Tuesday, September 17, 2019

'Villains' (2019) Movie Review


Mickey (Bill Skarsgård, It) and Jules (Maika Monroe, The Guest, It Follows) are a wannabe Bonnie and Clyde. Drug addled, wild, and in love, they plan to rob their way to Florida, with an overly idyllic dream of selling sea shells on the sea shore. Until they break into the wrong house. When circumstances dictate they invade the home of George (Jeffrey Donovan, Burn Notice) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer), a stuffy, seemingly uptight couple, they get so much more than they bargained for and we find out who the real bad guys are. So goes Villains, the new horror-comedy from writer/directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (Stake Land 2). 

'In The Tall Grass' Trailer: A Stephen King Field Is A Very Scary Field


And the Stephen King cinematic renaissance continues. In our new quest to adapt every last iota of the horror master’s work, here comes In the Tall Grass, based on a novella by King and his son, Joe Hill, who is a badass horror writer in his own right. Written and directed by Vincenzo Natali (Splice), Netflix dropped the first trailer. True to form, it’s creepy and strange and everything is not as it initially appears. Check it out below. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

'Haunt' (2019) Movie Review


Haunt, the new movie written and directed by A Quiet Place writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, delivers precisely what the concept promises. For better or worse, your mileage may vary, some people may like it, and all that claptrap.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

'Monos' (2019) Movie Review

eight teen soldiers on a mountaintop

This is an updated version of an earlier review.

High atop a remote mountain, a cadre of eight teenagers with names like Rambo, Smurf, Boom Boom, and Swede, armed with automatic weapons, guard a prisoner and keep watch over a milk cow. A faction of a mysterious group known only as The Organization, this adolescent guerilla squad, left to their own devices, breaks down as loyalties shift and allegiances falter, and their crumbling structure and sanity build towards violence.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

'Freaks' (2018) Movie Review


With the glut of big-budget superhero blockbusters, there’s been a bit of a reactionary trend, a wave of smaller “superhero, but…” movies. Most recently think Brightburn, with its “Superman, but evil” concept. We can throw Glass, Fast Color, and more into this category of films that take common superhero tropes and tics, look at them from a different perspective, and filter them through an indie lens, usually grounding them in more reality-based circumstances. 

Pre-Order 'Hitchhiking Through Fire' By Brent McKnight Now


UPDATED: I’d say I like to keep personal news out of these posts for the most part. But if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written on here, you know that’s a crock and know more about my life than I should probably reveal to strangers on the internet. Whatever. I do, however, have some personal/professional news that’s both exciting and, I hope, relevant to your interests. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

'Riot Girls' (2019) Movie Review


An alternate 1995 where a mysterious disease kills off all the adults and warring gangs of kids—the poor kids from the East Side of Potter’s Bluff and the preppy jocks from the West Side—battle for turf and survival. With that logline, it’s no wonder Jovanka Vuckovic’s Riot Girls made my top 50 most-anticipated movies of 2019 list. 

'Desolation Center' (2019) Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go on a punk rock field trip, like pile into school buses with a bunch of like-minded outsiders who are into the same kind of music as you, Stuart Swezey’s new documentary, Desolation Center, has you covered. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

'Depraved' (2019) Movie Review


david call looking nervous

This is an updated version of an earlier review.

The Frankenstein story has been adapted, tweaked, and tinkered with countless times across every medium. With Depraved legendary filmmaker Larry Fessenden gives the tale a lo-fi indie horror spin, though it’s more concerned with Brooklyn hipsters dealing with trauma than typical genre trappings.

'The Lighthouse' Trailer: It's Robert Pattinson Vs. Willem Dafoe


Over the weekend, The Lighthouse, the latest from The Witch director Robert Eggers, played at the Toronto International Film Festival. I try to avoid early reactions for movies I’m excited about, like this one, and I don’t put much stock in the reactions I do see come out of film festivals. But this one appears to have broken some brains, and I count that as a win. To mark the occasion, A24 released a new trailer, and I’m still not sure what we’re about to witness.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

'Tigers Are Not Afraid' (2017) Movie Review


Though I usually wind up liking but not loving his movies as much as many other people, Guillermo del Toro has an infectious love and enthusiasm for film. Especially horror. In 2018, the same year he won a Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water, he declared Issa Lopez’ Tigers are Not Afraid one of his favorite films of the year. And it’s easy to see why he approves, as it bears a heavy influence of films like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, while maintaining its own identity. Though it’s taken its sweet time, Tigers has finally hit theaters and is one of the best films, in any genre, you’re likely to find.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

'Satanic Panic' (2019) Movie Review


“Death to the weak, wealth to the strong.” Poverty is cyclical, a vicious circle from which it’s almost impossible to escape. The rich exploit the poor to stay rich and accumulate more, feeding on the lower class, using them as tools to amass more and more. This feeding usually happens in a metaphorical sense. In Chelsea Stardust’s Satanic Panic, we’re talking literal class warfare and consumption, graphic horror style.

