It’s been a far cry since Edgar Wright launched his zombie comedy flick, Shaun of the Dead onto the big screen, and showered his audience with his fast-paced satirical style peppered with popular music.
In his latest outing, Last Night in Soho showcases his usual flamboyant style through his shooting on Steadicam and editing technique. This time around he has a mixture of modern day and 1960s London as his playground with the twist of murder mystery told across time transportation
Ellie Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) has dreams to become a successful fashion designer, so uproots from her quaint Cornish town to the big city and takes up studies at the London College of Fashion.
Her ambitions soon feel quashed however as she struggles to fit in with the in-crowd, and despite showing promise, loses faith and moves off campus to find herself. In doing so, she takes up residence at a small flat which holds a mysterious past and somehow opens up a portal into the past through her dreams. It is here she sees through the eyes of a confident blonde woman, Sandie (Anya TaylorJoy) who is the polar opposite to Ellie and an instant inspiration for her. It doesn’t take long for the swinging sixties lifestyle to consume Ellie, but beneath the surface something sinister is at play and uncovers a dark past that may well threaten her life.
You can pretty much guarantee with an Edgar Wright flick that it will ooze style, and here it doesn’t fail. We have the catchy pop sizzlers along with the flamboyant, shoot from the hip cinematography to pull you into the story, which is ably supported by a strong cast that also includes Matt Smith, Dame Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp among its fold.
Where Last Night in Soho falls short is through the narrative itself which despite the drama on show fails to grip and is a little weak and predictable. A shame as it struggles to hit the standard of Wright’s previous movies.
For a time it felt like this movie wasn’t ever going to materialise, shapeshifting more times than Mystique. When news spread that director Josh Boone was intending to create Mutant horror film, this surgeon’s interests were piqued. Even with its YA moniker attached proved no obstacle for my expectations at the thought of a dark world to be explored. So it was with much disappointment that constant barriers were thrust in its way including the transition under the Disney umbrella with fears that it would soften the scare factor, the interest started to wane. Despite this, I was still intent on seeing the final product, so when it finally surfaced this week, I propelled it to the top of my list and while it fell short in some areas, the end result is far from tragic with Boone serving up a decent film.
The concept follows Dani Moonstar (Psyche) played by Blu Hunt, a young Cheyenne girl whose village is attacked by an unknown entity. She awakens in a hospital under the guidance of Dr. Reyes, the only adult visible in the entire film. Joining Dani in the unit are a batch of young mutant misfits that promise to be a more credible group with super powers than The Dream Warriors could muster. Making up the motley crew is Magik, a Russian with the power of teleportation, among other things, who serves as the needle in Dani’s back for most of the film and could seriously com across as two-dimensional, but thankfully Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) manages to sharpen some further points to her character adding much needed dexterity. Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) is equally enjoyable on screen as Cannonball, a tortured soul with the power of jet propulsion. There are times that Heaton’s brooding presence appears to tap into James Dean’s aura with his performance, stealing the audience’s gaze with some subtle movements, which at times makes you wish he had more screen time. Henry Zaga’s (Teen Wolf) portrayal of Sunspot feels a little under cooked for a super hero who’s ability is to channel solar power, and as such feels the weaker of the group. If anything it’s Maisie Williams’ (Game of Thrones) performance of Wolfsbane, a mutant with lycanthrope abilities that outshines her counterparts with a beautiful blend of strength and vulnerability. She’s such a joy to watch and continues to deliver characters with so many layers and blends them with her own special touch.
All of this serves well for the narrative that forces this mismatched group together for a common cause when another unknown entity appears to be attacking their weaknesses. It’s one nagging point for me however, is that by placing Dani as our central protagonist and surrounding her with mystery, she has very little to do other than to serve as our narrator until her ability is able to be unleashed.
With all the promise of a horror film tied into the Marvel universe, The New Mutants suffers under the shroud of its YA genre and fails to deliver anything truly fearful.
It does however, serve a semi-decent psychological movie, tapping into the mindset of troubled youths imprisoned in a world where they must discover themselves in order to survive.
100 years ago the Roaring Twenties came into effect with a social and economic boom that pushed the boundaries of experimentation and exploration dubbing it the crazy years.
Cinema has evolved greatly during this time and spawned Robert Miene’s silent horror in German Expressionism, which is still considered a classic among some critics.
While the tides have shifted and the boundaries of what is classified as horror has twisted through the years, moving numerous debates and discussions along the way, we come to a time when originality can be hard to come by, or perhaps the audience has become too critical and our perceptions have changed.
Can the films of today cause a deeper development in the genre that we’ve come to love and like the films that were born a century ago stir the insanity again and break new ground in the process?
Let’s look at what 2020 has in store and see if indeed it will deliver.
