Incredible Shrinking Wknd Review

We’ve all had moments we wish we could redo, so that we could say something better or not say it at all. If only we could get a redo, another take…

The Incredible Shrinking Wknd, written and directed by Jon Mikel Caballero, is the story of Alba (Iria del Rio), a young woman freshly turned 30 who still lives with her parents. She’s the life of the party whom everyone loves until the music stops. Her and five friends trek out to a cottage for the weekend to celebrate her birthday and get drunk in the woods. Right off the bat, we findt that Alba is a bit of a clutz, having forgotten to mention that the cottage has no running water. Luckily, they have plenty of beer, which they drink en masse along with a big dinner. It all seems to be going well, until mere hours after arriving, Pablo (Adam Quintero), Alba’s boyfriend of three years, breaks up with her. More precisely, he says he needs time. Instead, he freezes in time and Alba is afforded just that. A few moments later Alba is transported back to the passenger seat of the car, on her way to the cottage. Unaware at first that the day is repeating itself, Alba thinks that they are staying an extra day. When Pablo breaks up with her again, she suspects that something is off. Like maybe the linearity of time. 

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scary stories to tell in the dark review

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a title a simple as it is effective — it warns of the unknown lurking in the dark while crooking a finger to invite you in. “Listen, at your own risk,” Alvin Schwartz‘s collection of scary stories for children seems to say, welcoming only the most daring of thrill-seekers. But more than just a mere compilation of scary campfire stories, Schwartz’s three-book collection of urban myths and legends has transcended the oral histories of its stories to become a cultural giant in its own right. Stephen Gammell’s drawings grotesque and ghostly illustrations helped cement the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, published between 1981 and 1991, as staples of many a horror lover’s childhood.

André Øvredal‘s feature film adaptation of Schwartz’s beloved children’s books is heavily inspired by the Gammell’s macabre drawings, so unnervingly so that one could mistake this as a horror film for a much older audience. But Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is very much geared toward a younger audience, one that will surely embrace the film as a classic for a new generation of horror lovers. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark effectively captures the primal horror of campfire stories while doing justice by Schwartz’s creepy designs in a marriage of old-fashioned practical thrills and sleek modern effects.

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The Kitchen trailer

Halfway through the new period crime drama The Kitchen, the three leads stride confidently down a New York street towards the car driven by their muscle. They get to the car, and two of them get in; the third tries to open the remaining door, before snapping to the driver, “It’s locked.” The driver unlocks the door, letting the third lead in, and they drive off. There’s literally no reason for the door to be locked — it’s a weird stumble in a short scene that serves as a microcosm of the utterly nonsensical pacing, tone, and character motivations in The Kitchen. This film has a killer cast, and wastes them in a baffling, atonal mess.

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Into the Dark School Spirit Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

After scoring exemplary marks with last month’s Culture Shock “episode,” Into The Dark returns to its less memorable form in School Spirit. Mike Gan’s tribute to I Know What You Did Last Summer era high school slashers may earn a passing grade by certain standards, but brings nothing new to an outdated subgenre conversation. Reformat existing horror architectures all you want, but there’s not much “spirit” within rudimentary “101 Level” storytelling horror fans have studied ad nauseam. A little Breakfast Club, a lotta Scream, but Blumhouse’s deadly detention sentence capitalizes not on a pirate killer far less interesting than a sinister Act III suggests.

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Ode to Nothing Review

What would it take to creep out an undertaker? Dwein Ruedas Baltazar’s third feature is a slow-burning, deeply unsettling art-horror hybrid. Sonya (Filipino superstar Marietta Subong), the protagonist of Ode to Nothing, is a mortician at a struggling funeral home in a small town in the Philippines. She lives with her father, who takes little interest in her or the business.  When bodies are brought in by their sobbing, sometimes wailing, loved ones, Sonya appears colder than the corpses as she sets to work on them. She tries upselling flower arrangements (or a plush coffin perhaps?), but living in such poverty means even the most devoted (and, of course, religious) families can barely afford the gravestone. Towards the beginning of the film, a middle aged woman brings her two dead parents in and requests a 2-for-1 deal on the flowers: “We have two dead people, that’s good for business.” 

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Hobbs and Shaw Spoiler Review

Spoiler alert: It’s about family.

And that’s it? We can end this article there, right?

Okay. We’ll go beyond that. When taking about Hobbs and Shaw, the latest film in the Fast and Furious saga, it helps to step back a bit when reflecting on the ridiculousness of the first spin-off from what I’ve dubbed the Fast and Furii (I’ll keep going ‘till it catches on, dammit). And here’s your real spoiler warning: all plot points are on the table from here on out.

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Harpoon Review

If you’re a cynical blackhearted comedy fan, Rob Grant’s Harpoon is your “Catch Of The Day.” At an airtight seventy minutes and change, this dangerously dysfunctional yachting expedition is meaner than your least favorite aunt after three too many glasses of wine. Exquisitely paced to surface tensions early, often, and volcanically. Brett Gelman’s blank-filler narration humorously keys viewers in on the necessary details, never bothering with information to be considered non-essential. Pointed like a sharpened spear tipped with toxic machoisms – just add water, weapons, and stranded isolation where tempers are inescapable.

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Blood on Her Name Review

Matthew Pope’s Blood On Her Name ranks among Americana thrillers such as Blue Ruin, I Don’t Belong In This World Anymore, Small Crimes, and other tobacco-stained justice flicks. A modest look into how one decision can change your life forever; sins paid in flesh and blood. Characters all blend into a complicated existence between sympathy and wrongdoing, as Pope holds complication over easily definable boundaries between “good” and “evil.” In a time when online mob justice demands black-and-white rulings on human affairs, Blood On Her Name reminds us of the sprawling grey area that defines our experience. Tension strung tight enough to slice through a crowd like the opening scene in Ghost Ship.

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Les Particules Review

You might, understandably, roll your eyes and scoff at a doe-eyed person reminding you that “We’re all just stardust.” When gazing at the stars, the desired feeling of oneness and connection with the universe and all its inhabitants, at least for me, is nowhere to be found. And yet, films that sew a little bit of celestial mystery into the lining without falling into sentimentality can successfully widen their scope. Blaise Harrison’s first narrative feature Les Particules is a welcome addition to the oft-treaded coming-of-age genre by tinging it with sci-fi. 

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Sator Review

Those of you cast under Hagazussa’s spell and blown away by The Wind, prepare yourselves for Jordan Graham’s Sator. Think Krisha meets The Blair Witch with some “gang-gang supernatural cultishness” stirred in. Graham writes, edits, gaffs, scores, produces – he does everything short of acting, no exaggeration. When you nurture artistry so personal, it’s hard to let control go. As Netflix Originals have proven, sometimes boundless auteurism grants filmmakers too much power. Creators cannot separate themselves from their art, killing no darlings, but that’s not an issue here. Slow as sap dripping from a maple tap, maximum fuck-you-up-edness as only embittered family dysfunction can permit.

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