Top 5 Horror movies/shows of 2018

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5. Birdbox

This may have been a late entry, but it made such an impact on the Surgeons team that two members of the Surgeons team instantly placed it in their Top three movies of the year. For this reason, the Sandra Bullock post-apocalyptic thriller by director Susanne Bier finds itself in the Top five list.

Great example how the best horror is shown but not seen. (“See” what i did there?)” – Dr. Yee

When the world starts going mad, a single look could get you killed. Bird Box is engaging from the start. Packed with tense moments and like most good post apocalyptic movies it deals with trust, loyalty and the lengths people will go to for survival and to protect the ones they love. It does often bear similarities to other films in the genre but there are a few fresh ideas here to enjoy.
Overall it was a great experience, loaded with tension and solid performances.” – Dr. Allford

4. Suspiria

Here’s another example of one of our top rated movies dividing the thoughts and opinions of our Surgeons, as you will see from the quotes below, but this re-imagining of the Argento classic from the mind of Luca Guadagnino, starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson does enough to shimmy its way into the top four spot in our countdown, proving that perhaps style can outweigh substance. (You biatch!! – Editor)

It’s a slow-burn movie that grinds its way to a stumbled conclusion.
The drama is gritty and realistic with some stunning performances and dramatic dance sequences that hook you in, but rather than set you ablaze in a fury of emotion, it peeters out to a mere whimper.
” – Dr. Muerte

Out the gate the new Suspiria makes it clear it reveres the original but will not retread it’s steps, absolving a lot of fears I had going in, the focus on the witches coven politics and each slow and gorgeous turn of the screw that the main characters suffer is hypnotic.” – Dr. Jack

3. The Haunting of Hill House

Marking the only entry for a TV series this year, The Haunting of Hill House by the brilliant mind of Mike Flanagan deserves its place in the Top three for shaking up the medium on the small screen by providing in-depth characters on a journey that challenges the mind and captures the very essence of your classic ghost story. We were already fans of Flanagan’s work and he has once again proved to be a modern storyteller with his finger firmly on the horror pulse. Doctor Sleep can’t come soon enough.

This is a fantastically complex gothic horror story for the Netflix generation.” – Dr. Davies

Very hard to sustain quality horror over even a handful of eps. The fact HoHH did it over 10 is a testimony to its writing.” – Dr. Yee

2. Mandy

It may not be everyones taste, but this crazed, psychedelic, mind-fuck that takes Nicolas Cage to the height of rage and fury, hell-bent on seeking revenge certainly left a mark this year. Mandy is a life-form of its own and its originality coupled with a savage journey thrust this centre stage of our top horror list. Two of our surgeons are still in recovery from the sheer orgasmic attack on their senses from watching this cult-film in the making.

Beware of your strive for beauty and perfection. Slice it open and you get a reign of anarchy and destruction.” – Dr. Muerte

This heavy metal horror was quite simply a work of visual and audio genius.”Dr. Davies

1. A Quiet Place

Hands down, no other film on this list had such a huge impact after watching. Despite its early release in the year, two of the Surgeons laid down the gauntlet of prediction and labelled this as the Movie of the Year. A bold statement, and A Quiet Place had its fair share of challengers, but the strength of the premise along with the simple, heart-breaking narrative kept it firmly in the no.1 spot.

Tension ratcheted to 10 at the start and wound to 11 soon after and never. Lets. Go. Great writing,  great performances and great directing. The fact it was done by Jim from the office is even more remarkable.– Dr. Yee

Top 13 Horror movies/shows of 2018

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It’s been a mammoth year for fans of horror as the once scoffed upon genre rose to the forefront of the box office and begun what some have heralded as a new age in films that scare and delight.

Amongst the jaw-dropping awesome-ness that has been on display, there has also been some absolute bombs and disappointments, which is to be expected when something becomes popular, carbon copies of the movies that stood out start to crop up, but only pale in comparison.

So it’s a tough task, but the Surgeons team gathered our collective heads to form what we considered to be the movies that provided the most impact on our souls and ripped apart our senses. Not all of us agreed with each other, but that’s part of the beauty of film. Each movie will cut to the core of the psyche and effect people in different ways.

