Intense. If I only had one word to describe the movie Don’t Breathe, I would use the word intense.
This movie takes place in poverty ravaged Detroit, Michigan. The opening scene is three young people robbing a house. Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend, Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) break into homes owned by rich people in order to steal things to sell on the black market. Money goes to sell their stash and is upset that they do not get a lot of money for their haul. The buyer suggests that they rob a house that has cash in it. He suggests a house to Money that he heard about in the news. A man was offered a large settlement after his daughter was killed in a car accident. Also, the man is blind and lives in an empty neighborhood. It should be an easy target.
It is hard to dislike Rocky, Money, and Alex, even though they rob houses. It is clear that they live in an area of Detroit that is completely impoverished. Rocky dreams of moving to California with her younger sister. We see Rocky at home with an abusive, alcoholic mother and her boyfriend. Clearly, Rocky wants to escape her life in Detroit and she wants to give her sister a better life. Money and Alex both love Rocky and they want to help her out. Money plans to move to California. Alex is not sure if he wants to leave his Dad behind. We learn that that trio has been breaking into houses using the keys from a security company that Alex’s father owns. It is clear that Alex feels guilty about what he is doing but his love for Rocky pushes him to continue with what he is doing.
The trio decide to check out the home of the old blind man and they find that the neighborhood is empty. While they are on recon, they see that the blind man (Stephen Lang) owns a Rottweiler so they prepare a tranquilizer for the dog. Everyone assumes that this will be an easy robbery, even if the blind man is at home. Money sets off a gas to knock out the blind man while he is in bed. The trio believe that they have everything under control and soon they will be rich.
Except, everything goes wrong. The gas is ineffective and the blind man wakes up. He was in the military and is good with firearms and hand-to-hand combat. His blindness does not stop him from being lethal. And now, they are trapped in the house. The entry ways are blocked off by the blind man. There are several locks on the front door that require keys. The blind man is not sure how many people are in the house. So the ones that are left have to be silent in order to survive. Even when violent, horrible things are happening in front of them.
A deadly game of cat and mouse, Don’t Breathe will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by Fede Alvarez. Produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Joseph Drake, Nathan Kahane, and J.R. Young
Don’t You Cry is a psychological mysterious thriller. It falls along the same lines as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but I found the twists that happened in this book to be less predictable, at least to me. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica is a twisting tale of deception, obsession, strangers, friends, and missing people. Quinn Collins is a young woman living in downtown Chicago with her roommate, Esther Vaughan. Everything seems to be going perfectly fine in Quinn’s life until she wakes up one morning and discovered that Esther has disappeared from their apartment without a trace. reporting Esther as missing only results in Quinn being told that Esther will probably come back in 48-72 hours and she should just wait. Quinn decides to take matters into her own hands and goes through Esther’s room looking for any clues. What she finds there leads Quinn to question who Esther really is and where she has disappeared to.
Alex Gallo is an eighteen-year-old boy working at a coffee shop an hour outside Chicago. Alex lives in this small lake town with his alcoholic father across from an old abandoned house that everyone thinks is haunted. One day, a mysterious woman walks into the coffee shop and Alex finds himself drawn to her. Alex is quickly pulled into Pearl’s spell, feeding and clothing her even though he knows nothing about her. Alex gets closer and closer to Pearl and realizes that he actually knows almost nothing about the town that he lives in.
While Quinn searches for Esther and Alex tries to learn more about Pearl, there are other factors simmering in the background of the book that demand the readers attention. This book is told in alternating voices, a fact that I enjoyed since I listened to this book through OverDrive and was able to dive into the characters more. Mary Kubica does a fabulous job of weaving a missing person story with family drama, mysterious pasts, old ghost stories, and alternate life stories. The tension slowly lives under the surface of this book until the end when the narrative explodes. Highly recommended.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Orphan Black is an action thriller television series that debuted in 2013 on BBC America. The fourth season is set to begin in April 2016.
Orphan Black begins by introducing viewers to Sarah Manning, a woman back in the states and on the run from an abusive relationship who is trying to get in contact with her young daughter whom she hasn’t seen in over 10 months. She’s getting ready to take the train when she sees a woman commit suicide right in front of her. Interesting twist: this woman looks exactly like Sarah. She decides to assume the dead woman’s identity and lets herself into the woman’s apartment.
Everything seems to be working out perfectly when she realizes the woman has $75,000 in the bank. She decides to drain the woman’s bank account and then skip town with her daughter and her foster brother. Her plans are cut short when unfinished business from both the dead woman’s past and her own past come barreling into her life, leading Sarah down a deadly trail of thrilling mystery that all lead her to the stunning conclusion: she is a clone, there are more of her out there, and that someone is trying to kill all of them. Sarah has no choice but to continue to live a double life as herself and the dead woman, as she meets other clones and realizes that they are all entangled in a complicated plot as genetically identical individuals who all grew up in very different circumstances.
