Is Stranger Things S2 a worthy follow up to the acclaimed first season?

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Hell yeah. The Duffer brothers knocked it out of the park again, at least for me.

Let me preface this by stating I’m a nerd born in 1973. I played the same games, watched the same movies and rode BMX bikes like the main characters.
So I was more than a little excited for Stranger Things S2.
I devoured it, binge watching it as much as the need for sleep and work allowed. I wasn’t disappointed.
If you haven’t watched season 1, stop reading and go watch it. I’ll try not to spoil season 2, but season one is fair game.

Stranger Things S2 picks up almost a year after Will’s rescue and the final defeat of the Demogorgon.
The boys are all back together, Steve and Nancy are still dating, and Joyce is splitting her time between work, fussing over Will and a new squeeze, played by Sean Astin.
Will is super messed up, seeing into the Upside Down as revealed in the finale of season one.
Mike is angry, missing Eleven. Dustin is showing off his new teeth and Lucas is his normal grounded self. Hopper has a secret.
And the Upside Down has not been idle.

Stranger Things S2 manages to build upon the characters, themes and mythology of the first season and build it into a bigger and more expansive story.
We see outside of the small Indiana town, the threat is larger, new characters are introduced, and we explore the backstories of some of the more interesting characters.
This season seems to pick up on the action side of things more than the first. The best analogy I can come up with is the change between Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986); the suspense is there, but the threat, and the response, is larger.

How can I review this show without talking about the one thing that made me squeal with joy throughout the first season…nostalgia? Man, I was in 80’s geek heaven with all the Easter eggs and references.
Ghostbusters, Aliens, Dragons Lair and DigDug.
IMDb has a list of 51 Easter Eggs referring to classic 80s films and games, and they probably missed more.
As I said at the start, I’m pretty much the same age as the ‘party’, so this was gold to me. Paul Reiser’s inclusion really gave me echoes of Aliens, especially in one particular scene.
Yet the Duffer brothers have managed to do it in a way that is not cheesy or gratuitous.

The pacing on the show was great, the characters developed well and the action was well done.
The acting is strong again, and we see some really fantastic performances.

As usual, the CGI is on point, slickly executed and not overdone. The monsters and threats are believable and frightening, and the protagonists’ responses seem to be realistic whilst remaining heroic.

The new characters are great for the most part, but one character and his particular arc seemed to me to be such an 80’s cliché, from the car to the attitude to the music choices. Judd Nelson, no one forgot about you.
For me, the stand out character and his development is Steve Harrington, that big haired douchebag that was slated to be a stereotyped 80s bully, who developed into a deep and multi layered character that will really warm your heart in this season.
Massive props to Joe Keery who plays Steve; it was his overall likability that transformed the character.

The Diagnosis:
I had a blast watching Stranger Things S2. If you liked the first season, you will love it.
The Duffer brothers have built on what worked in the first season, and not allowed it to get stale. The cast and production are overall fantastic.

– Noel Page

Movie reviews: 1922 and A Good Marriage

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…a bloody corpse down a well and a tin full of dark secrets in the garage.

Two of the four novellas in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars, first published in 2010, have been adapted to film and are now available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix. Both films portray seriously dysfunctional relationships. Both may cause you to eye your significant other over the dinner table with a newfound wariness…and make an appointment with a relationship therapist just to be on the safe side.

1922 (2017)
Alternate Title: Love Rats!

The expression “You reap what you sow” comes horribly true in 1922, a horror-thriller starring one rightfully vengeful corpse and waaaay too many rats (although, in my opinion, even one rat is too many rats.)

Thomas Jane (so excellent in his role as the loving but ill-fated dad in The Mist (2007), another Stephen King adaptation) plays a very different kind of husband and father. Wilfred James is a farmer in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, a sun-weathered, proud man who speaks painfully through a tightly clenched jaw. Stuck in a joyless marriage with Arlette (Molly Parker), he is more in love with his farm and the 100 acres that Arlette inherited from her father than he is with his attractive, sullen wife.

