Gun Shy (2000) <With Spoilers>

Rating 15
Length 1h 41
Release 6.10.2000
Director Eric Blakeney
About A seemingly calm and collected DEA agent is a nervous wreck on the inside. As he struggles to demolish a cartel, an incident lands him in the psychiatrist’s chair and, consequently, in group therapy.


The Good

  • The thing that really makes this film work, is the relationships Liam Neeson’s Charlie makes during his undercover work. I say that loosely given that I’m not sure Charlie is ever playing anything other than himself.
    He has obvious chemistry with Sandra Bullock, but the best relationship by far is the one between Neeson and Oliver Platt. Oh my god, the final act, you will feel for both of them. You’ll understand the decisions they each make.
  • Speaking of Oliver Platt, he’s incredible in this. I’m not so sure I’ve seen him in a “bad guy” role before and it really worked. To then have the film unpick the character and discover the root of his unhappiness. If you gave me a film just about Fulvio and Charlie, I’d have been very happy.
  • I was happily surprised to discover Mitch Pileggi had a much larger role in this than I anticipated. While the start of the film may have you thinking he’s in a type-cast role, but no one in this film is who they really seem.
    I must admit though, I had my suspicions, Pileggi himself speaks of his Italian heritage in interviews, so he feels like a bit of a red herring given the involvement of the Mafia. I reveal this, not to be a spoilsport, but because I can’t let this review sit without taking about the reveal. Not the one to the audience, but the reveal to Charlie. There’s a way that Pileggi can set his face whenever he’s in the position of a bad guy (Son’s of Anarchy, Shocker and Supernatural spring to mind) and it works well here.

The Bad

  • It’s a bit wacky. Like, you really do have to roll with it and remember that it was a product of the 2000s; the same era that brought us Mulholland Drive, Get Shorty and Analyze This. If you can stick with it until it really gets going, there’s a payoff.
  • For an Irishman, Liam Neeson’s accent in this is appalling. It’s so unbelievably inconsistent that I’m certain the line about him being Irish was put in during reshoots.

The Ugly

  • The plot threads are just not quite all there. It’s almost two or three very different movies in one. There’s attempts to connect the elements but they don’t all quite marry up the way that would lift this film up a little more.
    The biggest problem for me, is how little Sandra Bullock’s character is integrated into the rest of the narrative. There’s even a clear set up that goes nowhere.

Final Thoughts

You know, it wasn’t the best film in the world. I wanted three different movies out of it. I wanted a Neeson/Platt movie, a Neeson/ Bullock movie and I wanted a movie just with the group therapy guys. Instead, I got this bag of Revels when I really just wanted the Maltesers out of it.

X Files – I Want to Believe (2008)

Rating 15
Length 1h 44
Release 1.8.2008
Director Chris Carter
About Though FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once chased things that go bump in the night, his tireless search for the truth out there has led to his professional exile. However, a missing-persons case leads to the agents’ reunion, along with an encounter with a priest (Billy Connolly) who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions.


First Things First

Right now, I’m sat kicking myself for not seeing this in the cinema. I worked there, for Mulder’s sake. I actually have a vivid memory. An almost ‘Sliding Doors’ moment in which I was done for the evening and the last showing of the day was about to begin. I passed up on the opportunity.
Now, it’s at this point I should clarify, I was possibly one of the strangest ‘fans’. I was such a fan that I wore a Mulder and Scully watch for at least 4 years, even though I’d probably only seen a handful of episodes.
Yeah, I was 8 years old when Scully was sent to spy on Mulder, so I was only allowed to press record on the VCR and watch up until that distinctive theme song. It wasn’t until 1996 or so when it had moved to Saturday nights, that I saw my first full episode. Can you imagine it; being banned from watching the show, but being bought the merch by the same parent?! Then again, this was the same person who, without fail, would buy me a board game every Christmas and refuse to play it with me. Go figure.
Much like a lot of my teens fandoms; Buffy, Star Trek and Angel… I fell a little out of love with X Files. I’d not taken it upon myself to do a rewatch (or a first watch) and I just felt very disengaged in 2008.
However, it’s now 2021. I’ve spent the last few months watching all 9 seasons, and one movie, leading up to this one. I’d been dreading it, I won’t lie.

