Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Netflix animated movie “The Willoughbys,” the Netflix doc “Circus of Books,” the high school crime drama “Selah and the Spades” and a pair of big screen movies coming to VOD, “Bad Boys for Life” and “Run This Town.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the Melissa McCarthy mob story “The Kitchen,” the kid’s horror “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the family adventure of “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and the Casey Affleck drama :Light of My Life.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the live action “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” the mildly scary “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the family drama “Luce” and the mob tale “The Kitchen” with CFRA morning show guest host Matt Harris.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks two kid-friendly flicks, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and the intense family drama “Luce.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with guest host Ken Connors to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Melissa McCarthy mob story “The Kitchen,” the kid’s horror “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” and the family drama “Luce.”
When you think of kid’s books wholesome titles like “Captain Underpants” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” likely spring to mind. But for 1980s children with a darker sensibility who were too old for “The Addams Family” but too young for “Stephen King,” the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” trilogy by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, where must reads. Violent and eerie, the American Library Association reports that the gothic story collections were the most challenged books of the 1990s, which, of course, only made them more appealing to rebellious kids. A new film produced by horror master Guillermo Del Toro and directed by André Øvredal, uses the books as the basis for a new story.
Set in the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968, the action begins on Halloween. When besties Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) play a prank on the town bully, he looks for revenge forcing them to hide first at a drive-in where they meet new kid in town Ramón (Michael Garza).
The night soon leads them to a spooky house on the edge of town. The decrepit old place was once the grand home of the Mill Valley’s richest family, the Bellows. Now all that remains are dusty ruins and, as the kids discover, a diary of old stories written in blood by Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard), the youngest, cursed daughter of the once powerful family. As strange things happen the kids realize the book is making their worst fears come true. “You don’t read the book,” says Stella, “the book reads you. I’m afraid we woke the book up.”
This movie could be more accurately called “Mildly Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” It’s a collection of jump scares and creepy elements—scarecrows, spiders and a severed toe—cobbled together to create a teen-friendly flick that owes a debt to the Halloween afterschool specials of yesteryear. It’s Scooby Doo with courser language and better effects; an entry level horror for teens who find the Garbage Pail Kids too intense.
For any boomers who might take the kids or grandkids the “toe stew“ is gross but the scariest stuff comes in the form of background news reports on Vietnam and Nixon’s re-election.
As an anthology type movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is slowed by the supernatural sleuthing of Stella and company as they try to get to the bottom of sad Sarah’s story. Repetition of the legend and lots of shots of Chuck’s freaked out face slow the momentum. During one of these longer scenes I wondered, “When is the pacing building suspense and when is it building tedium?“ By the end credits the background mystery has sucked the air out of what could’ve been a tightly crafted fun movie.
“My resume belies some of my appetite for gross out humor,” laughs the South African born, Toronto-raised producer of the Seth Rogen hit This Is the End.
But today we’re not talking about his edgy work with Rogen, his writing (he co-wrote the satanic comedy Teen Lust which debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival this year) or his award winning short films.
“I love using the scope of filmmaking and really getting the wheels turning,” he says, “being larger than life and creating a world. I thought The Calling had all of that, elements of mystery and comedy and drama, that I thought were a real draw.”
The Calling is his feature directing debut and stars Susan Sarandon as small-town Canadian cop tracking down a serial killer.
“I still pinch myself that it all came together the way it did,” he says. “There’s a saying in casting, ‘Who’s going to be your cast magnet?’ We had a pretty powerful magnet with Susan and once she was involved we were able to attract talent as diverse as the top line cast, Topher [Grace], Ellen [Burstyn] and Donald [Sutherland].”
The movie is a throwback to, as Stone says, “propulsive thrillers with big ideas executed by brilliant actors.” He says movies like Kiss the Girls, Along Came a Spider and Silence of the Lambs, “used to be the bread and butter back in the early 90s and if we could even be put in the same breath as any of those I’d be thrilled.”
“Those are some of my favorite movies of that era. There is so much character in them. I feel like the studios have replaced a lot of the character in those mid range films with spectacle. It takes a lot more money to make your money back so you have to appeal to a much broader audience. I guess that means adding robots.”
Not that he’s unwilling to make a mega movie one day.
“I hope to have a long career making the films I’d love to make,” he says, “so if the right story comes along and there’s a budget behind it I feel like I’d definitely jump at the chance if there was a story I could connect to and I thought there was some humanity to it. I would like to think I would only make something I feel a personal connection to.”
There was a time when serial killers ruled the movie theatres. Movies like “Kiss the Girls,” “Se7en” and “Silence of the Lambs” were big hits and law enforcement types like Alex Cross and Clarice Starling were big draws. Now those stories have been moved to the small screen and television shows like “CSI” and “Criminal Minds” track down the kinds of killers their big screen counterparts used to stalk.
“The Calling” is a throwback to the type of 90s thrillers that made Ashley Judd a star and kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
Drawn from the pages of Inger Ash Wolfe’s mystery novels, Susan Sarandon plays pill-popping Detective Hazel Micallef, a world weary small town Canadian cop just a drunken whisper away from unemployment. The sleepy little town of Fort Dundas doesn’t offer up much in the way of major cases until a string of grisly murders—slit throats and organ removals—forces Micallef to dust off her detecting skills and track down a killer with driven by fanatical religious fervor.
First time director Jason Stone ratchets the bleak atmosphere up to Creep Factor Five in this eerie character driven mystery. There’s a little bit of “Fargo” in the mix, with some dark humor—“I just found the guy’s stomach!”—and disquieting imagery, but the real draw is watching the characters navigate through the film’s unsettled but strangely familiar world.
Sarandon is terrific as outwardly tough detective with a self-destructive center, while Sutherland brings his patented gravitas to the role of a priest who knows more than he is willing to let on. They, along with Grace, Burstyn (who isn’t given enough to do) and Gil Bellows as a no nonsense detective, temper the story’s more outrageous holistic killer Catholic elements.
“The Calling” could have snapped up the pacing a bit, but the slower tempo gives us more time to sit back and enjoy the performances.