When Arlette decides that she has had enough of being a farmer’s wife and wants to sell up and move to Omaha, Wilfred tries to convince her to sell him the land and let their son remain with him. When she refuses, he decides that he won’t take no for an answer. After roping his 14-year-old son Henry into a very messy and brutal crime, he sets into motion a series of tragic events that almost (not quite, but almost) makes you feel sorry for him and his son.

There are parts of this film that are not for the faint of heart. (For example, I could have very happily gone my entire life without seeing a rat emerge from the mouth of a corpse.) It was hard to watch the scene where Arlette discovers that her marriage is definitively over. That being said, whoever’s job it was to throw the buckets of blood had a lot of spare time on set as there isn’t too much gore. My favourite part of the film was the scene in which the exes once again come face to face…very creepy. So effective.

The Diagnosis:
It wasn’t released with all that much fanfare but it is a solid film with great performances – especially the nearly unrecognisable Thomas Jane. Don’t miss this one before Netflix puts it out to pasture.

A Good Marriage (2014)
Alternate Title: A Serial [Killer] Monogamist

After 25 years of marriage, Darcy Anderson (Joan Allen) thinks that she knows her husband Bob (Anthony LaPaglia) pretty well. Unlike Wilfred and Arlette James, the couple are happily married with a beautiful home, well-adjusted adult children who love their parents and still enough of a spark left that the marriage bed is never cold for too long. It is, as the title suggests, a good marriage.

From the opening scene of a woman being stalked by an unseen predator, however, the viewer knows that this isn’t a Mike Leigh film about normal happy married people approaching the twilight years of life. We suspect that Bob is not quite as affable and friendly as he seems long before his hapless wife discovers a hidden tin in the garage. Now that she sees both sides of the coin, she must decide what she does with her newfound awareness…

LaPaglia seamlessly switches between his dual (and very convincing) personas and Joan Allen is perfectly cast in her role as a loving wife and mother faced with the terrible knowledge that she has been married to an imperfect stranger for 25 years. I really enjoyed both their performances and the film.

The Diagnosis:
Stephen King has stated that the character of Bob Anderson was inspired by Dennis Rader, the infamous “BTK Killer”, whose wife was married to him for nearly 30 years and yet claimed that she had no knowledge of his crimes. It is a novel premise – what would you do if you found out something truly terrible about the person you loved? – and makes for a compelling film.

  • Vanessa Cervantes

Encounters with the unknown

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Ever since my youth, this Surgeons of Horror reporter has had a growing fascination with life beyond this planet.
Does it exist? What lies beyond the stars?
So compelled was I to find out the answer to one of life’s eternal conundrum’s that I almost willed something to happen.

This one time, my parents were driving along the freeway in the United States, (where else?) in a hired convertible.
It was late and my eyes were drawn to the heavens above.
As I rested my head on the back seat, my eyes began to scan the skyline, casting across from one star to the next.
I became immersed in its sheer enormity. Out there on the open road, I felt insignificantly small and this notion that surely we can’t be alone in the universe crept across my mind.
What started off as an idle admiration of the stars and all its infinite glory suddenly became a futile desire to look beyond the shining lights in the sky to search for anything out of the ordinary.
An anomaly that didn’t naturally belong in the sky. If life did exist out there, now was the chance for it reveal itself to me.
Why me of all people you could ask?
Well this 7 year old boy didn’t think beyond the realms of his own sphere, which is ironic considering I was now willing, nay praying for signs of life beyond.
It seemed as though hours had past, when in reality it was probably only a few minutes, but finally something odd did occur.
A green light flashed before me high into the night sky and hovered momentarily for a few seconds before instantaneously propelling itself upwards and out of my field of vision.
To this day, I’m not entirely sure if I dreamt that moment. Was it real? Or had I drifted off to sleep in the back of the car, and let my imagination run wild in the eases of my mind? Either way, that moment hung with me over the years.