The Good

  • It’s X Files. Even with its flaws, I’m in. You’re giving me Mulder and Scully. You’re in theory giving me together Mulder and Scully. What’s not to love. It certainly has its moments that will have any fan happy. When they’re together on screen, its frigging awesome.
  • It’s a story that is that perfect middle ground. It’s the supernatural rather than the mythology that, at times, bogged the show down. I love the alien shit, but I think the fatal flaw of the franchise is that it wavered too much on that line of ‘are the aliens real?’. At least this keeps it conspiracy lite. Well, except for the priest with a taste for choir boys.
  • Speaking of the whole pedophilia subplot. It was a powerful thing to address considering this would have still been a rather raw subject, for American viewers in particular. The Boston sex abuse scandal was only exposed in 2002. I’m sure Carter was trying to say something profound about this dirty secret of the Catholic Church. I’m not sure it works completely, but damn I’m still impressed he tried.
  • The editing in the opening was excellent. It was unsettling and lacking context, but it worked. It was something very different to what we’ve come to expect of X Files and it really got my attention.
  • Billy Connolly, while giving me the creeps, was a delight to see on screen. Rather strange to see him without his beard, but given his character I was glad of that disassociation.

The Bad

  • I struggled with Scully’s B-Plot storyline. It felt a little too contrived and almost a plot device hiding in plain sight. The film needed a bit of a change in editing (Like, don’t give me shifty looks to the Father, when the other one was a convicted pedophile, and not give me a resolution to that either way). It’s a shame, because when Gillian Anderson’s scenes worked, it was powerful.
  • This is the ‘ship that coined the term ‘shipping’. So why the fuck does the film play them off against each other for most of the movie?! Why, after EVERYTHING Scully has seen, is she still a skeptic? Both the relationship, and Scully herself are completely devolved to fit the narrative. It does all fans a disservice.
  • Our new Mulder/Scully, Dogget/Reyes. I don’t get them and they’re booted out of the script halfway through. While I adore Amanda Peet and she does an amazing job, put Agent Monica Reyes in that role and it blows the whole thing open and adds investment.
    Then there’s Xzibit as Agent Drummy as the overly-aggressive skeptic. The biggest problem being that there’s no chemistry between him and Mulder…. so he just ends up shouting.

The Ugly

  • That fucking beard! What the fuck, man?! I get that the film was trying to show that Mulder was not the same, but did we really need him to wear such a bad joke-shop stick-on beard?! It was cheap, it was tacky and it lasted so much of the movie.

Final Thoughts

There are worse episodes that feel way longer than this outing. It is flawed and I did shout “Oh, fuck off Scully.” At the tv screen. Something I’ve not done since mid-series 3.
As much as this was made as a stand alone to bring in the uninitiated, I doubt the franchise would gain any fans from watching this first.

The Girl in the Photographs

Rating 18
Length 1hr 35
Release 19.10.2015 (no UK cinematic release)
Director Nick Simon
About Two psychopaths target a young woman (Claudia Lee), a photographer (Kal Penn) and a group of models at a secluded house.


The Good

  • This film takes a risk with its ending. It *almost* works. The idea of an open ending to a stand alone horror film in a way that’s not a rug pull (see I Know What You Did Last Summer, House of Wax and Saw) is rare. There’s no showdown, there’s no final girl. Now, considering the rest is formulaic as fuck, that ending really impressed me.
  • Yeah, that’s all I got folks. This film was garbage and I actually almost turned it off.

The Bad

  • By calling your ‘slashers’ psychopaths, does not free you of having a motive. Towards the back end of the film we get the idea that he has some sort of feelings for our lead, Colleen. However, where does the second guy factor in to this infatuation? There’s also the fact that we come into the film at victim 7. The film made loose connections to the photographer, Kal Penn, but just didn’t follow through. If only the film unpacked the fact that the two men were in the same year as Penn’s character, it would have made for a much more satisfying movie.
  • As much as I love Mitch Pileggi, the incorporation of the police force within the town was frustrating and of no use to the plot with how they were used. Just throwing around “No body, no crime.’ And repeatedly telling Colleen there’s nothing they can do is utter bullshit ;and the stereotype we moved away from almost two decades ago. When these photographs are popping up and they resemble the missing persons report… they would have to do something. While I do like the fact that the psychopaths are left to kill another day, if you’re also going to make the police incompetent and the reason these girls have died, at least have them as part of the body count.
  • How is the disappearance of seven people not caused commotion in this town? How is it not a much bigger thing, that’s going to make the local news at the very least? I just find so many of the things in this so illogical.
  • Did we really need the commentary of “the photographer” on consent. He actually says “permission isn’t sexy”. Which is made all the more galling by the fact that the guy is using a big ass camera with a massive flash to photograph Colleen.
    Oh, and while we’re on the topic of consent. Having a guy secretly film his casual sex is one thing. Having the girl discover it and then masterbate to the footage is very much another and absolutely not okay. Remembering, the issue is not the sex, but the violation and lack of consent. My biggest issue being who this film’s demographic is and what it might say to them.

