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Entries in Horror (228)


TIFF Midnight Madness: "The Vigil", "Saint Maud", and "The Vast of Night"

Chris Feil takes a look at a few of the genre offering of TIFF's Midnight Madness section...

Safely the most terrifying Midnight Madness I’ve seen in my years at TIFF, Keith Thomas’ The Vigil is a visceral dive into Jewish tradition and the effects of antisemitic trauma. Dave Davis stars as Yakov, a man struggling with his mental and financial health after leaving his Hasidic community. For a little quick cash, he accepts an overnight position as a shomer (an Orthodox traditional role for watching over the recently deceased) to a former Holocaust survivor. With the widow (Lynn Cohen) asleep upstairs, Yakov is visited by a demonic force that antagonizes Yakov’s already broken spirit...

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Get Yourself Chained For Life

by Jason Adams

There is a fascinating film opening in New York today and in L.A. on Friday which I feel the need to give y'all some heads-up on if you're unawares -- Chained For Life stars Teeth (and It: Chapter 2!) actress Jess Weixler and Under the Skin actor Adam Pearson as a pair of actors who meet each other on the strange set of a surreal sorta horror film. She's the lovely leading lady, while he's the disfigured man in the shadows that's there to add that distinct touch of surreality that film-makers have been othering others with as long as there's been film.

From there in the grand tradition of movies-set-within-movies -- you could very much call this film Day For Night meets Freaks -- writer-director Aaron Schimberg dissolves the barriers between the two, tackling the heady subject of what we as an audience want to look at, why we're conditioned in that way, and ways around to something better.

If that sounds didactic it's not -- it's also a hypnotic mystery full of spell-binding imagery and suprising sweetness. I reviewed the film in more depth last year when it screened at the Fantasia Fest last July, you can read it here, but here's a choice bit:

"This is one-of-a-kind mad scientist movie-making stuff, riveting in ways I hardly expected going in - it unfolds itself, paper cranes and finger puppets, nesting dolls dissolving from one to the under to the under. It is, quite frankly, a lovely thing to behold."

If you're in New York Schimberg will be doing Q&As at screenings of the film tonight and tomorrow at the IFC Center -- then it hits the Nuart in L.A. Friday and they're promising a national roll-out after that, so stay tuned. I very much recommend checking this one out.


TIFF: "Atlantics" haunts and hypnotizes

by Nathaniel R

Atlantics made history earlier this summer when it became the first film directed by a black woman ever to compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Though it lost the top prize Atlantics was a winner generating a lot of "must-see" buzz and eventually taking the Grand Jury Prize. Given that reception Netflix swept in to snatch it up for future streaming. Now that it has a home we wonder if it can continue to make waves, if you'll pardon the oceanic pun.

On the one hand it'd surely be tough to convince people to see a Senagalese movie without any easy summary or hook from a debut director. In that regard we're thankful Atlantics has a future firmly in place. On the other that futures is a double edged sword. As with Roma before it, which was also light on dialogue and rested on great cinematography and a brand new actress playing a quiet passive protagonist, its considerable strengths are entirely cinematic. Memorable images abound with clever lighting choices and a robust but never gaudy color palette. Atlantics bold and unsubtle sound will transfer with greater ease to in-home viewing with the constant roar of the ocean competing with an intrusive but sometimes inspired 80s influenced electronic score...

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Review: Jennifer Kent's "The Nightingale"

by Ben Miller 

In the world of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, no one is safe unless they've won the lottery.  If you lucked into being born as a white English male in 19th century Tasmania, you can rest easy in the knowledge you are powerful.  If you are a woman, of another race, or from another country, that same luxury is not afforded to you.  Death and misery looms around every corner.

The titular Nightingale comes in the form of Clare (Game of Thrones Aisling Franciosi) as she serves as a maid and singer for a group of British officers.  She is held there as penance for her crimes of thievery, being Irish and being a woman. She is overseen by Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin), who is procrastinating processing her release, due to his infatuation with her.  Clare’s husband Aidan (a wonderfully warm Michael Sheasby) tries to persuade Hawkins to release her, but to no avail.  Things spiral violently out of control.  When Clare survives the unthinkable, she seeks revenge on those who have wronged her.

This might read like a simple rape and revenge film on paper, but it is much more nuanced and realistic than that in execution...

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Review: Ready Or Not

by Chris Feil

There’s something almost luxurious in store for horror fans in Ready or Not, this week’s late summer horror film du jour that is nevertheless indispensable for genre fans. Like an oasis for those seeking something along the lines of Kevin Williamson’s wit and Tobe Hooper’s sense of straightforward menace, the film feels like both a throwback and the freshest, crispest antidote to the more brooding mainstream horror trends of late. It gives us the genre’s benchposts and in mighty form: laughter and jolts in equal measure, a distinct iconography, and a brand new scream queen.

The film succeeds largely on its clarity of vision, a simple concept that becomes a playground for its psychological interests. Here director duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (billed together as Radio Silence) look to skewer the dogma of rich people, delivering a delightful horror farce that’s a little bit like a roided Agatha Christie in the best way...

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Horror Actressing: Joan Allen in "Manhunter"

by Jason Adams

When I first introduced this "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series a few weeks back I mentioned that my own definition of what makes a "horror" film is fairly loose -- so is Michael Mann's 1986 serial killer flick Manhunter a Horror Film? I think that book author Thomas Harris wrote all of his Hannibal Lecter tomes with enough Guignol to them to say that yes, his intention was to unsettle our fundamental trust in the form of the world -- to violate the borders of what's sane and insane with the explicit intention of horrifying. 

But Michael Mann as a director, he does bring Manhunter back down to earth a bit -- just look at how Bryan Fuller adapted the material of Red Dragon straight into outer space with his gloriously baroque show Hannibal to see how much Mann grounded his movie in contrast. All that genre back and forth aside though, I think it's impossible to argue that the character of Reba McClane -- played by Joan Allen, who's celebrating her birthday tomorrow, in the film -- isn't meant to play explicitly with a standard horror trope...

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