Category Archives: Horror

Knock at the Cabin (2023) Review

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Knock at the Cabin

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Dave Bautista as Leonard
Jonathan Groff as Eric
Ben Aldridge as Andrew
Nikki Amuka-Bird as Sabrina
Kristen Cui as Wen
Abby Quinn as Adriane
Rupert Grint as Redmond
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While vacationing at a remote cabin in the woods, a young girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed strangers who demand they make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse. Confused, scared and with limited access to the outside world, the family must decide what they believe before all is lost.

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Over time, I think M. Night Shyamalan is gradually becoming one of my favourite directors. While there are definitely a few movies in his filmography which don’t really work, he usually is making an interesting movie in a distinct way that has my curiosity. His next movie looked intriguing, a home invasion thriller starring Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Rupert Grint. I made sure to watch only the first trailer and went in fairly blind, and I was thoroughly impressed.

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Knock at the Cabin is based on a novel called The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, which I haven’t read myself. Shyamalan is known for twists and complex plots, and so most people are going into the film expecting that. However, there’s little of that and it’s a fairly straightforward plot. Within the first act, the central dilemma is clearly presented to the main characters and the audience. The lack of a twist might bother people who were expecting it, but it worked for the story. The runtime certainly is in line with the complexity of the plot, with it being only 100 minutes long. It’s a very lean film that just has the essentials yet doesn’t feel underdeveloped. This is Shyamalan’s most contained film, with it focussing on just these characters at the cabin.  Every so often the movie will cut to a flashback of the main characters, and it not only did reveals things and provides context to them, it also gives welcome breathers between the tense present day scenes at the cabin. I found the movie to actually be quiet hard hitting and emotional. The central family’s story is handled quite well, and is quiet possibly the most human story that Shyamalan has made. There’s plenty of thematic stuff at play, belief, doubts, faith in humanity, and it almost seems reminiscent of the themes of Signs. Shyamalan’s writing has been criticised for being awkward, mainly with the dialogue. While I somewhat agreed with those criticisms, by the time Old came out, I just sort of took it as a part of his style that made his movies distinct. There is some stiff and awkward dialogue in Knock at the Cabin, but I got used to it after a while. From what I can tell, the novel it’s based on had a much different ending and so I can imagine that readers of that book might not like the direction the movie takes at the end. However, I think it works for what Shyamalan was going for.

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There is a limited cast who all deliver excellent work here, in fact I think it’s the best overall collection of performances in a Shyamalan movie. The major family as played by Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge and Kirsten Cui are great; the family dynamic is one of the key parts of the movie and is beautifully written, and is only further strengthen by their performances. Groff particularly ends up being the heart of the film. The actors who played the 4 invaders in Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint are all good, presenting their characters and their feelings well. Dave Bautista who shone the most in the whole movie, giving probably his best performance yet. As the leader of this group that gives the family a moral dilemma, he infuses so much humanity in this role. He could’ve just been a menacing villain, which we could easily play. Instead, he is earnest, sincere, soft spoken and reserved and you can really tell that he doesn’t want to do the things he’s doing.

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While people are mixed about his writing, I feel confident in saying that M. Night Shyamalan is a really solid filmmaker. He does well with filming suspense and has a distinct style. Knock at the Cabin just might be his best direction for a movie yet. It is absolutely his best shot movie, the camera movements are creative and fantastic, the angles generate the right feelings needed, and the close ups of faces really helped whether it was increasing tension or capturing the emotions of the characters. Between that, the editing and the score, Shyamalan does well at creating a strong atmosphere.

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Knock at the Cabin is a tense, lean, intimate and gripping thriller, outstandingly directed and with fantastic performances. Regardless of your thoughts on M. Night Shyamalan’s past movies, I think it is well worth checking out, and I consider it to be amongst his best.

