Author: David Shreve

Candyman Is A Rare Great Horror That Explains Why Great Horror is Rare

If the character Candyman never made an appearance in the first film that carries his name, Candyman would still be an overwhelming and fully functioning horror film. If the movie had excluded its villain and focused instead on Helen Lyle’s (Virginia Madsen) obsessive research and the Babadookian spiral of her sanity, pointing her fixation at a folklore concept without having the urban legend represented in corporeal form, we would still have an unsettling psychological horror film about obsession and class divide. Or, if the narrative lens had turned a few degrees to document Anne Marie McCoy’s (Vanessa Williams) perspective...

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New on Amazon Prime: The Lost City of Z Discovers the Lost Vision of David Lean

Originally published on April 13, 2017. The Lost City of Z is now available on Amazon Prime instant streaming. Overview: In the early 20th Century, a determined explorer makes three separate journeys into the Amazon in hopes of finding a lost civilization. Bleecker Street/Amazon Studios; 2016; PG-13; 140 minutes. This Time, It’s True: I never liked that old dismissal, “They don’t make movies like that any more.” The sentence is almost always cheap and empty, and frequently a testament only to its speaker’s nostalgic hindsightedness. Most of the things that were great about movies then, no matter where in...

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Stronger Is One Big Phantasmagoria

Overview: A victim of the Boston Marathon bombing’s photographed image becomes a source of hope for his city and country while his personal life becomes increasingly fraught with anguish from his trauma. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions; 2017; 119 Minutes. Phantasmagoria: Since he passed away earlier this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about something legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton told The Observer in an interview in 2013: “In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life—suffering, horror, love, loss, hate—all of it. It’s all a movie anyway.” Life, he explained, was “one big phantasmagoria.” Strange, then, that the first...

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Dying is a Team Sport and Pet Sematary is the Scariest Stephen King Adaptation

Pennywise should never lose, let alone die. I know that’s not the essay you signed on to read, but it’s where we need to start. And we need to start there because Stephen King is something of a coward. This isn’t an insult. Really, it’s nothing King hasn’t insinuated or explicitly stated in jest himself. If anything, it’s diagnostic toward his exceptionalism as a writer; it’s unlikely that his success could be matched by a writer with less fear. A less terrified author might not reach as far in test of his or her own vulnerability, nor would said...

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American Assassin is Poorly Timed and Under Developed

Overview: After his girlfriend dies in a terrorist attack, a self-sanctioned renegade is taken into a secret training program and quickly assigned to a dangerous mission regarding stolen nuclear materials; Lionsgate Films; 2017; 111 Minutes. Honor: The book upon which Michael Cuesta’s new film American Assassin is based, Vince Flynn’s novel of the same name, was written in 2008. Production on Cuesta’s film started in early 2016. There would have been no way for Cuesta and Lionsgate to predict the world into which they would be releasing their movie, an obvious attempt to spark a new action series. But...

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The Masks In Front of the Man: Tom Hardy Turns 40

Tom Hardy doesn’t really have one of those faces. Well, maybe he does now, as today, on the actor, model, and sex symbol’s 40th birthday, we’ve seen him in dozens of leading or second bill roles, ranging from iconic characters like Bane and Max Rockatansky to indie dramas like The Drop and Locke to obligatory romantic comedies (he doesn’t get a pass on This Means War). But in the beginning, he didn’t really have one of those faces. It’s hard to say when it shifted, but there was a point not long ago when Hardy, for whom one could...

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Logan Lucky, Patti Cake$, And The Apolitical Politics of Desperate Poverty

Since I watched Logan Lucky a few weeks back, I’ve been thinking about this joke I used to tell. Channing Tatum and I went to the same college. Before his screen stardom, Tatum was awarded a football scholarship to Glenville State, which is just over a hundred miles north of Boone County, WV, a few years before I spent my freshman year on the same campus. Like many state universities, West Virginia colleges are primarily attended by students born and raised in the state. There’s a certain reputation carried by the kids of Boone County, WV. When I transferred...

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Seven: The Violence of a Cinematic Hellscape

Originally published September 22, 2015. There are less than 20 gunshots fired in David Fincher’s 1995 film Seven, each exchanged between David Mills and John Doe. If you don’t count Detective Somerset’s late face slap, there is only one wounding act of violence committed onscreen. It’s an oft-shared description offered by cinephiles and aspiring screenwriters and critics: Seven is, in the most basic sense, a non-violent film, even as watching it feels like a very violent viewing experience. For most of its run-time, Seven, which this week celebrates its 20th anniversary, is a noir- serial killer thriller built around...

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Wind River Is Cold As Snow And Tough As Tree Bark

Overview: A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent in Wyoming discovers a dead body, kicking off an investigation that opens old wounds. The Weinstein Company; 2017; Rated R: 111 Minutes. Snow and Silence: For movies like Wind River, we often like to use summary phrases like “meditation on grief.” But the new sophomore effort from Director Taylor Sheridan (the screenwriter behind Sicario and Hell or High Water) might unravel with a distinct stillness and quiet—the first and second acts see Ben Richardson’s camera pursue a handful of basic elements: snow falling as thick as television static, rigid trees, dead bodies...

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Hitchcock Flashback: Vertigo

Originally published on August 13, 2015. Overview:  A former detective struggling with vertigo and acrophobia  is hired to shadow the wife of an acquaintance. Paramount Pictures/Universal; 1958; Rated PG; 129 Minutes. A Balanced Perspective:  Every ten years, British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine polls hundreds of critics to rank the Greatest Films of All Time. In 2012, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo earned the top honor, dethroning Citizen Kane from the spot for the first time in fifty years.  The response from the film community was mixed, a predictable reaction given that that Vertigo was a film that was released...

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6 Times Alfred Hitchcock Influenced Modern Masters

Originally Published on August 13, 2014 There’s a meta-theatrical episode of the Comedy Central cartoon South Park wherein the characters labor under the frustration that the more-legendary cartoon The Simpsons has already made every joke available to make for a cartoon of crass adult themes.  As the boys of South Park pursue different comedic plot-lines, their neighbors quickly interject “Simpsons did it!” with increasing rapidness until the episode unravels into frustrated absurdity. When I watch that episode, I imagine it must be a relateable one for the modern filmmaker.  No matter how inventive the technique or fresh the storytelling...

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Ten Years Ago, Hot Rod Made Me Laugh So Hard I Can’t Even Explain It

There’s a running joke amongst a few of the staff and writers here at Audiences Everywhere about how I am magnetically attracted to sad films. I write best about cinematic tragedy, anxiety, fear, and despair. If you were judging by my writing, you would get a pretty clear impression that I’m a straight up humorless guy. And while a quick search through my last year’s history of posts would confirm that conclusion as the only logical conclusion to draw based on the evidence, I’d like to think the same perpetrators of that joke would agree that the evidence is...

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