“The Void”: a Loving Homage to Practical B-Movie Horror

The Void is an unabashed celebration of classic B-movies, a smorgasbord of horror tropes lovingly arranged for nostalgic consumption.  Co-written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, the film champions an old-fashioned approach to horror filmmaking, and will certainly delight fans of the genre.  Though some of the plot elements end up feeling rushed and overly complicated (especially the ending), The Void offers some astonishing visuals, a gripping and creepy story, and wonderful gore effects.  This is B-movie charm at its absolute finest, and should delight lovers of ‘80s horror, even if it is a little haphazard.

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“Train to Busan”: Effective Zombies with Ethical Subtext

You’d generally forgive a zombie movie for being shallow and uninventive, as long as the story generates the proper tone and mood.  Writer-director Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan deserves commendation for not only nailing the bleakness of and terror of a zombie apocalypse, but for infusing such a story with genuine heart, emotion, and intriguing subtext.  It is rare that a zombie flick can elicit tears as readily as screams, but Train to Busan is the rare example of the complete package.

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Jinn, Wartime, and Metaphor in the Amazing “Under the Shadow”

And the jinn we created before from scorching fire.
– Quran 15:27 “The Rocky Tract”

Symbolism and metaphor are powerful weapons against oppression, and can also illuminate complex and unbearable situations like war and the subjugation of women.  Writer-director Babak Anvari’s debut feature Under the Shadow is a intelligent film that takes full advantage of the setting, situation, and culture of Iran in the 1980’s to spin a terrifying supernatural horror film.  Among the background of the Iran-Iraq war, the film depicts a woman and her young daughter as Tehran is bombed and a nefarious Jinn takes residence in their apartment building.  Though a supernatural horror film on the surface, Under the Shadow also boasts a rich subtext that explores ideas of misogyny, family struggles, and the gloom of wartime.

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A Pair of Afterlife Trailers: “The Discovery” and “The Void”

A pair of off-the-radar film released trailers recently, and both of them appear to offer something interesting for the fan of genre film.  Each also, in their own way, use concepts revolving around the afterlife as major plot elements.  These films are The Discovery and The Void.  This will be a short piece introducing each of these films and their trailers, and offering a few stray observations about what we’re seeing (and what other people have been saying).  Here we go!
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Jordan Peele’s Horror Masterpiece “Get Out” Expertly Satirizes Suburban Racists

Writer-director Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a potent and poignant allegory about modern race relations in suburban America.  It is constructed on the skeleton of a slow-burn horror-thriller, with some awkward comedy thrown in for good measure.  Satirical to its very core, Get Out ridicules the WASP-y “post-racism” of the middle-upper class, and suggests that despite protestations to the contrary, this racism is just as nefarious as blatant hatred.  Through a deft use of genre tropes, Peele develops this allegory to its full potency, and the audience reaps the rewards.  As the pieces fall into place, we are eating out of Peele’s hand at every turn and there is only one conclusion:  Get Out is a masterpiece, harshly satiric and thoroughly creepy.

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Classic Review – Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

INTRODUCTION

In 1991, dozens of happy accidents converged into one of the greatest thrillers of all time:  The Silence of the Lambs.  It is the most recent film to win Academy Awards in all five of the major categories (both leading actors, screenplay, director, and best picture).  As that distinction may suggest, practically every aspect of the film boasts superlatives.  The performances are exceptional.  Ted Tally’s adaption of the screenplay structures the film with the familiar beats of the hero’s journey, but provides enough twists to keep us on edge.  Jonathan Demme’s direction shows restraint and courage, and produces moments rife with tension, many of which do not exist on the page.  The characters, technical work, and writing all cooperate towards a single goal:  championing a theme of female strength and intellect in a world dominated by men, and the courage that it takes to confront true evil.

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