Category: New Releases

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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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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The Mountain Between Us Strays Off Course

Overview: Two strangers are thrown together in a dire life-or-death situation in this romance-meets-survival story. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated PG-13; 103 minutes. In Peril but Out of Synch: The night before I went to see The Mountain Between Us, I caught the last fifteen minutes of the 1971 made-for-TV movie Duel on cable. It’s a guilty pleasure movie for me and I’ve seen it, in whole or in part, dozens of times.  In a very literal interpretation, it’s a survival film, a man-against-machine test of wills, slightly cheesy and slightly formulaic. I bring it up because those 15 minutes...

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Cult of Chucky Brings New Toys to Madcap Seventh Entry

Overview: Picking up five years after Curse of Chucky, the titular killer doll tracks Nica down to a mental asylum where he continues his assault of terror, while revealing a larger scheme that brings his original target, Andy, back into the fray. Wanna Play?: It almost goes without saying that by the time the seventh entry of a horror franchise comes around, expectations are pretty low and justly so. The examples are numerous. The same could be said of sixth entries as well. Yet, Don Mancini bucked the trend with 2013’s Curse of Chucky, which broke the curse of...

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Charismata is Unmissable Indie Horror

Overview: A rookie detective investigates satanic killings while dealing with her own demons. Loose Cannon Films; 2017; Not Rated; 100 Minutes. Resting Bitch Face: Detective Rebecca Faraway (Sarah Beck Mather) has had it. It’s clear in the first frame of her face reflecting the harsh red light of the dashboard; she’s done. It’s a look recognizable to anyone who has been forced into confinement with a difficult personality. In this case, it’s her partner Detective Smith (Andonis Anthony) who condescendingly pries about her well being, comments on her appearance, and makes jokes at her expense. They’re on their way...

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VIFF: True to its Promise, Lucky Gives Us Harry Dean Stanton One Last Time

Overview: A 90-year old comes to terms with his life and his death. Magnolia Pictures; 2017; Rated PG; 88 minutes. That’s Some Heavy Shit: The concept of aging has always scared me much more than the concept of death. Being trapped inside a body that’s slowly breaking down is a sobering thought, one that encouraged me to start exercising and taking care of myself early. Lucky shows us Harry Dean Stanton’s 90-year old body close up in full detail as he practices his daily yoga exercises and drinks his morning glass of whole milk. It’s strange to look at—bony...

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The Battle of the Sexes Fights the Good Fight

Overview: The fight for equal pay for tennis athletes culminates in a final match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 121 minutes.  A Long Road Ahead: We should be closer to equality than we are. This is true when talking about our culture’s treatment of LGBTQ rights, race, and gender. It can sometimes be easy to assume that we have made great strides. However, taking a closer look at a seminal event in regards to equality can present us with some very difficult truths. The Battle of the Sexes, is at its...

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Gerald’s Game: How Women Survive the Men Who Love Them

Overview: Jessie and Gerald Burlingame’s romantic weekend turns suddenly horrific when Jessie finds herself alone, handcuffed to a bed, with no one around for miles. Netflix; 2017; Rated TV-MA; 103 minutes. A Story Within a Story: Gerald’s Game premise is simple: A weekend getaway designed to reignite the flame that years of marriage have dulled. Its tools, almost cliché: a new slip for her, those ever-recognizable little blue pills for him, and handcuffs for a bit of excitement. But the intrinsic power of Gerald’s Game is not in its clever setup, but rather the underlying tension wrought by every...

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American Made Showcases One of the Last American Outlaws

Overview: Doug Liman and Tom Cruise re-team to give us the dark spiritual sequel to Top Gun we never had. Universal Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 115 minutes. The American Dream: American Made is the mostly true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a smuggler for the CIA, DEA and Medellin Cartel. In the vein of films analyzing chaos through entertainment like Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, American Made looks back at a final frontier in American history. In interviews, Liman and Cruise refer to piloting in the 80s as the last bastion of...

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In Columbus, A Relationship Blooms Amidst Architectural Wonders

Overview: A young woman who cares for her mother befriends a man who visits the town of Columbus, Indiana when his father falls ill; Depth of Field; 2017; 100 minutes. Dream Baby Dream: Early in Columbus, the debut film from writer/director Kogonada, we hear a girl rehearsing to herself as she stands at the foot of a beautiful building. The hushed voice recites the facts and figures you’d hear from a tour guide. Indeed, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) would make a great guide to the modernist architecture sprinkled around the town in Indiana that the film is named for....

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Fun but Empty

Overview: After the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, the remaining Kingsmen are forced to seek out their American counterparts, the Statesman, to stop a dangerous threat. Twentieth Century Fox; 2017; Rated R; 141 Minutes. “Now I’ve Got Wings”: Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was creative, irreverent, well-crafted parody that still managed to have a sweetness to it, courtesy of its protagonist Eggsy (Taron Egerton). The sincerity and heart present in the chaos and parody in the original Kingsman came from Eggsy’s origin story, from an aimless working-class boy to an English gentleman spy, guided by his mentors Harry Hart (Colin...

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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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