Written & directed by Jordan Peele, YouTuber & Presenter, Rachel RNR reviews the blockbuster horror “Us”.
What’s it about?
Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that her past will catch up to her. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival.
An onslaught of violence, terror and doppelgangers in new horror film, Us.
What’s Going On?
A family holiday back to the beach she visisted as a child brings back unsettling memories for Adelaide and triggers a sense of something truly terrible coming. Unfortunately, her feelings are proven right when late at night a group of four people, a family, are spotted hanging around outside their holiday home. As Gabe, husband and father, confronts the group things quickly escalate and soon it’s a house invasion at which point Adelaide, Gabe and their children realise their attackers look exactly like them.
Behind The Scenes
This is the second film by Jordan Peele after 2017’s Oscar-winning Get Out and expectations are high. Peele was known primarily for many years as one half of comedy sketch group Key and Peele, who while not well known in the UK were a big deal in America. After two films Peele is already making a name for himself as a master of horror and he seems like the perfect person to present the rebooted Twilight Zone. As someone who is not a huge horror fan Peele’s films have had a big impact on me.
In Front Of The Camera
Most of the cast play two characters so Winston Duke has to be both reassuring father Gabe and violent brute, Abraham. While the focus is on the whole family Lupita Nyong’o is undoubtedly the star of the movie with two amazing performances as Adelaide and her doppelganger, Red. The children, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, are both great and are especially creepy when being the doppelgangers.
Does It Work?
As I said, expectations were high after Get Out and this film met those high expectations. As soon as the doppelgangers arrive the film is a non-stop terrifying ride. Each doppelganger is their own unique brand of horrifying: Adelaide’s speaking in a rasping voice about what horror she has been through and what awaits, Gabe’s is a brute dishing out violence at any opportunity, Zora (the daughter) has an unsettling manic look to her and Jason (the son) acts more like an animal, scuttling around the room with a very creepy mask. Each doppelganger takes on the original in an apt way (e.g. Zora is told to run and is chased by her double as Zora had recently discussed quitting Track and Field events) which suggests an in-depth knowledge of the family.
The film has many twists and turns and unexpected events so I won’t go too much into the plot so as to avoid spoilers. The normalcy of the family at the beginning sets up a wonderful family life. Gabe is such a “Dad” character making stupid jokes, telling off the children and insisting on planning activities none of the others wanted to do – I assure you, Gabe, nobody wanted to go fishing. There are problems that are hinted at such as Adelaide’s possibly traumatic past and how Jason seems to always wear a mask (I couldn’t work out whether it was meant to be Chewbacca or just a generic creature) but overall they seemed a very happy family. The film also manages to be funny, especially before the horror gets going, it’s a rather nice comedy of a happy family and is a gentle reminder that for a long time Jordan Peele was primarily a comedian.
Adelaide’s character goes on a harrowing journey that begins with her as a terrified mother, relying on her husband or the curiously missing police to save them to a truly formidable presence. It is hard to overstate just how brilliant Lupita Nyong’o is in the film, playing the fragile Adelaide or giving intense monologue’s as Red to Adelaide finding her strength.
The film primarily seems to be about identity and the feeling of how if things had been different you could be a completely different person. What connection does a genuine doppelganger have with you? Who has the greater claim to “your” identity? Does undergoing horror make you horrific? Are we only good because we live in a pleasant society where you can make a life without being bad? The viewer is left to make up their own mind about most of this.
Of course this isn’t just a philosophical film about identity but a brutal horror movie. The violence feels awfully real and a great deal of convincing blood is shed. The sheer oddity of battling a mirror image of yourself increases the disturbing nature and surely everyone watching would be imagining how they would have handled their own evil doppelganger.
The films looks great. The doppelgangers have a very distinct look, wearing identical red boilersuits and a single leather glove and all are armed with very sharp scissors (at the cinema I saw the film at the staff wore the same red boilersuits). The image of the doppelgangers standing outside in the darkness, barely illuminated, is very disturbing and memorable. Jason, the first to spot them, instantly identifies them as a family and I think that is exactly how they appear. The beach town is a beautiful backdrop to the horrors than unfold, a favourite touch of mine was the carnival attraction that young Adelaide gets lost in, in the 1980s its a cultural appropriating Native American “spirit journey” but in the present a more generic, and less offensive, Wizard Forest.
