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NETFIX: 6 Great New Films That Made No Money (Because You Didn’t See Them)

The great thing about Netflix is that it gives you a lot of TV and movie watching options. The bad thing about Netflix is that it gives you…a lot of TV and movie watching options. To cut down on your Netflix search and discover time, Netfix aims to ease the process of parsing the good from the bad. The great from the not so great. From action films to foreign dramas, we’re raked the catalogs to offer only the finest that the preeminent streaming service has to offer. So settle in, get your remotes ready and prepare for the red wave of Netfix to wash over you.

 

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5 Best Dysfunctional Movie Dads to Honor TRAINWRECK

As the opening seconds of the trailer makes clear, Trainwreck [review here] posits the root cause of protagonist Amy’s inability to sustain a romantic relationship as her father’s own dysfunction in this regard. He begins by telling his daughters the usual line, “Girls, your mother and I are getting divorced,” but goes on to make his daughters repeat “Monogamy isn’t realistic” several times. In celebration of the questionable judgment of just such men who’ve procreated and kinda blown it, here’s my list of The Top 5 Dysfunctional Dads in movies.
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2015 Indie Summer Release Guide

While this summer has been thoroughly epic with the release of Jurassic World, Magic Mike: XXL and Mad Max: Fury Road, let us not forget our humble independent cinema either going straight to VOD or perhaps gracing arthouse cinemas this summer. It’s a strong season for independent film, with new releases from indie champs James Ponsoldt (The End of the Tour) and Noah Baumbach (Mistress America) as well as a few directing debuts by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girland Sarah Adina Smith (Midnight Swim). Get your fill of indie cinema below with a gateway guide. Read More

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5 Best Interspecies Relationship Movies

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Inspired by the premiere of Ted 2 a movie so awful that we here at Silver Screen Riot have declared it the “worst film of the year” [full review here] – here is our list of the five best films about interspecies relationships. These cinematic gems, like the relationship between a woman and a teddy bear, encourage viewers to wonder: how do they do it? Like, do it, do it? Read More

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Netfix: 7 Recent (Underrated) Thrillers Streaming on Netflix

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The great thing about Netflix is that it gives you a lot of TV and movie watching options. The bad thing about Netflix is that it gives you…a lot of TV and movie watching options. So many that it can be overwhelming. I’d guess around ninety percent of our time spent on Netflix is scrolling through thousands of movies and TV shows, before finally deciding on something three hours after you’ve first logged on. The aim of this column is to provide easily accessible Netflix suggestions based on a different focal point each week.


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The Absolute Worst Films of 2014

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As the year comes to a close, most critics hover around their keyboards blasting out lists on this or that – Top Tens, Best Performances, Coolest Stunt Involving a Bunny Rabbit – and cutting through all the praise is the purely gleeful opportunity to take aim at the worst of the worst – those films that left us shuttering, that inspired us to reach out to friends and family and warn them off, that wouldn’t just melt away with time but rather forced us to remember their terribleness throughout the entire year. And though many may expect the likes of Haunted House 2, Tammy, Heaven is for Real, Blended, God’s Not Dead, The Identical, The Best of Me, etc. to make an appearance here, they won’t make the list because I didn’t subject myself to their nominal abject horror.

Last year, our Absolute Worst of 2013 List included Getaway, Oz, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Movie 43, The Hangover: Part 3, The Fifth Estate, After Earth, The Mortal Instruments, The Canyons and The Host and though this year’s worst weren’t quite as bad as last’s year putrid bunch, they were still some bad, bad mommas. So before we get to the worst of the worst, let’s blast through a quick list of films that were quite thoroughly offputting but not quite enough to crack the top ten. Nonetheless, avoid these trash piles whole-heartedly.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Annie
The Foxy Merkins
Ping Pong Summer
Leading Lady
The Purge: Anarchy
Into the Storm
About Last Night
Labor Day
The Better Angels
Annabelle
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Bad Words
Decoding Annie Parker
300: Rise of an Empire
Stage Fright
Pompeii
Exodus: Gods and Kings

10. GIMME SHELTER

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Vanessa Hudgen‘s scrubby mop and her horrendous Jersey accent aren’t really to blame for the emotional wash-out that is Gimme Shelter. Nor is Brendan Fraser and his Brendan Fraser-iness. Director Ron Krauss, on the other hand, is. Coming off a human trafficking billing, Krauss wrings the welts of abused children for every weepy sentiment he can and in doing so makes a despicable and entirely ugly product. Miles from the brilliant Rolling Stones song from which it takes its name, Gimme Shelter paints the wholly wrong picture of child abuse with boorish abandon, mixing ice-cream parlor super-88 montages with a cracked out, stanky skanky Rosario Dawson.

9. BRICK MANSIONS

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Were it not for the untimely passing of star Paul Walker, I’m convinced Brick Mansions would have been a straight-to-DVD release. It’s a parkour movie that edits out the parkour, an action thriller without any octane, a remake of a French film that keeps its French star inexplicably intact, supplanting him in a racially divided Detroit. There is literally a moment where the two leads simultaneously backflip over the bad guys. This actually happened. In an actual movie. Not to mention the entire plot is one big borrowed MacGuffin from other Walker franchise, the wholly more enjoyable Fast and Furious. The whole thing is frustratingly scrubbed of life and energy, mistakenly betting on the starring power of Walker and a red-pepper-slicin’ RZA.

8. THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

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In terms of chemistry gone wrong, none can top That Awkward Moment. With 3/4 of its cast entirely likable (Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Michael B. Jordan), this rank “comedy” supports a borderline violent, totalitarian anti-feminist worldview in which woman are doormats to be treated as such. I can’t think of another film this year that so actively tried to disarm womankind and did so with such gross snarkiness. I found the film distasteful to say the least and even borderline damaging for those unfortunate enough to mistake its message for reality. That Awkward Moment presents a backwards zeitgeist that needs to be put in the rear view as a prize to be won. Zac Efron has never stooped so low.  

7. THEY CAME TOGETHER

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I make a point of avoiding movies that will too easily make its way onto this year end list of worsts. I don’t see Sandler nut-kicking vehicles. I don’t watch Seltzer-Friedberg spoofs, I don’t bathe in Nicholas Sparks waters. I won’t bother with Christian-pandering flickolas. I go into movies fully expecting some modicum of entertainment and if I know that I’m going to be sighing and watch-checking for a number of hours, I just don’t bother. Then came They Came Together, a well-disguised trap; a nut-twisting landmine that reels you in with promises of satire only to deliver brain-crushing wallops of stupidity. Even the oddball charm of Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd couldn’t wash away the stench of absolute failure in this Larry the Cable Guy-level spoof. The amazing thing is some people actually liked this. Critics recommended it. I don’t know if I watched the film in an alternate universe or if some critics were getting paid off to hand out passes but there was nothing in this movie that made me even think about cracking a smile.

6. OUIJA

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To me there’s a monumental difference between bad movies and lazy movies and my disdain for the later far outweighs the former. Transcendence was a bad movie – it got jumbled up, dotted the T’s and crossed the I’s and went haywire – but at least it tried something. It wasn’t a rehashed conglomerated of old parts mashed together clumsily and without regard. Oujia represents this other side of the spectrum, the side in which nothing new is attempted, where everything reeks of lethargic malaise. Entirely lacking in inertia and completely devoid of novelty, it’s the kind of film that gives horror a bad name, that has the nerve to off its hapless teenagers in the most predicable of ways, that fails to present even one reason for its existence. In a word, it’s shameful.

5. HERCULES

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Disney’s 1997 animated Hercules is a thing of magic. The gospel-fed songs are inspiring and catchy as all hell (“Herc was on a roll”), the hero’s journey is handled with a weighty, classical approach, the animation absolutely soars and Danny Devito was a half-man, half-goat. I love it. Now take Brett Ratner‘s shatner of a flick and try and describe just one thing about it. It stars a man named The Rock. He battles stuff ‘n’ things. He pulls down a pillar at one point. I’m not sure if he was a God or not. It didn’t really matter. 2014’s Hercules is so bad because it’s so nothing. There is not one single memorable thing about it. Too bloodless to revel in and too thoughtless to engage with, it’s a white-washed mash of “Who gives a shit?” I’ll tell you who, not me.

4. MALEFICENT

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Angelina Jolie‘s inhuman cheekbones stars amidst a wash of CGI in an origin story that takes a meaty dump on the beloved Sleeping Beauty fairytale lore of yore. This revisited Disney saga is a Frankenstein’s monster of blockbuster glitz that batters its audience with allusions to rape and then has trees fighting men. Utterly without a voice and any discernible perspective, Maleficent rests on the starring power of Angelina Jolie, an actress more apt to strike a pose than to, ya know, act and you feel the strain of the film’s weight upon her underfed shoulders. Yucky, grossly dull and entirely fake, Maleficent represents rock bottom for Disney’s live action re-tellings and is an absolute task to endure.

3. IF I STAY

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Chloe Grace Moretz is a darling. She is not however dramatically inclined and the wholly incompetent If I Stay is bitter proof of that. The story is tragi-porn city, with a plot that involves a coma, dead parents, a dying brother and, gasp, an on-the-rocks teenage romance. 2014 has been the year of shoehorning calamity into romance – cancer cough, Fault in Our Stars, cancer cough – but none did it worse than If I Stay. Like a battering ram trying to bust down the gateway to our tears, the film wears its cheesy intent on its sleeve and is all the worse for wear for it. There’s a threshold for how much an audience will believably endure before we just begin to snicker and If I Stay crosses that line early on and proceeds to cross it again and again and again.

2. DIVERGENT

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At 139 minutes, Divergent is the most punishing motion picture of the year – a recklessly lengthy stretch of kids jumping over shit and yelling “dauntless”. Plastered in black pleather and smeared with Jai Courtney grimaces, this popular kids book turned wannabe hit franchise is the worst derivative young adult dystopia of the (growing) lot in many parts because of its utter narrative incompetence. There’s class-based factions, shifting power structures, social uprisings – basically the makings for timely political intrigue – but it’s all handled with the good grace of a date with Bill Cosby. Did I mention Jai Courtney was in this?

