Reel Redemption: The Rise of Christian Cinema (2020)

Hollywood and religion don’t often mix. However, many of the most successful movies of all time have been faith-based. Writer and director Tyler Smith explores that holy — and at times unholy — union of the sacred and the secular in the film industry.

I was surprised at how even-handed this film was, even taking time to defend the slasher genre from Siskel and Ebert of all things. It also shows a deft understanding that faith films made just for money totally miss much of the point of faith-based films. Seeing this much open-mindedness in a movie like this is enlightening.

To learn more, check out the film’s official page.

Two Ways to Go West (2020)

After testing his sobriety at a bachelor party on the Vegas strip, a recovered drug addict and former TV star learns that dealing with his childhood friends and girlfriend may be what causes him to relapse. He’s not leaving the room and neither are they, so something has to happen.

This movie was directed by Ryan Brookhart, and written and produced by James Liddell, who also plays Gavin. If you don’t recognize Ryan’s name, you may know his artwork, as he’s created plenty of the cover art and posters for Full Moon.

Levy Tran, who was in The First PurgeThe Haunting of Hill House and the new version of MacGyver is also in this movie. She plays Addy, the dancer that they are waiting for in their hotel room as all hell breaks loose inside it.

You can get this movie on demand from Global Digital Releasing, who was kind enough to send us a copy. There’s also an official Facebook page to learn more.

Parallax (2020)

Playing in theaters — the COVID-19 pandemic has helped many movies get seen more than they’d expect otherwise — this science fiction film concerns Naomi, a young woman who awakens to a life that is not her own. As she starts to learn the truth, she wonders if she’s sane. The rest of the time she;s worried that nightmares and a black void will take her.

Writer/director/producer Michael Bachochin has put together a story here that takes a while to get to its conclusion. It looks nice, there’s a good idea, but this is a movie that demands patience.

Parallax is in theaters only for now, but will be available soon from October Coast, who were nice enough to send us a copy of the film.

The Last Five Days (2020)

Two college students find evidence connecting a story they are investigating for film class — all about possessed fruit — to a series of deaths. Things begin to spiral out of control when an unknown force watching them becomes angry in this found footage film.

I’m not really the correct audience for this genre, but this movie didn’t really bother me, which is more than I can say for most found footage films. I’ve never seen a movie before where fruit turns people evil, so I can now safely say that I have checked that off my bucket list.

The Last Five Days available now on demand and DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

Stationary (2020)

Over one tense afternoon in a car, Jimmy (Xavian Russell, Top Boy) comes back home and comes to terms with former drug buddy Che (Rebekah Brookes-Murrell). This film also features Aaron Thomas Ward, who was in Accident Man.

The beauty of this film is how it uses its limited setting to tell a much larger story. Credit for that goes not only to director Louis Chan, but to the talented actors who bring this story to life.

To learn more, check out the official site.

You can watch the film here:

Thanks to Jonathan Caicedo-Galindo, the producer and an up and coming filmmaker, for sending this our way.

Genevieve (2020)

Nicholas Michael Jacobs is a young man who sends us movies every once in a whole, like NightUrban Fears and Tales from Six Feet Under.

Genevieve is a spin-off of that last film. In this five-minute-long story, Ted Morris is attending his son’s funeral while two criminals are breaking into his home. Those criminals want one thing: the infamous — and potentially saleable — killer doll, Genevieve. Of course, things don’t go well.

Nicholas does a lot right — he has an IMDB page for the movie, he sends out numerous links for reviews and keeps pushing. Sooner or later, he’s going to make a movie that isn’t shot in POV and has people swearing to themselves for the entire running time. Again, this is not that time, but I also know that next year, I’ll have another film from him that will look better than this one.

For example, the credits look great on this one. So does the poster. It’s another step forward.

You can watch the movie here:

The Runners (2020)

This movie is the nightmare of every parent. Or older brother, as the case may be. After losing their parents in a car accident, Ryan is raising Zoe, who has suddenly entered that rebellious stage of the teen years. That’s all well and good, but in the kind of twist that would inform a Trump rally horror speech, that cute boy she’s sneaking around with ends up selling her into white slavery. Ed Wood is grinning in his grave at this development.

Ryan has to find her before she’s taken into Mexico and lost. But who will protect him when the gang catches him and begins a night of torture?

I feel like nearly every movie I watch in 2020 will have Tom Sizemore in it as a cop or a preacher. I’m looking forward to the buddy movie with he and Eric Roberts as cop ministers. Man, I should have written that script because now that I’ve said it, I’ve basically brought it into existence.

This was co-directed by Joey Loomis and Micah Lyons, who also wrote and stars in the film. It has one of the most astounding fight scenes I’ve seen all year, one in which a brutal battle takes a quick turn when the bad guy does a kip up in the midst of beating the hero into a pulp. These things never happen in reality.

The Runners is available as of July 14 on demand and on DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment, who were nice enough to send us a review copy.

Escape: Puzzle of Fear (2020)

Matthew Blake (Tommy Nash from Abducted and The Amityville Terror) is one of Hollywood’s top agents . . . carrying some dark baggage with a few rattling bones and he deserves a comeuppance. And his oldest friend and his new, bombshell girlfriend have decided that revenge is a dish best served bloody ‘n’ warm inside Los Angeles’ newest Escape Room.

