FILM REVIEWS: Cat Person and Five Nights At Freddy’s

Cineworld Broad Street and Odeon Broadway Plaza are two of the country’s biggest and best cinemas with 12 screens each on Westside. GRAHAM YOUNG reviews this week’s new releases.

CAT PERSON (15)

The story … What happens when an older man engages with a younger college student on the other side of the popcorn counter at a cinema before a movie? After Margot (Emilia Jones) serves the older Robert (Nicholas Braun), she finds that the real-life person doesn’t live up to the promise of his text messages. The film then seeks to explore the gender divide, smartphone dating issues and even the way we think about people when they are not directly in front of us.

Cast and crew … Emilia Jones is the daughter of singer Aled Jones and a BAFTA best actress nominee for the Oscar-winning 2021 film CODA. New Yorker Nicholas Braun played Greg Hirsch in Succession. Director Susanna Fogel co-wrote the fabulous Booksmart (2019), nominated for a BAFTA in the best original screenplay category.

The verdict … It could have been labelled #DeffoNotForFirstDaters. To be ‘based on the sensational New Yorker short story’ isn’t much of a tagline and, similarly, there’s a good movie missing from the heart of this ‘black comedy psychological thriller’.

Although any one of its intriguing dating themes could easily strike a different chord with individual members of the audience, Cat Person lacks the depth of Get Out (2017) and the uneven thrills of Single White Female (1992).

On the plus side, Cat Person might claim to deliberately have the ‘worst kiss’ in silver screen history. Don’t choke on your popcorn!

Margot is a believably real ‘girl next door’, but Robert is much less convincing to viewers – and not just because his much older, oddball character arrives on the back of an introductory, provocative Margaret Atwood quote about the differences between men (fear of humiliation) and women (fear of violence).

What our would-be heroine sees in Robert to go out with him in the first place doesn’t make any kind of sense on this side of the screen ,so an opportunity to put female viewers on the edge of a nervous breakdown is quickly lost.

Margot’s friend Taylor (Geraldine Viswanathan) struggles to offer dramatic support and Isabella Rossellini has little to do as Dr Enid Zabala. For a better use of on-screen messages, see Searching (2018).

Cat Person takes its name from Robert joking about his pets. But he’s the one in need of vetting!

***

Five Nights at Freddy’s (15)

The story … Like Cat Person’s cinema, the set-up here feels very 1980s. After a security guard called Mike (Josh Hutcherson) badly lets himself down, he’s seemingly left with little choice but to work at the long-closed Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza thanks to the mischievous Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard). His mission is to ‘keep people out’, but what will be inside the cupboards?

Cast and crew … Director Emma Tammi directed The Wind (2018), but is a relative unknown. Matthew Lillard was making those dreadful Scooby-Doo movies 20 years ago. Josh Hutcherson – now 31 – was once a superb child actor who starred in Little Manhattan and Bridge to Terabithia before wasting his time in The Hunger Games series.

The verdict … Blumhouse seems to have cornered the market in mass producing below-par horror movies, but at least with this one it tones down its frequent ‘jump scares’ with the kind of loud audio bursts which frequently have the opposite effect to what’s intended.

Although Five Nights takes a more measured route than you might expect to begin with, it runs out of steam halfway through like so many equally pointless computer game adaptations do… and the feature ‘creatures’ seem like a cross between life-sized Blue Peter project knock-offs and Teletubbies. Where’s the devilment of Chucky to knock some sense into proceedings? Odeon Broadway Plaza screenings include iSense.

***

FILM LIST: Graham Young’s notes on films also now showing

Killers of the Flower Moon (15, 206 mins). Martin Scorsese’s epic details how the indigenous Osage community were being mysteriously bumped off after becoming some of the richest people in the world thanks to the discovery of oil beneath their feet. Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone are all on towering form to match the cinematography and inventive score by the late Robbie Robertson. If you can survive the (surprisingly brisk) three-and-a-half-hour running time, there’s a neat reinvention of traditional epilogues that so often conclude ‘true stories’. Includes IMAX screenings at Cineworld Broad Street.

Trolls Band Together (U, 91 mins). In their third adventure, Poppy and Branch are now a couple – but she discovers he has a secret past as part of boyband phenomenon BroZone. A DreamWorks Animation for younger viewers with the voices of Anna Kendrick (Poppy) and Justin Timberlake (Branch) trying to add half-term appeal for mums and dads in a story about kidnapping and potential pop-culture obscurity. Also in 3D in the 4DX sensory moving seats screen at Cineworld Broad Street.

Sumotherhood (15, 97 mins). Writer, director and star Adam Deacon’s adult-themed multiracial comedy drama explores London’s crime culture in a new way with a certain style of rhyming language. The search for non-toxic humour works up to a point, but the silliness of the entire enterprise submerges subplots such as female staff being threatened by gun-toting male bank robbers. The film’s cameos include Jennifer Saunders, Linda Robson and pop star Ed Sheeran – reduced to delivering the wrong kind of Number Two in the bushes.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (12A, 168 mins). A near three-hour running time means fans of the 33-year-old star from Pennsylvania can spend most of the day escaping into her on-stage concert world.

The Exorcist: Believer (15, 111 mins). Fifty years after the seminal original, another attempt to possess viewers’ minds is inevitably too tall of an order despite the promising beginning to a story about a man who has been raising daughter Angela for 12 years following the death of his pregnant wife in an earthquake.

Saw X (18, 118 mins). Some horror franchises simply refuse to die, but at least the tenth instalment in this gruesome series is a better stab at drama than most of what has come before. With Tobin Bell as John Kramer.

The Creator (12A, 133 mins). Nuneaton-born director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) delivers many memorable visual moments and thought-provoking themes in this sci-fi thriller about man vs AI in a future war, but the plot is comparatively incoherent and anyone expecting a James Cameron-style juggernaut like The Terminator will be left underwhelmed despite John David Washington in the lead role.

TOP TIPS

Following a 35th anniversary screening of Beetlejuice (12A / 92 mins) at 7.30pm on Saturday 28 October (tickets £9.99), Cineworld has two ‘Secret Classic Halloween’ movies showing back to back on Tuesday, 31 October – the first is at 6.30pm, the second follows at 8.30pm.

Both movies are £5 each to non Unlimited Card holders or £4.50 each if you sign up to My Cineworld Plus (£6.95 for 12 months – membership includes a ten per cent discount on online bookings and three £2 vouchers for discounts on concessions).

Odeon Broadway Plaza is screening an ‘extended version’ of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (15) starring Jack Nicholson – 7.50pm in Screen 1 on Tuesday, 31 October.

Both Cineworld Broad Street (Secret Screening #9) and Odeon Broadway Plaza (Screen Unseen) are showing a new film unannounced at 7.30pm on Wednesday 1 November.

Now that half term is here, it’s worth remembering that adults pay kids prices when watching films with their children at both Westside multiplexes – make sure you buy ‘Adult and Child’ tickets at Odeon Broadway Plaza and ‘Cineworld Family Tickets’ on Broad Street.

ENDS

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