Review: ‘Synchronic’ will surprise you time and time again.

SYNCHRONIC

Synopsis:
When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.

At this point, all I really need to see to get excited is “A Moorhead and Benson Film” on my screen. You literally never know what you’re going to get except that it will most likely make you question your own reality. Synchronic is yet another visual and storytelling mindfuck. After the success of Spring and The Endless, Jaime Dornan and Anthony Mackie headline their newest trippy installment. The camera work is as dizzying as the plot. You are plunged into the darkness immediately. The editing is a damn triumph. You cannot look away in fear of missing the smallest clue. When the plot is actually revealed, an entirely new layer of insanity is unleashed. It is a head trip of epic proportions. It’s what fellow Whovians like to call “Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey”. Now that my nerd is sufficiently showing, I can gladly report that the awesome flows throughout the film will nuance and heart. These men are flawed. Fully fleshed out human beings with serious issues. Throw in a mystery drug that’s is traumatizing users, oftentimes killing them in the most bizarre ways and you’ve gone from drama to sci-fi spectacular. Synchronic is beyond engrossing for all of the reasons above… and so much more.

Dornan is great as the privileged guy who takes his family for granted. When his daughter disappears into thin air, the performance ramps up. Mackie has the challenge of not only portraying a man whose body is failing him but to convey the magnitude of Synchronic to the audience. Both performances give us very different things. Their chemistry is spot on. But it is Mackie that must be the driving force for Moorhead and Benson’s creation. Their films are so carefully crafted in story and visual treats that we are compelled to sit up a little straighter as we audibly exclaim, ‘WFT!” That’s the beauty of this team. The breadcrumbs are there. The social commentary is unmissable. Synchronic will be lauded as another fantastic notch in the belt of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, there is no doubt about that. It may be the film that moves them from indie genre filmmaker crushes to household names.

In Theaters & Drive-Ins October 23rd

Directed by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, and Ally Ioannides

 

Coming Soon… Matthew Schuchman‘s interview with Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson.

Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for the inside info on SYNCHRONIC!

Screamfest 2020 review: ‘A Ghost Waits’ conjures real emotion.

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

A GHOST WAITS

Jack’s job is to fix up the house. Spectral agent Muriel’s eternal task is to haunt it. They should be enemies, but they become fascinated by one another and eventually smitten, leading them to question everything about their work, lives, and decisions. But as pressure mounts for them to fulfill their duties, something’s got to give for the time together they both so desperately want.
A Ghost Waits made its North American premiere at Screamfest 2020 last night and was not at all what I was expecting. This is a total compliment. Jack is just trying to do his job… and Muriel is trying to do hers. When two lonely souls connect, not even death can keep them apart. In A Ghost Waits, it is quite the contrary. A “morbidly romantic” story might be an appropriate description. This film is pure indie magic with dialogue that is equal parts hilarious and emotional. Not to mention the effect of using what appears to be a simple flashlight to create a ghostly glow for our spectral agent, Muriel. The usual tropes of self-opening doors and cabinets, mysterious crying babies, and things disappearing are all very effective tools unutilized in the script, but it’s the genuine relationship between Jack and Muriel that makes this film stand out.
The song “Yellow Cotton Dress” as performed by lead actor MacLeod Andrews is something I would listen to on loop. I was blown away by his comic timing as well as his ability to make me weep. A great deal of the film is just Andrews doing his thing. You will be enamored with him.  After the film ended, I actually watched a 12-minute video of him recording a chapter from an audiobook. It was outstanding. It was a completely different side to the loveable and vulnerable character of Jack we get in this film. I’m suggesting you cast him in all the things, pronto. Natalie Walker clearly has a handle on comedy as well, taking a seemingly serious angle to Muriel. Her commitment to tone is spot on. MacLeod and Walker as a team are spectacular. Their chemistry just works.
The ending swings from genuinely devastating and to simply beautiful. It speaks volumes about the things we don’t talk enough about to one another. Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen. Sometimes we just need some help. This is one of the most unique scripts of the year. Director Adam Stovall co-wrote the script with Andrews and they’ve given us an entirely different perspective on horror and mental health. A Ghost Waits will undoubtedly surprise Screamfest audiences long after the credits roll. It’s a bit of a genre-bending wonder.
Black and White
English Language

79 minutes
Not Rated
🏆 WINNER, FRIGHTFEST 2020 🏆
BEST ACTOR
BEST DIRECTOR
BEST PICTURE

Review: ‘Alone’ plays on inherent fears.

Jules Willcox (Netflix’s Bloodline) stars in ALONE as Jessica, a grief-stricken widow who flees the city in an attempt to cope with the loss of her husband.  When Jessica is kidnapped by a mysterious man and locked in a cabin in the Pacific Northwest, she escapes into the wilderness and is pursued by her captor. The key cast includes Marc Menchaca (Ozark, The Outsider) and Anthony Heald (The Silence Of The Lambs).

