Mark Holcomb

“Never, ever aspire to enter the ‘middle class,’ only work to expand it to the breaking point.”

Favorite films

  • Born in Flames
  • Empty Metal
  • Bacurau
  • The Battle of Algiers

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  • The Juniper Tree

    ★★★★

  • Run, Angel, Run!

    ★★★½

  • The Home

    ★★★

  • Prayers for the Stolen

    ★★★★

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  • The Book of Stone

    The Book of Stone

    ★★★½

    Once it’s finally airborne (and stiff leading man Cordero recedes into the background) this is completely satisfying modern-gothic horror, with gorgeously composed setups and lighting, suitably overwrought characterizations, and — for me, anyway — a surprising and bleak climax. Call it Wuthering Shallows. I’ll be seeking out Taboada’s other films, and soon.

  • Twisted Nerve

    Twisted Nerve

    ★★★★

    A real sixties joint: 1960s style, 1860s science, 1760s morality. Don’t ever change, England.

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  • Run, Angel, Run!

    Run, Angel, Run!

    ★★★½

    Dirtbags on road bikes, with enough cruelty and derangement to make it a squeaker for this list.

    It’s essentially a western chase-revenge movie with motorcycles instead of horses (the latter seeming quite a bit more reliable), but the recycled plot is applied with surprising success. And low-rent aesthetics and William Smith’s grooming aside, the central narrative pull between irresponsible vagabond life and stifling, settled squaredom is well developed and admirably equivocal. The women characters pick up the tab for the…

  • The Home

    The Home

    ★★★

    I originally wasn’t going to log this because it’s so slight, but a couple of nights after watching it its bogeymen creepy-crawled their way into my nightmares — profoundly so. Well done in that regard.

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  • It Comes at Night

    It Comes at Night

    ★★★★

    The title’s practically meaningless, a lure to get inveterate horror fans to sit still for a movie that pivots on loss, lies, attachment fear, bloodthirsty patriarchal ineptitude, and a pair of fatal acts of kindness. Horror is what we do to each other, kids.

    I have no problem with this approach, especially in a film that uses interior space and light so beautifully and that wields dread-for-the-sake-of-dread with such expertise. I had low expectations but high hopes going into this; all of the latter were exceeded.

  • The Shallows

    The Shallows

    Most effective as a subverted Disney princess movie: The male dreamboat turns up too late to do much good, and doesn't even take measures to keep his beloved from choking on her own spit-up; the cute animal sidekick considers said spit-up a meal; the villain can't wait to make a meal out of our heroine; she buys him lunch.

    Least effective as a scary shark movie: The CGI monster is too weightless to be menacing, and it's grumpy and vindictive…