The Witch: Bringing Back the Artistry of Horror


The Witch

February 19, 2016

Robert Eggers’ The Witch transports audiences back to 17th century New England where a family is forced to face their biggest fears as the threat and dangers of witchcraft test their religion and loyalty to one another. Newcomer, Anya Taylor-Joy, emerges as a star in this captivating and horrifying tale. Audiences are quickly reminded of the kinds of horror films we have been missing and the kinds that truly leave us terrified yet desperately wanting more.

The film is suspenseful from beginning to end and will leave you on the edge of your seat. While some may struggle to find answers to the problems faced by the characters, the sense of the unknown is what makes this movie stand out from others. Not all of our questions are answered, but we are left with enough information to make our own frightening conclusions. The entire film takes place in a gloomy and isolated area that is enough to make the hairs on your arm stand up. The setting itself is an indication that nothing good can come for this family.
The Witch is a powerful and truly terrifying masterpiece that will make you ponder about the insanity of the plot for days. Eggers provides us with a tale of darkness and suspense that will captivate anyone and make them recognize the lack of artistry in popular horror films today.
Written by: Madison Bowlds

Mockingjay Part 2: The Final Chapter


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games franchise has captivated audiences throughout the world, grossing more that $2.2 billion at the global box office. Mockingjay–Part 2 brings the franchise to a dramatic end with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) fighting alongside rebel forces for their future. The entire movie was full of darkness, and the moral lessons were at times stretched thin and overdone.

It was a bittersweet ending for me, one that made me feel incredibly old. I read The Hunger Games Trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, when I was in high school. Even though I read the books, the movie was full of surprises, mostly because I read the books over 5 years ago.

Jennifer Lawrence made audiences fall in love with her all over again because in reality we all just want to be her best friend. Her relatable personality in real life impacts how audiences feel towards the characters she plays. Peeta, Josh Hutcherson, completely scared me. He looked almost identical to Slim Shady except a sick version. The absence of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died in the middle of filming, was a loud silence.

Overall, I enjoyed the excitement of Mockingjay Part 2 much more than Mockingjay Part 1 which was an unnecessary  addition to a franchise that should have remained a trilogy. This final film is a great example of powerful, female leaders that our own world could use a little more of.

If you’re a Hunger Games fan, want to be Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend, or want some action packed excitement, this is a must see. If you’re not into cheesy love triangles or if you’re tired of young adult books turned into movies, I would pass on this movie.

Happy Hunger Games!

The Billiken Critics

Written by: Laura Berry

He Named Me Malala: A True Inspiration


He Named Me Malala

October 9. 2015

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim provides movie goers with an inside look at the life of Malala Yousafzai. Malala Yousafzai was severely wounded by a gunshot from the Taliban when she was returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She was just 15 years old. Malala and her father have singled out for advocating for girls’ education.

Malala, her father Zia, and the rest of her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls around the world. The film gives us a glimpse of her life from her speech in front of the United Nations, her life before the attack, and to family game night with her family inside their new home in the United Kingdom.

The film also showed Malala’s critics, many of whom believe her actions are simply a publicity stunt, but in my opinion, Malala brought a shining light to the film that made audiences believe in hope. At one point, the filmmaker asked her what her life would be like if she was normal. She replied saying that she is a normal girl, but if her family was still in Pakistan living like every other family, she would be the mother of two children by now.

Malala is attending a private school in the U.K., but she frequently travels throughout the world to talk to and inspire young girls. It is clear that her family misses their life in Pakistan, especially her mother who cannot speak English; however, Malala knows that if she returns home she will be killed.

If you’re looking to be inspired or empowered, this film is a must see. If documentaries aren’t your thing, then you might want to pass. If you don’t go see this film, I still think that we can all learn from Malala’s story and the encouraging words she leaves us with.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala

The Billiken Critics

Written by: Laura Berry

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials


Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

September 18, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second installment in the Maze Runner series. We rejoin Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers in this thrilling second chapter. The teens face unimaginable challenges while trying to navigate through the treacherous terrain of the Scorch. After escaping the maze and evading the threatening organization, W.C.K.D., the Gladers are forced to overcome their worst fears in the quest to find out their purpose in W.C.K.D.’s mysterious plans.

Cast members Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, and Patricia Clarkson return for this second installment and are joined by an all-star supporting cast including Giancarlo Esposito, Lili Taylor, and Rosa Salazar among others. This being said, there is a lot to love about this movie. It was exciting and suspenseful, guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. I highly recommend it to any thrill-seeker or action lover. It is really hard not to root for these characters. Facing these obstacles is something no one could ever imagine doing.

If you have seen the first Maze Runner film, even if it did not register with you as much as you would have liked, I still highly recommend seeing The Scorch Trials. I did not think it could be more exciting than the first film, but it proved to be that and then some. There is something for everyone to love with this film. It will keep you guessing until the end and will make it that much harder to wait for the third movie!

