Wednesday, October 13, 2021

'South Of Heaven' (2021) Movie Review

jason sudeikis looking sad
Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint precisely why a movie does or doesn’t work. Other times it’s more nebulous and harder to determine exactly what went wrong. Such is the case of Aharon Keshales’ crime thriller South of Heaven. The pieces are in place for an interesting film, but it absolutely does not come together in any satisfactory way. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

'Scream' Trailer: Ghostface And Friends Return To Stab More Teens

ghostface from the scream movies
By now you know no horror franchise ever truly dies, no matter how much time passes. It’s been ten years since we’ve visited Woodsboro, but don’t worry, there’s a new Scream on the way. (And, of course, when horror franchises re-launch after years, they also jump back to the original title.) Scream 5 drops early next year, but the first trailer is here with Ghostface, a bunch of familiar faces who somehow survived the previous four movies, and tons of new potential victims. Check it out below.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

'Lamb' (2021) Movie Review

noomi rapace
For most of the 106-minute runtime of Valdimar Johannsson’s directorial debut, Lamb, the film plays its bizarre concept entirely straight. But there’s a moment where the surreal conceit at the center of the story just becomes silly. Watching it, at a certain point, I thought this has to be intentional, they have to know what they’re doing, this is a comedy, right? But I honestly don’t know. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' (2021) Movie Review

carnage
2018’s non-Marvel Marvel movie, Venom, is an odd beast. The movie isn’t particularly good. As a whole, it’s uninspired, messy, stuck in the late-1990s, and Sony’s legal inability to use Spider-Man, the titular antihero’s most notable nemesis, weighs on the film. But then there’s star Tom Hardy. Whatever movie he’s in, is a very different movie from everyone else. It’s basically Hardy arguing with himself for two hours, and it’s really damn entertaining in an unhinged, maybe he’s having an actual mental episode kind of way. Which brings us to the nigh-inevitable sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

'No Time To Die' (2021) Movie Review

daniel craig as james bond
Originally slated to drop in November of 2019, then further delayed multiple times because of COVD-19, No Time to Die serves as Daniel Craig’s James Bond swan song, his grand finale as the iconic international man of mystery. And after months and months and months of waiting, of anticipation, it ends, to use that oft quoted line from T.S. Eliot, not with a bang, but with a whimper. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

'Copshop' (2021) Movie Review

Alexis Louder in Copshop
Directed by Joe Carnahan (The Grey) and fronted by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves) and Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy), it’s easy to envision what a movie titled Copshop is likely to deliver. If you expect and hope for a violent, irreverent slice of tough-guy action thriller, you will not be disappointed. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

'Lady Of The Manor' (2021) Movie Review

judy greer and melanie lynskey being wasted
After being branded a sex offender, stoner slacker Hannah (Melanie Lynskey) gets a job as a live-in tour guide at a historical southern estate. One that happens to be haunted by the ghost of the home’s original inhabitant, the prim, proper Lady Wadsworth (Judy Greer). The two women, one living, one dead, become unlikely pals. Such is the premise of Lady of the Manor, the feature directorial debut from prolific actor and former Apple spokesperson Justin Long, who costars, and his brother, Christian Long. If that sounds funny, don’t worry, it isn’t.

Monday, September 13, 2021

'Prisoners Of The Ghostland' (2021) Movie Review

nicolas cage nick cassavetes

During production, Nicolas Cage said Japanese director Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland “might be the wildest movie I’ve ever made.” Which is saying something from a man who once made a movie where he wore John Travolta’s face. Then again, he’s not wrong. Face/Off, however off-the wall, doesn’t have the testicular explosions, irradiated mutant ghosts, and the ubiquitous cracked mannequin masks of Prisoners. The final product is something like a hyper-absurd post-apocalyptic Escape From New York riff. And I’m here for every last second.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

'Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings' (2021) Movie Review

simu liu on a bus

On the surface, Shaun (Simu Liu) appears to drift through life, working a go-nowhere job and wasting time singing karaoke with his BFF Katy (Awkwafina). But Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a Marvel movie, so you know that’s all an illusion. Turns out, Shaun is really Shang-Chi, son of Wenwu (Tony Leung), a thousands-of-years-old crime lord and leader of the infamous Ten Rings gang. As one might expect, Shaun’s past comes a-calling and he must confront his own history as well as that of his family. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

'Yakuza Princess' (2021) Movie Review

masumi with a sword
Sometimes a movie appears tailor made for you, as if the filmmakers mined your inner-most desires and combined them into one feature. And sometimes when that happens, despite all the things that sound so, so rad and perfect, the result leaves you flat and does absolutely nothing for you. Such is the case with Brazilian director Vicente Amorim’s Yakuza Princess.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

