The Ritual (2017)

0

Ritual-poster-1

Director: David Bruckner

Stars: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier

Lads holiday gets ruined by gigantic moose man

You’d think people would’ve got the idea now. Don’t go into the woods! Especially if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, in a Scandinavian country, with only a compass to rely on. The Ritual might not be all that original but it’s a solidly made little film which will certainly appease hungry horror fans who live for watching a group of friends get butchered one by one. It also ends up becoming surprisingly layered and moving, it’s certainly more intelligent than the B-movie exterior it hides behind.

DSC01888.ARW

It’s a premise we’ve all seen before. In fact it’s exactly the kind of formula The Cabin in the Woods was poking fun at, there even happens to be a cabin in the woods, would you believe it! A group of thirtysomething men decide to go on a walking holiday (which is a bit of an oxymoron, but there you go, some people enjoy it) after their friend gets brutally murdered by some crackheads robbing a corner shop. He was the only one who wanted to go on a Scandinavian hiking trip so they all go in tribute to him. Unfortunately, Rafe Spall is now wracked with guilt because he did nothing to help his friend and instead cowardly hid behind an aisle, which is something we’d all probably do if we were put into that godawful situation.

Alone in the gorgeous Swedish outback, one moaning member of the group bruises his ankle so they decide to take a short-cut through some deep woodland which has ‘Blair Witch’ written all over it. They’re not even that phased by a deer hanging on a tree with its guts pouring out, they just want to get some rest in an old creepy cabin which has an even creepier Wicker Man-esque moose/reindeer thing upstairs. The film does an excellent job of building up a sense of foreboding and threat. You know something isn’t  right but you can’t quite work out what’s going on. It’s a film which keeps you guessing right up until the surreal third act.

Ritual06

Some have said that the film is at its best when it’s hinting at things in the shadows and that’s sort of true, but you’d surely be disappointed if the evil was never revealed. There’s a great sense of friendship with the cast of characters and for a horror film, it’s actually very well-acted. You believe everything which is going on, which is important in a film which gradually gets more and more bonkers as it goes on. It’s also nice to see a more mature British cast in a slasher flick instead of a bunch of whiny Americans. Who would’ve thought Thomas Barrow from Downton Abbey would be under attack in the woods?

Lots of people have expressed dislike towards the ending, but for me that’s when I realised that the film was actually more intelligent than what it’s given credit for. It instead becomes a kind of parable for facing your demons and accepting your faults. Like the creature is symbolic for grief in The Babadook, the one here is also symbolic if you dig deep enough. If you don’t take the ending too literally then you’ll find it to be surprisingly touching and meaningful, it certainly stayed with me after the credits rolled.

ritual

The Ritual is a good example of a supernatural slasher flick albeit not exactly an original one. its high production values are let down by the formulaic screenplay which enables you to predict the direction in which it’s heading. It also bordered on the ridiculous at times, although I do admire films which decide to take a more surreal route. All in all, if you’re a horror fan you’ll find a lot to appreciate in The Ritual. Even though it doesn’t offer much new, there’s certainly worse ways to kill ninety minutes.

Advertisements

Get Out (2017)

0

getout

Director: Jordan Peele

Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Horror at the Oscars? Get in!

It’s been about one whole year since Jordan Peele’s Get Out was unleased onto cinemas and I’ve only just managed to see it! I call myself a seasoned horror fan but why on Earth did it take me so long to see a four-time Oscar nominated horror film? You know it has to be special when the Academy (who famously shun all genre movies) consider giving it a gong for Best Picture. After all, Get Out is the first all-out horror film to be nominated in the category since The Exorcist in 1973. Unless you decide to count the likes of Black Swan and The Silence of the Lambs which have elements of horror but are no where near as obvious as this film.

getout1

Is it all that superior then? Personally I think we’ve seen better recently in films such as The Witch and It Follows, but there’s no denying that it’s a cut above the rest. It’s certainly far more intelligent than most films nowadays, which the Academy miraculously realised after awarding it an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay last night. It follows black British star Daniel Kaluuya as he goes to meet his white girlfriend’s parents at their large middle-class home. Everything seems fine a first but gradually things start to take a sinister turn as some very white guests arrive and seem to almost close in on our black hero. To say anything else would be to ruin the terrific surprises in store, I went in knowing almost nothing about the plot and was certainly all the better for it.

