Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead,” the predictable “thriller” “Trigger Point” and the LGBTQ+ cabin-in-the-woods flick “The Retreat.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the over-the-top Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead,” the predictable “thriller” “Trigger Point” and the LGBTQ+ cabin-in-the-woods flick “The Retreat.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Marcia MacMillan chat up the weekend’s big releases, the over-the-top Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead,” the predictable “thriller” “Trigger Point” and the LGBTQ+ cabin-in-the-woods flick “The Retreat.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the over-the-top Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead,” the predictable “thriller” “Trigger Point” and the LGBTQ+ cabin-in-the-woods flick “The Retreat.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the blood soaked Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead,” the predictable “thriller” “Trigger Point” and the LGBTQ+ cabin-in-the-woods flick “The Retreat.”
“The Retreat,” now streaming on VOD, is a survivalist horror film that sees big city couple Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) out of their element and fighting for their lives in the remote countryside.
Renee and Valerie are at the, “If this isn’t going anywhere you have to let me know,” stage of their relationship. Valerie wants to go to the next level, Renee is elusive. Affectionate but noncommittal. “I’m trying to talk to someone who clearly has trouble with adult conversation and avoiding conflict,” Valerie says.”
A weekend away at a cabin with friends seems like the tonic their relationship needs, but doesn’t turn out as planned. They arrive to find the place deserted with no sign of friends Connor (Chad Connell) and Scott (Munroe Chambers). Alone in unfamiliar surroundings, the couple stumble across some unsettling signs. They hear sounds in the woods and a deer’s head strung between two trees unnerves Valerie but Renee, who used to hunt with her family, is less freaked out. “We were there to reduce the population by selective slaughter,” she says, foreshadowing an inner strength that will soon come in handy.
As darkness falls, they are convinced someone is watching from the woods and soon they’re in a battle for their lives against militant extremists determined to kill them simply because they are “different.” “Time to cull,” says killer Gavin before the axes start swinging.
Played out over a tight 82 minutes, “The Retreat” doesn’t waste time in setting up its characters and situation. Building atmosphere and a sense of tension through the remote setting and strain between Valerie and Renee, director Pat Mills gets down to business quickly, amping up the eeriness with jump scares and an eerie soundtrack.
These scenes are effective enough, although once the darkness hits, physically and metaphysically, the film itself goes dark with low light photography that sometimes makes it hard to see what’s happening.
So far, it’s a typical cabin-in-the-woods set-up but with one major difference.
What sets “The Retreat” apart from other rural survivalist films is its subtext. Horror is not often kind to LGBTQ+ characters, treating them as villains or killing them off soon after the opening credits have roiled. Here they are front and center. Hunted by a group of heavily armed losers simply because of who they are, Renee and Valerie fight back.
“The Retreat” is a welcome twist on the survival genre from a queer director and female screenwriter that mixes anxiety, horror and empowerment.
“Parallel Minds,” now on VOD, is a mystical murder mystery with a high-tech twist.
Set in the near future, the action begins during an important presentation for Red Eye, a new device capable of accessing memories. “A contact lens,” announces inventor Conrad Stallman (Neil Napier) at the product launch, “that records not what the eye can see but hat the mind can remember.
“We are made up of our experiences and the memories of those experiences. Now, your memories are no longer a thing of the past. Be where you remember being. See old friends, family.”
Stallman’s sales pitch is compelling but backstage there are problems. “It’s not ready,” says Red Eye’s head programmer Elise Perrott (Michelle Thrush) as she scurries away, returning to her lab. There she gives her best friend, Metis researcher Margo Elson (Tommie-Amber Pirie), the secret password for her work computer. “Consider yourself my back up plan,” she says ominously.
The next morning, after a tormented sleep, Margo awakens to the news that Elise has been found dead in her lad of an apparent suicide.
Investigating the case is Thomas Elliot (Greg Bryk), a troubled police officer who, when asked if he is the detective on the case, snarls, “Till someone tells me otherwise.” He’s a tough guy (who drinks expired milk) with a habit doing things like inexplicably kicking open the already open door to Elise’s apartment. “You know you could have just asked me for the key to the door,” says Margot, arriving a second later. Or perhaps he could have just used the doorknob, but either way, he’s a walking cliché. The two agree to work together, he’ll do the police work, she’ll help him navigate the high-tech aspects of Elise’s work.
Secrets abound and there’s suspicion and skullduggery around every corner. The brand-new technology has a serious glitch, a shady multi-national security company is hiding something and Thomas has more baggage than the cargo hold of a 747. But there’s more. A hacker named Jade Drayton (Madison Walsh) hints at something huge. “You’ve wandered into a war no one knows is being waged. A war of conscience and knowledge.”
A return to Margo’s childhood home, the scene of trauma, forces her to confront old memories that may hold the key to solving the mystery of Elise’s death.
Benjamin Ross Hayden, the Métis director, writer, producer and actor from Calgary, weaves together a story that embraces new and old. Margo is a scientist but it is her connection to and belief in Indigenous traditions that gives her the inner strength to get to the bottom of the mystery of “Parallel Minds.”
Cliched and melodramatic dialogue mars the film, which is a shame because the female characters have great promise. Margo, Jade and Elise are interesting people and the engines that keep “Parallel Minds” moving forward.
“Parallel Minds” shows promise. There are many cool ideas here but they are hampered by a modest budget unable to realize the set pieces Hayden offers up. There’s stylish photography and some good location work but the film’s ambition outstrips its execution.
A few years ago the romantic comedy was flat lining, suffering from a seemingly incurable case of the Katherine Heigls. The once proud genre—think “When Harry Met Sally”—had surrendered to predictability with witless stories and characters who took the bus straight from Central Casting.
Director Matt Sadowski skirts around this by calling his new movie “Pretend We’re Kissing,” a non com, but make no mistake, this is a rom com, but the kind of romantic comedy that won’t make you run from the theatre suffering from saccharine overload.
Dov Tiefenbach is Benny, a pensive twenty-something who pays the rent by covering downtown Toronto with band posters. His flatmate is a nudist (Zoë Kravitz) with a worldview somewhere between Shirley MacLaine and Gloria Steinem who has crashed there for a year while looking for work.
Despite living with a beautiful, often naked woman Benny is a lonely heart. Single, until he meets Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and is instantly smitten but too insecure to do anything about his feelings. Soon a courtship begins—this is a rom com after all—but it’s not all smooth sailing because this isn’t a Drew Barrymore rom com.
“Pretend We’re Kissing” is tribute to Toronto—the Toronto Islands and the Cameron House are almost characters in the film—and a funny, occasionally sweet, occasionally cringe-worthy look at ups and downs of millennial love. More importantly it breaks the mould as to what a romantic comedy can be.