White Noise (2022) Review

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White Noise

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Adam Driver as Prof. Jack Gladney
Greta Gerwig as Babette Gladney
Don Cheadle as Prof. Murray Siskind
Raffey Cassidy as Denise Gladney
Director: Noah Baumbach

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

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I had been hearing about White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s next movie which would star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. From brief glances, it looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. However, it seemed to be having some split reactions from audiences and I was curious enough to check it out for myself. It surprised me and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

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White Noise is based on a novel of the same name from Don DeLillo, and I read some comments from people who read it saying that it was near impossible to do an film adaptation for it. I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t comment on that, but clearly Baumbach had a specific angle with how to adapt it, especially with how off kilter it is. It is definitely an ambitious film and takes a lot of risks. White Noise is one of those movies where you’ll figure out if you like it within the first 10 minutes, it is firmly in the “not for everyone” camp. It is a difficult movie to explain; it starts out with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event, but that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. As I started the movie, I found it to be very messy, absurd and strange; it was perplexing and I had no idea where it was going. However, there was something intriguing, unpredictable and exciting about it that had me curious enough to see where it would go, and I got more into it than I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I got the main points of the story, and I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. It begins as a pure satire before evolving into being more character focused. The first thing you’ll probably notice about White Noise is the dialogue, which will probably make or break the movie for some people. The dialogue is strange, overwritten and overintellectual, that paired with the line deliveries makes it feel unnatural. It’ll particularly throw you off if you’re familiar with Noah Baumbach’s other movies, which had otherwise very naturalistic dialogue. However, it is intentionally written and delivered this way, and eventually I got used to it. There really is a mix of tones throughout, jumping between different genres over the 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime. As a dark comedy it is very off kilter and dry, and I found it quite funny. It also gets dark at points, mainly towards the end of the movie, to the point where it leans towards thriller in the third act. This might also throw people off since it is so different from the previous two acts, but it worked for me. There are plenty of themes at play, including existentialism, mortality, modern anxieties and especially fear of death. Some ideas aren’t as expanded on or fleshed out as they could’ve been, but not doubt they are conveyed better in the book.

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The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles. Adam Driver plays the main character; it’s a difficult role to pull off, but he is fantastic here, particularly nailing the dry humour. I think this is up there as one of his best performances. Greta Gerwig is great too, especially in the latter portions of the movie. The actors who play Driver’s children including Raffey Cassidy are also on point. The rest of the cast are good, Don Cheadle is also excellent in a supporting role and is a scene stealer.

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One of the more surprising aspects was Noah Baumbach’s direction. From the movies I’ve seen of his, his directing is good, but usually just works to serve the performances and writing. With White Noise however, there is a very distinct style that really added to the film. Noah is working with a bigger budget, and you can feel that throughout. Baumbach does very well at getting the right feelings through visuals alone. There’s a lot in that which feels off kilter, everything is too colourful including the production design, and much looks artificial and unnatural (deliberately so). The cinematography is great, visually stunning and remarkable at points. There are some very stellar and wonderfully filmed sequences, a standout being during the credits. Finally, the score from Danny Elfman is great and really adds a lot to the atmosphere.

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White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy, with fantastic performances especially from Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. It’s definitely one of the more unexpected and surprising movies from 2022. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me. It is both awesome and funny that Netflix actually decided to finance such a strange and polarising film, however it is definitely not for everyone. Still, it worked for me, and I am really looking forward to rewatching it.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2022) Review

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We're All Going to the World's Fair

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] 
Cast:
Anna Cobb as Casey
Michael J. Rogers as JLB
Director: Jane Schoenbrun

Reality and fantasy begin to blur when an isolated teenager immerses herself in an online role-playing horror game.

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I had been hearing about We’re All Going to the World’s Fair over the past year. It was an indie horror movie that had been gradually getting more attention ever since its premiere at the 2021 Sundance film festival. I had been meaning to see it for a while, but it finally got release wide enough that I got the chance to watch it. While there’s still some things I’m unsure about, I liked it overall.

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The best way I can describe the plot of the movie is that it is about a teenager who becomes immersed in an online role-playing horror game of sorts where she documents the changes that may or may not be happening to her. There are definitely some praiseworthy aspects. Compared to most modern day movies which portray the internet, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair actually grasps the concept of being online. It also does well at portraying terminally online people, empathising with them rather than just moralising, and does more than just the typical “internet is scary/bad” thing that you’d expect. It also captures the isolation, loneliness and despair that these people (especially the protagonist) are feeling, as well as the anxiety of growing up. I will say though that I’m not sure how well it would work for someone who isn’t on the internet as much. While its not overtly scary, the film does have a creepy and unsettling feeling and atmosphere to it. As for the plot, the concept certainly is interesting. However, I’m not sure it entirely worked for me, much of that has to do with me not exactly understanding the movie, particularly with the ending. For what its worth, it is definitely a movie where I look through at peoples interpretations afterwards, and I did like watching it. In terms of actual direct criticisms I can make with confidence, there are some scenes with another prominent character in the film separate from the lead character Casey. While I kind of get the purpose of why those scenes exist, it does break the atmosphere and undermines the narrative focus. If it focussed on Casey for the entirety of the film, I think it would’ve worked better. The movie is pretty short at less than 90 minutes in length, but I do think that it still dragged a little in parts.