The film also uses music really well. I don’t know if I’ll ever listen to Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys without getting a chill down my spine. But there is a trade-off that because of this film I might laugh at Fuck The Police by N.W.A. The original soundtrack is positively chilling with the song “Anthem” bringing dread, fear and auditory flashbacks to many other great horror film soundtracks.
This film is a success on every level and I’m surprised to say that I might have actually enjoyed this film more than Get Out. If you’re a fan of horror or not go and see this film – albeit it might be too much for the very squeamish or easily creeped out.
A claustrophobic horror thriller centred around a bitterly divided family.
What’s Going On?
Nick brings his girlfriend, Annji, back to his family home for Christmas after an absence of several years. It is not long before the tensions in the family boil over, particularly the racism directed towards Annji. After making the decision to leave Nick and Annji find out they are trapped in the house by metal shutters placed there by some outside power. Their only outlet to the outside world is through the television broadcasting instructions on what they should do. The already fractured family are put through increasingly intense dramas that only brings out the worst in them.
Behind The Scenes
The film is directed by Johnny Kevorkian and written by Gavin Williams and this is probably their biggest project to date. The film certainly has it’s interesting moments but neither the direction or the writing particularly stand out.
In Front Of The Camera
The main actors are Sam Gittins (Nick), Neerja Naik (Annji) and Grant Masters (Tony, Nick’s father) and they are all asked to a lot but don’t manage to pull it off. Of the three Naik’s performance is the best as she tries to withstand a familiar line of abuse, ranging from unpleasant comments about immigrants to vicious slurs yet not lose her temper. Gittins plays the dependable boyfriend and (as well as Naik) the voice of reason to the encroaching madness. Masters isn’t quite believable as the ringleader of what happens and fails to convincingly portray a normal man who goes too far.
The most recognisable member of the cast will probably be David Bradley best known as either Filch from the Harry Potter films or Walder Frey from Games of Thrones. Bradley plays Granddad – the family member who never even tries to welcome Annji or moderate his behaviour at all.
Does It Work?
The film starts off with an interesting premise of a family, already on edge, being pushed further by the horrendous circumstances. Often films where people are trapped together in a small space they start as friends or strangers but before any of the horror starts there are clear dividing lines in the group. It’s hard to not think that this is a post-Brexit film; the issues of immigration and race are specifically brought up, with each side thinking the other is utterly ridiculous and completely to blame. The first half of the film definitely works better and Abigail Cruttenden plays the mother desperately trying to reconcile the different elements of her family and maintain the peace quite well.
When they wake up on Christmas day and realise they are trapped these fault lines only harden. Tony tries to take control of the situation but that is limited to blindly following the instructions via the television, trying to disguise his blind obedience as sensible and practical behaviour.
There are a few cliches that get wheeled out and when things start getting out of hand it’s not a surprise when the most obviously unpleasant character is the first to suffer. Then there is the presence of Nick’s sister, Kate, heavily pregnant, used as justification by her husband for his behaviour and, of course, making her incredibly vulnerable.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is that the slip from imprisonment and mild paranoia to outright violence and worse is incredibly quick. It is only hours before all manner of terrible things are being done and even with their existing problems, it’s hard to reconcile such extreme behaviour with their circumstances. Even families that don’t get along will have their limits and most people place their family’s wellbeing as the centre of their world.
What the film reminded me of most was an episode of Black Mirror, or probably more accurately, a sub-Black Mirror inspired show. The film comments on hysteria, the power of media, the fear of the Other but without any subtlety or particular originality. The film also reminded me of one of the most infamous experiments in all of psychology – Stanley Milgram’s study on obedience. Participants were asked to give electric shocks to a person every time they got a question wrong, increasing the voltage with each wrong answer. Most participants carried on past the point their victim begged them to stop with one of the researchers telling the participant they must continue. Importantly no one was actually harmed in the experiment but people thought they were harming people. The film is partially a study on obedience to authority; obeying the government, obeying your father, obeying those with power over you. Each character responds differently to these different authorities and this is one of the film’s most successful aspects.
