Monday, May 4, 2020

Netflix: 3 Mini-Reviews: DANGEROUS LIES, MRS. SERIAL KILLER, THE PLAGUES OF BRESLAU: Multiple Murders

May 4, 2020

DANGEROUS LIES

Directed by Michael Scott
Written by David Golden

For four months, Katie (Camila Mendes) worked as a caregiver for elderly Mr. Leonard (Elliott Gould), an eccentric rich old man who lived in an old mansion. One day, Katie found Mr. Leonard had died, and the old man had apparently left her his mansion in his will. Just when Julia and husband Adam (Jesse T. Usher) were already seeing the light at the end of their tunnel, things get complicated by suspicious police detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander), persistent real estate agent Hayden (Cam Gigandet), mysterious lawyer Julia Byron-Kim (Jamie Chung) and another dead body found in the garden shed. 

The amateurish one-dimensional acting of the lead actors Mendes and Usher did not help elevate the limited material. Alexander did her best as the detective, but Gigandet and Chung tended to be hammy the way their roles were written. Michael P. Northey as Katie's agency boss George Calvern was comic in a wrong way. Mystery movies may use a red herring device or two to misdirect its audience. However, "Dangerous Lies" was built with one red herring on top of another in an lame effort to beef the thin basic story up. There were many complicating details to throw suspicions at various characters that ultimately led nowhere, which led to a most frustrating viewing experience. 3/10



MRS. SERIAL KILLER

Directed by Shirish Kunder

Gynecologist Dr. Mrityunjoy Mukherjee (Manoj Bajpayee) was implicated in a grisly series of murders of young, unmarried pregnant women. His wife Sona (Jacqueline Fernandez) sought the help of a famous lawyer Mr. Rastogi (Darshan Jariwala) for legal counsel. But when her ex-boyfriend, police inspector Imran Shahid (Mohit Raina), came up with incontrovertible evidence in court, Sona had to resort to more desperate tactics to save her husband, which included abducting her pregnant student Anushka (Zayn Marie).

This Hindi film was a black comedy through and through. Despite the grisly and disgusting subject matter, there was a sick sense of humor that kept the proceedings light and funny (depending on your sense of humor). There were many plot holes, but since the film and the actors do not seem to take themselves too seriously, you can just ride along their silly shenanigans, each gag more ridiculous than the one before it. Pretty Ms. Fernandez (a former Miss Sri Lanka beauty queen) had good comic timing, keeping her naive character likable despite the crimes she was poised to do in the name of love. The production design (especially that of that hellish operating theater) was as over-the-top as its concept. 5/10



THE PLAGUES OF BRESLAU

Directed by Patryk Vega
Written by Patryk Vega

Depressed over her fiance's death, Helena Rus (Malgorzata Kozuchowska) worked as a detective of violent crimes in Wroclaw. One day, a male corpse on whose torso was etched the word "Degenerate" was found sewn inside a pied of cowhide. Over the next five days at 6 pm, there would be more similarly spectacularly-staged murders, all in public places. Working with a knowledgeable, no-nonsense agent from Warsaw, Iwona Bogacka (Daria Widawska), Helena tried to figure out the killer's pattern in order to prevent the next murder.

This Polish film was remarkable because of the gore level of its criminal acts was full-on disturbing and in-your-face, nothing was hidden in dark shadows. The second murder which involved spooked race horses running on a bridge, and the third murder which involved an immolation onstage during a Russian opera were the most elaborate in execution. Each murder corresponded to a series of "plagues" in Wroclaw's past when it was still called Breslau. The punishment aspect of the killings was reminiscent of David Fincher's 1995 thriller "Se7en." The mystery remained to be a very engaging affair with its unpredictable twists and turns, despite the dour dispositions of its two strong central female characters. 7/10. 


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