The werewolf forfeits its feral nature in the name of societal niceties. Three nights out of the month, authenticity peeks its shy head out from under the guise of a human exterior, but most of the time, a werewolf wears a mask, suppressing the more callous urges within. But what if, in order to achieve the impossible, one must give in to their darkest desires? What if the dreams of man cannot be reached until the traitor beneath one’s breast is granted room to roam free?
In Bloodthirsty, vegan singer-songwriter Grey (Lauren Beatty) goes to work on her second album with notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk). But as the album progresses, she starts to transform into a powerful beast with a thirst for blood, meat and the hunt. And this wild genre turn works, too, as you can read in our review.
I had the privilege of speaking with director Amelia Moses about her latest feature on behalf of /Film. In the interview, we discuss lycanthropy as an extension of an artist’s craft, inverting patriarchal symbols through the subversion of werewolf lore, avoiding common genre tropes, giving into your desires, making music that makes people feel haunted, and the cost that comes with reckless creativity.
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“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Bong Joon Ho’s incredible Golden Globes speech caused a stir in 2020, and yet for many, his words fell on deaf ears. Despite director Bong’s Parasite going on to win Best Picture at the Oscars shortly thereafter – the first time a foreign film has received that award in the Academy’s 92 years of existence – polls still revealed a resistance among Americans to enrich themselves with the task of watching a movie with subtitles. According to an online survey conducted in 2020, 59% of adults in the United States prefer to view a foreign film that is dubbed into English. Dilapidated thinking reigns supreme.
Enter Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons, a charming and engrossing dark comedy about two strangers connecting over a series of online tutorials.
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Early in Martin Edralin’s stubbornly pensive and endearingly fragile directorial debut Islands, the painfully shy middle-aged loner Joshua (Rogelio Balagtas) spends yet another day in his childhood home helping his parents with the laundry, when a sudden spill down the stairs leaves him and his father (Esteban Comilang) alone without a matron. Forced to reconcile with the irrevocable progress of time, the pair do their best to move forward in the wake of their loss, only to find themselves stuck in the muck and the mire of their codependent grief.
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In the 2013 horror film The Green Inferno, Lorenza Izzo’s portrayal of a naive activist trapped on an island with a group of deviants is largely forgotten amidst the gratuitous depravity stealing each scene. However, I always found her depiction of a well-intentioned deer caught in the headlights to be the most audacious, captivating, and haunting performance in the film. She gave the college student Justine the vulnerability of a young woman struggling to come to terms with her place in the world, and the prideful innocence that led to her eventual entrapment. And she does it with the bashful grace that keeps the viewer on her side throughout the entire feature, even after she so adamantly refuses to stay in her own lane.
That grace is on full display in Women is Losers, Lissette Feliciano’s boldly original and beautifully bittersweet film, based on true events, which just premiered at SXSW. As Celina Guerrera, a bright and talented Catholic school girl in 1960s San Francisco who finds herself in hot water after an indiscretion creates a series of devastating consequences, Izzo turns her character’s inner monologue into movements and gestures. She moves with the poise of a dancer, her footsteps like explosions on slanted sidewalks, her shoulders swaying like the tallest treetops in the afternoon breeze. This is a star in the making, and the world would do well to take notice.
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It’s hard to think of an image from this year’s SXSW film festival more aggressively satisfying than that of 20-year-old Lily Hevesh toppling a towering tier of stacked dominos, the lovely crash echoing throughout every quiet pocket of the room. Jeremy Workman’s wholly endearing documentary about the world famous domino artist, Lily Topples the World, is both an undeniable crowdpleaser and an important spotlight cast on an underrepresented and entirely deserving protagonist. It’s just the kind of unbridled optimism one might seek out after a year marred by despair, delivered by a startling bright ball of sunshine.
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Fascination with the occult has long been a fixation in the minds of many across the globe. Whether it be a perverse manifestation of the panic which sets in among all classes when the balance begins to shift toward greater individual freedom, an overdue opportunity to express guilt and sin under the guise of accusations against innocent victims, or just wanting to check out your astrology horoscope for the week, the idea of witches and witchcraft and the power of the moon always manages to make a comeback in the psyche of the general public.
Written, directed and produced by celebrated film writer, programmer and publisher Kier-La Janisse, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a new documentary which seeks to explore the folk horror phenomenon from its beginnings through its proliferation on British television in the 1970s, touching on culturally specific manifestations in American, Asian, Australian and European horror, and highlighting the genre’s revival over the last decade.
