A woman who believes that she will die tomorrow spreads her thoughts to others around her in a small town like a contagion : I’ve seen a bunch of strange movies this year but Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow takes the biscuit : from it’s flashing colors, dreamlike images and a cover of Mozart’s Lacrimosa playing on repeat, Seimetz’s picture is both haunting and strangely captivating as we find ourselves witnessing some highly irregular characters going about their daily life talking about the sex life of Dolphins, wanting to come back from death as a leather jacket and rivers flowing with period blood : I’m not sure I got what the movie was trying to say but it’s cast especially Kate Lyn Sheil who is quite mesmerising as the free spirited Amy, who loves nothing more than pouring out her emotions by the touch of a wall or floor board as she slow dances in her own space and the PJ wearing, confused Jane played by the tremendous Jane Adams makes She Dies Tomorrow insanely gnarly, utterly watchable and without question thought provoking : overall this movie will divide many with it’s unusual plot line, tackling the likes of anxiety, death etc and believe me it’s not an easy watch but as a movie fan I highly recommend you give it a go, it’s original story telling which is rare these days, colors that engulf the screen creating this alternate reality appearance, the fabulous ensemble with Josh Lucas, Chris Messina and Michelle Rodriguez in minor roles and the fact that Amy Seimetz’s talent and voice needs to be explored more in the future makes this movie essential viewing ★★★★
A young girl and her hunter father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack by the order of the Lord Protector. But everything changes when she sneeks out one day and accidently comes across Mebh a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe that are rumored to be able to transform into wolves : I’m struggling to find the right words to express how much I love WOLFWALKERS a 2D animated feature from filmmakers Moore & Stewart : like Studio Ghibli at their finest Wolfwalkers sucked me into the film’s story, it’s colorful characters and allowed me to feel part of this breathtaking folktale adventure that takes place in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1650 : from the moment they appear on the screen it’s clear that Mebh, Robyn and her besty a falcon named Merlin would become your friends, their characters are built with warmth, charm and are truly magical : I found the the swashbuckling animation to be flawless with it’s wooded landcape, the walled town of Kilkenny and it’s surrounding area coming to life in a rather exquisite and throughly exciting way, and along with it’s already stunning score the song Running with the Wolves by the amazing Aurora was a perfect addition : and how about the vocals of Eva Whittaker as Mebh and Honor Kneafsey as Robyn with both young actors breathing a fiery passion into these two wonderful characters with their own unique spoken word : overall Wolfwalkers is a freshly original animated picture that tugged on my heart strings and gave me the biggest smile whilst watching a movie this year : OUTSTANDING ★★★★★
For me the rules of a great Festive Movie are quite simple : try and make the person who’s watching feel good, put a big Cheshire Cat smile on their face and spread that heartfelt message of love, hope and well wishes far & wide : each year around early December our home is full of Christmas Cheer and we love nothing more than to revisit some of our favorite movies : alternate festive treats such as Die Hard and Gremlins, classics of yesteryear such as The Goonies and Raiders but without question each and every year the Absolute Top Four always get a looking : Richard Donner’s magnificent Scrooged, Frank Capra’s emotionally acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life, The Griswalds send me into hysterics in Christmas Vacation and Ron Howard magical family movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas : for me these movies embody everything that makes this time of year so special……. what’s you favorite festive movies?
