Horror

May 2020

The Lodge (2019)

– tedious.

April 2020

Underwater

– this sci-fi is a really underrated little cracker. It looks great, has a credible script and taps into all the fears you’d expect being 7 miles underwater. I think it’s fair to suspend disbelief when it comes to the guys wandering around down there, even if it is against the science of it. (Incidentally, on that front, there’s a phenomenal piece in The Atlantic on this very subject, it’s fascinating!) Anyway, I went in with no expectations (other than that it’s a Eubank film and in general, I’m a fan), and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of Pandorum, but under the sea instead of in space.

One Cut of the Dead

– I started watching this on the basis of none other than Edgar Wright’s recommendation, and after 20 minutes I was honestly wondering if he was doing a student a favour or something, it was so bad. But this epitomises why I always try to watch a movie to its end. In a heartbeat, it went from one of the worst B-movie attempts at a horror movie looking like a school project, to an actual masterpiece of meta-comedy-horror, and a wonderful show-not-tell of the film-making process, complete with jabs at egos, method actors and the big shot suits demanding the impossible. I can’t think of anything else that illustrates the passion and love behind cinema so well as the second half of this film. I was grinning like a goon. Stick it out.

The Invisible Man

– So many shout at the TV moments in this horror/ thriller, everything from the premise to the predictable script (where nobody communicates clearly about anything and every twist is preannounced), to the crazy ‘science’ of the invisibility suit, which apparently works perfectly even when wet, covered with paint, smashed to pieces with plates, frying pans, a pen etc. etc. It’s also nasty, in the same vein as Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight), which is just a horrible trait for a film to have. Quite terrible. Everything other than Elizabeth Moss’ performance.

March 2020

The Platform (El Hoyo)

– gruesome spanish-language horror begs for dissection and analysis as it portrays a hierarchical class system in a barren, despairing prison called The Hole. Excessively violent and graphic, and cursed with a frustrating ending, but still thought provoking.

The Outsider S01 (TV)

– after an intriguing and promising start, this Stephen King mystery abandons the mystery, introduces a human-possessing demon and an expositional clairvoyant, then sinks the viewer into their very own hell: boredom. Hugely disappointing, an absolute waste of time.

Doctor Sleep

– enthralling and compelling horror nods to The Shining but is very much its own tale. Though weakest when retreading old ground, it does so softly, without desecrating it. A shame it’s so long and the slow start doesn’t help the runtime, but stick it out.

February 2020

Earthlings (2005)

– Joaquin Phoenix narrates this sadistic abattoir of a documentary, which throws nauseatingly graphic, savage butchery at you while his Eeyore tones describe it. Too repulsive to actually watch most of the time, I didn’t finish it, and I still feel traumatised. Though no less shocking, in most instances the footage used lacks a source or date, which undermines its integrity somewhat.

January 2020

Servant S01 (TV)

– the clues to this convoluted, slow-burning, skin-crawling mystery emerge through a combination of supernatural horror and black humour. It’s a claustrophobic drama, brilliantly acted, wonderfully intriguing and often very funny, but it’s also inconsistent, juggling a plethora of ideas and themes that are too meandering (almost random), and left underdeveloped and ultimately a bit thin (echoes of Lost). Perhaps an expanded cast and range of locations will help flesh it out in season two.

The Lighthouse

– There’s a tongue-in-cheek humour behind the theatrical overacting and folkloric hijinx, but it didn’t tickle me enough to make the black and white viewing experience any easier, nor the abstract, art-house visual and mumbled poetry any more engrossing. Both actors give memorable performances as flatulent, Gormenghastly characters trapped in an increasingly manic, maritime-gothic nightmare, but their accents are at times indecipherable and the hideously grotesque and sordid scenes, though perhaps appropriately deranged, are nonetheless too depraved for my tastes.

Aniara

– a bleak prophesy of our colonial space future, and an equally bleak metaphor for our fleeting time here on Earth. Impressive in its way, but distinctly vapid and a massive downer.

December 2019

The Signal (2008)

– the medium is the message in this tonally confused, disorientating and unhinged horror about mass-media induced psychosis. Arguably more valid than ever in the current climate, it’s intense and genuinely unsettling in parts, with appropriately rough edges and a grittiness reminiscent of 28 Days Later, but overall it’s too gruesome, muddled and messy to wholly recommend.

The Dead Don’t Die

– sardonic zombie movie parody plods through all the genre tropes in its efforts to lambast consumerism, but is so dry its unfunny and so glib it’s dull. Far inferior to Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

November 2019

Ready or Not

– engaging enough absurdist slaughter, but any social commentary underpinning this silly black comedy disintegrates at its conclusion leaving the whole bloody goreathon rather pointless.

Train to Busan

– albeit too long, often absurd, and filled with the usual cultural melodrama, this inventive zombie thriller from Korea provides heart-racing, palm-sweating tension in spades.

IT: Chapter 2

– clowns simply aren’t scary, a fact this horror tacitly admits by mostly using a gamut of unconvincing sfx to depict various Lovecraftian horrors instead of the actual antagonist. Some misplaced comedy further undermines any fear factor, while protracted flashbacks make an already tedious film nearly unbearable. Awful, avoid.

