Gaining accolades at film festivals around the world, The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro’s latest feature, is part tribute, part pastiche, of the post-war monster movie. In his recent talk at the London Film Festival, Mr. del Toro affirmed: “Monsters are evangelical creatures for me. When I was a kid, monsters made me feel that I could fit somewhere, even if it was…an imaginary place where the grotesque and the abnormal were celebrated and accepted.”
Based on the Manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note is a huge franchise in Japan. The Netflix remake rather misses the entire message of the original Death Note – which is that power corrupts. It barely touches on the themes that gave the original depth and intrigue and lacks its tension-building storytelling, which left the viewer wondering where the latest development might lead, and who would win. It’s the version for people who can’t cope with subtitles.
“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
If you profess a love of cinema, but have been eschewing the excellent films coming out of Korea, you really have been missing out on some top-notch entertainment. I went into Han Jae-Rim’s movie The King, knowing only that it had been described as a political thriller. That covers about half of it – it’s also a satire about corruption within Korea’s legal system, it’s a gangster movie, it’s a revenge tale and yes, it’s a crime thriller too. If Wes Anderson decided to make ‘Goodfellas’ with Ben Wheatley, The King might just be the movie they’d have aspired to. Imagine that.
“Only one will become… The King.”
Deceptively titled and oddly mis-marketed as a horror movie, Trey Edward Shults’s second feature It Comes at Night, might much more appropriately be viewed as a ‘post-apocalyptic psychological family drama’.
I’m often loath to place a movie under a genre classification, because certain movies might straddle several genres and don’t easily fit into pigeonholes.
However, if you go to see It Comes at Night expecting a conventional horror film, you will be disappointed… or perhaps you’ll be surprised.
“You can’t trust anyone but family.”
The concept of the ‘beautiful female corpse’ is by no means a new idea in the realm of gothic horror. In fact, it has been a stalwart of the genre since it began. Edgar Allan Poe was particularly partial to it and Bram Stoker took it to its natural conclusion when he hit upon the novel idea of having alluring dead ladies start walking about and seducing people.
Norwegian director André Øvredal follows up his found-footage indie sleeper Troll Hunter, with English-language debut The Autopsy of Jane Doe – a gory excursion through a dead woman’s innards.
“Every body has a secret.”
The best movies of the eighties either celebrated frivolity and gave us great entertainment, or rejected norms and pushed the boundaries towards broader innovations. Eighties indie movies were especially bold in this regard, and few directors tackled social and personal shape-shifting as deftly or entertainingly as Jonathan Demme.
The aptly titled, Something Wild gives us everything the eighties were famous for: laughs, sex, craziness, danger, secret lives, violence, drugs, nasty things in small towns and a great pop music soundtrack.
“Something Different. Something Daring. Something Dangerous.”
In Swiss Army Man, first-time directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (the Daniels) genuinely present you with things you’re unlikely to have seen before – and that, in the current cinematic climate, is a feat in itself.
One can certainly see why Swiss Army Man was a movie that was inevitably going to polarise opinions. In a time when moviegoers are subjected to a constant barrage of remakes, reboots or sequels, I for one am not going to turn my nose up at any movie which places almost all of its bets on being singular and unique.
“We all need some body to lean on.”
Get Out concerns Chris, who is invited by his girlfriend of five months, Rose to travel upstate for the weekend to meet her parents. Chris is concerned about how Rose’s privileged white family’s might react to him, as she hasn’t told them that her boyfriend is black. Meeting the parents is a frightening prospect at the best of times, but Get Out offers a vision of a black guy’s unnerving entrance into a particularly unorthodox white world.
Chris’s girlfriend brushes off his concerns, assuring him that her parents are liberals and that he has nothing to worry about…
“Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’re welcome.”
Canadian writer-director team Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie are part of the Astron-6 collective, whose work includes the playful retro horrors The Editor and Manborg.
In their feature The Void, they tone down the humour and opt for suspense and full-on Lovecraftian horror. They draw their influences from a number of sources, including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Anderson’s Event Horizon, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and Carpenter’s The Thing and Prince of Darkness.
“There is a hell. This is worse.”
I emerge from the darkness of a doorway, blinking into the daylight of a Soho street. I look up at the sliver of wintry sky between the tops of the buildings, hoping that a random wormhole into a time portal might somehow open up.
Admittedly, this is almost a daily occurrence with me, but [at the time of writing] it is particularly significant as it is October 2nd , and I have just come out of a special 15th anniversary screening of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly’s much beloved and oft debated cult movie.
“What would you do if you knew the future?”
The Wailing offers images that appear in many a horror films: disembowelled livestock; creepy candlelit shrines plastered with odd photographs; curtains of blindingly heavy rain; a foul-mouthed, possessed child; blackened, rabid zombies lunging at stunned victims and blood-splattered murder scenes.
It’s unlikely however, that any horror aficionado has seen all these tropes thrown with such bravado into the same melting pot, producing such a rich and unsettling brew.
“You awoke something recently that you weren’t supposed to. You disturbed it.”
What a delightful coincidence that the young actress in Gore Verbinski’s latest feature A Cure for Wellness should be named Mia Goth. Never has an appellation been more appropriate.
A Cure for Wellness proves to be an audacious, intoxicating, feverish piece of cinema – administering copious doses of Freudian symbolism and classic Gothicism. If you’re not a fan of things Gothic, or if you suffer from ichthyophobia, this may not be the film for you…