This film has led some early reports to compare it to Alien but in the ocean deep instead of the far reaches of space. It does boast Kristen Stewart in the cast who may divide audiences and has been a bit hit and miss of late in her film choices but she is supported in this instance by Vincent Cassel, who is known for choosing experimental films. Does this then mean that this team of underwater researchers will uncover not only a few beasties but also break new ground in the process?
Prediction: Neither sink or swim. A drifter that will entertain some but not cast anything new into the cinematic landscape.
Jan 24 – The Turning
Based on Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and produced by Steven Spielberg, it stars Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Finn “Can my hair grow any longer?” Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and bears close scrutiny as director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep) is set to release an interpretation of the novel in Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his follow up to the successful The Haunting of Hill House.
Prediction: Director Floria Sigismondi will no doubt bring some artistic visual flair that is evidence from her music videos, but could possibly fall foul of “popcorn syndrome” – Light, fluffy with a bit of crunch and serves the masses, but ultimately has no substance.
Initially I was really excited about this release, being a fan of the Ju On franchise, plus Nicolas Pesce’s work with The Eyes of My Mother, and Piercing. Both movies have pushed the boundaries of comfort and shot in stylistic fashion that I was keen to see where Pesce would take The Grudge. Early reports haven’t been favourable however, so it could be another disappointment in the first month of the new decade.
Prediction: Could be another franchise instalment too many. The name alone will pull in the numbers, yet may not hit the mark on the scare front.
Jan 31 – Gretel and Hansel
It’s been over 200 years since The Brothers Grimm fashioned the fairy tale about a cannibalistic witch that kidnaps two children roaming in the woods. The fact that it is still resonates today is a testament to the strength of the storytelling and it will be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of Gretel played by Sophia Lillis (IT) who has already proved compelling as the young Beverly Marsh.
Prediction: Better than your average fair without necessarily offering anything new or compelling with the horror genre.
Some may argue its place in this list, but it is billed as a psychological horror and director Robert Eggers has already made a name for himself in the artistic expressionism world within the genre with his debut feature, The VVitch, a film that also divided audiences. American audiences have already seen the movie too as it was released there last year, but as yet Australian audiences are still to see Eggers’ sophomore outing which pits Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson against one another in a battle of wills and sanity in a remote and confined island.
Prediction: Will wow audiences looking for the alternative and alienate those more into the mainstream. Either way, both audiences will applaud the performances and Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke will paint a stunningly beautiful canvas.
Feb 13 – Fantasy Island
Blumhouse Productions are about to shake things up again by breathing new life into a cult 70s tv series. With a star-studded cast – Michael Pena (Crash), Maggie Q (Nikita), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). On an island where your fantasies come true, only to turn into nightmares and the guests must figure out its mystery in order to survive.
Prediction: Another success for Jason Blum and the team which will connect with the cinema-going public. If it’s played right, it could offer a fresh take using a blend of fantasy and horror that could also spark a franchise
Feb 21 – Brahms: The Boy ll
This one is a bit of an oddity. Whilst its predecessor was a middle of the road affair and proved to be better than expected. It did feel like a one-off movie that didn’t necessarily warrant any further journey into the world of Brahms. A sequel is here though and will pick up with the doll being discovered by another family.
Prediction: A flop that will fall by the wayside and may not even make a blip on the radar.
Feb 27 – The Invisible Man
Another Blumhouse movie, this time in collaboration with Universal to resurrect their monsters franchise after the abysmal Tom Cruise vehicle from a few years ago. In what is potentially a ripe and current topic being explored in domestic violence as its central theme The Invisible Man boasts a cracking cast with Elisabeth Moss taking lead duties. It’s also in great hands with director Leigh Whannel steering the ship following his successful movie Upgrade from last year, plus Whannel is a storyteller, so expect a decent script to boot.
Prediction: The first big success of the year bringing the Universal monsters franchise back on track and paving the way for future projects with The Bride, Renfeld, The Invisible Woman, and Frankenstein.
Mar 20 – A Quiet Place Part 2
The question is whether director John Krasiniski can repeat the winning formula from the first movie. This War of the Worlds style feature with an audio twist is more sci-fi than horror, but with the family in plight scenario held a strong connection with the audience. How will this translate now that there is an absent father?
Prediction: Cillian Murphy will provide some much needed gravitas to the narrative which will be strong enough to lift the audience through with some decent ups and downs to wrench up the tension.
Apr 3 – The New Mutants
Since Disney took over Marvel operations, The New Mutants has been stuck in production, deemed a little dark for the House of Mouse questioning how to distribute it. The feature comes across as The Dream Warriors crossed with the X-Men and centres on 5 young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. It also boasts a cracking cast with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Split), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).
Prediction: Despite several delays I feel that this film is gonna connect in a big way and pull in a lot of people. It just depends on how dark Disney are willing to go with it.
Apr 17 – Antlers
Little is known about this movie other than it is based on a short story by Nick Antosca the creative mind behind the Channel Zero anthology series. The screenplay must have some potential to have caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro and put his name down as producer.
