Category Archives: Movie Review

MOVIE REVIEW: “You Should Have Left” (2020)


I don’t do a lot of movie reviews here at The Grapevine Source, but when I do, I drink Dos I tend to make fun of them where I can. My latest victim is the horror movie, You Should Have Left (referred to here as YSHL) starring Kevin Bacon (from which I am two degrees) and Amanda Seyfried, which came out in 2020. I don’t really spoil anything here, so if you’re curious, by all means, watch the movie.

My hubby and I had recently seen, Infinite, and after it was over, we both said, “Assassins Creed!” because many of the themes of the 2016 movie were also used in the 2021 flick. I suppose every movie takes elements from previous movies, are adaptations of books, or are sequels in a series these days.

YSHL was definitely a nod to The Shining (TS). The following elements were seen in both the 1980 horror film that scared the nation and YSHL:

  • YSHL: The father, Theo (Bacon), writes furiously in his journal; most of it is nonsense.
  • TS: Jack (Jack Nicholson) had been furiously typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over when his spouse and child thought he was writing a novel.
  • YSHL: Theo and his family rent a vacation house in Wales that is maze-like, with never-ending staircases, secret rooms, and doors that lead to different places each time he opens it.
  • TS: The Overlook Hotel is not only maze-like but also has a hedge maze as a tourist attraction.
  • YSHL: The young daughter, Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex) is in a scene where she is standing at the end of a long hallway, looking creepy.
  • TS: Who can forget the scene where young Danny (Danny Lloyd) sees the Grady twins (Laura and Louise Burns) at the end of a long hallway? Come play with us Danny…forever, and ever, and ever.
Image courtesy of The Independent
  • YSHL: Theo gets attacked by a decaying woman in the bathroom.
  • TS: Jack gets attacked by an old, decaying woman in the bathroom of Room 237.
  • YSHL: The wise old man who runs the only general store in the small town they’re staying in says, “Sometimes people choose the house, but sometimes the house chooses people,” suggesting that Theo had been drawn to the house by paranormal forces. He starts losing his mind.
  • TS: Jack finds out, as he loses his mind, that he had been the caretaker at The Overlook for decades and was called by supernatural forces to come back.

As I watched, I took some notes to pass on to my readers as travel advice. The biggest thing for me was that if you don’t like the cold and a lack of modern conveniences, don’t stay in a tiny town in Wales in the winter. It’s bloody cold and boring! In the list below, experiencing one of these issues alone is no big deal, but if two or more happen, you should get your money back from AirB&B or wherever you found this “gem” of a house:

  • The house is twisty and maze-like with no signs of previous owners or tenants except for a creepy portrait of the house. According to the mother, Susanna (Seyfried), the absence of homey décor is because “Other people’s families are depressing…and creepy.”
  • There’s no cell phone service anywhere in the house. To some people, this might be attractive but judge the house’s creepiness factor before you do the “I’m unplugged!” dance.
  • The thermostat is broken downstairs (or upstairs for that matter), making it cold all over the house. Oh, and you have no way of contacting the owner and don’t even know his or her name. You’re gonna have to “live” with it, baby!
  • There are TONS (literally 50+) of light switches in the house, some of which seem to do nothing.
  • There’s a creepy single Polaroid taped to the wall that looks like some shadow person is in it. But it could be someone messing with silhouette photography, so who knows?
  • You immediately start having nightmares during naps and at night.
  • You walk around for about five minutes to shut everything off for the night at 10:12pm, but when you go to bed after you’re done, it’s suddenly 3:12am.
  • If two or more creepy old people ominously ask you about the house you’re staying in, ask around or do some research. There are libraries in Wales.
  • If you and your spouse start arguing intensely for basically no reason, pause and reflect.
  • If you think someone else has been writing in your journal in your exact handwriting, slap yourself…HARD.
  • If you find creepy staircases and rooms, DON’T call out, “hello?” In fact, just shut the fu*k up. That will help confuse any intruders instead of letting them know EXACTLY where you are. Tell your kids to shut the fu*k up, too. This is a valid, practical tip for any time you find yourself in a horror movie.
  • If you get stranded in a creepy house, know that a taxi or an Uber is not ever coming, so stop trying to call or walk away. You can walk straight on for miles and just end up back at La Maison Creepy.

