Tuesday, 23 October 2018

THE NIGHT COMES FOR US (full review at Screen Realm)

The Night Comes For Us is director Timo Tjhjanto’s follow up to his 2016 action movie Headshot and is premiering on Netflix. It’s a kinetic, bloody action movie utilising Indonesian Pencak Silat martial arts, cinematically popularised in The Raid movies.

Ito (Joe Taslim) is an enforcer for a Triad operating out of the infamous Golden Triangle. He is a member of a group of high level operatives who go to extreme measures in service of the Triad. These merciless enforcers are known as The Six Seas.

Under orders to exterminate a fishing village for skimming profits, Ito refuses to kill a young girl, Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez), and turns instead on his own men. He heads home to the Jakarta underground hoping to get himself and Reina fake identities and passage out of the country.  However, the Triad has recruited Ito’s old friend Arian (Iko Uwais) to pursue him, promising Arian a lucrative territory and Ito’s place in The Six Seas in return. In addition, the Triad sends its local thugs in pursuit of Ito, and a mysterious, deadly assassin known as The Operative (Julie Estelle) is circling the whole affair with an unknown motive. 

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: The Night Comes For Us

Sunday, 21 October 2018

BEAUTIFUL BOY (full review at Screen Realm)

Beautiful Boy is the true story of David Scheff and his son Nic’s battles with drug addiction and the impact it has on their family. Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, it is adapted as an amalgam of David’s book Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction and Nic’s memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.

The story unfolds from David’s (Steve Carell) point of view and follows his family’s journey though the turmoil of Nic’s (Timothée Chalamet) drug addiction, recovery and relapse, recovery and relapse. We see the impact it has on David, his other children and his wife, Karen (Maura Tierney). We see the impact on Nic’s mother Vicki (Amy Ryan), and we witness Nic’s life unfold and compose and unfold again.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Beautiful Boy

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

HOLD THE DARK (full review at Screen Realm)

Hold The Dark is Jeremey Saulnier’s fourth film as director and is an adaptation of a novel by William Giraldi. Collaborating with Macon Blair (writer/director of the exceptional I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore) they bring us a slow burn, enigmatic thriller, saturated with violence.

After a young boy is taken by wolves outside his family home in rural Alaska, his mother, Melora Slone (Riley Keogh), writes to author and wolf expert Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) for help. She requests that he come to Alaska, track and kill the animal responsible for her son’s presumed death.  Russell agrees to assist and what follows is a film that takes us in unexpected and not always explained directions.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Hold The Dark

DEEP RISING (full review at Diabolique Magazine)

It's always exciting when you get to write for someone new, and this article on Deep Rising is my first time writing for the excellent Diabolique Magazine.

In 1997 a movie about a stricken ocean liner set the box office alight. Titanic, James Cameron’s historical fiction starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet romped to Oscar glory and monumental box office, changing the face of cinema forever. The following year, another imperilled ocean liner movie emerged… and it was better. It incorporated many elements that were sorely lacking in Titanic – namely sea monsters and lots of guns. And that movie was Deep Rising.

The plot is pure and innocent and beautiful in its simplicity. Somewhere in the South China Sea or “the middle of nowhere squared” according John Finnegan (Treat Williams), skipper of a small boat hired by a suspicious group of mercenaries, a luxury cruise ship called the Argonautica is on its maiden voyage. The mercenaries, led by Hanover (Wes Studi) and comprising a motley crew of great character actors like Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis and Djimon Hounsou are en-route to intercept the Argonautica and mess some stuff up. However, when they arrive at the rendezvous location they find the Argonautica adrift and deserted. As the crew investigate the desolate vessel they encounter several survivors including smarmy boat designer Simon Canton (Anthony Heald) and the fantastically named professional cat burglar, Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen). Together, they learn the cruise liner was the victim of an attack by a multi-tentacled deep sea leviathan, hell bent on gruesomely chowing down on everyone on board.