Prediction: With Keri Russell in the cast to provide the fantasy elements in reality, this could well be the surprise hit of the year.
May 15 – Saw reboot
Currently titled The Organ Donor starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella this reboot of the Saw franchise will see the return of the Jigsaw Killer, but without Tobin Bell… I think? With director Darren Lynn Bousman at the helm once more following his turn overseeing parts 2-4, he is no stranger to the world.
Prediction: Will put bums on seats for the shock gore factor alone, but will the buddy cop drama approach pay off? Time will tell.
Jun 11 – Candyman
This is gonna be a tough one to watch for me as I am such a huge fan of the original movie and like Freddy, Candyman would haunt my dreams for a long time after viewing. A lot of that has to do with the strength of Clive Barker’s short story coupled with Tony Todd’s personification of the titular character. Part of me is willing for this to be a success though as I can see room for the movie to be delivered to a modern audience using folklore and mythology at its core, and the storyline itself can transcend easily through the ages. It will be interesting to see a female perspective in director Nia DaCosta to follow Helen’s journalistic investigations.
Prediction: Jordan Peele has attached his name to this project and is clearly passionate about the story, but one can’t help but feel this is one step too far in rekindling the old flame that resides within the Candyman story.
Jul 2 – Ghostbuster: Afterlife
I know it’s technically not a horror film, but I’m including this in the mix for its nostalgic value in me the original movie paved the love of horror that I have and opened the door to many more glorious visions in the genre ever since. The original team will return in some shape or form, but primarily the film centres around a mother and her two children who set up on a farm only to discover something paranormal lurking in the town.
Prediction: Another film that will be resting on the merits of the first film, and while it’s great to see Jason Reitman take on the franchise following in his father’s footsteps, one can only hope that there will be enough comedy, horror and sci-fi to capture that old magic, but I think it will just be a glimmer rather than that sparkle.
Jul 10 – The Purge 5
Supposedly returning for the final instalment the 12 hour no holds-barred, crimefest ignited something in the movie-going audience. It has seen five feature length instalments and 2 seasons.
Prediction: More of the same, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I for one think the films are fun and enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how James DiMonaco will conclude things.
Jul 30 – Morbius
Sony has promised to take the Marvel universe into dark territory before with Venom and here they intend to do so again with Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jared Leto will no doubt bring the goods for the titular role and is in good company with Matt Smith, Jared Leto, and Tyrese Gibson.
Prediction: Director Daniel Espinosa provides great entertaining and solid movies, such as Safe House and Life, and I see no change here to his formula, but still question if they can go dark enough to make it compelling for horror fans.
Sep 11 – The Conjuring 3 aka The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
The Conjuring universe has progressed in leaps and bounds since its initial release in 2013. There has been the odd blips, but essentially the films continue to entertain and scare audiences. This latest film will once again see the Warrens at the centre of proceedings, this time with one of their most publicised cases that bore witness to Arne Cheyenne Johnson claiming that he was possessed when he murdered.
Prediction: Solid acting, tight storyline, but may fall down with its delivery and exposition. Unfortunately Director Michael Chaves didn’t deliver with The Curse of La Llorona, so I fear that this may end up in a similar way, but am still willing to give it a chance.
Sep 17 – Last Night In Soho
Not much known about this one, but Edgar Wright has a knack for tapping the pulse of classic films and adapting their essence for a modern audience. This time around the psychological horror is inspired by Don’t Look Now and Polanski’s Repulsion both high in my all-time favourite lists
Prediction: A killer cast in Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, this could be the ‘big hit’ of the year.
Oct 15 – Halloween Kills
In 2018, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum attempted the impossible, the resurrection of Michael Myers that would connect both fans of the original and connect with a new audience. By delving into the subject of trauma and the impact that this has on its victims, Myers became both topical and harrowing. His sheer brutality and the force in which he attacks his victims made his carnage all the more disturbing.
Prediction: The name and sheer presence of Myers will bring the audience to the screens, but can they still make him relevant? They can’t rest on the nostalgic nods this time around. It’s a fine line to walk on, for if they get it wrong, they could find their final instalment, Halloween Ends a tricky sell.
TBC – Army of the Dead
For sheer shits and giggles, and action-pumped mayhem from visual storyteller Zack Snyder, about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a casino during a zombie outbreak, this film concludes our list.
Prediction: Starring Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead will be entertaining if nothing else. A perfect answer for those just wanting to get their kicks and not have to think too deeply.
I remember it clearly, the end credits were rolling, the
auditorium lights were fading up when a well-known media personality, that I
won’t name, turned around in his seat in front and said to my friends and I;
“What the fuck was that?”
The year was 2000 and I’d just sat through a preview screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s much-anticipated follow-up to his previous blockbuster ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’. My friends and my reaction was the complete polar opposite of said famed personality. We saw the film for what it was, an utter genius take on a superhero origin movie.