The bottom line is that, in my opinion, if you like mind-bending, psychological, and creepy horror movies, this is worth renting on Redbox, but don’t spend a lot of money on a rental. The movie is very creepy and has a few jump-scares and minimal blood/guts, but if you’re looking for a new concept, then this is not the flick for you. If you’re a fan of The Shining, this is right up your alley.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My experience: Veteran Horror Movie Watcher

How I am Two Degrees from Kevin Bacon

Editor’s Corner – Movie Review: “The Meg”

Review by Stacey Doud

MV5BMjg0MzA4MDE0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk3MzAwNjM@._V1_Jaws fans beware! The Meg was touted to be a bigger and badder Jaws, but I couldn’t help but miss the John Williams score from the original, though the elaborate use of CGI (which obviously wasn’t available in 1975) was a visual treat, sort of making up for my auditory disappointments.

There are some scenes that almost replicate Jaws to a tee, which shows a lack of originality, but The Meg uses not only higher tech cinematography, but also more modern ways to die in the ocean – like in a big human hamster ball or an underwater state-of-the-art laboratory.

I’ve always been attracted to movies set under water or that contain interesting under water scenes. I recently saw Deep Blue Sea (1999) and prefer it to The Meg only because it has a modicum of scientific interest. The Meg is just bada$$ CGI sharks. It’s like Jurassic Park set under water, with only a few, though impressive, species of dinosaurs. 

Lead actor Jason Statham wasted his time in this movie. He’s a talented action actor, but The Meg could have used a trained monkey in the lead role and would have been as effective as Statham. That was disappointing to me, as I generally enjoy Statham’s performances.

Don’t get me wrong – if you are a fan of the genre, it is a fun ride. But don’t expect Jaws – or a real plot. But the bada$$ sharks are worth the rental fee as long as you’re not expecting anything poignant.

★★★ (3/5 Stars)

Movie Review: 7 Pounds

By Stacey Doud

MV5BMTU0NzY0MTY5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODY3MDEwMg@@._V1_7 Pounds, starring Will Smith, is by no means a new movie, as it was released in 2008. Co-stars include Woody Harrelson, Rosario Dawson and Michael Ealy (known for his dark skin and blue eyes).

I think what drew me to re-watch this movie was my wavering thoughts and feelings about human “goodness.” I used to believe that people were innately good, but this last decade or so had me wondering if my belief still stood true in my own heart.

We hear and read about so many bad, tragic or senseless things these days. Even I, who has not voluntarily watched a news program in over 20 years, am not immune. These stories and events push through somehow: Maybe a friend says something or sends a text. Maybe there’s something on my Facebook timeline that I just “had” to click on. Maybe I overhear a conversation by the water cooler. The point is that it is almost impossible not to be privy to some news on a day-to-day basis.

When I say that I’m watching, “7 Pounds,” people tell me that it tore them up or they just couldn’t bring themselves to watch it. There are a few reasons why I think it’s worthy to watch or re-watch:

  • It addresses how tough we can be on ourselves: I don’t know how I would react if my spouse, child, friend or whomever died in a vehicular accident with me at the wheel. I suspect I’d have to at least do a stint in a psychiatric facility or see a therapist every day for a while; however, accidents DO happen. And I know that Smith’s character (Ben/Tim) never purposefully harmed his spouse. Yet, he persecuted and punished himself to the max. His final “plan” was noble, but, in my humble opinion, unnecessary. I believe that the human spirit can overcome almost anything, especially if he/she has a source of faith.
  • It illustrates kindness to others: Yes, Tim is on the super-extreme end of the spectrum of things that can go awry in one’s life, but he was able to turn his pain and guilt into something beautiful for seven other people. I’d never advocate for suicide, but Tim had his mind made up; yet he chose to leave so much beauty behind in the form of his bone marrow, corneas, his heart and other vital organs. He even “vetted” the recipients of his gifts for himself, supposedly to make sure he was donating to “good” people. Of course, whether folks are bad, neutral or good is subjective, but I understood what the movie was trying to convey. And whether we want to accept it or not, suicide IS one option for people in distress. We might not like it or want it, but, like so much else, what others do is not under our control.
  • It demonstrates how a tragedy can be transformed:  Don’t get me wrong…being the driver in a fatality accident is tragic, and always will be, no matter the circumstances. And even though I am not, and would not ever be, an advocate for Tim (or anyone) to kill himself, he does make seven other people’s lives better by taking his own life. The movie makes it clear that he puts an enormous amount of thought into how he would die to make sure that his donations were best preserved, and who he wanted to help. With the assistance of a lawyer and a brother who tried their best to understand and respect his wishes, Tim was almost an “angel on Earth” for most of the people he donated his organs to.
  • LOVE: Just love. Even though Tim fell in love with Rosario Dawson’s Emily, he still felt that it was more important to “fulfill his mission” than to blow it off to be with her. With so many people acting selfishly and seemingly only caring about themselves these days, it was refreshing to see Tim put other people first, even though he probably could have had a relationship with Emily. I personally think he punished himself needlessly, but the way he did it was full of love…perhaps it was his way of paying the love that he and his deceased spouse had for one another forward to help others.

THE BOTTOM LINE: I can honestly give this film 4 out of 5 stars. I’m sure many readers will wonder how crazy I am to do that, but I believe that if you watch this movie in the spirit with which it was made, you’ll laugh, cry, scream and jump for joy. And isn’t that what movies are supposed to do for us? They strive to make us feel. And “7 Pounds” absolutely fits the bill. Just have some tissues handy!

★★★★ out of 5

For more information, visit IMDB or the movie’s website.

Now on DVD: ‘Rampage’

Movie Review by Stacey Doud

RampageI was not expecting much when I rented Rampage on iTunes last night. This action/adventure/sci-fi movie, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was loosely based on the vintage Rampage video games that were released in the mid-1980’s, and have had several incarnations since then.

I must admit that I love a good “ride” in a movie: That is, well-done CGI (computer-made) effects; stuff that could never happen in real life, but looks amazing on-screen; and some kind of plot (no matter how thin) that keeps me jumping in my seat are all I need to give a flick a try. Rampage was a pretty darn good ride…and the plot was as thin as see-through, deli-cut turkey, but I still recommend it for a fun evening.

The basic story: Davis Okoye (Johnson), a retired Special Forces soldier, is a Primatologist in San Diego, and takes special interest in George, the “last albino gorilla on Earth.” George and Davis share a special bond, and communicate with each other using a dialect of American Sign Language (ASL). The “bad guys” are the heads of a giant conglomerate that wants to find a way to use animals as weapons, and have developed a formula to cause the critters that ingest it to be really big, really bad and really mean. Unfortunately, George happens to come across the formula and becomes one big, bad monkey. A wolf and an alligator finish the trio and wreak havoc on Chicago.

At times, Rampage was sweet: The relationship between Davis and George was hilarious at a few points. I just had to wonder, in the middle of chuckling, why Davis would teach George how to say that (use your imagination and you’re probably correct) in mixed company. And I’ll admit that when George’s fate was in peril, I got a little teary-eyed.

I was grateful that the powers-that-be didn’t throw in a useless love story for Johnson, but as far as character development goes, Davis was one of the few that was provided any kind of backstory. Karma caught up with the brother and sister “bad guys” in the end, but there wasn’t much of a history provided about them except that they were bad, bad people…the kind of people that unleash giant killer rats, wolves, alligators and gorillas on Chicago.

All-in-all, if you like monster movies, like Godzilla or Kong: Skull Island, then you’ll probably be satisfied with Rampage. It’s a great ride…and I have NEVER seen an alligator do THAT! [I don’t want to spoil it for you!]

For Parents: The movie is rated PG-13 for violence and language, but there is very little blood or gore. There are a couple of cuss words and one f-bomb in the movie, along with several “implied” profanities.

Rampage is now available for rent or purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital (iTunes and other platforms) formats.

★★★ ½  (3.5 out of 5 stars)