Frank Showalter

Frank Showalter

Quality reviews of films of questionable quality.

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  • The Invitation

    The Invitation

    ★★★★

    Logan Marshall-Green plays a man invited to his estranged ex’s house for a dinner party. He brings his new girlfriend. As the evening unfolds, he withdraws, suspecting something sinister afoot. Is he right, or has his troubled past caught up with him?

    Revisiting The Invitation after several years, I found it even more engaging. I loved Marshall-Green’s underplayed performance. He conveys volumes in a single look.

    I also loved the languid pace. I recognized several hints pointing toward the film’s…

  • The Cabin in the Woods

    The Cabin in the Woods

    ★★★★★

    Five college kids head out for a weekend in a remote cabin secluded deep in the woods. There, one unleashes a supernatural evil.

    There’s wit to spare in Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s literate horror film deconstruction. It lays bare the genre’s tropes in their logic-defying glory. This “loving hate letter” proves self-referential almost to the point of parody, serving up equal parts genuine thrills and acerbic black comedy. That it doubles as a meta trap-movie places it so snug in my wheelhouse, it’s as though they wrote it just for me.

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  • Up the River

    Up the River

    ★★★★

    Debut feature for both Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart. Tracy plays the beloved ace pitcher for a prison baseball team. He’s the sort of inmate who, after returning to prison following a failed escape, assures the warden he’ll give notice before his next attempt.

    Tracy befriends another convict played by Bogart who’s nearing parole. Bogie’s sweet on an inmate in the neighboring woman‘s prison played by Claire Luce. Once Bogie’s released, Luce’s former partner, a scam artist, gets wind of…

  • Mandy

    Mandy

    ★★★★★

    Nicolas Cage plays a logger in the Pacific Northwest living a bucolic life with his girlfriend Mandy. A Manson-like cult invades their home, murders Mandy, and leaves Red for dead. But Red survives and descends on the cult like a hellish spirit of vengeance.

    Imagine fitting David Lynch, Clive Barker, and Sam Raimi with headphones pumping out doom metal, dosing them with LSD, then capturing their fever dreams. That’s an inkling of Mandy. You don’t so much watch it as…