As the film nears the end and the madness is ramped up even further the bizarreness of the ending does not feel justified. I can go along with all manner of oddness if I feel it has been earned or handled in an interesting way but it just felt silly – the worst thing that can happen to a horror film.
Overall Await Further Instructions is not a good film, despite a good beginning and an intriguing idea of bringing the division of the country into one home. I would say in its defence that I was never bored and did want to see where it was going and how it would all end, but I could already sense that the ending would not be able to tie up the loose ends sufficiently let alone deal with some of the bigger plotholes.
zombie movie set in Ireland. Straight away, what’s not to like?
a native of this green island, I was immediately intrigued when I noticed The Cured pop up on Netflix recently. I’m
a fan of zombie movies (much to my wife’s displeasure) and took the first
available opportunity to gobble this one up. Pun intended.
The Cured was released on January 25
on Netflix in the UK.
In a nutshell
A virus has devastated most of Europe, turning the infected into psychotic, bloodthirsty monsters, and Ireland has suffered heavily. However, a cure has been found which has been successful on 75% of the infected population, with the remaining 25% still quarantined for study. One young man called Senan, one of the cured, is released back into the care of his sister-in-law. However, the cured can remember what they did in their infected state, and it isn’t long before Senan and his fellow cured come into conflict with a society unwilling to accept them back.
Who’s it for?
The Cured is rated 15 for strong
violence, gore, threat and language. It’s not quite as violent as most other
zombie movies I’ve seen and much of the horror is implied. Fans of the genre
will find the bloodiness satisfactory while newcomers shouldn’t be put off by
Who’s in it?
Keeley plays protagonist Senan, while Ellen page takes the role of his
sister-in-law Abbie. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Ebony Maw in Avengers: Infinity War, which was news to me) plays Conor, a fellow
member of the Cured with an agenda. It’s a small but capable cast.
The good stuff
This is a smarter zombie movie than many others in the genre. Granted, most contemporary films about the brain-munchers usually try to put a fresh spin on things (unless it’s The Walking Dead) and some succeed, but I liked the fact that this one focused on an entirely new aspect of it all – what happens to those who are cured of the infection. I thought the whole concept of them actually remembering what they did in their zombie state was particularly chilling, and it’s a premise that becomes increasingly significant as the film goes on. This is a well-written, well-acted movie with shades of 28 Days Later and The Last of Us in there at times. Some scenes are genuinely scary, too. And if the writers didn’t intend for it to be an allegory of historical Irish political unrest, they certainly stumbled into it anyway.
The not so good stuff
isn’t much to say about this movie that’s overly negative. It was clearly made
on a smaller budget than other zombie movies (like the big-money World War Z, for instance) and so it
doesn’t have very many big action sequences or huge amounts of zombie screen
time. Some of the plot is quite predictable and the ending’s a bit of a let-down,
but if you take it at face value and are happy with a slower-burning zombie
flick, I doubt you’ll mind.
The bottom line
enjoyed The Cured – it’s a good
casual watch and perfect for Netflix viewing. It won’t win too many new fans to
the zombie genre, but it’s a fresh enough twist on the long-running horror premise
to merit a watch. Catch it while you can.
Horror is a strange genre of film. For all of its freedom to create a frightening piece of work, it also seems to be the most restricted, the threat of it being ‘too scary’ looming over its head. It’s a fine line to walk between ‘creepy’ and ‘cliché’ – with every one person that finds The Nun horrifying, there are nine more who find it laughable.
for all of its rules, the genre also seems to understand that it
needs to evolve in order to stay relevant. No longer is it just the
masked man wielding a chainsaw out to get you, it’s also the chavs
you stumbled across on your romantic getaway. No longer is it just
malevolent forces whose home you have just moved in to wanting to rip
you apart, it’s also someone who just wanted to kill you for the
sheer thrill of it. The characters themselves have evolved over time
– men are no longer void of emotions aside from sexual desires;
they’re remorseful, protective, impassioned.
have evolved too and are no longer the pure virgin, the damsel in
distress waiting to be saved, lungs sore from screaming the whole
film – they’re mothers protecting their children, they’re stronger,
finding ways to defend themselves so the fight against evil isn’t so
one-sided. Laurie Strode defines that evolution.
