Rolf de Heer
2003 | Australia | 103m
A man (Steve) returns home from work expecting a party to celebrate his birthday, but instead finds the house dark and empty with a television and a videotape set up ready to watch. From the beginning, Steve (Gary Sweet) is set up to be a regular suburban guy, but it’s clear that his wife, Alexandra (Helen Buday), is unhappy and he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to her troubles. There is always a sense of something bubbling under the surface, and this tension is kept up throughout. Buday gives a strong performance to a role requiring a lot of variety and emotion and honesty. A weaker actor would’ve made the whole thing fall flat. Sweet is a good straight man, both sympathetic and unlikable: both characters manage to evoke both feelings, there is no clear cut villain/hero here. On the other hand, the dialogue is quite weak and the overall effect is not particularly powerful.
I… comme Icare
1979 | France | 120m
A muted conspiracy thriller dealing with the investigation of an assassinated president. Although the narrative threads together decently and there are some enjoyable conspiracy aspects, this is quite bland and lacks personality in its attempt to be as undramatic and ‘Hollywood’ as possible. It’s not completely dry, but it’s not exactly as thrilling as the somewhat similar ‘Andromeda Strain’ and is quite predictable. The lack of romantic subplots and irrelevant character development help keep the plot tight and focused purely on the investigation, but the lack of style and engaging dialogue keeps us at a distance. Its age also shows with the unnecessarily lengthy ‘Milgrim experiment’ scene which is just too well-known by the general public now to be engaging.
Cult of Chucky
2017 | USA | 91m
Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
The most noticeable thing about this film is the awfully low budget look and feel. It feels about twenty years older than it is, and this is never a good thing. All the events and guest appearances feel random and contrived and the whole thing just seems ridiculous. The characters are all annoying and stupid, with some terrible dialogue. The references to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made me chuckle, but that was about the only good thing for the majority of the film. However, the last 15 minutes pulls out all the stops: bringing in multiple Chucky’s and some fun banter, and a slew of entertaining and gory deaths. This is all too little, too late though and I think the whole thing would’ve been more successful had these elements been taken advantage of much earlier.
2019 | USA | 114m
Drama, Horror, Thriller
A modern day Frankenstein which does not hide or shy away from its original influences at all–from the character’s names to actual mentioning of Frankenstein. Larry Fessenden has mostly been a disappointing filmmaker for me, and although this film is flawed, it’s probably his most solid work yet. David Call (Henry) and Alex Breux (Adam) are decent leads and have some good chemistry that makes the first third of the film work as Henry teaches Adam how to ‘live’. The focus on Adam’s psychological state in the earlier part of the film is much more interesting than the areas it delves into later, which often feel random and unexplored. Joshua Leonard’s character is also just too campy and silly and his introduction is when it all starts to falter. It keeps bringing up themes of fatherhood and depravity/selfishness of humanity, but they are never fully realised either. One major issue for me was that the opening scene–its characters, the actors and their chemistry–was so fantastic but it only ever teased at this tenderness afterwards and never really regained that kind of effectiveness.
2017 | Austria | 102m
This is quite an impressively moody debut–and graduation film. There is little plot, though it is never difficult to follow. When searching for reviews for its entry on They Shoot Zombies Don’t They, I noticed a lot of comparisons to ‘The VVitch’ and this does have a similar look and feel with its focus on ‘minimalist historical horror’ atmospheric imagery, slow pacing and sparse dialogue. All its actors have interesting and emotive faces and give strong performances. The score and sound design are also instrumental in creating a haunting mood that bring together its ideas of paranoia and psychosis. While a solid film, this failed to really engross or connect with me in any meaningful way.