There have been numerous film adaptations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, featuring everyone from Sandra Dee (The Dunwich Horror) to Nicolas Cage (Color Out of Space). However, it was the late filmmaker Stuart Gordon who best managed to capture the peculiar and often perverse charms of Lovecraft’s work. With their combination of weirdo humor, bizarre imagery, kinky sex, grisly bloodshed and better-than-expected performances, his Re-Animator and From Beyond became instant cult classics and unquestioned high points of the entire horror genre in the 1980s. Continue Reading →
The low-budget confines of Blumhouse movies mean that any idea can become a movie, including bold original visions like Whiplash or Get Out. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of subpar stuff can easily get the green light. The latest example is the new Amazon/Blumhouse collaboration, Totally Killer. Hailing from director Nahnatchka Khan, Totally Killer dares to ask a question no reasonable soul was pondering. “What if Happy Death Day and Hot Tub Time Machine had a tedious baby?” Buckle up, horror devotees. Here comes yet another dose of 1980s nostalgia and some frighteningly lousy editing. Continue Reading →
Fair Play is all about the rules of engagement—in business, in bed, in relationships—and the chaos that ensues when someone who lives and dies by those rules suspects his partner is breaking them. However, it isn’t the fairness of the righteous or the just she’s violating. No, it is the unwritten rules he believes everyone should play the game by. Continue Reading →
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Cory Finley is obsessed with money. His characters have nice things or want them. They live in beautiful houses or enviously plot to get them. Even in the year 2036, with aliens living on (or, more precisely, about two miles above) planet Earth, people still fret over money and try to make scads of it. That’s the state of things in his latest, Landscape with Invisible Hand. It’s a title with the same bespoke aestheticism as the stuffed ocelots and oversized chess pieces his characters own. It feels seemingly designed to scare off less curious viewers. While the film has an awful lot of plot, the undergirding is the same. As in his 2017 debut Thoroughbreds, his follow-up Bad Education, and even his episodes of the abysmal miniseries WeCrashed, the drama comes from the idea of what money does to the soul. Continue Reading →
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
The Last Voyage of the Demeter feels like a movie from a different era. To a point, it is—writer Bragi Schut first drafted his adaptation of the 'Log of the "Demeter"' sequence in Bram Stoker's Dracula in the early 2000s. It's a capital letters Hollywood Creature Feature—a grimmer straight horror cousin to 2004's action/horror hybrid Van Helsing. At its best, it's an admirably gnarly monster flick—bolstered by sturdy craft from director André Øvredal and consistently good performances from a game ensemble. At its worst, it loses confidence and resorts to bumbling attempts to guide its audience by the hand—most notably in its prologue and epilogue. Continue Reading →
We Need to Do Something
Sean King O'Grady directs a claustrophobic horror film that has a lot of potential, but just misses the mark.
We Need to Do Something, the debut feature from Sean King O’Grady, is a horror film that can easily be read on two different levels, though your mileage with it will vary depending on which one you choose to follow. As a straightforward horror yarn, albeit with moments of grotesque black humor thrown in from time to time, it contains a few interesting elements but never finds a way to pull them together into a completely satisfying whole. On the other hand, if one regards the whole enterprise on a more overtly symbolic level, it gains a little more in terms of power and effectiveness.
Yet, even then it also tends to lose its way especially once the fairly potent central metaphor gives way to less interesting instances of bloodshed. In either case, it ends on such a clunky and ineffective note that viewers may get the sense that O’Grady and screenwriter Max Booth III have just been screwing with them, a feeling enhanced by the all-too-apt choice for a key musical cue towards the end. Continue Reading →