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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘BLUE MY MIND’

A maybe-mermaid metamorphosis, MDMA, and mean girls combine to make Blue My Mind an unforgettably queasy coming-of-age body horror fantasy. Lisa Brühlmann’s Kafkaesque sexual awakening exists somewhere between Raw, Girlhood and The Fly – a Cronenbergian exploration of feminine maturation that deals in earnest themes of friendship and acceptance, tackling the challenges of life’s transitions through a unique, sexually-charged, and often dangerous lens. This Swiss import boasts the distinction of complicated performances (Luna Wedler’s fire) and a supercharged young talent in Brühlmann, who, mind-blowingly, submitted this as her film-school thesis. Bravo. (B+) Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘REVENGE’

Vengeance is a dish served gory in this stylish, brutish bloodbath that updates 70s rape-revenge fantasy exploitation films to the #MeToo era. The bare bones plot leaves Jen (a hypnotic Matilda Lutz) pitted against three male assailants/trophy hunters, stranded in the middle of nowhere with an axe to grind. Hallucinatory camerawork and a throbbing soundscape bring artsy flair to this otherwise stripped-down final girl kill-fest that pops with cringetastic, French New Extremity levels of blood geysers. At nearly 2 hours, the feminist horror crowd-pleaser drags in spots but deeply satisfies nonetheless. (B+) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE ENDLESS’

Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead are a tactile duo, crafting thought-provoking, effects-driven, genre-defying features filled with big ideas on a micro-budget. Their last film, Spring, which can only be described as a “romantic body horror” and was a favorite for many who sought it out after its 2014 Toronto Film Festival debut, failed to find much of an audience among the general public but solidified the partnership, who had previously collaborated on 2012’s low-budge horror flick Resolution, as a pair for cinephile’s to keep a close eye on. Rather than pulling in the reins, the creative partners have gone even bigger with The Endless, a heady science-fiction-slash-horror—slash-cult-thriller-slash-sibling-drama that’s ambitious to a fault.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘A QUIET PLACE’

Put your phones on silent bitches. A Quiet Place, a masterfully disquieting creature feature from The Office alum John Krasinski, simply will not stand for interruption. Taking pages from the books of Hitchcock, Argento, and Spielberg, Krasinski skillfully weaves together a sharply intelligent, emotionally involving and blisteringly suspenseful chamber-piece that layers a uniquely “silent” horror film in with a very personal treatise on the challenges of parenthood.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HAPPY DEATH DAY’

It’s only right that Happy Death Day, wherein a sorority girl is forced to live the day she is murdered over and over again, takes an entire scene to namecheck Groundhog Day. After all, this film from Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), is a crude combination of that beloved Bill Murray satire, Tina Fey’s hit teen film Mean Girls and any of the various slasher films from 1974 onward, particularly Black ChristmasRead More

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Out in Theaters: ‘IT’

Growing up in Maine, I’ve lived in the land of Steven King’s inspiration. I’ve suffered the bone-chattering winters. Lurked the dense, immutable forests, always so convincingly haunted whenever they needed to be. I’ve challenged forbidden historic landmarks in the twilight hours, suspecting authority, or something more sinister, at every dark fated turn. As a boy, I chomped through King’s preternatural catalogue of horror novels, perhaps because of my budding adoration of the genre, perhaps because he was quite simply the most famous guy from Maine I knew of. I’d taken down “The Shining”, “Carrie”, “Misery”, “The Green Mile”, “The Dead Zone”, “Cujo”, “The Mist”, “Needful Things”, “Pet Sematary”, “Christine”, “Firestarter”, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”, “Gerald’s Game”, and “Thinner” by the time I was 12. But nothing in King’s oeuvre haunted me more than his 1986 classic “It”. That shit had me shivering in my rain boats.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ANOTHER EVIL’

Anyone who ever found themselves wishing for a cross section between The Cable Guy and The Exorcism, rejoice in thy ancient cursed tongues. Carson D. Mell’s supernaturally awkward brom-dram is a conjoined twin of ghost tale hula-hoops and male acquaintanceship hoopla. A batty genre-defying lark to its close, Another Evil deals with the clumsy delicacies of fledgling friendships weighed against the silly absurdities of cloven hoofs and blessed needles. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘RAW’

I suppose it’s fair to say Raw is not for everyone. Turns out a lot of the general populace don’t like subtitled French movies. Much less ones where humans gleefully feast on each another’s flesh. But let me tell you, Raw is every bit the toothy show-stopper that I wanted it to be. And much funnier. A familial politics drama smuggled inside a coming-of-age cannibal story, the feature debut from writer/director Julia Docournau tells the story of vegetarian veterinary student turned budding people-eater Justine (Garance Marillier) and is served up with all the fixin’s. To say I loved it would be an understatement.      Read More

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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘TRAGEDY GIRLS’

Mean Girls meets Scream in Tyler MacIntyre’s trendy satirical midnight horror-comedy Tragedy Girls. Like Heathers for the social media age, MacIntyre’s coming-of-age serial killer misadventure satirizes iPhone-obsessed culture as two popular girls go on a killing spree in order to gain followers, accrue likes and establish a brand. A fucked-up ode to friendship first and foremost, Tragedy Girls’ kill-happy mentality is demented no doubt but the relationship at its center sincerely (and gruesomely) cuts to the core of high school woes and the trials of BFF-dom. Not to mention, it’s bloody good fun.
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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘GAME OF DEATH’

Upon reading that Game of Death was an amalgam of a web series stitched together into a feature, I feared the worst. The formats, though not incongruous, ostensibly serve different ends – one drives towards a rollercoaster of micro-climaxes, the other tells a rounded whole narrative arc. It’s a case of a dozen acts versus the traditional three act structure and trying to cram the one into the other is risky business. Though there’s some glaringly funky transfer hiccups reformatting the series as a feature film – most notably aspect ratios that shift scene to scene – the product overcomes what should be insurmountable odds at every turn through pure force of blood-stained will. Read More