Tuesday, November 17, 2020

'Jiu Jitsu' (2020) Movie Review

nicolas cage in jiu jitsu
A movie starring Nicolas Cage, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Marie Avgeropoulos, and Rick Yune, about a group of elite fighters who must use martial arts to defeat an alien invader, directed by one of the masterminds behind the recent Kickboxer films. That’s probably enough information for viewers to decide whether or not to see Jiu Jitsu, a film that delivers precisely what one might expect, waffling between awful and awesome.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

'Freaky' (2020) Movie Review

For his last two movies, Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, director Christopher Landon took a Groundhog-Day-but-horror approach. With his latest, Freaky, he uses the well-worn Freaky Friday body swap conceit but gives it a slasher spin. Instead of a mother and daughter changing places, a teen girl and vicious serial killer flip flop bodies and lives. While the resulting film isn’t always 100% successful—the plot is easily predictable and once the concept becomes apparent early on and  contains zero surprises—it’s an effective, screwdriver-stabbing, corpse-sawing good time.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

'The Dark And The Wicked' (2020) Movie Review

A remote, isolated farm; a dying family patriarch; estranged adult children; a mentally unravelling mother; wolves. The Dark and the Wicked, the new movie from The Strangers director Bryan Bertino, is just one horror story red flag after another. Leaning hard on mood and atmosphere, the result is a creepy, visceral horror tale that sticks around in a deep, hidden place.

'Koko-Di Koko-Da' (2018) 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. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

'Willy's Wonderland' Teaser: Nicolas Cage Battles Amusement Park Animatronics Come To Life

Nicolas Cage certainly makes choices when it comes to movie roles. Some are obviously driven by his well-publicized financial issues, where he only shows up for a paycheck. Other times he’s more invested, like Mandy or Color Out of Space. Regardless of the why, he’s insanely busy, has dozens of ridiculous sounding movies on the way, and we’re excited for many of them. This includes Willy’s Wonderland, where he plays an amusement park janitor tormented by animatronic creatures come to life. Check out a brief new teaser below.

Monday, October 26, 2020

'Wolfman's Got Nards' (2018) Movie Review

As a horror-obsessed kid, I adored The Monster Squad. I was ten when it came out in 1987 and it falls into a category of movies like The Goonies and a handful of others that are about kids, and aimed at kids, but that don’t marginalize them, which was always an issue I had with this type of film growing up. Here, the young characters are smart, capable, and complicated; in legitimate peril; and don’t rely on the parents swooping in at the last minute to save the day—the kids are the heroes and have the heroic moments they earn. Among other things, this is what I loved about it. This is basically a long-winded way of saying Andre Gower’s documentary, Wolman’s Got Nards, is 100% made for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

'Synchronic' (2019) Movie Review

In the wake of movies like Spring and The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have become a must-watch filmmaking duo. Their latest, Synchronic, follows two New Orleans paramedics, Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan), who find themselves on the front lines in a battle against a new designer drug that has an especially unexpected side effect, time travel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nightstream Review: 'May The Devil Take You Too'

The Mo Brothers (Headshot), Indonesian directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, are all over the inaugural Nightstream Film Festival with solo films. And damn, do they hate orphanages. Kimo checked in with dark horror The Queen of Black Magic. Not to be outdone, here comes Timo with May the Devil Take You, Too. The sequel to his 2018 demonic horror film, this time out he drops more Evil Dead-inspired craziness; he goes full Raimi and it freaking rules.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Nightstream Review: Kimo Stamboel's 'The Queen of Black Magic'

An Indonesian remake of an early ‘80s witch-drenched horror tale from director Kimo Stamboel (Headshot, DreadOut) and writer Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves). I’m already in the bag for The Queen of Black Magic. Add to that influences ranging from Mystics of Bali to Evil Dead to J-Horror and more, and you’ve got something. It doesn’t hurt that the execution is creepy, dark, and bleak, with a decided mean streak running through the entire film.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Nightstream Review: 'Lapsis'

Using the lens of science fiction to examine current real-world predicaments and ills is a staple of the genre. Writer/director Noah Hutton’s indie sci-fi outing Lapsis settles neatly into this category, looking into the pitfalls of the gig economy, while sparing enough time to hurl barbs at the healthcare industry that forces people to choose between massive debt and medical attention. And all of this in the guise of a dystopian mystery, a sci-fi story that executes big ideas on a budget with inventiveness and creativity.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Nightstream Review: 'Anything For Jackson'

