Review: ‘Escape From Pretoria’ is a story of courage and engineering at its best.

Based on the real-life prison break of two political captives, ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is a race-against-time thriller set in the tumultuous apartheid days of South Africa.

The film is based on Tim Jenkin’s autobiography Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison. With the engineering of escape solutions being created and tested in what feels like real-time, the anticipation pulls you in. Your heart races at the idea of them getting caught. The failures and close calls will leave you just as shattered as our protagonists. This story is absolutely thrilling.

Performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Webber, and Mark Leonard Winter are riveting. Each a fully fleshed out portrayal of three men who did the impossible. From the accents to the sets, to the period costumes, Escape From Pretoria is triumphant storytelling. This film’s release is aptly timed for those who are part of the resistance and for being on the right side of history.

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA in select TheatersODemand and Digital on March 6, 2020.

ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is directed by Francis Annan (End of a Gun, House of the Rising Sun) from a script by Annan and LH AdamsThe film features an all-star cast which includesDaniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man),Daniel Webber (The Dirt, “The Punisher”), Ian Hart (Backbeat, The Last Kingdom)Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, “Cop Hard”) and Nathan Page (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”).  

Review: ‘BURN’ will knock you for a loop.

SYNOPSIS: BURN follows a lonely, unstable gas station attendant Melinda (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), tired of being overshadowed by her more confident, outgoing co-worker Sheila (Suki Waterhouse).   When the gas station is held at gunpoint by Billy (Josh Hutcherson), a desperate man in need of quick cash, Melinda finds an opportunity to make a connection with the robber, regardless of who gets hurt.

The young cast has fiery energy, pardon the pun. Suki Waterhouse is a fantastic, atypical pretty girl with a bitch streak. Harry Shum, Jr. is charming as the local newbie cop. Josh Hutcherson, who I cannot help but picture in his now-iconic Hunger Games role, is undeniably strong. The emotional highs and lows of his situation are striking. The real star is our leading lady, Melinda. Tilda Cobham-Hervey is haunting in both her physicality and nuance. She keeps you on the edge of your seat all while tapping into that lonely place we all have inside ourselves. The film begs the question, who is the real villain in this story? It tackles self-harm, isolation, and flips the classic power structure on its head in truly shocking ways. The plot is unique and it will go places you are not expecting. BURN will cause you internal struggle and that is what makes it pretty damn spectacular.

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller BURN in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on August 23, 2019.

Written and directed by Mike Gan (No Evil) who is making his feature directorial debut, the film stars Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games Films), Suki Waterhouse (Insurgent), Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Hotel Mumbai), Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians) and Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead).

Review: Can Daniel Radcliffe survive the ‘JUNGLE’?

 

Based on the international best-selling memoir by Yossi Ghinsberg

An enthusiastic young adventurer follows his dreams into the Amazon jungle with two friends and a guide with a mysterious past. Their journey quickly turns into a terrifying ordeal as the darkest elements of human nature and the deadliest threats of the wilderness lead to an all-out fight for survival.

Daniel Radcliffe is almost unrecognizable as real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg. Greg McLean‘s film, based on Ghinsberg’s harrowing journey (and autobiography) in the Bolivian jungle in 1981 is filled with some of the most gag-inducing moments in a non-horror film we’ve seen since 127hrs. Radcliffe, sporting a heavy accent, transforms onscreen from a fit hiker to gaunt survivor. His emotional and physical rollercoaster ride is quite the experience for the audience, proving once again that Radcliffe’s talent is far beyond his Harry Potter years.
The film is essentially broken into 2 equal parts equally. The first hour is how Yossi and company come to be in the jungle, to begin with. Relationships are challenged, tempers flare, bodies are wearing down. Suddenly, and by a devastating accident, Yossi falls into the raging river, stranding him alone. This second hour has Radcliffe in almost every shot. Blended with colorful flashbacks, seriously intense stunts, and beautiful insight, JUNGLE thrills. The story is beyond incredible, lending you to wonder how and if you could survive. Check out the trailer below!

