Wekufe

Wekufe (2016)

Wekufe opens first with a bearded interviewee discussing the corporate exploitation and cultural pauperisation of Chile’s indigenous population. This is followed by text (cited from Alonso de Ovelle, a 17th century Jesuit chronicler of Chile) about ‘wekufe’, or ‘evil’, as a concept introduced to the Mapuche by Spanish Christians. All of which is to say…

Observance

Observance (2015)

Frist published by Little White Lies, as the 19th part of my Cinema Psychotronicum column ‘Observance’ is an equivocal term, referring equally to acts of surveillance and of religious ritual – and in Joseph Sims-Dennett‘s Observance, these two meanings merge into a fluid unity, as the boundaries break down between ‘mystery’ as both genre category…

Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

First published by Little White Lies In a bed, in a concrete room, a short-haired girl counts aloud, at a carefully measured pace. At 44 precisely, the lights outside come on, and she half-straps herself into a modified wheelchair. She greets cheerily by name the two soldiers, armed, alert and aggressive, who open the door…

Destruction

Destruction Babies (2016)

First published by Little White Lies Destruction Babies opens with an audiovisual contradiction: while wide shots of boats in the port at Matsuyama on Shikoku Island are shown in montage, the calm of these images is disrupted by a raucous electric guitar growling with discordant menace on the film’s soundtrack. Once the setting has been…

Lights

City Of Tiny Lights (2016)

First published by RealCrime Magazine City of Tiny Lights has all the signifiers of a classic film noir. There’s the bourbon-swilling protagonist, and the dame returning from ‘out of the past‘. There are the urban streets and the endless rain. There is the nocturnal demi-monde of cops and ‘tecs, dealers and spies, money men and…

Eyes

The Eyes Of My Mother (2016)

First published by Sight & Sound, April 2017 Review: The Eyes of My Mother opens with an over-the-shoulder shot of a man driving along a country road. As the Carolina Buddies’ The Lawson Family Murder plays on the truck’s radio, the driver stops and gets out to help a female figure who has collapsed in the…

Knock

Don’t Knock Twice (2016)

First published by Sight & Sound, April 2017 Review: “How did it happen?” asks an anguished, uncomprehending Jess (Katee Sackhof). “How does something like that happen?” In Don’t Knock Twice, the third feature of Welsh director Caradog W. James (after race comedy Little White Lies, 2006 and cyber SF The Machine, 2013), Jess’s questions refer…

Rings

Rings (2017)

First published by Sight & Sound, April 2017 Review: Ever since Koji Suzuki published his 1991 horror novel Ring, it has spread as virally as the haunted videotape at its centre. Its best known versions were Hideo Nakata’s Ring (1998) and Gore Verbinski’s US remake The Ring (2002), but there was also an earlier Japanese…

Free

Free Fire (2016)

First published by RealCrime Magazine Like Ben Wheatley’s previous feature, his latest is set in the 1970s, and features an ensemble of players turning on each other inside a building. There, however, all similarities end. For where High-Rise (2015) was a sprawling Ballardian folly that teased out the shifts and tensions in Britain’s socioeconomic structure…

Rangers

Power Rangers: Morphers in Disguise

If Power Rangers (2017) is essentially a film about five marginalised adolescents in search of sparkly new outfits (they spend much of the movie’s duration trying to learn how to ‘morph’ into their armoured costumes), it is also a film that goes through a whole wardrobe of familiar guises in a vain attempt to find its own individual self-expression….

Mourning

Mourning Grave (2014)

This is, more or less, the text of my introduction to the belated UK première of Mourning Grave (the Korean Cultural Centre UK, 16 March 2017), and then a second screening the following week (SOAS, 24 March) as part of Chills and Thrills, Colette Balmain’s series of overlooked K-horror. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this special screening of Mourning Grave,…