A sweet, adorable older couple in an idyllic, snow-strewn location, from a writer and director best known for their extensive resume of Hallmark movies, specifically Hallmark Christmas movies. Because of this, one might be forgiven for expecting certain things from Anything for Jackson. But this isn’t a Hallmark elderly couple, this is Audrey and Henry Walsh (Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings), a pair of septuagenarian Satanists who kidnap a pregnant woman, Shannon Becker (Konstantina Mantelos), to perform an ancient ritual to implant the spirit of their dead grandson into the unborn child.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

'Possessor: Uncut' (2020) Movie Review

The name Cronenberg conjures up images of creeping body horror, twisted psychological pressure, and real nightmare shit. And apparently it’s a familial trait. David Cronenberg delivered classics like ScannersThe FlyEastern Promises, and many more, and his son, Brandon Cronenberg, has fully picked up his mantle. And the body horror apple doesn’t fall far from the body horror tree, illustrated to perfection by his sophomore feature, Possessor: Uncut.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Nightstream Review: 'Shock Value: The Movie'

A horror anthology, but collect rare, lost or little-seen early short films from filmmakers who went on to become influential in the industry. That’s the basic set up for Shock Value: How Dan O’Bannon and Some USC Outsiders Helped Invent Modern Horror.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Nightstream Film Festival: 11 Must-Watch Movies

COVID-19 has caused havoc all over the place. One specific area is in the realm of film festivals. Across the globe, these cinematic showcases have been cancelled or forced online. It’s tough for these fests, especially smaller ones, to make a go of it with their usually limited resources. To combat this, a handful of niche genre fests have banded together to create the Nightstream Film Festival, an online horror film celebration that kicks off this week. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone, but the lineup is super rad and definitely one to check out for horror fans.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

'Jiu Jitsu': Nicolas Cage And Company Use Martial Arts To Battle Aliens This November

Dreams really do come true. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on movies an movie releases, especially big blockbusters. But there’s still plenty of room for oddball films to slip through and get a release. And what’s more oddball than a Nicolas Cage-starring sci-fi saga where humanity has to use martial arts to defeat alien invaders? The Cage-fronted Jiu Jitsu is one of our most-anticipated movies of 2020 (and any year to be honest), and now we know when we can see it because it has a release date.

Monday, September 21, 2020

'The Swerve' (2019) Movie Review

High school English teacher Holly (Azura Skye), the protagonist of writer/director Dean Kapsalis’ debut feature The Swerve, is harried, ignored, and unappreciated in every facet of her life. Her husband (Bryce Pinkham) is self-involved, her sons are brats, her students can’t be bothered, her alcoholic sister (Ashley Bell) mocks her, and even her own mother (Deborah Hedwall) berates her and puts her down. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

'Fall Back Down' (2020) Movie Review

Sarah Beth Edwards’ Fall Back Down is the cinematic personification of living in a big punk house with a ton of roommates. It’s fun and chaotic, random and strange, frustrating and complicated, full of wild characters, and leads you into all sorts of off-kilter adventures. You’re going to drink too much, you’re going to write some songs, you’re going to wake to find an impromptu show in your basement, you’re going to make out with some people you shouldn’t. And it’s never going to wind up where you expect. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

'Antebellum' (2020) Movie Review

The early trailers gave the impression that writer/director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s Antebellum was a riff on Octavia Butler’s classic sci-fi novel Kindred. Though the two attempt to tread similar thematic territory, and there are a few other similarities, that’s really where the parallels end. While Antebellum is a gorgeous film to look at, and has admirable goals in mind, it misses on most accounts, falls into all-too-common traps, and the end result plays like an overlong episode of Black Mirror.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

'Synchronic' Trailer: 'The Endless' Directors Send Anthony Mackie And Jamie Dornan On A Time Traveling Drug Trip

Someone finally got the memo to give Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead more toys to play with and hell yes. Synchronic, the duo’s follow up to The Endless, has been one of our most anticipated movies since it made the festival rounds last year. It’s finally on the way, with an October 23 release date and a new trailer. If you’re not excited for this yet, watch the trailer. You will be.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

'The Mandalorian' Season 2 Trailer: This Is The Way (And Baby Yoda Is Still Cute)