‘Unbreakable’ was in
fact a bold experiment by Disney, they’d entrusted their new wunderkind
writer/director to follow up his previous success with another, and he’d gone
and made a superhero movie way before anyone had.
Over the years that followed I re-watched and re-watched its
Special Edition DVD. It was my go-to movie any time I was looking for something
to watch. I devoured its rich story telling, it’s perverse humour, the subtle technique
in reveal and what to not reveal. I loved the raw drama; of a normal couple
toppling over a razors edge, two middle-aged men (Bruce Willis and Samuel L
Jackson) searching for their place in the universe, a son desperately holding
onto that time in your life when your parents are infallible. None of these
were, or are, the standard ingredients of a comic book superhero movie. I
savoured the Special Features on the DVD, particularly the ‘deleted scenes’,
lamenting on their loss to ‘Unbreakable’
considering they were such strong scenes.
I loved the film from back to front…but the critics didn’t.
Reading bad review upon bad review I wondered whether the critics had watched
the same film.
Over the years I’d heard rumours that ‘Unbreakable ‘was to be the first film, the origin film, of a trilogy, but the more and more M Night spiralled into mediocrity with flop after flop, first came ‘The Lady In The Water’ and ‘Avatar The Last Airbender’, etc. etc., only slightly redeeming himself with ‘The Visit’.
So flash forward to 2018 and there I was ‘giving M Night
another go’, I sat in my lounge room watching ‘Split’ because, well…James McAvoy is always bloody amazing and I’d
just watched Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The
Witch’, so yeah….
And I was really enjoying it a lot. Though the more and more
I watched, more and more something nagged at me – there was something really
familiar at play here. The subtle reveals, the perverse humour, its dark
Was McAvoy’s many characters crazy? Hell yeah, he did have
some serious mental defects but the big question, as with David Dunn in ‘Unbreakable’…were his powers real or a
figment of a wild imagination?
Would we see a supernatural being called The Beast or would
it be some delusion fool with a furry fetish?
But it was as I was watching The Beast talk about the
‘broken’ being pure and the ‘unbroken’ were to be punished that things really
started to click. By the time the ‘Unbreakable’
music began to swell as Crumb hid in his escape house and we cut to a
non-descript diner with David Dunn I was literally off the sofa screaming at
“IT’S A MOTHER FUCKING UNBREAKABLE SEQUEL!!!”
And so now I have my finale.
‘Glass’ is really
not a movie I can openly discuss with giving too much away, and frankly I’m
still thinking about it several hours after I watched it. However again I sat
in a cinema with an audience that I don’t think quite understood its wit. I
think I was literally the only one laughing at its dark humour.
The cast were amazing, all returned from the previous two
films (except Robin Wright) and why wouldn’t they, this was as much their story
as it was the leading pro/antagonists. M Night (returning as his cameo from ‘Unbreakable’) even managed to include
the deleted scenes from ‘Unbreakable’
as if they were made solely for that purpose.
This is not a conventional film though; ‘Glass’ is really is an act three of a three-film
story. And while both ‘Unbreakable’
and ‘Split’ appear to be origin
stories for the three lead characters Mr Glass, The Beast, and The Overseer,
this transcends the ‘origin’ tale to make it an ‘origin of species’ story.
Already, like Unbreakable,
critics do not like Glass but
filmmakers don’t make films for critics.
‘Glass’ is a fantastic
final chapter to M Night Shyamalan’s daring superhero experiment. It’s
exciting, it’s funny, it’s bloody entertaining and it’s a very well calculated
story from a bold director who maintained the tenacity to play the long game
here to create a three part opus for himself and us.
‘Unbreakable’, ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’… the little superhero films that could and did.
As I write this review The Nun has just broken records by pushing The Conjuring franchise into the no.1 spot for horror movies.
James Wan’s original vision continues to develop and grow beyond its initial premise to scare and delight the masses.
Some clever marketing was behind The Nun’s box office appeal, enticing audiences with the promise to scare and chill to the bone came from its trailer, (essentially one big jump scare) but when you lift back the veil and look beyond the smoke and mirrors, does the film really deserve the hype that it generated?
To Wan’s credit his style has been present throughout all the movies and the production company have often given up and coming or promising directors to weave their magic for a wider audience.
This is why I was quietly interested in seeing how The Nun would fair as director Corin Hardy had been passed the torch to continue flaming the fires of horror.
His debut feature The Hallow, which didn’t exactly ignite the cinematic world, did show promise in a world saturated through pain and sorrow infused with folk mythology. With those ingredients, The Nun looked like it was in capable hands.
Instead we were provided with a series of jump scares knitted together with an incredibly loose plot. Sure, there was plenty of backstory to Valak the Nun, and how that entity was inflicted onto the world, but beyond that it was like watching blood dry on the walls. Moments of congealing perhaps, but still just the same blood and the same wall. At least with Annabelle: Creation (another origin story from the same universe) there were some clever uses of cinematography and effects that tricked the eye and allowed to entertain as a result. The Nun offered nothing and was a huge let down as a result.