So, once we tallied together the results, there were 13 films and shows that we believe deserve significant praise, and here they are:

13. Luz

We’re so thankful to have caught this little gem at the Sydney Underground Film Festival this year. It may have a short running time, but it manages to pack in a bold, experimental, and minimal approach to the occult genre, which places this movie at the start of our countdown.

Singer manages to balance the highs and lows in a harmony of beautifully constructed cinematography and movement.” – Dr. Muerte

12. Pyewacket

Another movie that we caught on the festival circuit, and another movie that centres on the occult, (you’ll notice a certain theme occurring to the movies that resonated this year).

“Pyewacket tackles what could easily be remised for teenage angst, but offers powerful performances from the two leads, Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead, The Americans) and Nicole Muñoz. in a slow-burn drama that s believable and tension-packed to its conclusion.” – Dr. Muerte

11. Apostle

Leading the charge this year when it came to streaming content will probably come as no surprise in Netflix. There was a plethora of movies and shows that had significant impact, but none more so than this charged up, bloody film that rampaged its way to the small screen starring Dan Stevens (Legend) and directed by Gareth Evans.

Evans is a master in creating heart-wrenching angst and turmoil into his narrative and with Dan Stevens has the perfect muse, as a lost and troubled man on a quest that takes him into a dark and twisted labyrinth of angst and suffering to reach a place of peace and tranquility.” – Dr. Muerte

10. Revenge

Our Top 10 begins with this French rape revenge horror that marks itself from similar movies for its intelligence, stunning cinematography, and striking performances.

Director Coralie Fargeat manages to harness all these elements together whilst providing a stunning movie that elevates itself above the quagmire of sensationalism by using smart and intense drama at its core.” – Dr. Muerte

9. The Ritual

Continuing the occult theme on Netflix comes this movie about the rocky relationship between friends, which continues to be tested and strained as they backpack across a remote woodland terrain.

“The Ritual proves that when done well, there’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned, straight-up scary story.” – Dr Williams

On Paper it seems like a trail well travelled; bunch of friends get lost in the woods and strange and/or horror things happen, but this Netflix original is full of atmosphere, great performances and some truly unsettling imagery that has burned into my brain.” – Dr. Jack

8. Unsane

Those who missed this movie should definitely check it out. From a director who is always willing to test himself technically and narratively in Steven Soderbergh, and hotter than hot British actress actress Claire Foy, who once again pushes the boundaries of her acting prowess in her most exposed role to date.

Psychological horror shot on an iPhone by Steven Soderbergh…I’m in! Fun little thriller that shows you don’t need million dollar equipment to make a quality movie, you just need a solid story – which this has.” – Dr. Davies

7. Halloween

It promised so much for a beloved franchise, one that had seen the bitter end of the barrel with people fearing that Myers would no longer be able to stalk the streets of Haddonfield again.
Thankfully David Gordon Green and his writing collaborator Danny McBride played the perfect balance of nostalgia and fear, coupled with some contemporary themes that placed Halloween back into respectability again.

Congratulations to the Blumhouse team. You’ve produced the best Halloween film in 40 years.” – Dr. Muerte

6. Hereditary

This film came out of the blocks boasting that it was the scariest film of our generation, and critics likening it to The Exorcist  in the way it shook the horror genre. It’s arguable that it manages to meet this proclamation, and divided The Surgeons opinions on this matter, but does enough to hit the half-way point of out Top Horrors list for 2018, so must have had something going for it. Plus it tapped into the whole occult thing that seems so prominent this year in horror movies.

Those who like to have the brain stimulated by smart and disturbing terror can expect a movie to resonate and tingle the senses.” – Dr. Muerte

Though I had plenty of issues with the movie as a whole, when the midway “twist” came to a head, it shocked the most audible reaction out of me that I’ve had in a long, long time.” – Dr Jack

Top 5 Horror movies and shows of 2018

Movie review: Cam

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Flying somewhat under the radar this year is a psychological horror that shines a light on the little-explored world of Camgirls.

Cam’s greatest strength is it’s level of authenticity to the world and environment that it is set with writer Isa Mazzei drawing from her own experiences working in the industry.