'Bad Boys For Life' Trailer: Will Smith And Martin Lawrence Ride Again


If you’re familiar with this website, you know I’m of the mind that Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II is the most quintessentially American movie ever made. The scene where Will Smith and Martin Lawrence drive a bright yellow Hummer through a Cuban slum—as in, through buildings—with zero regard for human life, after invading a sovereign foreign nation of their own accord, distills it all in such pure fashion. But anyway, I digress. Bad Boys For Life, the third chapter in the saga, picks up the duo 16 years later and, at least from this first trailer, they appear to be up to their old tricks again.

'Girl With No Mouth' Trailer: Can Evrenol Returns With A Post-Apocalyptic Fable


With the likes of Baskin and Housewife on his CV, Turkish director Can Evrenol has proven more than adept at crafting straight up nightmare fuel in the form of horror movies. While his latest, Girl With No Mouth, looks dark and strange, it appears to fall more into the fairy tale or fable category than whatever the hell family his other films belong to. Check out a new trailer below.

Friday, August 30, 2019

This 'Terminator: Dark Fate' Trailer Changes The Future, Again


I know. I know better. We’ve been burned before. Too many times. But I can’t help it. I can’t not get excited about a new Terminator movie. And there’s one coming. And there’s a new trailer—weird choice, btw, to drop it at 11 pm EST on a Thursday. Watch the latest trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate below. And check out a new poster below that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

'Joker' Trailer: Joaquin Phoenix Is The Weird Guy On The Bus


One element fans often cite about what makes the Joker such a compelling character is that, for the most part, he lacks an origin story. Sure, there have been a few attempts to craft a history, but by and large, he lacks context and motivation and formative experiences. What we see is what we get, just his actions, often without obvious logic or reason. That’s going to change somewhat in Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker, which stars a very committed Joaquin Phoenix in a standalone tale of the Clown Prince of Crime’s beginnings. Set to debut on the fall festival circuit soon, check out the final trailer below.

Monday, August 26, 2019

'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' D23 Teaser Hints At Big Things To Come



Yeah, Disney owns everything and that hegemony has already had a negative impact on the movie world. (Films have been cancelled, they’ve shuttered arms that handle smaller films, it’s now more difficult if not impossible for rep theaters to screen certain titles, etc.) But I remain 100% on the hook for all things Star Wars and this latest look at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gives me chills.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

'The Mandalorian' Trailer: The First Look At The 'Star Wars' Bounty Hunter Saga




“Bounty hunting is a complicated profession, don’t you agree?” So says the only dialogue spoken in the first trailer Disney+’s upcoming The Mandalorian, delivered with laconic, laissez faire style by the one and only Werner Herzog. And that’s all it needs. And I am all the damn way in. Check it out below.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

'Angel Has Fallen' (2019) Movie Review


Outside of a few violent charms, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t very good. London Has Fallen, however, captures that mid-80s Cannon Films action template, warts and all—it’s ugly, mean, jingoistic, and reprehensible, and I adore the head-stabby carnage of it all. So Angel Has Fallen, the third film in Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning trilogy, has a lot to live up to IMO. While it’s hits a few action high points, it’s ultimately a mixed bag and a shrug.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

NBFF 2019: 'The El Duce Tapes' Movie Review


During the intro of U.S. premiere of The El Duce Tapes at the North Bend Film Festival, the host, at a loss for words, asked, “Who here is familiar with The Mentors?” To which a few of us raised our hands and one audience member replied, “Unfortunately.” “Well, you know what you’re in for,” he said, pointing our way. “The rest of you…” and he trailed off with nervous laughter. That sums it up pretty well. If you know, you know; if not, hold the hell on and get ready for some conflicted feelings.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

