Movie Review: A SERBIAN FILM – it’s one of the most notorious movies ever made, but is it any good? A resounding YES.

It’s fair to say that A Serbian Film is the most vilified horror movie of our generation.  Other generations had Salo, Cannibal Holocaust, and The Men Behind The Sun, and A Serbian Film, made in 2011, joins the club of horror movies with scenes that are so extreme they come to define the movie itself.  I’m willing to bet that just like those other movies, A Serbian Film is also one the most vilified horror movies that’s actually never been seen by its harshest critics.  If you’ve heard of the movie, you’ve also heard of that scene, and you may have already made up your mind about it and decided not to see it – which would be a shame, because it’s a truly effective, character-driven horror movie.  I don’t often review movies older than a couple of years, but this is an exception.

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Movie Review: ALIEN:COVENANT – serves the franchise better than Prometheus did, but suffers from the same maladies.

I’ll begin by getting it out of the way first: I hated Prometheus.  In terms of the franchise that was unleashed upon the world in 1979, it’s one of the weakest of the six core movies (I’m choosing to ignore the two crossover Alien v Predator movies) for a couple of reasons.  Though in saying that, I give it props for the same reason I do 1986’s Aliens, namely the attempt to try to do something different with the concept.  If you’re going to add another film to a franchise, you should at least do something unique.  Let’s face it, the actual concept of Alien is not sophisticated: human beings find a desolate planet in deep space, get infected with an alien parasite which becomes something they have to destroy … or they’ll be destroyed by it.  It suffers from the same self-limiting curse that comes with success: how do you make it just different enough without alienating the people that filled the studio coffers first time around?

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Movie Review: FROM A HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET – what starts off as a reasonable genre fusion, devolves into a silly, underwritten mess by the end.

Watching From A House On Willow Street last night, I was reminded of The Atticus institute in a number of ways, but what went through my mind was not so much the end result, but of the premise itself, and how the filmmakers completely failed to exploit it.  In The Atticus Institute, the premise is: what if demonic possession was a real thing, and could it be weaponized?  Of course, that’s not what the actual movie was about, but to me the real story should have been that laid out in the premise.  In From A House On Willow Street, the premise actually is the actual plot, but it’s handled badly: a group of would-be kidnappers abduct the adult daughter of a wealthy family, only to discover that she is possessed by a demon.  Ransom meets The Exorcist.

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Movie Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – a remake of the 1960s original that’s too bland and featureless to justify its own existence

Although I haven’t seen the original The Magnificent Seven for the best part of 20 years, I still retained enough memory of the plot to try comparing it with the 2016 Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw)/Denzel Washington, and from those hazy memories, there didn’t seem to be many large deviations from the plot.  Instead of a village being raided by bandits, it’s a small (and kind of unconvincing) western town bullied into submission by Bartholomew Bogue, a mining company owner (played by Peter Sarsgaard) who wants the surrounding land, and the vein of gold under it.  After a brutal opening wherein Sarsgaard’s armed goons kill a few of the more rebellious townsfolk, the widow of one takes it upon herself to seek vengeance, and a way to stop Bogue from plundering what remains of the townspeople’s land.

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Movie Review: UNACKNOWLEDGED – this documentary on aliens and UFOs is entertaining up to the point where it turns into just another global conspiracy theory

Here’s the weird thing about me: I absolutely have no belief whatsoever in ghosts, monsters, aliens, psychic powers – none of that.  I also don’t believe too much in theoretical physics (hint: the word “theoretical” is why).  No, I can honestly say I’m a pragmatist at heart.  This doesn’t mean to say I’m somehow better or smarter than people who believe in things I don’t.  I fully acknowledge that pragmatism itself is a kind of belief structure – I want the facts spoon fed to me by people who have them.  What’s weird about that, you wonder?  Well, I happen to love all that other stuff.  My brain is wired to enjoy all these things, but more than that, I am wired to seek out the stories of people who claim to have experienced unusual phenomena.  Which is why I watched the “aliens are real” documentary, Unacknowledged.

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Movie Review: 7 WITCHES – low budget and a waaaaay too short running time dilute this indie horror’s potential. Could, and should, have been better.

One of my favourite horror elements is that of black magic, specifically witchcraft, and specifically performed by witches.  I never really took too much to the idea of wizards or warlocks – there’s just something about female practitioners of black magic that appeals to me, they seem darker, somehow.  Not that men can’t – the real world has a much higher ration of evil men to evil women, and maybe that’s where the appeal lies; it’s different in the world of the supernatural.  And I will be even more specific here – I prefer younger witches to the old ones.  Like the archetype of the vampire, there’s a strongly sexual appeal in the youthful-looking witch image.  They’re women who yield power confidently, unafraid, unrestrained.  I’ve always had a thing for Samantha from Bewitched, and Samantha Robinson as The Love Witch is about as sexy (and sociopathic) a practitioner as you could possibly find.  The movie 7 Witches features a another darkly sppealing witch, as part of a familial coven.  I watched this movie last night, knowing nothing about it, arriving as it did from a mysterious benefactor …

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Movie Review: GHOST IN THE SHELL – completely uninteresting adaptation of the famous manga franchise, that plays like bad 80s sci fi.

Ghost In The Shell, Scarlett Johansson’s most recent action movie, can barely be discussed without mentioning the newish cinematic pejorative “whitewashing” as an integral part of any criticism.  I’m not going to put any kind of sociopolitical slant on this review, but if you haven’t heard the term, it refers to white actors being cast in roles that certain groups believe should go to ethnic actors.  It’s not an entirely unfounded criticism (Matt Damon’s recent monster movie The Great Wall was called out for it), and certain movies kinda invite it openly.  Case in point, is Ghost In The Shell, based on the famous manga franchise.  It’s a particularly egregious example – not only does Scarlett Johannson play a character that pretty much should have been played by an Asian actress, but almost all of the main roles are played by white actors.  And they didn’t even bother to switch the action to the west either!

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