Linda Cook review: ‘Separation’ is a good movie … to stay away from

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The only thing worse than a terrible movie is a terrible movie with flashes of brilliance.

Take “Separation,” for instance. Driven largely by contrivances and typical tropes you’d see in any given horror movie, it’s a waste of some brilliant ideas tacked onto a shaky plot that finally collapses.

Yes, there’s a child who sees a ghost. Jenny (Violet McGraw) is a child torn between two constantly bickering parents. Serious professional Maggie (Mamie Gummer, who closely resembles her mother, Meryl Streep) and cartoonist Jeff (Rupert Friend) can’t go 10 seconds without arguing.

Samantha (Madeline Brewer) is on hand as a babysitter who obviously has feelings for Jeff.

A custody battle, made all the worse by Maggie’s belligerent father (Brian Cox,) ensues. Jeff seems besieged by demons in human form that make the creepy entities here seem tame.

Jenny begins to see the spirit soon after an unexpected loss.

Both a drama and a horror movie, I could see the concept started out with good intentions. I get how you can be “haunted” by separation, but the plot becomes more ridiculous as it continues until it finally dissolves completely into a laughable finale.

The devil, so to speak, is not in these details, many of which are really cool and fascinating.

I love the puppets based on Jeff’s “Grisly Kin” creations. In fact, I think the Grisly Kin should have their own movie – something along the lines of “A Nightmare Before Christmas,” maybe. They’re beautifully designed, interesting and strangely engaging.

Also, I enjoyed the creative setting of a comics publishing house.

But the cool designs around the silly plot make it all the more implausible.

This is one to separate yourself from.

1 star

Rated: R for foul language and gore.

Running time: One hour and 57 minutes.

At Cinemark, Davenport, and Fridley-Palms 10, Muscatine.

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