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There isn’t much of a cast, but the acting is great. Its really coming down to Anna Cobb (in her debut role) as Casey, she has to carry much of the movie, and she plays her role excellently.

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This is Jane Schoebrun’s directorial debut, and it’s a strong and impressive first film. The visuals are at times mesmerising and hypnotic, its very well edited, and the use of sound is good. I wouldn’t say its very scary, it is more creepy and unnerving than anything. The score from Alex G is one of the highlights for me, sometimes tense but sometimes soothing and melancholic, and it fits the tone of the movie perfectly.

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We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is an existential, atmospheric, melancholic and experimental horror drama. It’s very ambiguous and there’s a lot I’m uncertain about, but it is an intriguing, well acted and a solid directorial debut. If you like horror movies and this sounds appealing to you, I recommend checking it out. Though you’ll definitely need to manage expectations, because its definitely not for everyone.

Bones and All (2022) Review

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Bones and All

Time: 131 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Bloody violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
Taylor Russell as Maren Yearly
Timothée Chalamet as Lee
Michael Stuhlbarg as Jake
André Holland as Frank Yearly
Chloë Sevigny as Janelle Kerns
David Gordon Green as Brad
Jessica Harper as Barbara Kerns
Jake Horowitz as Lance
Mark Rylance as Sully
Director: Luca Guadagnino

Love blossoms between a young woman on the margins of society and a disenfranchised drifter as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences.

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I’ve seen a few of Luca Guadagnino’s movies and I generally like them, mainly Suspiria and A Bigger Splash. I heard that his next movie would be a cannibal love story and star Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. I had a good feeling going in, skipping the trailers and just hearing vague things about it. Having seen it, I think Bones and All is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

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Bones and All is a multigenre movie; it’s a romance, horror, roadtrip and coming of age story. At its core though, it is a love story, a unique one at that. There is a balance between all the elements, it’s deranged and disturbing as you’d expect with the film being about cannibals, yet its sincere and genuine. There is so much beauty in the movie considering its topic, and it manages to be tender and affecting. You get emotionally invested in these troubled characters (really the lead characters). I like the atmosphere and tone and very relaxed approach to the story. It is aimless, but that comes with it being a road trip movie. It is paced well over its 2 hours and 10 minutes runtime, and I never felt bored. If anything, there were characters and elements I wished we got to spend more time with.

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The performances are really great. Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet are outstanding in the lead roles. Russell is the standout, she’s in almost every scene and the film is really her story as she is learning about herself. The two share such believable chemistry and deliver an endearing portrayal of young people in love (who happen to be cannibals). They convey their feelings about their lives, and they complement each other wonderfully. The relationship is complex and sweet, it really is the heart and soul of the movie. Mark Rylance is a scene stealer as a cannibal who has limited screentime, but has a notable role and is a memorable presence. He’s eerie yet fascinating to watch. In some ways I wish he was in the movie more but maybe he wouldn’t have been as effective. Still, I wished that he was a constant looming presence throughout. There’s a pretty gap between the first and second times that we see him. There are other actors like David Gordon Green, Michael Stuhlbarg and Chloe Sevigny who play their parts well and leave an impression despite their brief appearances.

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The direction from Luca Guadagnino as expected is amazing. He really does well at capturing the 1980s Middle America time period and setting. The cinematography is gorgeous and makes great use of the different locations, especially with the landscapes. The editing is top notch, and the sound design is perfect. There isn’t a massive amount of gore and violence, but when it is there, it is well done. There is probably less of it than you’re expecting given the premise and is somewhat restrained, but it is nonetheless tense and uncomfortable when its present. Finally, the chilling and somber score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is outstanding and added so much.

