Filmed using just two iPhones, over several days and with a minimal cast & crew, Threshold is well and truly the most independent film I have seen this year. Taking its indie, mumblecore roots to new extremes is to be commended, and it sets Threshold out as a distinctive voice among the more studio driven releases we have seen this year. And yet, despite its originality and a highly likeable cast, Threshold feels like it has failed as a horror film but succeeded as something else.
Despite being updated to a very modern setting and focusing on the war in Syria, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse feels too much like a 1980’s era action flick. Full of clichés and hyperbole regarding the politics of war, this typical revenge-thriller lacks any real urgency or style and is only saved by Michael B. Jordan’s intense performance.
Set in the aftermath of a deadly virus, Forget Everything And Run (F.E.A.R.) is another low-budget horror film released during the lockdown period. Attempting to play on very modern worries, F.E.A.R. deals in distrust, false information and the responsibility of the government in helping its people. Despite clearly taking inspiration from the likes of The Walking Dead and A Quiet Place, F.E.A.R. has little of the qualities that have made either such pop culture icons, and is yet another pandemic horror that fails to hit the mark.
There is a certain art to telling a good story, and it’s not one that everyone can grasp. Getting the details right, setting the tone, creating an atmosphere and, most of all, keeping an audience interested – are all key factors. The Oak Room, a film where these elements are key, fails to hit any of the right notes and ends up like a bar room story not worth the pint it’s told over.
Made in the midst of a global pandemic, In the Earth is a unique and, at times, visually stunning film that will likely have the avant garde section of film fans claiming it to be a modern masterpiece. Unfortunately, In the Earth is really not that good. Despite solid performances and some arresting cinematography, this remains a film that promises far more than it can deliver.
Chaos Walking has been in development hell since it was first announced in 2011. The film, based upon the Young Adult novel by Patrick Ness and titled The Knife Of Never Letting Go, has gone through several writers and has had more than one director attached. Interestingly one of those writers was Charlie Kaufman, but how much of his ideas this film bears is something we are unlikely to ever know. So unbalanced is Chaos Walking, that it becomes a very hard film to follow. And despite its franchise aspirations, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing a follow-up any time soon.
With clear allusions to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – The Night is a claustrophobic horror designed to completely unnerve its audience. The Iranian-American co-production is the first film of its type to receive a wide release in its homeland since 1979, and fully deserves that particular honour, with director Kourosh Ahari crafting a suitably tight thriller even if it does raise more questions than if answers.
Here’s the thing with adapting real-life stories into film, sometimes they can be coma inducing levels of boring and that’s exactly where Silk Road falls. The film, loosely based on the very real events of a cyber whizz-kid turned internet drug dealer, should be a thrilling ride. Instead, we get a slow, amateur dramatics take on what should have been very reliable source material.
Back in 2017, Warner Bros. released Justice League. A film that, much like Marvel Studios Avengers Assemble, would unite a group of heroes to take down a threat they could not beat individually. Originally set to be directed by Zack Snyder until a personal tragedy struck, Warner Bros. then employed Avengers director Joss Whedon to take over as Snyder understandably walked away. Partly shot by Snyder, mostly re-worked by Whedon the result was a mixture of styles that never felt like anyone had truly left their mark on the film. Gone, mostly, was Snyder’s tone and vision. In was a heavy-handed studio approach, some awful CGI and Joss Whedon’s autopilot humour. Frankly, it was a mess and pleased more or less nobody. Four years, and a galling online fan campaign, later and Zack Snyder’s original vision has been restored.
It would not be at all unfair to say that The Banishing is a deeply unoriginal horror film. So entrenched are audiences in decades of genre lore by now – they can see most things coming, but it’s also perhaps unjust to label a new film in this way. And what does this matter if the film itself is an entertaining enough romp through 1930’s England, with fascism on the rise and horrors lurking locally as well as internatioanlly – it is perhaps a better film than it would at first be given credit for.
It’s been 33 years since the original Coming to America graced our screens. Back then, Eddie Murphy was arguably the biggest star of the 1980’s. His razor sharp wit, cheeky good looks and a level of charisma that was unparalleled at the time gained him starring roles in the likes of 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child. But, it was perhaps Coming To America that is his most cherished outing. So, is the sequel worth the wait? Well, yes and no.
Serving as more of a sequel and less of a soft-reboot to 1996’s The Craft, is The Craft: Legacy. Developed by the new rulers of horror – Blumhouse, this semi-sequel sees director Zoe Lister-Jones reminisce over the original film while also taking the series in new and very modern ways.
Developing her own short film into a full-length feature is director Jill Gevargizian. Her 2016 short of the same name, was a festival hit and it was only a matter of time before the former hair stylist developed her idea further. The Stylist, with Najarra Townsend in the lead role as Claire, is a dark and purposely twisted take on the serial killer genre and will unhinge even the most ardent horror fan.
