The Babadook (2014)


A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. (IMDb)
The chilling mood created by startling sound effects and eerie visuals is amplified by stellar editing in both areas, as a wide and volatile volume spectrum along with quick scene cuts keep you on the edge of your seat. The truly spooky monster plot, meanwhile, is filled out nicely by the unsettling lead characters–a discomfortingly violent young boy and his tragic single mother (Davis is excellent). This is hard-working horror that relies on a well-crafted atmosphere instead of cheap scares.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)


Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane – like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts. (IMDb)
The perfectly deadpan doc-style delivery is delightful as it presents with wonderful wit and mirthfully morbid frankness mundane expositions on the typical vampire lore, from watching sunrises on Youtube to debating over who has to clean the bloody dishes. Many clever mini-storylines (newbie Nick’s integration into the group is one highlight) and hilarious characters (see the never-fazed software programmer Stu and the pack of rational werewolves) add even further humour to this great premise.
8/10 (Great)


Dumb and Dumber To (2014)


Twenty years since their first adventure, Lloyd and Harry go on a road trip to find Harry’s newly discovered daughter, who was given up for adoption. (IMDb)
The writing here couldn’t be more contrived; cringe-worthy joke set-ups (rarely laugh-inducing) dominate the film’s comedy landscape that’s filled out by obviously desperate attempts at recreating the original’s outrageous visual/situational humour, while the plot’s movements are painfully stiff. There are good moments (the final twists are great) and the then/now slideshow in the end credits is remarkably redeeming, but up until then the film mostly fails to hit its mark.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. However, he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother and sister – who all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. (IMDb)

Genuine and funny turns from Carrell and Garner lead this short and sweet family comedy with a refreshingly simple slapstick story that offers plenty of laugh out loud moments to go with a nice little heartwarming message about getting through tough times that’s rarely distasteful in its straight-forward delivery, although it is watered down a bit by the easy happy ending–but hey, it’s for the kids, and adults can still appreciate the authenticity of the “sometimes life is hard” aspect of it.


John Wick (2014)

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. (IMDb)
The action and aesthetic here are excellent–the fight scenes are bountiful and brutal, backed by an unnerving soundtrack (“In My Mind” is particularly chilling) and a fittingly cold green look–but the story and characters leave things to be desired: The revenge plot feels a bit too basic (although it’s spiced with some morbidly humourous takes on hitman culture) and the only substantial character (Wick) feels all backstory–but the film’s short run time does offer some grace in these areas.
7/10 (Good)

Non-Stop (2014)

An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account. (IMDb)
The generic airport atmosphere opening sequence here serves as the perfect lead-in to this thrilling and claustrophobic ride where there’s an anonymous hijacker on board and everyone feels like a suspect. The suspense is top-notch here, with plenty of twists and chilling plot turns that keep you guessing as to who the bad guy is. The ending unfortunately doesn’t live up to the hype–it’s messy and uninspired–but Non-Stop still remains a solid and well-acted action-thriller.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Godzilla (2014)


The world is beset by the appearance of monstrous creatures, but one of them may be the only one who can save humanity. (IMDb)
Cranston’s passionate Joe Brody is a solid protagonist in the first act here but as the focus shifts to his son the film loses most of its emotional edge; Taylor-Johnson is wooden and Olson isn’t given much to work with. The monster/disaster plot is engaging, and it looks great (Godzilla’s dissonant piano-backed reveal is awesome) but without any interesting characters amongst the pure plot-movers (the military, the scientists), the film struggles to be more than just your typical monster movie.
6.5/10 (Alright)