'Candyman' (2021) Movie Review

candyman yahya abdul mateen
Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman…Nope, not going to do it. Haven’t since first seeing the original in 1992, not going to start now. This latest round of nope, nope, oh hell no, is thanks primarily to Nia DaCosta’s new take on the property, which is chilling, gory, stunning to look at, and occasionally frustrating.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Trailer: Peter Parker Returns With A Few Surprises And Poor Decisions

spider-man
The other day the filmic corners of the internet were all a-flutter over a leaked version of the trailer for the next adventure from everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, Spider-Man: No Way Home. As so often happens in these cases, the studio hauled ass to, ready or not, release a version of the trailer that doesn’t look like hot garbage. And here it is.

Friday, August 20, 2021

'Demonic' (2021) Movie Review

creepy nathalie bolts
Primarily known for politically minded science fiction films like District 9 and Elysium, with his latest film, Demonic, writer/director Neill Blomkamp dives into low(ish)-budget horror. The results of this attempt to revive a career that started on a high-note and has flagged somewhat since, are mixed. It has cool ideas, even if they’re not always capitalized on, more than a couple missed opportunities, a strong visual sense, and a heavier emphasis on ominous mood and atmosphere rather than outright scares.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

'The Night House' (2020) Movie Review

rebecca hall in the night house
Horror as metaphor for grief and mental illness is nothing new. Specifically because it provides an effective framework to examine loss, things that scare us and cause us pain, and our responses, filmmakers will always return to this particular well. In his last film, The Ritual, director David Bruckner examined the collective trauma of a group of friends who violently lost one of their own. His latest, The Night House, hones in even closer, focusing on a single woman coping with sudden death and the legacy it leaves behind.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Bull' Movie Review

Neil Maskell
Neil Maskell (Kill List) may not look like a typical cinematic badass, he just looks like a normal dude you’d pass on the street and not give a second thought. But holy hell, people in movies need to stop messing with him because he will straight up wreck them and be terrifying as hell in the process. Case in point, Paul Andrew Williams’ revenge thriller Bull. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes' Movie Review

guy talking to a TV
When coffee shop owner/aspiring musician Kato (Kazunari Tosa) heads to his upstairs apartment after close, he’s shocked to get a message on the TV, from himself, from two minutes in the future. This kicks off director Junta Yamaguchi’s Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, a cascading series of sci-fi time travel antics with a crew of oddballs, like Megumi (Aki Asakura) and Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai), among others. They try to decipher the mystery, maybe get Kato a date, and quickly find themselves in way over their heads.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Seobok' Movie Review

gong you with a gun
Movies love to look to the near future in order to delve into the topic of human cloning and the various moral and ethical ramifications of playing god and creating life in a lab. As often happens, these stories also turn into meditations on what it means to truly be human, a whole other can of metaphorical worms. And into this framework comes writer/director Lee Yong-ju’s Seobok.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Brain Freeze' Movie Review

brain freeze horror movie
Zombie stories often get a bad rap. Sometimes for good reason. There are a ton, and, admittedly, a lot aren’t great. But then there are those that show up, do something new, fun, and different, or at least deliver a strong story and compelling characters within the genre. (Recent ones that spring to mind include #Alone, Black Summer, Train to Busan, and others.) Canadian director Julien Knafo’s Brain Freeze definitely falls into this latter category, presenting a zombie movie with an intriguing set up, a few tweaks to the formula, and a showcase interesting personalities. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

'Raging Fire' (2021) Movie Review

donnie yen action movie
A cop haunted by the past, trying to right previous wrongs. Who’s a bit of a hotshot and plays by his own rules, though still operates by a strict code. With a pregnant wife. Yeah, we’ve seen this set up before. But when that cop is Donnie Yen, and we’re talking about Raging Fire, the final film from the great Benny Chan, the result is a top-tier action banger of epic proportions. This sprawling, Heat-inspired cops-and-robbers opus delivers in all the right ways and rules every ounce as hard as one might hope.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched' Movie Review

blonde lady horror movie
Folk horror is in the midst of a global resurgence at the moment, so what better time for a documentary to take a deep-dive into the fascinating subgenre? And that’s exactly what filmmaker Kier-La Janisse (author of the great House of Psychotic Women) and company do with the three-plus-hour documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. It is every inch what that title suggests and more.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Sweetie, You Won't Believe It' Movie Review

