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The Films of Johannes Roberts


Forest of the Damned



Storage 24 (November 1/15)

Storage 24 follows several disparate characters as they find themselves trapped in, of course, a storage facility, with their efforts to find an exit eventually becoming more and more frantic after a mysterious, bloodthirsty creature arrives on the scene. It's a seemingly foolproof premise that's employed to distinctly (and consistently) underwhelming effect by director Johannes Roberts, as the filmmaker, working from a screenplay cowritten with Noel Clarke, Dave Fairbanks, and Marc Small, offers up a narrative that's been jam-packed with generic, hackneyed elements that slowly-but-surely drain one's interest - with, for example, the movie's absence of sympathetic characters growing more and more problematic as time progresses. (The by-the-numbers assortment of protagonists includes, among others, the arrogant jerk, the reluctant hero, and the love interest.) It's clear, too, that the movie's few positive attributes are rendered moot by the pervasively stale atmosphere, with, especially, the sprinkling of appreciatively gruesome kill sequences hardly boasting the visceral impact one might've anticipated. (This is to say nothing of the film's total lack of tension.) The persistently average atmosphere ensures that Storage 24 is, at the very least, watchable from start to finish, and yet, given the strength of the setup, it's impossible not to wish the filmmakers had aspired to something more than mediocrity.

out of

The Other Side of the Door

Johannes Roberts' 47 Meters Down (January 24/18)

Johannes Roberts' 47 Meters Down follows Mandy Moore and Claire Holt's vacationing sisters Lisa and Kate as they embark on a shark-watching expedition aboard an exceedingly sketchy boat (captained by Matthew Modine's Taylor), with problems ensuing after their cage sinks to the bottom of the ocean and they're forced to fend for themselves. Though infused with impressive bursts of style, Johannes Roberts' 47 Meters Down is, for the most part, a disappointingly generic offering that contains few elements designed to capture and sustain one's interest - with the film's less-than-captivating opening stretch, which establishes the somewhat one-dimensional protagonists, unable to cultivate the atmosphere of abject suspense that director Johannes Roberts is clearly striving for. The movie does improve, however, once the action shifts to the aforementioned sketchy boat, as Lisa and Kate's initial descent within the rusty cage and the subsequent malfunction are handled quite well - with the improved atmosphere heightened by Kate's thrilling first attempts at leaving the cage to communicate with crew above. Roberts slowly-but-surely proves entirely unable to sustain that level of tension, as the second half of Johannes Roberts' 47 Meters Down suffers from a fairly hit-and-miss vibe that culminates in a laughably ludicrous third act - with the ineffectiveness of the finale negatively coloring everything that came before it and confirming the picture's place as a palpable missed opportunity.

out of

The Strangers: Prey at Night (March 4/18)

A mild improvement over its decent predecessor, The Strangers: Prey at Night follows a family of four (Christina Hendricks' Cindy, Martin Henderson's Mike, Bailee Madison's Kinsey, and Lewis Pullman's Luke) as they arrive at a remote trailer park for an overnight stay - with violence and chaos ensuing after the title characters arrive on the scene. Filmmaker Johannes Roberts kicks off The Strangers: Prey at Night with an eye-catching pre-credits sequence that seems to bode well for what's to come, although it's equally clear that the narrative's initial shift into the exploits of the aforementioned family of four doesn't exactly hold a lot of promise - with the thoroughly generic nature of these people compounded by a series of competent yet far-from-magnetic performances. It's clear, then, that The Strangers: Prey at Night benefits from a palpable sense of escalating tension within its first half (despite the characters' penchant for behaving like typical horror-movie victims), and there's little doubt, as well, that scripter Ben Ketai's willingness to upend the viewer's expectations plays a key role in the movie's ultimate success. And although Roberts' matter-of-fact handling of the various kills contained within the picture's second half results in an oddly flat atmosphere (ie that tension he spent so long cultivating vanishes almost entirely beyond a certain point), The Strangers: Prey at Night climaxes with an entertaining and unapologetically ludicrous final stretch that ensures it ends on a decidedly positive note - with the end result a better-than-average horror sequel that'll hopefully spawn further installments.

out of

© David Nusair