‘The Predator’ is a two hour riff on mental illness and I’m actually a little sick to my stomach

Is it me, or has the predator design gotten really lackluster since the first movie? Image courtesy 20th Century Fox.

1/10 The Predator is one of the most appalling things that’s ever been released in theaters.

I don’t want to give this a full review — it’s not a full movie, so why would I? It was established very publicly well before release that The Predator would instead be a mashup of re-purposed footage with almost no thought given to the final cut’s merit as a standalone show.

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‘Searching’ a great story, not right for its gimmick

Searching does a wonderful job of turning computers into scary things. In moments like these, Kim appears to be visibly lost amongst the windows. Image courtesy Sony Pictures Releasing.

6/10 When I saw the first Unfriended, I thought it had the potential to advance film as an art from in a way that very few movies can. Four years later, Searching, which is also entirely composed of shots on various computer screens, comes careening into cinemas out of Sundance with some pedigree, an apparently serious take on the new gimmick.

Two years before Searching, David Kim (John Cho) lost his wife to cancer, and he and his daughter Margot (Michelle La) grew distant. One night, Margot leaves for her study group and never comes back, leaving her father with only three midnight missed calls and her forgotten laptop to work off of. Detective Rosemary Vick (Deborah Messing) believes Margot ran away, and Kim begins to take matters into his own hands.

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‘The Nun’ is 90 minutes of unvarnished nonsense

This split promotional image is literally the only creative visual associated with this movie, and it has barely anything to do with the story. Image courtesy Warner Bros.

1/10 Imagine if The Evil Dead 2 took itself seriously. That’s The Nun. The Nun is that bad.

“The darkest chapter of The Conjuring Universe” — because aping the language of its sister Insidious series wasn’t enough, they also had to steal from the MCU — begins with the Vatican learning that a nun of the Cârța Monastery in Romania has seemingly hanged herself. To investigate, Rome sends its worst — Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a priest disgraced after an exorcism gone wrong, and Sister Irene (Taissa Farminga), a novitiate nun who is solicited because of her “familiarity with the territory.” What is meant by this is never explained.

These two obviously underqualified exorcists journey to Southern Transylvania, where they meet Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault (Jonas Bloquet), the local who first made the horrific discovery. Together, they journey to the monastery, which to their great alarm, they find completely abandoned.

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Unheralded ‘Little Stranger’ one of the year’s best

Image courtesy Focus Features.

9/10 Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger didn’t even make $1 million — after a three weekend release, it’s wallowing at $713,143 domestic while most of the country was watching Crazy Rich Asians. Given how well The Nun would do just afterward, I think a lot of people genuinely wouldn’t understand what they missed out on.

In 1947, Dr. Farraday (Domhnall Gleeson, Oliver Zetterström as a child) is summoned to Hundreds Hall, home of the wealthy Ayers family, to tend to the family’s last remaining house maid Betty (Liv Hill). It is not the first time Farraday has seen the mansion. He was there when it first opened in 1919, when his mother was one of a host of the family’s servants.

The house of Ayers has fallen into extreme disrepair in the 30 years since, both in wealth and political power and in its physical manifestation, Hundreds Hall. The mansion’s entire upper floor has been abandoned. Its master Roderick (Will Poulter), who returned from the war with horrifying burns on most of his body and a mangled leg, believes a menace is lurking in the halls. “There’s something in this house that hates us,” he says.

Indeed, as Farraday treats Betty, then Roderick, then moves on to the family matriarch Angela (Charlotte Rampling) while taking a romantic interest in her last remaining child Caroline (Ruth Wilson), more and stranger misfortunes begin to befall the Ayers family. Angela is convinced that the spirit of her favorite daughter Susan (Tipper Siefert-Cleveland), who fell suddenly ill and died the very day in 1919 that Farraday first glimpsed the mansion, is haunting them from the abandoned upper floor.

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‘Operation Finale’ doesn’t show you the goods

Don’t get me wrong — this scene is very much worth the price of admission all by itself. Image courtesy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

5/10 Operation Finale was supposed to be a heavyweight talkie matchup between two of the best actors in the world, but the film minimizes that element in favor of some much less appetizing subplots.

In 1960, the Israeli government receives intelligence that Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), one of the last high-ranking Nazis to escape justice at the Nuremberg Trials who had been responsible for the logistics of the Holocaust, was hiding in Buenos Ares, Argentina. A 10-man Mossad team is sent to retrieve him, but Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and company find themselves trapped in hostile territory — not only are they violating Argentinian sovereignty, but the country has become a haven for fugitive Nazis. The team spends 10 days in an Argentine safehouse while Malkin attempts to convince Eichmann to authorize his extraction to stand trial in Jerusalem, effectively his own death warrant. 

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