A girl born into an all-female cult following this messiah-like-figure who calls himself the Shepherd : I’m not really a big fan of movies that revolve around cults, the mere thought of people brainwashed into following someone’s else’s believes makes me sick to my stomach, however there are occassions when a movie moves me in a particular way and Małgorzata Szumowska’s THE OTHER LAMB is one of them films : I think what makes this film more intriguing is it’s coming-of-age story of Selah one of the Sisters as she starts to question her role in The Flock whilst herself becoming a women, having her first period and slowly starting to see things within the group as they really are : Michał Englert’s beautiful cinematography, unusual camera angles, it’s Irish backdrop and the costumes worn by the wives and sisters in the movie adds so much to the horror and depth of The Other Lamb and although this may not be your conventional horror film, it’s scares lie with it’s intelligent narrative, slow build up, unnerving performances and a subject matter that dances around religion, patriarchy and sacrifice that sent shivers down my spine ★★★★
A family of fur trappers who live in a remote wilderness find their tranquility threatened by what they think is a wolf, but something else has been stalking the woods and Joseph, Anne and Renee are about to find out what : WOW !! I wasn’t really prepared for this movie and I’m not just talking about it’s macabre, unforgettable finale but also the harshness of it’s story about a family that live off the grid in the Canadian wilderness, living off the land, killing animals for their fur whilst teaching their young daughter to set traps, to shoot a gun, skin animals and generally learning how to fend for herself without little knowledge of the outside world : during the opening twenty minutes of Hunter Hunter I realised that I didn’t care much for the parents, their treatment of Renee and the animals butchered for monetary gain didn’t particular sit well with me so I was rather hoping that the rogue wolf that had been terrorising the area for years would finally get even, it would have been a slice of karma but things don’t always go to plan and the course of the movie was about to shift and things were about to get real : without giving too much away my only criticism with the film is that I felt that the plot could have expanded to include more backstory to some of the more relevant aspects throughout, that being said filmmaker Shawn Linden captures the danger of inhabiting the wilderness with a provocative, tense driven ride that explodes during it’s final act which what can only be described as incredible : ONE TO WATCH ★★★½
Following the loss of their son in a freak accident, a retired sheriff and his wife leave their ranch in Montana to rescue their young grandson from the Weboys, a dangerous family living deep in the heart of the Dakotas : if it’s action or light hearted entertainment your after then Let Him Go is certainly not for you, the sombre tone throughout is backed up by it’s hard hitting narrative, you’d think you were watching something by Taylor Sheridan but instead it’s directed by Thomas Bezucha based on a novel written by Larry Watson and what an excellent job he does too : watching two old pros in Lane and Costner deliver screen magic by simply talking around a breakfast table, drinking a coffee whilst on a roadtrip or sleeping the night in an empty prison cell is what I call BLISS and luckily for me there’s plenty of character investment in Watson’s sombre driven story, a real hearty, honest picture that examines getting old, loosing loved ones, abuse and fighting for what you believe in no matter what the cost : one of my favorite moments in the movie is when George & Margaret arrive at the Weboy’s for dinner and sit around the table, it’s polite until it’s not and your just made to feel as uncomfortable as the characters in the scene watching it all play out : overall Let Him Go is a real belter of a movie, it’s a slow paced, character driven mystery western that delivers an intense final act with stunning photography and a powerhouse display by Lesley Manville as Blanche Weboy ★★★★½
After losing his wife in a car accident, a father relocates to a new home with his daughter, but things go horribly wrong when strange things start to happen and his daughter vanishes after being cared for by a local nanny : with shades of the Ring and James Wan’s Insideous Kim Kwang-bin’s THE CLOSET is a chilling ghost story that tells of personal grief and trauma of others : apart from a short back in 2011 this is Kim Kwang-bin’s directorial debut that he also wrote, and what a spooky way to start your career behind the camera, the film is dark, it deals with disturbing images and has a haunting message that you’ll discover deep inside the belly of Kwang-bin’s storytelling : there’s moments during every good horror movie when the penny drops and during The Closet the real pay off comes with a small flashback scene involving Myung-jin and what happened to her, it’s disturbing and is certainly a choke you up moment that I didn’t see coming, the combination of supernatural elements, creepy characters and eye peeling effects mixed with a bunch of relatable characters creates the perfect balance in the movie and one I found extremely fun to watch : I loved the father and daughter played by Ha Jung-woo and Heo Yool both are excellent in their respective roles, Heo Yool’s Yi-na especially is quite innocent to begin with and then changes when the evil gets hold, super scary and those rolling eyes GULP, I also found the local exorcist played by the superb Kim Nam-gil who involves himself with the father in helping him find his daughter was a brilliant touch adding that bit of Poltergeist/Insideous element to proceedings : overall The Closet is worth every minute of your time, it’s a thought provoking, gut twisting ghost tale that packs a punch ★★★★