Highlighted by a tour de force performance by Tatiana Maslany (she plays all of the clones, giving each of them distinct personalities, speech patterns and behaviors), this is compulsive television viewing.
Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike is now available at the library on DVD. Gone Girl is a mystery/thriller set in present day Missouri. The movie begins on the morning of the 5th wedding anniversary of Nick and Amy Dunne. Nick leaves for work, but returns home soon after at the urging of a concerned neighbor. Nick finds signs of a struggle and Amy gone. The movie takes us on a search to find out what happened to Amy. What makes this movie interesting? Many things, but I particularly like that it is told through a dual perspective. On the one hand there is the point of view of present day Nick Dunne while he works with family, friends, and the police to figure out what happened to Amy. Weaved in to the story are entries from Amy’s diary that span back seven years to when Amy and Nick first met. Good luck trying to figure out what is real and who is telling the truth! I promise you the final fifteen minutes will have your head spinning.
Gone Girl was originally released as a Mystery novel by Gillian Flynn in 2012. Gone Girl is the third novel written by Flynn and the first to see the big screen. A couple years ago I read this book at the urging of a coworker and I admit I was quite enthralled with it, though not completely taken with the ending. Watching the movie, I almost wish I hadn’t read the book first because the mystery was now gone. It is hard for me to tell if Gone Girl was just better as a book or if reading the book spoiled the movie. Part of this may fall back on the fact that Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay to Gone Girl and stays incredibly true to the book. For those of you concerned about how this movie will end, don’t be! The majority of people that I speak to like the way the book/movie ends.
The Verdict: If mystery and thrills is your thing, then make a hold for Gone Girl today! If you haven’t read the book don’t worry as the story stays true to the book! If you have read the book and loved it, watch the movie and let me know what you think!
Award Watch: Gone Girl was nominated for 4 golden globes including Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Rosamund Pike has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. For a full list of awards visit IMBd Gone Girl.
Fun Fact: Gillian Flynn has written two other novels: Sharp Objects and Dark Places, both of which are being made into movies. Dark Places will be released this year as a made for TV movie and Sharp Objects is still in production.
I wouldn’t call myself a paranoid person. I do sometimes run to get into bed and pull up the covers as quickly as possible after watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon. After reading George Orwell’s 1984, I did start regarding every tv or computer screen with a small fear that it was a potential 2-way telescreen. Despite this, I am typically a level-headed librarian that loves to drop the phrase “peer-reviewed research” into regular conversations.
But Robert Venditti’s The Homeland Directive brought out the conspiracy theorist in me. When I finished reading the graphic novel, I wasn’t convinced that the federal government was spreading an infectious disease in hopes of scaring the population into submission and setting up the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the murder of her research partner. But when I was in the middle of the novel, it didn’t seem entirely far fetched. Venditti was able to take me out of my own perception of the world while I read this graphic novel, and left me thinking far after I finished reading.
Pairing with brilliant illustrator, Mike Huddleston, Venditti wrote a piece that feels outrageous and real at the same time. The illustrations are complicated and portray mood more than action, and the style changes with the setting and cast of characters. All together, this is a stylistic, powerful graphic novel with a well edited story and smart pacing. Everything that needs to be in the story is there, with no extras. I would recommend this book for fans of Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man series or Mat Johnson’s Right State.
The Intercept is Dick Wolf’s first book. Unsurprisingly, it feels like the start of a long-running series. The master of the successful drama, Wolf is the creator of Law & Order and its many spin-offs.
Jeremy Fisk is an NYPD detective who works in the Intelligence Division, where police officers comb through bits of information from surveillance cameras, email and other computer data in order to uncover terrorist plots.
When a group of passengers and crew foil an airplane hijacking, the new heroes are sucked into a media and pr machine. Some bask in the limelight and some are desparate to avoid it.
After chasing a few false leads, Fisk begins to suspect that the original attempt is a distraction and another bigger plot is the ultimate goal.
Fast-paced and full of insider information about terrorism and forensics, Wolf writes with an assurance and cool confidence well suited to the thriller genre.
Haywire – Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender
After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory is double-crossed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory unleashes the fury of her fighting skills to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary. R
Underworld – Awakening – Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy
Vampire warrioress Selene escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both vampire and lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. R
The Vow – Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum
A young couple has a car accident that puts the wife in a coma. After she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband sets his sights on winning her heart again.PG-13
Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska
A woman passes as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. Some thirty years after donning men’s clothing, she finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.R
Grey – Lian Neeson, Dermot Mulroney
After their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness, a roughneck group of oil drillers is forced to find a way back to civilization. As Ottway leads the injured survivors through the brutal snow and ice, they are relentlessly tracked by a vicious pack of rogue wolves that will do anything to defend their territory. Adrenaline-fueled, action-packed and loaded with some of the most intense and brutally realistic attack scenes ever filmed. R
Chronicle – Dane Dehaan, Alex Russell
Seen through the lens of a troubled teen’s video camera, yet filled with eye-popping action and jaw-dropping special effects, Chronicle is as real as it gets. When three ordinary high school friends make an extraordinary discovery, they acquire amazing abilities beyond their understanding. But as their powers develop, so do their darker sides. Fun, harmless pranks soon lead to much riskier activities as the boys’ ‘gifts,’ and their lives, spin dangerously out of control! PG-13
Woman in Black – Daniel Ratcliffe, Janet McTeer
A young lawyer is ordered to travel to a remote village and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. While he works alone in the client’s isolated house, he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who is terrorizing the locals. This leads him on a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent. PG-13
Red Tails – Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard.
Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky, even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, Red Tails is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history. PG-13
New Year’s Eve – Halle Berry, Robert DeNiro
A stellar ensemble cast celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.PG-13
We Need to Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly
Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
Inspired by a glowing review on NPR and the gorgeous cover design, I snapped up The Dark Rose as quickly as I could. It’s a mild thriller-cum-literary novel that tangles with the questions of morality and guilt. If you intend to do harm but fail, are you guilty of the crime? If you intend to do good, but fall into the wrong side of the law, are you morally at fault? Yes and yes, according to Erin Kelly, an author who hands out death and disaster with a free hand; hers is a universe where even minor crimes don’t go unpunished, and the result is oddly satisfying (if a bit bleak). The story follows two central characters – Louisa and Paul – and three timelines: Louisa’s volatile relationship with rocker Adam Glasslake as an 18 year old in 1989 London, Paul’s troubled upbringing in a suburban slum under the wing of his illiterate best friend Daniel, and the present day, where the two characters meet and work together restoring a sixteenth-century garden in the British countryside. Louisa is immediately drawn to Paul, a doppelganger of her long gone lover Adam, and Paul – vulnerable in the aftermath of agreeing to testify against his best friend in a murder trial – is drawn to her as well. Each of them is flawed in interesting and unique ways, and they have coping methods and personalities that feel genuine as well as compelling.
Juggling multiple timelines is a feat successfully maneuvered by few authors, but Kelly does a respectable job matching the pacing and tone between her segments and blending them together the right way. Unfortunately, she’s much better at characterization than plotting, as her attempt isn’t without flaws: the present day story starts off running and only picks up speed, while the back stories start off slower and eventually grind to a crawl near the 2/3 mark. It’s frustrating to have to leave the exciting, sensual present to revisit teenaged Louisa and Paul flailing in 1989 and 2009, respectively, as they cope with circumstances and guilt that will haunt them going forward. That aside, the language in this book is splendid and the gardening subplot is a rich source of metaphor and a tidy frame for the story.
We are all guilty of something; this book is about what happens when that guilt catches up to you.
In Still Missing, the debut novel by Chevy Stevens, Realtor Annie O’Sullivan had only a few things on her mind the afternoon she finished her latest open house. She was late to meet her boyfriend, she was still reeling from a fight with her mother and she really wanted to sell a house. Annie was thrilled when a last minute, prospective buyer pulls up asking to see the house and introduced himself as David.
Hope for a house buyer turns to horror when, after climbing the home’s stairs, David forces a knife in Annie’s back. He coerces her into his van and into a nightmare of epic proportions. Before driving away from the house he drugs her and then takes her to a remote wilderness cabin intending on holding her captive for the rest of her life. Annie’s kidnapper, who she refers to as “The Freak” has a twisted scheme to make her the perfect submissive wife – or else. Eventually, Annie reaches her breaking point with her captor and the outcome is deadly.
Told in alternating chapters between past and present, Still Missing is a suspenseful journey that holds unbelievable twists and turns culminating at its shocking end. Chevy Stevens is definitely an author to watch – her second novel will be released this July.
Four close friends, Tracy, Olivia, Holly and Janis who met years earlier at St. Ursula’s High School, decide to reunite by taking a relaxing trip to the Caribbean in Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Still Summer. At the last minute Janis cancels due to the health of her husband, so Tracy invites her nineteen year old daughter, Cammie, in the hope to salvage their fragile relationship. After boarding a private yacht, complete with the two person crew of Lenny and Michel to navigate the waters, they set sail on their journey upon the Opus.
In the early days of their journey, Cammie develops a relationship with the young and handsome co-captain, Michel, much to the chagrin of her mother, Tracy. When Michel and Cammie set off for a secluded part of the beach, they are discovered and head back to Opus to suffer the consequences. When trying to dock with the boat a tragic accident ensues with both Lenny and Michel falling overboard and the women don’t know if they are dead or alive. Quickly the foursome realize they are alone on the boat – now without a working engine.
Soon thereafter, they are discovered by a trio of modern day pirates – with deadly results. Still Summer captures some of the turmoil between these women held over from their youth as well as the desperation of trying to survive on the open sea. I listened to the audiobook version of Still Summer, which made for a suspenseful and emotional journey of survival and what it means to live a fulfilling life.