Movie Reviews

The Witch Review

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While the 17th-century Age of Enlightenment brought about a wave of reason in European politics and religion, the Puritan riffraff over in New England still saw the Devil around every corner. Got a toothache? You’re not praying hard enough, pal. Did you dream about your neighbor? Then she’s most certainly a witch. A hailstorm isn’t just a hailstorm. The neighbor’s pig that wandered onto your land isn’t just a pig. To people consumed with prayer and chores, everything had meaning, and that meaning was usually the Devil.

Against this backdrop of sinful causality is writer-director Robert Eggers’ richly detailed debut film, The Witch.

Read the rest of my review over at the Orlando Weekly.

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Sony Sent My Ass to the Set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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After a nine hour flight, an hour train ride, and a shameful amount of time trying to navigate the Underground, I arrived at London’s Langham Hotel looking, for lack of a better word, like a zombie. Thankfully, the doorman didn’t try to stab me in the head when I passed. Instead, he tipped his top hat in greeting and my adventure visiting the set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had begun.

Read the rest of this sucker over at Blood Disgusting.

The Revenant Review

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Hold a single-shot pistol to Jack London’s head and force him to snort a pile of coke while writing an epic survival story and you’ll only begin to get the gist of the cold road of revenge Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant voyages down. On the heels of a Best Direction Oscar win forBirdman, Iñárritu tackles the true story of American pioneer and trapper Hugh Glass, who was robbed and left for dead after being ripped to shreds by a grizzly. The bear even got him across the throat, for chrissakes. Fueled by revenge and raw bison, Glass made the grueling 200-mile trek back to civilization to take revenge on the backstabbers who tried to bury him alive.

Read the rest over at Bloody Disgusting.

2015 Mile High Horror Film Festival Recap

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While Austin may be the high-falootin’ epicenter of the genre film festival universe here in the States, Colorado is nipping at its heels something fierce with two wholly unique fests of its own. With its immersive festival experience and haunted backdrop, the Stanley Film Festival in early summer has quickly become some kind of monster. Two hours south, just outside of Denver’s cloud of weed smoke, is the mighty Mile High Horror Film Festival in Littleton. Now in its sixth year, Mile High is like a horror film fest/convention hybrid – combining a strong lineup of new films from around the world, a ridiculous series of classic screenings, a stable of special guests, sideshow performers, panels, vendors, music showcases, and more. That Enigma jigsaw tattoo guy from The X-Files seems to be creeping around every corner too. Last year I was convinced he was stalking me. I swear I saw him outside my hotel window at 2am. And I was on the fifth floor. Dammit, Enigma. (more…)

They Look Like People Review

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We’ve all gotten weird phone calls from unknown numbers at some point. Lines get crossed. Kids prank. People with sausage fingers press four keys at once, whatever. I once got one from a woman saying she wanted her leather pants back. We’re married now but usually these dumb calls are forgotten about by the next day. Not so for Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews). The calls he’s getting on his busted cellphone aren’t something easily shrugged off. Registering on the no-call list isn’t an option for this poor bastard.

The voice on the other end of the line is always different, but they tell Wyatt the same thing: everyone around you is a monster in disguise and only he can see their true form. They say there’s a war coming between these monsters and the remaining humans, leading to mankind’s extinction. The calls mostly come at night. Mostly.

Read the full review over at Bloody Disgusting

Secret Beyond the Door (1947)

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A gothic Freudian nightmare from German maestro Fritz Lang, Secret Beyond the Door was adapted by his frequent collaborator Silvia Richards from a story by Rufus King. A sinister ‘40s twist on the French Bluebeard tale, the film is often considered a minor work in the great Lang’s oeuvre (far behind the almighty The Big Heat in my book), though even a lesser Lang film is better than the worst of most other filmmakers.

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Sitting Target (1972)

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As far as revenge flicks go, this one is pretty by-the-numbers. However, the buddy-criminal team of Oliver Reed and Ian McShane elevates the film to genre greatness. Our amoral avenger Harry is 200lbs of primal menace. He doesn’t speak much, but his concrete scowl and barrel-chest could punch a hole through a steel wall. How tough is he? He does pushups on the ceiling of his jail cell. On the flip side, Birdy has a silver tongue that more than makes up for Harry’s tight lips . The muscle and the mouth compliment each other nicely.

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Stanley Film Festival Wrap-Up

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Last month, the folks at the Stanley Film Festival were gracious enough to have me attend and cover their wholly unique gathering. I’ve only been to a handful of festivals, but I can confidently say that the Stanley Festival is thee best. Held at the historic Stanley Hotel (where Stephen King got his inspiration for The Shining), there’s a reason other journos have referred to it as “horror camp.” Not only do they have flawless programming consisting of the absolute best in modern and retrospective horror*, but for those with big enough stones, they immerse you in a living horror movie. Baby’s blood, cult members kicking in doors at 3am, clandestine magic shows at 2am, crawling through dirt tunnels beneath the hotel, live feed of abducted filmmakers…yeah, Stanley Festival is a wet dream for horror fans. Just don’t expect any sleep, man.

In just three short years the Stanley Festival has cemented itself as the premiere horror festival in the U.S. It’s grown an insane amount during that time and honest to gawd, within another two or so years, it’s going to be ENORMOUS.

Below find every review and interview of mine from Stanley. To pick a favorite is a vicious task, but I can honestly say I almost walked out of the theater during The Nightmare, that’s how effective it is, and one of my favorite living filmmakers, Adrián Garcia Bogliano, showed his latest, which melted my face off.

LET US PREY

THE BOY

SHREW’S NEST

THE INVITATION (they requested this to just be a capsule review)

DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY: TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN

SOME KIND OF HATE

THE FINAL GIRLS

SCHERZO DIABOLICO

SUN CHOKE

THE NIGHTMARE

COOTIES

And here are my interviews from Stanley:

WE ARE STILL HERE director Ted Geoghegan.

COOTIES crew Elijah Wood, directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, Leigh Whannell, and Allison Pill.

DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY: TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE NIGHTMARE producer Tim Kirk.

* I unfortunately had to leave the day they showed Diabolique, a film I’ve always wanted to see on a big screen. Clouzet’s film still gets under my skin every time I watch it.

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

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It’s been 30 years since Australian filmmaker George Miller brought Max Rockatansky to the screen. Over three films from 1979-85, Miller took action cinema to glorious new heights (well, maybe not with Thunderdome but I’m not here to beat on that dead horse). The action was visceral, the danger was palpable, and the stunts were enormous. Many imitators followed, but no one has been able to capture the majesty and urgency of those original films.

Read the rest at the Orlando Weekly.

Ex Machina Review

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The Frankenstein template has endured as one of the most retread themes in literature and art since Mary Shelley first conjured her modern Prometheus in the early 19th century. A brilliant, troubled scientist creates an intelligent robot that becomes self-aware. The creator fails to acknowledge the individuality of its creation and yadda yadda yadda, the robot rebels and kills its master.

It’s only natural that most viewers will go into Alex Garland’s Ex Machina expecting this rehash, albeit glossed up and put in a slick new package. Despite following a great deal of well-worn territory, the film manages to engage its audience with its icy and efficient delivery and consistent undercurrent of malevolence. Garland (a respected screenwriter and novelist) gives his gorgeously designed film a muted tone that got way under my skin and rattled my guts even when I knew what to expect. And even when the plot feels familiar, Ex Machina‘s riffs on consciousness and sexuality are always intriguing.

Read the full review at the Orlando Weekly.