Starring. Aura Garrido, David Oakes, Ray Stevenson. Spain. 1h 48m.
The background of this mesmerising thriller is reminiscent of stories straight from the imagination of HP Lovecraft, but the film is actually based on a story by Albert Sanchez Pinol with the same title. They both involve a lone man on the edge of his sanity who lives locked tight in a light house on a remote and uninhabited island, existing like a hobo and fighting off deadly sea creatures each night.
The film breaks open at sea, a fine-looking ship is being chased by dolphins as a young Irishman named Friend (Oakes) travels to this remote island in the South Atlantic to work as a meteorologist, the only inhabitant of the island is the caretaker of the lighthouse, a tough character called Gruner (Stephenson). After a cold and abrupt introduction Gruner informs Friend that the previous meteorologist died from typhus. The crew depart leaving Friend to cosy in his new cabin he watches Gruner in his fortified lighthouse with intense curiosity, why would someone need to defend a lighthouse? Friend unpacks and finds a journal from the late meteorologist, detailing nightly attacks from strange creatures form the sea, assuming this was feverish dreams of a dying man he drifts off to sleep until a slimy webbed hand feels under the door and he finds himself under attack. He managed to fight off the intruders, the next day he tries to get Gruners attention but is ignored. He spends the day fortifying the cabin and finds a gun. Awaiting another attack but he’s overrun and in the fight ends up burning the cabin to the ground, hiding on the rocks of the beach with a blanket he spends the night hiding. Continue reading La Piel Fria / Cold Skin (2017)
Director: Ben Wheatley Writer:Amy Jump
Starring: Julian Barratt, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Ryan Pope and Richard Glover. UK. 1h 30m
A Field In England came out at a time when I was only just discovering how amazing Ben Wheatley is, after Sightseers (2012), Down Terrace (2009) and Kill List (2011) it was easy to see that he was quite a phenomenal director in his own write, and I especially admired his edition of the Dark Arts in kill List which seem to appear in a lot of his titles, and for quaint little twists that bound each kill victim together, maybe one day if he was related to another Wheatley who had mystified his audiences with the dark hearts back in the 70s??!!
But now he’s taking an historical turn with this unique black and white drama, Instead of speaking about the black hearts he’s going back to the original source, a group of men wandering around the English countryside during the civil war, after walking away from a battle; an act that they could easily have been hung for, they managed to hook up with a devout and cruel necromancer and fall under his dark spells, O’Neill (Smiley) terrorises the rest of the men and provokes them into helping him find a stash of treasure, while under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Continue reading A Field in England (2013)
Director: Nick Szostakiwkyj
Starring: Shane Twerdun, Michael Dickson, Carl Toftfelt, Marc Anthony Williams, Andrew Moxham, Timothy Lyle, Steve Bradley. Canada. 1h 39m
Like a creepy love letter to John Carpenter’s; The Thing (1982) from a methed out HP Lovecraft, Black Mountain assembles a dark story the slowly gets more sinister until a bleak but strong ending.
Much like the thing, there are a small crew working in harsh icy conditions of Northern Canada, but this team are a group of archaeologists who uncover an ancient structure and some artifacts which date around the last ice age, perplexed by the date of the objects and in wonderment of the people who crafted them, the men continue to investigate and study the pieces but their presence spook the native members of the crew who quickly abandon them then their communications fail and their supplies are cut off, but this is the least of their problems. Continue reading Black Mountainside (2014)
Director: Katie Wolfe
Starring: Calvin Tuteao, Dean O’Gorman, Pana Hema-Taylor, Nathalie Boltt, George Henare, Vicky Haughton . New Zealand . 1h 16m
Based on : the novel Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera.
Even though 80% of what I watch is considered “World Cinema” there are still areas which I find it hard to break into, and for some strange reason New Zealand is one of them, mostly because the only film anyone ever talks about is Once Were Warriors! Even I’ve been guilty of it, I’ve searched for the next fix, and I thought I had found it with The Last Saint, while a gritty drama it just didn’t pack the power of Once were Warriors, but I didn’t give up, New Zealand Cinema has a lot to offer and while this isn’t the very best, I found it to be a charming alternative albeit a little bit basic. Continue reading Kawa (2010)
Director: Alex Garland.
Based on: Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Starring. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac. USA. 1h 57m.
