Saturday 13 July 2024

Longlegs

 
Being lauded at the scariest film of the decade, there is no doubt that Longlegs has been one of the most anticipated horror films of the year. Combining the morbid fascination with true crime-esque, serial killer cases, occult based horror and morbid curiosity. The film grips you tight, dragging you into the mystery and ominous dread. Boasting one of the most terrifying transformations from Nicolas Cage in recent years and another great turn from scream queen of the moment, Maika Monroe. 

FBI Agent Lee Harker, after showing an aptitude finding criminals, is brought in on a decades long case. A serial killer, targeting families, calling themselves, Longlegs, has left stranger coded letters at the scene of the crime for the last 30 years. Even more strange is that Harker herself has a connection to the case than she has kept buried in her mind since she was a child. 

Without delving too deep into the lore in the film, the occult hints and references to ‘the man downstairs’ taking on more than one meaning, Longlegs’ horror is fascinating as well as painstaking to watch. The hunt for a serial killer and unearthing the crimes committed are devasting to behold, but once the abhorrent truth is revealed, it does feel somewhat anti-climatic at first. With further truths uncovered and the real connection between the killer and Harker coming to light, the pieces of the puzzle fall into place with some foreshadowing storytelling coming full circle as well. 

Whenever Nicolas Cage appears in a film where he is either playing a beyond unusual character or the story is bizarre, it always grabs peoples’ attention. His role of Longlegs is disturbing to the point where you spend half the time desperately looking away yet his voice even cuts deep in a uncomfortable high pitched wail. Maika Monroe didn’t even know what Cage would look like so all her reactions to his presence are genuine fear. This layer of realism is just one part of what makes this film the most talked about. The continuous uncomfortable feeling is what keeps the curiosity and terror alive in the audience. Monroe as Harker relays how the audience feels throughout, curious, determined to find out the truth and continuously disturbed at every turn of the case. 

Although Longlegs does rely heavily on the jump scares the create a sense of discernability, it is the overly long ominous shots and scenes that create the feeling of dread. Director Osgood Perkins has been able to deliver a film that will stay with you when you least want it to. The horror mixture may be subjects tackled separately in previous films, but including the crime procedural with a traditional occult story helps ground the film, slightly, to something more real. Though there are supernatural elements at play, the lead up feels all too real. A devilishly clever way to have those images linger in your mind.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

The Quiet Maid - Raindance Film Festival

 

There has been many a story portrayed in film involving the classes and the issues that come with the divide, the characters end up being the defining factor to make each story stand out. Having had its UK premiere at Raindance 2024, The Quiet Maid was nominated for Best Debut Director and Best Debut Feature.  The film boasts an enticing lead, Paula Grimaldo who is captivating even when completing menial tasks. She went on to win Best Performance at Raindance. The Quiet Maid is not a thriller, nor is it a straightforward drama. An observational character study would be more accurate as with Ana herself, there is more beneath the surface than what we are presented with.

Working for an upper-class family on the north-eastern coast of Spain, quiet Colombian domestic maid Ana, balances her duties with finding ways to also enjoy the Summer.

Full review over at Filmhounds.

Monday 1 July 2024

Drive Away Dolls

 

Ethan Coen’s first solo outing was a documentary about notorious musician Jerry Lee Lewis. A man known for his incredible piano skills and for the fact that he married his 13-year-old cousin. Obviously these two pieces of trivia don’t go hand in hand. But the latter is a sordid affair, and fact. Ethan Coen, judging by his other solo works; a book of poetry, plays and short stories, has a flair for the crude and downright filthy. Throughout the Coen Brothers’ catalogue there are moments that do really make you stand back and think, ‘why did they think of that’. A prime example is in Burn After Reading, when its revealed what George Clooney’s character, Harry Pfarrer is building in his basement. After watching Drive Away Dolls, its clear which brother thought of this.

After Jamie is thrown out by her girlfriend, she and best friend Marian take a road trip to Tallahassee, Florida. But after a mix up with their rental car, the women find they are in possession of some sensitive materials belonging to some shady people who are in hot pursuit.

Along with his wife, Tricia Cooke who co-wrote and co-produced, Ethan Coen’s second outing as director without Joel is one that, on the surface feels like just another Coen Brothers film. However, while the film does include the crime caper elements and a certain air of ridiculousness, the film is missing something. The run of the mill suspicious behaviour from the shady criminals alongside a completely different story about two friends taking a road trip and becoming more than just friends, feels like half-baked ideas, mashed together with a lot of lesbian jokes and unnecessary scenes.

Along with similar beats we have seen before from both the Coens, along with very random psychedelic moments that only sort of make sense at the end, Ethan Coen’s film feels familiar but doesn’t quite hit the right notes.  This is shame as there are some great characters, amusing quite firing dialogue and one or two very funny moments, but its just not what you’re going to expect, in an unsatisfying way.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Birthday Girl

 

To celebrate her daughter Cille 18th birthday, her mother Nanna, pays for her and her friend Lea to go on a cruise. At first the trip is filled with laughter, dancing, and drinks, but on the first night Cille is found on the upper decks of the ship alone with no underwear and bruises. Claiming she has no memory of what happened but sure she was sexually assaulted; Nanna becomes determined to find out the truth and find the attacker.

The film very much rests on the shoulders of Trine Dyrholm who plays Nanna the mother desperately trying to find answers. Dyrholm is captivating in her role, acting as our guide through a parent’s nightmare. She very easily slips into the irresponsible mother who just wants to celebrate with her daughter to being on a mission she knows she might fail; she carries the film and does it well. But despite the great performance, the film does, at first, feel like a paint by numbers story. Young girls acts recklessly, its discovered she was raped, but she is blamed for putting herself in the position, mother takes action to find out the truth. It is the last story beat where Birthday Girl picks and becomes far more intriguing to watch.

Full review over at Filmhounds.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

I Saw the TV Glow - Sundance London

 

Nostalgia is a powerful tool in film, a homage or mention to something you experienced or even just knew about when you were younger makes you feel as if you’re part of the story on screen. I Saw the TV Glow weaves together a nostalgia driven plot with a personal journey, showing us what it feels and looks like to both deny one’s true self and feel the pull for what we needed when we were younger. It’s a delicate mix of genres that director Jane Schoenbrun, calling upon the sci-fi fantasy dramas of the 90s, especially those aimed at teenagers. I Saw the TV Glow is rather let down at times but narrative choices and the constant bleak overtone. However, its unique style and fascinating TV show within a film makes it unlike anything made in recent years.

Full review over at Filmhounds.

Monday 3 June 2024

Lisa Frankenstein

 

Sometimes, stories are just better when retold in a fun, amusing and original way, especially when they are inspired by a literary classic. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been the source of many versions, either faithful or a complete twist of the story. Lisa Frankenstein is both familiar and a bizarre iteration. Mixing together 80s teen rom-com and slasher components, the Frankenstein elements are closer to a spoof film, which is nowhere near a bad thing.

Full review over at Filmhounds.