Tag Archives: Isaiah Merritt

Into the Shallow

Into the Deep

by Isaiah Merritt

After an hour of holding it in, I began to scream at the screen. “You’re stupid. You’re stupid.”

The poor decision-making of the characters in Kate Cox’s thriller Into the Deep, written by David Beton, had finally taken its toll on me. 

Into the Deep, starring Ella-Rae Smith, Jessica Alexander, and Matthew Daddario, follows the budding romance of two strangers that become shipwrecked when a mysterious third party joins their affair. 

The premise of this slow-burn thriller has so much potential: an isolated location, strangers harboring potentially criminal secrets, and twisted motives. But the film as a whole fails to bring these delicious ingredients together to create a cohesive, entertaining work. 

Problems begin with the character development of the lead, Jess (Smith). Her amazingly promising backstory ties perfectly into the setting and action of the film. However, this backstory is never effectively delved into or utilized. 

Not every mystery in a narrative needs to be spelled out. Based on the way certain mysteries were presented here, it seems as though the filmmakers did not know how to use them as devices in the film.

While there were no major plot holes, except perhaps in the very last moment, many of the decisions each lead character makes are truly nonsensical. Additionally, the characters will inexplicably overlook or ignore things directly in their faces.

For example, if you pour a gallon of gasoline around someone who has a reasonable sense of smell, you are not going to need to point out to them that they are surrounded by gasoline. That might be fine once or twice, especially in a thriller like this, but not every 15 minutes. 

Into the Deep’s runtime hovers roughly around 90 minutes, which I was excited to see at first. However, this film could have been shortened easily by 20 minutes.

Not only was there far too much pointless exposition, the action did not commence until about an hour into the runtime. No real action, mystery, or discovery in a mystery-thriller for almost two-thirds of its runtime. 

The saddest part in all of this is that it is more than evident that the cast of this movie is uber talented. I cannot wait to see what each player does next, even Nikkita Chadha, who had a supporting role. 

Unfortunately, the wasted talent could not overcome the shallow characters and muddy vision of Into the Deep.

Diane Keaton Makes Everything Better

Mack and Rita

by Isaiah Merritt

There are some rare talents with a unique set of skills that own a certain genre of film or character type. So much so that the mere mention of their name gives you a clear portrait of what is to be expected on the screen and an assurance that they are going to nail every bit of that role. Not to say they can’t play other roles well, but no one can play THEIR role the way they can.

Diane Keaton proves yet again that no one can play the manic-loveable woman in comedic crisis the way she can in Katie Aselton’s Mack and Rita – a comedy not so steeped in reality about remaining true to yourself during the social media age.

The film follows Mack (Elizabeth Lail), a 30-year-old woman with an old soul whose life changes forever when she transforms into her 70-year-old self “Rita” (Diane Keaton). This transformation prompts a quirky journey of self-discovery for our titular character(s) as she navigates love, friendship, and career woes. 

The beginning of this film has a rocky start. The tone is unclear, many of the comedic beats seem a bit forced, and the devices used to push the story forward are lazy. Then Diane arrives… and makes everything better. 

From the moment she appears on the screen the film is more interesting. The comedic moments seemingly designed for Keaton land much better. However, she is not the only player to save this film from its predictable and conventional plot. 

The ever-charismatic Taylour Paige and the stunning Loretta Devine are exquisite in their roles and are clear standouts in this star-studded cast that includes the likes of Wendie Malick, Lois Smith and Amy Hill – all of whom are delightful. 

Visually the film is also aided by fun costume pieces and a polished, somewhat campy aesthetic that fits the tone of the film perfectly. 

While the performances are a treat and the costumes pleasing to the eye, Mack and Rita doesn’t offer anything new or inventive. If you are looking for a quick, light-hearted popcorn film, Mack and Rita is the film for you.

The Deglammed Spy and Love Ties

Diary of a Spy

by Isaiah Merritt

The big screen has become oh so littered with the glamorous life of the fearless spy and their sonic-speed cars, fancy attire, and femme fatale sidekicks – all gorgeously accessorized by striking visuals, epic shots, and glittering cinematography. As entertaining as this style of filmmaking can be, there has been a lack of any opposing forces in the genre. 

Where’s the grit? Where’s the darkness? Where’s the reality? Where’s the BEEF?!!

Diary of A Spy, written and directed by Adam Christian Clark, offers a dark and hardy perspective through the lens of a traumatized woman who has dedicated her life to a cause that may destroy her.

Anna, played with stellar precision by Tamara Taylor, must somehow find a new foundation while she manages a high-stakes assignment that causes her to mix business with pleasure in this slow-burn thriller. When the lines between assignment and romance begin to blur, the plot thickens, ushering in a much-earned climax. 

From shot to shot and scene to scene, Clark displays a very clear voice as an auteur. The direction, writing, editing, and cinematography create a cohesive world rich with the rawness of life. 

The consistency of performances solidifies the strength of the film and gives the piece heart. Leads Taylor and Reece Noi are in no small part responsible for the success of the film. Especially in the closing scene, Noi proves he is a force to be reckoned with – a quiet storm of awkward realism. 

Meanwhile, Paulina Leija offers a scene-stealing performance in a supporting role.

This is a film that takes some time to gain momentum. However, with clear direction, a cohesive vision, and good performances to match, Diary of a Spy is a refreshing take — a spy film soaked in realism.