Crawl

– gator thriller is an easy 80 minutes, with some genuine tension at the expense of all plausibility and logic (upstairs or across the infested flood?)

October 2019

Cheap Thrills

– whether its ambition is to highlight the depravity of greed at all costs or not, this dog eat dog thriller is sick and repellent, depicting a viciously sadistic sequence of events it would be indecent to recommend. Grim indeed.

Radius

– Cool conceit and initial set up is let down by plotting that seems contrived to keep costs low, resulting in an underwhelming, slow thriller that never realises its latent potential.

Joker

– where Heath Ledger’s Joker exploded on screen in a dazzling spectacle and jolt of adrenaline, Joaquin Phoenix’ character deteriorates like rot, until sympathetically unhinged becomes fully detached and he sucks chaos towards him like a black hole. It’s a masterful performance. Kudos, too, to Scott Silver and Todd Phillips, who have dared to introduce shades of grey to a genre dominated by black and white, added enough social commentary to stir up the zeitgeist, and still crafted an utterly compelling origin story for one of the most loathed and adored villains in the superhero catalogue. It’s only appropriate to award the smiley…

The Nightingale

– Excessively long and hate-filled Australian gothic Western whose endless bloody viciousness is primed to enrage audiences, not least because so many opportunities for dissent are passed over by the frustratingly pathetic Nightingale, who fails to fight for herself or anyone else throughout, and apparently prefers a sneering lullaby to a vengeful bullet. Hugely irritating.

September 2019

Creep 2

– Mark Duplass’ blackly humorous and curiously sympathetic serial killer has certainly carved himself a niche in the genre, but this iteration works more as a depraved character study than a horror.

Summer of 84

– Really wanted to like this despite the brazen and hamfisted rip-off of the Stranger Things aesthetic, but it’s protracted, humourless and unoriginal, with unsympathetic characters and drab direction.

August 2019

47 Meters Down

– typical shark attack thriller with a few jump scares, a bit of suspense, lots of tiresome panic, and an utterly pointless first act. Quite a smart surprise at the end though. If you’re in the mood…

Midsommar

– An uncomfortably visceral, spectacularly well-orchestrated horror, which pushes boundaries both in terms of its inventive visuals and its unsettling audio. Be warned though, it is savagely gory, contains copious drug use, and features about as much twisted and explicit nudity as you’re likely to find outside of the internet. Strap in for a wild ride.

Mindhunter (S02)(TV)

– As per the first series, though on paper the premise suggests an intense and suspenseful crime thriller, in practice, the ingredients feel undercooked, lukewarm, not even raw. The inherently interesting subject matter proves compelling enough to keep watching, but never excites.

Velvet Buzzsaw

– The snipey, cut-throat world of art is depicted through maladies, melodrama and macabre murders as galleries, buyers, museums and their staff fawn over the newly discovered works of a dead artist. Campy good fun despite despicable characters and an hysterical plot.

The Son (El Hijo)

– This film had so much potential. The premise is delightfully deranged, albeit not fleshed out enough, and the cast are strong, but it fails in its plodding execution, and unwillingness to assert any definitive plot details. Its implications and suggestions, whilst initially intriguing, grow irksome, and the open ending feels lazy rather than suspenseful. It’s a shame, because it hints at a much more successful thriller.

The Little Stranger

– Unhappily devoid of excitement or emotion, this underwhelming and torturously slow haunted house mystery tries to get under the skin but gets on the nerves.

Piercing

– atonal film noir plays with expectations without ever meeting or bettering them. Despite an interesting, clinical style with some imaginative direction and a dreamy soundtrack, it sets its sights on sinister black comedy but winds up bafflingly humourless instead.

Overlord

– engaging WW2 war thriller with a twist. Whether the twist adds to the film or detracts from it, I’m uncertain, but it packs a punch either way.

The Shallows

– Despite an almost unbearably insipid and on the nose family drama subplot, the bulk and set up of this thriller is mostly well choreographed and very suspenseful at times. Hardly award-winning but sufficiently entertaining to recommend.

July 2019

The Clovehitch Killer

– dark and tonally dissonant crime drama with a B-movie feel but methodical execution. Unfortunately reveals its hand early so surprises are few and far between.

Apostle

– Aspires to metaphor and social commentary, but fails fantastically, morphing from intriguing, period, pagan-horror into heretical, manic gorefest in a gruesome heartbeat. Bloody awful and very bloody. Avoid.

June 2019

Escape Room

– a solid entry into this very specific and peculiar genre of horror movie a la The Cube. The tame script and lame acting are expected tropes at this point, so it’s really the inventiveness of the rooms and the guessing game that wins out. Fun fluff.

The Perfection

– overtly cruel, unnecessarily graphic and sick. Also twisted in such a neat spiral it’s entirely predictable from start to finish.

May 2019

Suspiria

– messed up mystery-horror elicits a mixed response. Fleeting moments are absolutely riveting and masterful in their delivery, but mostly its slow burn was painfully drawn out and tedious. It needed to be clearer, more concise and tighter in general. Good music though.

