Mysteries

The Scent of Rain and Lightning (2017)

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A young woman searches for answers but finds herself under constant threats in this adaptation of a Nancy Pickard novel.

Jody Linder has suffered for many years since the death of her parents. However, she has learned that the man who was imprisoned for the murders, Billy Croyle, has been paroled. Upset at the revelation, Jody confronts Billy’s son Collin, who was responsible for the parole when he revealed the truth that he was with his father the night of the apparent murders. Jody decides to find out what really happened to her parents the night of the murders.

As Jody begins her investigation, she finds herself going to places and meeting people who were involved in her family. She slowly begins to discover that Billy, who has gone crazy since being imprisoned and has a motive of revenge against the Linder family. When Jody finally finds herself convinced that Billy wasn’t responsible for the murders, she searches to find the truth and may find that the real murders may be closer than she ever expected.

Director Blake Robbins, along with screenwriters Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison, took Nancy Pickard’s novel and crafted an interesting tale that meshes a modern day investigation and flashbacks that slowly unveil what happened the night our lead character Jody’s parents were murdered. The film opens alone with the release of the accused murderer, Billy Croyle, played in a ultimately maniacal performance by Brad Carter.

Maika Monroe does well as the embittered Jody, who seems to have suffered quite a lot since the death of her parents. She finds herself a very angry woman, still holding onto that grudge when she confronts Collin, the son of Billy, played by Logan Miller. However, upon slowly learning that Billy may not be responsible, she decides to take up with her “rival” to find out the truth about what happened. One would expect a romance between Jody and Collin, but this is truly not the case. Instead, it is a simple case of two people learning to find out what happened.

In the flashback sequences, Justin Chatwin and Maggie Grace (who also served as a producer) play Jody’s parents, who seem to go from having a loving marriage to a tumultuous one plagued by Chatwin’s character always working on the family farm or traveling to help make money and Grace’s possible rumors of infidelity with people close to the couple. The biggest twist and shock of the film comes in the ultimately revelation of what really happened that night, which ends the film after a shocking confrontation.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning will keep viewers engaged once the story comes in full swing. A juxtaposition of flashbacks and present day, driven by the cast, really moves the story along. Add the shocking finale and you have a movie worth checking out.

WFG RATING: B+

SP Releasing present a No Coast Production present in association with Gerber Pictures and KP’s Remain. Director: Blake Robbins. Producers: Michael Davis, Blake Robbins, Jeff Robison, Casey Twenter, Kevin Waller, Jeff Johnson, Dan Koetting, and Maggie Grace. Writers: Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison; based on the novel by Nancy Pickard. Cinematography: Lyn Moncrief. Editing: Lauren Clark Carroll.

Cast: Maika Monroe, Logan Miller, Brad Carter, Will Patton, Bonnie Bedelia, Mark Webber, Aaron Poole, Maggie Grace, Justin Chatwin, Meg Crosbie, Jackson A. Dunn.

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Cutting Class (1989)

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A series of murders coincides with the return of a young high school student in this pretty underrated slasher film with comic overtones.

District attorney William Carson III is going on a hunting trip and gives his daughter Paula three simple rules: to do her homework, no boys at the house, and most important, no cutting class. Paula is a pretty popular and intelligent student who is dating basketball star Dwight Ingalls. This is also the first day that Brian Woods, a young man who killed his father five years ago, has been released from an institution and all he wants is to show everyone that he has changed.

During his hunting trip, William is shot with an arrow and is supposedly dead. Meanwhile, a series of murders begin to occur within the high school. An art teacher is killed when he’s thrown in a kiln. A high school couple suffer a deadly encounter under the bleachers during a basketball game. As the murders continue, there are many suspects who could be responsible. Could it be basketball star Dwight, who tends to get violent prone? Could it be Brian, the returning kid who has had history with murder? Could it be the janitor, who seems to have a likening to bloodshed? Could it even be principal Mr. Dante, who is somewhat perverted when it comes to Paula? Who is the killer?

In what would be his only film as a writer before becoming the creator of the great kids’ series Salute Your Shorts, Steve Slavkin’s screenplay does something quite interesting and meshes the slasher film subgenre of horror film with comic overtones as well as engage the audience themselves in a “whodunit” game of who is responsible for a series of murders. While from the beginning, one would bring a sense of predictability, the film ultimately adds some intricate twists and turns and also brings to mind a series of inventive deaths on a few occasions.