'Ready Or Not' (2019) Movie Review


Like clockwork. Every August, after the big-budget studio tentpoles wrap their summer run, a movie shows up. Maybe it came out of nowhere. Maybe it looked kind of stupid. Maybe both. But it arrives on the scene, is a total blast, and breathes a bit of new life into the late summer. Happens damn near every year. This year, that honor goes to Ready or Not. And its energy is especially welcome at the end of a summer full of flaccid, bland, mediocre franchise installments no one wanted, asked for, or saw in the theater. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

NBFF 2019: 'The Gasoline Thieves' Movie Review


From the first moments of Edgar Nito’s The Gasoline Thieves, tragedy seems inevitable. The film opens with a dark, tense scene where to rival crews attempting to siphon off gas in the Mexican desert violently clash. This creates an ominous, inescapable cloud that lingers over everything to come. That isn’t to say the film is without moments of heart or levity, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that bad things are in store.

Friday, August 16, 2019

NBFF 2019: 'Extra Ordinary' Movie Review


Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) has a special talent, she can communicate with the spirit world. But after a tragic accident took her similarly gifted, paranormal-investigator father from her as a child, she shuns her abilities. Instead, she subsists as a driving instructor in a small Irish town, deflecting constant supernatural requests from locals. All that changes, however, when washed up one-hit-wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) attempts to call forth evil forces to resurrect his career and, in the process, possess a young girl to serve as a virgin sacrifice. With nowhere to turn, the girl’s frantic father, Martin Martin (Barry Ward), himself tormented by the bitter ghost of his dead wife, turns to Rose, who, nurturing a serious crush, decides to pitch in and help.

NBFF 2019: 'Koko-Di Koko-Da' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

We’ve seen the Groundhog-Day-as-horror conceit before, most recently with the Happy Death Day movies. But in Swedish oddity Koko-di Koko-da, writer/director Johannes Nyholm takes the concept to straight-up psychological nightmare territory. (This is also one of two films at the North Bend Film Festival to use this approach.)Twisted and terrifying, it offers a time-loop of grief, death, and adorable animated shadow puppet bunnies and birds, which he also manages to turn scary and unnerving as all hell. 

NBFF 2019: 'The Incredible Shrinking Wknd' Movie Review


The living-one-day-over-and-over again conceit has been played for comedy (Groundhog Day), sci-fi (Edge of Tomorrow), and horror (Happy Death Day). But regardless of the genre set up, or task the characters must accomplish, they inevitably use this rinse-dry-repeat recipe as a tool of introspection, to learn about themselves as much as they learn about the external world, and as a method of change. In that regard, Spanish writer-director Jon Mikel Caballero’s The Incredible Shrinking Wknd follows suit, though it puts its own unique spin on the formula. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

'The Death Of Dick Long' Trailer Wants To Get Weird


“Y’all motherfuckers wanna get weird?” So begins the trailer for The Death of Dick Long and…that’s really all there is to say. You hear about how you should go into a movie cold, knowing as little as possible, all the time. That’s usually sound advice, but especially in this case. To say what it’s about ruins the whole thing. Fortunately, you can watch this trailer without worry as it gives away nothing that isn’t in the title.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

'Parasite' Trailer: Bong Joon-Ho Returns With A Dark, Funny Tale Of Class Conflict


Any time Bong Joon-ho makes a movie, it tops the list of things I need to see like right this damn minute. That’s just a fact. Since it debuted at Cannes earlier this year, folks have hailed his latest, Parasite, as one of the best of the year, which I find entirely plausible. We don’t know much about it, nor have we seen a ton of footage, but distributor NEON just dropped a new U.S. trailer and, also not a shock, it looks great and dark and weird in that particular way Bong does so well. Watch it below.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Timo Tjahjanto Will Direct A 'May The Devil Take You' Sequel


Last fall, Timo Tjahjanto pummeled us all about the head and neck with The Night Comes for Us, and it was good. A fact all too often eclipsed by that whirlwind of fist and violence is that he also released a horror movie, May the Devil Take You, at almost the same time—both movies premiered at Fantastic Fest last year. Devil is also super rad, which is why it’s exciting to learn the Indonesian director is going to climb back into the big chair for a sequel, maybe titled May the Devil Take You Too.