1. HORNS

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Joe Hill’s novel Horns was warmly met by fans and critics, receiving a nomination for the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, a prize that had in the past gone to the likes of Thomas Harris and Steven King. Alexandre Aja, director of The Hills Have Eyes remake, Piranha 3D and last year’s widely panned Maniac takes Hill’s novel and bastardizes its mania into harebrained stupidity. Daniel Radcliffe sports an anaconda boa and horns that make people confess their wildest sins (like wanting to eat a whole box of donuts!), religious allegories saunter into and out of frame and I think the whole thing is supposed to be some wildly miffed commentary on puberty and masturbation. But who the fuck knows. The result feels like a vision distilled down more times than good vodka, losing parts and pieces along the way until it wound up the ugly, pointless, plodding movie it was, one that is aggressively frustrating for its absolute missed potential and even worse for supposing all the while that it does have a point, a heart and a brain.

So there we have it, the worst flicks according to moi. On the way out the door though, we’ll take two more quick pot-shots, this time for the worst performances.

Worst Actress: Cameron Diaz “ANNIE”

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The singing. The acting. The faces. I don’t know which was worst. In a movie crammed with a brazen lack of charm, Cameron Diaz added log after log to the awful fire, hamming her way to this man’s Razzie chart-topper. As I noted in my review, there’s a very fine line between satire and mockery and it’s one that Diaz tragically misunderstood in the role. An actor’s journey is to find the humanity in their character – no matter how despicable, cold or inhuman – and from that understanding create a living, breathing human. We buy into the fact that this is not just a celebrity caked in makeup and dressed funny to be captured on camera so long as they ready themselves to convince us. It’s an unspoken contract that actors make with their audiences, one that Diaz violently violates as the ham-fisted Ms. Hannigan, a puppet of a character that’s more Oscar the Grouch than woman.

Worst Actor: Jai Courtney “DIVERGENT”

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The latest in “let’s make him a Hollywood “it” boy” (following in the footsteps of the somehow infinitely less dull Sam Worthington) Jai Courtney is the most fruitless actor working today. With a resume that includes franchise bed-pooper A Good Day to Die Hard, I, Frankenstein and Divergent, he’s got very little talent and even less pathos, set with the kind of face that invites a hearty punch. His work may not ever be aggressively bad but it’s always been aggressively careless. Maybe it’s because we got in a tiff before the premiere and I was harboring feelings of distain towards the Aussie actor but I earnestly can’t think of a performance that annoyed me more than his work in the endlessly punishing Divergent.

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13 Most Disturbing Horror Movies of the Last 13 Years

First of all, I’m gonna throw down the NSFW gauntlet for these 13 most disturbing horror movies of the last 13 years because what you are about to witness is, as the name suggests, a list of not exactly your grandma’s horror movies. These are the most twisted, most gnarly, most graphic horror films ever. Their intent is to scar you. Their purpose, to become your nightmare. In the patheon of twisted, these reign supreme. The sample pictures I’ve included alone should be enough to scare you off from ever watching any of these twisted entries in a troubled genre. Treat this as a dare, not a suggestion. You enter the territory of the twisted on your own accord. If you’re still around by the second to last entry, may God have mercy on your soul. Read More

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13 Most Disturbing Horror Films of the Last 13 Years

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First of all, I’m gonna throw down the NSFW gauntlet for these 13 most disturbing movies of the last 13 years because what you are about to witness is, as the name suggests, a list of not exactly your grandma’s horror movies. These are the most twisted, most gnarly, most graphic horror films ever. Their intent is to scar you. Their purpose, to become your nightmare. In the patheon of twisted, these reign supreme. The sample pictures I’ve included alone should be enough to scare you off from ever watching any of these twisted entries in a troubled genre. Treat this as a dare, not a suggestion. You enter the territory of the twisted on your own accord. If you’re still around by the second to last entry, may God have mercy on your soul.

 

When you get down to it, there are really only three kinds of horror movies. One revels in the viscus; the excrement, blood, and guts. Evil Dead (2013), Ichi the Killer (2001), Hostel (2005), Saw (2004), Wolf Creek (2005), The Human Centipede (2009), Cabin Fever (2002), or House of 1000 Corpses (2003) all fit the category. They’re bloody. They’re gory. They make you cringe and hide your eyes. They peddle in shocking you, they thrive on your disgust.

Another breed of horror plays psychological mind games, keeping you on your toes and daring you to predict the twisted turns they’ll take next. They seep into your subconscious. They welcome you to tear your hair out. Shutter Island (2010) is one such example. The Conjuring (2013) is another. The Orphanage (2007), Borgman (2014), Paranormal Activity (2007), The Sacrament (2013), Pontypool (2008), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), The Last Exorcism (2010), May (2002), The Ring (2002), Let The Right One In (2008), Honeymoon (2014) and The House of the Devil (2009) are others. They don’t necessary douse you in blood but their impact, though muted, is often even more sustaining.