Director Daniel Goldhaber a high school friend, who had his own fair share of experience having shot and directed some of Mazzei’s pornographic films has a firm eye that also cements the believability further.
So, not only does it feel grounded, the subject matter tackled in Cam of social media identity theft in a confronting and soul-baring industry is both topical and original, lifting this movie onto a higher pedigree.

Cam is a bit of a slow-burn that takes its time to eek out the drama as it unfolds, which requires a fair bit of patience, but the reward is there for those who stick it out for the conclusion.
This is aided further by the strength in Madeleine Brewer (Orange is the New Black) who braved the role of Alice as she plummets into despair and ruin with no help from anyone she turns to and a generally dismissive response when she tells of her plight to the officials. It makes her journey all the more harrowing and amplified the horror of her situation.

The Diagnosis:

Cam deserves your attention and casts a light on the dangers of cyber security in a world normally considered taboo.
It’s a bold and original movie in the horror genre.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Anna and the Apocalypse

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All I saw were the words Christmas zombie horror musical and I said to myself, “I’m in!”
It may sound like a strange combination, but to this deranged and perhaps delusional genre fan, it screamed potential cult flick and a must see, but would it live up to the buzz or flatline?

Based on the BAFTA award winning short film, Zombie musical by Ryan McHenry (which is actually kind of awesome too and I’ll post a youtube clip of it at the foot of the review for those that are interested) and adapted to feature length by director John McPhail, who does his best to draw out the apocalyptic harmonies with drama, and twinges of gore.

Anna and the Apocalypse’s greatest strength is not just the upbeat music among the bloodlust, but the beating heart of its central characters. There is plenty of time spent building on their backgrounds that by the time things inevitably go wrong you actually give a damn about their survival.

Central to the characters is the titular Anna played by Ella Hunt, who dreams of getting far away from the dead Scottish town of Little Haven, only to awaken to a zombie outbreak and must fight tooth and nail to not only survive but reach those she had tried so desperately to leave behind – her friends and family.

In support is a cracker of a cast in the best friend who keeps hanging onto the hopes of winning Anna’s heart, John (Malcolm Cumming) who incidentally has some of the best lines in the movie; the star-crossed lovers, Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and Lisa (Marli Siu); Anna’s ex and complete tool, Nick (Ben Wiggins); and Anna’s father, Tony (Mark Benton).

Stand out performances though come from Paul Kaye (most notable of late in HBO’s Game of Thrones as Thoros of Myr) as the slightly unhinged headmaster, and looks like he hasn’t this much fun on-screen since his Dennis Pennis days; also relative unknown Sarah Swire, who plays a lesbian outcast editor of the school newspaper. She nails this role with her cross of stifled, uncomfortable social behaviour, combined with grit and “bad-ass” zombie killing action.

If I were to hurl any criticism at this film though, it’s that Anna doesn’t bring enough of that grit herself to the fight, and despite being described by her friends as “always finding a way out of things”, she rarely does and often relies on those friends to get her out of a jam. That’s not to say that Hunt doesn’t execute her role well, because she does. Just some more time and care spent on the writing, could have lifted her character to greater heights.
The other sticking point for me is that the comedy whilst worth the odd-chuckle, never reaches Shaun of the Dead style humour. If the wit had been that little bit sharper, we could have well had a movie that would have easily verged on classic status.

The Diagnosis:

The thought of a musical may have some of you running for the hills, but Anna and the Apocalypse is a well-crafted film that embraces its characters before ripping out their bleeding hearts to the sounds of pop-infused drama and soul that make this a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: What Keeps You Alive

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Colin Minihan is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary directors. Whilst Grave Encounters didn’t ignite my passion for horror, it did prove to be a solid albeit generic movie and I’ve yet to see Extraterrestrial, his sophomore feature collaboration with fellow Vicious Brothers director Stuart Ortiz.

Last year however, Minihan released, It Stains The Sands Red with a simple, but fresh take on the zombie apocalypse genre.

After a run in the theatre circuits, his fourth feature, What Keeps You Alive has been released on Home Entertainment through Shout Factory and Minihan’s restrained and brutal storytelling once again provides a gripping, hard-hitting narrative that keeps you hooked to its conclusion.