April 2019

Under The Silver Lake

– comparisons to Inherent Vice are deserved, though I think the snowballing mystery in this is actually far more satisfying. Don’t be fooled by the gently intriguing trailer, this is a conspiracy movie for conspiracy theorists. It’s like watching a cheerful descent into mental illness.

Destroyer

– drab and nasty crime drama

March 2019

The House That Jack Built

– Lars just throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Nothing it seems. I wanted to like this. Dillon is excellent, but the film is just exhaustingly dull, vacuous and unpleasant for the sake of it. Not worth the time.

Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows)

– effective but unsatisfying Spanish drama that teases mystery then vexingly abandons it half way through. Worth watching for the excellent performances.

Us

– certainly unique, but its attempt to balance horror and comedy means neither work particularly well. Different enough to warrant a viewing, but nothing on Peele’s last film, Get Out.

Homecoming S01 (TV)

– although this PTSD drama mystery features good performances and is shot in an original style, it’s too plodding and, on balance, I think I preferred the radio/ podcast series.

January 2019

Night Watch

– bat shit crazy and wildly original vampire thriller from the Russians. Innovatively directed and compellingly played. Not quite tight enough for excellence, but way better than anyone could reasonably expect from the genre.

December 2018

Unsane

– Horrible, if intriguing, movie, so damn nasty I couldn’t recommend it. It’s torturous to watch and without any redeeming qualities.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

– A Wes Anderson style script with delivery so deadpan as to be almost catatonic. It’s a soporific experience, stopped just short of total anaesthesia by dint of a deeply sinister soundtrack and unsettling plot.

October 2018

22 July

 – after the initial depiction of the event itself, which is morbidly compelling despite being more shocking and grotesque than you might even imagine, the extreme tension dissipates into extreme tedium as the usual dramatic beats take over, and a long and unexciting court case gets underway. There’s little here to entertain.

September 2018

Sinister

– generic horror. Tedious and stupid.

Who Is America? (TV)

– Crass, irreverent, often plain disgusting, yet this satirical political comedy highlighting the gross prejudices, greed and stereotypes within American society illuminates some extremely uncomfortable truths. It’s not consistently funny, and it’s downright unpleasant to watch at times, but its shocking approach cuts straight to the point and hits home often enough that its misses can be overlooked. Careful who you watch it with though…

August 2018

Marrowbone

– original and well acted ghost story. Too timid to be a horror, too creepy to be a drama. Mostly good but lacks punch.

Verónica

– fairly average spanish horror movie. Not scary in the least, so it fails on that point, but it’s no less entertaining, and some of the script is very humorous, particularly from Verónica’s younger siblings who do an admirable job treading the line between amusing and annoying.

Ghost Stories

– a unique combination of funny and terrifying, with very clever sound and direction and careful scripting. Enjoyed it a lot. Something different.

Mission: Impossible 6 Fallout

– enjoyable in the same way The Transporter was enjoyable, feel good vibes, exhilarating action, a smug confidence that feels infectious etc. But the premise is horrible, the exposition staggeringly dense, and the visuals are strangely tacky. Treat it like any other action film and it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect greatness.

July 2018

First Snow

– Slow burning tension escalates throughout this inconspicuous and unsettling psychological noir thriller. Great cast who all turn in effective performances. Suffers some pacing issues, no doubt, but still underrated.

El Otro Hermano (The Lost Brother/ The Other Brother)

– Grisly Spanish crime drama, protracted but compelling if only to see how the whole nasty, twisted tale unravels. Very effective understated soundtrack.

The Ritual

– hugely underrated British horror film using suspense and grotesque idolatry as the root of its terror. The symbolism and metaphors are a little too on the nose at times, and the script can be gratingly vituperative, but overall this is enjoyable, edge of the seat stuff.

June 2018

A Bigger Splash

– With masterful direction, XX creates a searing sinister atmosphere and palpable suspense. It’s beautiful and sensual and mysterious from the opening frames, so it’s a shame that the climax, when it comes, fizzles rather than explodes, and leaves its audience deflated.

The Snowman

– this murder mystery is short on quality in just about every regard. the acting and direction is bland, the script stunted, and it’s so strangely and scrappily edited as to leave you feeling you’ve watched two thirds of a thriller. The ingredients for a much better film are there, but they’re served up uncooked and cold.

Cargo

– Surprisingly excellent. It’s received so little acclaim and generated practically zero mainstream hype or discussion that I assumed it was going to be a generic Netflix bargain basement Zombie flick. Instead, it’s a thought provoking and very moving, human story. Basically a drama dressed up in the guise of a horror. The characters were all deep enough to be interesting and albeit quite slow paced, the story was relentlessly engaging. Interesting to see Martin Freeman do a film like this too, his acting chops have come so far since The Office!

Anthropoid

– Gory and hopeless drama cum thriller about a paltry resistance effort during WW2. Depressing and not particularly compelling.

Hereditary

– proficient horror movie that doesn’t quite earn its frenzied acclaim.