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Bones and All is a fantastic, riveting, brutal, unique, and beautifully made romantic horror film, with amazing performances, especially from Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet. Obviously if you’re not into horror at all and feel squeamish about watching a movie focussing on cannibals, it won’t be for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it, it is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

Resurrection (2022) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Rebecca Hall as Margaret
Grace Kaufman as Abbie
Michael Esper as Peter
Tim Roth as David
Director: Andrew Semans

A woman’s carefully constructed life gets up-ended when an unwelcome shadow from her past returns, forcing her to confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades.

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I knew Resurrection as a horror/thriller with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, but didn’t know much about it beyond that. It turned out to be really good, and I recommend going into it fairly blind.

While it starts off slow and fairly tame, Resurrection gets continually more disturbing as it as shocking revelations are presented. For a large portion it is difficult to figure out what is happening, and that just adds to the uncomfortable feeling. It is a paranoia thriller and does very well as that; it is frantic, anxiety and stress inducing. It feels uncomfortably grounded and is effectively dark and disturbing. Not a whole lot happens in the second act, but I was locked in and riveted. There are definitely some things in play thematically, including emotional abuse, trauma and gaslighting. I feel like the third act is going to make or break the movie for some. Without going into it too much, whereas the first two acts felt grounded and realistic, the third act goes in a somewhat different direction, which really throws you off. Not only that but the ending itself is vague, ambiguous and has you questioning what you just watched. I respect the ending but not sure I understand it yet.

The movie definitely benefits from its fantastic performances, in fact it feels more performance driven than character driven. Obviously the standout is the lead performance from Rebecca Hall, who is phenomenal here. So much of the movie relies on her and she absolutely delivered, conveying terror, trauma and guilt so effectively. One of the highlight scenes was a nearly 10 minute long monologue which was outstanding. This very well may be Hall’s best performance yet. Tim Roth is great as the scene chewing and menacing villain; even with his small screentime, he’s unnerving in his parts and a strong screen presence. There is a very good supporting cast including Michael Esper and Angela Wong Carbone. However Grace Kaufman was the biggest surprise for me as Rebecca Hall’s daughter, she felt incredibly authentic and helped make the relationship between the two characters feel real.

The film also benefits from strong direction from Andrew Semans. It constantly has a sharp and unsettling tone, helped by the striking cinematography, and the brooding and ominous score from Jim Williams.

Resurrection is a tense, anxiety-driven and unsettling psychological thriller, greatly directed and with excellent performances from Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth and Grace Kaufman. The third act might throw some people off, but I should probably like the first two acts if you enjoy other paranoia thrillers.

Barbarian (2022) Review

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Barbarian

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, sexual violence references & offensive language
Cast:
Georgina Campbell as Tess Marshall
Bill Skarsgård as Keith Toshko
Justin Long as AJ Gilbride
Director: Zach Cregger

A young woman discovers the rental home she booked is already occupied by a stranger. Against her better judgment, she decides to spend the night but soon discovers there’s a lot more to fear than just an unexpected house guest.

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I heard about Barbarian for a while; I just knew that it was a horror movie starring Bill Skarsgard and that plenty of people were saying it was best not knowing too much about it going in. I think it was worth all the hype overall.

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Much of your experience with the movie will hinge on how little you know before going into it. I think it is worth watching blind because it goes in directions that you’re not initially expecting. Part of the premise is that Georgina Campbell arrives at the Airbnb she rented and finds that its already occupied by Bill Skarsgard, she then reluctantly spends the night there. That’s as much as you’ll want to know beforehand. Overall. I think the writing is strong. I was unsettled over the course of the movie, there is a strong atmosphere, suspense, and a real feeling of dread. There’s also some surprising humour which fits into the movie well. The humour isn’t so overt that you would call it a comedy, but it is subtle enough that it doesn’t take away from the tension. There is some social commentary here which you can look deeper into. In some ways the message kind of gets muddled and there are some missed opportunities to dive deeper. However, it at least allows room for interpretation instead of spelling out everything for the audience. I do have some issues. The movie is a bit short at an hour 40 minutes and I wish it was a little longer to flesh things out. There are some solid twists which take you off guard, but after the first half, the twists in the second half just weren’t as impactful. The unexpected jumps in the narrative can also cause some issues with the pacing, even though they were helped make things unpredictable. Without spoiling anything there is a bit too much time and scenes dedicated to Justin Long’s character and establishing him in the story. I think they could’ve conveyed all that information in less time, and that probably would’ve helped the film to not feel like it came to a screeching halt when he’s introduced.

