Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) goes undercover on a dangerous mission to the isolated island of Erisden where his sister is being held hostage by a wild religious cult. The task is not easy; the island’s magnetic leader Malcolm (Michael Sheen) is becoming increasingly paranoid, and the island is ruled by a kind of religious police who control people’s actions and movements.
Apostle is an original film. It portrays the cult-village believably. Part Meet the Amish, part The Village, part penal colony in 1905, the egos of the main characters are believably presented. The cult itself is increasingly bizarre and it turns out there may be truth to the mysterious preachings of their prophet Malcolm. None-the-less, the supernatural aspects of the film are secondary to the psychology.
Good performances from all. A believable cult, a convincing community, a bizarre but original supernatural secret at the heart of the island, Apostle is a really good film. However, the full-on gore and body horror aspect might be too much for those expecting a period drama.
Writer-Director Gareth Evans reminds of a Welsh Neil Marshall, a rising star to watch, for sure.
A group of young scammers go around “cleansing ghosts” from haunted houses much to the emotional comfort of their clients and the financial comfort of themselves. However, the fun and games stop when one of their clients houses actually is haunted and our young leads discover a secret about themselves that they hadn’t bargained for.
Malevolent is a simple film: haunted house in the country with hidden secrets and a group of unprepared wallies who stumble into it. The film is actually very linear and moves forward and concludes in a straight line. It left me wanting more, a little development. None-the-less, it was entertaining with convincing performances from rising star Florence Pugh and Olivier award-winning Celia Imrie. The loan shark plot thread hung loose a little for me, however.
A group of rapidly-heading-for-middle-age friends decide to take a hiking holiday to Sweden in order to rekindle and strengthen the weakening bonds between them and to commemorate a tragedy at the heart of their group. However, things (predictably) start to go awry when our group takes a “short cut” through the woods (have these guys never seen a horror film?).
Probably produced by Norway in order to undercut the Swedish tourism industry, The Ritual is a disturbing horror movie. It has the classic, minimalist horror theme that works so well: a few people alone with their thoughts in the middle-of-nowhere are forced to fight for their lives when an unseen evil begins to terrorise them. Simple but effective. The focus is on our lead Luke, Rafe Spall, as he grows to try and conquer his own demons.
Genuinely disturbing at times, this movie sucks you into its world and makes the unbelievable seem quite real. The acting and special effects were delightful, and the scenery is bleak but profoundly beautiful. Our characters’ choices are never absurd as so often is the case in these kind of films, although I must say I did sometimes feel the characters could do with turning their torches off.
Despite being reminiscent of many other horror movies, it never feels like a rip-off or a mish-mash, but rather its own thing. Nonetheless, there can be no bonus points for originality. A solid and thoroughly entertaining movie with a disturbing and credibly portrayed premise. A must for fans of horror or Scandi-anything (but note: it’s an English language film).
An action-espionage-drama following Anna, a poor woman from Russia with a heavy burden of suffering who is ready to give up on life. At her nadir, a man swoops in with an unlikely offer — become a spy, in exchange for a decent life.
Despite the unbelievability of the premise, the film is otherwise quite believable. The movie’s made up of several segments which end in a twist, the scenes then rewinding to show us what really happened. Entertaining and shocking, but this shtick begins to wear thin by the end.
An entertaining and exciting flick with good acting all round.
An evil apparition increasingly menaces an emotionally damaged family while itself apparently only clinging onto this Earthly realm due to its own unresolved trauma.
This sounds like the outline of countless other films. However, Mama really is fresh-feeling and impressive. This formula is refreshing by the use of this feral child motif which recalls the real case of Genie.
Good acting from all. Very creepy.
But there are some downers. Aunty only exists to be knocked off and never feels like a danger to the nascent family life of our protagonists nor as a fully fleshed out character. Also, the CGI is a little ropey, though not ruiningly bad.
A foreboding storm is the backdrop to the sad tale of a boy who witnesses a murder and in fleeing the scene is run over and killed. Twenty-five years later, an eerily similar storm forms which seems to create a link to the past. Can Vera (Adriana Ugarte) save the boy? And what consequences will follow from this?
