Capsule Reviews: Death Whisper, Ready or Not & Angel Has Fallen

Here are three capsule reviews for Death Whisper, Ready or Not and Angel Has Fallen released in cinemas this week beginning August 22nd:

Death Whisper

In this Indonesian remake of 1998 South Korean horror film of Whispering Corridors, co-writer and director Awi Suryadi (Danur, Danur 2: Maddah) transplants the original’s all-female Jookran High School For Girls to the mixed school of Abdi Bangsa in Death Whisper a.k.a. Sunyi.

The story basically follows Alex (Angga Yunanda), a junior student trying to get used to the hostile school environment where bullying is allowed in Abdi Bangsa. Apart from being frequently harassed by three of the school seniors (Teuku Ryzki’s Fahri, Arya Vasco’s Andre and Naomi Paulinda’s Erika), Alex also begins to encounter three apparitions of Abdi Bangsa students who believed to be dead as a result of bullying. Soon, he tries to find out the truth behind the death of the three students with the help of a fellow freshman, Maggie (Amanda Rawles).

Suryadi along with co-writers Agasyah Karim and Khalid Kashogi made the right choice focusing on the school bullying — a topical issue which particularly hits close to home in Indonesia.

But the overall script feels strangely hollow, coupled with the movie’s even oddly misplaced school setting that feels as if it was set in an alternate reality of Indonesia. The acting is basically nothing to write home about, but Suryadi deserves some credits for replicating the Korean horror tropes which rely heavily on dread-inducing atmosphere than constant jump scares. There’s a scene that is worth mentioning here: an eerie moment where the camera focuses on the POV shot of a character bobbing up and down in a swimming pool.

Ready or Not

The familiar term of “till death do us part” brings a whole new sinister meaning in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s pitch-black horror-comedy Ready or Not. The setup is simple enough: Grace (Samara Weaving — yes, that would be Hugo Weaving’s niece) is happily married to Alex (Mark O’Brien), who is the son of a wealthy Le Domas family. Then along came the wedding night where Grace is required to take part in a traditional family game by drawing a card out of a box. She ends up randomly picked the “Hide & Seek” card — a game that later finds herself being hunted by the Le Domas family members (among them are Henry Czerny’s Tony, Andie MacDowell’s Becky and Adam Brody’s Daniel), as they determine to kill her before dawn at all cost or the family themselves would face a certain death.

Ready or Not is basically nothing more than a straightforward genre exercise that embraced the sheer absurdity of its premise, even though a certain suspension of disbelief would help you to enjoy the movie better.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett manage to keep the pace brisk enough through its 95-minute running time. The movie also benefits from a game cast led by Samara Weaving (2017’s The Babysitter), who certainly gave her all in her star-making performance as Grace.

Angel Has Fallen

Here’s the thing about Angel Has Fallen: I was originally expecting it to be a “Die Hard in the Air Force One”-style action thriller, particularly given its familiar Secret Service code name. But the “Angel” in the title turns out to be referring to the “guardian angel” character of Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who is now serving a new US president, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman).

This time, the movie curiously abandoned the first two instalments’ (2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, 2016’s London Has Fallen) Die Hard-like template to make way for The Fugitive-style chase thriller instead. Gone are the terrorist plots previously dominated in the first two movies, as Angel Has Fallen focuses more on Mike Banning being wrongly accused of the attempted assassination of the US president.

Director Ric Roman Waugh (2013’s Snitch, 2017’s Shot Caller) who co-wrote the script alongside Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook could have embraced the taut 1990s action-movie nostalgia. But the movie is shamelessly hampered by same old tired clichés one after another. They even made worse by taking the whole thing a little too seriously to the point it becomes a largely dull and joyless thrill ride. The reason why Olympus Has Fallen and yes, even the xenophobia-heavy London Has Fallen works was because of the sheer amounts of B-movie fun and style invested into these two movies.

By comparison, Angel Has Fallen slogs more than it should throughout the movie’s laborious 2-hour running time. Even Gerard Butler’s iconic Mike Banning character doesn’t make much of a lasting impression this time around, as he tries too hard to play the role dead-serious. Which makes me missed his previous character even more where he used to throw quips in the first two movies. Morgan Freeman fares even worse, where he doesn’t get to do much in his thankless role as US President Allan Trumbull. The only person in the cast that at least worth praising here is Nick Nolte, who shows up in a perfectly grizzled role as Banning’s estranged war-veteran father.

While Ric Roman Waugh shows a great visual flair in executing the well-staged massive drone strike earlier in the movie, most of the action setpieces are either ruined by jittery camerawork (the opening training exercise comes to mind), dim lighting or total darkness (the highway ambush scene). And given its reported US$80 million budget at his disposal, it’s kind of baffling to see such shoddy CG effects of the explosion, billowing smokes and other poor green-screen work occurred during the climactic third act in the hospital.

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