The third is more campy, more goofy but usually equally, or even more, gross. Take the following examples of modern campfests: Drag Me To Hell (2009), Death Proof (2007), You’re Next (2013), Slither (2006), Fright Night (2011), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombieland (2009), Planet Terror (2007), Red State (2011) and Cabin in the Woods (2012). Each are entertaining beyond belief, making fun of and yet homaging the genre. They don’t entirely fit the description of most disturbing because of their light-hearted nature but when done right, they’re some of the best horror out there.

All of the movies mentioned above I would absolutely recommend but none quite had what it took to take one of the top spots. In order to make an appearance on this list to defeat all other lists, you needed elements of all three subsets of the genre. And remember this isn’t the best horror movies but the most disturbing, or I guess you could say the scariest. Do the two often overlap? Surely, but let’s just make it clear what we’re talking about.

Each entry needed to be psychologically deafening, excessively visceral and dark beyond belief. They must hold you hostile to the fear, to the violence and to the unrelentingly black atmosphere. This list of the most distressing modern horror films tries to capture an element of panic, of sustained psychological horror and of palpable fear but more than anything, they’re movies that will break you down and leave you utterly shaken. Though it doesn’t really need to be said, this list is not for the faint of heart.

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13. I SAW THE DEVIL (2010, South Korea)

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A deliciously devious tale of revenge, Kim Jee-woon‘s I Saw the Devil shows South Korea’s penchant for excessive ultraviolence amidst stunning technical workmanship. Kaleidoscopically epic, hopelessly violent and ruthlessly vengeful, this two-and-a-half revenge saga tells the tale of a special ops agent, Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) who seeks retribution against the twisted serial killer (Mik-sik Choi of Oldboy) who raped and decapitated his pregnant wife. A few scenes of taunting torture surely lay down the tracks for this to stick with you at night but it’s the once good-hearted Kim’s transformation into a cold, calculated killer that really brings it all home. As he becomes a bona fide hunter of the criminally lecherous, Kim loses himself in a battle with his own soul. The blood drips bright stripes of red, complimenting the engrossing, challenging and yet playfully dark story from Hoon-jung Park. For those willing to go down a rabbit hole and be fully disturbed by their journey, I Saw the Devil is a must see.

12. THE DESCENT (2005, UK)

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It takes a while for The Descent to ratchet itself up to a bona fide horror movie and yet the most cringe-worthy, WTF-level scenes come in the claustrophobic first half before any monsters scurry out of the darkness. Edged in the thicket of an impossibly tight crawlspace, set against the facade of a crumbling cavern, the only lights a sickening green sheen of Cyalume chemical light stick and backed in by the brine of murky, cruddy, bloody water, a gang of sheros attempt to escape a spelunking trip gone super duper bad. The movie is so thick with atmosphere, so masterfully set and impeccably lit, you feel like you’ve been dropped in the cave alongside this poor troop of unsuspecting badlasses. But by the time characters are swimming in pools of blood and nocturnal terrors scuttle through the pitch black, the enduring terror has already settled in.

11. TUSK (2014, USA)

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Tusk is admittedly a bit of a mess. Kevin Smith doesn’t ever really commit to whether he thinks everything is a joke or not and gets mixed up with some French Canadian humor that falls flat on its face but it’s the sharp juxtaposition between the botched attempts at humor and the barbaric visual horror onscreen that makes Smith’s body transmogrification so fucking fucked up. The inhuman union between Smith and practical effects guru Alex Kurtzman birthed he-who-shall-not-be-named (cough, Mr. Tusk, cough) a protagonist sure to be amongst the freakiest incarnations of manimal to ever hit wide release. With Tusky in tow, Smith bombards us with a video collage of disquieting moans and groans that won’t ever seem to pipe down. The screams alone are doomed to forever rattle around my brain and yours. That’s because with Tusk, Smith performs a kind of Kafkaesque lobotomy. It’s “Metamorphosis” a la The Human Centipede. It’s The Fly meets Hostel. For those weak of stomach and mind, it might be advisable to bring a barf bag. Justin Long‘s grunting soundtrack should be enough to churn a tummy. And though it may often be sloppy, we should agree that one thing Tusk never is is toothless.

10. 28 DAYS LATER (2002, UK)

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An incredibly stylized take on the zombie genre, 28 Days Later is frantic and innovative with a thrashing soundtrack and a nasty but thoughtful examination of human nature unbound by civilization. Critically acclaimed director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) leaves his mark all over this edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, allowing it to transcend the bounds of your typical horror movie while still participating in the crazed bloodbath of it all. Perhaps the most incredible and disturbing part about Boyle’s descent into genre is that the zombie-like creatures at the forefront of his flick aren’t the most frightening part. Not by a long shot. It’s in the confines of man’s grasp that things really start to deteriorate and boy do they go off the handle here. Setting the course for the likes of The Walking Dead, Boyle’s twisted apocalyptic fantasy squeezes the dregs of humanity into a dirty playground, fills it with super-speed zombies and shakes it all up until it pops. Like a Pepsi plopped with Mentos, the ensuing madness will soak you down in a bath of frothy panic and is sure to stick with you for a long, long time.