russian action movie
Three friends, a van full of inflatable sex dolls, and a fishing trip gone very, very wrong. What about a quartet of inept killers and a mysterious one-eyed man with a brutal vendetta? All wrapped in a bloody, violent, patently ridiculous, near-slapstick package? If that sounds like a fine time, add Yernar Nurgaliyev’s Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It to your mist-see list. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Fantasia Film Festival 2021: 11 Movies You Must See

samurai cat and a pug
With the proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines and at least some people caring enough about their fellow humans to take it, in-person events like film festivals have made a comeback. [Editor’s Note: Hopefully this holds, but it looks like we’re going backwards.] Not all, however. Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival is sticking to the virtual model for 2021. I usually cover the fest remote, so this isn’t much of a change from the norm for me. Regardless of the platform, the fest has yet again assembled an eclectic, weird-as-hell program, and we have some suggestions of things you might want to check out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

'Jungle Cruise' (2021) Movie Review

dwayne johnson and emily blunt on a boat
One thing I did not expect was for Disney’s Jungle Cruise, their latest cinematic adaptation of one of a classic theme park rides, to begin with an orchestral arrangement of a Metallica song. But here were are, and that’s as edgy as this movie ever gets.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

'Old' (2021) Movie Review

thomasin mckenzie and alex wolff
Does M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie Old work? That’s going to be a matter of some debate and the answer promises to vary viewer to viewer. One thing that is clear, however, is that, for good or ill, this is a big swing that mixes psychological thriller elements, hellish body horror, and arch family melodrama. All within a framework that plays like an extended Twilight Zone episode, wrapped in the director’s magnificent formal touch. It’s wild and all over the place, messy at times, but also ambitious as hell and compelling end to end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

'All The Streets Are Silent' (2020) Movie Review

harold hunter documentary
Sometimes a movie starts and you know immediately it is 100% your jam. That is precisely what happened with All the Streets are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding (1987-1997), the new documentary from Jeremy Elkin and Dana Brown, which held its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. A love letter to both forms, the film tracks their parallel evolutions, from underground phenomena to mainstream staples, and ways in which, particularly in New York City, they collided and crossed over at a key juncture.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

'Hydra' (2021) Movie Review

Masanori Mimoto on the street
Hydra begins with every man’s worst nightmare, being killed at a urinal. Okay, maybe not, but it’s a definite concern and something to think about in the bathroom. It’s a hell of a way to kick off a movie, even if most of what follows fails to live up to the opening. Until the very end.

Monday, July 19, 2021

NBFF 2021: 'Slate' Movie Review

ahn ji-hye looking badass with a sword
Orphan Cha Yeon-hee (Ahn Ji-hye) has spent her entire life wanting to be a heroine. If you’re not a heroine, you’re useless and of no value to anyone. So she believes. In her late-20s, living an aimless life, she lands a role as a stunt double in an action movie. Only when she arrives on set, she’s transported to a parallel world where she must become an actual heroine. The only question is: is she ready to face actual danger and do what she must to become a real heroine? So goes Slate, the latest from Gang director Jo Ba-reun.

NBFF 2021: 'Swan Song' Movie Review

give udo kier the oscar you cowards
A retired hairdresser walking across a small town doesn’t sound like the most exciting basis for a movie. But when that hairdresser is Udo Kier, and he’s on his way to style a former client’s hair for her funeral, as is the case in writer/director Todd Stephens’ Swan Song, it becomes an odyssey of near-mythic proportions, both epic and intimate in scope. Topped off by one of the best performances of the year, this is funny and sweet, sad and joyous, simultaneously soul-crushing and life-affirming, and deeply, deeply human.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

'Pig' (2021) Movie Review

nicolas cage in pig the movie
Pig, a movie where Nicolas Cage tracks down his kidnapped pig through the seedy, cut-throat underbelly of the high-end Portland restaurant scene, is so, so much weirder than even that description makes it sound. Part truffle-centric revenge saga, part moody, introspective character study of a broken man trying to heal, it’s by turns delightful, mean-spirited, and moving, but always very, very odd and unlike anything else out there. Also, Nicolas Cage in a rundown deep woods shanty with a pig friend is just the most adorable thing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

North Bend Film Festival 2021: 8 Movies To Watch

north bend film festival logo
Though it’s only been around a few years, the North Bend Film Festival has quickly become one of my favorite fests. Part of that affection is obviously geographic proximity. (It’s an easy drive from Seattle, so there’s minimal travel.) But it also takes place in an odd little hamlet nestled in the mountains. (North Bend is where Twin Peaks was filmed and you understand why when you experience the off-kilter oddness in person.) 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

'Black Widow' (2021) Movie Review

scarlett johansson as black widow natasha romanoff
Ever wonder what Marvel Cinematic Universe staple Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), was up to betwixt the Wars Civil and Infinity? (And, you know, before the fate that ultimately befalls her in Avengers: Endgame?) As it turns out, she went on a wacky family vacation. Sort of. Sort of as in sort of wacky and sort of as in sort of family. Such is the tale told by her long-awaited first solo venture, Black Widow.