If it did have a redeeming feature, it was that the three leads, Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, and Jonas Bloquet were actually pretty decent in their respective roles despite having little to play with. Having said that, it was a little confusing to see Taissa Farmiga, sister to Vera who plays Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, as quite naturally they share similar features and it left you wondering the inherent purpose behind that choice. For me it was distracting but more from the ending of the movie than the main bulk of the film.
A paint-by-numbers horror movie that relied on jump scares and lack of inventiveness. Too often the direction relied on obvious tricks of the trade whilst it tried to weave in a decent backstory to Valak, who was far from sinister or scary compared to her introduction in The Conjuring 2. The success of this movie will mean that a sequel will be in the works, let’s just hope they allow the demonic nun the chance to really let loose. – Saul Muerte
Cory Finley’s directorial debut has been likened to Heathers and American Psycho, which felt like a long reach for me.
The trailer plays with a vibrant, youthful pulse that would lend weight to this likeness, but that’s purely down to marketing and editing of said piece.
The crux of the film rests solely on the lead female characters as the driving force; both offer deep layers of complexity, which as they unravel provide more than meets the eye. The rub though is in their vacuous demeanour, which finds them hard to warm to, especially as we originally journey through the eyes of Amanda (Olivia Cooke – who seriously must be questioning her film choices at this stage, The Quiet Ones, Ouija, The Limehouse Golem) who is revealed to have an unspecified mental disorder where she is devoid of any emotion.
Whilst Cooke plays this with a decent level of macabre and melancholic humour, it leaves you struggling to know who to connect to.
In some sense, you could argue that this attachment comes with Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy – who keeps churning out captivating performances in her work) but her elitist view on the world and lifestyle embedded in high society can alienate you from her motives and place them purely as petty and spoilt.
Whilst the late Anton Yelchin injects an interesting balance as drug dealing dropout, Tim, balanced in juxtaposition to coldness, and yet strangely pleasurable to see the women gain the upper hand in the triangle relationship as they plot to murder Lily’s stepfather, Mark (gloriously played by Paul Sparks – House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire).
Back to Finley who also wrote the screenplay for Thoroughbreds and for his first feature cuts together a decent enough plotline to keep you interested and definitely with enough twists and turns in the narrative to keep you intrigued.
In some cases, there is a sense of superiority in the way the dialogue is delivered, venturing on the side of trying too hard to be clever, which can feel a bit verbose and alienate its audience.
It’s a fine first effort from Finley, which relies on the strength of the two leads to pull a fairly weighty script into what feels a long 90min running time.
Thankfully there is enough intrigue and playfulness in the script to pepper the audience along to its conclusion, but this is not groundbreaking, nor will it win the hearts of hard-core horror enthusiasts.
What does this mean to the genre as a whole? It can spell good news as the movie business see success and a money opportunity to exploit this genre to the bone.
This could mean an outpour of horrendous carbon copy movies that will grate to the bone, but it can’t be as bad as Amityville: The Awakening, Leatherface, or Jeepers Creepers 3 right?
But let’s not be too hasty on the negative-front. What does look promising is that we could very well get some fine horror films churning out over the coming years.
So with that in mind, the team stitched our collective minds together and come up with 18 of the most anticipated horror movies coming out that we would love to bring into the operating theatre and splice them wide open.
Directed by Alex Garland and starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac looks off the dial.
The fact that it has been picked up by Netflix for a release some 17 days after its cinematic release has left some people scratching their heads as to whether or not this film has merit, but that’s old school thinking.
We at Surgeons see this at as a bold attempt at a streaming company to make their move onto the big arena.
If the trailer is anything to go by this film could be a massive hit and shape up the distribution method in a big way.
Some may instantly see comparisons with The Autopsy of Jane Doe with this one, but this story of a city cop fresh out of rehab, who takes up a role at the city hospital morgue, could very well be a trippy affair, where sanity is on the line.
You’d be remiss to neglect this one on the list. With the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle in their respective roles, alongside the creative minds of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, can we finally see Michael Myers rampaging his way that will delight and reignite the franchise once more?
The House With A Clock In Its Walls
Cate Blanchett and Jack Black lead the charge in Eli Roth’s latest feature about a young orphan and his magical uncle who go in search of a clock that could bring about the end of the world.
Could we see a return of fantasy horror on the big screen? Can Roth extend his bloody touch to go beyond the success of Green Inferno?
Whilst this has already been released in the States, the Surgeons team who are based in Australia, need to wait with eager anticipation for Elise Rainer and her team of ghost hunters to delve into the Further once more.
Early reports suggest that Lin Shaye continues to impress in her role, but that the franchise may have run its course. We’ll have to wait and see before we cast our thoughts on the latest addition to the franchise.
