Tag Archives: The Witch

BEST FILMS OF 2016!

30 Dec

yes, it’s that time of year again folks.  Break out the champagne because 2016 is finally done for. As we collectivly brace ourselves for the Trump shitshow that’s arriving in the new year we can look back at the movies which expressed all of our anxiety-ridden fears about this past year. Here are my top 25 films presented in a clever video supercut for your viewing enjoyment.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/197551059″>Top 25 Films of 2016!</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/reedmovies123″>Reed Movies</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Be sure to check back soon for a list of what i’m looking forward to seeing in 2017

The Witch (2015 Sundance)

18 Feb

Zombies and Vampires may come close, but no horror archetype has been represented and caricatured in cinema quite like that of a witch. From The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter, to Monty Python, we have been enchanted by the mysterious figure. I walked into the “The Witch” thinking I had seen just about every form of witches out there. I was so wrong.

Directed by Robert Eggers, and based of the real-life accounts of 16th century New England puritans, The Witch tells the story of a small puritan family who have recently been banished from their immigrant village on account of religious blasphemy.  William, Katherine, Thomasin, Caleb, Jonas, and Mercy must now fend for themselves by raising a farm in the middle of a forsaken (and possibly haunted) swampland. Without the aid of any nearby villagers, the family is faced with a terrifying ultimatum: either grow food or starve to death.  When crops fail to sprout however, William (Ralph Ineson), the family patriarch, suspects his children have been involved with witchcraft and dabbling in occult affairs. Members of the family then begin one by one to descend into a terrifying spiral of religiously-fuelled madness and savagery.

Part supernatural horror, part paranoid thriller, The Witch is a genuinely spooky take on the occult and the terrorizing effects religious devotion can have on one’s psyche. Thankfully, it is a meticulously crafted as it is terrifying, making The Witch the most artistically minded horror since 2014’s Under The Skin.

The Witch is one of those rare films you just don’t watch but experience; you can feel the sense of impending dread seeping out from the screen as you watch characters slowly peel back the mystery and evil that exists within the nearby woods. Boasting an immaculate production design that effectively recalls the early 1600’s, the film accurately recalls a time and place when religious paranoia fueled all aspects of life.  The film’s dialogue is even written word-by-word from historical transcripts and rendered by the actors in heavy, old-english accents. This kind of attention to detail might throw some viewers off (especially those with an aversion to period pieces) and the slow timing during the film’s first act ensures only those with a bit a patience will brave the film’s nightmarish climax.

This film is dark – extremely dark – figuratively and literally, (I doubt some scenes will even be visible when screened in a lightened room) which adds immensely to its haunting quality. Dimly lit landscapes covered in impenetrable greys add a surreal and menacing atmosphere. With one hell of an unsettling score, The Witch creates subtle psychological tension from the things we don’t see onscreen rather than relying on tiring jump scares.

 

Bottom Line: The Witch is a throwback to the great horror films of the 70’s, but delivered in such a visceral fashion that the ultimate effect is hard to shake off; I literally had dreams (nightmares?) about this thing weeks after seeing it.

 

Rating: 8/10 

Film Recipe: The Wicker Man (1973) + The Shining (1980) + The Exorcist (1973)

Most Anticipated Films of 2016

30 Dec

Another day, another list. Today, I’m looking at what’s cooking for next year and give a rundown of what I’m most looking forward to seeing. For whatever reason, some of these have bounced over from last year’s list, but all are currently expected for a release sometime in 2016.

 

10 – The Witch 

Who’s attached: Robert Eggers, Anna Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Why it’s anticipated: OK – I may have cheated here by listing something I have actually seen…. but I really am dying to marvel at this thing again – this time in a theatre with friends.  It’s a masterful, atmospheric-based horror that must be seen in a darkened room more than once in order to be fully appreciated.

Release Date: February 25 

9 – It’s Only the End of the World / The Life and Death of John F. Donovan 

Who’s attached: Xavier Dolan, Lea Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel / Dolan, Kit Harrington, Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates 

Why it’s anticipated: It’s been awhile since we have heard from prolific wunderkid Xavier Dolan. And by “awhile” I mean 8 months or so. The gifted young French Canadian has been busy with two films on his slate and both sound incredibly promising.

Release date: Unknown at this point, but it’s highly likely that we shall see at least one premier sometime next year. It’s Only the End of the World seems like the likeliest candidate as it is allegedly finishing up in post.

 

8 – Hail Caesar! 

Who’s attached: Joel and Ethan Coen are writing and directing so you can be assured a starry ensemble. This time it includes George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Alex Karpovsky. 

Why it’s anticipated: The intriguing, darkly comedic premise of a Hollywood actor being held for ransom sounds right up the Coen’s alley. Hopefully we will see the sibling duo return to their element and do what they do best.

