Review: ‘Relic’ is a terrifying look at inevitability.

A daughter, mother, and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.

The terror begins from the very first scene. Blink and you’ll miss the clues laid out from the getgo. Relic crawls under your skin and chills you to the bone. The script is skillfully crafted. Not only are you inside a haunted house story but you’re also tangled up in family trauma and dementia. As someone whose grandmother passed this spring, as someone who watched her mental and physical deterioration for years from Alzheimer’s, this film felt personal and all the more upsetting. For those who have had a relative with the disease, you’re constantly asking yourself, “Do I see traces of it in my Mother? My Father? Will I feel just as helpless in the future?” Relic is an allegory that builds upon fear, much akin to Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. If you understood the totality of that film, you’ll be spellbound once you experience this one. 

Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin are phenomenal. Three generations of women expose themselves to give us some of the most epic horror performances since Toni Collette in Hereditary, Lupita Nyong’o in Us, and Riley Keough in The Lodge. The specificity to age and stage development is obviously there but it the reaction to trauma both unlying and on the surface that is played with precision.  This story, outside of the horror aspect, will resonate with so many, regardless of generation. The cinematographer coupled with the story leaves so many things unanswered. I actually would love a sequel… or even a prequel. Director-writer Natalie Erika James and co-writer Christian White, they have given the viewing audience an exceptionally frightening masterpiece. Very few films still cause me to cover my eyes. Though I wished I had, I could not pull my attention from the screen. Brilliant performances, dark and lush cinematography, and alarmingly visceral storytelling make Relic completely hypnotic. It will, no doubt, paralyze you with fears beyond your understanding.

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE JULY 10 

(SELECT THEATERS, DRIVE-INS & DIGITAL/VOD)

Director: Natalie Erika James

Writers: Natalie Erika James and Christian White

Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin

Producers: Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker

Executive Producers: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Wang Zhongjun, Wang Zhonglei, Hu Junyi

Cinematographer: Charlie Sarroff

Distributor: IFC Midnight

Release Date: July 10, 2020 In Theaters and also available On Demand / Digital Rental

Review: ‘Depraved’ reminds us who the real monsters are.

The legend of Frankenstein gets a provocative modern update in the stylishly disturbing new film from indie horror master Larry Fessenden. Suffering from PTSD following his stint as an army medic, Henry (David Call) now works feverishly in his Brooklyn laboratory to forget the death he witnessed overseas by creating life in the form of a man cobbled together from body parts. After procuring a brain from an unwitting victim, his creation—Adam (Alex Breaux)—is born. But it soon seems that giving life to Adam was the easy part; teaching him how to live in a dark and troubled world may be perilous. A complex, emotionally shattering tale about what it means to be human, Depraved brings Mary Shelley’s immortal fable fully into the 21st century.

 

Like Mary Shelley‘s novel, as you watch Depraved, you immediately realize that our Dr. Frankenstein character is the monster and not his creation. The emotional connection in this script is what engrosses you from the very beginning. It explores the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly of the human condition.

Performances are out of this world. David Call as Henry is exceedingly ambitious. He easily flips from hopeful excitement to an underlying irrational rage, fueled by military PTSD. As a mother, it’s like watching myself teaching my toddlers, especially when I’ve reached my mental and emotional limits. Joshua Leonard as Polidori is the diabolical shit starter that propels the insanity to the next level. Alex Breaux as Adam is captivating. His vulnerability is literally a head to toe performance. These men give us a complex dynamic that is undeniably intense and brilliant. Director Larry Fessenden has created something spectacular in every way. Depraved is easily one of my favorite films of 2019.

The overall editing of Depraved is a masterclass unto itself. Utilization of flashbacks fills in the backstory gaps. The visual overlays of synapses firing are truly effective. We become Adam. It is damn near perfect. The special effects make-up is striking. The sound editing is hypnotizing and the score is breathtaking. Fessenden has given us a complex character study that subtly shines a light on issues from big pharma to the treatment of our veterans and beyond. It is a story about moral corruptibility at its finest. You will be left in awe. Depraved is a modern-day, movie monster masterpiece.