9. ANTICHRIST (2009, Denmark)

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It’s not really a list of grotesqueries without mentioning the infamous Lars von Trier is it? With aesthetics operating within the realm of the operatic and beautiful, Trier uses them for evil means. With Antichrist, Trier crams masochistic, grief-laden, genitalia-mutilating, pornographic, torturous snuff down his audience’s horrified throats. And yet the shots are utterly terrific. They’re hauntingly perfect. It’s like he’s captured that turning point where a dream reveals itself to be a nightmare all on celluloid. Only Lars can make a baby slipping out a window to his death look poetic and lovely. Antichrist is kind of like if The Shining were in the woods and the wife went crazy and smashed and cut her way through her and her hubby’s privates in order to escape the hell that is their life. After that sentence, it won’t be hard to convince you that this film is homework. It’s not one you’ll want to stick with. You’ll likely hate it. If you’ve already seen it, it’d be close to impossible to convince you to watch it again. Lars von Trier is a sick, twisted, perverse genius who knows how to make the most horrible things in life look beautiful and Antichrist will make you feel terrible for joining his world, if only for a few hours.

8. STARRY EYES (2014, USA)

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Though still caught in the spokes of the genre festival rounds, Starry Eyes is a masterclass in disturbing its audience; one to keep your eyes peeled for if you’re in the mood to see eyes peeled. Blood-soaked, brutal and dejectedly campy, Kolsch and Widmyer’s sick story is a gnarled one set with snares primed to spring at every twisty, turny junction. As the campiness turns to outright villainy, Starry Eyes becomes such a horrifying victory because of the depths this demented duo are willing to go. This deep down the rabbit hole, everything is so pitch black that we can’t see even the faintest flicker of hope and they, in this realm of sensory deprivation, mine scares perfectly, with some third act body horror that’ll gross you out to the point of gagging. It’s the perfect synthesize of shock, shlock, disgust and angst that’ll have the most hardcore of horror buffs turning in their seats and watching through the crooks of their fingers.

7. BUG (2006, USA)

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Bug is the kind of movie that you almost want to write off after watching it for a good while and then it happens and, holy dog shit Mondays, everything changes. The ungodly performances from Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd are definitively mesmerizing and seeing them wind themselves up until their tickers break is what makes the movie such an atrocious experience in utter madness. What starts as an off-kilter romantic thriller builds and builds and builds until it seems that it’s only going to be a movie made of mounting tension and no payoff but then BAM! like a .22 to the chest, it changes gear into an absolutely madhouse effort that’ll have you pumping the breaks to find they’ve already been cut. No one can help you now. Experience Bug in a dark room with the lights off, wade through what seems like endless exposition and you’ll find yourself rewarded with a cinematic climax that rivals that of William Friedkin‘s other work: The Exorcist. Yeah, I just went there.

6. THE MIST (2007, USA)

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While the CGI monsters that lay the groundwork for this grocery store survival story are impressive only by 1990s standards, the story of slipping humanity and the mental cost of the apocalypse is an absolute jaw-dropper in The Mist. With a final moment that might go unparalleled in terms of its visceral gut-punch impact, this is a prime example of true psychological psychosis. Thomas Jane delivers a knockout performance and his last guilt-filled moment onscreen is so hard to watch, so filled with pathos and internal desolation, that it’ll be almost impossible to top in his entire career. I don’t recall an ending to anything that’s ever felt quite as horrifying and emotionally real as Jane getting his gun and popping off some ill-timed shots. It’s a scene that will stick with you whenever the film is mentioned and for good reason. Put simply, it’s the most distressing conclusion to a horror movie ever. Director Frank Darabont went on to make The Walking Dead and though his reign over WD never quite hit the same heights as The Mist, this oft forgotten gem should be sure to carve its way into your classic horror movie moments Hall of Fame.

5. THE LOVED ONES (2009, Australia)

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The Loved Ones is your classic girl asks boy to prom, boy shuts girl down, girl’s dad captures boy and throws prom in living room, boy doesn’t have fun. With pitch perfect pacing and a completely demented sense of humor, The Loved One keeps you engaged with its perfect balance of sadism and black comedy. Forget gender, Robin McLeavy is one of the greatest horror movie heavies of the last decade with her sadistic smirks offering as many cringes as her incest-y relationship with daddy. Like Veruca Salt, McLeavy’s Lola (that’s Princess to you) is a girl who’s never been told no, even when she started to develop masochistic tendencies and harvest the hearts of the local boys. As twisted as it is hysterical, The Loved Ones is a perfect example of when camp transcends its whimsy and becomes something utterly discomforting. It’s an absolute home run from director Sean Byrne that’s sure to shock horror buffs, young and old.

4. KILL LIST (2011, UK)

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Part crime thriller, part imploding family drama, all visceral horror, Kill List is an experience in unchecked fear. Perfectly paced and brilliantly directed, what begins as an ambiguous exercise in tension unfolds into a bloody road trip and explodes into a full blown panic attack. Questions pile up and answers are few and far between but Kill List is a movie that lends itself to deconstruction and theoretical questioning. Is it a religious parable about a modern day angel of vengeance? A commentary on an impending cultural apocalypse? Is it the devil’s coming of age tale? Or is it just threateningly vague to intentionally get you all in a tizzy? With music that is surely the soundtrack of Hell, Kill List burns itself into your subconscious and leaves just the kind of twisted questions doomed to keep you up at night. Not since Eyes Wide Shut has a cloaked cult seemed so menacing and real world and Kill List will have you questioning just what kind of evil might be hiding just next door.