The marquee name on this one is Nicholas Turturro, who you know from his seven-year run on NYPD Blue and his six-year run on Blue Bloods, as well as his co-starring roles in the cable replay favorites Here Comes the Boom and The Longest Yard (and as the lead in the low-budget The Hillside Strangler from 2004). Another familiar cast face is daytime actor and network TV series stalwart John Colton who is also part of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! cast of stock players.

Writer and director Lizze Gordon is relatively new to the film world, with one feature film under her belt in those roles: the 2017 horror film #Captured. She has two other films in various stages of pre-and-post-production: Kill Cam and The Hard Way. We previously reviewed Lizze Gordon’s Coven, which she wrote and starred (that became available on DVD and VOD on July 14).

There’s no trailer available as of yet, but you’ll be able to watch it in the coming weeks at Uncork’d Entertainment’s website and at their You Tube page. You can also view Lizze Gordon’s previous works on You Tube. You’ll be able to purchase DVDs and VOD streams for Escape: Puzzle of Fear beginning August 18.

You can watch #Captured on You Tube Movies.

Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.

Limbo (2020)

Limbo is a From Dusk Till Dawn-inspired, multi-purpose seedy bar, jailhouse, and court of law that lies somewhere in the ethers between heaven and earth where souls—both good and bad—stand trial to decide their final destination: heaven or hell. Cast into Limbo is Jimmy (Lew Temple), a murderer caught in a cat-and-mouse game between a slick prosecutor (Lucian Charles Collier, aka Stian “Occultus” Johannsen in Lords of Chaos) and an inexperienced defense attorney (ubiquitous TV actress Scottie Thompson). She wants to go for a full pardon . . . but there hasn’t been a “full redemption” in Hell for over 2,000 years . . . and Lucifer doesn’t want this case going to trial and wants it closed.

Casting is everything in an indie film, as familiar names and faces (Veronica Cartwright from Alien, James Purefoy from TV’s The Following, Chad Linberg from CSI: NY and Supernatural) offer encouragement to hit that big red streaming button.

In addition to that supporting cast, we’re treated to a cast headlined by the always reliable Scottie Thompson, who we’ve enjoyed in her guest-starring roles on numerous television series, but most notably for her starring roles in Brotherhood, Trauma, Graceland, The Blacklist, NCIS, 12 Monkeys, and the rebooted MacGyver. You’ll recall Lew Temple from The Walking Dead, and (yes!!) the always awesome Peter Jacobson from his recurring roles in the Law and Order franchises and his starring role in House, but more recently for his starring roles in Ray Donovan, Fear the Walking Dead and NCIS: Los Angeles. Then there’s the elder statesman of thespians, Richard Riehle (!!), who recently lit up our streaming screens in The Invisible Mother.

But even with that cast and their respective resumes, we came for one reason and one reason only: Richard Riehle sports a pair of devil’s horns growing out of his skull. Okay, two reasons: Peter Jacobson has a set growin’ out of his head as well.

Streaming ticket sold.

Director Mark Young has been making films since the late ‘90s—nine in all; Limbo is his tenth film—and while we haven’t reviewed any of his previous films at B&S About Movies, Limbo shows that, if not going back to watch some of his older works, we’re certainly looking forward to his current post-and-pre-production efforts of Rebirth and Lost in Paradise.

You’ll be able to stream or pick up a copy of the DVD of Limbo on August 4. You can keep abreast of developments on the film at the Facebook pages of Alternate Ending Films and Uncork’d Entertainment.

Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.

Monstrous (2020)

Shanghaied by her boyfriend—Blair Witch-style (only with sharp ‘n steady cinematography and no handheld POVs; an intelligently-written script and no actor improv)—Sylvia (screenwriter Anna Shields) leaves Lansing, Michigan, and meets up with Alex (Rachel Finninger), another social media curiosity seeker, to research a series of disappearances—including Sylvia’s friend—in the Adirondacks outside Whitehall, New York. Sylvia soon comes to discover the monster lurking inside Alex is more sinister than any Bigfoot lurking in the woods.

Monstrous is lensed by Bruce Wemple, a New York City-based director, producer, writer, and editor with two indie-features to his credit: After Hours (2016) and Lake Artifact (2019). After Hours was the recipient of Best Picture at the 2017 Philip K. Dick Film Festival, along with the Audience Choice Award at the 2017 Boston SciFi Film Festival, and Best Sci-Fi Picture at the 2017 Buffalo Fantastic Film Festival. Screenwriter and star Anna Shields is a New York-based actor who’s amassed twenty-five screen credits across various indie projects in a short nine years. Rachel Finniger is new to the acting world and most recently appeared on a 2018 episode of Law & Order: SVU.

Each brings a quality to the screen that’s above most of the indie-streaming films available in today’s digital marketplace. It’s appreciated that while the film is spiced with social media plot points in its first act, the proceedings didn’t degrade into just another found footage-POV potboiler about a search for Bigfoot. Since Monstrous is female-driven by two actresses for most of the film, one would think the film to be prefect programming fodder for the female-center Lifetime Network—but this heads above that channel’s usual damsel-in-distress flicks.

You’ll be able to stream or pick up a copy of the DVD of Monstrous on August 11. You can keep abreast of developments on the film at 377 Entertainment’s website and Uncork’d Entertainment’s Facebook page.

Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publishes on Medium.