Until next time!

The Billiken Critics


Written by: Madison Bowlds

Straight Outta Compton: Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, & Ice Cube’s 8 Mile

Straight Outta Compton
August 14, 2015
Straight Outta Compton is the true story of the emergence of the group NWA from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980’s. The members of the NWA, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren, changed hip hop and rap culture forever with their lyrics and new beats. The stars of the movie include: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, and Paul Giamatti all of which embraced their roles and did justice to the famous artists they played.
I was really excited to go see this movie, but I didn’t have super high expectations because I already have a favorite movie about a famous rapper. I hope that you have all seen 8 Mile, the story of how Eminem emerged on the rap scene. If you haven’t please go watch it and if you don’t like the movie 8 Mile, you are not my friend. Anyway, 8 Mile is a great movie, but it was exciting to hear the story of rap before people like Eminem. Some of the real founding fathers of rap music with honest lyrics.
Some of the more famous songs that can be heard throughout the movie include, Boyz-N-The-Hood, Straight Outta Compton, and The Next Episode (all of which have now been added to my playlist). It was fascinating to watch the group dynamics when it came to writing, singing, and producing this music. The music is full of stories of drugs, sex, and issues that minorities faced during the mid-1980’s, which are issues that are still present in our society today.
If you don’t like rap music, the F-word, or any sort of violence,  I would skip this movie; however, if you enjoy rap battles, have a dream of becoming a rapper, or want an inside look of minority issues in our society, this is a must see. I loved this movie, so if you live in the Shoe Lofts I apologize in advance for the heavy rap music coming from the 3rd floor. I’m even thinking of giving rapping a try. My first album will be called “Straight Outta Southern Illinois.” I can promise you one thing, if you go see Straight Outta Compton, your inner rapper will emerge.
Thanks for reading!
The Billiken Critics
 Written by: Laura Berry

Tomorrowland: Disney Dives into the Future



May 22, 2015

Disney hits moviegoers with a harsh version of the future full of war, environmental destruction, and creepy robots that can be mistaken for humans, but at least it’s a future with George Clooney. To be completely honest, George Clooney is probably half the reason most women (and men) were truly interested in watching this futuristic film.

Science and new technologies rule our world. I can’t go one hour without sending a snapchat, checking my Facebook, or shooting a text to my friend in the next room. Disney allows us to see a sneak-peek of the future with jet packs and flying to the moon. I enjoyed watching the world of Tomorrowland, but it was soon crushed. The message of self-destruction is cruel. It almost felt as if Disney was sending a message to viewers to stop hurting our world.

The film’s main character, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), is the hope of the future. She believes in science and hope and possibilities. The film encourages viewers to follow her footsteps and believe in changing the world. She is encouraged by her father, country superstar Tim McGraw, who works for NASA and has always encouraged her to follow her dreams. Hugh Laurie plays a fantastic villain who is too smart for his own good and confused about the true meaning of our world.

And of course, what futuristic film would be complete without a love story between mankind and a robot. The cheesy love story is beyond predictable.

If you enjoy dreaming of the future of science and technology, George Clooney, and a predictable, somewhat cheesy story line, Tomorrowland is a must see.  If human/robot love stories, a view at mankind’s future self-destruction, and Tim McGraw in a spacesuit aren’t your thing, then I would pass.

In the end, Disney leaves us with a burning question. Will technology destroy us or save us? Only time will tell.


Written by: Laura Berry

Pitch Perfect 2: Predictably Perfect


Pitch Perfect 2

May 15, 2015

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and the rest of the Barden Bellas are back for an acca-sequel. “Pitch Perfect 2” continues to follow the Barden Bellas as they try to earn back their reputation after a hilariously, humiliating performance. “Pitch Perfect 2” provides audiences with a continuing love story and a look at the Bellas’ lives after they graduate from college. It is full of jokes and music that will leave you singing well after the movie is over.

The vocals of Becca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) were entertaining and on point. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) takes the comedy crown once again with her loud humor. The sexist, racial, and crude humor from  the acapella commentators, John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (the films director, Elizabeth Banks), left audiences laughing throughout the film.

With almost the exact same cast as “Pitch Perfect,” besides the refreshing new face and voice of Hailee Steinfeld, the movie was lacking surprises. Most of the surprise cast members were already ruined by the teasers which included the President and First Lady and even the Green Bay Packers.

For the musical loving, light comedy, acapella lovers of the world this is the perfect movie, but if singing, dancing, and college girls finding true friendship isn’t for you, I would pass. If you liked “Pitch Perfect,” then you are bound to like its similar sequel. I was not disappointed with this highly anticipated sequel, but I’m not sure if another film can or should be squeezed out of this story.


Click on the link below to view the official trailer.


Written by: Laura Berry