Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The young ghosts in Out of the Dark have Unfinished Business whilst teenagers invent a time machine in Project Almanac

A family of three move from England to Colombia so that Sarah Harriman (Julia Styles) can become the new manager at the local paper mill. However, the blissful surroundings are not matched by the couples' (Styles and Scott Speedman) experiences as it turns out their new home is haunted. The trouble really begins when the couples' young daughter is kidnapped.  

Director Lluís Quílez's debut feature film is one that can best be described as a slow burner, in fact on occasions the film's place is so slow that it's almost glacial in the way the film moves long. The film is wonderful to look at as care is certainly put into showcasing the exquisite surroundings just outside Colombia's capital, Bogota. However, the film is devoid of any true threat or tension and the performances from the leads are serviceable at best. The film's central story is very derivative of many other ghost stories and there is no tension and no genuine frights even despite the dark and brutal back story which probably would have made for a far more interesting story. Out of the Dark harks back to the likes of The Orphanage and The Changeling but whilst there’s the odd moment here or there Out of the Dark is a mostly forgettable horror flick from an area of the world that's produced some crackers over the years.


A group of teenagers find blueprints that they can use to build a time machine (because high school students can do that), they use this time machine to improve their lives by passing tests, winning the lottery and getting revenge on bullies. There are, however, certain rules are must be followed. The rule is never jump alone but when that rule is broken everything is thrown into jeopardy. 

If you really think about the science in the any film that features 'timey wimey' stuff it begins to fall in on itself. This is the main issue with Project Almanac (PLOT SPOILERS ahead)as the precise moment where it all falls apart is when David (Jonny Weston) has a second attempt at pulling his crush, Jessie (Sofia Black D'Elia), at a music festival, but shouldn't all of the gang be there as they were in previous escapades? *END SPOILERS.  

There's another issue with the festival scene altogether as it is where the plot literally stops for a good 20-25 minutes. The scene certainly goes on for far too long and becomes quite a drag. The fact that the group of friends can be a tad annoying in large doses makes matters slightly worse as their company and interactions with one other can get a tad grating (probably because the dialogue is rather cringy and the attempts at humour fail) but you do end up finding them bearable as the film goes on.

However, Project Almanac (which is unnecessarily shot in found footage style) is mostly good fun, aside that 25 minute drag in the middle, as it presents enjoyable questions about time travel and what you would do with it. It's quite fun to watch the group try to correct their wrongs, gain revenge on bullies and redo tests as the gang mess around with their new found invention but on the other hand it spends so much time messing about than actually building its rather thin storyline.


After quitting his place of work Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) sets up his own company with two former co-workers in tow, Tim McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike Pancake (Dave Franco). They are close to making a deal, but it turns out that former boss, Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller), is also in the picture and close to snapping up the deal.

I think producers/writers/whoever should be more wary when they name their films because naming films like Unfinished Business, Atrocious or Simply Irresistible will get smart arse critics typing away on their computers trying to think of witty joke to mock the film and its title. In the case of Unfinished Business the only business that remains unfinished is the film's script because it appears to be missing any decent jokes. The thing is, with one or two smiles aside, Unfinished Business simply isn't funny. It relies far too much on crass humour, that isn't even that crass anyway, and sex jokes that makes Get Hard (which has similar humour) looks like the Citizen Kane of crass comedy.

The performances aren't particularly great either, Vince Vaughn is ok, Dave Franco's dumb character can get rather grating and Tom Wilkinson delivers one of his poorest performance of his career. Supporting characters (featuring Sienna Miller and James Marsden) are just as forgettable as the main trio. The family subplot is touching but could have done with some expanding and less cheesy sentimentality but it added some reasons to be interested in a film that sorely lacking in reasons to care. There are some good moments that bring about a weak smile and Berlin is well shot but Unfinished Business isn't a memorable comedy but not a ghastly as some critics claim it to be.



  1. I literally just saw OUT OF THE DARK. I think you were too nice on it and too hard on PROJECT ALMANAC.

    1. Yeah...I'm thinking the same. It's almost a 3/5...