2015’s release of The Witch and its success may have reawakened that love of folk horror, which has been embedded in British culture with the likes of The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, and Blood on Satan’s Claw, has some of our team intrigued by this latest offering.
Set in 1920’s Ireland, a twin brother and sister must endure a sinister presence with a strong hold over them that may result in turning them against one another with drastic circumstances.
Whether you like him or not Jason Statham has a habit of packing a punch when it comes to ‘balls to the wall, testosterone-fuelled action movies.
Now he must come face-to-face come face to face with a 70-foot shark.
“You’re gonna need a bigger air tank.”
The New Mutants
When Logan was released and with the success that followed, Marvel were then faced with the enterprise of a much darker world.
In steps, The New Mutants which sees Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) among the imprisoned young mutants as they discover their new-found abilities and potential salvation.
Speaking of franchises, The Conjuringuniverse continues to expand and haunt in more delectable ways to terrify our souls with the much-anticipated return of Valak.
In this instance, Rome is our setting and Father Burke is sent to investigate the mysterious death of a nun. Burke played by Demian Bichir, who I hope is given more time to flex his acting muscles compared to his under-used performance in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant.
Gary Dauberman from It, Annabelle:Creation, and The Conjuring 2 is back on board to write the screenplay, so expect similar twists, turns, and scares to arise.
In addition, Corin Hardy steps in to direct, who oversaw the surprisingly decent The Hallow from a few years back and has been given the vote of confidence to resurrect The Crow, starring Jason Mamoa.
Becoming something of the lesser cousin to the Alien franchise, The Predator universe has never managed to really make a dent beyond its original Arnie feature, which surprises as it is ripe full of potential.
One of the original stars Shane Black is on to direct, so you could argue that there isn’t anyone closer to the source to re-capture the magic of the first film, and he has proven success with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, but is that enough to win over fans and the many?
The additions of Oliva Munn, and Thomas Jane, who has had a something of a career comeback with Before I Wake, and 1922 of late, could very well help cement this together.
Where some were left aggrieved following the screening of It Comes At Night, (which is probably the best example of false advertising when it comes to luring your audience in – as an aside its actually a pretty decent and intense movie, just not how it was promoted) will no doubt have their needs met in this movie, which promises an intense and horrific ordeal.
John Krasinski directs and stars in his passion project alongside Emily Blunt as part of a family forced to live in silence from an unknown threat that will attack with the slightest noise.
The first film had horror fans divided – a bit like vegemite, you either love it, or hate it. For those that fell into the former category, they can rejoice as the trio of masked psychopaths return to reek havoc on some more prey.
The cast includes Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, The Neon Demon) and Martin Henderson (The Ring, Everest) and is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Other Side of the Door) but don’t let that sway you as he also helmed the magnificent F, and if he could tap the rage and anarchy unleashed in that movie, we could have a surprise hit on our hands.
Horror production giants, Blumhouse, who have been partly responsible for the rise in recent genre movies will be hoping to keep the trend going and repeat their successes of Get Out, and Happy Death Day.
Truth or Dare follows a group of friends who play a deadly version of said game when those that break the rules start a meet a grisly end.
Critically praised film director, Steven Soderbergh enters the horror arena with his usual approach to exploring different filming techniques, in this instance shooting the entire film on an iPhone camera.
The cast is also impressive with Claire Foy (The Crown), entering a mental institution and once again reality comes into question. Foy is accompanied by Juno Temple (Horns), Aimee Mullins (Stranger Things), Amy Irving (Carrie) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project).
If The New Mutants is going to push the boundaires of darkness in the Marvel universe, then Venom will surely rip that apart and enter whole new level of insanity.
With Tom Hardy taking on the titular character, you can expect some hefty weight in the acting department.
It’s a project that is shrouded in secrecy at the moment and just a few screenshots that have been handed out to the media. Lets hope that it will be worth the wait.
Helen Mirren takes on the role of Lady Winchester house, heiress to the Winchester firearms, who becomes obsessed with building a house to trap ghosts with one of the most obscure architecture ever built.
From the creative minds of the Spierig Brothers (Undead, Daybreakers), this movie could be hit or miss.
Like me, you may have believed that The Sixth Sense was M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial debut, such was the impact that movie had on his career and the horror genre.
Before this movie awakened our senses and Shyamalan became known as the director with the twist endings, he would take the helm with two other features, Praying with Anger, and Wide Awake.
The former would see Shyamalan write, direct, produce, and star (a sign of things to come) in a self-reflective story about an Indian American, who was raised in the States who goes to India to study, and a conflict of Western and Native culture collide.
Clearly, there is a lot of the director’s love and labour thrown into this project as he covers every aspect of the production process.
Six years later (1998) Shyamalan would venture into his sophomore feature with Wide Awake, a comedy drama starring Denis Leary, Dana Delany, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Once more faith, and religion (a reoccurring them in Shyamalan’s work) would play a part in this story, as a 10-year-old searches for answers around life and death.