Monday, July 5, 2021

'Silat Warriors: Deed Of Death' (2021) Movie Review

silat warriors deed of death
Popularly, Muay Thai tends to get more love than Silat, another martial art native to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, and the surrounding region. (As an example, there are like a dozen schools in the Seattle area that teach Muay Thai, but almost none with a curriculum that includes any Silat. Though Iko Uwais definitely holds it down, movie wise.) But the fighting style gets its due in Silat Warriors: Deed of Death (Geran), a low-to-no-budget actioner from director Areel Abu Bakar.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

'The Forever Purge' (2021) Movie Review

creepy cowboy racist
The purest exploitation franchise currently going is back for another (perhaps final, perhaps not) ride, full of heavy-handed political allegory built atop a foundation of gratuitous violence. Never one for subtlety, we expect and receive nothing less from The Forever Purge. You won’t find any unexpected elements, but fans of these films will find much to enjoy.

Friday, June 25, 2021

'Halloween Kills' Trailer: Evil Dies Tonight, But Probably Not

michael myers in flames
Any good slasher franchise, like it’s evil centerpiece, is going to be damn near impossible to kill. Such is the case with both Michael Myers and the Halloween saga which he spawned. Like every movie scheduled for in 2020, the latest installment, Halloween Kills, was delayed thanks to COVID-19. But Blumhouse wants to remind us it is still stalking toward theaters and released this awesome new trailer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

'F9' (2021) Movie Review

f9 movie poster
F9, yes, the ninth installment of everyone’s favorite family-centric saga of street-racers-turned-international-agents-of-espionage, is somehow both exactly as ridiculous as expected and even sillier than anticipated. This makes the movie simultaneously ludicrous over-the-top escapism and tediously overwrought nonsense drama. It’s a strange duality. We’ve come so far from the days of hijacking shipments of DVD players.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

'Werewolves Within' (2021) Movie Review

sam richardson with two axes
Don’t you hate it when you move to a small town for work and it turns out there are werewolves on the loose? Yeah, that sucks. Unless you’re watching Werewolves Within, the latest from director Josh Ruben (Scare Me). An adaptation of a video game I’ve never heard of, Ruben and writer Mishna Wolff mix scares and laughs in a way that many attempts to do so fail to achieve. Playing like a horror whodunnit, the result is something akin to a lycanthrope take on Clue or Agatha Christie with monsters. (Literal monsters, not the metaphorical human variety, though the film has plenty of those as well.) It’s one of the most fun, entertaining movies to come out this year, and easily a top-tier video game movie.

Monday, June 21, 2021

'Titane' Trailer: The First Look At Julia Ducournau's New Thriller

child in a medical halo
Julia Ducournau’s Raw isn’t just one of the best debuts of the past few years, it’s straight up one of the best movies of the last decade. So, of course, when we hear tell of a new movie from the French director, our ears perk up. NEON just released the trailer for her follow up, Titane, about a long-lost child who all of a sudden returns to the world. But I can’t help but think this also looks a bit like a nightmare Fast & Furious movie. And, sure, what the hell. Check it out below.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

'Pig' Trailer: Nicolas Cage Hunts For His Kidnapped Pig. Yes This Is A Real Movie

nicolas cage pig movie
In the upcoming thriller Pig, Nicolas Cage plays a hermit living in the woods who goes on a revenge-fueled hunt for his kidnapped truffle pig. Did I write this movie? I don’t remember doing so, but it sounds like something I would do. Regardless, here is the first Pig trailer. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

'Gaia' (2021) Movie Review

muddy man in the wilderness
Mushrooms are creepy as hell. We got a bit of that earlier this year with Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth, and to further drive that point home, there’s now South African director Jaco Bouwer’s Gaia. The two films play like companion pieces of slow-burn existential environmental horror, and this offers another a tense, moody narrative that’s part creature feature, part mediation on nature, technology, and our role in the world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