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The performances from the cast are really good. Georgina Campbell plays the main character and really sells her role really well, conveying her character’s dread. Bill Skarsgard is also good in this, playing the person already in Airbnb. His casting is particularly used to great effect here, especially considering his menacing and villainous roles in other projects. As a result, during his scenes, you are trying to figure out who he is and what his intentions are. Another bit of great casting is Justin Long, who was a real stand out. Right from his first scene he is shown to be selfish and unlikable but Long plays it very well, and is the source of much of the comedy.

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Zach Cregger’s direction was great, this is his solo writing and directing debut. This one location and setting is conveyed really well, and the parts in the basement look very creepy and unnerving. The camerawork and cinematography are outstanding, from the movements (goes handheld when necessary) to the choice of lens (fisheye at some points). Finally, the score by Anna Drubich is eerie and adds to the atmosphere and tone.

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Barbarian is a great, suspenseful, entertaining, and well crafted horror movie, phenomenally directed, with surprising humour, and great performances from Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard and Justin Long. Its one of the best horror movies of the year and well worth checking out (but is best going into it blind).

Watcher (2022) Review

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Watcher

Time: 91 Minutes
Cast:
Maika Monroe as Julia
Karl Glusman as Francis
Burn Gorman as Daniel Weber
Director: Chloe Okuno

As a serial killer stalks the city, a young actress who just moved to town with her boyfriend notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street.

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I knew only a little about Watcher, just that it was a thriller about Maika Monroe being stalked by someone. While the movie doesn’t have many surprises, it nonetheless works very well at what it sets out to do.

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Watcher is a psychological and paranoid thriller which takes its time as a slow burn. It leans more into subtle and nuanced storytelling and is powerfully effective as it slowly builds its suspense. The tension unfolds slows and there is a real sense of dread and paranoia. Storywise its pretty standard, straightforward and simple, and it doesn’t really surprise at any point. However I was nonetheless riveted and interested to see how it would play out. The added element of the protagonist being in a different country with a language barrier does add a lot to it; it helped to make the lead character played by Maika Monroe feel more isolated even before she finds someone stalking her. In terms of any actual criticisms outside of its familiarity, I thought that the ending was a little abrupt.

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One of Watcher’s biggest strengths is Maika Monroe as the lead character who is being followed. She effectively conveys the isolation, struggle and helplessness of her situation in a very believable performance. She is great and one of the highlights of the film. The rest of the actors are fine but nothing special and there’s not much to say about them. The exception is Burn Gorman who plays the stalker (or titular Watcher). We see glimpses of him before seeing his face and even after the film shows his face, it’s a while before we hear his voice. Without saying or doing much, Gorman is great at conveying this unsettling aura about him.

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Chloe Okuno directed Watcher very well, this is a very impressive debut for her. The cinematography is slick and well done, and I particularly like how it captures the stranger, initially obscuring him and putting you in the protagonist’s position. That combined with the quieter moments, and the unsettling sound design and the eerie score from Nathan Halpern help to make you feel unnerved.

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Watcher is a great paranoia and psychological thriller. Despite its familiar setup, its directed strongly and is led by an excellent and convincing performance from Maika Monroe, making it worth checking out.

Possession (1981) Review

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Possession

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sex scenes
Cast:
Isabelle Adjani as Anna/Helen
Sam Neill as Mark
Director: Andrzej Żuławski

Mark’s wife Anna asks him for a divorce but he suspects that she is having an affair and hires a private investigator. Meanwhile, he begins an affair with his son’s teacher who is Anna’s lookalike.

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I have been hearing about Possession for a little while, all I really knew about it going in was that it was a strange horror movie and that Sam Neill was one of the main actors. I went into it fairly blind, and I really wasn’t prepared for how great it was.