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It was only a few years later, where my fascination was sparked once more, primarily due to watching numerous episodes of The X-Files and watching Mulder and Scully scamper around trying to seek the truth.
This led me on my own search, as I had learned of something known as The Blue Mountains Triangle.
Allegedly, there is an underground military base located in the heart of the Blue Mountains, somewhere in the Burragong region.
This base, which supposedly is co run by both Australian and the U.S. is probably best described as Australia’s own Area 51; a place where the military have been studying and experimenting with UFOs and UFO sightings.
Again without any basis of truth or facts to steer my investigation, I ventured out to uncover if there was anything to these so-called stories.
I took the long drive out to the Lake Burragong lookout and set up camp for the night. Surely now I could find more proof?
There had been numerous sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects over the Blue Mountains skyline and I couldn’t see how I wouldn’t be one of the lucky few to witness such an awe inspiring moment; a moment that would connect me with the universe.

From what I remember, it was a bitterly cold night. My insane mission would lead me from the shelter of a nice warm house, to sitting in the middle of nowhere at the height of winter.
Yes logic had been lost on me and my only goal was to find proof of existence. I sat there willing and praying as I had done before.
Hours passed and then all became foggy and darkness settled once more.

The next thing that I recall, there was a loud tapping on my car window, which shook me back to reality.
The car had steamed up, so I had to wind the window down, where upon I was greeted by a Park Ranger, wondering what I was up to.
I tried to explain to him my reasoning’s and even quizzed him if he had ever witnessed anything unusual whilst working out here, but all I received from him was an expression of strangeness, as though he had pigeonholed me into a group of crazies, and the only thing unusual was my intent on proving something that simply didn’t exist.

I drove off, as dawn was finally breaking, with a sense of disheartenment. Not knowing if I would ever find the answer to my quest, whilst also knowing that I would be greeted at times with that same odd expression from people whenever I would try to pursue this further.
Over the years though, I learnt that I wasn’t alone. At least not in my search for Extra-Terrestrial life. There were others like me.
Admittedly some had strange and wild tales that were hard to believe, and yet there were also others that were detailed studies into this field.
There were scientists and all manners of experts that were leaping into the same quest that I had set out for all those years ago.
And as humanity makes advances in technology, so comes the greater chance of finding life beyond this planet.
Thankfully now, I don’t have to venture out into the dead of a cold winter night to carry out my quest as I can leave the professionals to it.

– Anonymous

Movie review: Leatherface

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Arguably back in 1974, the first iconic horror villain was born in the guise of Chainsaw wielding, human mask wielding psycho we come to know as Leatherface.

Director Tobe Hooper brought him to the screen along with other members of his deranged family who set out to terrorise a group of travellers in the middle of Texas.
Unwittingly, the final shots of Leatherface wielding said weapon of choice as the Sun begins to rise and our final girl makes good her escape has been embedded into the psyche of horror fans across the world.
The fact that it has resonated with so many has lead to numerous sequels and reboots. (7 in total)

This latest effort from directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo was to do the inevitable origin story. (Yawn)
When will creative’s realise that there is nothing to be gained from unearthing the make up of these classic horror villains other than to destroy that mystery and the magic that made them so special to begin with?

The warning signs were already there when the production studios kept pushing back the release date despite Lili Taylor and Stephen Dorff being attached to the project.
Taylor more than held her own in James Wan’s The Conjuring and although Dorff has fallen out of favour in Hollywood and no longer considered A-list material, he still in my mind had plenty of gravitas on screen.
None of this can prevent this movie from feeling like being fed through the meat grinder using nothing but gristle.

There’s so much focus on trying to show how Jedidah Sawyer becomes the titular character that the filmmakers lose sight of any real substance.
As such we’re spoon fed Jedidiah’s journey from a brutal mother (Taylor) who is forcing him to tow the line with the family way, which just so happens to include brutally murdering a guy with (wait for it…) a Chainsaw.