After falling in love, an infamous bank robber known as the In-and-Out Bandit agrees to return all the money he has stolen in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two unsavoury FBI agents set him up for murder, he has no option but to go on the run and clear his name : although the film’s storyline is predictable, similar to those that have come before it’s Liam Neeson’s presence & acting chops that carries the movie forward, still looking convincing in a genre he’s owned for the last ten years or more and that saying something considering the veteran turned sixty eight in June, he’s also well supported by his knockout co-star Kate Walsh who’s not only a delight to watch but the chemistry between the two is extremely evident from the moment their characters first meet in the storage facility, the scenes between the two are superb : there’s also Jeffrey Donovan’s FBI Agent and his pet dog who make for a great double act, Jai Courtney’s turn as a dirty agent is fun if not a little samey and the fight in the hotel room and subsequent chase scenes with the rogue FBI agents trying to catch their man are pacey and well filmed : I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Patrick but overall Honest Thief is an entertaining, well oiled and effective action thriller that I had fun with and enjoyed ★★★½
Two women in South Korea who are from different times connect through a phone call which interchange their fates in an unexpected & devistating way : the horror genre in South Korea is insanely exciting, beautiful and shocking at times and THE CALL from director Lee Chung-hyun continues that trend with it’s blistering violence, originality and crazy twists that leave you breathless when the film ends and your pondering what on earth just happened? : I love the way Chung-hyun slowly builds the tension making you belive one thing and then quickly turning the screw with flashes of diabolical cruelty that has an effect on both main characters in the movie, Kim Seo-yeon played by the wonderful Park Shin-hye recently seen in #Alive and Oh Young-sook played by the tremendous Burning actress Jeon Jong-seo, both actresses are top notch with Jong-seo delivering a searing display that’s quite unforgettable in the film’s final third : the camera work around the house by Jo Young-jik is tremendous giving each & every scene a darkness, a sense of foreboding and combine this with the film’s lightening and sound The Call really is a tense, agonising watch : there are loads of haunting moments in the movie but the highlights for me are Young-sook and the strawberry guy when he discovers the bags in the freezer is utterly bone chilling, those scenes with Young-sook being whipped by her adpotive shaman mother is terrifying, Kim’s dad disintegrating whilst sat in the passenger seat of a car she’s driving is mouth wide shocking and those final ten insane minutes will blow your mind : so if you love your South Korean horror or you’ve not seen any and want a superb introduction then check out Lee Chung-hyun The Call it’s SUPERB ★★★★
Born on the 1st December 1935 in Brooklyn New York, Woody Allen is one of the most prolific American Filmmakers, his work has spanned decades, won numerous awards and been the topic of conversation since What’s Up, Tiger Lily back in 1966 : for me what makes a Woody Allen picture so special is his ability to direct a film from his own written material, he has more Oscar Nominations (16) for writing than anyone else and has also starred in most of them too : I’ve seen each of his movies multiple times and could write a different Top Four for each day of the week : his career has been an absolute joy to watch over the years and I’m so thankful that I’ve been here to enjoy the ride…..
One of my favorite Woody Allen quotes : My sets are boring. Nothing exciting ever happens, and I barely talk to the actors
A young boy battles the complexities of life with his father : I really, really enjoyed Mark Webber’s THE PLACE OF NO WORDS : it’s hard to interpret the film’s true meaning to Mark but for me it’s an exquisite, fantastical journey centered around life, death and it’s beyond : the film has touches of Labyrinth and other such fairy tales and is beautifully shot in North Wales, the rugged landscape of Snowdonia is captured in breathtaking style especially the scenes involving father and son as they battle the elements on their journey of self discovery : for one so young the film’s star Bodhi Palmer gives a magical performance and is well supported by his real life parents Teresa Palmer & director Mark Webber with Nicole Berger delivering a wonderful turn as an enchanting fairy : I love and desperately want a Grumbler, their scenes with Bodhi were beautiful and that creepy moment in the film when this creature emerged from this slushy pool is still giving me nightmares : with the lack of originality on our screens The Place of No Words is a breath of fresh air, an emotional, personal journey that’s tough to think about let alone film with a four year old child : a truly unique and quite wonderful piece of filmmaking ★★★★½