Minihan teams up with Brittany Allen, who also triggered a powerhouse performance for ISTSR as Molly, and proves that this was no one-trick accomplishment as she acts her heart out once more in WKYA.

Allen plays one half of a female married couple, Jules, who celebrates her one-year anniversary in a remote cabin with her partner, Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson). What should be a romantic getaway soon turns sinister however when Jackie soon displays a dark past that she has been harbouring all this time.

Whilst Allen superbly plays the broken and resilient Jules, Anderson taps into the psychotic and twisted Jackie with absolute glee and appears to relish in the macabre moments. Between them, the leads are a joy to watch on-screen, in their ying-yang relationship, which sees the power oscillate where the tension escalates to the bitter end.

Minihan also exploits the natural terrain to the full advantage, showcasing the isolation and insecurity that Jules faces during her ordeal.

The Diagnosis:

Whilst some of the beats are lacking and you question some of the choices the characters make, Minihan offers a fun and riveting ride that delves into the fractured heart of relationships. How much do you really know about your partner and are you willing to risk your life to uncover what lurks in the darkness?
It also boasts a killer soundtrack including this haunting track:

– Saul Muerte

Movie review: Patient Zero

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It felt for a while that this film would be in a permanent state of flux and never be released. Generally this never bodes well for its production values and overall receptiveness.

While it doesn’t necessarily blow your mind, Patient Zero does stand taller than your average straight-to-video release.

A lot of this has to do with its lead Matt Smith, a still underrated actor who is perpetually trying to shake his EleventhDoctor (Doctor Who) persona that lifted him to the spotlight. As it so happens, this film was supposed to pave his way into distancing himself from his iconic role and enter the film industry. Thankfully Smith landed another role that he has made his own as Prince Philip in The Crown in the interim.

All this is background fodder to Smith’s career path, but the fact that Patient Zero faltered in its cinema release shouldn’t deter people away from watching it, as it is a fairly stable narrative with enough of its own identity in an already clouded zombie horror genre.

Smith plays Morgan, a guy who was caught in his car with his wife when the outbreak occurs and lynched upon by the infected. Both he and his wife were bitten, but somehow, Morgan didn’t turn and is now able to communicate with the infected as a result.

Now holed up in a base that contains survivors and is run by the military in a Day of the Dead style scenario, Morgan utilises his gift to interrogate the infected with the curious aid of classic vinyls. (Apparently music has an intense effect on the psyche of the infected and as such Morgan uses this as a form of torture device in order to get information.) The aim is to find and locate patient zero and to snuff out the virus in order to save humanity.

Smith is an affable leading man and holds his own both physically and mentally on screen, with plenty of decent dialogue to chew on, allowing him the freedom to move and play with his role, including a love triangle between his wife, (still alive, but quarantined) and virologist Dr. Rose, portrayed by Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer.

Comedy support is brought in the form of fellow GOT actor John Bradley and the steely, play-it-by-the-book Colonel Knox (Clive Standen) channeling Rhodes with every ounce of determination to shut down the testing facility, brings the early inner conflict to the team.

It’s the arrival of Stanley Tucci however when things get really interesting. Tucci is The Professor, an infected zombie brought in for questioning but appears to be immune to all the known tricks. He hams it up to the nth degree, but delightfully keeps it under the right side of believability and feeds off Smiths lines effortlessly.

His arrival spells a significant turning point in the movie and propels the drama on to a suitable conclusion that mildly satisfies.

The Diagnosis:

It’s an apocalyptic zombie survival movie that offers enough of a difference to make it worth a watch, but doesn’t deliver enough bite to keep you salivating, slipping all to easily into safe and predictable territory.

  • Saul Muerte

Series review: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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So I was about 30 seconds into the first episode and I already wanted to punch Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka).
It’s not her fault, it’s just one of those faces…I think.

I found the first 2 episodes to be so cheesy. The ‘romance’ between Sabrina and her boyfriend (Ross Lynch) was hard-to-watch, cringey and her relationship with her besties also turned something in my stomach.