Season One of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars series The Mandalorian was divisive. Some loved it, others hated it. I’m in the camp that dug the episodic frontier western-in-space vibe. A friend compared it to Kung Fu, and though I wouldn’t have gotten there on my own, it’s an apt comparison. Anyway, Season Two of The Mandalorian will now officially release on October 30 on Disney+, and this news comes with a shiny new trailer.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

'Freaky' Trailer: Body Swap Horror Comedy From 'Happy Death Day' Director

A few years back, director Christopher Landon gave us a teen slasher comedy spin on Groundhog Day with Happy Death Day, which was way, way more fun than I anticipated. So yeah, if he wants to do the same with Freaky Friday, I’m game. And here is the first trailer for his attempt at just that, Freaky.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Denis Villeneuve's First 'Dune' Trailer Is Brooding And Epic

I don’t know what movie is the one that’s going to get me back into a theater despite the global pandemic. But after this trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, we have a new contender. Just watch.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

This 'No Time To Die' Trailer Changes Everything For James Bond

When I was a kid, probably far too young, I wanted to be James Bond. I grew out of that with the crushing realization I’m not suave, skilled, or particularly gifted in any area of spycraft. That said, I will never not be super pumped for a new James Bond movie. And that, of course, includes the upcoming No Time to Die. Delayed from its original release, 007’s latest adventure hits theaters in November, and to rebuild the hype, there’s this slick, action-packed new trailer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'Dinner In America'

“Fuck the rest of them, fuck ‘em all but us.” So goes the refrain in a song written by Simon (Kyle Gallner, Veronica Mars) and Patty (Emily Skeggs, The Miseducation of Cameron Post). It also forms the general conceit and overall attitude of Adam Rehmeier’s middle-finger-flying, punk-rock-fuck-you of a love story, Dinner in America. Think Repo Man by way of Bonnie and Clyde and that starts to paint the picture.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'The Paper Tigers' Movie Review

I’ve been tracking the progress of writer/director Bao Tran’s The Paper Tigers for a while now. There weirdly aren’t many indie Kung Fu movies produced in Seattle, so when one does happen, you’re damn right it has my attention. After a long journey, the film finally premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival over the weekend, and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to delivering humor, heart, and face-kicking.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'The Mortuary Collection' Movie Review

Writer/director Ryan Spindell’s The Mortuary Collection has the honor of being the third anthology (or at least anthology adjacent) film I’ve watched at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival that places stories and the craft of storytelling front and center in the narrative. (The others being The Oak Room and Undergods.) 

Fantasia 2020: 'Monster SeaFood Wars' Movie Review

Minoru Kawasaki’s Monster SeaFood Wars is a kaiju movie about a giant crab, squid, and octopus rampaging through Tokyo. And it’s as ludicrous and off-the-wall as that sounds. It’s strange and silly and upholds the Japanese dudes-in-rubber-monster-suits-wreaking-havoc tradition. There’s also the added bonus that it may well make you very, very hungry.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

'The Dark And The Wicked' Trailer: Supernatural Horror Goes To The Farm

If horror movies have taught us anything, it’s that chopping vegetables never ends well. Case in point, the first trailer for the upcoming The Dark and the Wicked. For that matter, when a rickety old phone rings, also leave it the hell alone. Check out the trailer below.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'The Oak Room' Movie Review

A guy walks into a bar. Only instead of beginning a joke, he comes with a story, a debt, deep secrets about to bubble to the surface, and even deeper wounds. Such is the set up for director Cody Calahan’s The Oak Room, the latest offering from Canadian filmmaking crew, Black Fawn Films (I’ll Take Your Dead, Bed of the Dead). Their latest is a chilly, noir-inspired tale that watches like Southern Gothic in the Great White North and just held its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

'Get Duked!' (2019) Movie Review

Richard Connell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” has given us a nearly inexhaustible supply of movies inspired by the tale of man hunting man. It’s practically its own cinematic subgenre. Though I doubt any iteration is quite so profane, rowdy, or as much manic fun as writer/director Ninian Doff’s action horror comedy Get Duked!. (Hard Target notwithstanding.) Come on, there’s supercharged hallucinogenic rabbit poop, what’s not to love?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'Fried Barry' Movie Review

In the end, I’m not entirely sure what to make of South African oddity Fried Barry. Leaping boundaries of horror, science fiction, and gritty realism, among others, it’s certainly a wild, chaotic, immersive ride. And one I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch. I think. It’s the kind of cinematic madness that the Fantasia International Film Festival is tailor made for.