On a secluded farm, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows and a sense that something evil is taking over the family : I really LOVE scary movies and Bryan Bertino’s THE DARK AND THE WICKED does not disappoint : it’s an unsettling rather loathsome horror film that reeks of EVIL at every turn, from it’s deliberately slow start that peels back the layers to it’s grim, nightmarish finale with grisly scene’s such as the knitting needle, dad on the cealing, the slaughtered cattle and those chopped mushy fingers The Dark and the Wicked is certainly in keeping with the filmmakers twisted horror style : I really love the farmhouse at the centre of the film’s bleakness, from those bottles, horseshoes and hooks that hang from the rope ends in the cattle pen to it’s nerve jangling interior including it’s dimly lit kitchen and dad’s death surrounding bedroom Bertino manages to get under your skin early on, not everything is what it seems and the emotion pouring from it’s cast including Michael Abbot & Marin Ireland who play siblings and Lynn Andrews who plays the nurse is compelling yet disturbing to watch : the scenes when Michael returns home to his wife and kids is wickedly upsetting and Louise waking up with lipstick drawn on her face is draining : so if like me your a fan of Bertino’s work that includes The Strangers and most recently The Monster then wait till you see The Dark and the Wicked it’s a movie that mirrors it’s title and one of the BEST horror movies of the year ★★★★½
Number 2 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After a struggling writer get’s a job looking after the Overlook Hotel as a caretaker for the winter, something happens to him and his family in extreme & unforgiving ways : Based on Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name and directed by Stanley Kubrick THE SHINING is an unforgettable journey into the mind of addiction, isolation, family and supernatural terror that has effected me over the years since it’s release back in 1980, I don’t think I’ve ever drooled over or talked about a movie more than this horror masterpiece : very much like Jaws that was written by Peter Benchley The Shining is an example where the movie is better than it’s original source and the changes they made when bringing it to the screen were not only in my eyes justified but add so much to the film’s scare factor, it’s scale and overall stigma : take the main differences for example, the infamous twins that scare the life out of Danny in the movie are not in the book, the blood filled elevators spilling out into the hallway is not in the book, the atmospheric maze and clever icy cold climax is not in the book and the words Jack was typing all Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy is not in the book, of course I have always been of the opinion that writers should never allow their work to be messed with & for some reason Stephen King allowed big chunks of his book to be altered, but I do believe that the changes made add so much to the terrifying nature of Kubrick’s masterpiece that watching The Shining without these would be a poorer experience : in fairness as with the Top Five Movies on the list The Shining could easily be Number One, it’s scares me because it’s about a family, their isolation and the effect The Overlook has on them all through the harshest of winters in Colorado : from it’s opening shots of the camera following Jack’s car up the mountain road to The Overlook accompanied by it’s hair raising score, Jack breaking down the bathroom door with an axe whilst reciting Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? and the epic confrontation on the stairwell that involves a baseball bat there are just so many memorable scenes in The Shining but one of them always manages to mess me up and it’s when Jack chastises Wendy for disturbing his place of work in the hotel, you can see the pain etched onto Wendy’s face as her husband says “Wendy let me explain something to you, whenever you come in here and interupt me your breaking my concentration, your distracting me….” the scene is emotional as you not only start to fear for Wendy’s safety but also feel sorry for her and the way that she is being treated, it’s scary because you are now seeing the changes manifesting themselves in Jack and it’s sensational because of it’s deliverance by two actors on top of their game in Nicholson and Duvall : other factors that make The Shining such an amazing movie experience range from it’s eye catching us of color, including The Gold Room’s bathroom with it’s stunning red decor, Room 237’s evocative green & orange bathroom & the mesmerising carpeted hallways throughout, a terrific performance from Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, those tricycle scenes are just Iconic and his psychic abilities lend to some rather creepy, blood soaked images & that moment Wendy is trying to comfort her son and then sees the word REDRUM reversed in the bedroom mirror is unbelievably chilling : overall The Shining is an emotional rollercoaster ride, a character driven horror piece that’s as visually disturbing as it is stunning ★★★★★