Another signature that would return for the third movie and the film that would put Shyamalan’s name on the map would be to tell the story through the eyes of a young boy, capturing the essence of innocence in a ‘brave new world’.
The Sixth Sense
The blessing and the curse
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and thrust Shyamalan into the spotlight.
The Sixth Sense has been referenced and parodied on numerous occasions, and cemented itself firmly into pop culture.
Starring Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and career defining performance from Hayley Joel Osmont.
Despite all the accolades thrust toward the movie, because of its ‘surprise ending’, it falls into the trap of lost magic, once the reveal is apparent.
People may have been keen to re-watch and scrutinise every aspect for the clues set up along the way, but essentially, you could never capture THAT moment again with repeat viewing.
It’s a strong contender in Shyamalan’s canon of work, but arguably not his finest hour for this writer.
Personally, I don’t feel he has managed to top his follow-up movie…
The elevation of success continues
Bruce Willis would once again work alongside Shyamalan following the success of The Sixth Sense.
This time Samuel Jackson and Robin Wright, rounding out a stellar cast that would accompany him.
Shyamalan’s ode to the comic book genre has been labelled as one of the best superhero movies of all time and you can clearly see the director’s love for the subject.
Unbreakable is a wonderful shot and beautifully told story that pits Willis’ David Dunn, a man who discovers that he is as the title suggests, unbreakable when he is the lone survivor of a train crash.
Dunn pits his strength and wits against Jackson’s Elijah, his polar opposite in that his body is prone to fracturing easily and in my mind, one of the best things about the film is the way Shyamalan’s narrative leads you to believe and identify with the reasons that Elijah resorts to villainous behaviour, a topic that many have tried but failed to convey.
Shyalaman’s third success would come in the form of…
The last hurrah?
Signs would complete Shyalaman’s hat trick of successes before his fall from grace.
Once more faith is put under scrutiny when Gibson’s Father Graham Hess is struggling to identify with his religion after the loss of his wife.
It’s his acceptance of that grief that shoulders him and ultimately his family through an alien invasion that threatens their way of life.
With each movie Shyamalan has released his formula had been pretty consistent, but audiences were starting to wisen up to his craft.
His next feature would break the camels back and see a downward trend in Shyamalan’s fortunes.
The one trick ponyrevealed
I’m gonna ask a question here relating to The Village, which in my opinion has received unfair criticism towards it.
If Shyamalan had not been the director, would we (the audience) have been so scornful?
Too many people had become familiar with the directors trick of adding a surprise ending that when said trick arrived in The Village, there was a sense of being let down.
“Oh, is that it? WTF!!”
However, if you take Shyamalan out of the equation and simply look at the movie on its own merit, it’s actually a lot stronger than our immediate reactions warranted.
Joaquin Phoenix returns as Shyamalan’s latest muse, this time portraying Lucius one of the next generation of a secluded villagers that we’re led to believe darkens back to days of yore, such is the existence that the inhabitants lead.
Believing that their secret is set to be exposed, the Elders are rescued by a stroke of luck when a blind girl, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) ventures out into the outside world to retrieve some much needed medicine.
As I said, I liked this movie. Agreed not Shyalaman’s finest hour but it’s a solid movie.
Any fans of the directors work that found themselves sitting on the fence of uncertainty about Shyalaman’s directing prowess, would find their confidence drift further with his follow up film…
Lady In The Water
The fall from grace
There’s no doubt in my mind that Shyalaman is a smart man.
His intelligence brims to the surface of all of his movies.
But like another smart man once said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
And with his recent run of successful movie hits, one can’t help but thing that Lady In The Water is an example of how the directors vision had left his vision firmly in the clouds.
You have to commend him for the effort portrayed in infusing a fantastical world based in reality, but Shyalaman is so absorbed in his own creation and egotistical views that he fails to see the bigger picture, and because of this, he loses his audience in a convoluted mess of a fairy tale.
What makes it worse, is the now notorious self-casting of the writer come to save us all.
It feels so egotistical that and the delusion is worrying sign for a director/writer who had shown so much promise.
And as if he were hell-bent on destroying his career, Shyalaman decides to kill off a character within the plot who just so happens to be a movie critic.
If Lady In The Water has one saving grace, it’s that Giamatti’s performance keeps the narrative bopping above the surface, but not even the addition of a good cast in support, notably Bryce Dallas Howard as the nymph, Story, and Jeffrey Wright as Mr Dury can help save this film from drowning in a pool of its own vomit.
So, where to from here?
His first box office disappointment and Shyalaman chooses to push on regardless with…
The film that limped across the line.
With a point to prove, Shyalaman would turn his attention next to a B-Movie horror with smarts.
But The Happening was hardly a victory.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, who himself criticised the film and Zooey Deschanel, an actress who usually sets the screen alight with her strong performances.
With a promising start, The Happening does hold promise, but the audience once again finds themselves lost in the lack of plot structure and smothered by the overbearing message on environmentalism.
