identity became towards the third act, but hey, it’s all good and done. 

Verdict: 3/5

Daughter (2019)

If you thought the animation in Coraline was creepy, wait until you get a load of this…

Daughter is an unconventional stop-motion that is directed with some of the most schizophrenic camera mannerisms ever put to animation. It’s told under a very abstract and obscure method yet you at least understand an idea of how the daughter’s brain is functioning and what the relationship between her and the father might be. “It’s borderline experimental.” 

The low Letterboxd rating is criminal, by the way. DON’T HATE THE STRANGE. 

Verdict: 3.5/5

Sister (2018) 

A charmingly animated stop-motion picture that is the mundane Fight Club wannabe of stop-motion short films. Solid diss on China’s retired one-child policy, too! You tell ‘em! 

Verdict: 3/5 

Mémorable (2019) 

Mémorable is the Synecdoche New York of animated shorts that dabbles in Altizemer’s disease and the psychological prison that it encloses. The puppet molds and set pieces are absolutely staggering and inventive, as well as its abstract depiction of memory loss. WINNER ALERT—hopefully; I’m crossing my fingers!

Verdict: 4/5 

Kitbull (2019) 

CUTE, but also really f’ed up? 

Kitbull takes the cheesy stigma “don’t judge a book by its cover” and applies it in a more convincing matter to the world of pets! If I find out that any of you have even thought about supporting dogfighting, I will personally hunt you down and do…something bad and mean to you!

Verdict: 3.5/5

The Short Films (Honorable Mentions) That Almost Got Nominated for the 2020 Oscars Briefly Reviewed: 

Henrietta Bulkowski (2019)

You could remove all the superfluous narration in this short film and we would’ve gotten just as much out of the story as without it. However, it’s got fantastic animation, good intentions, yet, some seriously goofy and indecisive writing. Meh. 

Verdict: 2.5/5

The Bird & The Whale (2018)

SAD WHALES DON’T CRY. 

It was aight. Very “poetic.” Laboriously crafted animation. Good job? 

Verdict: 2.5/5

Hors piste (2018)

Reminds me of those old-fashioned slapstick cartoons that you don’t see too often these days. PRAISE BE! 

Verdict: 3/5

Maestro (2019)  

Somebody watched a very foreign edition of The Little Mermaid recently…

My expectations were subverted, I guess? Pretty animation, I can’t deny, howbeit. 

Verdict: 2.5/5 

Oscar-Nominated Short Films Ranked 

The 2020 Oscar-nominated animated short films are now playing in select theaters. 

 

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Every 2020 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Film Briefly Reviewed

A Sister (2018)

IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) is such a common yet disturbing occurrence that happens in human culture, and to see an obscure visionary bring it to a cinematic format through a secretive 911 call was quite eye-opening and gripping to watch. 

The short film doesn’t do anything past just showing you what the event would realistically look like—so it doesn’t personally have a whole lot to say on the matter. However, it sought out and succeeded in doing exactly what it intended to do—successfully portray a realistic 911 call that subtly hints at a rape crisis.

A Sister would definitely be the short film out of the five that I would prefer to win, by the way. Evan’s lock of the year! 

Verdict: 3.5/5

Brotherhood (2018)

Scattered with plot-holes left and right, Brotherhood is a flawed but, thankfully, poignant and tightly shot short film that has a handful to say about egotistical parenting, degrading presumptions, and the un-talked-about intentions of some soldiers who want to leave a war behind. 

Verdict: 3/5 

The Neighbors’ Window (2019)

I’m about 99.9% sure that this 20-minute short is just a VIAGRA commercial that spontaneously decided to become a cancer awareness PSA at the last second.

I know, this is the “American” short film of the five pictures nominated, but please Academy, don’t let this corny-ass feature win. 

I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt though; it does have good intentions, and I can respect that. Somewhat. 

Verdict: 2/5

Saria (2019)

It is so utterly disturbing to even contemplate that abusive conditions like the ones exemplified in Saria actually occur in some orphanages in Guatemala. It’s a shame that the short film telling the devastating story of the tragic fire that occurred in Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home is so bizarrely written and inadequately executed. 

Despite the quality of the actual picture being moderately low-grade, I think that this is a real-life situation that everybody should become aware of, so I do still recommend for anyone strong-willed enough to watch Saria and educate themselves. Or…better yet, just read about it. 

Verdict: 2.5/5

Nefta Football Club (2018)

Nefta Football Club is pretty funny at times, but I cease to understand what is so marvelous about it to receive a nomination by The Academy. It’s definitely not bad by any means though; it’s a fairly mind-numbing watch. 

Verdict: 2.5/5

I think all these 2020 Academy Award live-action short film nominations have firmly convinced me that we must petition to get a Letterboxd filmmaker nominated next year. I’ve witnessed folks on YouTube and “Piercing Productions” who have crafted far more experimental and innovative short pictures that deserve to be chosen more than most of these nominations. Then again, this is a LOT to ask from The…Academy

Oscar-Nominated Short Films Ranked

The 2020 Oscar-nominated live-action short films are now playing in select theaters.

 

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Gretel and Hansel Marks an Unfortunate Turn of Events in Proficient Director Oz Perkins’s Career

Aww, what a handsome movie, indeed. 

Hybrid of a horror picture Gretel and Hansel emphasizes the hard sweat and tears that accomplished filmmaker Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter) lives to deliver. Unfortunately, Perkins’s third feature-length may have definitively been hijacked by a writer’s room that wanted to cram too many ideas into a classy, patient director’s possibly intuitive vision. Its enchanting alignment of colors may draw you into its delectable visual appearance, but beware, the story at hand is a derivative fiasco that will eat your tolerance alive! 

The newest spin on the ancient tale of Hansel and Gretel is that of a much darker matter—the house isn’t made of candy in this one, folks. Shot impeccably to a degree of stimulating ethereality, Gretel and Hansel does come off as an attractive-looking yet terrorizing creature, however, this does not deduce all that is in the “meal.” The secondary dish to Orion Pictures’s latest horror project is entirely seasoned with sporadic sequences, a structure so overwrought, and wooden increments of editing procedures. Buoyant YA-inspired narration and reservedly subtle Oz Perkins-rooted directing seem to not fruitfully go hand and hand in this frankensteined recipe. It’s of the equivalent to witnessing a hurricane try to chase an earthquake; it just doesn’t function properly or mesh adhesively. The sweeping supper is, furthermore, topped with one of the most miserable attempts at ending a motion picture off on an uplifting note—squealing away defensively as an unwise tonal misconception. 

In conclusion, Orion Pictures’s rightfully placed “January” live-action asset is a forced attempt at living among the greater deeds of modern-day experimental horror cinema. Gretel and Hansel, disappointingly, is unlikely to thrive with other achievements of its adapted genre. It’s The Witch, not The VVitch

Verdict: C-

“Gretel and Hansel” will be released in theaters on January 31, 2020.