Precarious

Precarious (2020)

Precarious is a film of tight spots. When we first meet its hero Henry (Andrey Pfening), he is injured, unconscious and handcuffed, in a small bedroom crammed with police officers watching closely over his bed. Thereafter his mysterious escapades will take him from secret crawlspace to locked supply room to phone booth to mobile library…

Mata

A Mata Negra (The Black Forest) (2018)

The opening shot in Rodrigo Aragão’s A Mata Negra (aka The Black Forest) is of a stone church atop a rocky outcrop, overlooking the forest below. There humble herbalist Pai Pedro (Markus Konka) finds an abandoned girl, and takes her in as his own. Years later, foundling Clara (Carol Aragão) is a good-natured, naïve teenager…

Fare

The Fare (2018)

Driving in desert well beyond the city limits during a storm at night, cab driver Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi) half-listens to different talk radio chatter about time-leaping aliens, the male urge to conquer, and the female desire for intimacy, before taking a sip from his water flask and picking up his fare right out in…

Living

Living Space (aka Nazi Undead) (2018)

What goes around comes around. Steven Spiel’s feature debut was originally called Living Space, and has been travelling the festival circuit under that name. This title is also, in its context, overtly german(e), both as a phrase that, from the opening text onwards, repeatedly recurs within the film, and as a translation of the term Lebensraum…

Monstrum

Monstrum (Mulgoe) (2018)

[Please note that this review of Monstrum (Mulgoe) contains spoilers from the third paragraph onwards.] In monster movies, individual and societal anxieties assume prodigiously destructive form, so that, as well as embodying and spreading panic, they can also be vanquished or at least contained and accommodated – but nonetheless, they still retain their metaphorical power,…

Doe

Doe (2018)

A heavily bearded man (Timothy Davis) wakes up covered in newspapers on a park bench, with absolutely no idea who he is or how he got there. Eight years later, and still remembering nothing of his past save for a red-and-white-hued dream about holding a rabbit, this John Doe has become John Hutton – now…

Sunrise

Last Sunrise (2019)

There is a scene in the middle of Wen Ren’s feature debut Last Sunrise when Mu (Yue Zhang) tells her apartment neighbour, amateur astronomer Yang (Jue Zhang), of noises that she used to hear late at night. Mu suggests that this is proof of the existence of ghosts – before Yang reveals that it was…

Hunter

The Head Hunter (aka The Head) (2018)

Shot largely in Portugal, but with Norway and California’s Mammoth Lakes providing a few of its stranger landscapes, The Head Hunter (aka The Head) unfolds in a mythic time and place where men clash with trolls and other imaginary aggressors. On the King’s orders (delivered as messages on arrows), a hulking, bearded, Viking-like warrior (the…

Prospect

Prospect (2018)

A prospect is a possible future to which one is looking forward. There is not much likelihood of that for teenaged Cee (Sophie Thatcher, excellent) and her father Damon (Jay Duplass), ‘floaters’ hopping from one planet to another on a wing and a prayer. They are running on empty: trying to pay off an impossible…