REVIEW: We Summon the Darkness [2020]

Let the madness begin. A rash of 1980s-era satanic ritual killings puts Pastor John Henry Butler (Johnny Knoxville) front and center in rural America’s consciousness because his church is doing its very best to combat the disintegration of society with the word of God. Just as his increased television appearances rally the Bible Belt to his cause (treating rock music and other not quite “demonic” practices as sinful weapons destroying their children’s souls), however, they also work to embolden those he is forsaking. More than calling out the as yet…

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TIFF REVIEW: White Boy Rick [2018]

We’re goddamn lions. The pitch is as follows: Ricky Wershe Jr. (newcomer Richie Merritt) was a street hustler, drug kingpin, and FBI informant by the age of seventeen. If that doesn’t hook you, the added bonus of it all being real should. Welcome to White Boy Rick, a look at the American Dream that cuts through the bullshit to show what the term truly means outside of false promises. Ricky isn’t some hotshot who worked through the ranks and got too close to the sun. The order of those labels…

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REVIEW: Love, Simon [2018]

You’re still you. There have been crazier premises for coming-of-age romantic comedies than having the lead fall in love via email with someone they’re afraid they’ll never meet. Unrequited love is nothing new to the genre and neither is an escalating series of mishaps and intentionally misleading manipulation on behalf of the lead towards his best friends to keep that love secret. But despite these familiarities, director Greg Berlanti and his talented cast of funny and emotive actors finds a way to make it resonate. The relationships onscreen—good or bad,…

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REVIEW: Before I Fall [2017]

“This isn’t you” The comparisons to Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow are unavoidable when you have a story centering on a teenager reliving the same day over and over again like Before I Fall. It’s not bad either when each utilizes the trope in different ways and within different genres. Whether comedy, science-fiction actioner, or young adult coming-of-age drama, the construct remains resonate because we all have regrets. That’s what’s at the heart of these, this idea of going back to fix a wrong ultimately revealed to be much…

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REVIEW: Take Me To the River [2016]

“The beans have to come out of the oven” First-time feature writer/director Matt Sobel set out to create a film that allowed its viewers to become active participants in the story process and he’s succeeded. Take Me to the River is nothing if not ambiguous in a way that forces us to give meaning to unanswered questions and oddly truncated scenarios. It’s claustrophobically emotional with intense discomfort both for the characters and audience. How you interpret what’s happening beneath the surface of knowing looks, fierce provocations, and devastating guilt says…

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REVIEW: +1 [2013]

“I don’t want to stand still anymore” It’s about time someone finally decided to turn the formulaic “huge blow-out” party environment of Project X and 21 & Over on its head by creating something actually worth seeing. One can only watch so many examples of the same run-of-the-mill series of drunken binges and sexual encounters with a single “it” couple worth swooning over in the hopes their fateful kiss will make the chaos and carnage worth it before avoiding the sub-genre altogether. You’re allowed to have all those things, but…

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