Wrong Turn is the seventh film in the unlikely horror franchise, which has now come full circle with a reboot that keeps the name of the original film. While serving as both a reboot and continuation of the series, Wrong Turn sadly falls into the trap of being an over-familiar horror film with nothing new to say.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn and The Cabin In The Woods should be a good thing for any horror film. Sadly, all Butchers really does is make you wish you were watching another film – any film really, because this has been done before and done so much better.
Jarringly effective in its mumblecore roots, Sator is a horror film that aims high but doesn’t land all of its punches. Director Jordan Graham crafts a horror which would best compared to films like The Witch or Hereditary, and it would be a huge compliment to be even briefly mentioned in their company. Yet for all its might, Sator will likely leave viewers feeling frustrated at a film that promises more than it can deliver.
In any other year, watching Nicolas Cage fend off a group of animatronic demons may seem like a film destined for the bargain bin of your local supermarket. But, in true 2021 style, Willy’s Wonderland is a pulpy, comedic horror surely destined for a cult following.
Drenched in blood while a body lays on the morgue floor, Mandy (Angela Bettis) explains her way out of a seemingly indefensible situation to the idiotic Police Officer (Kit Williamson), who has stumbled across her in the middle of committing a heinous act. In a scene devoid of tension, humour or any sense of drama we are presented with all the aspects that make 12 Hour Shift such a disappointment.
It’s been far too long since we had a good disaster film grace our screens. Sure, there’s been some solid efforts over the years, but nothing has scratched the itch for all-impeding doom quite like Greenland has. Thankfully, star Gerard Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh have stepped into the breach and given us a highly entertaining film with more going for it than just pretty special effects.
After directing indie hits Spring and The Endless, directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are back with another twisty sci-fi tale that looks at life, death and love – all in a 96 minute runtime.
Clearly inspired, but not defined, by the likes of Halloween and other classic horror films, The Rental takes a basic approach to the modern horror film and attempts to unsettle its audience rather than take them on a full-blown thrill ride.
It can be an odd feeling to mourn for someone we have never met. It almost feels disingenuous, or that we have no right to feel things for someone who has only ever touched our lives through a cinema or television screen. But, modern actors are more than people going about their day job. They play roles in society, post regularly on social media, they carry their personalities & the burden of being in the public eye for a lifetime, all while letting you view a small aspect of their lives. So yes, you can, and should, mourn for people you have never met, especially when they have made an impact on your life. Chadwick Boseman was one of those people.
Nowhere near as trashy as Sharknado, and nowhere near as classic as Jaws, Crawl is a fun Friday night B-movie and perfect for leaving your brain at the door and switching off for 87 minutes. The kind of film that arguably does not get enough of a wide-release these days, Crawl would normally be relegated to the local supermarkets bargain bin. Instead, Crawl defies the odds and delivers an entertaining diversion at a much-needed time.
After the trials and tribulations director Rian Johnson faced in the wake of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it is pertinent that his return is very much a smaller, lighter affair. Taking himself away from the space opera scene and the legion of angry fanboys who follow it, to the almost stage-like setting of a murder mystery with an all-star cast is shrewd business and a move that rewards both the director and the audience.
Just one year ago, director Ari Aster marked himself out as a talent worth watching with Hereditary. Now, with Midsommar, Aster has confirmed his status as royalty within the horror genre. If Hereditary was a tale of a family’s grief which soon delved into the supernatural, then Midsommar is a tale of a girl’s sorrow & heartache at the death of her family which is further amplified by existing in a toxic relationship with her dickhead boyfriend. It’s a film that does not go for jump scares, but rather takes the viewer on altogether tension filled ride that will leave audiences feeling just as unhinged as Florence Pugh’s main character.
Ever since Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released back in 1991, the Terminator series has been on a downward spiral. After the mediocrity of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines & Terminator Salvation, followed by the travesty that was Terminator: Genisys it comes as no surprise that Terminator: Dark Fate wants to put those films to rest and try once more to hit the heights of the classic first two films.
Sequels are regularly billed as hard to pull off. Often, the first film in a series is a breath of fresh air, full of new ideas and bringing renewed energy to tired thoughts, and the theory goes that their sequels never live up to the hype. Well, Zombieland: Double Tap would like to remind you that sequels may lose some of the originality but don’t have to lose their sense of sheer fucking fun.
In 2014, Godzilla returned to cinemas with a film that garnered generally favourable reviews. The one overriding criticism being that we did not see enough of Godzilla himself, hidden away for the most part until the films brawling finale. Skip forward five years and Godzilla: King of the Monsters allays any doubts about how much of Godzilla we will see this time round, by turning the volume up to 11 and providing more damage to world landmarks than a Roland Emmerich film on acid.
Weddings. They’re always the same, aren’t they? Uncomfortable photos, embarrassing speeches, family members pretending to get along, human sacrifice and devil worship. That’s the line Ready or Not draws in the sand early on, and you’re either in or out from that point onwards in this comically violent and darkly humorous survival-horror film which is a lot smarter than it first appears.
Powerful, disturbing and chaotic. Three words that merely scratch the surface on what to expect when watching Joker for the first time. It’s a film that is deeply unsettling at times, while completely sympathetic at others and if it does nothing but make you feel wholly unnerved then it has accomplished what it set out to do.
Starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway the first trailer for potential Oscar bait, Dark Waters has arrived.
From director Ari Aster, Midsommar arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on 28 October. A directors version of the film will be released on Blu-ray, while the theatrical version will be available on DVD and Digital Download formats.
It was only 15 years ago when Guillermo del Toro directed Ron Perlman in the first big-screen iteration of Hellboy. That was a film filled with imagination, joy and humour. Then 2008’s sequel Hellboy: The Golden Army delivered more of the same, this time with a little more action and a lot more confidence. Jump forward 15 years and instead of getting the film that would complete a much-loved trilogy, we have been given an uneven, largely humourless CGI-infused mess that does nothing for making the character appeal to a larger audience.
Reeling from the events of Avengers: Endgame, it’s fair to think that Marvel’s next outing would aim to answer some of the questions raised in the highest grossing film of all time. Instead, Marvel has taken the alternate route and hit us with a film that does not go out of its way to answer these questions – and rather draws a line under everything encouraging us to move on and accept it.
It’s not hard to see how Fighting With my Family will play out. The true story of a young girl from Norwich who becomes a wrestling superstar in the behemoth that is the World Wrestling Entertainment, has all the traits of any other sporting underdog story. What Fighting With my Family has in spades though is heart and a wonderful cast, which allow it to rise above the usual genre clichés.
High-concept horrors have been thin on the ground lately. The likes of Saw and The Cabin in the Woods hitting heights that others simply struggle to even compete with have left the horror genre with a small gap in the market. Step in Escape Room, taking the now popular real-life game to all sorts of crazy levels with rooms that seem to come to life with little thought on how this would ever actually work.
Dark, brutal and just slightly disturbing – Destroyer is definitely not your lazy Sunday afternoon film of choice. Almost dystopian in its depiction of Los Angeles and the police force that governs it, Destroyer is a film that requires a hard heart and a strong emotional disposition at times, but with Nicole Kidman’s stirring performance it’s a film worth sticking with.
Originally released in the summer of 1983, Cujo is a film which has firmly cemented itself as a pop culture powerhouse, but may be a film not many have actually seen. The film is familiar for many reasons; a rabid dog starts attacking people, a mother and her son stand-off against the dog and most famously it is based on a Stephen King novel. All of the above rings true when viewing Cujo for the first time – it is a film I am familiar with without actually ever seeing it. So iconic has Cujo become that it almost feels trivial to attempt a review now.
There are far too many times during Look Away when I found myself asking one simple question, why? Why am I watching this? Why was it ever made? Why would anyone sign up to star in this? These questions plagued me during the films dire 103-minute duration, so much so that I actually began to feel angry while watching it.
Pleasingly fun and feeling very much like a kid’s adventure from the 80’s Amblin era, Shazam! is the kind of film the superhero genre needs at the moment. Another step in the right direction for DC and suddenly the superhero outlook looks a lot brighter.
Sitting proudly next to the recent remake of Stephen King’s classic, It, Pet Sematary 2019 is a new, much darker version of the story idolised in 1989 by director Mary Lambert and may well have set itself up as one of the years best horror films.
Creeping up on audiences so no one knew what to expect, Us is the second film from Jordan Peele and very much has the feel of a director settling into his groove and having the confidence to take his audience in brave new directions.
Admirably restrained in its approach, Hunter Killer is an enjoyable throwback to the type of action film that was so popular in the 1990’s. Taking its cues from the likes of Crimson Tide and The Rock, Hunter Killer is completely unoriginal but is utterly non-fussed by such comparisons.
With Bumblebee soon concluding its run at the cinema and enthusiastic talk of a sequel being at its peak, now is the best time to look back at the live-action Transformers films and see how the series stands up.
Feeling very much like a middle-of-the-road effort from Marvel Studios, Reign of the Supermen feels more like a film designed to connect different story strands from other films rather than act as a solid stand-alone attempt. Following on from 2018’s The Death of Superman, Reign follows events six months later and deals with the passing of one of the world’s greatest heroes.
Mysteriously advertised before its release, A Simple Favour is a rare example of modern Hollywood not overselling a film before it hits the cinema. This darkly comic tale in which Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively become unlikely friends, only for Lively’s beautiful ghost to pull a Gone Girl & suddenly go missing is wound by director Paul Feig’s knack of hiring talented actors and letting them run with it.
Lionsgate have released the first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which sees John on the run with a $14 million price tag on his head.
In somewhat unexpected news, it was revealed yesterday that Jason Reitman would be directing a new Ghostbusters film which is set for release in the summer of 2020.
Be careful mentioning this in public company, but it seems that DC have finally sorted their house out. With the combined financial and critical success of Wonder Woman and the bloated but well-meaning Justice League, Aquaman arrives in cinemas with the consensus that these heroes can actually be fun to watch when given the chance.
To mark the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, Park Circus is bringing the film back to cinemas from 1 March.