April 2018

Utopia S01 (TV)

– An intriguing and arresting pilot episode is followed by what must surely be one of the finest and most original conspiracy thriller series Britain has produced. There are some occasional lines of cheesy expositional dialogue, and the plot frequently strays into absurdity, but for sheer entertainment and thrilling momentum, this is an instant classic. Neil Maskell in particular is a rivetingly sinister villain.

A Quiet Place

– not without its problems, but this is an extremely effective and original suspense thriller – much more exciting than scary. Well worth catching in the cinema (or on a big screen) if possible.

Berberian Sound Studio

– interesting ideas but the Lynchian style and abstract form make this a difficult and unsatisfying watch.

Se Quien Eres (I Know Who You Are) S01+S02 (TV)

– frequently absurd but captivating nonetheless. The mystery intrigues even through the dodgy script and occasionally terrible acting. (

March 2018

Jigsaw

– thankfully not as gratuitous as the last spate, but it falls victim to the same underlying issue: the beauty of the original Saw was that the twist was so simple it needed no explanation. Every subsequent film has been so convoluted it’s needed a few minutes explainer to justify the final reveal. That’s a failure.

February 2018

1922

– slow and fairly boring Stephen King horror. Based on a novella, and it feels like the source material was too thin to flesh into a full film.

About Elly

– frantic and suspenseful Iranian drama, gripping and full of mystery and intrigue, but the end, when it eventually comes, is less of a conclusion than an abrupt stop. A shame.

Ingrid Goes West

– Stressful, skin-crawling, creepy and unsettling, this is a one of a kind comedy that’s near masterful. Aubrey Plaza is uniquely talented and she delivers a phenomenal performance along with O’Shea Jackson Jr who is instantly winning as her lovable landlord.

January 2018

It

– juvenile horror movie that’s fun to watch in the vein of Stranger Things, but devoid of any serious scares. Clowns are so passé…

Tattoo

– German noir crime thriller, mostly gripping, if a little over the top. The plot is undermined by a plethora of extraordinary coincidences, but for fans of the serial killer genre, this is worth a watch.

December 2017

Before I Wake

– cheap fantasy horror about a kid whose nightmares are realised when he sleeps. Not worth watching.

November 2017

The Five (TV)

– Thoroughly engaging and enjoyable TV drama exploring the mystery of why a missing and presumed dead boy’s DNA is showing up at murder seasons. Utterly ridiculous and implausible, but compelling.

Hearts in Atlantis

– charming if slightly soppy drama that hints at mystery and intrigue but never really delivers. A great performance from Anton Yelchin (RIP) although Anthony Hopkins isn’t at his best.

The Sinner S01 (TV)

– intriguing, often gratuitous and unnecessarily drawn out crime mystery. Disappointing.

Veneno para las Hadas (Poison for the Fairies)

– sinister and atmospheric, but so uneventful as to feel protracted

October 2017

Mindhunter (S01)(TV)

– watchable, and occasionally fun, but nowhere near as sinister or macabre as it would like to be, and perhaps ought to be, given its premise. There’s much better TV out there.

Gerald’s Game

– nasty sex game gone awry turns into a nightmare about child abuse. If that’s your bag, it’s good.

The Skeleton Key

– surprisingly enjoyable and gripping mystery thriller with another strong performance from Kate Hudson (Triangle). This isn’t as good as that film, but it’s still a pleasant surprise given the average calibre of horror movies these days.

September 2017

Mother!

– a spectacularly menacing and then outright batshit crazy visual assault. Recommended if only for the masterful film-making, this is an unpleasant allegory with the subtlety and nuance of a battering ram. (Key clue: Mother! is Mother Nature).

Raw

– arresting and brutally visceral cannibal horror. Gripping.

It Comes At Night

– interesting but plodding survival horror

June 2017

Counter Investigation (Contre Enquete)

– short, not exactly sweet. The sinister ending is a pleasant surprise, but it’s not the easiest film to watch.

A Perfect Man (Un Homme Ideal)

– sinister suspense thriller. No masterpiece, but it’s a pleasure to be drawn into the web of lies.

A Perfect Man (Un Homme Ideal)

– sinister suspense thriller. No masterpiece, but it’s a pleasure to be drawn into the web of lies.

May 2017

Ghost in the Shell

– visually impressive and just about adequately engaging scifi but the generic storyline and weak script disappoints

April 2017

Lights Out

– fairly bog standard horror fare, occasionally creative, more often banal.

Get Out

– brilliantly sinister and multivalent thriller impelled by strong performances, creative visuals and dark social commentary. Very timely.

March 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars

– a fitting continuation for the series. Albeit critically panned, it’s an enjoyable return to the Underworld vampire lycan saga and a solid 85 minutes of light entertainment.

January 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

– extremely sinister and menacing throughout as all good horrors should be. Quite impressive with such a minimal cast. A bit heavy on the jump scares and some very cheesy moments.

December 2016

The Strangers

– very unpleasant and successfully unsettling home invasion horror film. Can’t way it’s enjoyable, but it fulfils its brief.

