REVIEW: The Other Lamb [2020]

Do you accept my grace? To be born into a world with set doctrines is to have no choice—often because you don’t realize one exists. That’s the power systemic modes of oppression hold over their victims. We’re told that fighting back makes things worse. Fighting for survival makes those in positions to help facilitate that survival less interested in helping. So we’re asked to remain quiet. Accept our fate and be grateful for what we have and grateful to those who give it with “grace” and not as a salve…

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REVIEW: Butt Boy [2020]

I miss everything about it. It was about sixty minutes into Tyler Cornack‘s one hundred-minute feature film Butt Boy when I wondered aloud, “How can there be so much time left?” At this point the culprit behind the disappearance of a child had already been identified as IT professional Chip Gutchell (Cornack) in the prologue. The person positioned to take him down (Tyler Rice‘s Detective Russel Fox) was more than ready to pounce. Both men were heading towards their climactic convergence point as a result of the script’s unabashed use…

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REVIEW: Vivarium [2020]

Raise the child and be released We all like to believe that we have some semblance of control over our lives. Do we, though? How much of our identity is dictated by social conditioning? Maybe it’s explicit indoctrination like that taught by religion, politics, and culture as “superior” than others. Or maybe it’s implicit like the subliminal messaging possibilities of art appropriated by marketing. You might say to yourself that you’re too smart for advertising, but what do you do when confronted by four of the same product consisting of…

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REVIEW: El hoyo [The Platform] [2019]

Obviously. We say the same thing whenever a new dystopian vision is released: it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was said when Brazil bowed and again with Snowpiercer and High-Rise after. And now it’s director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia‘s turn as El hoyo [The Platform] hits the zeitgeist in the middle of a pandemic that’s revealed empires to be as naked as Hans Christian Andersen’s emperor. Will we band together in the face of widespread adversity and recognize—sometimes for the very first time—that we must protect the most vulnerable…

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REVIEW: Big Time Adolescence [2020]

You’re my Guillermo. Kate Harris (Emily Arlook) sums up Jason Orley‘s Big Time Adolescence perfectly when she tries to explain two simple facts to her ex-boyfriend Zeke (Pete Davidson) about his friendship with her younger brother Monroe (Griffin Gluck). The first is that Mo only hangs out with him because he wants to feel cool. When you’re a teenager with few friends who hangs out with a twenty-something that has access to alcohol and drugs, you puff out your chest in the idea that you’re somehow better than those your…

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REVIEW: The Roads Not Taken [2020]

And what are you doing to make things better? Leo (Javier Bardem) is barely coherent thanks to a degenerative disability that demands constant care despite his wishes to remain alone under a façade of self-sufficiency within an apartment whose window is directly beside a public transit train. He alternates between Spanish and English without reason when not grunting unfavorably to let whoever is nearby know he doesn’t want to do what they’re asking of him. The one person he allows to lead him where he needs to go is his…

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REVIEW: The Funhouse [1981]

God is watching you. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the pitch Universal Pictures used to court director Tobe Hooper for Lawrence J. Block‘s The Funhouse script was something akin to “think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but at a carnival.” That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Four kids looking for a good time stumble across a deranged family that has no qualms with killing them if they get in the way of living life way outside of the law. Rather than just be rednecks in the woods,…

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REVIEW: Bull [2020]

I’m tired of you. Not the rodeo. There’s not much to do around Kristyl’s (Amber Havard) hard luck subdivision besides getting into trouble at her age. With parents too busy or in jail (as is the case with her mother) to have the financial security necessary to keep a close eye out, these teens end up spending their days searching for new spots to get drunk and/or high without an imminent threat of incarceration. So maybe Kris punches a classmate in the face. Maybe she takes her little sister (Keira…

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REVIEW: The Invisible Man [2020]

Surprise. After the critical and financial debacle of Universal Studios’ attempted interconnected Dark Universe of “monsters” beginning with The Mummy, the decision to embrace a more independent mindset was inevitable. Considering his collaborations with James Wan (the Saw and Insidious franchises) utilized exactly that, it wasn’t shocking when newly placed producers Blumhouse reached out to Leigh Whannell to lead the charge. I don’t think it was his horror pedigree that earned him a meeting about reimagining H.G. Wells‘ The Invisible Man, though, since his last film Upgrade practically had an…

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REVIEW: The Way Back [2020]

I don’t think I can help you. This isn’t a sports movie. While a lot of similar films (troubled adult is asked to coach a bunch of troubled kids en route to everyone finding an identity and purpose they couldn’t before) do try to distance themselves from that stigma, The Way Back seems intentionally built upon this separation. When all is said and done, there’s barely any basketball on-screen at all besides close-ups showing a full press defense and practices showing player strengths and weaknesses. The bulk of the games…

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REVIEW: The Invisible Man [1933]

There’s a way back, you fool! I’ve never understood how people ask, “Which superpower is best?” as though there isn’t a definitive answer. Some will say flight. Some want x-ray vision. Some desire super-smarts or strength. But don’t all of those objectively pale in comparison to invisibility and the scope of what one can get away with if nobody can prove they were there? Its possibilities are both endless and endlessly terrifying—the latter a major reason why H.G. Wells‘ science fiction creation remains such a seminal figure within the horror…

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