DC Fandome Trailers: The Batman, Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, The Snyder Cut

Because every company gets their own convention, we got DC Fandome this weekend, which sounds a lot like Thunderdome, though I doubt DC/Warner Bros. made their fans fight to the death in a makeshift cage. Though I’m sure they would, they seem to be a dedicated bunch. Anyway, the studio dropped a bunch of new/first looks at various projects people are excited about, and because I’m too lazy to break them up, here they are all at once. Fans of the DC family of films certainly have quite a bit to look forward to coming in 2021. Enjoy.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'A Witness Out Of The Blue' Movie Review

Fung Chih-Chiang’s A Witness Out of the Blue has all the earmarks of a classic Hong Kong crime saga. There’s murder, slick production values, a twisting plot, shades of moral ambiguity, standoffs, shootouts, and a parrot. Wait, what? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Fantasia 2020: 'The Columnist' Movie Review

It doesn’t take much time on social media to realize that the distance and anonymity of various platforms make people way more comfortable to say horrific things than they would in person. The lack of real-world consequences only further emboldens people. (A commenter once told me he hoped my entire family died in a fire in front of me because a YouTube embed of a trailer was geo-locked where he lived. Shit gets wild.) It’s exponentially worse for women on the internet. And bloody, pitch-black Danish satire The Columnist has some thoughts on the matter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

'The Prey' (2019) Movie Review

Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” has, officially or otherwise, served as the basis for countless action movies. Hard TargetSurviving the Game, Bloodlust!, and others—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.

Monday, August 17, 2020

10 Movies To See At The Fantasia Film Festival 2020

With COVID-19 running wild, film festivals as we know them are, maybe not a thing of the past, but quite different. For the time being anyway. (Hopefully only the time being.) Many have been cancelled, but a few intrepid endeavors have chosen to soldier on digitally. That includes one of our favorites, Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival, a repository of cinematic weirdness, filmic mayhem, and genre nonsense of all stripes. And that’s a good thing, a very, very good thing. The 2020 schedule has been taken entirely online.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

'Sputnik' (2020) Movie Review

Leave it to Russia to drop a cold, tense sci-fi/horror hybrid that’s chilly and austere while also being all kinds of gooey and gross. Such is the way of Egor Abramenko’s Sputnik, a creeping dread creature feature and tale of institutional bureaucratic terror that regularly, and in clever fashion, pulls the rug out from under the viewer. All with unsettling monster effects peppered throughout.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

'Black Water: Abyss' (2020) Movie Review

When you think crocodiles and Australians in movies, odds are your mind turns immediately to a man named Dundee and his rather large knife. That, however, is not the only game in town. Case in point, director Andrew Traucki’s Black Water: Abyss, a cave-spelunking, croc-fighting tale of claustrophobia and survival that watches a bit like a synthesis of The Descent and Crawl.

Monday, August 3, 2020

'Get Duked!' Red Band Trailer Hunts Teens In The Woods

It was called Boyz in the Wood when it debuted at film festivals last year, but now Amazon has retitled the Scottish action/horror/comedy Get Duked! ahead of its impending release. They also dropped this raucous new red band trailer for writer/director Ninian Doff’s film. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

'Seized' Trailer: Scott Adkins, Isaac Florentine, And Mario Van Peebles In A Cowboy Hat

Scott Adkins, Isaac Florentine, Mario Van Peebles in a cowboy hat? The upcoming action/revenge movie Seized has all of that, which is more than enough to get me fully on board. I don’t know how I let this trailer slip by, but damn, it’s here now and that’s all that matters.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

'The Witch: Part 1-The Subversion' (2018) Movie Review

Koo Ja-yoon (Kim Da-mi) looks like a normal teenage girl. Sure, she’s exceptionally bright and talented, and extraordinarily devoted to her aging parents and their failing farm, but by most measures, she’s an average kid on the cusp of adulthood. Except in Park Hoon-jung’s The Witch: Part 1—The Subversion, she’s also an escaped child soldier with telekinetic powers on the run the government agency that genetically created her in a lab,  and she may or may not remember all of that. The result plays like an action-heavy sci-fi/horror version of The Long Kiss Goodnight, with Dark Angel flourishes thrown in for good measure. (And yes, I mean the James Cameron/Jessica Alba show from the late 1990s, and yes, I mean that in a good way.)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

