• We Need to Do Something

    We Need to Do Something

    Review by Benjamin Poole

    Just thinking back to the first lockdown and the giggles we had. Remember Joe Wicks doing keep fit for people with unfeasibly large sitting rooms? Queuing to get into Lidl? Pub quizzes over Zoom? What were all that about, eh?! And, within the online horror film community, this ongoing chin stroking speculation concerning How Horror Will Respond To The Pandemic. Problem with such conjecture was that the first lockdown was essentially an alienating sensation of jaded,…

  • Dune

    Dune

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune is beloved by the sort of blokes who corner you in the kitchen of house parties and lecture you about its continued relevance. "Frank was a prophet, man," they intone as they pass you a spliff. Perhaps they're right. Watching Denis Villeneuve's crack at adapting Herbert's book - which opens with a military power leaving a desert land only for it to be quickly taken over by another force – it's…

  • Halloween Kills

    Halloween Kills

    Review by Eric Hillis

    When I was a teenager I was one of those annoying geeks who would take every mishandled sequel or remake as a personal slight. I'd corner people at parties to moan about how Eminem and Daft Punk were just lazily sampling classic funk and disco tunes. I was one of those plonkers who always claimed the foreign language original was far superior. At some point I wisely stopped giving a shit about such matters. My favourite…

  • Inexorable

    Inexorable

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Household pets rarely make it to the end of psychological thrillers, especially if there's a vindictive femme fatale about. Who can forget that poor bunny boiled alive by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or Mark Wahlberg decapitating Reese Witherspoon's pet pooch in Fear? (Okay, you've probably forgotten the latter, but it's the only part of that movie that's stuck with me all these years).

    Belgian filmmaker Fabrice du Welz has made a career out of playing…

  • The French Dispatch

    The French Dispatch

    Review by Eric Hillis

    The French Dispatch is unmistakably a Wes Anderson movie. It boasts sumptuous production and costume design, exquisite framing, a staggering ensemble cast and a yearning for a lost era that probably only exists in the minds of those born too late to have actually experienced it. Whether or not this is a good thing will depend on how highly you regard Anderson's work. Personally, I struggle with most of his films, though I always admire them.…

  • Invisible Life

    Invisible Life

    Review by Benjamin Poole

    Published in 2016, Martha Batalha’s The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, a magic realism inflected novel which looks at the social contexts of 1940s to 1960s Rio via the lives of two estranged sisters, generated a critical commentary which focused on the novel’s presentation of the role of women in mid-century Brazil, and the particularly crafted voice of Eurídice, whose first person narration specified female experience. In an author’s note, Batalha claims her fiction has a…

  • The Beta Test

    The Beta Test

    Review by Eric Hillis

    With Thunder Road and The Wolf of Snow Hollow, writer/director/leading man Jim Cummings established himself as one of the most exciting American indie auteurs to arrive on the scene in the last decade. His shtick is so distinctive (all his films are centred on men, played by himself, having some sort of breakdown as they attempt to negotiate the stress of their careers and other inconveniences) that it's a surprise to see him share writing and…

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    Review by Eric Hillis

    After helping to revolutionise the TV commercial, director Ridley Scott made his feature film debut in 1977 with The Duellists. That movie told the story of two French noblemen who engage in a series of duels. Now at what is presumably the tail end of his long and remarkably prolific career, Scott tells another tale of duelling Gallic toffs.

    As its title suggests, The Last Duel tells the story of the last legally sanctioned duel to…

  • The East

    The East

    Review by Benjamin Poole

    As an archipelago with lucrative spice and cash crop potentials, seventeenth century Indonesia was a territory ripe for Western colonisation. Recognised as the Dutch East Indies from 1603 (the appellation Indonesia was only ‘officially’ accepted in 1949), during this era of European rule the indigenous people made certain moves towards independence. Limited emancipation was granted much later by the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies during World War II - where, due only to the…

  • Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

    Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

    Review by Eric Hillis

    If you're lucky, an anthology film will deliver one good segment out of its collection of three, four or more individual stories. Writer/director Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is the rare portmanteau drama that keeps you sufficiently gripped through each of its segments. If this were a short story collection it would be a page turner.

    The three segments are really short films in their own right. They're connected by a thin tissue of…

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Daniel Craig's tenure in the tux ends with a literal bang in No Time to Die. His final film in the role opens with several bangs too. But between the bombastic opening 45 minutes and the explosive climax there's an awfully long whimper.

    Cary Joji Fukunaga, who is remarkably the first American to direct a Bond movie, lays down a strong marker in a beautifully constructed opening sequence that flashes back to the childhood of Lea…

  • Seance

    Seance

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Spaghetti westerns of the late 1960s and slasher movies of the early 1980s often shared the same template. A prologue usually showed the death of someone at the hands of a group responsible for their demise. In spaghetti westerns the victim was always downright murdered while in slashers their death was usually through misadventure, more often than not as a result of a prank going wrong. The movie would then cut to some later point in…