Westworld S01 (TV)

– all at once fantastic, beautiful, gratuitous and scary, this should be a one season wonder, but I fear it’ll be tarnished with subsequent series that can’t possibly live up to the near perfection of these ten episodes. Watch it if only for it’s magnificent conclusion.

October 2016

Don’t Breathe

– Effective as a taut horror cum thriller, and inventively directed, but laden with problems, making for occasionally frustrating viewing.

September 2016

The Neon Demon

– ought to be a series of crisply framed slides on the vast white-washed wall of a modern art gallery. This is less a movie, and more a series of stylish, if grotesque, exhibits; interesting perhaps, but a far cry from entertainment.

Musarañas (Shrew’s Nest)

– unpleasant spanish horror, more menacing than gratuitous. Good film, if you like the unlikeable.

The Girl With All The Gifts

– excellent British sci-fi that falls before the final hurdle, disrupting and destructing an otherwise original and fascinating zombie film. Suffers from the same pitfalls as many of its ilk, not least the inability to call a zombie a zombie.

Hush

– tedious horror slasher complete with irrational behaviour, typical horror tropes and bad acting.

August 2016

Crimson Peak

– intriguing and suitably sinister gothic horror, but the plot makes little sense and the execution only serves to compound that. Style over substance.

June 2016

The Invitation

– a dialogue propelled slow burn, but continually intriguing and mysterious. Fun for fans of the psychological horror/ thriller genre.

Babylon (TV)

– sort of wannabe The Thick of It for cops. Fast paced with an engaging story, but none of the characters are likeable, and the comedy is often too nasty to raise a smile.

May 2016

Our Kind of Traitor

– quite riveting old school thriller. Wonderfully sinister and suspenseful despite being lumbered with occasional tropes and a sense of inevitability.

The Witch

– no jump scares, no slasher gore or creaky clichés, just very effective, authentic horror of the kind Rosemary’s Baby perfected. Terrific.

April 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

– deeply sinister and edgy sci-fi thriller with horror elements. Very effective, albeit almost comically ridiculous!

Open Grave

– creepy, slightly stilted thriller. B-movie production, but a worthwhile concept and script. Unusual and dark enough to appeal to fans of the psychological horror genre.

March 2016

Mystery Men

– idiotic and unfunny.

January 2016

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

– still funny after all these years. The title sequence alone is one of the best ever made I think.

November 2015

The Silence of the Lambs

– as wonderfully sinister as ever, even with age.

October 2015

Kajaki

– Extraordinary, gripping and harrowing insight into a few hours in Afghanistan. Horrifying true story.

September 2015

The Thick of It

– Riveting and darkly hilarious comedy depicting the internal workings of the UK Ministry of Social Affairs. Brilliant, if occasionally a little too nasty.

August 2015

Ted 2

– Brilliantly irreverent and unflinching comedy that doesn’t pull any punches but unfortunately misses as often as it hits. After a classic heavyweight first act, it sags in the middle and deflates towards the end. Overall though, this is highly entertaining with great chemistry and some very smart scripting (in amongst the horrible!)

Nightwatch [original]

– It turns out the US remake was essentially a shot for shot rework of this original danish serial killer thriller which enormously undermined the impact of this for me. Clearly a solid film though, and pleasantly unpleasantly twisted.

July 2015

True Story

– Bland, incongruous drama that aims for sinister and comes off simply quaint. A shame.

It Follows

– Preposterous and overrated horror. Novel (albeit very slow) direction and a mildly interesting concept just about maintains intrigue, but it’s too heavy and soul searching to conjure the ‘au frisson’ most might expect from a horror.

June 2015

Housebound

– Weird Oz black comedy horror that compels because it’s simply so bizarre. A bit niche for the average horror viewer though.

April 2015

The Voices

– Utterly inane, wacky, off the wall serial killer comedy that baffles more than it entertains, although it’s worth watching to the end simply for the final credit sequence. Ryan Reynolds is a dream.

Spiral S01 (TV)

– Gritty and compelling French police serial. A solid series.

March 2015

Switchback

– Dated and decidedly average serial killer thriller.

January 2015

Unthinkable

– Mistakenly watched for a second time, and worse this time around. Unpleasant cheerleading for torture.

Odd Thomas

– ludicrous female costumes and perhaps Willem Dafoe’s easiest role are really the only two overt flaws in an otherwise hugely original, entertaining and lighthearted sci-fi horror. A breath of fresh air. Anton Yelchin is great.

December 2014

Horrible Bosses 2

– Silly and puerile comedy to match its predecessor. Pine is surprisingly funny and the trio have a fluid chemistry that endears the film despite some duff moments of improv and school boy quips. Light fun.

Mr Nobody

– Impressive casting, acting and vision, and the technical execution is surely skilful, but even as a piece of philosophical entertainment it fails. Pacing is horrible and the story convoluted.

Horns

– oddly compelling if woefully try-hard wannabe cult horror.

Tucker and Dale versus Evil

– Very silly if entertaining horror spoof with some excellent lines hidden amidst the usual cheap slapstick and teenage farce.

November 2014

The Babadook

– Morbid and depressing if refreshingly original take on the usual horror guff: possession, children and creepy houses. Did I say original?

