Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Three New Indie Titles

With recent back to back film fest coverage it’s been quite a task keeping up with the weekly indie releases (have no fear – quantity in smaller cinema will return to full force film fans!), so this week we’re hitting a couple missed flicks and one new one.  Unconventional childhood stories, tales of survival in the face of human chaos and a post apocalyptic time of war for the human flesh hungry – all covered via this trio edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on The Book Of Henry, It Comes At Night and The Bad Batch below!

(Focus Features)

Having been a huge fan of the five-star outing Safety Not Guaranteed (it was also on my Top Ten films list that year!), but wholly unimpressed by the generic helming of the ho-hum Jurassic World, I was still firmly excited for The Book of Henry which marks director Colin Trevorrow’s return to the indie film arena and despite a thorough lashing from most critics the results are both good and bad.  On the up side, Trevorrow’s whimsical vibe in the face of harrowingly realistic circumstances he displayed with prominence in Safety is here in full force, with a film that combines an early Amblin feel with a dark underbelly they dared not touch in the 80’s era.  (No wonder Spielberg likes this guy!)  There are also some very memorable moments throughout (the Naomi Watts plan in motion sequence is well set!) and the performance by lead kid Jaeden Lieberher as the super smart Henry is an engaging one.  Bad news is the very heavy handed script by Gregg Hurwitz feels like two different films – a sorrowful tale of cancer and an action/adventure thriller.  It’s a scenario that might work under the right circumstances, but with story also rife with stereotypical characters (Dean Norris’s bad dad neighbor is the epitome of unsubtle!) and an uneven tone (cry one minute – prep for action the next!) it damages any on-screen work Trevorrow brings to it.  I for one am relieved to see that the style of Trevorrow is alive and well in another indie outing – just add some into big budget films too Colin.


Having heard a ton of positive buzz on It Comes At Night and having been a fan of writer/director Trey Edward Shults’ first film Krisha, I was very excited to see his well praised follow up.  I don’t know if the bar for horror/thrillers has been set so low that critics are ready to proclaim greatness on anything with a somber style or maybe I merely missed the genius here, but It Comes At Night not only is low on scares both overt and psychological (can this even be classified as a horror film?), but is a firmly recycled story of fear and paranoia in a time of panic that we’ve seen a hundred times and in much better form.  Far from the fly on the wall originality of Krisha and with even less unsettling moments of dread to boot, It Comes At Night comes up short.


With her debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour showed herself a female filmmaking force to be reckoned with taking the power of hypnotic music and stark visuals to a new high.  (It got a coveted spot on my Top Ten films list that year!)  The opening scenes of her new film The Bad Batch rekindles that skilled picture prowess Amirpour so amply displayed with Night, combining a harrowing situation of character mutilation, askew camera work and one messed up musical choice to hammer the horror home.  (It’s the normally toe-tapping Ace of Base song All That She Wants – sick!)  Unfortunately that is where The Bad Batch then dives off a cliff into unwatchable territory with an unclear script (is this a revenge flick or saving a damsel in distress story?!), lame characters (do we really need another Giovanni  Ribisi nutburger role?!), wasted ones (what the heck is Jim Carrey doing in this?!) and songs thrown in to simply show that Amirpour is hip.  (The throwaway Culture Club song inclusion screams ‘just because I can!’)  Rife with everything that makes a second feature foul, The Bad Batch is a bad movie.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

3 Responses to “Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Three New Indie Titles”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I could agree that for all the tension It Comes at Night builds, it could use more scares as a release (this film should not be above a few jump scares), but I disagree at there being a lack of dread. I love the cinematography and how Shults uses the amount of darkness outdoors and in the house to its advantage. Yes, it has a recycled story, but that seems like only something you write if you don’t like a movie since every horror movie has a recycled story of some kind. To each his own of course.

  2. Jason Coleman

    Only mention the recycled bit because a few of the quotes of praise I saw used the word “original.”

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Ah, yeah, I may have liked the film more, but I know what it’s going for. I’ve been calling it Night of the Living Dead without zombies.