The Ugly

  • The over-use of Wes Craven’s name in all of the publicity. He was a producer, nothing more. There is nothing in this film that can be said to be inspired by his body of work and its only made worse by the over zealous use of “This was the last film he worked on.”
  • Few things I didn’t understand: who the fuck wrote the blog? Who made the connection to the photographer, and was it every single photograph? If so, why?
  • Oh, why is the boyfriend such a dick? Like, really? Can someone explain to me? He seemed lovely and really trying to make things work, but Colleen was clearly not on the same page. When Psycho Tom tells boyfriend “you should have treated her better” all I could think was that he really should have been saying that to Colleen.
  • The blood, the gore! Jesus, I know it was an 18 and everything, but come on! Its been proven time and time again that not showing a death is much more effective. Why do we need to see all the blood?!

Final Thoughts

This film has potential behind the gore, but the editing and unresolved questions leave it being little more than garbage. Its not even clever enough to be considered an exploitation film.

Film Review: Shocker (1989)

Rating: 18
Length: 1h 49
Release: 27.10.1989
Dir : Wes Craven
About: A serial killer uses the electricity from the electric chair in which he was executed to return from the dead. Later, he sets out to exact revenge on a football player who turned him in.

The Good


  • The music is my absolute favourite part of this late 80s gorefest. It’s rock and ‘heavy metal’, and feels really ironic. I’m pretty certain that wasn’t the intent, but it certainly works much better here than in Christine (1983).
  • The final act is amazing, rather meta and absolutely bonkers. If anything, I wish everything that came before was more like this. The final act plays out like the love child of Ghost in the Machine and Last Action Hero. It’s this section that really does open the story up to Craven’s original intent: a tv series.
  • Johnathan Parker is our ‘final girl’ in Shocker. It’s a refreshing change of pace to have a male lead in this sort of genre movie and in the role of the ‘final girl’ no less. While some of the choices for this character aren’t perfect, and I’ll look at those below, he still offers something other than what viewers might be used to.
  • Mitch Pileggi playing the mass killer is mind boggling brilliance. Anyone who has seen him in X Files would be forgiven for not recognising the actor, however those familiar with his time on Supernatural will understand upon watching this, why he got the role.

The Bad

  • It’s not a smooth plot and each of the three acts feel like they are directed by three different directors. Between the dodgy audio, lack of subtitles on Amazon Prime and what I would say are questionable editing choices, I really did struggle when it came to following at some points.
    The biggest issue of course being the connection between Pinker and Johnathan. It was something I suspected, and something revealed in the movie. However, it was only upon reading up on the plot after the fact that I’d had it confirmed.
  • The conflict between Johnathan the ‘football star’ and Johnathan the goofball who knocked himself out at practice. I don’t get why he’s so goofy. This guy is meant to be so amazing, that his ‘football status’ is in many news reports throughout the film. That doesn’t mesh with this guy who walks into things and trips up on his own feet.
  • There’s a little too much overlap with Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street in terms of Johnathan having premonition type dreams about the killer. I’d have loved if instead these dreams revealed his past and his connection to Pinker, just to remove itself from deja vu.

The Ugly

  • The comedy element is a little in limbo for me. It’s too much and not enough at the same time. The film holds back, leaving the comedy a little lukewarm and slightly off kilter. While I welcome the comedy, I did want more.
  • Read any blurb on this movie and it boils it down to Pinker being dead and wreaking havoc. That, I must say, is the most enjoyable parts of this movie, however it ignores the fact that it takes almost half the film to get to that point. There’s so much build up and establishment of the character of Jonathan. For me, I’d have opened up at the point of execution and had more of a reveal to Johnathan.

Final Thoughts

It’s flawed, its a bit of a mess, but damn I love it. There are little bits I missed due to the quality, but that’s what a rewatch is for, right?!