Andy is a contributing writer, occasional interviewer, surrogate Schnaars, and co-host of the Sophisticult podcast. He might not be as funny as Joe, rich as Jon, strong as Casey, adorable as Mark, or surly as Eric, but damn does he give great hugs.
Reviewing something like What We Do in the Shadows is a bit like reliving the first time you saw a This is Spinal Tap and The Blair Witch Project double feature. It’s not that Co-Directors and Co-Writers Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have reinvented some of cinema and television’s favorite popular styles. Rather, “What We Do in the Shadows” does the very important work of reminding its audience that just because something is tired, doesn’t mean it can’t still be reawakened given a new voice…and some strapping ascots.
Willa Paskin recently wrote a piece cataloging a shift in media consumption from casual social occurrence to an incremental yet intensely ravenous adoration. As I’m writing this the United States Government has all but made official the involvement of North Korea in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking scandal and the subsequent threats of violence should “The Interview” be released.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a “Cool” movie. Directed and written by Ana Lily Amirpour, the film’s tagline states: “The first Iranian Vampire Western.” The pretense of being the first of its kind before you’re even in the seats proves at once irritatingly brazen and enticing. It’s the kind of attitude that makes the “I-liked-this-before-anyone” feel maddeningly solipsistic but also somewhat vindicating when, you know, you can be the one to say it.
Starry Eyes offers yet another version of the Faustian narrative exploring the dangerous repercussions of unchecked ambition. Sara (Alex Essoe) is an aspiring ingénue struggling with some masochistic tendencies. After a series of failed auditions, and some not too subtle, petty emotional abuse from her cohort, Sarah successfully lands a few callbacks for a new horror film from a once renowned movie studio.
To pitch something as post-apocalyptic is beginning to carry the weight of moody adolescent poetry. When AMC and the CW, along with the occasional network TV programming, start running grim, “gritty” dystopian survivalist shows its safe to posit mainstream culture is transfixed on the demise of Western society, bordering on some mass auto-erotic asphyxiation that pushes us to the edge of destruction before final catharsis.
Though being accused by some around these parts as being in love with his own smells, I tend to completely buy Ti West’s filmmaking, finding confidence and strategy where some find pretension. Now tackling the western in his upcoming “In a Valley of Violence” West, like Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, is on a gradual move outside horror proper.
Set in 1974 Oxford, “The Quiet Ones” follows documentarian Brian (Sam Clafin) who finds himself, along with two hot-to-trot students, under the employ of charismatic and philandering Prof. Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris). Coupland is determined to prove that the supernatural is in fact a scientifically explainable phenomena. Coupland’s latest patient, a veritable Jane Doe cleverly named Jane (Olivia Cooke), signs on to undergo some intense, experimental treatments designed to draw out and expel her telekinetic abilities.
The latest found footage horror feature The Houses October Built is a film negotiating the kitsch, near camp of many American Halloween traditions with the high realist aesthetics of found footage. Directed and co-written by Bobby Roe the film tells the story of a group of five friends who embark on a road trip to find the most extreme haunts “in the world” (or the American South). After the prerequisite raucous partying the group begins to hear rumors of an underground organization called “Blue Skull” that orchestrates the most terrifying haunt in the country.
Manny Marquez’s “Psychopath” documents the tumultuous period in which his uncle Victor set out to build an ambitious horror attraction in the small Oklahoma town of Sperry. The gloriously named “Psycho Path” springs from Victor’s interest in make-up effects and his stalled ambition to become a Hollywood effects person. After purchasing a parcel of land and beginning construction Victor is met with opposition from his neighbors and some mild family indifference. As the opening date draws near Victor finds himself struggling against political forces, racism, and egos.