October 2014

The Calling

– terrible, drab and unenjoyable serial killer ‘thriller’ that suffers from issues left, right and centre. Avoid.

El Traspatio (Backyard)

– Graphic and unflinching look at brutality against women in Juarez and the corruption of the judicial system in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Horrifying drama, difficult to watch, hard to recommend.

You’re Next

– Wonderfully nasty whilst simultaneously tongue in cheek horror home invasion flick. Undeniably sadistic and typically superficial for the genre, after a shouty start this is done very well.

September 2014

Mystery Road

– Slow burning Aussie crime drama that stumbles over some clumsy dialogue and wooden acting. The execution might not be perfect, but it still commands a solid level of intrigue. If only it had upped the pace.

El Metodo (The Method)

– An unsatisfying and slightly provocative, if well conceived mystery. Thought provoking and frustrating in turns.

August 2014

Mientras Duermes

– One of the nastiest, most insidious, and repulsive Spanish films I have ever had the displeasure of watching. A solid pic, well directed, well acted and utterly horrible.

July 2014

Epitafios S01 (TV)

– Audience insulting twists, police incompetence, bad judgements, gratuity and cliches galore mar what could otherwise have been a moderately entertaining, if intellectually challenged, serial killer thriller. Frustration ruins a TV series though, and my God, this show is frustrating viewing! (We’re talking worse than Dexter S07)

Only Lovers Left Alive

– Painfully slow and pseudo-intellectual vampire drama. As depressing to watch as Hiddleston’s character is portrayed. Little here to seize interest.

Bad Words

– Bateman proves he should stick to the Bluths with this misjudged and tasteless comedy. Generally nasty, with a script of abuse thinly guised as humour. Even acting legend, Philip Baker Hall, looks tired and unhappy.

Oculus

– Intriguing but ultimately disappointing horror. Good ingredients and concept, with an unsound and irrational execution, in particular the finale.

June 2014

The Host

– Terrible and hugely overrated sci-fi comedy. Horror elements are entirely undermined by slapstick comedy and goofy acting. Misleadingly high rated on IMDb, this is so bad it’s difficult to watch.

May 2014

Death in Paradise (TV)

– moderately amusing British murder mystery comedy. Silly, very lighthearted, and consequently entirely forgivably hammy!

April 2014

Banshee S01

– Give it a chance. Yes it’s stylised, yes it’s testosterone fuelled and macho, but the story really gels together tightly as the episodes progress, and the characters endear themselves quickly. The writing is smart and witty, even laugh out loud at times, and whilst the female characters are indubitably sexualised, they are also strong willed, intelligent and resilient. It’s an excellent hybrid of procedural and serial, with an overarching narrative that progresses swiftly enough whilst always including a novel element each episode. Highly recommended, and with room still to grow. Antony Starr is a revelation.

The Lost Boys

– Bizarrely engrossing although undeniably bad. Perhaps it has just dated, but my God, how it has dated! 80s vampire cult noire, laden with screams and cross dissolves.

The Vanishing

– An insidious and sinister thriller with convincing performances by the whole cast. Albeit based on the novel by Tim Krabbe, this is very Stephen King in style; innocent characters come face to face with villainy and the seemingly ordinary people who perpetrate it. Better than average if still unremarkable.

March 2014

Secret Window

– Somehow both menacing and fun, the first two thirds of this mystery thriller are wonderfully compelling. Unfortunately, as so often happens, the final act is a huge disappointment, with a hokey ‘twist’ and poor resolution. Depp is strong throughout.

The Act of Killing

– Exceedingly impactful, unique and compelling documentary about the genocide in Indonesia, in which killers reenact their war crimes. Horrifying and unsettling, but somehow very human (perhaps for this precise reason).

Polisse

– Albeit primarily a drama, this treads the very fine line between comedy and tragedy with aplomb. In turns heartbreaking, unsettling, jawdropping and hilarious with an ending that feels like a punch in the stomach.

Primal Fear

– Equally satisfying on a third viewing. What a terrific performance from Ed Norton and a gripping screenplay throughout. Excellent stuff.

Under the Skin

– A remarkable, albeit slightly too abstract, visual spectacle with a terrific score by Mica Levi (Micachu). Profound, unsettling, and creepy in the best possible way, it unfortunately falls short of perfection with some pacing issues around the third act.

Memories of Murder

– Solid Korean murder mystery tackling various difficult themes. Not the thriller that the hype suggests, but very good nonetheless.

February 2014

The Last Stand

– This film has no redeemable qualities, or indeed qualities at all. Not just one of the worst action films I have ever seen, but one of the worst films full stop. A horrible combination of long and terrible.

January 2014

Homeland (S03)

– A shocking season of TV, and sadly, brutally uncompromising. I won’t be watching S04; for me this is a conlusion to Homeland, a series which was always Brody’s story. Lewis and Danes are both terrific, though the plot plays fast and loose with chronology.

December 2013

Bloody Sunday

– Harrowing, unflinching, almost nausea-inducing biopic of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. Amazing film.