'Bill & Ted Face The Music' Gets A New Trailer, Release Date, And Release Strategy

COVID-19 continues to rewrite the world, especially here in the U.S. because we’re too cool to wear masks and not flood public spaces the second the weather got nice. It’s affected every industry, and the entertainment industry is no different. With theaters closed, limited, or closing, and most productions halted, everything is delayed. Studios and distributors are scrambling to find new, profitable ways to get their films in front of audiences. One movie that’s shifted its plans is Bill & Ted Face the Music. The long-gestating sequel has a new release date and new strategy, and a new trailer to mark the occasion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

This 'Sputnik' Trailer Has Sci-Fi, Horror, Conspiracies, And Aliens. Yes, Please.

Tension, intrigue, space creatures? Sign us up! This trailer for Russian sci-fi horror (or horror sci-fi, we’re open to either), Sputnik, has all of that and more. Check out the trailer and a new poster unveiled by IFC Midnight ahead of the upcoming North American release. (Just a head’s up, I’ve heard it might be spoiler-y. Just FYI.)

Monday, July 20, 2020

'The Rental' (2020) Movie Review

The Rental doesn’t have a whit of originality in its 89 minutes. This is a beat for beat, paint-by-number horror thriller. However, it does what it does well enough, knows not to overstay its welcome, and a fantastic cast ensures the film at least remains watchable throughout.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

'Possessor' Trailer: Brandon Cronenberg Delivers Gruesome, Gory Sci-Fi

With the name Cronenberg, you have our immediate attention. You’re probably thinking David Cronenberg, director of Scanners, The Fly, Eastern Promises, and a ton of other masterpieces. This time, however, we’re talking about his son, Brandon Cronenberg, who has become a filmmaker of some renown in his own right. And from the look of this red band trailer for his sophomore feature, Possessor, the body horror apple doesn’t fall far from the body horror tree. Check it out. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

'Project Power' Trailer: Jamie Foxx And Joseph Gordon-Levitt Team Up For Netflix's Latest Action Movie

Yeah, sure, why the hell not? I’d seriously never heard of Project Power, which sounds like a reality show about electrical engineers, until yesterday. But an action movie starring Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, about a drug that gives users five-minutes of a surprise power? (Maybe you’ll be invisible, maybe you’re super strong.) I’ll watch that. Check out the first trailer from the upcoming Netflix movie below.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

This 'Halloween Kills' Teaser Trailer Lets It Burn, Reveals New Release Date

Among many other things, COVID-19 has decimated the movie industry. Production came to a screeching halt around the world and every major movie of the spring and summer, and most others as well, pulled their release. Some pushed back a few months, while others will arrive in theaters—in theory anyway—much later. One of those is the upcoming Halloween Kills. It is still coming, however, not until a year after originally expected. Along with a new release date of October 15, 2021, there’s also this new Halloween Kills teaser trailer.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

'Mortal' Trailer: Nat Wolff Plays With Fire In André Øvredal’s Latest

André Øvredal’s Mortal has been in the works for a while. There was talk of it even around the time of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, well before Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Though it’s taken it’s sweet time, the Trollhunter director is back and this Mortal trailer further convinced us this is something we need to see ASAP.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

'Greenland' Trailer: Gerard Butler Fights A Planet-Killing Comet

Oh my, this is just the kind of pick me up I needed today. Given the chaotic, unstable state of the world—what with entitled assholes refusing to stay home or wear masks to prevent a global pandemic and Black people begging the police not to murder them—many may not want to watch an apocalyptic, end-of-the-world movie. I, however, say bring that shit on. Especially when it stars Gerard Butler. And in that spirit, here is the first trailer for the Gerard-Butler-fights-a-planet-killing-comet movie, Greenland. Yeah, that’s the good stuff.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

'Beats' (2019) Movie Review

One-night-that-changes-everything is a familiar cinematic narrative, especially in the lives of young people. Not the most original set up, there are reasons filmmakers and storytellers keep coming back to this particular well. Many people who’ve survived adolescence have had this type of experience, a transformative moment where you make a choice, where you can go one way or another, and where, afterwards, nothing is ever quite the same. Maybe it’s not always as dramatic as movies portray it, but when you’ve lived on that precipice between childhood and adulthood, searching for some nebulous thing you can’t quite define, it’s easy to relate.