In-House Reviews: Run Sweetheart Run, Significant Other, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone & More!

Aaron Neuwirth has reviews for Run Sweetheart Run, Significant Other, Mr. Harrigan's Phone, The School for Good and Evil, The Curse of Bridge Hollow, and My Best Friend's Exorcism.

With plenty of films fit for spooky season in theaters and streaming, here’s a horror/genre-themed set of write-ups covering some notables (and Shudder is running the tables with plenty more new offers). This set of reviews includes a cat-and-mouse thriller, a horrific hike, a Stephen King adaptation, a YA fantasy flick, a family-friendly horror comedy, and an exorcist-themed horror-comedy. The following features reviews for Run Sweetheart Run, Significant Other, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The School for Good and Evil, The Curse of Bridge Hollow, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism.

Run Sweetheart Run: 6 out of 10

The Setup: Initially apprehensive when her boss insists she meets with one of his most important clients, single mom Cherie (Ella Balinska) is relieved and excited when she meets charismatic Ethan (Pilou Asbæk). The influential businessman defies expectations and sweeps Cherie off her feet. But at the end of the night, when the two are alone together, he reveals his true, violent nature. Battered and terrified, she flees for her life, beginning a relentless cat-and-mouse game with a bloodthirsty assailant hell-bent on her utter destruction.

Review: Here’s a frustratingly good film that finds many great ways to keep up its energy, despite leaving behind many questions. Granted, explanations are not needed for everything, but one does wonder about several loose threads being left hanging, given Run Sweetheart Run’s dedication to bluntly spelling out its message concerning “believe women.” That’s not to say the film is at its best when it simply goes for the horror/thriller angle, but given all the pathways laid out to bring in some aspects regarding what’s going on with Asbæk’s character, I could have sacrificed a set piece for a bit more info. At the same time, director Shana Feste makes some interesting fourth wall-breaking choices that similarly add something unique to the film, yet not enough to truly justify the aim. Regardless, the visceral nature of what’s taking place helps Run Sweetheart Run remain compelling.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Prime Video.

Significant Other: 7 out of 10

The Setup: Sinister events plague a young couple when they take a backpacking trip through the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Review: I suppose it makes the most sense to tread lightly here, as there’s a lot of fun to the surprises this seemingly simple film packs in. I’d even argue that skipping past the first 3 minutes would be doing the viewers a favor to have even more of a shock regarding where the movie goes. For the first third, Significant Other plays as a two-hander between Maika Monroe’s Ruth and Jake Lacy’s Harry. They are a couple in love enough, but one party being more anxiety-prone has made it difficult. However, all that is complicated more by whatever is out in the woods. Given how the film is being directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, there’s little doubt something strange is happening, but one will wonder just how deadly it all turns out to be. Once more is revealed, a good number of jolts play well on expectation. There’s some bloody stuff to look out for, but the way we come to realize who to root for and what to take away from the ultimate antagonist allows for a bit of a subversion that’s acted well enough between the two leads.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Paramount+.

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: 3 out of 10

The Setup: When Craig, a young boy living in a small town (Jaeden Martell), befriends Mr. Harrigan, an older, reclusive billionaire (Donald Sutherland), the two begin to form an unlikely bond over their love of books and reading. But when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig discovers that not everything is dead and gone and strangely finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone Craig gave him.

Review: Simply put – this movie sucks. I mean that in regards to how given the cast involved and the premise we are following, writer/director John Lee Hancock has done his best to suck the life out of all of it. This isn’t new for Hancock, one of the more questionably successful journeyman filmmakers currently working, despite a pretty shoddy track record. The presence of producer Ryan Murphy is not balanced out well by this being a Blumhouse Production either, as there’s very little room for any nuance, but letting various scenes playout in an over-the-top manner, even in a film attempting to work as a quiet, introspective, coming-of-age teen horror drama, ends up having it all fall flat. Sutherland does what he can in the small amount of time he has on screen, but it’s really Cyrus Arnold as school bully Kenny who leaves the strongest impression. Otherwise, in a world where Mike Flanagan is the one key person who knows how to adapt King these days, this effort from Hancock was deathly dull.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Netflix.

The School for Good and Evil: 4 out of 10

The Setup: Best friends Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they’re swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between good and evil.

Review: Back when Paul Feig directed Spy, this odd contingent of critics and audiences came in full force to say he should direct a James Bond film. It was as if these viewers had never seen a competent action film before, and this comedy served as something refreshing (never mind that being the same year as Mad Max: Fury Road, Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, Sicario, and an actual Bond film). I got the same feeling with The School for Good and Evil, with the difference being how plain bad this is compared to the very strong Spy. I can respect Feig for branching out, but he doesn’t seem to be the guy suited for a YA adaptation. Say what you will about the first couple of Harry Potter films, but at least they contained a sense of wonder. This film fills various standard shots with loads of CG and lots of exposition, which goes on for 147 minutes. For every attempt to make me care, there were plenty of standard-issue fantasy teen movie tropes holding me back. Veteran actors Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Charlize Theron, and Kerry Washington do what they can, but I was much happier when the school closed.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Netflix.

The Curse of Bridge Hollow: 4 out of 10

The Setup: A father (Marlon Wayans) and his teenage daughter (Priah Ferguson) are forced to team up and save their town after an ancient and mischievous spirit causes Halloween decorations to come to life and wreak havoc.

Review: I can’t say that I am a big fan of the various films Wayans has made on his own, but I admire the effort. It’s not easy to self-produce and regularly turn in a profit, yet he’s pulled it off numerous times. Additionally, whenever a director or studio casts him in a significant role, whether it’s Requiem for a Dream or On the Rocks, Wayans gives a solid performance, making me wonder about the alternate universe where he got to be Robin in the third Batman movie. Regardless, as much as I want to root for the guy, The Curse of Bridge Hollow is exactly that last word. It’s an empty attempt to deliver something silly and fun but forgets to have those key ingredients. Instead, the film is a tired series of joke attempts, with little helping it along outside of the game presence from Rob Riggle and a few gags here and there. Being better than Hocus Pocus 2 is hardly a compliment, and even that is stretching my regard here. I was hoping for something close to Adam Sandler’s surprisingly solid Hubie Halloween, but this film didn’t drink from the same canteen.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Netflix.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism: 6 out of 10

The Setup: In 1988, best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) navigate boys, pop culture, and a paranormal force clinging to Gretchen. With help from a mall exorcist (Christopher Lowell), Abby is determined to compel the demon back to the pits of hell — if it doesn’t kill Gretchen first.

Review: Knowing the year this film is set in and hearing the title is all the setup needed to get the idea across. Fortunately, this adaptation of a 2016 horror novel has worked out for the better in balancing a good sense of humor with a familiar level of tension that comes with exorcism movies. Having director Damon Thomas go for the R-rating also allows it to let loose with the violence. It doesn’t get too crazy, but for a “dead teenagers movie,” there’s enough working in its favor to satisfy horror fans and play into its 80s-ness. Fisher and Miller play well here, with the former playing up the anxiety angle seen before in Eighth Grade, while the latter captures the spirit of a mean girl gone way too far. Without aiming too high on what it needs to deliver, there’s enough here to enjoy, including a hilarious Lowell as the actual exorcist.

Where To Watch: Now available to stream on Prime Video.

***

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the African American Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at Variety, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Firstshowing.net, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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