Get Out takes a simple horror movie premise and turns it into a thoughtful and scarily plausible satire about racism. What’s nice is that it doesn’t shove it down our throats in a ham-fisted way like say, Mother! (which I loved, I must say) but there’s stuff for keener viewers to dig in to. It never patronises its audience and is always interested in building up a sense of paranoia and suspense around a likable protagonist who we can all root for. It also manages to provide an exciting third act which manages to satisfy and thrill in equal measure.

GET OUT, Daniel Kaluuya, 2017. ©Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

It’s difficult to believe that this is Jordan Peele’s debut film. The technical competence is pretty outstanding, although he has had plenty of experience starring in film and TV before so he must’ve learned something about being behind the camera whilst being in front of it! He shows great flair and vision behind the camera, always remaining focused and expertly building tension. Where most directors would go in for the heavy-handed approach, Peele uses subtlety and restraint. Even the barmy revelation is presented with such confidence, that you don’t doubt the logic for a second.

Get Out might not be the ground-breaking classic you were hoping for, but it’s certainly a fine horror film with enough comedy to comfortably cleanse your pallet. Despite always having its tongue in cheek, it carries an important message about liberal racism and does an excellent job at making the audience feel what it’s like to be a black man in modern America. The ending perhaps could’ve been less predictable and convenient, but Get Out offers plenty of hidden riches in repeated viewings.

eight-out-of-ten

Nothing Bad Can Happen (2013)

0

nothing-bad-can-happen

Director: Katrin Gebbe

Starring: Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl

Jesus Christ!

It’s rare to find a film which manages to disturb and horrify without ever being exploitative or using cheap shock tactics like you’d see in the August Underground movies but Nothing Bad Can Happen manages to do exactly that. I came away from the film feeling drained and disturbed in a way that I haven’t felt since Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs which should certainly ring alarm bells if you can’t handle upsetting subject matters in your films. Although Nothing Bad Can Happen is undoubtedly a superb piece of filmmaking, it’s something I’d recommend with caution due to explicit sequences involving abuse of all kinds and cruelty to animals.

nothing-bad-can-happen-like

The film follows the true events surrounding a young self-proclaimed ‘Jesus freak’ called Tore who happens to have some form of autism which makes him think and act very differently to others. Tore places all of his faith in Jesus Christ and is naively taken in by a truly evil family who take advantage of his absurdly good nature. It’s a fascinating meditation on evil in society and the dangers of religion. Despite being an utterly gruelling watch, Nothing Bad Can Happen never gratuitously relishes in the violence and is always focused on character and delivering a powerful message. The fact that these events are true makes the film all the more relevant and important.

First-time director Katrin Gebbe shows astonishing confidence behind the camera. Despite the ugly subject matter, the images always try to find beauty and light through the bleakness. There’s a hypnotic sense of realism to the whole film which reminded me of Justin Kurzel’s equally uncompromising Snowtown. The acting from the unknown cast is similarly impressive, particularly breakout star Julius Feldmeier in the lead who manages to make Tore an engaging and sympathetic main character. Sascha Alexander Gersak also feels toe-curlingly real as the malevolent patriarch determined to break Tore’s Holy spirit.

nothing-bad-can-happen-3

You could easily mistake Nothing Bad Can Happen as being the kind of lost film in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Golden Hearts Trilogy’ which correspondingly follows mentally-challenged protagonists as they battle through life’s brutal hardships. It’s just as tough to watch as seeing Emily Watson getting stoned by feral kids or Bjork dancing desperately through life despite the world crumbling around her. It’ll be just too depressing for some people and it does get harder to watch as the film progresses but the reason I watch films is to be moved and provoked by some sort of emotional response. Nothing Bad Can Happen does this in spade loads.

23_toretanzt_0026652_astrid-annikakuhl_tore_juliusfeldmeier_benno_saschagersak

Initially appearing to be the ideal father figure, Benno, played by German actor Sascha Alexander Gersak in Nothing Bad Can Happen, shows his dark side as he mocks and violently tests a young boy’s religious fai

This is a haunting piece of work which will bury itself under your skin and stay there long after the credits roll. It’s a torturous watch at times but it carries an important message which is extremely relevant to society today. The pacing is very slow at the beginning but it’s also immersive and character-focused meaning that it’s always easy to engage with. There was not one moment where I was bored or distracted in its 110 minute running time. It’s a heart-breaking watch which will surely shake you to your core. A stunning debut but proceed with caution.

nine-out-of-ten

Mother! (2017)

1

Mother-Poster-Rosemarys_1200_1789_81_s

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer

House Party From Hell

With just six feature films under his belt, Darren Aronofsky is still one of the most innovative and striking directors working in Hollywood today. With his unique visual style he creates intimate stories which have the power to grip you by the throat until the very last shot. ‘Black Swan’ is probably my favourite film of the last decade so you can imagine my delight at discovering that Darren had been secretly filming Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in a horror film for God knows how many months. It was a shock well worthy of the cheeky exclamation mark pegged onto the title. It looked as though Darren had returned to his melodramatic roots after spending years working on a forgettable biblical epic.

mother3

Although ‘Mother!’ also has biblical overtones, it’s perhaps less obvious than watching Noah’s ark rock around a stormy ocean. It is interesting to note, however the almighty split of opinions on Aronofsky’s latest work of art. People talk all the time about ‘marmite’ films, where critics and audiences alike seem to adore or outright detest a film for equally valid reasons and ‘Mother!’ is exactly that. Some find it tedious and ridiculous, whilst others find it gripping and intoxicating in the best possible way. I must admit that when I first saw the film, it completely went against my expectations and I was left sitting in a rare state of shock trying to process what I had just seen. Suffice to say that after about 10 minutes, my opinion landed directly on the ‘love it’ side of the fence.

The less you know about ‘Mother!’ the better the experience will be so I won’t delve into plot points. The biggest surprise for me was discovering how funny the film is. The trailers make it out to be like some sort of hardcore horror movie in the vein of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ meets ‘Repulsion’ but I was amazed to find myself laughing so much, particularly in the first half. The preposterousness of the situations make for darkly comic viewing in a similar kind of way to ‘Calvaire’ a Belgian horror film with equally pitch-black comedy. It could be mistaken for bad writing, but it’s entirely intentional. It all comes from the fact that J-Law’s character is presented as the only sane person who the audience can relate to, whereas pretty much every other character is totally unrelatable.

mother-2017-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

The film builds slowly but always intrigues. Just like Natalie Portman’s Nina in ‘Black Swan’ J-Law’s titular ‘Mother!’ character is always shown in tight close-ups with the camera intensely following her every move. It makes for claustrophobic and uncomfortable viewing at times, particularly as the action never moves away from the house, which makes the insane third act work even more effectively for it. The point of view is also very subjective, it’s made clear that Jennifer isn’t quite right in the head and we see all her strange and horrifying delusions as if we were in her shoes. It’s fantastically focused filmmaking (nice bit of alliteration there for you) which helps to build up the intensity.

The first half might seem more than a bit weird to most moviegoers but it isn’t anything compared to the hysterical second half which has to contain some of the most insane sequences ever committed to film. I won’t go into details but I was left feeling incredibly stressed and bemused which is exactly how the film wants you to feel. Visually it’s astonishing and some of the camerawork is dizzyingly terrific. It also contains some seriously shocking content which left my mouth agape and I’m someone who considers themselves to be a hardened horror nut. It’s the kind of big budget surrealism which is devastatingly lacking in Hollywood.

mother-2017-review-surrealist-nightmarish-horror-5

Of course none of it is supposed to be taken at face value and there are plenty of metaphors to chew over after the film has finished. It’s just a shame that Darren and Jennifer have been so open about what the film is actually about as it means that the sense of mystery has gone already. The film could’ve and should’ve been left up to interpretation. Directors such as David Lynch and Michael Haneke would never dream of telling audiences what their films are about because every audience member’s ideas are valid and have meaning to them. Anyhow, although the metaphors and symbolism are a little heavy-handed in the film, they are no less brilliant and intelligent.

It’s also worth mentioning the excellent performances in the film. Although that really doesn’t come as a surprise when you have heavyweights like Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer starring all in the same film. Each role is very challenging though and the fact that they all pulled each part off and made it believable is a credit to them. The real star of the show though is Darren Aronofsky whose directing style manages to unequivocally sweep audiences away on a mad, horrifying journey which isn’t soon forgotten. ‘Mother!’ is a very special film. It’s divisive but most great works of art are. You will get a strong reaction, no matter who you are or what that reaction might be.

nine-out-of-ten

Twin Peaks: The Return

0

6683e69d435ffb1ece0d49a43b6f6f0c

Director: David Lynch

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, David Lynch, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts

The greatest TV series of all time

It’s 11pm and I have just finished watching the last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. Normally I’d give something else a watch before tottering off to bed but the images and ideas presented in the two-hour finale are relentlessly whirring around my head. David Lynch has done it again. 25 years ago he re-invented television with the original series which mixed offbeat comedy with pure horror and surrealism. Audiences were enthralled by the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, only to find that the startling cliffhanger left in 1991 wouldn’t be resolved until 2017.

twin-peaks-04.w710.h473

David Lynch has had an exceptional career. Debuting with surrealist masterpiece, Eraserhead and providing us with horrific treats in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Lost Highway. In 2002 he created what I believe to be the greatest film of all time, Mulholland Drive and seemingly disappeared off the Earth in 2006 after the impenetrable INLAND EMPIRE. However, we can now forgive Lynch for the frustrating ten-year hiatus because he has generously provided us with 18 hours of unadulterated perfection. The Return could very well be his magnum opus.

There has never been anything like this on TV and there will probably be nothing like this ever again, unless Lynch decides to delve back into the small screen again, of course. The series was shrouded in secrecy so people didn’t really have a clue what was going to happen when the two-hour opening aired. Unsurprisingly all expectations were cut dead within the first fifteen minutes. The whole season is nothing like the original run, in fact less than half the time is spent in the beloved town of Twin Peaks.

Brody-Twin-Peaks-1200x630-1495464017

This season is more interested in doppelgängers in Las Vegas, murders in South Dakota and frightening absurdities in the red room. Mysteries are constantly being raised and very few clear answers are ever provided. The series also runs at a very deliberate pace. Lynch really isn’t interested in wrapping things up quickly, in one scene we watch a man sweeping the floor for three minutes, yet somehow none of it is boring in the slightest. Instead we feel lost in an intoxicating dreamlike atmosphere where anything can happen. Many will find the lack of nostalgia and glacial pacing frustrating, but this is truly a ground-breaking work of art.

It also has to be noted that Kyle MacLachlan’s performance is the one of the greatest in TV history. It has to be said that he has never particularly shone in his acting career, aside from Dale Cooper (obviously) but here he does something extraordinary. Playing three different characters, MacLachlan shows an astonishing acting range and never fails to compel whenever he’s on screen. There are also memorable performances from Naomi Watts, Laura Dern and David Lynch himself, all in challenging and remarkably interesting roles.

144

What’s really extraordinary about this 1000 minute masterpiece is that is manages to encompass every human emotion, often at the same time. At one moment side-splittingly funny, then pants-wettingly terrifying the next. There are also moments of desperate sadness, tension and surprise. What ever the feeling though, there is always a strong sense of mystery in the air. Don’t expect many easy answers though.

Many people were disappointed by the ending which offered absolutely no closure in the slightest. Much like the original series, the season ends on a extraordinarily haunting note. In fact, it could quite possibly be the most haunting ending of any film or TV show I have ever seen. Rather than providing answers, we’re left with even more questions than we had at the start but that’s where its brilliance lies. If Lynch gave us a cosy ending where all the pieces tied neatly together then we wouldn’t be talking about the series for years to come. There is so much to analyse and digest, fans will be picking this series apart until the end of days.

Unlike anything else on TV, Twin Peaks is always unpredictable. You can never guess what is going to happen next and although it isn’t easy to understand, it isn’t really supposed to be. This is an experience where you can leave your brain at the door and just go along for the sensational ride. Forget Breaking Bad. Forget Game of Thrones. Forget what ever you thought the best series on TV ever was. The greatest thing to ever grace the small screen is categorically and unquestionably, Twin Peaks: The Return.

perfect-10

7 Shockingly Unexpected Movie Deaths That Had Us Gasping In Disbelief

0

psycho(WARNING: This article contains huge spoilers for each and every film, so if you haven’t seen it, get watching!)

There’s nothing I love more than when a film surprises you. Too often nowadays, films are full of clichés that enable you to predict their every move. They’re too scared to depart from the formula in case they upset the audience or (more often than not) the studio. Some films dare to be different though and rip up the rule book, leaving us all bemused. Below are seven of the most shocking death scenes in cinematic history. These are the scenes that made us jump out of our seat in shock.

7) The Dark Knight

Dark

Has there ever been a better superhero movie than this Batman sequel? I don’t think so. Christopher Nolan dared to take the genre where it had never been before and created a highly unpredictable rollercoaster ride of thrills and emotion. The most shocking moment in the film is when The Joker reveals to Batman that the love of his life (Rachel) and Harvey Dent are about to get blown to smithereens and he can only save one.

Of course, Batman (being Batman) thinks that he can save both, and we as the audience are certain that he will too! However, we’re all left in a state of trauma after the building where Rachel is being held hostage blows up, leaving Bruce and the rest of us heartbroken.

6) Deep Blue Sea

deep

This one may be more amusing than shocking, but it’s still extraordinarily unexpected nonetheless. It features Samuel L. Jackson giving a shouty, inspirational speech that gets cut short when a killer shark jumps out behind him and gobbles him up.

The CGI is pretty terrible and the setup is so unintentionally hilarious that it’s impossible to take seriously. The moral of the story is don’t shout inspiration when you’re standing near open water and a hungry shark is on the loose.

5) Psycho

psycho-shower

This death scene is so well-known now that it’s impossible for modern audiences to be shocked by it. However, just imagine being a clueless audience member in 1960. It’s a rainy day, so you decide to pop down to the local cinema to sample the new Hitchcock movie starring Janet Leigh. The story seems quite familiar so far — a woman on the run with a bag full of cash — typical noir stuff, right? Wrong! Suddenly she makes a seemingly unimportant stop at the Bates Motel about halfway through the film, takes a shower and gets viciously stabbed by the motel owner’s mother. It’s an astounding plot twist where the film goes from innocent thriller to full-blown horror and changes the course of the narrative completely. It’s absolutely brilliant, as is the final horrific twist in the last scene.

4) Pulp Fiction

pulp

It’s a well-known fact now that no character in a Quentin Tarantino movie is safe. However, with his second feature, audiences were still getting to know Quentin’s little quirks that we all love him for today. John Travolta’s death in Pulp Fiction is particularly unexpected due to the film’s non-linear narrative. We spend most of the movie with his character and then we suddenly shift to Bruce Willis’ story, where he mercilessly guns Travolta down after he emerges from the bathroom. Bad things happen whenever that man enters the bathroom — he just needs to learn how to control his bowels.

3) The Departed

leo

Leonardo DiCaprio is no stranger to dying in films, but it looked as though he was sure to survive the Martin Scorcese directed gangster epic The Departed until, of course, he didn’t. It comes entirely out of nowhere and goes against every rule in the Hollywood book of rules. You just can’t kill off the main hero right at the end, but Scorcese went there and we love him for it. The way it’s executed is pretty unexpected, too, as Leo goes down an elevator and gets shot in the head as soon as the doors open.

2) Tony Manero

tone

Before Chilean director Pablo Larraín went on to mainstream success with his political drama, No and the more recent Oscar-nominated Jackie, he made this peculiar little drama about a man obsessed with Saturday Night Fever. It’s a darkly comic and highly disturbing look at mental illness, which features a couple of incredibly shocking death scenes at the hands of our John Travolta-obsessive protagonist.

One involves him bashing a cinema projectionist’s head in after his local theater stops showing Saturday Night Fever. However, the most shocking murder he commits is near the beginning where he helps a little old lady get home. She invites him in and the two of them watch TV until out of nowhere he slams his fists on her skull repeatedly, killing her. The stillness of the scene makes for terrifying realism and the idea of pointlessly murdering an old lady is horrifically disturbing.

1) Caché/Hidden

cache

Michael Haneke’s suspenseful thriller centers on a family receiving mysterious video tapes that feature recordings of their house. Each one gets more and more intrusive and it becomes clear that the target is the dad, Georges, who has been harboring a dark secret for years. It’s a terrifically twisty thriller that always engrosses and has just enough ambiguity to leave you haunted by the spiraling mystery. It also features the most shocking death scene I have ever seen in a film.

When Georges confronts a suspect in his flat, in mid-conversation the man grabs a nearby razor and violently slashes his throat. The camera never moves, making the death scene seem all the more raw and realistic. Georges’s reaction is also incredibly genuine: He doesn’t shriek or run out of the room, he simply stands in a state of shock and tries to contemplate what has just happened, as does the audience.

Oh look, you made it to the end without getting bumped off. What’s the one death scene that left you in a state of disbelief?

The 7 Greatest David Lynch Movies Not Directed By David

0

fofpivmeqwzcofspg2oe

David Lynch is a director so distinctive that his style has been given his own term: “Lynchian.” Urban dictionary has the word defined as “having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane,” but it could also be used to describe a film that’s surreal or dreamlike. And while no one makes movies quite like Lynch, there are a few that bear a striking resemblance.

Audiences might feel a little Lynched out at the moment with Twin Peaks gleefully hitting our screens again every week, but when that’s over you know you’re going to need something bizarre to keep you sane. Below you’ll find seven films that all resemble a Lynch movie in different ways.

Read full article here:
https://moviepilot.com/p/greatest-david-lynch-movies-not-directed-by-david-lynch/4319510