If you have finished watching the film Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and are looking for other movies like it, here is a list of options to consider.
Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller.
Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s (also odd and occasionally off-putting) novel of the same name, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the titular character, a lonely young woman stuck in a miserable rut. Living in the most depressing town in Massachusetts circa 1964, Eileen is forced to take care of her alcoholic, mean-spirited father (a chilling Shea Whigham, still somehow not one of Hollywood’s biggest stars), a former cop who’s taken to waving his gun at their neighbors. Working as a secretary at a juvenile detention center, though she’s in her twenties she comes off as someone much younger, a meek and awkward child merely dressing up as an adult. Eileen also has a child’s taste for doing things like ignoring her hygiene, stuffing herself with candy, and compulsively masturbating, while maintaining a rich fantasy life involving rough sex with a detention center guard, or murdering her father. Her boredom has reached pathological levels. Continue Reading →
A Haunting in Venice
The first two entries in director/actor Kenneth Branagh’s foray into Agatha Christie adaptation lost the magic of the English writer’s mysteries. With his third attempt, A Haunting in Venice, Branagh decides to make considerable changes to the story. Using the bones of Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, writer Michael Green changes the setting from a small town in the English countryside to a palazzo in Venice. Branagh emphasizes the gothic elements of Christie’s story, leaning on the horror of the location, the manic nature of the children’s Halloween party, and the gruesome moments before and after an unexpected death. Continue Reading →
“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again…” So begins Daphne du Maurier’s gothic masterwork Rebecca, one of the most famous opening lines in fiction. Rebecca proved a hit upon release in 1938 and has remained in print ever since. Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation, coming just two years later, netted him his first Best Director nomination. That interpretation of the text has come to be considered a classic, and with good reason. Its misty black-and-white photography and mysteries hypnotize. Continue Reading →
The Lost Daughter
Much to the Republican Party’s dismay, the birth rate in the United States has been gradually on the decline, hitting an all-time low in 2020. Couples are not only waiting longer to have children, they’re having less of them, with an average of 1.6 per family. While climate change and cost of living expenses are the primary factors in the decision to have fewer children (or none at all), a small part of it can also be attributed to more people accepting a difficult truth: that raising children can be an incredibly hard and thankless task. Maggie Gyllenhaal makes an assured debut as a writer and director in her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter, a complicated and strangely moving psychological drama/thriller about two women who bond over this truth. Continue Reading →
The Power of the Dog
Contains spoilers about The Power of the Dog (read our spoiler-free review here) Continue Reading →
After spending more than two decades living in the shadow of Norman Bates, the character that he played to such indelible effect in Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking classic Psycho (1960), Anthony Perkins finally came to terms with the character that ensured his place in cinema history by electing to appear in Psycho II (1983), which picked up the story of his character with his release after spending 22 years in an asylum and his ill-fated decision to return to his childhood home and its adjacent motel. Continue Reading →
The action genre has a special built-in cheat code where the movie can be so stupid that it becomes a fun experience. There’re also action films like Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, streaming on Paramount Plus this month, which is idiotic on a level that’s so extreme it becomes a chore to watch. Continue Reading →
80 minutes into Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, the titular surprise attack finally arrives. It is, without a doubt, one of the most virtuosic action set pieces ever committed to the screen, a flawlessly orchestrated symphony of carnage that burns for close to 40 minutes. Everything that you could possibly hope for from a maximalist, hyperkinetic blockbuster spectacle is here. There’s fire cascading, plumes of black smoke rising, bullets and bombs raining down, planes tumbling from the skies, boats being torn asunder, and bodies being flung about like ragdolls. Annihilation and national tragedy have never looked so stunning or—and it feels gross saying this—felt so exhilarating. Continue Reading →
Those Who Wish Me Dead
While Those Who Wish Me Dead is coming out in theaters this weekend (be safe, especially if you're not vaccinated!), it's probably the movie to benefit most from Warner Bros. pandemic-fueled decision to simultaneously throw their releases up on HBO Max. From stem to stern, Taylor Sheridan's latest feels like the kind of movie you'd find on old-school HBO in the '90s, or FX or TNT, watching with your dad over a holiday weekend. It's silly, forgettable schlock, and yet I can't get too mad at it. Continue Reading →
The Truth About Charlie
Every month, we at The Spool select a filmmaker to explore in greater depth — their themes, their deeper concerns, how their works chart the history of cinema and the filmmaker’s own biography. For February, we’re celebrating acclaimed genre-bender Jonathan Demme. Read the rest of our coverage here.
Jonathan Demme’s The Truth About Charlie is a miscalculation on every level. As a meat-and-potatoes thriller, it fails utterly. As an exercise in style, it’s disjointed and unimpressive. A remake of Stanley Donen’s 1963 Hitchcockian comic mystery, Charade, could’ve brought out Demme’s humor, something largely absent from his films post-1990. Instead, the movie is a joyless, dull affair, resulting in something completely unnecessary.