'The Divine Fury' (2019) Movie Review


If you haven’t been waiting for a South Korean MMA exorcism movie, Kim Joo-hwan’s The Divine Fury is here to inform you that you need to get your priorities in order. It deftly blends horror and action and is sure to call to mind the likes of Blade at times, while grappling with weighty themes of loss, faith, loss of faith, and evil.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway' Movie Review


With a title like Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, you probably expect to something a bit outside of the mainstream. Also, considering it comes from Miguel Llansó, the writer/director behind 2015’s equally off-kilter Crumbs, strange things are in store. And Jesus doesn’t disappoint, combining science fiction, cold war spy thrillers, superheroes, Afro-futurism, and enough surreal flourishes to make Jodorowsky’s head spin.

Friday, August 2, 2019

'Ladyworld' (2018) Movie Review


“We’re not boys, we’re not brutal,” intones Dolly (Ryan Simpkins) in a broken, high-pitched cry. It’s more question than statement, and unfortunately for her, she’s about to learn precisely how savage teenage girls can be to one another. Thus goes Amanda Kramer’s thriller Ladyworld.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' (2019) Movie Review

hobbs & shaw

Since Fast Five (give or take), the Fast & Furious franchise has become a continual escalation of ludicrous, physics-defying mayhem. Pushing the boundaries of imagination, logic, and audiences’ willingness to suspend disbelief, the films have left behind the grounded, Point-Break-with-cars style action of the early days in favor of sheer ridiculousness. Looking back, it almost feels inevitable that spinoff, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a movie as bloated as that title and star Dwayne Johnson’s biceps, was destined to become an absurd action cartoon. 

'The Irishman' Trailer: Check Out Martin Scorsese's Crime Opus Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, And Joe Pesci


A new Martin Scorsese movie is always a reason to celebrate, so let’s party like maniacs with the first trailer for his long-in-the-works crime opus, The Irishman.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Depraved' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

The Frankenstein story has been adapted, tweaked, and tinkered with countless times across every medium. With Depraved legendary filmmaker Larry Fessenden gives the tale a lo-fi indie horror spin, though it’s more concerned with Brooklyn hipsters dealing with trauma than typical genre trappings.

'The Lighthouse' Trailer: Robert Pattinson And Willem Dafoe Get Creepy In Robert Eggers' Latest Horror


Robert Eggers’ The Witch (or The VVitch if you’re one of those) is one of the best horror movies, and best movies, of the decade. That was his first feature, so what do you do for a follow up when your debut was one of the most acclaimed films in recent memory? You apparently make a black and white, Lovecraftian tale about two olde timey lighthouse keepers. One of my most-anticipated movies of the year, The Lighthouse now has a trailer.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'No Mercy' Movie Review


A modern incarnation of a muscle car, a silver mustang in this case, rumbles across the screen. A woman in a red dress and high heels, her legs noticeably scuffed and scraped and bloodied, emerges. In casual but deliberate fashion, she walks across an auto shop. She asks a question of the mechanic working beneath a car. When he pokes his head out to answer, she smashes him with a sledgehammer. So begins South Korean director Lim Kyoung-tack’s revenge thriller No Mercy.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Harpoon' Movie Review


You might think a movie with three total characters—four if you count an occasional narrator—is, by necessity, simple and straightforward. After all, how much intrigue can a trio of early twenty-somethings really get up to? Maybe cool your jets a second, Hoss, and give Rob Grant’s thriller Harpoon a try. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Shooting The Mafia' Movie Review


We take journalists of all stripes for granted, but they often put themselves in harm’s way to document and expose. Such is the case with Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who spend decades on the front lines chronicling the violence and iron-fisted control of the mafia over life in Sicily. Fascinating and fearless, documentarian Kim Longinotto points the camera at her in Shooting the Mafia.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'The Legendary Stardust Brothers' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

Dear The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, where have you been all my life? Seriously, this lost Japanese musical oddity from 1985 fills a gaping chasm in my soul I didn’t even know was there. It also has maybe the most WTF twist I’ve ever seen, and this is a movie that’s basically non-stop WTF moments from one end to the other.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' (2019) Movie Review


On their own, I like all—okay, most—of the pieces of Quentin Tarantino’s latest opus of revisionist history/love letter to a golden age of movies, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Individual characters, scenes, and moments stand out, and all his hallmarks are present and accounted for. The soundtrack kills, whip-cracking dialogue abounds, and harsh violence lurks just beyond the surface. Unfortunately, these pieces never cohere in any meaningful way and the whole thing feels empty and meandering, a collection of moments more than a cohesive being.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Knives And Skin' Movie Review


“I need to know there’s a way out of this place.” So says one of the many teenage characters in writer-director Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin. For kids in a small town, one that feels oppressive and choking, like it’s squeezing the life out of you at every turn, it’s a common feeling. This undercurrent flows through the surreal adolescent noir that borders on magical realist fable or allegory.