Release Date: February 5  

 

7 – The Light Between Oceans 

Who’s attached: Derek Cianfrance, Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander 

Why it’s anticipated: Simply because I loved Cianfrance’s last effort The Place Beyond the Pines and Fassbender and Vikander are two of the best actors working today.

Release date: Unknown but rumored for sometime in September.

 

6 – The Lobster 

 

Who’s attached: Yorgos Lanthimos, Colin Farrell, Lea Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Rachel Weisz

Why it’s anticipated: If the absurd dystopian sci-fi premise isn’t enough (people literally turn into animals if they are single for too long), then just remember Lanthimos is the guy who directed Dogtooth. Enough Said.

Release Date: March 11 (I’ll hopefully be catching this one at Sundance next month)

 

5 – Knight of Cups 

Who’s attached: Terrence Malick, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Cate Blanchett 

Why it’s anticipated: I’ve been waiting for this one for a while now,  and Terrence Malick seems to be on a role with his elusive and mysterious projects. If it’s anything like Tree of Life or even To the Wonder, then it will be well worth the wait.

Release Date: March 4 

 

4 – Neon Demon 

Who’s attached: Nicolas Winding Refn, Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks, Elle Fanning 

Why it’s anticipated: He may be divisive with his films (I personally thought Only God Forgives was massively underrated), but Refn is always one to challenge the conventional.  The casting of Reeves is a bit unexpected, but I think Refn might have another cult hit on his hands.

Release date: Unknown 

 

3 – Silence 

Who’s attached: Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson. 

Why it’s anticipated: Because it’s Scorsese directing a religious drama – though I doubt he will get preachy.

Release date: Unknown 

 

2 – Green Room 

Who’s attached: Jeremy Saulnier, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair. 

Why it’s anticipated: It received rave reviews at Cannes and TIFF, and after the huge success of Blue RuinJeremy Saulnier’s latest looks like another white-knuckle thriller. It’s got Patrick Stewart playing against type as a Neo-Nazi leader – what more can you ask for?

Release date: April 15 (but you can bet your butt I have my ticket for its Sundance screening)

 

1 – The Greasy Strangler

Who’s attached:  Jim Hosking, Sky Elobar, Michael St. Michaels 

Why it’s anticipated: Because it’s called The Greasy Strangler. And Jim Hosking is the brilliant writer/director behind the short RENEGADES. (NSFW) and CRABS (more SFW). Could this be the absurdist mindfuck of the year? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure: things are about to get greasy.

Release date: Unknown (yes, I’m seeing this at Sundance too)

Goodnight Mommy (2015)

11 Sep

It’s been the quite the year to be a horror movie fan. From fear-inducing breakout indies like It Follows to horror-comedies like What We Do In The Shadows, to upcoming releases from horror veteran directors like M. Night Shyamalan or Guillermo Del Toro, it seems like we have entered into some new genre reconnaissance. Sure, there will always be the thoughtless franchise sequel or reboot looking to make a quick  cash grab (I’m looking you, Poltergeist), but one look at A24’s new trailer for The Witch shows there is still original quality material to get scared for.

And the trend is spreading outside of North America too. In fact, many of the decade’s best genre films have come from different places in the Middle East,  South Asia or Europe. The new German psychological thriller Goodnight Mommy from directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz fits into the latter camp. Taking its cues from European neo-realist directors like Lars Von Trier and Michael HanekeGoodnight Mommy tells the story of a mystery surrounding a particular dysfunctional family consisting of The Mother (Susanne Wuest) and her twin sons Elias and Lukas (played by real-life twins Elias and Lukas Schwarz). The trio are isolated in a massive, upper class home nestled deep in the German countryside. It’s unclear at first exactly what has happened to this family; we do know the mother’s face appears to have been replaced by a gruesome medical bandage after an operation, and the two boys have some sort of terrifying preoccupation with collecting cockroaches…

The performances from the young twins, though mostly silent, are hauntingly genuine and give the film a launching pad to explore the dynamics of three characters forced to share the same physical and psychological spaces. Slowly and quietly, the film transforms into a walking daytime nightmare – the living, breathing, kind of a nightmare you can not wake from. The end results are raw, disturbing and authentically scary.

A tight slowburn, the film is expertly paced to reveal only the smallest pieces of information when the audience needs it. Goodnight Mommy relies heavily on atmosphere and tone, which Fiala and Franz have crafted to a fine degree. It’s enough to discourage viewers accustomed to constant jump scares and gore, but Goodnight Mommy is too sophisticated for its own good, much so that when the violence does arrive, it is extremely unsettling.

Bottom Line: While its slower pace might not be for everyone, Goodnight Mommy is a quiet but satisfying artistic examination of loneliness and fear with enough depth and emotion to make second viewings an absolute necessity.

Rating: 8/10

Film Recipie: Vic + Flo Saw A Bear (2013) + Dogtooth (2009) + Michael Haneke