3. INSIDE (2007, France)

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Is there a more sympathetic mark than a pregnant woman? How about a pregnant woman whose husband unexpectedly passed away? How about about a pregnant woman whose husband unexpectedly passed away who just started going into labor? How about a pregnant woman whose husband unexpectedly passed away who just started going into labor and has had her home invaded by an shadowy, murderous force armed with a pair of sewing scissors? Nah, didn’t think so. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo‘s Inside is home invasion by way of France, a merciless purge of all things good that must have fueled the French fake blood industry for its entire production. It’s the kind of movie that your local video store (and most certainly Netflix) shies away from so it’s not the easiest to find on the list but, holy monkey balls, if you do find it and want to put yourself through a ringer, this is where it’s at. Though it’s not really a movie that one can “spoil”, I’d recommend going into it as dry as possible. That way when you come out the other end splattered in bodily discharge, you’ll be all the more shocked and disturbed.

2. MARTYRS (2008, France)

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The picture above should be enough to scare you away from Martyrs but if you’ve made it this far, it seems that you’ve committed to taking the plunge into the most perverse, disturbing territory possible so have at it. Martyrs is a film that must go unspoilt and yet necessitates a blaring warning sign. Again, look at that picture. If that’s enough to unsettle you, don’t even dream of seeing the film. Part revenge fantasy, part torture porn, Martyrs is so blissfully horrifying because, by the end, there’s a smidgen of justification behind the heinous accounts taking place on the screen. It will make you not only uncomfortable for having watched it but for thinking about the implications of it all. It’s by all accounts, an absolutely horrifying, definitively disturbing movie.

1. IRREVERSIBLE (2002, France)

And then there’s Irreversible, an almost impossible to watch experiment in brutal storytelling with loopy camerawork that warns you of the immensely nauseating events to come. For those looking to “go the distance” and really challenge yourself to watch something so horrifying and so heinous that it will literally seer itself into your nightmares, this is it. Last stop, everyone off. To its credit, Irreversible is an incredibly well done and viciously visceral film. Filmmaker Gaspar Noé backwardly tracking two men’s hunt for a rapist who’s brutally assaulted one of their girlfriends, Alex. The scene in question is shown without interruption and will make even the hardest stomach sink, securing a top spot as one of the most gut-wrenching atrocities ever set to film. Gratuitous almost seems like an understatement as Noé lets the camera roll on and on and on and on. If the cinematic somersaults and seizure-inducing strobing don’t make you sick, the content just might. Sure to send any man, woman or (god forbid) child over the edge of their sanity, Irreversible is a glaringly avant garde effort, a near brilliant art film so committed to its contrarian cause that it’ll happily spurn the leagues of those who do attempt to consume it. For the few with a stomach of iron though, Irreversible will surely join the ranks of most “fucked up” movies you’ll ever see and is certainly one of the most disturbing things you can settle down to watch.

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So in recap:

1. Irreversible (2002)
2. Martyrs (2008)
3. Inside (2007)
4. Kill List (2011)
5. The Loved One (2009)
6. The Mist (2007)
7. Starry Eyes (2014)

8. Bug (2006)
9. Antichrist  (2009)
10. 28 Days Later (2002)
11. Tusk (2014)
12. The Descent (2005)
13. I Saw the Devil (2010)

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A Flawless, Expert, Foolproof Ranking of David Fincher’s Films

Seeing that Gone Girl screens here in Seattle tonight, I’ve taken it upon myself to go through and rank the films of auteur filmmaker David Fincher. Fincher is simply one of our generation’s greatest filmmakers, offering dark, twisted and thrilling dramas riddled with psychological horror and saddled with a tone so black, it’d make a crow look pale. He’s got a visionary’s eye, a penchant for working with great actors (including a close working relationship with Brad Pitt) and a knack for technical perfection, contributing some truly amazing films to the last two centuries of film cannon. Counting down his works in anticipation of the public release of Gone Girl, these are Fincher’s films ranked for your convenience. Read More

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2014 SIFF Offers 435 Films, I Offer 25 Must Sees

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Update June 3: More reviews added, no standing replacements.

Update May 17: Seeing that some of these didn’t live up to expectation, some prior “Must Sees” have been yanked and new additions have taken their place. After all, who doesn’t love some corrections and omissions?!

For its 40th, the Seattle International Film Festival is again raising the bar on itself, this year offering a whopping 435 films including 198 feature films, 60 documentaries, and 163 short films from 83 countries. Of those, 44 are world premieres, 29 North American premieres and 13 US premieres. All this amongst a slew of festival favorites from this year and last. Let’s just say that the odds of seeing them all just got that much slimmer. 