Halloween was released in 1978 and became an instant horror classic. From the opening shot of Michael’s first murder to the music that travels around Michael to that William Shatner mask, John Carpenter created (perhaps unwittingly) a horror legacy. The film follows Michael Myers, an escaped convict, as he returns home on Halloween night, fifteen years after killing his sister in order to kill again. His new obsession? Laurie Strode.
in the 1970s was a fair-haired, intelligent teenager. Naive but
sweet. She had the aura of a girl who would roll her eyes if you
asked her for the homework answers but would still hand you the
completed worksheet. In fact, one of her friends asks her to look
after the girl she’s babysitting in order to go and see her boyfriend
– after much back and forth, eventually Laurie agrees to. A typical
character of the time, a lovely girl who no one expects bad things to
the moment Myers first stabs Laurie’s shoulder, there is a hint of
what Laurie could be, the strength she has inside. She smashes a
window open in order to escape, she makes sure the children are safe
by keeping them upstairs away from the chaos and she stabs Myers in
the neck with a knitting needle, with the aim of killing him.
However, with knowing that Myers’ doctor, Dr Loomis, is out there
looking for him there is a sense of waiting. Waiting for the heroine
to be rescued from the big bad wolf.
After the infamous closet scene, where Laurie stabs Myers in the eye and then promptly stabs his chest with his own dropped knife, she begins to slip back into her exhaustion. Myers rises behind her and strangles her, taking advantage of her state of near unconsciousness. Though she puts up a good fight, it’s not until Loomis appears and shoots Myers that he stops. After falling from the balcony and after being shot and stabbed multiple times, Myers still finds the energy to get up and slip away. Laurie sobs, knowing the fight isn’t over, knowing that he’s still alive – and that is the final shot of Laurie Strode in 1978.
Myers kills others in this film, there’s a disturbed intent on
killing Laurie. Even after she believes she’s killed him (twice),
instead of disappearing as he does after he’s been shot, Myers
immediately attempts to kill her again. It’s as if he can’t rest
until he’s finally killed her, which he attempts to do again, forty
Strode in 2018 is a stranger to Laurie Strode in 1978. Her hair is
still wild, but white, her smile is gone and she is hardened by the
events that have happened to her in the past. She has weapons in her
house and she’s been training forty years for Myers’ reappearance.
Gone is the naivety, her underlining strength becoming the forefront
of her very self. Though she has mental health issues, having a panic
attack at her daughter’s house, it doesn’t deter Laurie for she has
more than just herself to fight for – she’s fighting for her
estranged daughter Karen and for her granddaughter Allyson.
Laurie is hell bent on destroying Myers once and for all, she also
understands the importance of keeping her family safe, just as she
understood the importance of keeping those children safe all those
In the final scene of the more recent Halloween film, Laurie (with the help of her family) traps Myers in a safe room as it fills with gas. She lights a flare and tosses it into the room, setting it and the rest of the house aflame. It’s redemptive – she doesn’t sob with fear, nor is there a hint that Michael is still alive. She works together with her family, her courage coming from them as well as from herself. The three women embrace as they’re taken to safety, relieved that a forty-year nightmare is finally over – and that is the final shot of the film and of Laurie Strode.
Though the 2018 film may have had more of an impact on Halloween’s progression had there not been many more films in the franchise, it is hard to deny to the impact the films have had on horror lore as a whole. Laurie Strode defines those films just as much as Michael Myers. Her evolution from sweetheart to conqueror is just as vital and iconic as the William Shatner mask.
Six strangers are invited to participate in a mysterious escape room a game, where players solve a series of puzzles to win $10,000. But the game soon turns into a living nightmare, a matter of life or death.
2018 has been a monster year for superhero films, largely due to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Infinity War & Black Panther being the two highest grossing films in the world this year. With the release of the trailer for Avengers 4: End Game, audience appetite for the Marvel’s franchise shows no signs of slowing down.