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It is actually pretty hard to describe Possession. Essentially, the setup is that a woman starts behaving increasingly unhinged after asking her husband for a divorce, however, there might be something more going on behind the scenes. That’s as far as I’m willing to talk about the plot. Unsurprisingly this is a movie about divorce and it portrays quite possibly the messiest divorce of all time. Apparently, this was based on the director’s own experience of divorce and you really feel that, he clearly put all of his emotions and feelings from that into the movie. It starts out as a melodrama about marriage falling apart, but takes a startling turn to psychological horror. It’s a weird pairing of body horror and metaphorical marriage drama, and almost plays like a David Cronenberg movie at times (who also had his own horror divorce movie with The Brood). It’s a very weird and unconventional movie, so I’m not sure that everyone would be into it. It’s a haunting, disturbing and heavy story, yet I couldn’t look away at any point. Possession has a lot to say, its very layered and there’s a lot of ambiguity and metaphors. By the end it leaves you with many questions and requires you to interpret much of what happened, but in a good way. 

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While the performances are generally good, it really comes down to the excellent leads in Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. Neill gives possibly his best performance as a spy who discovers that his wife wants a divorce. But of course the highlight is Adjani as his wife, an absolutely unhinged, over the top performance which can be melodramatic, yet works perfectly for this movie. She conveys so much emotion, anxiety and a sense of dread; there’s a lot of intensity and emotion whenever she’s on screen. Possibly one of the best performances I’ve seen. Neill and Adjani throw themselves into their characters and are fantastic, with such uncomfortable convincing and angry chemistry between the two.

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Andrzej Żuławski directs this and his work here is stellar. There’s always an unsettling feeling and atmosphere which only increases as the movie progresses. The visuals are haunting, and while the cinematography isn’t the prettiest and looks washed out and clinical, it fits the tone of the movie. It’s a very immersive movie, helped by the unnerving and swooping camera shots. There are also many scenes which convey the borderline insanity of Isabelle Adjani’s character, one of the highlights being an exhausting scene with her in a train station.

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Possession is nothing like any movie I’ve seen before, particularly when it comes to horror. It’s a layered psychological horror drama with a lot to say and interpret from it. While I don’t understand everything by the end of it, its been on my mind ever since I watched it. The atmosphere is effectively uncomfortable and unsettling, and the performances from Sam Neill and particularly Isabelle Adjani are fantastic. Well worth checking out.

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014) Review

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Twin Peaks The Missing Pieces

Time: 91 Minutes
Cast:
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
Ray Wise as Leland Palmer
Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper
Mädchen Amick as Shelly Johnson
Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs
Phoebe Augustine as Ronette Pulaski
David Bowie as Special Agent Phillip Jeffries
Joan Chen as Josie Packard
Eric Da Re as Leo Johnson
Don S. Davis as Major Garland Briggs
Mary Jo Deschanel as Eileen Hayward
Miguel Ferrer as Special Agent Albert Rosenfield
Warren Frost as Dr. Will Hayward
Pamela Gidley as Teresa Banks
Harry Goaz as Deputy Sheriff Andy Brennan
Heather Graham as Annie Blackburn
Michael Horse as Deputy Sheriff Tommy “Hawk” Hill
Chris Isaak as Special Agent Chester Desmond
Moira Kelly as Donna Hayward
Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings
David Lynch as Bureau Chief Gordon Cole
James Marshall as James Hurley
Everett McGill as Ed Hurley
Jack Nance as Pete Martell
Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Jürgen Prochnow as Woodsman
Wendy Robie as Nadine Hurley
Kimmy Robertson as Lucy Moran
Harry Dean Stanton as Carl Rodd
Charlotte Stewart as Betty Briggs
Kiefer Sutherland as Special Agent Sam Stanley
Director: David Lynch

A feature-length compilation of deleted and extended scenes from the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

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As I was watching Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, I was very curious about The Missing Pieces. Essentially it is a compilation of deleted scenes from Fire Walk with Me, there were so many that they were made into a full on movie (which interestingly took over 20 years to come out after the initial release of the movie). While it’s not a movie in the conventional sense, it’s well worth the watch for Twin Peaks fans.