I was lucky enough to chat with Janisse about her directorial debut, which is premiering at the 2021 virtual edition of the SXSW Film Festival. In the interview, we discuss the filmmaker’s love of folk horror, inaccurate nostalgia, psychogeography, finding comfort in alternative belief systems, domestic hauntings, and the ways in which the politics of insular communities can lead to radicalized thinking. Read More »
A nightwalker strolls into a small suburban town and all hell breaks loose. Married to the local minister, Barbara Crampton’s mousy Anne Fedder has been shrinking over the past 30 years, suppressing her adventurous ways in order to be without blemish. At her husband’s behest, Anne is quiet, withdrawn, devout. It’s not until a creature of darkness descends upon her quaint life that she becomes privy to the fact that she’s lost herself inside of the image of what her beloved wants her to be.
However, once she’s tasted blood, she grows an insatiable appetite to live a little larger. Be a little bolder. The only problem is that her fierce new attitude comes equipped with the added bonus of a heavy body count.
I was fortunate enough to speak with writer/director Travis Stevens about his sophomore feature Jakob’s Wife, which is world premiering at SXSW via their online platform. We discuss vampire lore, subverting genre tropes, giving Crampton the chance to wield more of the many tools in her arsenal, what it means to have a lust for life, and making movies for adults.
Jakob’s Wife premieres this week during the virtual edition of SXSW.
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When Ernestine Ulmer said “life is uncertain, eat dessert first,” she probably didn’t have poetic justice in mind. But in 2021, Promising Young Woman writer/director Emerald Fennell dreamed up a world in which Carey Mulligan’s forlorn ultra feminine Cassie is almost constantly chewing on something, whether it be a bag of chips or a darkly sinister plan to eviscerate evil men.
Showcasing a broken heart both beneath her breast and on a golden chain, Cassie carries around the grief of losing her best friend Nina with her everywhere she goes – from her dead end job at the coffee shop to her childhood bedroom in which she still resides to the club every weekend where she pretends to be too drunk to stand. An avenging angel, Cassie lures “nice guys” into taking her home whilst faking intoxication, only to sit straight up stone cold sober the second the good-natured flavor-of-the-week begins undressing her under false pretenses.
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This post contains spoilers for recent episodes of WandaVision.
Toward the end of the third episode of WandaVision, Marvel’s incendiary new television series, something strange happens.
Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) gives birth to two beautiful yet rapidly growing baby boys, and she and her neighbor Geraldine (Teyonah Parris) lean over the crib and coo and quail and admire the newborn twins. “I’m a twin,” Wanda smiles. “I had a brother. His name was…Pietro.” As Wanda starts to sing an old Romani lullaby, Geraldine attempts to break the ‘60s sitcom spell cast over Wanda’s suburban sanctimonious society. “He was killed by Ultron, wasn’t he?” Caught off guard, a single tear strokes Wanda’s cheek. “What did you say?” The Scarlet Witch blinks away her sorrow. Geraldine tires to play off her statement as casual conversation, but the damage is done, her cover blown. Bell-bottoms zigzag across the sunken living room carpet as she offers to take a shift rocking the babies, but Wanda’s grown privy to the S.W.O.R.D. agent in the room. She looks at the outsider with eyes of fire. Her brows furrow. She asks Geraldine to leave.
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“The world is a really complicated place right now. America is a really complicated place right now. And I’m not a politician or an activist, but I do feel a responsibility to put positive, powerful, meaningful messages out into the world…you don’t have to be a superhero to do that.”
That was how filmmaker Julia Hart described the concept of her 2018 sci-fi thriller Fast Color, which now feels like a watershed moment. Starring a nearly all-female cast, it offered a unique twist on the everyman crime-fighter genre and demonstrated the potential of a story about a super-powered being.
Superhero movies, to be fair, have always carried undercurrents of political and social commentary – that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, a friendly, neighborhood hero who saves New York City from a violent threat came to fruition in the aftermath of 9/11 felt powerful in 2002 and still carries weight. However, over the past few years, portrayals of powerful loners and their ability to shake up the status quo have been fervently more prominent.
Extra points if the film in question is punk as fuck. For all its critical analysis, Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Archenemy works first as a spectacularly violent, gritty reimagining of a champion’s origin story. It’s a superhero movie, only the setting isn’t a brightly lit suburb in Glendale with plain white walls, or a vast alien kingdom upheld by a devout army.
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