Jon Espino

Film Review: 'The Farewell' Greets with Cultural, Emotional Exploration

CHICAGO – We all have those family stories that seem just so uniquely ours that it is hard to believe anyone could actually relate to them. Stories that, at the time, don’t seem like anyone else would even understand. Lulu Wang proves in “The Farewell” that all it takes is a little empathy, a skilled storyteller, and a group of talented people to bring any story to life.

Film Review: Horror is Worth a Visit in 'Annabelle Comes Home'

CHICAGO – There is such an unnerving quality to older dolls, which is why they lend themselves so perfectly to horror stories. There’s just an unsettling feeling when looking at their static expression, usually plastered with a permanent smile that gives me terrible flashbacks to when I worked retail.

Film Review: Less Black Magic, More Black Mirror Succeeds in 'Child's Play'

CHICAGO – There are some fears in this world that seem irrational to us. Like a fear of clowns or the fear of using an elevator. Horror films are at the core of some of these fears, with the truly great ones creating new things to fear. The “Child’s Play” franchise may have had its roots in psychopathic soul transfers, but the update focuses on the ghost in the machine.

Film Review: 'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

dead don't die

CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Feels More Like a Cat Nap Than Catnip

pets 2-1

CHICAGO – As a pet owner, I know firsthand that I want an exciting life for my guinea pigs. When I’m off at work, I’d like to think that they throw parties or have some sort of hangouts with other guinea pigs or pets in the area. The alternative being the sad realization that they are stuck in their cage while I’m away, probably bored out of their little minds. “The Secret Life of Pets” franchise continues to brings the fantasy to life, even if the sequel feels too tame.

Film Review: ‘Poms’ Stumbles and Fumbles Through a Stale Routine

CHICAGO – There is an undeniable amount of skill and talent that goes into cheerleading. I happen to be rhythmically challenged so I am in awe of anyone, regardless of age, who can keep a beat while doing any sort of choreography. “Poms” promised to keep in step with a fresh premise, an all-star cast, and a new perspective on this tried-and-true genre but it tumbles along the way.

Film Review: 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile' Unfortunately Lives Up to Its Name

CHICAGO – Hearing the details of tragic stories, we often find it hard to understand how they got into that situation in the first place, especially since all the red flags are so obvious to us. “I’d never be so dumb,” we tell ourselves.

Film Review: Vivacity and Simplicity Come Together in ‘Teen Spirit’

CHICAGO – For most of us, music literally becomes the soundtrack to our lives. They become a reflection of our mood, innermost thoughts, and even our fears. Sometimes they are just a pick me up, the same way Cardi B is currently soundtracking the writing of this review. Certain, well-placed songs can even tell our life story without us having to utter a single word, much like Teen Spirit.

Film Review: ‘Little’ Squanders Its Comedic and Social Potential in an Attempt to Play It Safe

CHICAGO – After a typical late night, deep dive of the internet, I found something terrifying. Around the 60’s, creating dinners in Jello were popular for some reason. Although I liked every individual ingredient, seeing the way they fit together was a less than appetizing. Watching “Little” reminds me of this experience except after the film, I was left with a bland, spiceless taste in my mouth.

Film Review: Terrible Messaging in ‘The Best of Enemies’ Ruins an Otherwise Serviceable Film

CHICAGO - According to my YouTube history, unlikely animal friendships would likely be in my top 10 most watched videos, alongside DIY home projects and finding out if that sharp pain means I’m dying. Something as simple as a cat and dog being bffs is adorable, but unlike what “The Best of Enemies” would have you believe, two naturally opposing forces don’t always need to play nice.

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