Word count – 9,700
There is an interesting idea buried in here about reincarnation, but it takes so very long to get to anything interesting in Sometimes They Come Back that it’s already an uphill battle to win my attention over, and it never manages to do it.
The second act is fine and the most involving part of the story, but it is flanked by a beginning that takes forever to get where it is going, and an end that doesn’t really pay off what has happened before.
This is the halfway point of Night Shift, and although the entries have been mostly positive so far, Sometimes They Come Back is a let down – not least of all because they managed to make a trilogy of movies out of it. It is one of the longest entries so far in this collection and certainly one of the weaker ones.
Not Recommended ⇓
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali
Films about race relations in the United States of the sixties can be very hard to balance – they are either too steeped in history and are not entertaining as a result, or they try to tackle the issue in a manner they are ill-equipped to do – but Green Book sits somewhere in the middle. It is very easy to watch, and extremely simple to become invested in.
Mortensen channels his best Tony Soprano throughout as the blue-collar driver who just wants to get back home for Christmas, and Ali is charming as the refined musician who doesn’t really appreciate what life is like for ‘his kind of people’ in the states down south.
Green Book won the Oscar for Best Picture, and I certainly won’t argue with that.
Word count – 6,200
Trucks is about a bunch of autonomous – yes, you guessed it… trucks. The story is set entirely in a rest stop after the trucks have taken control of the surroundings and are keeping the patrons as their playthings.
There’s not much going on in Trucks, and we never find out why the vehicles have suddenly become sentient – not that it matters, I guess. Sometimes keeping the mystery is fine, and let’s face it: any explanation would probably sound like bullshit anyway, so why bother trying, right?
The story picks up in the second half, as the survivors decide on the best course of action, but this never really clicks the way I would like it to, or indeed the way that it should. I think if King wrote this ten years later it would be a much better piece, but as it stands it’s only just passable.
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez
This is my first time with this long-running franchise, which is a surprise for me. Fast cars, fiesty girls, and a central bromance… I’m surprised I didn’t get around to this years ago.
It’s hard not to see a lot of Point Break in this movie, because if you swap out the street racing and throw in a few surfboards that is exactly what you have, although this is certainly a step below that in quality.
The Fast and the Furious is cheesy and at times feels like it’s taking itself far too seriously for what it is. This is not a great movie, and at times it’s not even a good one, but it does have a charm that carries it across the finish line.
Word count – 3,600
Battleground is a simple idea, as the best short stories often are. A hitman finds a mysterious package has been delivered to his apartment, and when he opens it he discovers it is filled with a platoon of toy soldiers who are out to kill him for the job he has just done.
It’s all action, all the way, and there is little room to catch your breath. There is next to no character development, and not much in the way of a backstory, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s just so damn cool.
Battleground is the best story I have read from Night Shift so far. There would perhaps be an argument that at its brief length it reaches its conclusion far too quickly, but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise very strong entry for this anthology.
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Michael C Hall, Cleopatra Coleman
A surface-level synopsis of this movie may make you feel like this is ripping off The Terminator, but once you dig down you will find that this Netflix offering is a little more complex than that, and perhaps a tad more grounded as well.
Time travel in movies is an easy sell for me, but it can be a difficult concept to pull off successfully. Although it ties itself up in knots in the final quarter hour, and the reveal is a little hard to swallow, In the Shadow of the Moon earns its stripes by managing to sidestep many of the head-scratching problems a movie like this faces.
Recommended (but you will need to keep your brain switched on) ⇑
Word count – 4,700
Gray Matter is an early effort from Stephen King, and it feels like it. It’s about a fungus (of sorts) that seemingly develops from a can of beer and proceeds to become one with the guy drinking it. There is really not much more to it than that.
Gray Matter is one of those horror tales that has no explanation – something weird happens… but we never find out why. Now, whether that is because King was simply too lazy to come up with an answer, or he didn’t think it needed one, I don’t know. For the most part I have tried to steer away from writing that way, because it can be infuriating, and that is certainly the case here.
This is one of the poorer entries in Night Shift so far. It’s not clever by any stretch, and it’s fairy basic old-school horror. It is also very talky and reflective and doesn’t have all that much going on either, so… on to the next one.
Not Recommended ⇓