In college, I used to drive 8 hrs, regularly, in my car to visit a boyfriend. I was alone. I drove straight through pausing only briefly if I saw families at a busy rest stop. But, I was alone.  John Hyam’s new film is everything I was afraid of happening to me on those long rides.  ALONE is a bonafide nightmare. The genius of this script is its simplicity. The relatively mundane encounters build in the most honest and horrifying way. Jessica does everything right. But, once a serial killer has you in his sites, there is no escape, or so you might think. The pacing is absolutely perfect. The sound editing highlights the isolation that is evident in the natural setting. The soundtrack beating it all into you. All combined you feel like you’re in Jessica’s shoes. ALONE is a stripped-down genre winner.

Jules Willcox is a powerhouse as Jessica. Her vulnerability is so relatable making it easy to root for her survival. This is a power dynamic that shouldn’t exist but women, in particular, are used to dealing with it constantly. With an evergrowing population of “incel’ culture, walking with your keys between your fingers, pretending to be on the phone, parking under a streetlight, are all small steps we take to protect ourselves. Women are often deemed too emotional until we are tested by the unimaginable. ALONE exploits all that ingrained fear and mixes it with grief. Willcox nails this role from every angle. Marc Menchaca does a brilliant job with physicality. He comes off as visually harmless but he is downright scary. Perfectly balancing emotional manipulation with the brute strength of a psychopath, you’ll believe he’s done this before.

This film put me in such an agitated state, I had fingernail marks in my palms. My heart was pounding and I would forget to breathe. The final scene is phenomenally satisfying for innumerable reasons. The final shot is stunning. ALONE is a visceral watch. It is the only accurate way to describe this chilling film.

Magnet Releasing will release ALONE in theaters and on-demand September 18th, 2020.

Directed by John Hyams

Written by Mattias Olsson

Starring Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, and Anthony Heald

Review: ‘LX2048’ is a snapshot into a disturbing possible future.

In the near future, the sun has become so toxic people can no longer leave their houses in daytime, and normal life is conducted mostly inside the virtual realm. Against this dystopian backdrop, a dying man seeks to ensure the future well-being of his family, while coping with what it means to be human in this new reality.

The opening credits give you a tiny preview of what kind of visual delight you’re in for. Writer/director Guy Moshe has crafted a frightening and dark film. All the more impactful in 2020, when everything we do has now become virtual, LX 2048 is terrifying because in theory, 28 years from now this feels completely plausible. Residents of this new world are ordered to take government-sanctioned antidepressants because the sun is no longer safe to step into. Once you die, you can upgrade to a clone that will seamlessly take your place. That might sound like a dream to some but when does the human experience end and technology take over completely? Is there where humanity goes to die? With the new countdown clock in Union Square now counting down to irreplaceable climate damage, is this film an omen?

The sets make you feel like these people are living in Ray Bradbury‘s play The Veldt. Backlit, padded rooms, where the human is visually connected to a virtual pair of glasses creating their reality. It’s fascinating but emotionally disconnected, which is entirely the point. Besides the look, the engrossing exploration of the meaning of life through technology advancement. LX 2048 could easily be an entire series. There is a lot that gets packed into roughly an hour and 45 minutes.

James D’Arcy‘s performance is riveting.  As Adam, he must grapple with the notion that his children are part of this system, that his marriage has deteriorated past saving, and that a “better version on himself” could show up to replace him at any moment. We must sift through his depression, mania, hope, hysteria. It is a roller coaster of emotions for the audience. Many scenes require D’Arcy to speak to people at length that are not actually present. A lot of virtual meetings and calls.  It’s like watching a masterclass in acting. Wait for the Shakespeare to drop. You’ve only just begun to see the full scope of his talents.

LX 2048 challenges your idea of ethics all while entertaining the hell out of you. Dive headfirst into this not so farfetched idea of what could be coming our way… Whether we like it or not. LX 2048 comes out today in Virtual Cinemas and North American VOD.

James D’Arcy (Dunkirk, “Broadchurch”, Marvel’s “Agent Carter”) headlines the cast as a man who has resisted humanity’s exodus to virtual reality.  With his death fast approaching and a clone ready to step in as husband and father, Adam struggles to find a way out of his situation, to protect his wife (Anna Brewster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “Versailles”) and children.  The cast is rounded out by frequent Spike Lee collaborator and Tony Award nominee Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X, Da 5 Bloods, “The Good Fight”) and BAFTA winner Gina McKee (“Our Friends in the North”, “The Borgias”, Phantom Thread).

LX 2048 will be available to rent or own September 25th on Amazon, iTunes, Comcast, Spectrum, Dish, DirecTV, Vudu and more in the US and Canada.