raw review

It’s going to be easy to label Raw as a cannibal horror movie. It’s simple. It gets the point across. It’s a hook to get people in the door. However, director Julia Ducournau‘s feature debut is about so much more than the consumption of human flesh. It’s a coming-of-age drama that truly understands the loneliness of being away from home for the first time. It’s a pitch-perfect portrait of the awkward transition into college life. It’s a sad and lovely portrait of how siblings are never that far apart, even when there appears to be a great distance between them. Raw is a movie about changes and transitions and settling into being the person you will be for the rest of your life.

And yes, it is also a cannibal horror movie.

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Sadako vs Kayako review

“Who would win in a fight?” is the great conversation starter. You yell about it on the playground. You debate the finer points in the bar. Who you back in a match-up between two fictional characters can sometimes say a lot about you and your tastes. Batman or Superman? Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees? Alien or predator?

And now we’ve reached peak versus with the arrival of Sadako vs Kayako, which pits the evil spirits from The Ring and The Grudge against each other in an absurd supernatural throwdown. In one corner, you have a longhaired young woman with a penchant for possessing outdated physical media. In the other, you have a broken-bodied, frog-throated demoness who really doesn’t like visitors. And when they do fight, will anyone care?

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The Eyes of My Mother Review

There’s a scene in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre where Leatherface, the deranged serial killer who wears the skin of his victims, runs to the window of his isolated farmhouse. He’s just made quick work of two teenagers who wandered onto his property one after another and he has no idea where they came from, what they wanted, and if more are on the way. Through that grotesque flesh-mask, we can see his eyes: confusion and fear and concern for what else this day may bring him. For a few seconds, this monstrous figure is so oddly…human.

The Eyes of the Mother is like a feature-length version of that shot.

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the age of shadows review

Almost every Kim Jee-woon film is a blasted battlefield where style and substance have declared war on one another. Most of the time, the two reach a stalemate – films like The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw the Devil are energetic masterpieces that often feel as if they’re teetering on the edge of collapse, films whose expansive running times are justified by the sheer amount of things happening on the screen. It may take awhile, but even The Last Stand (Kim’s first and, so far, last foray into Hollywood) taps into his innate desire to tear up everything on the screen with gleeful, gory debauchery. It’s his default mode and it has served him well.

The Age of Shadows is a quite the departure for the director, who has returned to South Korea and has returned with a slick historical spy epic that finds his most identifiable traits being moved to the back burner, for better and worse.

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american honey review

The United States of America is a nation of many nations. Within this vast expanse, you carve out your own destiny, define your existence, and struggle against the walls, both real and imagined, that box you in. You choose to look past those whose nation is so different from your own, your gaze deliberately passing through a individual, a fellow human being, whose circumstances are so alien to your own. Or maybe you wonder why that person won’t look you in the eye, why they’re looking at you without looking at you, and why their polite smile is so empty. It’s easy to get lost in America.

Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey is a machine powered by empathy, 163-minute odyssey through the forgotten and overlooked ranks of humanity who call America’s heartland their home. This is a road trip through flyover country, a cinematic opportunity to meet the gaze of those so many have forgotten or dismissed. It is a masterpiece and one of the best movies of 2016.

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phantasm remastered review

How does Phantasm exist?

That’s an odd rhetorical question to ask of a movie that has such a strong cult following, that has inspired four sequels over 37 years, and has inducted a genuine horror icon into the genre canon in the form of Angus Scrimm‘s The Tall Man. But revisiting the film in 2016 courtesy of a new 4K restoration that has the film looking better than ever, demands that this question be asked. Because Don Coscarelli‘s horror masterpiece isn’t just creepy, funny and wildly entertaining – it’s weird. Deeply weird. Endearingly weird. Weird on the kind of wavelength that you really don’t see very often. And it’s a wavelength that many horror fans seem to be right in tune with.

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the handmaiden review

Park Chan-wook has spent much of his career being compared to the great Alfred Hitchock and The Handmaiden isn’t going to stop that. But there’s something to be said for a modern filmmaker being constantly placed side-by-side with one of the greatest directors of all time and there’s something more to be said when that director was known for his range and his willingness to take risks. Yes, Park’s films are Hitchockian in that they’re technically precise thrillers, but they’re also Hitchcockian because they muddle elements of horror and black comedy into the mix. And with The Handmaiden, Park proves that he can also match Mr. Hitchock in another category – he too is gloriously perverted.

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the void review

In the eyes of many genre filmmakers, the horror genre peaked in the ’80s and this mindset has informed entire filmographies. To attend any genre film festival is to wade through movies that feel like deliberate riffs on the work of directors like John Carpenter, movies filled with gooey practical effects and set to icy synth soundtracks. This kind of affection for a bygone era even went mainstream this summer with the release of Netflix’s Stranger Things – everyone wants to make a great ’80s movie 30 years after the fact and it can feel stifling. Nostalgia can be a bitch and a half. After a few miserable ’80s horror pastiches, you can’t help but feel ready to throw this entire subgenre to the dogs.

And then something like The Void arrives and shows how you can do it right.

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Black Mirror Season 3 Review

It’s been nearly two years since the last episode of Black MirrorCharlie Brooker‘s tech dystopia anthology series, and over three years since the last proper full season aired. Naturally, then, news that Netflix had commissioned 12 more episodes was met with a combination of excitement and trepidation.

On the one hand, Black Mirror is second to none when it comes to chronicling the way humanity and technology intersect in 2016. On the other, we’ve seen tons of shows renewed after extended hiatuses, only to return as shells of their former selves. Could the third season of Black Mirror live up to the greatness of the first two? Based on the two episodes that screened at TIFF, “San Junipero” and “Nosedive,” the answer seems to be yes.  Read More »

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La La Land Review

“They don’t make ’em like this anymore” is a frequent lament when it comes to movies, but it couldn’t be truer in the case of La La Land, an unabashedly old-fashioned musical directed by Whiplash‘s Damien Chazelle. Set in contemporary Los Angeles — with just enough modern-day flourishes to remind you that this is a movie made and set in the 2010s, not the 1950s — La La Land follows a struggling pianist and an aspiring actress who fall in love but find their separate dreams threatening to pull them apart. It’s a story as old as Hollywood and jazz, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone feel like a pairing for the ages.

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