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller JUNGLE in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD on October 20th.

A true story of survival against all odds, JUNGLE is based on the international best-selling memoir by Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg and is directed by Greg McLean (The Belko Experiment, Wolf Creek).  The film adaptation stars Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man, Horns, Harry Potter franchise) as Yossi, Thomas Kretschmann(Wanted, King Kong, Resident Evil: Apocalypse), Alex Russell (Carrie, Unbroken), and Joel Jackson (“Safe Harbour”).

Review: ‘The Gracefield Incident’ has familiar feel but is still cleverly fresh.

SYNOPSIS: Matthew Donovan, a video game editor, embeds an iPhone camera into his prosthetic eye to secretly record and document a weekend with friends in a luxurious mountain top cabin. The weekend takes a terrifying turn when a meteorite crashes the party forcing everyone to face the darkest, screaming nightmare while somehow connecting life, love, and loss in a twist of fear.

The Gracefield Incident takes pages from some of the most iconic sci-fi and horror films of the last 15 years. If you take Paranormal Activity, Signs, and Cloverfield you’ll have the basic outline for major elements in Mathieu Ratthe’s feature film. Yet, the film has its own uniqueness. The adoption of a camera in our main character’s eye is creative, the use of another character’s professional camera, AND security footage at the main location, allows the story to be experienced from multiple angles in a smart way. My only gripe with the plot has to do with balloons. Balloons don’t float with your breath alone, that’s not how that works. Otherwise, the practical effects are pretty impressive and the endgame is worth the wait. The Gracefield Incident is interesting enough on its own when it comes to the heart of the story. You can check out the trailer below.

THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND / DIGITAL HD:  July 21, 2017

DIRECTOR AND WRITER: Mathieu Ratthe
CAST: Mathieu Ratthe, Kimberly Laferriere, Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles, Juliette Gosselin, Alexandre Nachi, Laurence Dauphinais
GENRE: Horror, Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘The Shadow Effect’ begs for more.

Obsessed with gene regeneration, and fascinated by the phenomenon of the waking dream, Dr. Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) explores the psyche of Gabriel Howarth (Cam Gigandet), a young man whose life is turned upside down when his violent dreams begin to blend with reality. When Gabriel’s dreams mirror political assassinations, he must race against the clock to not only save himself and his wife Brinn (Britt Shaw), but stop an experimental government program. With time running out, and Gabriel’s life on the line, only Dr. Reese holds the key to unlocking the truth.

There is a ton of potential in The Shadow Effect. Stars Cam Gigandet and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are both absolutely on point with their performances. They try very hard with the material provided, so it’s not really their fault that the film’s inconsistent moments of great and not so good cannot match up to the caliber of their talents. The editing is the guilty culprit. There are moments in the first half of the film with stellar use of speed dynamics that set up the plot, but the CG is downright awful. Some of the action sequences, including punches, are ill-timed and/or missing the proper sound effect. It’s incredibly distracting. The Shadow Effect might have been better off as a series on SyFy network. The script is intriguing enough to hold your attention, but I yearned for more. There is so much we’re missing or quickly glazed over that I think multiple episodes would have done a better job at delving into the past of all the characters. Trying to shove everything into about a 95-minute run doesn’t do any one plot line the justice it deserves.

You can catch The Shadow Effect ON DEMAND, DIGITAL HD AND DVD right now. Check out the trailer below.

TITLE:  THE SHADOW EFFECT
ON DEMAND, DIGITAL HD AND DVD:  May 2, 2017
DIRECTORS: Obin Olson, Amariah Olson
WRITERS:  Chad Law, Evan Law, Tony Feole
CAST: Cam Gigandet, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brit Shaw, and Michael Biehn
GENRE: Action, Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘Johnny Frank Garret’s Last Word’ is anything but quiet.

JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD

Based on a true story,  a nun was murdered in her convent bedroom in Amarillo, Texas on Halloween 1981. The police arrested a young man, Johnny Frank Garrett, who always maintained his innocence but he was found guilty and sentenced to death. On the night of his execution, he wrote a curse letter condemning the people and their families who helped send him to his demise. Shortly after Garrett’s death, members of the community start mysteriously dying. One of the jurors takes it upon himself to break the curse when his son is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness.

Director Simon Rumley brings us the eerie and unsettling story of a man’s whose spirit is haunting and destroying the lives of those directly responsible for his potentially wrongful conviction and eventual execution. With quick cuts and a brilliant use of sound dynamics, Rumley has managed to create an incredibly effective scary movie. With cringeworthy moments and no essentially zero jump scares, Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word will make you uncomfortable from start to finish. The casting is wonderful, with Mike Doyle as the juror with a conscience, attempting to break the curse Garrett has set upon the truly guilty. Sean Patrick Flanery‘s portrayal of corrupt DA is both enraging and engaging. Devin Bonnée‘s performance as Garrett is frightening and powerful. There are moments where the film feels more like a Nine Inch Nails music video than a film, but that’s not a knock. Its stylistic choices are what make it most intriguing. Check out the trailer below.

The film comes to VOD 3/14 from Momentum Pictures.
Directed by: Simon Rumley (The ABCs of Death, Red White & Blue 
Written by: Tony Giglio (Chaos), Ben Ketai (The Forest), and
Marc Haimes (Kubo and the Two Strings 
                       Cast: Mike Doyle (The Invitation, Jersey Boys)Sean Patrick Flanery (Powder, The Boondock Saints), Erin Cummings  (Late Phases, Bitch Slap),
and Devin Bonnée (Fashionista).

Review: ‘ABATTOIR’ delivers a sensory labyrinth of mystery and murder.

The film was the 2016 official selection of the LA Film Festival, Fantasia, Sitges and numerous other festivals.  The film stars Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye, Dayton Callie and was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
SYNOPSIS: An investigative reporter works to solve the mystery behind a mysterious man who has been buying houses where tragedies have occurred. Set in a world where it always feels like night, even in daylight hours, real estate reporter Julia Talben’s life is turned upside down when her family is brutally murdered. It is believed to be an open and close case, but Julia quickly realizes there is much more to this story when she returns to the crime scene to find the murder room deconstructed and physically removed from her sister’s home. This ignites an investigative pursuit that eventually leads her and ex-lover Detective Declan Grady to the town of New English where they find the enigmatic Jebediah Crone and the Abattoir – a monstrous house stitched together with unending rooms of death and the damned.  Julia comes to realize that her sister’s soul is trapped inside, but the Abattoir isn’t just a house – it’s a door to something more evil than anyone could have ever imagined. Julia and Grady are ultimately faced with the question: How do you build a haunted house? One room at a time.
Darren Lynn Bousman, director of several of the Saw franchise sequels, and one of my all-time favorite films REPO! The Genetic Opera, brings to life a peculiar story and a visual maze. The look of Abbatoir is something to behold and one that evolves as the story rolls along. It’s a thriller, horror, and first person video game all wrapped into one lovely and bizarre package. The costumes are intentional throw backs that give further validity to a tale that criss crosses generations. Lin Shaye, who has what I like the call the “Timelord effect” (similar to another horror legend Barbara Crampton,) a timeless quality to her presence and ability to inhabit any character she tackles effoertlessly. Jessica Lowndes is reteaming with Bousman after appearing in The Devil’s Carnival. Her classic movie star looks only enhance her believeable performance as a headstrong and heartfelt woman determined to uncover the mystery behind who or what is buying homes where violent tragedy occurs and rips out the murder room. The answers are extraordinarily twisted. The films runs about 1hr40mins but feels very much likethe graphic novel it was based upon. This could have easily been made into a mini series. Abattoir is intriguing from the very first shot and will keep your brain engaged with plot and stunning sets throughout. Momentum Pictures is releasing Abattoir today in Theaters, VOD and Digital HD, December 9th

TITLE: ABATTOIR
IN THEATERS, VOD AND DIGITAL HD:  December 9, 2016
DIRECTOR: Darren Lynn Bousman
WRITER: Christopher Monfette
CAST: Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye, Dayton Callie

DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT’ has haunting visual appeal.