'Wu Assassins' Trailer: Iko Uwais Battles Ancient Supernatural Evil, And His Dad


Hey, remember like an hour ago when we were discussing that badass clip from Netflix’s upcoming action series Wu Assassins? Remember when I mentioned a full trailer was on the way today? Well, it’s here. Enjoy.

'Wu Assassins' Clip: Watch Iko Uwais Pummel Dudes In A Hallway


Looking for a reason to get excited about a movie or series, the presence of Iko Uwais usually does the trick. Such is the case with Netflix’s upcoming supernatural action show, Wu Assassins. It lands on the streaming behemoth in a few weeks, and just in case we weren’t already all jacked up, this badass new clip should do the trick.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'J.R. "Bob" Dobbs And The Church Of The SubGenius' Movie Review


When I was in high school, a friend sent away a dollar—this is back when mail order was a thing—and received a packet of stickers featuring the clip-art face of a grinning, 1950s-ideal-of-white-suburbabn-American-man clutching a pipe between two rows of perfect teeth. Along with the stickers were various pamphlets and leaflets extolling the virtues of a wingnut religion that, at least at first glance, appeared to be an elaborate joke. This WTF literature was my first introduction to The Church of the SubGenius. To this day, I’m still not entirely certain of the veracity of this particular religious sect, but now, thanks to Sandy K. Boone’s documentary J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius, we can all bask in the underground strangeness.

Fantasia 2019: 'The Prey' Movie Review


Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” has, officially or otherwise, served as the basis for countless action movies. Hard Target, Surviving the Game, Bloodlust!, and countless otehrs—not to mention all the straight adaptations—all draw from the tale of men hunting men. Now we can add Cambodian actioner The Prey, from Jailbreak director Jimmy Henderson, to the pile.

This 'Daniel Isn't Real' Trailer Has A Terrifying Imaginary Friend


Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Daniel Isn’t Real is one of those movies we’ve been hearing about for what feels like forever, but that we keep missing. (It’s only been a few months in reality, but it feels much longer.) Fortunately, the film is getting a release, and this teaser trailer, while it doesn’t deliver much in the way of content or details, certainly looks nuts in a way I’m super into.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'DreadOut' Movie Review


Dammit, teens, when are you going to learn no amount of social media follows is worth venturing into haunted abandoned buildings? For the sake of horror movies, I hope the answer is never. And at least they didn’t learn before Kimo Stamboel—one half of the Indonesian filmmaking duo The Mo Brothers (Headshot)—delivered his first solo directorial effort,  DreadOut.

So, This 'Top Gun: Maverick' Trailer Is Great


Outside of maybe Red Dawn, Top Gun had more of an impact on my life and who I’ve become as a person than any other movie. And that’s saying something, as movies have and continue to define my life to what is probably an unhealthy degree. That said, I always passed off years’ worth of Top Gun 2 rumors as just talk that would never come to fruition. And once it finally became clear a sequel really was going to happen, I assumed it would be a tossed off joke we’d all make fun of for years. But here we are. I just witnessed the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, and fuck me, I have a new most-anticipated movie of 2020.

Fantasia 2019: 'Porno' Movie Review


If you lament the lack of graphic genital torture or exploded testicles in modern horror cinema, you’re in luck. First time director Keola Racela’s  Porno has the cure for what ails you. It also has demons, repressed religious nerds, an uptight straight edge kid, and more Encino Man references than one might initially expect. Gory, ridiculous, and often legitimately scary, it’s a perfect movie to watch late at night, preferably with a rowdy, intoxicant-lubricated crowd.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

To lump all South Korean cinema together and paint the industry with a singular, this-is-what-they-do brush is to do it a disservice. It cuts across genre boundaries, topics, and subsets, with standouts in each category along the way. But goddamn, do the South Korean filmmakers do dark, thoughtful crime thrillers really well. OldboyI Saw the DevilThe Yellow Sea, the list goes on. The latest addition to this canon is Lee Won-tae’s The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil.