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  • The Favourite

    The Favourite


    A second viewing has clarified the degree to which the film's central emotional throughline is the Queen's decision whether to prize truth or obsequiousness in love. This is a rather mundane and human concern for a Lanthimos film, yet it exerts for me an emotional pull that defuses somewhat the director's approach which is so often and aptly described as Kubrickian.

    At the same time, there's much to appreciate here on those very terms from a visual perspective, with the…

  • The House That Jack Built

    The House That Jack Built


    Deconstructing Lars

    At least as funny as the Allen film to boot.

  • The Head

    The Head


    A medieval warrior battles a series of beasts out of Beowulf, each of which is left off-screen, until his quest for revenge leaves him facing off against a creature that could have been borrowed from the sci-fi cult classic Fiend Without a Face. This final battle is depicted in gory detail, but it might be a tad too little, too late for what feels mostly like an accomplished display of what kind of production design one can manage on a small budget.

  • The Dead Center

    The Dead Center


    This would-be missing cadaver mystery is very clever in the ways that it juggles its procedural elements to build interest that its otherwise straightforward plot might not. Director Senese manages to both convey a sense of delgammed realism and to infuse the film with a palpable sense of style. The cast, led by director Shane Carruth, is uniformly strong in an unshowy manner, grounding the supernatural premise convincingly.

  • The Dark

    The Dark


    The template set out in Romero’s Martin and later resuscitated by Let the Right One In is surely beginning to wear thin by now, but this examination of a young sex abuse victim turned zombie is more sensitively handled than most of its ilk. Though it’s easy to imagine objections to the way that victimhood is depicted here, the film’s melding of genre elements and the arc from traumatic event to recovery struck me as well-handled. The slow pace might be a fairly considered a detriment, given that the film isn’t especially atmospheric or suspenseful.

  • DeadTectives



    A cringeworthy first third eventually gives way to a supernatural horror comedy that warrants comparisons to Jackson’s The Frighteners. Some of the jokes don’t land here, but the bulk of the film, set in a Mexican haunted villa, adeptly blends effects, action, and slapstick.

  • Terrified



    Plays almost like the first two Japanese The Grudge films in that it’s largely content to create devious horror scenarios and then cut away at a peak moment of terror, leaving the rest to our imaginations. This is a strong approach that I wish that more horror films adopted. Indeed, this only flags when it veers into moments of expositional clarity. Get this director to Blumhouse ASAP...

  • Anna and the Apocalypse

    Anna and the Apocalypse


    Having seen neither Glee nor High School Musical, I can’t tell if the consistently overemphatic line delivery here is homage or an indication of a cast that are singers first and actors second. In any case, several of the songs are better than to be expected in a zombie musical and so is the execution for the film’s first half. Things peak midway with a cleverly staged number depicting the teens’ obliviousness to the carnage around them. After that highlight,…

  • Mega Time Squad

    Mega Time Squad


    A low-stakes Kiwi comedy that generates most of its yuks from foul language. The time-travel premise is mildly intriguing at first but ultimately adds little to yet another tale of a man in the throes of arrrsted development becoming more fully realized via an underdeveloped female character’s intervention.

  • Open 24 Hours

    Open 24 Hours


    Gory and occasionally suspenseful slasher film that’s mostly distinguished by having a final girl with a loose grip on reality.

  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space

    Killer Klowns from Outer Space


    A classic from my childhood, this holds up well as one of the ‘80s more inventive creature features.

  • Free Solo

    Free Solo


    An utterly gripping assemblage of self-justifying rationales driving some utterly irrational behaviors.