Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 - A Year in Review: Horror films



It’s been a decent year for horror films, there have been some superb independent horror films, some mainstream hits (and disappointments) plus a few straight to DVD crackers. People often bemoan the decline of the horror genre, criticising the lack of originality and overuse of false scares. I’m of the opinion that the horror genre is seeing a level of professionalism that has never been seen before. Perhaps is simply because better technology is more readily available that even the straight to DVD releases can’t fairly be described as amateur. If you were to look back at the worst of the worst in the 70s (the supposed golden age of horror) you will find a lot of utter rubbish more so than you would now.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

2016: A Year in Review - Superheros

This is the first part of my year in review series, this post will be about the superhero genre during 2016. You can expect a list of the best and worst movies at the end of January once I’ve seen La La Land, Jackie, Silence, Hacksaw Ridge and any other potential Oscar nominee. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Sully


Back in January 2009, Chesney ‘Sully’ Sullenburger (Tom Hanks) was departing from a New York airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, when his plane was suddenly hit by a flock of Canada Geese. This knocked out both engines meaning that the plane was essentially a glider. Suffering loss of thrust above one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Sully quickly deduced that it was impossible to arrive at any of the surrounding airports, and the only option was the river Hudson. Sully landed the plane with remarkable skill, but the ordeal wasn't over yet as water flooded in. The rescue services acted quickly and all 155 people on the plane were saved. Eastwood’s most recent film is about the heroic actions of Sully, and the recent aftermath which includes traumatic flashbacks and the NTSB investigation.

Rogue One


Set during the Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One is about a group of rebels who try to recover the plans for the Death Star which reveal a major strategic weakness. Potential spoilers are ahead.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Snowden

Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the ex CIA worker who leaked confidential documents about the mass surveillance operation conducted by US agencies that involved spying on average Americans as well as World leaders. Snowden is a dramatic retelling of the story.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Paterson




Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, Paterson, is about a bus driver named Paterson in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. The film is about a week in the life of the poetry loving bus driver and his relationship with others, such as his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is a stay-at-home artist.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

More Frightfest 2016 films

Ali Abbasi’s film, Shelley, has a great number of interesting ideas about the fear of pregnancy and the sheer desire to have a baby, but interesting ideas don’t always add up to a great movie. Louise and Kasper live in an isolated cottage in the countryside, they require a maid, Elena, to assist Louise in her day to day activities following her operations. This operation renders her childless and unable to conceive so they ask Elena to be the surrogate mother, and Elena agrees. With all the loud, jump scares of modern, mainstream America horror cinema, it’s easy to appreciate the more measured, slow burn approach but not to the extent it becomes rather boring. As impressive as the film’s visuals and make up effects are, its rather dull and left open to interpretation a little too much for one’s liking, a little closure goes a long way but the film is to obtuse it ends up being rather frustrating. 

2.5/5



It’s early in the morning on the fourth of July and the police have received a complaint about some party animals have started the 4th of July celebrations early. The police arrive on the scene only to discover a bloody massacre with a single survivor. Meanwhile a group of friends are planning an exciting drink, drug and sex fuelled party at a remote cabin. However, something sends the 20somethings into a rage fuelled state, was it the locals? The shot that they’d all taken? Or the drugs, if so this film works well as an anti-drugs commercial. 

I was deliberately more vague regarding the cause of rage fuelled zombie like behaviour in comparison to official plot synopsis which deemed it fit to reveal the cause of the infection, it perhaps did the film a disservice revealing far too much. Anyway there’s a habit with these types of films to present all of the characters as deeply unlikable, there’s one arrogant and cocky guy whose death would be most welcomed and most of the other characters don’t fare much better. It's a mystery why this happens so often, we need characters to care about.

The basic plot of The Evil in Us is one that’s been told many times, the clich├ęs are certainly there as the creepy locals (who the young group of friends predictably annoy) and remote cabin feel very familiar. However, despite the fact that the zombie genre is inflated with gallons of crap, there’s some relatively new ideas here and ones that actually gets you thinking about how such a crisis would be resolved.

The literal blood bath of the opening credits sets the precedent for what to except as the excellent make up and gore effects thrill and some filmmaking techniques (such as depicting the visual hallucinations bought on by the infection) work in the film’s favour.

3/5

Rosie (Alex Essoe) and John (Josh Stewart) are drug mules for their uncle (played by Skipp Sudduth in a wonderfully foul performance), for that reason they live in relative seclusion but for one, seemingly normal, neighbour. That is until Rosie (going all Rear Window) spots the neighbour (Bill Engvill) in question beating someone to death with a spade and disposing of the body.

Alex Essoe shot to fame (at least within the minds of horror fans) with her superb performance in the disturbing Starry Eyes, her latest film The Neighbour is slightly more conventional but still an excellent exercise in tension. The Neighbour is more of thriller than a horror, but there's a lot tension surrounding what the neighbour is up to (and it's clear that he is up to something) and when its revealed that he is up to something fishy the film sets itself within the thriller genre. Marcus Dunstan does a fine job in the director's chair (there are, however, moments where the film is superficially over-stylised) but credit goes Alex Essoe and Josh Stewart whose chemistry as the married couple in peril helps the audience find something to be engaged in.

3.5/5

Three people with financial issues are selected to take part in this edcuational experiment where gifted children are confined to stay undergroud in order to reach their potential. It seems a bit odd from the start, but things turn from strange to downround deadly

Let's be Evil sets its self apart from a majority of horror films by making use of augmented reality as a way to tell the story. It's an interesting way to tell the story, and the film uses it to exmaine its themes, which include the use of technolgy in the educational system and the way the kids have limited play time even though research suggests that playtime is benefical to the student's learning process. The film has it's moments, it's often tense and exicting the augmented reality adds an interesting dimension. It's, however, a little rough on the edges, and threat by the kids isn't fully convicing (there's a scene where the evil kids a literally patting one of the central characters) and it's a bit on the predictable side.

3.5/5

Monday, 12 December 2016

Moonlight



Barry Jenkins’ film tells the story of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) in three stages of his life, the first stage is where Chiron is a target of local bullies for his small size and structure, and suspicions that he is gay (something that Chiron isn’t fully sure but suspects so) the second is his life as a teenager where he begins actually experiment with his sexuality and the third and final stage where Chiron has begun his life as a drug dealer in Atlanta. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

East Asia Triple Bill


In the small Korean village of Goksung there’s a strange infection spreading through the village that creates horrible boils on the body and sends people into horrific convulsions. Meanwhile there are some brutal killings taking place in the same village, and it’s suspected that a Japanese visitor is responsible for the strange going ons. Is the Japanese visitor the cause for these strange happens or is there something, more sinister, pulling the strings?