By now, we’ve reached the mid-way point of Shyalaman’s career thus far and the feeling I get as I survey his filmography is that he’s a man with grand visions and ideas, but he’s not necessarily going to execute them effectively.
Case in point…
The Last Airbender
Dead on arrival
Based on the successful kids tv series on Nickelodeon, The Last Airbender should have been a success given its strong following, and this could be in part why it received a fairly strong opening weekend at the Box Office.
But the first movie that Shyalaman would attempt from a story that wasn’t his own would prove to be another failure for the director.
This film to me feels like a move from a guy who is lost in the world and with no sense of direction or where he is going.
Which is understandable considering his recent run of poor performances.
With a central character who displays no personality whatsoever and a script that clearly doesn’t connect with the writers ethos, The Last Airbender is a film that doesn’t even register on the Richter scale and doesn’t stir any emotion at all.
This is Shyalaman’s lowest point in his career.
When you reach rock bottom there’s only up though, right? Right?
An interesting response from Shyalaman during this time was to put on his producer hat and support another movie released in 2010 called Devil.
This film was actually quite good and showed promise, but importantly saw a success under Shyalaman’s name but this time not as a director.
That particular journey had still needed to right itself and was by far from finding solid ground.
Instead we’re treated to…
This movie was essentially a passion project of Will Smiths.
Based on an idea that he developed, After Earth would also star Smith’s son Jayden and produced by Smith himself alongside his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith and Shyalaman.
The latter of whom feels like is still in self destructive mode, clambering up the sides of the hole of failure, which he pretty much dig himself.
As if he didn’t learn his last lesson, Shyalaman plummets into another disappointing film by tackling a story that is not his own.
Ironically, the director had lost faith in himself. Ironic in that faith is the very subject that fascinates this director when approaching storytelling.
Will Smith would describe After Earth as his most painful failure and there’s a reason that most people have tried to bury this movie from their minds, which falls just short of being the worst post apocalyptic sci-fi film of all-time.
No one can take Battlefield Earth off that mantle.
The much needed reprieve
Although his next move saw Shyalaman only serve as director for the pilot and serve as Executive Producer, the choice was an important step in his career.
By turning his attention to a different medium, (a tv series), Shyalaman would be able to realign himself once more.
Take stock and arguably bring him back into contention as an auteur once more.
This could very well be the turning point that Shyalaman was searching for in his climb back into the realms of success again.
On face value it struck me as just another found footage horror, with the protagonists played by sibling kids, Becca and and Tyler (Olivia De Jonge and Ed Oxenbould who both deserve high recognition for their performances in this) who go to stay with Nana and Pop-Pop, grandparents they’ve never seen before, which automatically sent signals off for me.
The plot line is a little clumsy in places as Shyamalan stumbles his way through telling a story on new-found confidence, albeit a little shakily.
There is another strength in the tale though to allow Shyalaman to stride forward in his tale, as the right ingredients are in place to propel the story forward with fear and trepidation combined with a genuine care factor for the central characters involved.
My only niggle was the slight arrogance from Shyalaman from the role of Becca.
She speaks intelligently enough but it just dips slightly into the level of annoyance and too many scars are on display still from Shyalaman’s previous outings.
This aside, it plays along nicely enough with a reward that doesn’t feel forced.
It’s a strong sign of things to come.
The return to form?
By the time I came around to watching this the word was already out and the spoilers had hit the net.
The audience reaction was… divided and yet I intended to come into this film with an open mind.
The pace and build up was faultless and thrust the viewer headlong into the ordeal that the 3 kidnapped girls face.
James McAvoy is simply outstanding displaying so many diverse personalities, although we only ever see 8 of the 24 in the film.
Perhaps because this would have been too confusing and the audience would have been lost.
Maybe Shyalaman has learnt his lesson after all?
Also making an impact on the screen in films such as Morgan and The Witch is Anya Taylor-Joy who delivers another defining turn as one of the kidnapped girls, Cassie, who has her own skeleton in her closet which becomes integral to the closing scenes of the movie.
There are some moments that he action is a little scattered in places but overall Shyamalan delivers a solid movie with the promise of an Unbreakable / Split crossover in the near future.
This news has got fans salivating at this prospect but also has film lovers in a frothing frenzy of anger at the idea of another movie being released by the director.
Has Shyamalan burnt too many bridges in his audience trust?
Is he bouncing back from redemption? And does have what it takes to another another successful feature?
Love him or hate him, I’ve come to admire his appetite to keep challenging himself and delivering compelling stories.
Each story he produces takes him in a different direction and he seems fearless to take on his visions.
Yes he may not land with every punch, but there’s not many other directors out there in the mainstream that continue to offer something new to the scene and to produce conversation with every project that he overseas.
For good or Ill, I’m glad to see someone like Shyamalan still producing in the film industry.
And I’ll have to hang my hat on that unpopular statement.