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On My Watchlist: Blackfish, Devil and Side Effects

– Posted in: Film Review

After cramming in so many live screenings at theaters in the run up to the SAG Awards, it’s refreshing to curl up on the couch and tackle my Netflix queue. In keeping with the FBC Films target genres, I watched a creature feature, horror film and a thriller recently.

Blackfish is absolutely a creature feature, though it’s a documentary on a serious issue – the treatment of killer whales at water shows, particularly Seaworld. Details of how killer whales are captured and treated are heartbreaking. Footage of the attacks on trainers and details from eyewitness, medical reports and victims’ family and friends capture the tragedy and horror, without being too graphic or sensationalist. Being a fan of the creature feature, I was anxious to see Blackfish given the buzz. I was not disappointed and totally sucked in, though it’s definitely heavy on the side of blaming Seaworld. Seaworld responds on its own site and has an interesting rebuttal from one of the trainers featured in Blackfish who feels he was quoted incorrectly.

Devil is a tight 90-minute horror film about 5 people stranded on an elevator, one of whom is the devil. The story is by M. Night Shyamalan, but I had’nt heard of this 2010 film till it popped up on my Netflix – oh well. I was glad I watched it. I am an easy audience and love satanic horror movies in general. It was fun watching how Chris Messina is a dead ringer for Dylan McDermott and thinking about who else could have played what part if the movie had a bigger budget – I’m thinking Ving Rhames, Estelle Harris, Rachel McAdams, Jeremy Renner, and Michael Nouri would be my 5 in the elevator.

Side Effects is another movie with a name (lots of names, in fact, including Steve Soderbergh, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, and Rooney Mara) where I hadn’t heard of it except via Netflix. Maybe I’m just inundated with other news, but what does a film have to do to get some marketing behind it? Maybe that’s why it just barely covered its production budget. This is a fun movie. I was expecting a morality play on society’s overreliance on pharmaceuticals and instead got an extended episode of Law & Order (in a good way, as I like Law & Order).

In short, a hearty Yes to all 3, in terms of fun factor. If you want more than just a popcorn flick, watch Blackfish (without kids in the room).


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