It Comes At Night
Writer/Director: Trey Edward Shults
I almost enjoyed the debate about advertising that came with “It Comes At Night” more than the actual movie. Yeah, it’s a dread-inducing tale of survival in a paranoia riddled post-apocalyptic environment, but the aesthetic was not quite what they advertised. The imagery, premise, and title were ripe to promote something tantalizing for genre fans and “It Comes At Night” is a moody masterwork of tense storytelling. However, the promotional materials encouraged a fairly different movie. The marketing team probably made some extra cash because of their shinanigans, but they alienated an audience to so, therefore becoming the “It” that comes at night…because nothing comes at night in the film…so I tried to do an ominous metaphor…I don’t think it worked…are you still reading this?
The Devil’s Candy:
Writer/Director: Sean Byrne
Even though “The Devil’s Candy” assaults your ears for what seems like 60% of the movie (there’s a lot of screaming), it’s still a well-crafted horror/thriller. Where the premise may project itself as a ho-hum horror hayride, its execution injects some elegant lifeblood into haunted houses, demonic possessions, and serial killers. Evident in his previous film, “The Loved Ones,” Sean Byrne is a filmmaker that prioritizes character over gore and substance over tropes. Also, he seems to like heavy metal, so he gets a pass in my book.
Director: Patrick Brice
“Creep” was a smart little found-footage movie about a well-meaning videographer being harassed by a maniac played by Mark Duplass. It turns out the maniac was a serial killer and that’s where the second instalment begins. “Creep 2” is an excellent example of a sequel done right. It establishes what you need to know in the opening scene and evolves from there. Mark Duplass is a shockingly effective killer, and Desiree Akhavan compliments the film’s murderous hijinks. I’m also glad to see found footage movies starting to dwindle down in numbers. That era was getting ridiculous.
Director: Craig Johnson
That guy that lacks social cues and is proactively trying to talk to anybody about anything has his very own movie. Woody Harrelson portrays the titular “Wilson.” He’s an endlessly enthusiastic and crude simpleton trying to find some substance in life. With the discovery of an estranged teenage daughter, Wilson goes on to fill a fatherly void his daughter didn’t know she needed or wanted. Movies like this can be a slippery slope. They can condone shitty behavior or cross the line from charismatic dysfunction to uncomfortably creepy. All in all, “Wilson” should be a pleasant reminder that the majority of awkward wackjobs are just awkward wackjobs and they don’t want to wear your skin.
Small Town Crime:
Who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned alcohol soaked private-eye thriller? Well, probably most people, but I do! Either way, there’s just not a lot of movies like “Small Town Cime” these days. When an alcoholic ex-cop (John Hawkes) stumbles on a beaten prostitute left for dead, you get a hard-boiled tale of filth, awkward pauses, and gunfire. Some elements come off more like a parody of the private-eye genre, but “Small Town Crime” pulls back on its pulpy conventions in the right places. Overall, it’s a solid film that deserves to be viewed with a group of friends and an empty bottle of gin.
Director: Julia Ducournau
Boy oh boy, “Raw.” Using violence as a metaphor for the trials of adolescence isn’t anything new, but”Raw” is different by being disgusting as well as graceful. Chemically maturing into adulthood resets us to a new stage of infancy. Yeah, we have hair in places we didn’t use to, sex is all of sudden an option, and we more closely resemble adults, but we have no idea how to manage theses changes. And using cannibalism as an outlet for teenage hormones makes eating people look tame in comparison.
Director: Joachim Trier
“Thelma” is a romantic…chiller? I wouldn’t say thriller. The threat felt more like a dissolving of one’s psyche than anything physical. In a similar scenario to “RAW,” “Thelma” is the coming of age story of a girl that grew up in a religious household. She also suffers from seizures and may or may not have latent supernatural powers. After meeting a same-sex romantic interest, her perceptions of reality start to unravel. With such an ambiguous tone, there is a pretty damn conclusive ending. That’s a nice change of pace for surrealist movies like this. Just tell me what to think once in a while.
As far as gimmicky-wake-up-with-no-memory-sci-fi-mysteries go, “Radius” has a glimmer of sincerity rarely seen in gimmicky-wake-up-with-no-memory-sci-fi-mysteries. Thanks to some solid performances and skillfully executed visuals, Radius is more than a low rent Twilight Zone episode. Also, I like Twilight Zone so that’s just a bonus.
Director: Byung-gil Jung
But what about “Atomic Blond?” Doesn’t Charlize Theron in an ice bath deserve a spot on cinema’s most distinguished and entertaining list?
It may have if “The Villainess” wasn’t the best action movie of the year.
Oh, that’s silly. “The Villainess” stars a woman that isn’t Charlize Theron and “John Wick 2” exists.
Man, you’re getting pretty aggressive hypothetical contrarian.
They killed his dog. I was attached.
I know, I was sad too. But, not only does “The Villainess” have slick and masterful action sequences, it has just as impressive emotional punches than actual punches.
Good misdirect of the word “punch.”
Do you need me anymore?
No, not really. Anyway, “The Villainess” is about a battle-tested mob hit-woman recruited by the government to become a super assassin. It sounds somewhat cut and dry as an action plot, but the relationships Sook-Hee (Ok-Bin Kim) forms throughout her ridiculous life gives each action scene a reason for being. It’s one of my favorites of the year, and there’s nothing about it that’s not impressive.
Writer/Director: Marianna Palka
You would think a movie about a woman having a nervous breakdown and assimilating the psyche of a feral dog would be pretty vulgar, but this “Bitch” surprised me. After Jill (Marianna Palka) starts acting like a dog, her incompetent husband has to take the reigns of responsibility. “Bitch” starts out as a corky dark comedy but transforms into a touching character drama. There are some incredibly nuanced performances for something that had the potential to be schlocky. I’m ecstatic to see Marianna Palka’s next directorial gig, “Egg,” which I’m assuming is about an overworked single mom that has a nervous breakdown and assumes the identity of an egg.