CINEMATIC GRAB-BAG: A Cure For Wellness & Patriots Day

A Cure For Wellness
1.5 Stars (1.5 / 5)

A Cure For Wellness is a film I wish was better.

A psychological horror with grandiose ambitions, it stars Dane DeHaan as Lockhart, a callow young stockbroker with ice-chip eyes dispatched to retrieve his company’s CEO from a remote “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps.…

LFF Days 4-6: The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Voyage of Time, Bleed For This, Personal Shopper, & A Quiet Passion

Sorry for the delay if you’re trying to stay up-to-date on the London Film Festival. I’ve been a bit lax in getting it written up.

Even so, enjoy these capsule reviews of everything I saw over the course of Days 4-6.

Blair Witch gets a bit lost in the woods

3 Stars (3 / 5)

There’s something ironic about having your phone confiscated when going in to see a found footage movie, as I did.

Initially marketed as an original project, The Woods – complete with misleading trailer footage of a very non-Maryland forest – Adam Wingard’s arboreal horror was unexpectedly revealed as a sequel to the genre-launching Blair Witch Project, which famously grossed almost a quarter of a billion off a budget of $60,000 all the way back in 1999.…

Lights Out: too self-illuminating to be truly terrifying

2 Stars (2 / 5)

Is there any fear more primal than that of the dark?

After all, what you can’t see can kill you, especially if the what is Diana, a twitchy, pinhole-eyed wraith with an attraction to the mentally ill.

Based on a genuinely creepy short that went viral back in 2013, Lights Out, the feature début of David F.…

The Witch is a theological nightmare that will get under your skin – and, just possibly, that bit deeper.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Is there a more potent symbol in American mythology than that of the witch?

Though an export of the old world, the witch is also a symbol of modernity – a frightening sort of  progressiveness. For potions and spells read medicine and psychology; healing and hysteria.…

Cooties is a indie zombie flick that won’t give you the lurgy

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

There are many opportunities for dread offered by the zombie genre. The shambling, increasingly putrefying undead. The threat of losing one’s own humanity. Cooties introduces in a new one: chickens.

A new horror comedy from first-time directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, Cooties the gruesome passage from battery farming to school meal via flies, maggots, and pink sludge.…

Crimson Peak: the height of Gothic thrills and chills?

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

With Crimson Peak, beloved horror director Guillermo Del Toro sets about creating another period ghost story.

While his previous work of course includes The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, both of which are set in and around the Spanish Civil War, this entry on his filmography takes its cues more from classic Gothic melodrama.…

Don’t Grow Up is a conflicted kid torn between arthouse and genre

2 Stars (2 / 5)

 

The challenge with “genre fiction” is how to to blend the recognizable tropes, the cliches even, with  new and exciting elements. Take Don’t Grow Up, the latest film from director Thierry Pouiard.

Opening at a mysterious youth facility amidst a misty forest of dark evergreens, six troubled teens find themselves abandoned and alone.…

The Messenger delivers some originality from a hackneyed premise

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

In a world of heavyweight prestige pieces, like the upcoming Suffragette, and straight-to-Sunday-evening light dramas, like the charming but forgettable Mr. Holmes, the British film industry does seem to be lacking in low-budget genre (excluding the ever-present straight-to-DVD Mockney gangster contingent.) The Messenger is a nice exception to this rule.

The Visit makes for a sublime, ridiculous semi-return-to-form for M. Night Shyamalan

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

On a sliding cinematic scale from Christopher Nolan to Michael Bay, M. Night Shyamalan falls somewhere in the middle.

Equal parts auteur and hack, his output ranges from the sublime — The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable — to the ridiculous — The Happening, The Last Airbender.…