The Woman In Black

– Much weaker on a second viewing, though the setting remains wonderfully unsettling

November 2013

Knight Moves

– Another serial killer thriller centred around a chess genius, this performs better than Uncovered but still feels like a tired cliche. Once the initial chess scene is set, there’s little to distinguish it from the hundreds of other noir thrillers aspiring to be more than bargain basement fluff.

The Ghost and the Darkness

– Good performances but by the end, I had had it with those motherfuckin Lions on those motherfuckin plains…

Below

– Fast paced, entirely gripping and wonderfully sinister. This has flown low under the radar but deserves much more attention. It’s not without flaws, just well above average.

October 2013

Carnage

– Well orchestrated but better suited to theatre than film. Very much in the vein of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, attempts at humour are subdued by the overall hostility. The underlying premise and behaviour of the individuals isn’t especially plausible and therefore sits uncomfortably contrived.

Requiem for a Dream

– horrifying, savagely raw and unflinching exploration of the impacts of addiction. Albeit pessimistic and depressing, this is a masterfully spun web of stories; a powerful dose of some ugly bad shit. If you weren’t afraid of drugs, you will be now.

All Good Things

– There might be a good film to be had from this story but this isn’t it. Dull, devoid of sufficient intrigue as a result of badly judged pacing. At best it just about kindled my interest in the real life mystery surrounding Robert Durst (depicted in the film as David Marks).

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

– tedious drug anecdotes, slurred words and trippy visuals. Just really boring. No idea how it’s such a cult hit. Maybe you have to be baked to watch it.

September 2013

World War Z

– Thoroughly enjoyed this although it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Straight up, fast paced Zombie thriller.

The Fear

(TV) – Another excellent role from Peter Mullan. Implausible and inadequate in comparison to US equivalents, but nonetheless better than average British viewing with an original premise at its core.

The Boston Strangler

– Illuminating biopic about Albert Desalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler. Very dated with clumsy direction techniques, but nonetheless worth watching for anyone interested in the psyche of serial killers.

August 2013

Byzantium

– In an attempt to do something original with the whole vampire ‘thing’, Neil Jordan opts for ‘drama’ over thrills and spills but in doing so draws the viewer, inexorably, to boredom.

The Returned S01 (TV)

– original premise (albeit based on the 2004 film with the same name), mystery and intrigue keep you hooked even when the script and acting fall apart. Fingers crossed the writers know where they’re going with it. It has some dangerous similarities with Lost.

The Conjuring

– Fantastic, eerie, suspenseful mystery thriller. The best example of cinematic horror since The Exorcist. A real triumph.

Evil Dead [2013]

– If you revel in gore, savage brutality and all the usual slasher tropes, then this might well be up your street. It got the stamp of approval from Bruce Campbell, but his tongue in cheek is a far cry from this fairly average ‘cabin in the woods’ fare.

July 2013

Warm Bodies

– quirky, off-beat zombie comedy. Definitely no Shaun of the Dead. If you’re really bored on a Sunday though…

June 2013

The Prey (La Proie)

– rattling along at a breakneck speed keeps this French thriller gripping, but it inevitably stumbles over horrible contrivances and cliches in order to keep momentum, not to mention more cheese than a Croque Monsieur. It’s a pity because it’s otherwise engrossing.

Stake Land

– Fantastic take on the vampire genre that is an absolute stand out during the recent vamp revival. Brilliant acting, pacing and story. I felt it could have afforded a fractionally more upbeat ending.

May 2013

Pi

– exactly my kind of film; an intriguing, mysterious, original, stylish and creatively directed psychological thriller. Top acting and a great script. All the evidence you need that money doesn’t make a film (this was produced on $60k). Only criticism, a little too pseudo-mathematical, I’m not convinced it all adds up…

April 2013

Broadchurch (TV)

– excellent whodunit in the style of The Killing with phenomenal performances all round. The conclusion is faintly predictable a few episodes too soon and one or two strands are left unresolved, but all things considered, this is a well above average mystery drama that comes highly recommended.

March 2013

The Interview

– An excellently unsettling dialogue driven thriller from down under. Hugo Weaving delivers a very different, but nonetheless brilliant, performance as the victim of a police manhunt. Could have done with a little more resolution.

Mama

– a forgettable, largely disappointing suspense horror with tropes and cliches galore. That being said, it’s probably better than average for the genre.

Creep

– a terrible, plot-hole ridden wannabe horror that fails to achieve even the basic principles of the genre, despite heaping on the tropes and stereotypes.

Los Sin Nombre (The Nameless)

– Indubitably mysterious and excellent creation of suspense but the final act destroys the qualities of the first two to leave the film faring little better than average.

Tesis

– Compelling and extremely mysterious, the intrigue is somewhat belittled by poor character choices throughout which detract from the plausibility and therefore the impact of the story.

Side Effects

– after a slow first act, a compelling story and dialogue driven thriller emerges. It’s a little too vindictive and gratuitously nasty in tone for my tastes, and the twists take the movie from a clever critique of pharmaceutical ethics to more standardised, familiar territory, but Jude Law and Rooney Mara are excellent and it is original enough to warrant careful viewing.