Similarly, if you’re a fan of horror films the last few years have been something of a golden age: Get Out, A Quiet Place, IT, Hereditary, Halloween & Mandy are all part of a new generation of horror films that have seen critical success and have spearheaded a revival in the genre. A testament to this is horror films increasing their take at the U.K Box Offices, going from £50.8 Million in 2016 to £66.2 Million in 2017.
2017’s Logan has served as the precursor what we could potentially see from grittier-darker toned superhero films. As the appetite for both superhero and horror films show no immediate signs of slowing down, surely it’s only a matter of time until we see these worlds merge, right?
New Mutants Delay
The New Mutants was one of our own selected Must See films of 2018. The X-Men spin-off sees five mutants escaping from a secret facility where they are being held captive. The release of the film was delayed by a year, as a result of reshoots and the Delay of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The reshoots have reportedly allowed director, Josh Boone, to make the film “scarier”, with him even calling the film “a full-fledged horror film“. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the film can reach it’s potential.
“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?” – the synopsis of Brightburn reads like an “evil” Superman and certainly, that’s the direction the first trailer appears to be heading in. The film is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy) who has coined the phrase “Superhero Horror”, to describe the merging of the two. Brightburn will be released in May 2019.
The idea of a popular superhero-horror franchise on the big screen isn’t exactly new. Marvel first saw success 20 years ago with the release of Blade in 1998, the film followed Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) who stars in the lead role as a vampire killer. Amassing an impressive $130 Million worldwide, a cult following and spawning two more successful sequels, the Blade trilogy has the honour of being Marvel’s first trilogy franchise and first live-action superhero film led by a black actor. Wesley Snipes has spoken openly about bringing Blade to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so perhaps a reboot isn’t too far-fetched.
Keeping on the theme of vampires, following the commercial success of the Spider-Man spin-off Venom, Sony has had its eye on the continued expansion of its own Spider-Man Universe (not part of Disney’s MCU) with Morbius, the Living Vampire. The lead antihero, Biochemist, Dr Michael Morbius, will be played by Jared Leto. In the comics, Morbius has pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits stemming from a failed biochemical experiment which was intended to cure his rare blood disorder. Although exact plot details of the feature film aren’t known at this stage, expect to hear more news soon. The film is currently at the pre-production stage, so will likely be released in 2020 at the earliest, however, with the release of edgier comic-book based films beforehand Sony will be keen to build off the momentum of other films.
One reboot which is definitely happening is Hellboy. However, based on the trailer it might not be as dark in tone as the original 2004 feature film starring Ron Perlman. Should the reboot prove successful it should film studios further incentive to work on developing more superhero – horror films.
Ultimately this could be a win-win situation for fans and the film studios. In order to maintain interest in comic book film adaptations in a post-Avengers; End Game world, it makes sense for the major studios to branch out and experiment with the genre to keep fans engaged. Increased attention in comic-book films also allows studios to take more risks in producing more niche titles, which may already have their own cult following among comic-book readers.
Big Picture Film Club have teamed up with Bulldog Film Distribution to bring you a special screening of Possum, our pick for best British horror film this year.
POSSUM is the debut feature film from writer/director Matthew Holness, co-creator and writer/star of the cult TV series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
Starring Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible, Southcliffe) and Alun Armstrong (Frontier, Get Carter), POSSUM is a distinctive psychological thriller which pays homage to the British horror films of the 70s. The film’s abstract exploration of a man’s isolation and abandonment is accompanied by a compelling soundtrack from the legendary electronic BBC music studio The Radiophonic Workshop.
The story follows disgraced children’s puppeteer PHILIP (Sean Harris), returning to his childhood home of Fallmarsh, Norfolk, intent on destroying Possum, a hideous puppet he keeps hidden inside a brown leather bag. When his attempts fail, Philip is forced to confront his sinister stepfather MAURICE (Alun Armstrong) in an effort to escape the dark horrors of his past.
Watch the official trailer for Possum. We are partnering with Bulldog Film Distribution to bring you a special screening of Possum, our pick for the best British horror film this year, on Thursday 1st November at Genesis Cinema. Info: Possum – Halloween Special
With a running time of only two minutes, Rob Savage has managed to capture the imagination and a real sense of fear that a lot of horror films have failed to do in 90 minutes. Will we see a feature-length film in the works?