When he and his brother (who in my opinion looked more like our signature Leatherface than Jedidiah did) are separated from their family by a vengeful Texas Ranger (Dorff) and whisked away to a mental hospital.
What follows is a riot that leads to Jedidiah escaping with a few other inmates and a nurse as hostage to make his way home.

The result feels like a story ripped from the pages of The Devil’s Rejects which is absolutely ridiculous when you consider that film has whispers of TCM throughout as something of a nod from Zombie.

Of course Jedidiah will have his fall from grace but this transition seems so sudden and out of left field, which is a shame as once again we’re left with poor character development in the screenplay.

The Diagnosis:
More PVC than Leatherface as this latest instalment struggles to make an impact on this already loose franchise.

  • Paul Farrell 

The Babysitter

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Directed by McG and a Netflix original, The Babysitter is one of those films you could easily watch while scrolling through Facebook or feeding the dog and still get the general idea.

Twelve-year-old Cole (Judah Lewis) has the world’s best babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving). She’s got her sci- fi trivia- down pat, hot tips on beating bullies, and she’s a drop dead gorgeous American dream. As in, pass me the Blu Tack and stick her poster up on my wall kind of hot.
Cole and Bee are the best of friends (go Cole) until one day his parents are away and he stays up past his bedtime. He discovers Bee is eeevilll and plans to use him as a blood sacrifice in a magic ritual (Noooo we thought you were perfect, Bee).

The Babysitter isn’t trying to be brilliant, it tries to mirror your eighties teen slasher flick.
A little bit of horror and a little bit of comedy mashed up with a side of teen titillation. We see a cheerleader get shot in the boob, we see a nerd get his first kiss, a girl on girl make out sesh and stacks of cheesy graphics.
If the full frame “what the fuck” graphic doesn’t alert you that the plot is taking a turn, then maybe Thomas the Tank Engine might be a better choice for you.
Those who aren’t into McG’s male gazy lens better steer clear too.

If we wipe away the blood and teen slasher film cliché’s the film is really a coming of age story about a twelve-year-old that overcomes his fear of needles, bullies and not being accepted.
Judah Lewis does a great job of pulling on our heartstrings and doing the whole nerd -becomes -hero thing.
The early scenes with Lewis and Weaving are the film’s strongest. Bee and Cole have real chemistry. Even the other villains do what they can to make their cliché characters dance.
McG nails slowing down the background action whenever the pair are together. These scenes provide much needed depth balancing out the one-dimensional horror to come.

The Diagnosis:

Look, you’re probably not going to be talking about this one over drinks at the pub or even remembering what it was about next week (caution: you may lose a few brain cells throughout). However, respect for not trying to be something it’s not and giving us a few cheap laughs along the way.

 

– Breana Garratt

Movie Review: The Girl With All The Gifts

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Just when you thought the zombie genre was dead (undead?), along comes The Girl with All The Gifts.

Sure, this film boasts creepy children, an apocalypse, and deadly viruses, yet director Colm McCarthy manages to add an intelligent twist to familiar story territory. Because really, who’s watching The Walking Dead anymore?

It goes like this; in a dystopian UK, humanity has been ravaged by a fungal disease that turns people into flesh-eating ‘hungries.’ Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is one of a small group of afflicted children who have mysteriously retained their ability to empathise.

She escapes her prison-like zombie-school with teacher Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), surgeon Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) and a handful of soldiers (led by Paddy Considine). This rag-tag crew battle a tidal-wave of hungries while simultaneously protecting one, and they’re about to discover just how vital Melanie is to their own survival.

You video gamers are probably picking up on the major The Last of Us vibes, but the film began its life as a novel by Mike Carey.

When the author is the hand writing the script, you know you’re in for an authentic adaption, even if that includes a lengthy retelling that sometimes feels sluggish.