'Akilla's Escape' (2020) Movie Review

saul williams
One thing movies have taught us is that, once you decide to leave the criminal lifestyle behind, you’re battle is only partially over. Such is the case of the protagonist in Charles Officer’s crime drama Akilla’s Escape, a noir-inspired tale of one man contending with generational cycles of violence, his own past, and a changing world. Not always as developed or fleshed out as it could be, the film is nonetheless gorgeous to look at and narratively captivating.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

'The Amusement Park' (2021) Movie Review

george romero's amusement park
When you think you’re going to get a straightforward educational video but you hire George Romero for the project and wind up instead with a hellish nightmare. That’s exactly how The Amusement Park came into existence. And it is truly a demented feel-bad artifact.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

'Cruella' (2021) Movie Review

emma stone in cruella
The first hour of Cruella, Disney’s latest attempt to retcon an iconic villain from one of their classic animated films into a sympathetic character, is actually pretty fun. Full of over-the-top costumes, elaborately staged heists, and adorable puppers, it’s a campy Goodfellas by way of The Favourite. (Favourite scribe Tony McNamara worked on the script, so that makes a great deal of sense.) It’s energetic, visually arresting, and, despite being completely unnecessary and awkwardly forced, does a marginal enough job of humanizing Cruella de Vil, the two-toned, dog-hating antagonist from 101 Dalmatians.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

'Last Night In Soho' Trailer: Edgar Wright Returns With A Psychological Horror Film

thomasin mckenzie anya taylor joy
Okay, that’s how you use a slowed-down maudlin version of a well-known popular song in a movie trailer. Well played, Edgar Wright, well played. This is, of course, in reference to the use of the use of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” in this trailer for his upcoming 1960s-set horror movie, Last Night in Soho. Which looks like a fine time. Check it out below.

'Gunpowder Milkshake' Trailer: Karen Gillan Teams Up With A Crazy Cast For Action And Revenge

karen gillan with a gun and child in an elevator
Crazy action, a stacked cast, revenge, a long-lost parent…yeah, I’m in. If any of that sounds good to you, you’ll probably want to check out this trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Gunpowder Milkshake, which has all of that and more.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

'Sound Of Violence' (2021) Movie Review

jasmin savoy brown horror movie
As a child, Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) witnesses her recently-returned-home-from-war father murder the rest of the family. Through this act of brutality, she regains her lost hearing, but experiences something strange as well. It awakens synesthesia in her—a neurological condition where one sense triggers another, in this case certain sounds beget vivid, colorful visuals. Sound of Violence picks up with Alexis as she ages and pursues a career in music, chasing the sensations sounds bring through more extreme measures, leading her down increasingly violent, brutal paths.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

'Seance' (2021) Movie Review

suki waterhouse in a horror movie
As a filmmaker, Simon Barrett is best known for his collaborations with director Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs. Kong). The duo teamed up for You’re Next and The Guest, among others. Now, as so often happens, the writer takes his turn in the big chair, and the result is Seance, a solid if unspectacular debut that attempts to play with horror conventions to mixed results.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

'Spiral' (2021) Movie Review

spiral chris rock
The Saw movies built a following on intricate murder contraptions, explicit gore, and a mastermind of death with a flair for the dramatic. It’s been a few years since the last installment, and with a primary antagonist who’s dead, it’s tricky to continue a horror franchise. But not impossible. In walks Spiral, formerly Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Director Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed chapters two through four, returns with a film that, while technically a sequel, seeks to reboot things and take the narrative in a new direction. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Trailer: Yes, This Movie Is Really Happening

tom hardy surprised by this
What is there to say about Venom? In reality, it’s not good, but it is, however, a ton of fun to watch, mostly for Tom Hardy having an insane meltdown and giving a completely bonkers performance. I said I could Hardy banter with himself for hours, and, thanks to this trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage proving that the sequel actually exists, I may have to make good on my promise.

Friday, May 7, 2021

'Fried Barry' (2020) 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.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

'Wrath Of Man' (2021) Movie Review

jason statham in a jason statham pose
Guy Ritchie’s bank robbery actioner, Wrath of Man, has a protagonist named H (Jason Statham) and supporting players named things like Bullet (Holt McCallany), Sticky John, and Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett). It aims at being biblical in its execution of one man’s revenge. It’s stocked exclusively with vile, reprehensible, mean-spirited characters. And it’s so overwrought and overblown it watches like a caricature of the shitty Heat knock off it wants to be. So, in short, while a messy, it’s also kind of fun, unintentionally so most of the time. It’s a real mixed bag.