Bare Knuckle (2018) Director: Duncan Napier-Bell Starring:Stu ArmstrongJ oe Brown, Jim Freeman USA. 1h 20m
Bare Knuckle fighting, possibly the oldest form of one on one combat, has always struggled with its seedy history and gruesome reputation, but with the rise of UFC and it’s contaversional and multi talented fighters, Director Duncan Napier-Bell casts an insightful eye to the roots of combat, but without detailing at historical icons, he instead looks at the current bare knuckle fighting scene as it emerges from it’s gloomy backstreet habitat and reveals a bold attempt at adapting for a bigger and brighter future.
Director: David Amito, Michael Laicini Starring: Nicole Tompkins, Rowan Smyth. Canada. 1h 35m
I have to admit that before seeing Antrim I had no idea what the word actually meant so I did have to Google it. Turns out that it means, “A nearly closed cavity or chamber…” Well ok, How does one make a movie about a nearly closed cavity? Somehow directors, David Amito and Michael Laicini managed to turn this notion into a retro cursed movie project and argue that the film is (loosely) based on a movie by David B. Earle titled Dining Room or There is Nothing. Believe it or not if you have ever seen any of the creepy movie compilations on YouTube then you probably have seen this short but were unaware of its title, and here is the movie in all of its esoteric glory.
Director: Mike Leigh Starring: Roy Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Pearce Quigley, Neil Bell .UK. 2h 34m
Political riots just aren’t what they used to be, it seems like only yesterday innocent people were being shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed for arguing against the poll tax. WIth the Tories finally getting their wish to ban protesting it feels all that more poignant to remember our rights to speak out against matters we feel are unjust and wrong.
Director: Jake Scott Starring: Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Paul, Will Sasso, Pat Healy, Amy Madigan .USA. 1h m
What starts out to be a melodrama about a woman, almost down on her luck but making the best of her life. Eventually turns into a homage to the resilience of all women, especially those mothers who have had to fight adversity and their own demons and manage to come out bigger and stronger on the other side.
Sienna Miller stars as Debra, a gorgeous thirty something year old single mother, who lives with her daughter and grandson, life is simple in their small town in Pennsylvania. Debra is forever young, she jokes around, enjoys her freedom and is more of a friend to her daughter, Bridget (Sky Ferreira), offering advice about men more than good wholesome patenting, but their bonds is strong, so when Bridget goes missing and Debra is left to look after her grandson Jesse.
How far can one man go into different realms before he literally finds himself? Site 1 unwraps with Matthews Phillips (Page), arriving at a secret location with a set of specific rules flashing up on the screen, his attempt to take part in a curious experiment. His personal intention is to discover the whereabouts of his brother who “went in before him”. While adhering to the rules Phillips ends up performing an elaborate ritual, but what is the aim and what is he letting himself into? After entering the home he finds a recorder, which alludes to more serious instructions which allude to a break in reality and the need to adhere to certain constraints in order not to slip through the crack himself.
Director: Richard Billingham Starring: Patrick Romer, Richard Ashton, Justin Salinger, Ella Smith, Tony Way. UK. 1h 50m
This strangely hypnotic movie doesn’t really have a beginning, middle and an end, per say but there’s a strange introduction to characters, and they are very unusual creatures. Once you get over the initial shock of their squalid lives and attitudes the movie kinda meanders until a pivotal moment where everyone’s life changes, most notable the teller of the story, Richard, and his little brother Jason, who at one point would rather sleep rough than go home, but what would drive a child to do this?
Director: Stephen Cognetti Starring:Vasile Flutur, Jillian Geurts, Joy Shatz .USA. 1h 29m
When a team insists on making a trilogy the second movie often fails to hold up it’s own narrative and becomes a filler, this is exactly what happened to Hell House II. After the massive success with the original movie in 2014/5 which broke all the rules, the sequel lacked in energy and passion but just managed to keep the dream alive for the next installment… but first you have to get through this unbalanced, squiffy movie.
Director: Wes Ball Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. UK. 2h 22m
I’m a big sucker for well planned trilogies, but if I don’t feel there’s much going for them, like the Matrix, I’ll only watch the first and last. Generally the 2nd movie is just fluffy filler, something to make the fans ever eager for the penultimate showdown. I like to see the set up and close down and I feel that I’ve not missed anything by skipping straight to the final chapter here. At last we all get some closure to a franchise that has a curious beginning, the ending won’t be much of a payoff.
Directors: Karin Engman, Klas Persson Starring: Elna Karlsson, Thomas Hedengran, Ralf Beck, Nine Filimoshkina, Urban Bergsten. Sweden. 1h 27m
There’s been a modern trend of directors getting back to their ruddy roots and finding terror in the wood which is the driving force in this potent doom folk horror, as local hero’s search for a missing man of the cloth. Draug keeps a sharp edge through it’s dynamic set up of a foul mouthed beer swigging clan leader Kettil (Hedengran), his highly sensitive and possibly psychic adopted daughter Nanna (Karlsson), his main squeeze and apparently his bravest men.
It feels very “authentic” drab colours, crazy locals and lots of beer; it’s the stereotypical perception of any European pagan infused settlement, while not being historically accurate ,if gives you what you’d expect, and more, there are few whoopie moments, modern clothing being the main culprit, it will be interesting to see how many other goods a professional could pick out!?
After setting out, the rescue team start at the last place where the missionary was seen, a quite neighboring village but all they find there is beer and stories about the creepy woods, the only event is Nanna getting creped out by a demented old woman, signs start to appear that adopted daughter is quite different from the other morals around her and the movie hinges on her discovering her origins and powers.
Draug sits well between scandanivan journey epics like Wolfhound (2006) with touches of the dark mysticism of Sauna (2008), yet it really doesn’t know if it wants to be an action flick or something more supernatural. Without having the massive budget or drive, at times Draug flounders, yet manages to keep a somewhat brooding sense of danger until the final act, when all hell is supposed to break loose but this is where the lack of budget trips the production up and it ends up being an extended episode of Nightmare(1987-1994), the mood changes to some kind of ethereal neon lit world and a new entity finally makes itself known within layers of lightning struck scenery side steps all the good build up that the movie achieved until then.
There could be more character development apart from the ale quaffing kind and his daughter everyone else is just mud soaked Viking some braver than others but there’s no real emphasis on who these characters are. There’s a lot of technical and acting fails, see if you can catch modern clothes, people looking for the camera and lots of focal adjustments.
“Where’s the bloody beer”
It’s great to see the forest being used a home for monsters yet again, it’s certainly nothing new in folk horror sub genre, it happens time and time again but the strength of Draug is firstly with its approach of there being some peace between the religious and pagan people, and then in it’s bitter ending. Engman and Persson make a bold leap into the European fairytale narrative where there are no happy endings. There’s a lot to admire with the approach to feminine strength Nanna has to make some difficult choices, finding her a dark secret within her bloodline is something the film is set up to do from the beginning but the implications are so very damning. Draug is surely one that needs to be seen to encompass modern folk horror but it’s a movie which feels challenged by its own storytelling, it wants to be a dark nightmare but it’s a slightly confusing one at best.
Related: The Witch (2015), Hagasuzza (2017), Sauna (2008),The Ritual (2017), Wolfhound (2006) Lists: Folk Horror, A Witch in the Woods Trailer