Directed by Rob Savage
Written by Jed Shepherd & Rob Savage
Produced by Douglas Cox
The Celluloid Screams horror festival has just wrapped for another year and it was a privilege to be at this year’s show. Ever since I first became aware of the festival back in 2014 I have wanted to go. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, I have always been unable to attend. But this year I finally got to see what Sheffield’s answer to FrightFest had to offer.
Whilst there I was enthralled by the friendly atmosphere and pervasive sense of fun. Horror fans are always a delight to be around. Every screening was packed, almost every audience member was well behaved and the ability of horror audiences to jump, laugh and squirm at the right time makes experiencing each film a true communal bonding experience. Supported by friendly organizers who were always happy to engage with the audience and a myriad of extras. Including a DVD, Blu-ray, book and merchandise stalls, Q&A’s with film directors and stars, novelty drinks and karaoke at the bar. With the heart-warming cherry on the cake being how everyone came together and donated money to help the wife of a friend of the festival after her tragic loss. It was a remarkable display of solidarity. And everyone should be proud.
But the atmosphere of a film festival is only half the experience. Films are of course also needed. So here are my thoughts on all the feature films I managed to see. All kept at 50 words or less and ranked from worst to best. This is by no means a comprehensive overview of the festival as I was unable to see everything. But I hope this gives you an idea of some films to check out in the run-up to Halloween.
You might be the killer– A cinematic eye-roll, that thinks it’s too cool for its genre. Content to point out slasher clichés and nothing more. It’s nice seeing Alyson Hannigan again and Scream fans may enjoy it. But this makes me miss the days when slashers were fun and funny without being glib and self-effacing. Verdict: (1.5 / 5)
What Keeps You Alive– A movie that substitutes unrelenting building tension for lesbian exploitation and torture yarn, because it does not know the power of subtlety. The first half is a tense build but once the twist happens it swiftly falls as a steady pace gives way to cartoonish over the top villainy. Verdict: (2 / 5)
Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss By Passing Through the Gateway Chosen By the Holy Storsh– Making shouting funny, is hard. The thick of it can do it. It’s always sunny in Philadelphia can do it. This movie cannot do it. Despite Taika Waititi’s presence and the cult plot providing great opportunities for dark comedy, the film is too light and undisciplined to fulfil its potential. Verdict: (2.5 / 5)
Nightmare Cinema– Subpar slasher satire, plastic surgery horror and catholic demon slaying, a terrifyingly surreal odyssey through depression and a survivor’s guilt ghost story make up this uneven anthology film. The final two films, however, elevate it into the realms of watchable. Verdict: (2.5 / 5)
Puppet Master: The littlest Reich– Welcome to your new guilty pleasure. The Puppet Master reboot features a silly plot, subpar CGI and very politically incorrect jokes. But has charming lead characters, impressive practical effects and if like me, you have a twisted sense of humour, Puppet Master will have you laughing till the end. Verdict: (2.5 / 5)
Assassination Nation– A gonzo, violent and righteously angry middle finger to Trumps America, that at times is very annoying and is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. But never the less it is worth the price of admission for sheer entertainment value. Verdict: (3 / 5)
Mandy– The artiest excuse to make a Nicolas Cage movie ever. The first half is a visually beautiful but narratively boring excuse for when Cage goes full blood-drenched psycho. If you want Nic Cage insanity this delivers. And the visual inventiveness may make up for the lack of dramatic engagement. Verdict: (3 / 5)
Halloween (2018)– Everything a Halloween sequel should and shouldn’t be. The Laurie Strode/Michael Myers story gives you everything you’ve wanted since the original. But the time in between that is padded with high school dope comedy that becomes obnoxiously overbearing. Tension and character work make it a must-see despite its flaws. Verdict: (3 / 5)
Summer of ’84– A great example of a fantastic ending saving an otherwise by the numbers nostalgia trip. This fun mixture of Stranger Things and The ‘Burbs starts as a fun distraction but at the end reveals itself to be a lot more thought-provoking and unnerving than expected. Verdict: (3.5 / 5)
Cam– This film began by giving me unfortunate flashbacks to Unfriended, but soon turned into an intriguing look into the world of online cam girls that deals with themes of identity, female empowerment and sexuality in the digital age in a mature, non-judgemental, and intensely gripping way. A welcome surprise. Verdict: (3.5 / 5)