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SYNOPSIS:  THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT tells the story of Brandon (Minor), who has always been drawn to the supernatural.  So when asked to pick a topic to base his final world theology class project on, he decides to explore the dark world of exorcisms. Teamed up with three classmates, the group investigates a multiple homicide that they eventually discover was an exorcism gone horribly wrong. Brandon becomes obsessed with the event, and in a strange turn of events, decides the only way to research this topic is to undergo an exorcism himself.

possession-experiment-image Scott B. Hansen‘s film is a visual feast for most of its run. At moments, it appears to be two different films with any scenes specifically involving the occult are spectacular. They rival any big budget film like The Conjuring. On the other hand, the scenes that are not directly linked to these moments come off as afterthoughts with a low quality to them. The difference between the two is rather astounding. The acting from the majority of the cast is down right atrocious, with three perfromances withstanding this criticism. Lead Chris Minor, who carries the film on his shoulders, does a great job taking on a familiar horror trope with his emtional heart on his sleeve. Jake Brinn, as stoner sidekick Clay, gives a down to earth portrayal.  You could easily think he was plucked from a local college to play this role overnight. Our lady of the hour in The Possession Experiment is actress KT Fanelli. Her commitment to playing a woman too far gon  to save is, frankly, award worthy. Color me impressed with her ability to take on the physicality required to make this a convincing performance. the-possession-experiment-chris-minor-still

While the screenplay may not seem to be anythign new, there is one heck of a clever twist. And the ending, which really doesn’t arrive until you get into the credits, is fantastic. The highest praise I am eager to share about The Possession Experiment is the phenominal practical effects. I actually cringed and looked away several times. As someone who lives and breathes new horror films 3-5 times a week, that’s saying something. Two more positives come with the effective sound editing and an updated live stream concept that brings the script into the 21st century. Not so hidden are the homages to A Nightmare on Elm Street and Rosemary’s Baby. If the acting had been up to par and the ancilary shots matched in quality, this film would most defintely hod its own weight in a world where horror standards get higher every day.

TITLE: THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT
AVAILABLE ON VOD AND iTUNES:  December 6, 2016
DIRECTOR: Scott B. Hansen
WRITER: ,  Mary J. Dixon, Scott B. Hansen
CAST:  Chris Minor, Jake Brinn, Nicky Jasper with KT Fanelli and Bill Moseley
GENRE: Horror
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘RUN THE TIDE’ dives into lost childhoods and abuse.

runthetide_posterSome if us had great childhoods. Others, perhaps a rocky road. Abuse in a family can cause rifts both seen and unseen. How far would you go to protect your loved one? In Soham Mehta‘s new film, RUN THE TIDE, a young man is faced with the biggest nightmare so far. The return on his abusive mother now threatens the life he’s provided for his younger brother. Can time heal everything?runthetide_1RUN THE TIDE stars Taylor Lautner (The Twilight Saga, “Scream Queens”), Constance Zimmer (“UnREAL,” “Entourage“), Kenny Johnson (“Bates Motel,” “Secrets and Lies”), Johanna Braddy (“UnREAL,” “Greek”) and introducing Nico Christou. Lautner gives a viscerally raw performance as the older brother who endured years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother, played beautifully by Zimmer. It’s a far cry for both, as we’re used to seeing Lautner is action roles these days. He easily wears his heart on his sleeve and proves we’ve been taking his acting chops for granted for far too long. Zimmer’s role is about as unglamorous a departure from the hit series UnReal as you can get also showing her immense talent. The chemistry between Lautner and newcomer Nico Christou is out of this world.  Their bond feels anything but forced and they make the film what it is. Christou’s natural abilities are vastly beyond what you’d expect from someone his age. The soundtrack is one of the first things that captures you in this film. The thoughtfully chosen songs are ones that make you want to close your eyes and breathe. Writer Rajov Shah takes the entire film to present the back story and it comes off as completely organic in pacing. Run The Tide is a nice film about second chances and the realities for sacrifice.runthetide_10

  You can catch it in theaters and On Demand/Digital HD this Friday, Dec 2nd. 