Kicking the festival off is Oscar-winner (12 Years a Slave) John Ridley‘s Jimi: All is By My Side, a zero frills biopic that chronicles the afro-ed classic rocker’s year in Britain leading up to his iconic Woodstock performance. And all by his side is 12 Years alum Chiwetel Ejiofor who will be in attendance May 19 (6 PM @ The Egyptian Theater) to talk about his new film Half of a Yellow Sun, an African-produced historical drama about Nigerian’s civil war through the 60s. Ejiofor will also take place in a Q&A with an audience eager to speak with the Academy Award nominee that same evening.

The festival will close June 8 at the glorious Cinerama with The One I Love starring Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Mark Duplass (The League) which saw strong reviews opening at Sundance and is said to mix elements of modern romance with “Twilight Zone” twists and turns. Add it to the ever growing “To See” List.

But likely the most exciting and anticipated film of the festival will be found in SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala in Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood on Saturday, May 31 @ 5 PM. I had the great fortune of being amongst the first audience to see this at Sundance and it did nothing short of blow me away. Though I don’t want to be greedy and steal away the seats of those yet uninitiated to Boyhood, I look forward to experiencing it again and may not be able to resist a second viewing.

Since it’s all but impossible to see everything at SIFF, I have a list of 25 must sees that should put you on the right track for this year’s festivities.

The 25 Must Sees of SIFF 2014

Boyhood
Obviously Boyhood is gonna be on the list. I absolutely loved it and could wax said love over this page all day but I’ll spare the gushing and just tell you that of the 80+ films I’ve reviewed this year (!!!) this is the only to have yet received an A+. Sundance review here.

Mood Indigo
Michael Gondry returns to the realm of the weird, this time in his native French language, in what should be equal measures charming, bittersweet, and esoteric. The incredibly alluring Audrey Tatou is Chloe, who becomes wrapped up with a quirky inventor, even though she’s dying (because she has flowers growing in her lungs.)

Grand Central
Blue is the Warmest Color star Lea Seydoux puts in her second turn against A Prophet‘s Tahar Rahim in this French/Austrian production about a risky love affair set at the nuclear power plant where they both work.

Venus in Furs
Carnage wasn’t exactly the prodigal return for Roman Polanski we might have hoped for but it was anything but bad. Polanski continues his recent tradition of adapting lauded plays with Venus in Furs which stars Mathiew Amalric (Quantum of Solace) and is filmed in Polanski’s native French. Venus focuses on a playwright’s battle with his creative side. SIFF review here.

Cannibal
The chilling promo image alone gets me thinking Psycho and added to the fact that this production is in part Spanish, Romanian, Russian and French, gives it the taste of “something new.” Hopefully it brings the scares to the table in a SIFF surprisingly short on them. No longer considered must see, read our SIFF review here.

The Double (new addition)
Jesse Eisenberg stars as two polar opposites in this Orson Welles inspired black comedy. Wickedly weird but quietly potent, The Double might not be the best doppleganger film of the year (that award goes to Enemy) but it’s certainly compelling viewing that’ll leave you oddly fulfilled. SIFF review here.


Wetlands
A brilliantly told German satirical sexploitation/black comedy based on the popular and controversial German novel from Charlotte Roche. Wetlands is ooey, gooey fun that’ll make the hardest of stomachs churn every now and again but fully worth it for anyone up to the task. Sundance review here.

Lucky Them
What better to symbolize Seattle than the Sub Pop music scene? Megan Griffiths, who directed last year’s critically acclaimed Eden, takes on an entirely different subject right here in the rainy city and feel aided by performances from Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church, and Oliver Platt.

They Came Together
Although the trailer shown seems to suggest a movie so deep in meta that it didn’t know which way was up, They Came Together found loads of fans when it played at this year’s Sundance. The ingredients alone – Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, David Waine (director of Wet Hot American Summer) in a doubly farcical, heavily tongue-in-cheek rom-com – seems primed for success.

How to Train Your Dragon 2
This is a tricky one to really anticipate as sequels are as much of a toss up as one can plan for but if the quality boast of Toy Story 3 and the wild success of the first How to Train Your Dragon are any indication, this could be the best widely-released animated feature of the year.

Time Lapse
Bradley King‘s directoral debut follows a group of three friends who discover a camera that shows events in the future, and looks to combine elements of sci-fi and horror into a thrilling narrative ride. Set for it’s North American premiere at SIFF, Time Lapse looks more promising than most within its field. Not gushing SIFF review here.

The Trip To Italy (new addition)
Four years after The Trip, Steve Coogan may be more clean cut than the shaggy Brit we once was but his and Rob Brydon’s chemistry is as flammable as ever. “Their old-as-they-are relationship paves the way for improvisation prowess so organic its feels more like second natural than performance. More impressions, absolutely stunning vistas, Alanis Morissette’s croon, lazily waxing on life and pasta, pasta, pasta gives intrepid life to The Trip to Italy.” SIFF review here.


The Skeleton Twins

SNL favorites Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig join Bellingham director Craig Johnson to tell his droll comedy about a pair of twins who cheat death and reunite to vent about it. Glowing SIFF review here.

