Fresh Hell

Fresh Hell (2021)

Ryan Imhoff and Matt Neal’s Fresh Hell opens with a three-by-three grid of nine faces, each occupying their own mini frame. Had this monochrome Rubik’s cube of folk appeared on screen any time before 2020, its principal reference point would have been the opening credits to television’s family sit-com The Brady Bunch (1969-1974) – but…

Honeymoon Phase

The Honeymoon Phase (2019)

The Honeymoon Phase first published by Through the Trees In writer/director/editor Phillip G. Carroll Jr.’s The Honeymoon Phase, we know from the start that things are going to end badly between aspiring author Tom Jacobs (Jim Schubin) and his illustrator girlfriend Eve (the director’s real-life wife Chloe Carroll). We know this because the film opens…

Spiral

Spiral (2019)

Spiral first published by SciFiNow In 1995, Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and his husband Aaron (Ari Cohen) move with Aaron’s teenaged daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte) into the small town of Rusty Creek, far from their old home in Chicago. Both men are very much in love and entirely open about being gay, but stay-at-home freelance ghostwriter…

Still/Born

Still/Born (2017)

Still/Born first published by SciFiNow Still/Born begins with both a birth and a still birth, as young mother Mary (Christie Burke) delivers Adam, only to realise in horror that his identical twin Thomas is dead on arrival. Yet the mannered forward-slash punctuation that splits the film’s title (like in Marat/Sade, Face/Off and Frost/Nixon) also betokens other…

The Thing (1982)

The Thing first published by Little White Lies, as the 44th entry in my Cinema Psychotronicum column John Carpenter’s eighth feature – and his first for a major studio (Universal) – The Thing is an adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes There?, and a loose remake of Chris Nyby’s adaptation The Thing From…

Corbeau

Le Corbeau (1943)

Le Corbeau first published by Movie Gazette Rémy Germain (Pierre Fresnay) is a dour, insomniac doctor trying to hide from a troubled past in the provincial town of Saint Robin – but he finds himself at the centre of a poison-pen campaign, as anonymous letters circulate accusing him of everything from committing adultery with the married…

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…

Observance (2015)

Longer version of piece published by Sight & Sound as part of coverage of the Cult programme at the London Film Festival 2015 “Just watch and report back. That simple.” Still grieving the death of his son after a prolonged illness, and the dissolution of his marriage in the aftermath, Parker (Lindsay Farris) takes on a…

Sunshine

Blue Sunshine (1978)

Blue Sunshine first published by FilmLand Empire In Taxi Driver (1976), the contradictory and unstable Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) – an ill-educated Vietnam veteran and porn-addicted romantic – is a product of the same gutter-level environment that he so despises. Though illiberal and unhinged, in his desire to clean up the streets Bickle is not unlike…