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The Mummy

Since Boris Karloff spooked audiences in Universal Studio’s ‘The Mummy’ in 1932, the series has seen many iterations. Hammer studios in England and others have utilised the vengeful Egyptian monster to their ghoulish advantage. The character has been a reliable money-spinner so it’s no surprise the umpteenth version has materialised with ‘The Mummy’. The start of another franchise from Universal who initially made it such a popular hit, they no doubt hope it will avoid a box office curse and have audiences screaming for more sequels.

When Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) stumbles on an old burial site, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. A soldier of fortune endlessly looking for ancient artefacts to sell to the highest bidder, Nick is startled by what he finds. Discovering a cavern filled with Egyptian treasures, he comes across the tomb holding the body of evil Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). When moving her coffin, he accidentally frees her from her confines. She regains her supernatural powers and begins to wreak havoc on London with only Nick’s ingenuity standing in her destructive ways.

The start of the ‘Dark Universe’ monster franchise, ‘The Mummy’ feels more like a product than film. It goes through the whole ‘setting up a movie for more sequels’ route than telling its own story. The unfocussed screenplay constantly stops to provide exposition for future movies via the character of Doctor Jekyll (Russell Crowe). This distracts from the main narrative with genuine tension and scares in short supply. Alex Kurtzman shows little flair in crafting something interesting even if the action scenes are effective.

‘The Mummy’ thrives due to its cast. Tom Cruise makes for an interesting semi-hero, whose motives aren’t always clear. His descent into darkness with what he’s unleashed creates an intriguing plot strand to follow. Boutella is also strong as the wicked princess, conveying the right amount of menace the role needs. The CGI is suitably dazzling but the script lets things down. It’s a very bland by-the-numbers effort with little originality or fearsome atmosphere.

‘The Mummy’ isn’t great with the performances more solid than a story going into too many directions. Had it concentrated more on the title character than setting up a cinematic spooky universe it might have worked. What we’re left are moments of what could have been with the Pharaoh’s curse seemingly causing havoc on the formulaic tale.

Rating out of 10: 5

Get Out

Horror and satire movies set in suburbia are nothing new. ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, have used enclosed locales to effective use. The setting is ripe for both genres as occasionally being in such a community can be a horror unto itself. Add a dash of social commentary on racism and you have ‘Get Out’. An intriguing blend of laughs and scares, it pushes the right buttons in crafting a refreshing take on suburban hell.

A young black man, Chris (Daniel Kalyuuya), goes to meet the parents of his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). Initially enjoying the meeting and surrounds of the estate in which they live, Chris slowly feels something is amiss. Learning that several black residents have gone missing, Chris’s sense of foreboding increases. It reaches fever pitch when a black man from the estate tells him to get out. Leaving quickly becomes a hassle with his departure halted by increasingly sinister events.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, ‘Get Out’ works on many levels. Those wanting some thrills will receive them. Others wanting some weight behind them will get those as well. Peele’s creativity in mixing these elements is evident as he crafts something fresh out of standard horror architypes. The twists keep coming until the end with Chris navigating his way through a cavalcade of terror. Kalyuuya gives a solid performance full of presence and growing bemusement at what he encounters. His co-stars perfectly pitch their roles to match the film’s tone.

Although the scares are effectively handled, working better is the general social observations. You feel a genuine sense of Chris’ daily life from the assumptions residents make of him based on skin colour to their non-verbal actions. Making ‘Get Out’ very relatable and authentic is seeing how he deals with the casual racism he encounters - something seen in everyday life. The music and cinematography perfectly create a foreboding atmosphere with the script’s light touch ensuring the messages aren’t lost amongst creepy happenings.

‘Get Out’ is an imaginative humorous thriller with a strong central motif. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a new talent such as Jordan Peele enter the scene. One hopes his next movie is just as intriguing and captivating as this nifty outing.

Rating out of 10: 8