Happy Christmas
Joe Swanberg returns to SIFF to present yet another unscripted, inescapably 21st-century dramedy this time starring Girls creator and star Lena Dunham. I was a big fan of Drinking Buddies and hope this can replicate a similar sense of realism in its relationship. SIFF review here.

Leading Lady
One of SIFF’s world premieres and the return of Fanie Fourie’s Lobola (SIFF’s 2013 Best Film winner) director, Leading Lady sees a struggling actress move to South Africa to prepare for the role of a lifetime but ends up finding so much more. An absolutely abysmal film that I regret ever suggesting. Please accept my apology.

Intruders (new addition)
Considering that I’ve hacked a lot of Foreign language World Cinema out of this list of Best Sees, I wanted to make sure to draw some attention to one of the better of the foreign films and a film that is sure to excite audiences willing to pop on their glasses for 90 minutes. Intruders is Hitchcock by way of South Korean, an exciting thrill ride that doesn’t let up until the credits roll. SIFF review here.

Obvious Child
Jenny Slate might be the new face of NYC faux-chic after the string of success Obvious Child has seen. Honest, hilarious and horny, this tale of growing up in a modern age has been winning support like Daenerys liberating Slavery’s Bay. SIFF review here.

Calvary
If you leave the theater after Calvary dried-eyed, you must be at least part Fembot. With a monstrous performance from Brendan Gleeson, stunning cinematography and a decidedly more mature turn for director John Michael McDonagh, Calvary is a must see. Sundance review here.

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Firestorm
This 2013 Hong Kong feature was nominated for a slew of native film awards including Best Action Choreography, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best New Director and with my penchant for violent Asian cinema, I have trouble believing that this won’t be a surprise victory for SIFF. Could not be less of a must see. Ugly SIFF review here.

10,000 KM (new addition)
A vivid portrayal of love fading under the constaints of long distance, this Spanish romance is filmed with lively realism and overflowing with brillant performances from its captivating leads. A definer of the phrase “must see”. SIFF review here.

Frank
Although the stars seem alligned to keep me from this film (I stood in line for it at Sundance and SXSW and was denied) the fact that it’s coming to Seattle seems to either be mocking me or setting up a third times a charm situation. The fact that I already own a Frank mask pretty much necessitates me seeing this strange musical drama starring Michael Fassbender enclosed in a giant head. SIFF review here.

The Grand Seduction
Taylor Kitsch plays a doctor, Brendan Gleeson a fisherman in this Canadian comedy that looks to play fast and loose with the deadpan side of things. Seeing Kitsch and Gleeson (much anticipated) return to comedy oughta be worth the price of admission alone. SIFF review here.

Creep
Mark Duplass returns again, this time as a twisted stalker. He chews up the scenery like never before and is an absolute joy to watch. First time director Patrick Brice has made the found footage flick his own, crafting an unnerving thriller that’s frightening and cleverly twisty to boot! SXSW review here.

The Internet’s Own Boy
I asked someone at Sundance what their favorite film at the fest was and they pointed out this unassuming documentary. Following the life of Aaron Swartz, who laid the groundwork for RSS feeds and all but invented Reddit before killing himself at age 26, The Internet’s Own Boy appears heartbreaking and need to know. SIFF review here.


In Order of Disappearance
Stellan Skarsgard plays a snowplow driver who’s son is brutally murdered, leading to a chilling dark comedy that marries bloody revenge to belly laughs in this twisted fantasy said to be a tonal cousin to Fargo. SIFF review here.

Difret
SIFF programmer Dustin Kaspar gave the insider tip on the Africa Film segment, calling Difret the early “best of fest.” A 14-year old Aberash guns down an attacker that leads into a long court trial that bleeds into an ethical tribunal on Ethiopia’s warped marriage traditions that smile on kidnapping and rape. All based on a true story. Mild SIFF review here.

To Kill a Man
You know when you’re a critic when you look at a movie’s description and “Grand Jury prize-winning,” “vigilantism” and “Chile/France” pop out to you like solid gold. In sum: a man weighs the benefits and consequences of taking revenge. SIFF review here.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
There must be something in the water making us all think Fargo as the cult Coen classic seems to be at an all-time high in terms of its popularity and influence. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter sees an outcast Japanese misanthrope travel to Minnesota to seek out Steve Buschemi‘s abandoned satchel stuffed with cold, hard ransom cash. It’s a delightfully unorthodox romp, nothing short of epic. SXSW review here.

Fight Church
A documentary about a group of church goers who beat each other up to prove their devotion to God? Sign me up. Mildly disappointed SIFF review here.

Starred Up (new addition)
A brutal prison drama starring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn showcasing the transformative power of a jail cell, Starred Up is certainly a hard watch but one that will leave you thinking. SIFF review here.

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Surely there are many, many (many) more and there’s a good chance that some on the above list may end up stinking and sinking but we’re still mostly doing guesswork at this stage. However from word of mouth, early reviews and first hand experience, you have a good chance of catching some great material if you follow any above recommendations.

Check out the trailer for SIFF’s 40th anniversary here and visit SIFF’s website to buy tickets and check out more of the lineup.

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