February 2013

Manhattan Murder Mystery

– lots of the usual Woody Allen rambling and hyper incredulity, but not as humorous as Annie Hall or Manhattan.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

– a tremendous, powerful film, and one I hope never to watch again. Intensely miserable, wretched and emotionally harrowing. Spectacular acting and script unlike any I’ve seen.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

– a very dark film, considerably better than the lacklustre title implies. Ominous, unsettling, but less resolved than I might have liked. Still highly recommended.

In The Heat Of The Night

– Sidney Poitier utters his immortal line “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” A top notch murder mystery set in racist Mississipi. A great film, but a step below Mississipi Burning for my tastes.

January 2013

Ghost

– Thick with cheese and ham and very predictable but nonetheless worth a watch if you don’t mind 90s bad VFX.

The Collection

– More or less what you’d expect from the sequel. A nonsensical gorefest, not as sinister or clever as the first. Someone should give Josh Stewart a decent script to work.

November 2012

Kill List

– a modern day retelling of Macbeth. Intriguing, dark, mysterious but infuriating. A make or break ending. Break for me…

October 2012

Cabin In The Woods

– Excellent comedy horror. Original and creative with superb special effects and sharp wit.

Fragile

– awful ‘suspense’ horror, a waste of everybody’s time.

September 2012

Tyrannosaur

– A brutally unflinching depiction of domestic violence, terrifying for it’s realism and superb acting

August 2012

La Cabina

– an unsettling short to be sure, but I feel it hasn’t aged particularly well.

Chinatown

– much overrated I’m afraid to say. Worth watching, but don’t expect too much.

May 2012

M:I4 Ghost Protocol

– So much better than the last two the franchise can be forgiven. Like a shot of adrenaline. The stunts are a true joy to behold.

Hierro

– Haunting and unsettling, but just doesn’t quite cut the grade for usual Spanish horrors

April 2012

Extreme Measures

– Hugh Grant in a rare serious role. Excellent mystery and suspense, and a solid script. Highly recommended.

Cabin in the Woods

– an excellent, original take on the teenage horror genre. Fantastic effects and brilliantly paced.

Night Moves

– an intriguing, if overly drawn out mystery. A little dated

Class Action

– clever legal thriller, horrible soundtrack but well executed story. Above average (perhaps thanks to Hackman?)

March 2012

Misery

– typically sinister Stephen King

Kiss The Girls

– implausible but nonetheless intriguing murder mystery

February 2012

The Woman In Black

– a rare horror gem. Impressive, haunting photography and editing makes up for an uninspired script and unfortunate casting of the lead. Radcliffe is surprisingly great, but simply doesn’t carry the years.

The Straight Story

– charming, not a word usually associated with Lynch perhaps. This one sails on the strength of Farnsworth’s terrific performance.

January 2012

Mission: Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol

– a thoroughly enjoyable action romp with a smattering of laughs too

December 2011

Frozen

– an unlikely horror that works extremely well

Untraceable

– contrived serial killer thriller with a totally implausible plot

The Ring

– massively overrated, average horror flick, watch the original instead

Funny Games US

– twisted, depraved, slow burning horror that will make your skin crawl

Joshua

– another freaky kid horror, more entertaining than usual

Ghost Dog: Way of the Warrior

– slow but well concocted samurai hitman movie

Case 39

– uninspiring unoriginal horror of the freaky kid variety

Splice

– bizarre sci-fi horror in the vein of HG Wells

Shutter

– very jumpy horror packed with everything you’d expect from the genre

The Collector

– terrific acting by Patrick Stewart, a horror in the style of The Cube

Horrible Bosses

– funny but very puerile comedy with a great cast

The Believer

 – unsettling but gripping. Gosling is a perfect anti-hero.

Black Death

– an exciting gory medieval period piece with sword fighting and black magic galore

The Exam

– mystery thriller will keep you guessing

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

– low budget but surprisingly slick vampire flick

Unthinkable

– american rightwing pro torture propaganda, practically 24 the movie with none of the charm

Wrong Turn

– infuriatingly stupid characters result in a frustrating and cliched horror

1408

– Stephen King horror with Cusack at his most depraved

Trust

– very scary but excellent portrayal of online sexual predators and their affect on families, heartbreaking

After.Life

– surreal and weird mystery thriller, intriguing but not my thing

Cherry Tree Lane

– very dark, unpleasant and difficult to watch home invasion horror, too slow to be fun

[Rec]

– spanish horror, fairly standard but some pleasant au frisson

Swimming Pool

– haunting erotic mystery. Slow paced indie vibe.

Suspect Zero

– a lacklustre serial killer thriller that bleeds out when it incorporates voodoo magic

Black Swan

– mesmerising, horrifying, disturbing but beautiful

Triangle

– highly original, cleverly constructed and mindbending horror/ thriller which will have you trawling the forums

August 2010

Pet Sematary

– sickly terrifying, a Stephen King classic

July 2010

Daybreakers

– at last a decent vamp film

Frailty

– uninspiring horror

June 2010

Green Zone

– bloody entertaining actually.

May 2010

Vampire aka Demon Under Glass

– laughable B-movie