Expect a few truly scary moments, especially when children’s teeth start snapping, mixed with a whole lot of thriller. But it’s the cast who shine brightest in this post-apocalyptic gloom as the sweet zombie with a conscience newcomer Sennia Nanua is entirely watchable, while Glenn Close delivers a strong performance as a bad scientist with good intentions.

 

The Diagnosis:

By those unexpected final scenes, it’s clear that The Girl with All The Gifts has a lot more to say about what makes us human than your average ‘kill or be killed’ maxim.

If you like your zombie films all blood, no heart this might not be the flick for you. But give this one a go if you prefer something meatier to sink your teeth into.

 

– Ellin Williams

 

Movie review: The Limehouse Golem

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It’s Victorian London and there’s a serial killer on the loose leaving all sorts of cryptic messages written in the blood of the victims.
In comes inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) with a suspicion that he has been set up to fail.
He must rely on the help of witnesses to crack the case and bring the lunatic to justice.

This nasty little horror ticks all your, ‘Gee I’m-scared-but-boy-they-have-lovely-accents’ type film with a few blood-drenched charms of its own.

Speaking of charming, can we get a round of applause for Bill Nighy as a Scotland Yard Detective?
Bill Nighy trades his cheeky smiles and winks for a straight one eighty performance. A nice move from Nighy.
As bizarre as The Limehouse Golem is, it’s pretty serious stuff.

Nighy holds our hand and takes us on an ethereal walk through the streets and music halls of Victorian London (Don’t worry he’s cool with it)
We explore the pubs, the court chambers, the apartments, and offices of the period. The verisimilitude is bang on, it’s a fully realised world where you feel like you might bump into Sherlock Holmes or have a few brews with David Copperfield.
No drinks for you Sherlock. Get back to work!

Another charming aspect of The Limehouse Golem is the way it blends fact and fiction.
The Golem is fictional, but music-hall star and key suspect Dan Leno (Douglas Booth) is a real historical character, and how many times have you seen Karl Marx cast as a suspect in a penny-dreadful thriller?
That was a rhetorical question.

The whodunnit/murder investigation-ish aspects of The Limehouse Golem are its weakest elements. The murder investigation becomes a little, well, boring and generic.
You may find yourself more interested in the films other major storyline, the life and career of music hall performer, Lizzie (Olivia Cooke), as the use of flashbacks unlocks the secrets of her past.

The Diagnosis:

Look, the murder scenes are probably not grisly enough for us horror fans, and those who like deliberate, cozy murder mysteries may be deterred the graphic displays of gore.

The Limehouse Golum wouldn’t likely pack out a movie theatre but from the view of the living room couch provides an unsettling two hours of atmospheric charm.
Why not? Team with a bowl of ice-cream and you’re set.

– Breana Garratt

 

7 Shades of Chucky

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Fast encroaching 40 years since our favourite serial killer trapped inside a Good Guy doll, Chucky first graced our screens, delighting and menacing in his own twisted and macabre way.

Since then, Chucky has spawned 6 sequels and numerous comic books and has in some circles say shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael.

But how has the fiendish doll faired over the years?

This surgeon delves onto the guts of the Chucky franchise to see if he really does hold weight.

 

  1. Child’s Play (1988)
    Aka – The original

You can’t go too far wrong from the movie that started it all.

Part of the appeal of the Chucky movies has been the voice performed by the brilliant Brad Dourif. I’m a firm believer that this has been a core element to the films success.

Played with a much more straight-laced approach, which works of be hard to pull off seeing as convict serial killer on the run, Charles Lee Ray is shot and “killed” during a pursuit, but not before transferring his soul into a doll by a voodoo technique.

Said doll, Chucky, then takes up residence at 6 year old Andy’s house as he starts using his Killing ways once more.

With great support from Chris Sarandon as the homicide detective, Directed by Tom Holland at probably the height of his career following Psycho 2 and Fright Night, and would craft Child’s Play into an instant classic, so it’s of no surprise that more instalments would follow.