The film will be forever known for being an early film for one of Hollywood’s top actors today, Brad Pitt. Here, he plays Dwight, a star basketball player who dates our heroine Paula, played by Jill Schoelen. Paula is the innocent high school girl who abides by her father’s rules, with few exceptions. All Pitt’s Dwight wants to do is get time alone with her, a typical slasher motif. Donovan Leitch plays the returning Brian, who only wants acceptance and in a way, forgiveness for what had happened five years ago after he was institutionalized for the death of his father.

The main comic overtone involves Martin Mull’s character of William, Paula’s father. One would assume that after getting shot with an arrow by the film’s killer that he would be dead. However, as the audience sees the continuation of the murder spree within the high school, they get to see William actually still alive and struggling through the rest of the film trying to get home. There are some pumps of comic lines within the rest of the film.

Cutting Class may be perhaps known for its early performance by Brad Pitt, but the film is actually underrated with its use of comic overtones and twists and turns making this a true whodunit 80’s slasher gem?

WFG RATING: B

Gower Street Pictures present an April Films production. Director: Rospo Pallenberg. Producers: Donald R. Beck and Rudy Cohen. Writer: Steve Slavkin. Cinematography: Avi Karpick. Editing: Natan Zavahi and Bill Butler.

Cast: Donovan Leitch, Jill Schoelen, Brad Pitt, Brenda Lynn Klemme, Roddy McDowell, Martin Mull, Mark Barnet, Robert Glaudini, Eric Boles, Dirk Blocker, Nancy Fish.

Suspense Thriller “Midnighters” to Debut at Los Angeles Film Festival

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From Julius Ramsay, director and editor of the hit AMC series The Walking Dead, comes his feature film directorial debut Midnighters, which makes its World Premiere on June 19th at the Los Angeles Film Festival in Culver City, CA.

Midnight, New Year’s Eve: when all the hopes of new beginnings come to life – except for Lindsey and Jeff Pittman, whose strained marriage faces the ultimate test after they cover up a terrible crime and find themselves entangled in a Hitchcockian web of deceit and madness. From Walking Dead director Julius Ramsay, Midnighters is a layered, enigmatic thriller set in the Gothic backwoods of New England – the perfect place to get away with murder.

Alex Essoe, Perla-Haney Jardine, Dylan McTee, and Ward Horton star in the film, which was written by Alston Ramsay and produced by Burke Ramsey.

The film will be screened at the ArcLight Culver City Theater on June 19th at 9:35pm PST. For more information, go to the LA Film Festival Home Page and the official Midnighters Home Page.

Get Ready for Some “Confessions”

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With her recent performance as Queen Hippolyta in this weekend’s Wonder Woman, Connie Nielsen joins an ensemble cast in Roberto Ando‘s film The Confessions.

A G8 meeting is being held at a luxury hotel on the German coast. The world’s most powerful economists are gathered to enact important provisions that will deeply influence the world economy. One of the guests is a mysterious Italian monk, invited by Daniel Roché, the director of the International Monetary Fund. He wants the monk to receive his confession, that night, in secret. The next morning, Roché is found dead…

Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, and Lambert Wilson co-star in this interesting whodunit film, coming to theaters from Uncork’d Entertainment in July.

RLJ Picks Up “Golem” For September Release

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RLJ Entertainment has picked up the U.S. rights to the thriller The Limehouse Golem with plans to release it this September.

Based off the novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd, the film adaptation was written by Kick Ass and Kingsman scribe Jane Goldman. Juan Carlos Medina helmed the film, which stars Bill Nighy (left), Olivia Cooke (right), Douglas Booth, and Eddie Marsan.

The city of London is gripped with fear as a serial killer – dubbed The Limehouse Golem – is on the loose and leaving cryptic messages written in his victim’s blood.  With few leads and increasing public pressure, Scotland Yard assigns the case to Inspector Kildare (Nighy) – a seasoned detective with a troubled past and a sneaking suspicion he’s being set up to fail.  Faced with a long list of suspects, including music hall star Dan Leno (Booth), Kildare must get help from a witness who has legal troubles of her own (Cooke), so he can stop the murders and bring the killer to justice.

RLJ Entertainment has locked down a September 8th release date in select theaters and on Demand.