Mirage is a mind-bending mystery crime time-travel film. Beautiful in every way. The ending is shocking and totally satisfying; it doesn’t wipe out our journey as time travel films often do (the “it was only a dream” phenomenon). Despite the fantastic set-up — a storm which acts as a kind of wormhole to the past through which people can communicate via their television sets –. Mirage is wholly believable. Like all great time travel movies, it uses the set-up to explore those “Sliding Doors” moments where your life changed totally, almost as if on the toss of a coin.
Despite the message that ‘we should be contented with our lot, as it could be worse’, the film never moralises. The focus is the human drama.
The cast could not be better. The acting is thoroughly believable. Ugarte bears a huge weight as our dramatic lead Vera, and she delivers a naturalistic and delicate performance.
Anyone who has ever mused on what would have happened had they not caught that train, forgotten their wallet that time, or decided not to go out after all that night, that is, most people, will love this film. A special movie and the best Spanish language flick I have seen in years.
In last roll of the dice, a desperate family moves from their village to the city. They hoped their dreams would come true, but their new flat is a house out of their worst nightmares.
Fairly generic stuff: bad stuff happens in the apartment many years before, new family get short shrift from the ghost(s) of the fallen, experts in spookology get drafted in to help fix it, the shit generally hits the fan. So far so standard. But the acting, especially from Iván Marcos (paterfamilias Manolo), is powerful: broad-shouldered, literally and metaphorically, but broken, we can still just about glimpse the young and raw buck that Candela (Bea Segura) fell in love with. The film is deeply atmospheric with great use of all tropes.
The best generic horror movie for a while. But it is deeply generic.
A terminally ill mother boards a transatlantic flight with her son to get specialist medical treatment overseas. However, when the plane is hijacked by a group of terrorists, she is forced to take action and do something she hoped she’d never have to do.
Blood Red Sky is a fairly standard hijacker flick but with a horror movie twist. The horror spin gives the film something extra, but the basic hijacker story is thrillingly acted and directed.
Mother and child are played well by Peri Baumeister (Nadja) and Carl Anton Koch (Elias), but the movie is frankly stolen by supporting acts Kais Setti (Farid) and mesmeric Alexander Scheer (Eightball).
The movie plays slightly better if you don’t know the nature of Nadja’s mystery illness before watching it. Sadly, all of the publicity spills the beans. None-the-less, the film is still very entertaining. A slightly unoriginal story whisks us along in the wake of its taut hijacking.
Jordan Peele’s feature debut as writer-director, Get Out, is the story of young African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his Caucasian Apple Pie American girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). They take a road trip to meet Rose’s posh WASP family for the first time. Chris is nervous, but Rose reassures him: “They woulda voted for Obama a third time if they could!”. Her family greets him with warm and open arms. But something’s amiss, and Chris just can’t put his finger on it. But as the hours and days go by, Chris begins to realise something is very wrong with the Armitages.
Get Out is a wonderful and surprising horror-mystery-thriller which keeps you guessing until near the end. It’s quite different: a refreshing mix of familiar ingredients in a new form, the hallmark of much groundbreaking work.
It’s thrilling and mysterious, and at times surreal and funny. I thought this worked well, but surrealism and comedy might be a discordant turn-off for some viewers.
Peele says it’s a “social horror”. And it’s certain that it’s on the back of this antiracist message that the film picked up four Oscar noms and one win. Indeed, the point he makes — that white liberals can have a racism every bit as dangerous if not more so than hillbillies can — is important and not often made in cinema. Sad,ly the message was undercut by the thoroughly surreal nature of proceedings; surrealism is a key part to making satire effective, but I feel things stretched too far in this picture. Frankly, this film is best viewed as a horror-mystery-thriller and not as some sort of satirical social commentary (although your Guardian-reading friends surely sold it to you as such).
The final twist seemed a step too far into absurdity to make its social satirical points. But worse, it isn’t quite consistent with what comes before. Although fair play to writer-director Jordan Peele: the ending wasn’t merely tacked on as so often is the case with the shock twist, but was clearly the direction we were headed in all along, with hindsight. Nonetheless, it doesn’t really work. And the biggest twist is revealed through something unbelievable (a scheming character just leaving something incriminating lying about).
Original, refreshing, thrilling, albeit with an ending that doesn’t quite work. Just don’t watch it as a serious take-down of racism.