Wolfman’s got nards– This documentary about the sub-cultural impact of The Monster Squad is an affectionate analysis of fans, cult movies and their effect on the creative forces behind them. Although occasionally self-aggrandizing and waffly, its subjects’ humanity always shines through and will even have Monster Squad newcomers and haters shedding tears. Verdict: (4 / 5)
Knife + Heart– A psycho-sexual, magical realist, giallo seed-fest, with no shame and the power to enrage “moral” and storytelling puritanical’s but to those who can get past that, they will find a beautiful, frightening and often darkly hilarious mood piece which although it explains a bit too much, feels like pure cinema. Verdict: (4 / 5)
Tigers are not afraid– An unrelentingly grim coming of age story that pulls no punches regarding the impact of the Mexican drug war on children. A magical realist edge, reminiscent of Devil’s Backbone helps to underline the tragedy of a tale that was undoubtedly the best film of the festival. Verdict: (4.5 / 5)
So ends my personal retrospective of Celluloid Screams 2018. It was truly wonderful to share a cinema screen with so many likeminded people for four days. Even when the films let me down, a smile was never far from my face. I definitely hope to return next year. Until then I hope I have given you guys an idea about some upcoming releases that you can check out and hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Happy viewing.
The Horror genre is undoubtedly undergoing a renaissance in a post-Get Out world, the likes of A Quiet Place & It have shown there can be more to the genre than mindless, mediocre “hack-and-slash” films. However, British horror hasn’t quite made the leap forward in comparison to its American counterparts, therefore we are long overdue a break-out in great British horror films. Fortunately, new independent horror, Charismata shows that we may be on the cusp on of change this side of the pond too!
Premiering at the 2018 Eastend Film Festival, Charismata is a film firmly rooted in the horror genre but manages to effortlessly intertwine elements of a suspense drama and psychological thriller. The central plot follows Serious Crime Squad detectives Rebecca Faraway (played by Sarah Beck Mather) & Eli Smith (played by Adonis Anthony) as they attempt to hunt down a serial killer in London. The easy to follow plotline, which is favourable to horror films, is complemented by a sub-plot exploring detective Faraway’s declining mental state, which is compounded by the on-going stress in her life.
Co-directors, Andy Collier & Toor Mian do a fantastic job of drip-feeding the more surreal elements of the film throughout the 96 minute feature, as a result we get a film that is well paced, and one in which the world that we world we understood in the first 15 minutes is dramatically different to that in the last 15 minutes. Impressively, this is done in a way that does not feel forced, but rather a natural evolution in the film. Mr Sweet (played by Jamie Satterthwaite) gives a show-stealing performance as one of the films suspects, playing a smug executive at property development firm – a character you will love to hate.
A noteworthy point of the film is the directors’ choice of having single female main-cast member in the entire film and how this shaped the character of detective Faraway. Co-director, Toor Mian explained their decision, “Although we specifically wanted a female protagonist, we didn’t want a cliched female protagonist. There are some iconic female police detectives, especially over the last decade, really in terms of television. We didn’t actually want her to be super capable, we wanted her to be three-dimensional, we wanted her to be human, we didn’t want her to be an idealised version of a female detective and we wanted her to be vulnerable“.
The rest of core cast works well together, and consideration has been given to give each of the cast to give them a sense of identity and as well-rounded characters. One slight issue with the film is some of the humour in the early stages seems too forced at times, but is altogether absent approaching the final third. Typically lower budget horrors suffer when it comes to visual effects showing graphic violence, often to the detriment of the impact that the violent scenes should have, thankfully Charismata largely avoids with careful shot selection. In the film’s most surreal moments, however, that alone should not deter you from what is otherwise a visually sound and delightful film.
So is Charismata a turning point for British horror films? We certainly hope so! Yes, at times it is a film that is a little rough around the edges, but what good horror film isn’t?
Charismata is currently being screened in select film festivals, so expect it to see an official release later in 2018.