Tag Archives: Lucy Hale

Choosing Sides

Son of the South

by George Wolf

Midway through Son of the South, Bob Zellner – a privileged white college student from 1960s Alabama – is quick to stand up to a young Black man who doesn’t think Bob’s interest in the Civil Rights movement is genuine.

Not far away, another young Black man is preparing for upcoming Alabama protests by trying to remain passive while his friends subject him to some of the verbal and physical abuse that is soon to come.

Director/co-writer Barry Alexander Brown’s juxtaposition is earnest, unmistakable, and surface-layer effective – ultimately a perfect snapshot of the entire film.

Zellner’s story, adapted from his own autobiography, is of one white man shaking off the ugly bigotry of his upbringing and family history to march alongside historical icons such as Rosa Parks and John Lewis.

But more than that, the film is an easily digestible message to well-meaning white America that good intentions mean nothing if they’re left on the sidelines.

We meet Zellner (Lucas Till, TV’s new MacGyver and Havoc from X-Men) when he’s “free, white and 21” in the early 60s, a student at Huntington college with a pretty fiancé (Lucy Hale) and plans for Ivy League grad school.

But writing a paper on race relations leads Bob to attend service at a Black church, where he meets Parks (Sharrone Lanier), Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Cedric the Entertainer) and a townfull of racists who don’t take kindly to fraternizing. One of those is Zellner’s own Grandfather (Brian Dennehy), a proud KKK member who does not sugar coat the stakes.

There isn’t much nuance anywhere in the film, and though that makes for a less riveting narrative, it ends up feeling appropriate. Brown, who has often edited films for Spike Lee (an executive producer here), wisely doesn’t try to mimic Lee’s challenging genius.

Brown seems to be aiming for the crowd that’s still inspired by The Blind Side. Lightening the mood with moments of sly humor (Zellner reading Ebony and Jet) and budding romance, Brown avoids lionizing Zellner while finding an entertaining avenue for making his choices a more universal call to end white silence.

You could call that playing it safe, but you can’t call it dumb.

Films Against Humanity

Truth or Dare

by Hope Madden

Do people over the age of 8 still honestly play Truth or Dare? This idea surprises me. Aren’t there video games kids can be wasting time with?

I suppose the real surprise is that it took four years for a film to rip off It Follows. The new PG-13 horror from Blumhouse, Truth or Dare, takes a stab at it.

No, it’s not sex. But it is a curse that you pass on to other people to save yourself. A super lame curse that blends the clever concept of It Follows with the by-the-numbers structure of one of the later Final Destinations and wraps it all up in a faux-contemporary cautionary tale about the digital age.


I’d point out that co-writer/director Jeff Wadlow was primarily lifting from his own 2005 film Cry Wolf, but I decided to go with movies you might have seen—movies that merit imitation.

So. Goody two-shoes Olivia (Lucy Hale) plans to spend her final spring break as a college student building houses with Habitat for Humanity, but her trampy bestie Markie (Violett Beane) and their binge-drinking roomie Penelope (Sophia Ali) have other plans. They guilt Olivia into spending the time with them, their boyfriends and an ethnic minority/gay sixth wheel in Mexico.

Hooray! Six slasher stereotypes—I mean, six best friends!—head south to flirt with alcohol poisoning and make bad decisions. Like playing grade school sleepover games and going to that decaying old mission.

Truth is, there are moments when one performance or a single intriguing notion or a clever call-back threatens to save a scene, by the final reveal you realize how heavy-handed the film really is.

Performances are bland, kills lack inspiration, there aren’t even enough of the prerequisite jump scares to keep the target PG-13 audience interested.

If you are of-age, hopefully you bought some beer with that ID because you’ll need the lubrication to help you glide past the lapses in logic, sometimes comical dialog and one laugh-out-loud moment at the vending machine.

Brad (Hayden Szeto, who deserves better) hears the ominous sound of an otherworldly voice calling out his name.

Except that it sounds exactly like some stoned guy hiding on the other side of the candy machine trying out his spooky voice and stage-whispering, “Braaaaaaaaadddddd!”

My entire row laughed.

So, there you go. There is some enjoyment to be had.