The film follows the broad plot of the original movie: a woman on holiday in Europe meets a mysterious man. When she finds out her husband has been murdered, she gets caught up in a game of international intrigue, fortune-seeking, and mistaken identity. While the original starred Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, The Truth About Charlie stars Thandie Newton and Mark Wahlberg. Already the film has an issue—namely, that Newton and Wahlberg are no Hepburn and Grant. A simple comparison to the original movie is warranted only because The Truth About Charlie is so hollow and unmotivated that the comparison has to be made. Otherwise, it's incomprehensible as a work of art. Continue Reading →
The Night Clerk
Michael Cristofer's first movie since 2001 is a low-key thriller that respects its characters, even if its setup isn't too original.
As a general rule, people love to watch what other people do, especially if the person they’re watching isn’t aware of it. It gives us endless fascination to see how someone else acts when they think that they’re alone. But while knowing someone’s secrets can be fun, knowledge can also be a burden. Michael Cristofer returns to the director’s chair after an almost 20-year absence to explore what happens when you see something you shouldn’t in his drama, The Night Clerk.
Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) likes to watch people not for unsavory reasons, but instead to learn from them. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and, to better understand human interactions, watches the guests of the hotel where he works via hidden cameras that he’s set up in the guestrooms. One night, Bart’s cameras record a woman getting murdered, causing Bart to rush to the hotel to save her. Since Bart was off at the time his appearance at his workplace rouses the suspicion of Detective Johnny Espada (John Leguizamo). While the case is being investigated, Bart is transferred to another location. There he meets and quickly becomes infatuated with guest Andrea (Ana de Armas) and as the duo bond, Bart starts to feel a little less lonely, but Andrea has secrets of her own.
Despite featuring a murder and a protagonist who records people without their consent, this is a story about loneliness and connection. Most of the plot centers on the relationship between Bart and Andrea with the crime elements being relegated to Johnny’s subplot until the climax. This isn’t a bad angle to take, but it may be a turn off for audiences who are expecting a taut thriller. Continue Reading →
The Call of the Wild
Disney continues to shuffle off Fox's remaining output with this limp, awkward adaptation of the Jack London novel.
Jack London started writing The Call of the Wild at the dawn of the 20th century after traveling through Yukon country during the height of the Gold Rush. It was in this period of blind human ambition and greed that he conceived of a story told through a dog’s eyes. The very good dog, Buck, starts as a civilized house pet before being stolen and sold as a sled dog in Alaska. There he gets passed from owner to owner, some much nicer than others, and along the way discovers that his destiny is not with humans but with the beasts of the wilderness, like his ancestors before him.
It’s a beautifully written and visceral adventure about the brutality of man, the overwhelming power of nature, and the freedom we’re capable of when we turn our back on society’s rules. On the other hand, the new film adaptation of The Call of the Wild has all the thematic weight of an Air Bud sequel.
Director Chris Sanders, who is very accomplished in the world of animated film with credits like How to Train Your Dragon and Lilo & Stitch to his name, finds himself in no man’s land in the world of live-action. In order to really dig into the book’s themes and capture the harrowing journey Buck goes through, it’s necessary to make it a brutal animated movie like Watership Down. But that would be too much for any Disney-owned studio. Instead, we get a very saturated version of the novel that relies on a CGI dog that looks like a reject from Marmaduke. Continue Reading →
The Rhythm Section
Though cinematographer Reed Morano shows some directing chops, the Blake Lively thriller is uneven in style & tone.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Reed Morano’s bracing The Rhythm Section follows its own beat. Misleading marketing and the dreaded late January dump positioned it as a gender-reversed thriller in the vein of Liam Neeson’s recent run of revenge thrillers with expert journeyman Jaume Collet-Serra -- but the film is exhilaratingly out of step with the autopilot assassin stylings of the John Wicks of the world.
Whereas Keanu Reeves’ multiplex conquering series has largely thrived as moody but absurdist routines of grotesque precision; nothing about the capabilities of Stephanie Patrick (an unusually wan Blake Lively) could be considered automatic. If anything, DP Sean Bobbit and Morano shoot every scene with a life-or-death urgency – all trembling limbs and determined close ups – that refuse to shy away from the physical realities of a brittle frame faced with hardened professionals who won’t hesitate to pull the trigger, let alone, level a young woman with a body blow to the gut.
Stephanie isn’t a damsel in distress by any means, but the film has been almost completely drained of the usual power fantasy element that courses through these tales of vengeance to the point that she begins the film coded at her rock bottom as a sex worker and addict beaten down by losing her whole family in a mysterious plane crash. That choice outlines the film’s occasional jarring limits of empathy, but it’s nonetheless telling in placing the first half of the film closer to melodrama than genre film. Continue Reading →