I do quite like all the dark witchy stuff, not Disney’s PG crap.
Might’ve played a bit too much on Satan for a few viewers but I enjoyed it. It really spoke to the edgy teenage girl inside me.
This makes me mad but I actually kinda like the series.

Overlooking the cringe, the shots were quite pretty and the characters actually have a personality, nothing vanilla about them (except maybe Sabrina’s friends and boyfriend).
Each episode is different from the last, there’s no sense of repetition.
There is an interesting story in every one of them with of course the main plot running throughout, but not solely focusing on that.

I love Salem, however I must admit I miss the old queer talking cat from the original series (he was bisexual I swear).
The new cat is completely adorable, don’t get me wrong, and he helps with getting through all the cheese but as he lacks a voice, he also lacks a personality and that’s a shame. I am still grateful he is in the series though, I’m not sure if I could handle it if he wasn’t.
Well him and Michelle Gomez. She plays Madam Satan/ Mary Wardwell, and honestly needs to be given more screen time. I don’t need to say much about her, she’s self explanatory; a treasure of modern day TV.

The second season (if there is one) is going to suck, because they always do, but also because I believe the writers are pouring all of their creativity into this season, it’s quite full on.
It’s at a pace that would be hard to match, especially if all the main characters have already been introduced and Sabrina has already gotten over her teenage angst.
I think next season will completely stray off path and have nothing to do with season 1, or become a knock off of Charmed. Or alternatively, they will just drag on their original story as much as they can for another 12 episodes.

The Diagnosis:

To sum up, for me this series is cheesy, pretentious and I kinda hate it but annoyingly I can’t stop watching it.

  • Charlie Owen

Movie review: Death House

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When Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame wrote and pitched a who’s who of horror films pitted in a hellish place forming a macabre version of The Expendables, it would be a genre fans’ wet dream.
The very idea of Jason aka Kane Hodder sharing the same screen as Tony Todd (Candyman), and Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) along with the queens of horror, Dee Wallace and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) would leave them salivating at the prospect at what could be an Uber-scare factory.
What we do get is a lot of piss and wind in a lacklustre affair that never measures up to its promise.

Before I start lambasting this film though, I do want to focus on the positives.
The very premise of staging a prison break containing some of the most vicious criminals known to mankind housed in a state of the art vicinity, which placates to the criminals whims in virtual space whilst using real victims from the homeless and deprived smacks of genius. It projects a utopian world that humanity could easily travel down if there were no morals or guiding principles attached.

Kane Hodder delivers to a tee and never falters from his iconic presence in front of the camera as the lead antagonist Sieg as he steers those fallen from grace further down into the pit of the jail system – level nine, a place where the five evils preside in a nod to Dante’s Inferno.

Equally Dee Wallace proves once again that she can offer intelligence, vulnerability, and apathy in her character, Dr. Eileen Fletcher and is always a welcome presence on screen.

And full props to Director Harrison Smith who saw fit to carry out Hansen’s vision in his honour, gifting him also with an on-screen presence in holographic form as the father to one of the prison inmates, Leatherlace, which was a nice touch.

And lets not forget those delectable sultry tones from Adrienne Barbeau as the narrator of the movie…

Sorry. Where was I?

Ah yes, all these elements are enough to keep you engaged, at least for a while. Even the strange dark arts that are heavily present throughout adds a decent hook to an intriguing narrative, but those who delve into Death House may find it a struggle as the further down the rabbit hole we go, the more far-fetched and ridiculous the concept goes.

And that’s where it starts to lose me. It doesn’t help that our two lead protagonists, Agents Novak and Boon who are so two-dimensional that not even their strange deep and meaningful conversation about how they became Agents whilst casually sharing a unisex shower cubicle can generate even a twinkle of interest… well, maybe. Which is a shame, because you want to be vested in their journey, but you really don’t care.

The Diagnosis:

This is clearly an attempt to ignite the passion that fans of horror through the 80’s and early 90’s by grouping some favourites of the genre together. Whilst the premise did provide a decent hook, the journey leaves you floundering and left adrift without much care to its conclusion.
A lost opportunity.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Overlord

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From Iron Man to Iron Man II, throw an AC/DC track on a film trailer, and it automatically makes it awesome.
That appears to be incontrovertible, and the extra cool thing is, as a band they have been around for so long, they are practically their own genre.
Which means you could make another 10 trailers for 10 separate films using 10 different Acca Dacca songs, and they would all be fierce!
And this is even taking into account that they’d all sound the same…. but not really… (but yeah really. Ish).