TITLE: RUN THE TIDE
IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND / DIGITAL HD: December 2, 2016
DIRECTOR: Soham Mehta
WRITER: Rajiv Shah
CAST:  Taylor Lautner, Constance Zimmer, Kenny Johnson, Johanna Braddy, Nico Christou
SYNOPSIS: When their drug abusing mother is released from prison determined to rebuild their family, Rey kidnaps his younger brother Oliver and escapes their desert home for the California coast.
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures, Orion Releasing

Review: ‘THE LATE BLOOMER’, Kevin Pollak’s directorial debut, is based on a true and hilarious story.

latebloomer_th_1sht_lr_proof_2_revSometimes, when you get really lucky, you get to be part of movie history. When Kevin Pollak got the call that he was going to direct a movie version of Ken Baker‘s Book, “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body”, I was in the room. We were just sitting down for a small roundtable interview for his Tribeca Film Festival Film documentary Misery Loves Comedy, when he got a call he had to take at the table. When Kevin Pollak needs to answer the phone, you sit politely and attempt to eavesdrop. There was no need, as he hung up the phone and eagerly explained that he’d be directing a comedy about a kid who doesn’t hit puberty until his 20’s… and that it was based on a true story.
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The story of an adult male who, after the successful removal of a benign tumor resting against his pituitary gland, experiences all the changes and effects of puberty over a three-week period.

While the cast is beyond tremendous, sometimes the jokes just fall flat. The premise is outstanding so I leave it up to the audience this time to decide whether or not to catch this one. Check out the trailer below for a pretty fun preview.
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THE LATE BLOOMER
In Select Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD: October 7, 2016
DIRECTOR: Kevin Pollak
WRITER: Screenplay By Joe Nussbaum, Mark Torgove, Paul A. Kaplan, Kyle Cooper, Austyn Jeffs, Story By Joe Nussbaum and Gary Rosen, From the Book “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body” by Ken Baker
CAST: Johnny Simmons, Maria Bello, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley
GENRE: Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘JACK GOES HOME’ proves that Rory Culkin is terrifyingly good at his job.

jackgoeshome_theatrical_27x39They say you can never go home again. Maybe some of us should heed this advice depending on the skeletons in our closets. In Thomas Dekker‘s new film JACK GOES HOME, Rory Culkin finds himself playing the title character whose loss might be his greatest gain. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
r1I’ve see a horror film or two in my day, but I’ve never seen anything like Jack Goes Home. The story appears to be straight forward: Jack’s parents are in a car accident. His father dies and he goes home to take care of his mother, who has survived. When something goes bump in the night, he is compelled, by his father’s own words, to explore his childhood like never before. It doesn’t take too long before things get weird. Grief can make people act in funny ways, but this film takes it to a whole other level. Dekker’s script is off the hinges with scares both physically and emotionally. You’re never quite sure who is fooling whom. rl1With genre veteran Lin Shaye as Jack’s mother, you’re immediately thrown for a loop. Her presence is this insane mix of calming and unnerving. Each scene she appears in makes your skin crawl. Rory Culkin is more intense with each role he takes on. Following up on his fierce performance in Gabriel, there is no doubt this young man is a star. Jack is one hell of a character and when the film has the balls to open by having him break the fourth wall, you know you’re in for a ride. Each scene tops the next in mystery and fear and Culkin is the driving force behind your unease. As the credits rolled I thought, “What the hell did I just see?!” Then in watching the trailer again, I had so many more questions and theories. This is a film I’ll be speculating about for some time. It begs for multiple viewings.

JACK GOES HOME hits US cinemas and VOD on Friday, October 14th, from Momentum Pictures.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA) Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content, language throughout, and drug use.