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The Missing Pieces is a hard movie to review. As I said, it is a feature length compilation of deleted and extended scenes from Fire Walk with Me. As such, the movie isn’t cohesive and there isn’t much of a plot structure. However, I’d argue that it’s mandatory to watch this if you’re a Twin Peaks fan. It fills in holes in the series and the movie, and there’s a lot here I wished made it to the final cut. The early scenes of Fire Walk with Me involving the FBI agents felt a little disjointed, as it turns out it wasn’t fully fleshed out and some of the key scenes didn’t make it into that movie. With these additional scenes now in The Missing Pieces, it makes that storyline better. David Bowie appeared briefly in Fire Walk with Me but now gets more scenes here, in some of the most memorable parts of the movie. There are also additional Laura Palmer scenes which makes her story even stronger. It also sheds light on some storylines not in Fire Walk with Me. There are entire appearances from familiar Twin Peaks characters including Sheriff Truman, Deputy Hawke, Dr Jacoby and more here. There’s even an extension on the massive cliff-hanger ending of Season 2 of Twin Peaks

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I will say that it’s probably for the best that some of these cuts happened for Fire Walk with Me, especially when it comes to what it was focusing on; you wouldn’t want to have too much agent stuff when really this is Laura Palmer’s. Nonetheless, its very interesting to watch. Tonally it isn’t as dark as Fire Walk with Me and has more of the quirks and humour from the original show. However, The Missing Pieces aren’t just deleted scenes added to fill in the holes, there are some greatly handled sequences, especially on a directing level. One involved a scene of Laura being possessed by BOB, which was incredibly creepy and memorable.

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If you liked Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me, I would say that The Missing Pieces is essential viewing. Again, it feels like a collection of scenes more than a movie and you can tell why some of these scenes were cut. Nonetheless it helps with the Twin Peaks experience, and I highly recommend it.

Pearl (2022) Review

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Pearl

Time: 102 Minutes
Cast:
Mia Goth as Pearl
David Corenswet as the projectionist
Tandi Wright as Ruth
Matthew Sunderland as Pearl’s father
Emma Jenkins-Purro as Mitsy
Alistair Sewell as Howard
Director: Ti West

Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Hoping for a more glamorous life, Pearl’s ambitions, temptations and repressions all collide to horrific effect.

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I had been interested in watching Pearl ever since I first heard about it. Earlier this year, Ti West made X, which I found to be a really good horror movie. Directly after making that movie, West filmed a prequel focussing on X’s main villain Pearl played by Mia Goth (in one of her two roles in that film), and got Goth to reprise that role. I was interested for that reason alone, and I thought it succeeded in what it set out to do.

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Pearl is a very different movie to X, from the approach to the story, to the horror itself. Its less seedy and sleazy exploitation and goes more for the Golden Age of Hollywood (and is set in the 1910s). However, it retains its dark humour and leans into some of the over the top camp elements. I think Pearl is a perfect companion piece to X and enriches that original movie now. As a prequel, it does improve X as we get the full backstory behind the main villain. There are some references and callbacks, and the farm that Pearl lives at is the main setting for X. However, this movie can be seen on its own without having seen X. Pearl is essentially a character study about a girl with a personality disorder, we see the tragedy of her character and what led her to how she is in X. It gives her depth and humanises the character. The story is intimate, and the plot is slower, with fewer explosive payoffs. Its not really heavy on the horror, most of the horror comes from the main character. So if you’re looking for kills and thrills, you’ll be a little disappointed. The movie did drag at some points, part of that is that you can tell how things are going to end (even if you haven’t seen X), and you are just waiting for it. Still, I liked how the movie played out, and it concludes with one of the most memorable end credits scroll scenes I’ve seen.

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Pearl is Mia Goth’s show, she’s fantastic and the main reason to watch this movie. From the beginning, you can quickly tell that this character has some issues, but you’re hoping that things go right for her even though you know that it won’t. Goth’s performance helps with that, showing all the different sides to the character. She showcases an outstanding emotional range and conveys everything brilliantly. Probably one of the best performances of the year so far. The rest of the cast are good too, but again its Goth’s movie.

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Ti West returns from X to direct Pearl and his work is great here. Stylistically, the two movies are very different. It swaps out the 70s sleaze, instead recapturing the magic of classic Hollywood with vibrant technicolour for the production design, costumes and cinematography, almost like it’s the Wizard of Oz. Tyler Bates also returns to compose this movie after X and again the music is very different, generally going for a classic old Hollywood feel while serving the more horror moments very well.

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Pearl is a really good horror character study, its visually stunning and vibrant, it works well as a prequel to X, and it is led by an incredible lead performance from Mia Goth. While I think X is more rewatchable, Pearl might be the better movie overall. I’m looking forward to Goth and Ti West’s next X collaboration with MaXXXine.