Archive for April, 2020

Spoilers!

After his traumatic experiences in the haunted Overlook Hotel, troubled Danny Torrance as an adult tries to resolve his past. Soon he crosses paths with a teenage girl who is being stalked by the True Knot, a cult who want to extend their lifespans by consuming the psychic essence from those who have the shining.

Director Mike Flanagan’s production of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep masterfully incorporates Stanley Kurbrick’s vision of the Overlook hotel, aesthetics including the maze and likeness of the characters drawn from King’s source novel. Incorporating Hallorann and the ghosts of the Overlook to name a few. Flanagan expertly recreates scenes from the original with new actors including the likes of Wendy (impressive Alex Essoe), Jack and young Danny.

Doctor Sleep at times tries to scare you but with the child murders it also shocks and sickens. Opening with a nod to Frankenstein, where a young girl is by a lake, Doctor Sleep is very vampire-like with the True Knot gang feeding off the Shining, instead the blood of virgins to extend their mortality. You then have to watch an overdose and toddler death. Flanagan doesn’t pull punches.

The acting is on point from every character. Ewan McGregor is outstanding as Doc/Danny, carrying a hefty character arc. Rebecca Ferguson menacingly simmers and Kyliegh Curran is notable, all supporting cast offer great support. Emily Alyn Lind steals some scenes as new True Knot recruit Andi. Henry Thomas (Eliot in E.T.) as The Bartender Jack Torrance has an uphill struggle, it’s difficult not to compare him to Jack Nicholson, that said, without the aid of CGI tweaks (which may have fared better) he does a decent incarnation of Danny’s father.

The special effects, especially the skull faces of the gang during their demise is impressive. The recreated sets are exceptional (painstakingly recreated exceeding the Thing (2011)). Flanagan offers a well paced film, plenty of character development and of course chills, especially the directors cut! His visuals are stunning and handsomely executed (the homages to Kubrick’s Shining, including music reworked by
The Newton Brothers and sound cues are especially welcome) and the third acts return to the Overlook is a joy.

Doctor Sleep is a good adaption of the novel and is an advantageous sequel which builds on the characters and makes connections to the film. While it could never compare to Stanley Kubrick’s weighty original, this pastiche sequel is fresh and unsettling enough to justify its existence

After a family gathering goes awry, with the death of the patriarch’s death, a master detective to arrives to investigate.

Director Rian Johnson returns to form in this wonderfully shot and edited murder mystery of sorts.Knives Out has a great ensemble cast, veteran actor Christopher Plumber is fantastic in his pivotal role. Chris Evan’s gets to shine (leaving his ingrained Captain America role thankfully behind him). Daniel Craig, (wobbly American accent aside) is on fine form. Ana de Armas is notable and perfectly cast as the maid and main murder suspect. Jamie Lee Curtis and the likes of Don Johnson to name a few provide a great backbone.

It may not have the on the nose comedy and theatrics of Clue (1985) or Murder by Death (1976), buts it’s modern, sharp and fun with enough twists to keep you throughly entertained.

A much needed refreshing piece of whodunit joy.

An old special ops soldier living out his last days in his quiet hometown with his dog, Ralph, is asked to take on one last mission.

You wouldn’t be able to tell this is director Robert D. Krzykowski’s feature debut, it feels and looks big, this is no VOD looking film. It’s a slowing burning character study for the most part with some great sets ups here and there namely the Hitler and Bigfoot confrontation Some of it is on the nose much of it is subtle and ingeniously ambiguous.

Sam Eliot is simply outstanding as Calvin Barr an aged war hero looking back over his life with regrets. Krzykowski offers convincing reminiscing flashbacks featuring Aidan Turner as a young Calvin Barr it covers his relationships with his brother, girlfriend and war exploits.

The last half is charged with more emotion as it resolves relationships but also builds to a crescendo showdown.

Wonderfully shot, it delivers on its outlandish title, but it is a surprisingly grounded film which Sam Elliott sells with ease offering a heavy weight and memorable performance.

May contain spoilers.

After a meteorite lands on a farm, a family find themselves infected by a mutant extraterrestrial organism.

From Richard Stanley the visionary atmospheric director of the sci-fi Hardware and occult thriller Dust Devil comes Color Out of Space, colour U.K. spelling?

After a long hiatus Stanley returns with a film more appealing to a wider audience, that said, the H.P. Lovecraft foundation source material with the director’s own touch it’s far from mainstream. Interestingly actor Elijah Wood is one of the producers. With practical effect visuals reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Brian Yuzna’s Society (1989) it excels Huan Vu’s 2012 impressive low budget film adaptation. The colour and digital effects rival 2018’s Annihilation.

It’s a film about every family’s worst nightmare. Nicolas Cage’s Nathan and children deal with rural life, in a bid to help their mother’s Theresa (played brilliantly by Joely Richardson daughter of Vanessa Redgrave) recovery from cancer. Shotgun touting Cage is on arbitrarily oddball form when things start to fall apart and people get mutated. Elliot Knight plays hydrologist Ward Phillips, who knows there’s something wrong on the property, Tommy Chong as Ezra, aptly the pothead hermit and Josh C. Waller as Sheriff Pierce are notable even if their appearances are brief.

Madeleine Arthur is impressive as troubled Wicca practising teen Lavinia Gardner. Brendan Meyer plays Benny but it’s young Julian Hilliard that steals the show as Jack who can hear the alien.

Some of most creepy scenes include the siblings especially the well staged black hole cosmic meteorite crash. Lavinia has a terrifying memorable attic scene where she comes face to face with her mutated mother and younger brother. Stanley offers strange coloured vegetation, a smelly glowing pinky purple meteor. Fingers are chopped off, bug creatures fly around, a squid-like creature appears, there’s mutated alpacas, bolts of purple lightning which fuses people, he successfully captures the madness of Lovecraft’s work.

It may not be as rounded as Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski Void (2016) that drew from Lovecraft but it’s is a Stanley film after all with all the cosmic infection galore trimmings. Stanley and Scarlett Amaris script possibly could do with some more meat on the bone as the dialogue is sparse. That said, Stanley naturally goes for the subtle, intelligent filmmaking route, at times ambiguous rather than a spoon feeding.

It’s a fine looking film with Steve Annis’s cinematography, there’s vibrant special effects and a complementing eerie soundtrack from Colin Stetson, it’s also dark, terrifying, emotional and gut wrenching at times. In true Stanley style it’s expectedly arty but there’s plenty there for diehard horror fans too.

Colour Out of Space may not be Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau remake we’ve been waiting for since 1996 but it’s a solid H.P. Lovecraft adaptation and a welcomed return to the directing chair.