Number 8 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : The evil spirit of a slain killer seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his death : A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is the epitome of terror and Wes Craven was the master of serving it up, he knew what scared his audience and delivered a fearsome, bloody nightmare which has since spawned eight movies and a dreadful remake : In 1984 I was barely a teenager when Wes Craven gave us the iconic FREDDY KRUEGER, with his trademark hat, red & green sweater and a glove with razors for fingers, this demented killer not only petrified me and gave me sleepless nights back in the 80s but still does to this day : in 1984, and to make his movie Craven needed an actor to play a deceased child murderer built from the fires of hell, he needed a villain with menance & pure evil in his eye’s so they turned to Robert Englund a charasmatic actor known for bit parts in movies such as Galaxy of Terror, Dead & Buried and Eaten Alive to turn this monster into horror icon : like Carpenter’s Halloween Wes Craven’s movie also needed a heroine, a teenage girl who was innocent, beautiful and smart, a girl who would be Freddy’s equal on the horror battlefield, so after an extensive search Craven discovered Heather Langenkamp she would be the film’s Nancy and the perfect fit for Craven’s horror masterpiece : but why is A Nightmare On Elm Street still scary after all these years? well unlike Craven’s Scream the killer is supernatural, for me there’s something brutal about the way Freddy goes about his business of killing his victims, the death scenes are terrifying and made more squeamish due to the not seeing of who’s performing the act, you see the blood, the mutilation and you know it’s Freddy but you don’t see him and that’s where Craven excels, Tina’s death scene is the best example, as her boyfriend watches on she’s sliced open and then thrown around the cealing of her bedroom like a rag doll, blood draining from her body as she crashes back to her bed and the way Johnny Depp’s character Glen, like a vaccum cleaner is sucked into his bed and then spat back out pureed, the room awash with his remains, I found the scenes when Nancy wakes up from her nightmare in the Katja Institute bringing back Freddy’s hat and her arm sliced to be alarming and I still find the boiler rooms scenes particulary scary, the steam and the darkness only lit by the reflection of the flames engulfing the oven to be so unnerving, you just know Freddy is lurking somehwere in the shadows : from it’s chilling score written by Charles Bernstein, the wonderful John Saxon who plays Nancy’s dad and sheriff of the town to Wes Craven’s script that was turned down by Universal & Paramount Pictures back in the day but thank god for New Line Cinema who showed their trust in the filmmaker and was rewarded with a box office smash A Nightmare On Elm Street is essential Halloween viewing and even after all these years will turn your stomach and make it hard to sleep when the lights go down…… One two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three four, better lock your door. Five six, grab your crucifix. Seven eight, gonna stay up late. Nine ten, never sleep again ★★★★★
Number 11 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters : the movie starts on a beach, a group of kids sat around a burning fire as an old fishing captain tells the story about a shipwrecked clipper boat named the Elizabeth Dane….. : after the success of his 1978 horror Halloween, and turning his back on filming a more lucrative sequel filmmaker John Carpenter turned to a story he had written after finding inspiration from a 50s movie The Trollenberg Terror and also by visiting the infamous and some say mystical Stonehenge : THE FOG is both riverting and utterly hair-raising and unlike many of it’s contemporaries it’s not violent or gory yet there’s something quite unsettling lurking deep down in the belly of this 80’s ghost story : from the chilling synth score that accompanies the whiteness of the fog drifting up the coast and into Antonio Bay sweeping across the horizon into churches, underneath doorways, shrouding everything that it comes into contact with, in a death cosuming way to it’s terrific cast that includes Jamie Lee’s drifter, Tom Atkins townie, the wonderful Hal Holbrook as Father Malone and the gorgeous Adrienne Barbeau as DJ Stevie Wayne who broadcasts a local radio show from the lighthouse on the coast (filmed at Point Reyes) : there’s many ingredients to a great movie but for me apart from it’s director the person responsible in how the film looks & feels to the viewer is the DP and they don’t come more impressive than Dean Cundey, I mean talk about LEGEND, from Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York to Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park here’s a guy who has managed to capture moment on film like no other and with John Carpenter’s The Fog Cundey creates this ghostly, chilling atmosphere one of dread and unpleasantness that resonates from the very start of the movie to it’s finish : If you’ve never seen John Carpenter’s THE FOG then your missing a trick, it’s the perfect antidote for those dark & rainy nights when a good old fashioned horror is required, a scary movie that will engulf, unnerve and creep you down to your bones ★★★★★