Read the full article at Diabolique:

IMDB: Deep Rising

Friday, 5 October 2018


My second movie for Shocktober was Terrifier. I'm not sure why I dislike its particular brand of crass exploitation over say, Maniac, which I like very much. Perhaps because Terrifier can't decide if Art the Clown is mortal or supernatural and if there aren't any rules then there aren't any real consequences. While Art is a superbly nightmarish character - silent and freakish - and the movie is uncompromisingly violent, the kills are not scary. Terrifier does not terrify - it disgusts. It lingers too long on repugnant set pieces  and crosses a line into territory that's just generally unpleasant. Art's real successes are early in the film where he does little more than stare at people - in these moments of bizarre, stoic creepiness we get to be genuinely uncomfortable and Terrifier actually works quite nicely. The odd bit of warped, black humor also unnerves - when Art randomly honks a clown horn in the direction of a victim he cannot reach.

Otherwise Terrifier is largely just a collection of horrifying imagery draped over the flimsiest of plots. Again I've given a lot of thought as to why this doesn't sit right with me, when other horror movies concerned with imagery over plot (Baskin, for example) fall right into my wheelhouse. And I think it's because there's almost no thought process to Terrifier beyond wanting to gross you out. And even it's worst excess is an idea shamelessly lifted straight out of a better movie (naming it would spoil both films, so I will decline to).

Ultimately Terrifier feels like it had the tools at its disposal to become a really fantastic horror movie, but instead focused on gore at the expense of all else. The result is a largely plotless film that's also quite nasty.

IMDB: Terrifier

This review was also posted to Letterboxd

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (full review at Screen Realm)

You Were Never Really Here is the fourth feature from Lynne Ramsay and is an adaptation of the novella by Jonathan Ames.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Joe, a deeply traumatised ex-soldier who lives with his elderly mother and works as the hired muscle for a private investigator. A lucrative case comes his way as he is employed to locate Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), the runaway daughter of a local Senator. He is given an address and a request to exercise both discretion and brutality. To divulge any more plot would be to enter spoiler territory but suffice it to say, the plot takes us into some dark territory and violence is ever present.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: You Were Never Really Here

GUZOO: THE THING FORSAKEN BY GOD - PART1 (aka Guzoo: Kami ni misuterareshi mono - Part I)

This was a tricky one to learn about and I expected that trying to find it would involve a lot more work. Fortunately Guzoo's minimal search results yielded a YouTube upload, and while that's not the ideal screening option it does stand as your best (only?) chance of seeing Kazuo Komizu's splatter obscurity.

Trying to learn more about this film ended up being very similar to investigating Japanese punk records - when you arm yourself with an overwhelming curiosity and zero language ability. A chance encounter with a screenshot on Tumblr led me down a rabbit hole where, beyond what's here on Letterboxd, the only thing I've been able to establish is that Part 2 does not exist.

On to the film itself then, and if you're not consumed by waves of intrigue at the title Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken by God - Part 1, then perhaps this is a good place to take your leave. The plot is not a million miles away from Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu as four schoolgirls go to visit a family friend in a country house and after a bunch of innocent wholesome fun, get terrorised by something sinister- in this instance, a lumpen, tentacled monstrosity from the basement. The creature is an amorphous mound of blubber that really looks a hell of a lot like a Shoggoth from Lovecraftian lore. John Carpenter's influence can also be felt in the Prince of Darkness vibe and similarities to The Thing in some of the effects. Stuart Gordon's body horror masterpiece From Beyond emerged the same year and Guzoo feels a bit like its demented sibling.

But the main issue with Guzoo is that at a brisk 40 minutes it feels more like the IDEA of a movie than a fully fledged story. Guzoo could have been something spectacular if they'd just (pardon the pun) fleshed it out a bit more.

IMDB: Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken by God - Part 1

This review was also posted to Letterboxd