This newest visionary delight from Alex Garland, doesn’t fit into the typical science fiction category, with other Netflix releases like Bright (2017) and Cloverfield Paradox (2018), where the effects and story are both weak in the later and jarring this side step into the cerebral is exactly what a lot of dedicated science fiction fans have been craving for so very long now. Taking on a model similar to the legendary Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) or Solaris (1971), Annihilation plunges it’s audience into a lavish and dangerous new world to explore along with a scattering of emotive flashbacks added purely for good measure. Continue reading Annihilation (2018)
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O’Connor, Morgana Davies, Calian Mulvey, Finn Woodlock . Australia . 1h 42m
Based on : The Hunter by Julia Leigh
It’s not often a wild storyline produces such a masterpiece of a movie but there’s a lot to be amazed about in this redemption thriller surrounding the extinct Tasmanian tiger a biotech company and a hippy conservationist family living in the Australian sticks.
Heavily based on a book of the same title by Julia Leigh, the film managed to capture the essence of the original novel and sets it perfectly in the lush wilderness of Tasmania, it doesn’t look like the typical Australian film and is quite refined, with it’s far out story, which is empowered enough that at times it’s easy to find it plausible.
A weathered and extremely diligent mercenary, Martin David (Dafoe) is hired by a military biotech company called Red Leaf to go to Tasmania, gathers samples of the Tasmania Tiger, with a further instruction to kill all the reaming tigers so their rivals won’t be able to get ahead of them in the game. Now I’m pretty sure that the Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since the olden days, the last remaining tiger looked as if it were photographed in the late 1800’s to my untrained eye. But here we have a race to a fabled last remaining tiger and to harvest it for a lab. Continue reading The Hunter (2011)
Director: Michael Miller
Starring: William Katt, Bug Hall, Nicholas Turturro . USA . 1h 39m
This is a bit of a pointless movie, the premise sounds solid, a young boy is raised in a lone cell from a baby, he’s schooled and educated by a man who he never sees and only hears his voice, one day when he’s in his early 20’s he’s released into the world.. And then nothing happens.
Well Okay you got me, something happens. An hour of nothing really happens. First he’s disorientated and doesn’t handle outside very well, but within a few minutes he’s okay. Having been educated he’s childlike when faced with current human morals of the lack of, he meets a douchebag who takes advantage of him, then a nice lady who helps him discover who kept him locked up in darkness for all these years and why. Don’t expect a huge payoff though as this full is dull and all life and inspiration has escaped it. Continue reading Subterranea (2015)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic. UK/Ireland/USA. 2h 1m
One main thing which I have admired about Yorgos Lanthimos is that since his debut in 2009 with Dogtooth, he’s got a persistent streak to deliver his brand of cinema no matter what, his idosynchetric practice is very distinctive and each film since has been highly meticulously created, giving something different each time but with a strong je ne sai quoi which is very Lanthimos-esque.
Obviously loving the experience from The Lobster (2015) Colin Farrell returns for another darkly bizarre story this time it’s not about falling in love it’s all about a cold dish of revenge. The film opens with open heart surgery being performed by the skilled surgeon Steven Murphy (Farrell), afterwards he meets a young boy named Martin (Keoghan) the relationship between the isn’t explained and the curiosity continues as Steven returns home to his family, Anna (Kidman) and their two children, with their idyllic and somewhat stale life in the suburbs. Continue reading Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017)
Director: Afonso Poyart
Starring:Abbie Cornish,Jeffrey Dean Morgan,Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins,Marley Shelton, Kenny Johnson USA. 1h 41m.
Solace appears to be one of the modern thrillers speeding in on the heels of the Se7en (1995) phenomenon, a group of mismatched detectives with the addition of an aged psychic are on the trail of a serial killer whose victims seem to have nothing obvious in common. Merriweather (Morgan) plays an fairly unconvincing and over friendly detective who has loosely tied together a handful of homicides together, along with his feisty sidekick Katherine Cowles (Cornis) who aims to build a psychological profile for this person but is struggling and thus causing an age of an old friend as psychic John Clancy played by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins who reluctantly aides them in their task. It’s a mish mash of mediocre thriller and cop drama cliches with some adaptive CGI from new director Afonso Poyart. Continue reading Solace (2016)
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Based on: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Starring:Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takeshi Kitano, Aki Maeda, , Chiaki Juriyama. Japan. 1h 54m
Battle Royale is Japan’s ultimate dystopian thriller, which follows a group of junior high schoolers who are forced to fight to the death by the Japanese government. due to the ultra violent nature of the film and the age of most of the cast it was met with widespread repulsion and band in excluded from distribution in several countries.
Veteran director fukasaku, at the tender age of 70, managed to put everything we had into this film. and while it’s often not easy to watch, stark, angsty and the incredibly unnerving it still remains an influential genre masterpiece, that takes place in a difficult near future, that we pray is an alternative universe to the one that we’re all comfortable with. Continue reading バトル・ロワイアル (Batoru Rowaiaru) Battle Royale (2000)