Panic Room (2002)

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

Director: David Fincher

Writer: David Koepp

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker

Rating: ★★★★

Panic Room is a film that is both clever and at the same time thrilling, Fincher although not creating a classic but a film which is always remembered and known. A great storyline with innovative effects make for an entertaining and fulfilling watch, whilst stars such as Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart add solid performances to cap of a good release.

The storyline focuses on a woman and her daughter on their first night within their new large Victorian three-floor apartment. Meg (Jodie Foster) is mum to Sarah (Kristen Stewart), divorced she looks after her diabetic and bold teenage daughter but her night is troubled when intruders invade. Three men searching for a missing and hidden fortune break into their new home but when Meg and Sarah are awoken by their surprised visitors they take refuge in the house’s panic room but what the intruders want is where the hosts are hiding. The intruders think of ways to fight their way in and scare the pair out, but locked away Meg and Sarah try their best to survive and get help fuelling for some exciting events.

Thrilling is an understatement, there are many jumpy and heart-racing moments throughout Panic Room achieved by some great screen-writing. There’s real horror to the idea of someone breaking in whilst you’re asleep and likewise being trapped within your own house with three intruders. There always seems to be huge plot twists and deciding moments too which keeps the story not only entertaining but fast-paced which is a huge highlight to Panic Room.

The acting ensemble is also a distinguishing feature to Fincher’s film; Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart give solid performances which add to the film’s thrilling experience.  However equally as impressive was the roles and acting of the three intruders. Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakum, Jared Leto play Burnham, Raoul and Junior. Whitaker’s Burnham is a great character although a thief and burglar there is a real likable and sympathetic aspect to his character and persona. Whilst newly Oscar-famed Jared Leto plays the brilliant, clueless and funny character of Junior who is equally lovable and hateable. Panic Room’s performances really live up to the films overall quality and add again to the experience created.

David Fincher’s directing is great really creating the heavy, isolated and somewhat claustrophobic feel very successfully. The way the camera’s floated through everything and fly around the house is awe-inspiring something very new and innovative for almost 12 years ago. The very opening credits as the letters floated on the Manhattan backdrop was flawless and set the tone for the amazing camera work throughout. Although this is an underrated release from Fincher he should be praised for not only bravery to accept such a challenging task but his excellence in achieving such an exciting film which is only set within one house and mainly in one room.

The only faults that Panic Room holds are at times the annoyance that gets created by Foster’s Meg’s clumsiness. At many times simple things turn into drastic and dramatized moments, such as reaching for a fallen phone and knocking over loud furniture which at times can even be predictable. The only other picky thing I can fault is how I would have liked to seen a bit more justice or closure on the character of Burnham. However these aspects really don’t put down this film too much.

Panic Room deserves much more praise than it gets, alongside writer and director David Koepp and David Fincher for creating such a thrilling clever film. It can be so tense and thrilling it is amazing considering the simplicity of the events and setting. It isn’t as outstanding as other Fincher films but it is new and unique and shouldn’t be forgotten, easily watchable and enjoyable Panic Room is the definition of entertainment in many ways.

 

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You’re Next (2013)

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Comedy

Director: Adam Wingard

Writers: Simon Barrett

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Rating: ★★★½

You’re Next was a horror that stormed the UK in 2013 despite being a big success when released in the Toronto Film Festival of 2011. Despite the long awaited-release Barrett’s thrilling creation doesn’t disappoint too much. A somewhat refreshing and unique approach to the stereotypical home-invasion thriller, You’re Next is a twisty horror with a mountain of gore and action which consequently leads to an entertaining watch.

The story surrounds the Davison family on the night of a big-reunion and getaway to celebrate the wedding anniversary of their parents. Arguments and bitter family grudges between brothers soon set the tone for an uncomfortable night which then becomes a nightmare. When a group of animal-masked, crossbow and axe-wielding murderers invade on the get together things turn bloody and gory quickly as one by one the family and guest numbers slowly decrease. However an unlikely member of the party proves to be the best and most brutal killer of them all as she takes matter into her own hands alongside a kitchen knife.

It is hard to go into too much detail of the story without giving away any spoilers, but the events and torture lead for an exciting night. The story is entertaining as said, but in terms of predictability and surprises it is awful in a sense, from the beginning I guessed what was happening and the ending came as no surprise, but I can see some watchers blinded by this and falling for the twists and turns of the narrative. However as a horror the gore is great along with the mass murders and the way in which they are each killed. The animal masked-murderers were a unique and refreshing take being something I haven’t really seen before, effective as it was it would have been nice to keep a bit more mystery and prolong the suspense. As a home-invasion thriller it was respectful too, with the story involving a family get together much more impacting and entertaining than a lonely couple in the middle of nowhere.

For an almost unknown cast and crew You’re Next stands its ground very well especially amongst other horror releases in 2013. Sharni Vinson as Erin, the trained killer guest is entertaining and provides good action, however her character is a little too much on the nose and literal but it’s one you will just have to go along with. There are as many faults with this release as there are positives at times but I think it balances out to be enjoyable. There a rare few moments that thrill, however when we are only following the one character instead of the whole family it makes for a much more tense watch and experience. Adam Wingard at times shows promising signs of excellence as his clever direction creates a few jumps and anxious moments.

The make-up and effects department areas also deserve some kudos and respect as the gore and physical horror was a highlighting aspect as blood splatters, heads rolling and knifes flying made a much more entertaining watch. In a summary that’s what it comes down to for You’re Next, it is although not amazing and a work-of-art a very entertaining film. Despite obviously having flaws there weren’t any moments you wanted to give up and turn off as surprisingly you were hooked, as little as it might have been. Gore galore, and thrills a rarity You’re Next isn’t exactly a must-see but a worth-while enjoyable horror.