 In Theaters September 13

Directed and Written by Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter, Until Dawn, Habit)
Starring David Call (“The Sinner”), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project), Alex Breaux (“When They See Us”), Addison Timlin (Odd Thomas, Fallen), Maria Dizzia (“Orange Is The New Black,” “13 Reasons Why”)

Review: ‘Wildling’ is dark, coming of age tale.

WILDLING

 **WORLD PREMIERE – 2018 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL**

The feature debut from Fritz Böhm, WILDLING is a spellbinding take on the werewolf legend starring Independent Spirit Award Nominee Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), SAG Award® Winner Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings, Armageddon) and Academy Award® Nominee Brad Dourif (One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest, Child’s Play).

 WILDLING is a unique dark fantasy tale centered on young Anna (Powley) who has been raised in isolation by a man she knows only as Daddy (Dourif) who has done everything possible to conceal the truth about the girl’s origins from her. But when the teenage Anna is suddenly thrust into the real world under the protection of no-nonsense police officer Ellen Cooper (Tyler), it soon becomes clear that the young woman is far from ordinary. Unable to adjust to a normal life, Anna finds herself drawn instead to the wild freedom of the forest while struggling to resist the growing bloodlust that has awakened inside her. This moodily atmospheric thriller combines supernatural scares with a myth-like tale of self-discovery.

There are many elements of Wildling that excited me. The cast is beyond excellent. Bel Powley is undeniably a star. As she never seems to age, she can continue to portray exceedingly young characters. Her onscreen presence is captivating. And while she actually speaks relatively few lines in the film, she owns each scene she appears in. Liv Tyler is as elegant as ever. Never doubt her ability to completely inhabit any role. Brad Dourif is scary as hell. He makes your skin crawl in the best way possible. The lighting is truly something to behold. Extra attention to the sound mixing plays perfectly on the audience’s sense of dread or wonder, depending on the moment to moment needs of the plot.

After all of the positives, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rushed feel of the story. Much of the plot seems to be missing as if there is an entire section of canon that was left out for runtime. I have so many questions pertaining to missing elements (I won’t be too specific because of spoilers) and I was a genuinely baffled by their absence. Some serious plot holes. The emotional transition of all the major players was swifter than feel natural under the circumstances. Finally, if I hadn’t seen Netflix’s original series Big Mouth, perhaps I wouldn’t be so bothered by the final creature FX.

Wilding has a graphic novel turned feature film feeling to it. It’s most definitely entertaining and worth the watch. You can watch the trailer below.

IFC Midnight will release the upcoming thriller WILDLING in theaters in NYC and LA as well as on VOD and Digital HD on April 13.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘Killing Ground’ will swear you off camping for life.

KILLING GROUND

The disturbing horror, thriller follows a couple’s romantic camping trip that becomes a desperate fight for survival in this ultra-raw, unhinged kill ride. In need of a break from the pressures of their life in the city, Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) head to a remote beach for a weekend getaway. When they come across an abandoned campsite, with no trace of its occupants, they’re concerned. When they discover a lone, traumatized child nearby, they’re scared. And when they encounter two local weirdos, they’re in for a hell of a bad time. Unfolding in an innovative, time-scrambling structure, Killing Ground delivers both nerve-shredding suspense and gut-punching realism.

KILLING GROUND marks the debut feature of writer/director Damien Power and stars Australian actors Aaron Pedersen (ABC’s “Jack Irish”), Ian Meadows (Network Ten’s “The Wrong Girl”), Harriet Dyer (Nine Network’s “Love Child”) and Aaron Glenane (Truth).

As a kid, I was an avid camper. After seeing Killing Ground, I may never go again. As a mother, thanks to this film, I’ll never, ever bring my children with me to a remote location where I am more than shouting distance away from lots and lots of other campers… with weapons. Killing Ground is a slow burn of menace that keeps you feeling uneasy and queasy it’s entire 93 min runtime. With a multiple narrative style, you already know something horrible is coming but you’re forced to sit through the time jumps just to get to certain doom. Anything with balls enough to put children in true, murderous harm’s way will get me every time now that I’m a parent. But you don’t have to have kids of your own to be deeply affected by the horrors on screen, you just have to have an ounce more heart than the film’s villains. While last week’s SOLD OUT screening at Fantasia Fest may have left many in the lurch, fear not. Killing Ground actually gets its theatrical and VOD release this week, July 21st. Check out the trailer below.

CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 89 mins
  • English

SCREENING TIMES

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Damien Power
  • Written by: Damien Power
  • Cast: Harriet Dyer, Aaron Glenane, Ian Meadows, Aaron Pederson
  • Company: IFC Midnight

Review: Experience a joyride to hell in ‘SUBMERGED’.

IFC Midnight logo
Presents
SUBMERGED 
Submerged poster
SYNOPSIS:

A limousine joyride goes berserk in this breathless, pulse-pounding thriller. Jonathan Bennett stars as an ex-soldier turned bodyguard hired to protect a young woman. But while cruising with a group of friends one night, their stretch limo is run off the road and underwater by a gang of ruthless kidnappers-who then dive in to finish the job. Suddenly it’s sink or swim, as the bodyguard must fight to keep the vehicle from becoming a watery grave.Submerged Jonathan Bennet

Small town politics turns into a deadly cat and mouse game in this indie thriller. Jonathan Bennett, who most of us will recognize from Mean Girls, becomes the protagonist who simply wants to protect the ones he loves. Run off the road by masked gunman, he and five 20-somethings are at the bottom of a waterway that will eventually lead straight out into the ocean, if they cannot figure out a way to escape. The script is filled with who-dun-it moments, keeping the viewer engaged throughout. Bennett has an incredibly strong screen presence and captures the lead role in a surprisingly effortless manner. With a really nice ensemble cast surrounding him, including Cody Christian, Talulah Riley, Tim Daly and Mario Van Peebles, the film certainly delivers in it’s ups and down emotionally. Submerged utilizes time hops for an effective high stress pace. High five to the director Steven C Miller‘s use of creative visual cues as scene transitions between the past and present story lines. The film also has some nice gun play choreography. If you’re looking to sit back and relax with some not altogether mindless action this holiday weekend, Submerged could be your answer to the overcrowded blockbusters.

submerged (1)

Check out the trailer below:

Open in NY and LA November 27th
99 Minutes. Not Rated.

Sally Draper with supernatural powers in trailer for IFC Midnight’s ‘One & Two’

ONEandTWO-3

In the confines of their isolated world, Zac and Eva (Timothée Chalamet of “Homeland” and Kiernan Shipka of “Mad Men”) live under the constant watch of a father (Grant Bowler, “True Blood”) that rules with strict routine and discipline. They live for nightfall — for moments of escape — and rely on each other for moments of levity.

After a long dormant illness returns, their mother (Elizabeth Reaser, THE TWILIGHT SAGA), once a beacon of light and joy, struggles to unite the family in an increasingly somber home. As their father searches for a divine answer to the heartbreaking circumstances of his crumbling world, Zac and Eva steal moments to explore burgeoning otherworldly abilities and to dream of a life free of limitations.

Director: Andrew Droz Palermo
Writers: Andrew Droz Palermo & Neima Shahdadi
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Timothée Chalamet, Elizabeth Reaser, Grant Bowler
Genre: Science Fiction / Drama
Festivals: SXSW 2015, Berlinale 2015
TRT: 91 minutes

LIz’s Review: ‘Bound To Vengeance’ holds us captive.

Bound to Vengeance posterIFC Midnight has given us a slew of great genre features in the past such as ATM, Exam, Dead Snow, and The Snowtown Murders (all available to stream on Netflix). Their newest release, Bound To Vengeance challenges the female protagonist role that we’re used to seeing in horror: Girl equals helpless victim, let’s leave the policing to the manly cops. No cops in sight, our lead takes action into her own hands.Bound to Vengeance still Eve and PhilThe film’s opening credit sequence is immediately reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw with a lone beat up van swiftly cruising down a deserted highway, though in this story the inhabitant of the car is our villain. Bound To Vengeance pulls no punches as the mental ride follows directly after those very opening credits. Our mystery man carries a tray with homemade soup down an eerie hall and into a locked basement room. There we find Eve, a young, slender woman chained to the floor. She manages to escape and in her attempt to get away, she realizes that she is not the only girl being held captive. She needs her captor. Fashioning a noose out of items inside the rundown house, Eve strikes a deal. He tells her where the others are and she drops him off at a hospital… But, even the best laid plans easily go awry.Bound to Vengeance Eve stillThe script is truly unexpected. Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on, plot twist. You have to respect the ever changing scenery and manipulation. While it may not be a 5 star film, I will say, I had to know what the truth was and wanted to see Eve kick some major ass. Speaking of which, Tina Ivlev plays our heroine with an honest determination. She’s not a super ninja or hyper intelligent prodigy, she is a normal, albeit, incredibly resourceful and strong woman. That is what I appreciated most about the script. She was a girl who just wanted to save the others and in turn come to terms with her own captivity. Richard Tyson gives us our villain, Phil. It’s a complex performance filled with masterfully sick, power-struggle laden dialogue. How much do we trust Phil? Should we trust Phil at all? Once you get to the end of the movie, you realize that all the clues were there to begin with. Bound to Vengeance could have easily been a mini series. There is much more to this story and I for one would look forward to a sequel.