  1. Child’s Play 2 (1990)
    Aka – The resurrection

Don Mancini would return to scribe the sequel to Child’s Play, as he would with all subsequent movies.
Andy Barclay would once more fall victim to Chucky’s antics when Charles Lee Ray inhabits another Good Guy Doll after a freak electrical storm.

Strangely, growing up, this sequel and its predecessor would merge as on in my mind, which is a testament to the writing and performances that were delivered in the same strong vein.

It felt like this franchise was in safe hands for sure.

  1. Child’s Play 3 (1991)
    Aka – The one with Jimmy Olsen

 The third instalment would see a now teenage Alex Vincent) played by Justin Whalin, who would go on to star in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) once again pursued by Chucky.

Unfortunately, it is at this point in the juncture that it feels like the wheels might be falling off this franchise.

Some might blame the directing, but jack Bender has gone on to produce some stellar work, most notably for the Game of Thrones episode, The Door, which he recognised for.

It has to come down to the writing, which had grown stale and as such, Chucky had fallen under the curse of the final act of a trilogy.
Thankfully there’d be more to come with…
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Aka – The one where Chucky meets Tiffany

Most followers of the Chucky franchise will point out the notable change in style to the movies from this point on with the introduction of humour, something that has kept the heart beating in what could have been a long drawn out series of films.
As such this inclusion of self-referential parody was a much-needed recipe and by having the freedom to laugh at the madness and mayhem that Chucky delivers, we the audience are invited in on the joke, and feel more relaxed as a consequence.

It helps that there is also the addition of a feminie touch as Tiffany played by Jennifer Tilly in a role that she appears to relish, chewing up the scenery with every frame that she is in.

Even bringing back Graeme Revell to score the music as he had done in Child’s Play 2, helps lift this movie above the ‘norm’.


Seed of Chucky (2004)
Aka – The twisted one

If anyone wanted to see how Don Mancini would work another film out of the Chucky universe with his own creative flair, then Seed of Chucky would be your answer as he would not only write but also direct this instalment.

The result is a warped insight into Mancini’s’ mind as we’re taken on a journey of Chucky and Tiffany’s offspring, Glen, reluctant in continuing in his parent’s footsteps.
There are twins, more Jennifer Tilly, artificial insemination, a masturbating Chucky, John Waters, and dismemberment.

All of which add to the sheer bat-shit craziness that this film delivers.

Curse of Chucky (2013)
Aka – The return to form

Don’t be fooled by this film’s straight-to-video appearance.

Having cut his teeth on its predecessor, Seed of Chucky, Mancini really comes to his own in building a whole new playing field for Chucky to continue his bloodlust.

The franchise introduces us to paraplegic Nica (played by Dourif’s daughter, Fiona) who unwittingly becomes the ‘fall guy’ for Chucky’s latest killing spree.

The story catapults us along using more soul transferals, which allows Chucky to continue killing without ever being suspected. It seems as though he has the perfect solution to carrying out his evil ways and in doing so, carves a whole new storyline for the franchise to effectively continue. That is until he’s delivered back to his original owner, Andy to put an end to things once and for all.

Cult of Chucky (2017)
Aka – The one that cements as a franchise to be reckoned with

By the seventh instalment of any franchise, you’d think that all the tricks could be pulled have already been witnessed, bit somehow, Cult of Chucky is able to keep up the ante and deliver the gore and humour with absolute glee.

Sure it comes across as ropey in places and you can feel the smaller budget that is on display as we find ourselves in a mental institute for Chucky’s latest outpouring of murder and mayhem.

The story continues with Nica (Fiona Dourif reprising her role) trying to come to terms with the notion that she was responsible for the murders from the previous movie.

That is until Chucky surfaces again and in doing so, we’re treated to some fine tongue-in-cheek humour and some pretty cool death scenes.

Jennifer Tilly returns once more and if anything this film feels like it has perfectly blended all that has gone before and served up a film that delights and ticks so many boxes that it is beyond glorious.

