Monthly Archives: October 2017

Halloween Review: It Comes at Night

mv5bmtq5njdimgitytnmmi00zjfmlwjmotktytqwmdqyytixnwvjl2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntazmty4mda-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_Vis-a-vis the more trimly-titled but flabbily-filmed It: now this is more like it.  The second feature from Trey Edward Shults, It Comes at Night trades out the high-gloss carnival-esque of Muschietti’s film for the kind of slowly-curdling angst and stomach-rotting apprehension that not only startles the hairs on the end of your arms but rattles and disquiets the bones. It Comes at Night is not peak horror compared to some of the recent finds in the genre since 2010 – It Follows, to name another title to wield the willful ambiguity of one particular pronoun – and this new film manages the unfortunate (commendable?) feat of being both too literal and too equivocal for its own good. But compared to the lazy imprecision of It, Shults’ film is a real wilderness of human fear. Continue reading


Halloween Review: It (2017)

it-teaser-posterIn Andy Muschietti’s sturdy but superficial, journeyman remake of It, Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of the title role is a too-easy thesis of the film’s successes and flaws. On one hand, when Tim Curry stepped into the fangs and red hair in 1990, he was a memorably polychromatic experience: sad, otherworldly, ethereal, campy, and bizarre.  Skarsgaard only hits – or is only allowed to aim for – unadulterated fright. On the other hand, his more calculated performance less prone to tangents and instabilities capably invokes the gloomy glint of terror that animates this new film, one-note in its construction but perfectly capable of hitting the note. Curry was the standout in that earlier, now-epochal television film – it jump-started an insufferable trend of Stephen King TV mini-series that continues to this day – but the unwieldly, tone-deaf drudgery of that production was an unstable mess of arbitrarily-laid-out scenes lacking any semblance of cohesion or logic. (Nor was it, incidentally, meaningful with its mess). Intersecting feelings and emotions could be both fascinatingly tiring and pointlessly, scene-paddingly draining. Continue reading

Halloween Review: Raw

rawThe feverish French-language coming-of-age-horror-comedy Raw has many selves, not all of them exhibited at the same time. But the somewhat frequent and always volatile transformations of its core being are at worst spirited, and more often than not, they amount to a kind of thematic-jukebox. The film’s somewhat vague attitude to theme allows writer-director Julia Ducornau to (over?)populate a thread of a narrative – a young freshman named Justine (Garance Marillier) at a vet school – with tensions of various calibers that rhyme with the peculiarities and curiosities of adolescence without necessarily committing to one central argument. When Justine develops increasingly erratic behavior and eventually a taste for human flesh after a hazing ritual involving eating a rabbit kidney, Ducornau’s thematically-promiscuous film reacts the only way it knows how: deploying the nonliteral beauty of horror cinema. Rendering sympathetic abstractions of issues from institutional neglect to gender awareness, Ducornau metaphorically challenges easily normalized realities and then galvanizes them with the grossly peculiar, unknown curveball of horror cinema. Continue reading