In Theaters and on VOD Friday, June 26th.

Film Synopsis
BOUND TO VENGEANCE is a gritty revenge thriller about a young woman, EVE (Tina Ivlev), who fights back and manages to escape a malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. The film is directed by J.M. Cravioto and stars breakout actress Tina Ivlev and Richard Tyson. The screenplay was written by Rock Shaink, Jr., and Keith Kjornes.
BOUND TO VENGEANCE 
Directed by: José Manuel Cravioto
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Rodolfo Marquez, Daniel Posada
Cast: Tina Ivlev (The Devil’s in the Details), Richard Tyson (Moonlighting), 
Bianca Malinowski (Midnight Bayou)  
TRT: 80 minutes
Language: English
Genre: Thriller / Horror

Melissa’s Review: Quentin Dupieux’s latest film is entertainingly far from ‘Reality’

Jon Heder

Jon Heder

You see Jon Heder‘s face above? That’s the one you’ll be making during the entire film. However, if you’re a fan of Dupieux’s previous work (Rubber, Wrong, Wrong Cops), you’ll really enjoy the trippy and dream-within-a-dream wormhole that is Reality.

Eric Wareheim

Eric Wareheim

It’s very safe to say that this movie is not for everyone, as it’s completely absurd and really makes no sense whatsoever. What separates it is the fantastic cinematography and the brilliant score of which Dupieux does himself. It’s no wonder it all works together so well.

Alain Chabat

Alain Chabat

My first introduction to Dupieux was Rubber (currently on Netflix) about a tire (yes, a tire), that’s a serial killer. Obviously ridiculous but completely imaginative and surprising, I was smitten. Reality has the same sort of imaginative writing but this time the story is a man who is pitching a movie and must get the perfect “groan” in order to land the funding. I used story very loosely, as there are many other things happening simultaneously.

Jon Heder

Jon Heder

The score is essential to the movie. At times unnerving, that’s exactly what its meant to be. It complements the story without overshadowing it all. The movie would not be the same without it and it’s not something you’d want to listen to on its own either. Quite extraordinary.

Much like when you’re in a dream, it seems like it’s making sense, then suddenly you wake up and it’s completely incoherent. Only in Reality, you don’t wake up.

Opens today, May 1st exclusively at the IFC Center in NYC and will be available on demand and via digital platforms.

 

13 New Movies Premiering On Demand This February

on-demand

David Cross is releasing his new movie, HITS, in theaters and available via BitTorrent as a Pay-What-You-Want release. There’s actually a Special Pay-What-You-Want Screening Event at Nitehawk Cinemas in Brooklyn. Sorry, it’s sold out already. The big surprise is the quiet release of The Rewrite, starring (are you ready for this?) Hugh Grant, Marisa TomeiAllison Janney, J.K. Simmons and Chris Elliott. Read More →

Melissa’s Review: Twisty & Scary ‘Cam2Cam’ Keeps You On the Edge of Your Seat

Cam2Cam_Poster

I tend to shy away from horror as it has caused me to have scary dreams like a silly pre-teen. However, I branched out of my comfort zone when it was assumed I might not want to watch this flick due to it’s genre. It was with an open mind that I watch Cam2Cam and I really enjoyed it. P.S. unlike the poster suggests, a topless girl does not wield an axe while running at any point. Read More →