Whilst the movie did end on a note that appeared to round things out, judging by Mancini’s comments on recent interviews, there’s still life in the old doll yet. Perhaps even a trip into space. Hell they all go into space eventually.

On things for certain, it’ll be interesting to see where and how they go to next.

– Paul Farrell

 

 

Gerald’s Game

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Gerald’s Game
is THE best Stephen King film of 2017.

This may be considered a controversial opinion especially as It had broken box office records across the globe, but it’s one that I’ll stand by.

For avid readers of this website they may have noticed how much of a fan I am of director Mike Flanagan’s work following Absentia, Oculus, and three entries last year with Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Before I Wake.

His latest entry though (available now on Netflix) has confirmed his place as a master craftsmen in his field.

Another confirmation which if ignored will be criminal is the acting prowess of Carla Gugino who had long been carving out an impressive career and delivers a powerful performance in this Stephen King film adaptation.

Gerald’s Game which was supposedly ‘unfilmable’ tells the story of Jessie and Gerald who are trying to spice up their marriage with a weekend retreat to a lake house, only for things to go awry when Gerald suffers a heart attack leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed.

She must now use her wits in order to break herself free from her chains but in doing so she must also internally face a Dark past that continues to haunt her.

Gugino delivers such diversity on screen and is ably supported by Bruce Greenwood (Gerald) and Henry Thomas (Jessie’s father) as told in flashbacks.

The audience is guided through Jessie’s plight without it feeling contrived and we flow through each scenario as Jessie goes deeper into her secret ‘well’ in order to gain the strength she needs to pull through.

Flanagan appears to have a deep fascination with the human psyche and once again is able to tap into that inner turmoil and present humanity at its most unstable as a result.

I can’t wait to see what dark recess of the mind that he unearths with his next project.

  • Paul Farrell 

Movie review: Hounds of Love

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Hands down Hounds of Love is the best Australian film this year.

The film not only manages to capture the time period that it is set (1987) and location of Perth, Australia, but more importantly it depends was something that seems all too rare these days – attention to character.

The story itself is a fairly simple one centring on the kidnap of Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) by murderous couple Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry) but it’s the depth of character that truly makes this film.

An example of this can be seen in Stephen Curry’s performance, which as the domineering and brutal ‘male’ presence on screen that is beautifully underplayed and only brought to to the fore when absolutely necessary.

Added to this is that the character John isn’t just a one note performance as he too is the victim of control from some local ‘thugs’ prizing him of money at any given opportunity and undoing so depriving him of any manhood.

Only from behind closed doors can he feel that he can be King of his castle.

Any sign of change therein and he will soon lay down his law.

The attention though, isn’t owned by Curry. Hounds of Love is all the more powerful because of its female leads.

Ashleigh Cummings displays a lot of heart and strength as she bares her soul as victim Vicki, which is pushed to the nth degree in her fight for survival. 

Slowly we see her confidence and strength ebbed away as John and Evelyn chip away at her psyche physically. 

Vicky soon realises that if she is to survive it will be down to her wits, but how long can she endure the torment before she will cave?

For me though, I was incredibly impressed by Emma Booth’s portrayal of Evelyn.

Her character hangs on a knifes edge throughout the film as her unhinged and unpredictable nature keeps the audience guessing as to where she will land come the film’s conclusion, which is a testament to how Booth is able to display vulnerability, rage, and confusion to name but a few of the range of emotions that she had to portray to capture the essence of her character.

I was truly moved by all the performances from the leads and for Ben Young’s penmanship got his feature debut in the directors chair.

The level of richness across the board would have some forgiven from believing that Young was a veteran of his craft.

It’s going to be interesting to see how he carves out the rest of his career moving forward. Based on this movie he will go on strength to strength.

I couldn’t recommend Hounds of Love enough and if you’d like to hear more on the matter, check out our podcast interview with producer Melissa Kelly below:

https://player.whooshkaa.com/player/episode/id/104222?visual=true&sharing=true

Or alternatively on iTunes here.

  • Paul Farrell