Category: Reviews

The Shape of Water Reminds Us Why Folklore Matters

Sometimes we remember them when we sleep: the monster-men that lurk under treasured idylls, the regal women who suffer unjust curses and tribulations, the unsung commoners picked by fate and tested by adventure, and the matter-of-fact virtues that persist through every threat posed by nihilism and death. These are the stories that guide us into the world, tales refracted by our lives and choices, shimmering softly in the corners of our thoughts and dreams. And in our own pasts, in the bedrooms and blanket forts where we encountered our first heroes and chimeras, we see a reflection of humanity...

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VIFF: Housewife Leaves a Mess

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: A trauma survivor finds help through a travelling cult. Anka Film; 2017; Not Rated; 82 minutes. Big Fan: 2015’s Baskin came out of Turkey like a bat out of hell, winning horror fans over with its outlandish gore and unhinged story. I loved it, and it became one of my most-talked about movies that year, so I was doubly excited when...

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VIFF: The Crescent Only Wanes

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: A widow and her toddler head to a beach house to get away and come to terms with death. Cut Off Tail; Not Rated; 99 minutes. Why: It’s hard to say immediately where The Crescent is going. Initially we meet Beth (Danika Vandersteen), the young widow and single mother who’s lost her husband in an accident. She’s empty and numb and left...

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VIFF: Tiger Girl Goes Wild

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: Polite Maggie learns to bring out her alter-ego Vanilla the Killer thanks to one cool girl named Tiger. FOGMA GmbH; 2017; Not Rated; 90 minutes. Girl Power: Maggie (Maria Dragus)—or, Vanilla the Killer as she’ll soon become known—is a bit of a wet noodle. It’s not her fault; she’s just become a relative doormat due to a lack of confidence and assertiveness. We...

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The Babysitter Goes All In on a Horror Staple

Overview: 12-year old Cole’s night takes a turn when he discovers his beloved babysitter is part of a Satanic cult who need his blood for a ritual sacrifice. Netflix; Rated TV-MA; 85 minutes. She Knows You’re Alone: The babysitter has become a horror genre staple over the decades. From When a Stranger Calls to the more recent Emelie, horror has a frequent fascination with young women tasked with protecting innocence. Whether the film pits the babysitter against a force of evil, or turns the expectations around and makes the babysitter herself the evil force, there are few tropes left...

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With Mindhunter, David Fincher Gives Us a Thrilling Ten-Hour Movie

Overview: FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) interview imprisoned serial killers to help ongoing investigations. Netflix; TV-MA; 10 episodes. Worth the Wait: It’s been a long wait for Mindhunter. Since the project was first announced, hopes were high for a David Fincher-directed drama with Charlize Theron attached as an Executive Producer and there were countless of us counting down the days to the show’s October 13th debut on Netflix. Yet fans have nothing on the pair themselves, who first pitched the project back in 2009. But good things take time, and Mindhunter is very...

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The Foreigner Disappoints With Stone-Faced Dad-Core

Overview: Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan share the screen in a heavy dad-core action thriller. STXfilms; 2017; Rated R; 114 minutes. Dad-Core Strikes Back: Jackie Chan is one of the greatest discoveries in film history. An action superstar who transcended borders and is beloved worldwide. Pierce Brosnan is also an adored action star thanks to his part in the legacy of James Bond. They are practically global icons greatly respected in the industry for their craft and ability to bring a crowd-pleasing attitude to action films. But perhaps the most undervalued asset of both Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan...

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VIFF: Bitch is a Triumph for Bitches Everywhere

Overview: A troubled housewife finally snaps and shows everyone what a bitch really looks like. Company X; 2017; Not Rated; 93 minutes. Holy Shit: Writer/Director/Star Marianna Palka has no time to waste with her latest black dramedy, Bitch. She comes out swinging from the first moment and never, ever stops. Palka is Jill Hart, wife to a pathetic, cheating husband, mother to four rambunctious extra-curriculared kids, and she is tired of her thankless existence. Just as we meet her, she attempts to end her own life. Jill needs help, and she’s all but begging for it as she desperately grabs...

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Happy Death Day Dies A Slow Death

Overview: A young woman must solve her own murder as she relives it repeatedly. Blumhouse Productions; 2017; Rated PG-13; 96 minutes. The Hook Brings You Back: Any great horror movie needs a satisfying hook. This is necessary for a film to not get lost among the countless other horror entries that come and go every Halloween season. Luckily, Happy Death Day has that buy-in even from the promotional materials. It has been described by many as a horror version of Groundhog Day. Honestly, this was enough to get me in the theater. There are several directions that this film...

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Leatherface is Exactly What You’d Expect

Overview:  A young nurse is kidnapped by escapees from a mental institution; Lionsgate Films; 2017; 90 Minutes. The Whole World’s Gonna Know: This time of year calls for a good old-fashioned blood romp through the fields. Fans of horror classics will turn to the days of yore for that nostalgia-flavoured death dream: ‘80s franchises, favoured cult classics, and, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. TCM didn’t need an origin story. Its unanswered questions made up for some of the most depraved and creative imaginings for its audience. How did this family get so completely maniacal? How long has this...

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VIFF: Sweet Virginia is a Smoldering Thriller

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: A retired rodeo star becomes involved with a killer in a small town. Automatik Entertainment; 2017; Rated R; 105 Minutes. Cold Open: Sweet Virginia is a complex web filled with many spiders. Ex-rodeo champ Sam (Jon Bernthal) has retired his spurs after too many falls off the bull and runs a little motel in Alaska called Sweet Virginia that gets its fair...

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A Double-Billing of ’80s Pop Horror: Welcome to Fright Night

Is there a better title for a horror movie like this? Not outright terrifying, just an all around crowd pleaser that just leaps off the screen. Fright Night. It has that special zing when you say it. Though vampires are stewards of the night eternal, it’s a harder task to keep them fresh. Fresher than a clove of garlic, anyway. One of the first films to play with meta genre conventions on a large scale, Fright Night doesn’t attempt to redefine the vampire mythos like Near Dark or The Lost Boys. It merely implements them with a coming of...

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VIFF: The Endless is a Perfect Circle

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: Two brothers revisit the cult they escaped years before to confront their past and present. Snowfort Pictures; 2017; Not Rated; 111 minutes. Hey, Guys: We’ve been fans of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead for a long time. It began with Resolution, their first inventive indie horror back in 2012, continued in 2014 with their dark romance Spring, and rounds out this...

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Rick and Morty Season Three is (Mostly) Its Darkest Season Yet

Overview: Rick escapes the Galactic Federation and destroys the Citadel of Ricks, Beth and Jerry go through a divorce, and Morty seems to be slowly realizing the damage Rick is doing to his life. 2017; Adult Swim; TV-14; 10 episodes. Spoilers for Rick and Morty season three Szechuan Sauce: After almost exactly a year and a half since its last episode, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s Rick and Morty returned with The Rickshank Redemption last spring and promised the “darkest year” of their adventures. Season three delivers on that promise with the darkly clever episode Rickmancing the Stone, the unceasingly...

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Poetry of the Steak: Reinterpreting The Fly 30 Years Later

Originally published on August 14, 2016. When we think about David Cronenberg’s The Fly we think about the grotesque transformation of Seth Brundle that drives the film and weakens our stomachs. 30 years later and the artistry of Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis on Seth Brundle’s six staged transformation into Brundlefly remain an unmatched feat in practical effects, paralleled only by Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing four years prior. Despite the effects wizardry that keeps audiences returning to Cronenberg’s film over and over again, The Fly’s memorable body horror and exploration of the flesh would be lessened if...

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