Anyway, this brings us to the JJ Abrams produced WW2 horror film Overlord, which – as just mentioned; because of its soundtrack alone – appears to promise much. But does it deliver hells bells or more dirty deeds done dirt cheap?

The rumour that it was a Cloverfield prequel (which is bound to happen if the words “horror” and “Abrams” are mentioned in the same sentence) is a nice one, but not really warranted.

For a start, the Big Bad is pretty much as you’d expect based on the afore-mentioned trailer (zombies born of science!) so thematically we’re not talking space Godzilla.

Plus, the one thing that ties Cloverfield and Cloverfield Lane (I think it’s safe to say we’re all retconning Paradox out of our collective memory) is that they are brilliantly constructed and well unfolded films – they both keep moving at a real page-turning pace.

And that’s where Overlord falls down. Its opening 15 mins IS breathtaking – although it is spoiled just a tad by the fact Tom Cruise already sort of did it in Edge of Tomorrow (ie: airdrop on a war zone ahead of schedule due to plane-blowing-‘upage’).

But from there it gets a little bogged down in pace by not really giving you anything that keeps you guessing, or shouting “sick twist bro!” in your head.

In fact, from this point onwards the tension is fine but not seizure-inducing – and the filmmakers decision to spend time on some character interaction (as opposed to not jumping straight into the next action piece) is to be commended.

overlord flame torch

But before too long you do find yourself wishing it’d get on with it.

When it does it’s not exceptionally ground breaking – although the tension and scares are certainly there. And there is one more moment that you’ll be YouTubing for years to come, as it’s an awesome scene. But apart from that you are left with a taste of this-could-be-great-but-it’s-definitely-under-cooked…. parmigiana.
And that’s just good chicken that (whilst good) will let you down.

If you do see this movie, give it an IMAX level viewing (or if it lines up in your neck of the woods – 4DX) because trust me,the louder this film is when you see it, the better your ride will be.

The Diagnosis:

Although not terrible, it definitely could have done with another layer of messed up, or one more smart idea, or just some good old fashion clever dialogue.
From that point of view, Dead Snow was a better Nazi Zombie movie.

  • Antony Yee

Movie review: You Were Never Really Here

 

Joe is a traumatised veteran of both the armed and police forces. A well trained enforcer, he now works as a hired rescuer of abducted children. He’s shaped the ‘perfect’ existence for himself until his latest job plunges deep into the hell of a dangerous high level paedophile ring.

You Were Never Really Here” is a hunter, a predator.

The first half of the film it spends stalking its prey…us. It lets us behind the steel heavily reinforced curtain to Joe’s world to show us Joe the caring son of an elderly senile mother. Balancing out his other self as the hammer-wielding purveyor of methodical retribution.

The second half, when it truly has us in its sights, pounces…going straight for the jugular. Visceral moments of extreme, yet never overplayed, violence play out like a nightmare none of us could ever imagine. Add Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead’s score to further enhance the trance, even the very final scene leave us wondering what is real and what is fantasy.

At its core, the film is a fairy tale as dark as anything the Grimm’s could write. Here are two damaged children, a veritable modern day Hansel and Gretel, lost in a vile urban forest. He the beaten down grizzly attack dog thrust out to pasture, she the broken doll passed from wolf to wolf. They’re a bizarre match made in Hades.

The two leads are phenomenal in their roles. Joaquin Phoenix’s furious intensity as the warrior without a war would strike fear into even Travis Bickle. And Ekaterina Samsonov is the perfect beauty to Phoenix’s beast. Razor cut to a brief 88 minutes, director Lynn Ramsay has crafted a brutal masterpiece that would sit comfortably on a shelf with Shane Meadows “Dead Mans Shoes”, John Boorman’s “Point Blank”, and Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”.

The Diagnosis:

This is easily my favourite film of the past few years.

– Myles Davies