REVIEW: The Vigil [2021]

It wants your pain. After spending his entire life within the Orthodox Jewish community, Yakov Ronen (Dave Davis) recently decided to leave its insular environment and make his way amongst the freer and more modern society away from its borders. It’s hardly an easy transition, though, when you consider how little he and his fellow defectors know about the world they’re entering. Yakov himself can’t stop marveling about his new smartphone because it has a flashlight let alone access to the internet, so it’s no surprise that he’d fail to…

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REVIEW: The Reckoning [2021]

I must persist. While Neil Marshall‘s 1665 London-set, Great Plague drama The Reckoning has obvious allusions to our own present-day pandemic, COVID-19 wasn’t a factor in its creation being that filming occurred in 2019. The fear and paranoia that surround both eras are palpable, though, and the ways in which our current disease has been politicized beyond the point of human empathy does bear superficial similarity to the ways in which women were persecuted as witches against the backdrop that past sickness. Despite Marshall and co-writers Charlotte Kirk and Edward…

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SUNDANCE21 REVIEW: In the Earth [2021]

You worried she’s going to get you? There’s a shared ambition during times like worldwide pandemics and it’s to find meaning in the chaos. We need to figure out cause and composition in order to create a solution, but there’s also a necessity for comprehension insofar as abetting the anxiety that inevitably rises from the moment’s uncertainty. Some of us go straight to the science as a result, (How bad is it? What can we do to stay safe? Who’s at a higher risk?), while others search their souls through…

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REVIEW: Saint Maud [2020]

Never waste your pain. After attempting to get her young nurse to agree with a mean-spirited comment about a just departed houseguest, Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) remarks that, “We don’t see what we don’t want to see.” Maud (Morfydd Clark) never disagreed with her, though. She simply stated that she didn’t notice. That’s nevertheless enough to make her the enemy in this instance. That’s enough for Amanda to grow defensive (towards herself) because that anger is the only thing keeping her warm against what she deems emotional betrayal. And who’s to…

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REVIEW: آن شب‎ [The Night] [2021]

There’s no way out. While playing a game of “mafia,” Babak (Shahab Hosseini) and Neda (Niousha Noor) are tasked with figuring out who amongst them (it’s an evening with friends rounded out by two more couples) are gangsters and who are citizens. The idea is to therefore lie if you’re the former. Pretend you’re innocent and point your finger elsewhere in hopes that the majority of players choose to “kill” the wrong person. A poker face is king and in this case salvation for those searching for one last victory…

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REVIEW: PG: Psycho Goreman [2021]

That is a tale bathed in the blood of a million dead memories. It opens with a gladiator-level war of attrition between two middle school-aged siblings in their backyard. The game is called “crazy ball” and the loser gets buried alive. Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) pick-up their respective dodgeballs, throw them as far behind themselves as possible, and run after the other as fast as they can to try and take advantage of the five-point bonus “butt shot” rule. Writer/director Steven Kostanski shoots it like battle with…

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REVIEW: Ten Minutes to Midnight [2020]

Just get through the night. It’s pretty straightforward initially. A storm brews outside as Amy Marlowe (Caroline Williams) heads into the studio for the late-night radio show she’s hosted for three decades. She’s cutting it close, though, as the chaotic weather knocked down a utility pole and forced her to walk the rest of the way. While that wouldn’t normally be a problem, “normal” is thrown out the window once something swoops down to bite her on the neck. Now she’s bleeding. Station security guard Ernie (Nicholas Tucci) is talking…

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REVIEW: Hunter Hunter [2020]

It’s back. When Joe (Devon Sawa) and his daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) find a severed critter leg in one of their traps, the latter seems legitimately afraid. That’s not to say a family living off the grid in the woods (enough where the teen might never have interacted with anyone besides her parents for the entirety of her life) shouldn’t fear a wolf stalking around the same areas they do for food and fur. Something in her voice—and later her mother’s (Camille Sullivan‘s Anne)—simply makes it seem like there’s…

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REVIEW: La Casa Lobo [The Wolf House] [2018]

But he will not catch me. You may need some context before starting Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León‘s dark animated feature La casa lobo [The Wolf House]—namely that of German fugitive Paul Schäfer and the colony he created in Chile known as Colonia Dignidad. There he and other Nazis war criminals committed countless acts of human atrocities upon those they imprisoned behind its walls. We’re talking the sexual abuse of minors, the internment and torture of dissidents on behalf of General Augusto Pinochet, and weapon smuggling. The area’s borders have…

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REVIEW: Anything for Jackson [2020]

No one has more time than a grieving family. The day Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry Walsh’s (Julian Richings) grandson Jackson died was the day they sold their souls to the Devil—figuratively speaking, of course. It wasn’t until they joined a Satanist church run by a bunch of posers in a community center that the idea to bring him back became more than simply a fantasy. That’s where they learned about an ancient book of dark magic possessing the means to do so and how they might find it. With…

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ANOMALY20 REVIEW: Schlaf [Sleep] [2020]

Am I awake? The nightmares are never-ending for Marlene (Sandra Hüller). One second she’s watching television with her daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and the next finds her screaming in the dark, desperate to grab hold of a bedside journal with which to draw what she’s seen. It’s a house she can’t recall visiting. It’s a suicide by hanging, a suicide by rifle, and a suicide by blade. Over and over the images flicker upon her eyelids because the drugs offer little reprieve. If not for leafing through an on-board…

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