Film reviews and more

Martyn Conterio

Film Review: Carmilla

★★☆☆☆ Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla is among the most influential horror stories ever written. Director Emily Harris’ de-fanged adaptation follows plenty of other versions of the novella, zeroing in on the ‘lesbian vampire’ aspect, but the result is deathly dull. […]

FrightFest 2020: Av: The Hunt review

★★★★☆ Emre Akay’s powerful social thriller pits a woman against not only her immediate family, but an entire country’s cultural attitudes, its conservative values, and misogynistic impulses. Av (The Hunt) is a depiction of modern Turkey likely to rile those who adore the […]

FrightFest 2020: Don’t Click review

★★★★☆ In Kim G-hey’s debut, two college students who access an extreme BDSM/snuff site are tormented by the spirit of a dead woman, an avenging conscience intent on teaching them a lesson. Don’t Click will prove to be divisive, but […]

FrightFest 2020: The Swerve review

★★★★☆ In Dean Kapsalis’ impressive psychological drama The Swerve a suburbanite loses her grip on reality, the catalyst for the descent into madness is a bite from a rodent and a recurring nightmare involving a car crash, which may or may […]

FrightFest 2020: Dark Place review

★★★☆☆ Anthologies are typically a mixed bag, and so it goes with this Australian collection of horror yarns directed and mostly starring indigenous filmmakers and actors. Dark Place’s mix of post-colonialist commentary and genre storytelling lends a fascinating perspective to a […]

FrightFest 2020: Aquaslash review

★★☆☆☆ Slashers have used all manner of holiday celebrations and location gimmicks in their bid to deliver greater chills and spills. Aquaslash, which unfortunately isn’t Canadian slang for peeing in the pool, unfolds in a water park with a suitably […]

FrightFest 2020: A Ghost Waits review

★★★★☆ In Adam Stovall’s necromantic horror film, a lonely blue-collar worker at the end of his tether meets and falls in love with a ghost haunting a property he’s overseeing for renovation. A Ghost Waits is an unexpectedly heartfelt gem […]

FrightFest 2020: Hall review

★★★★☆ Francesco Giannini’s chiller pits a mum and her young child in a fight for their lives after an airborne virus turns their hotel into a gauntlet of diseased, violent fellow occupants. The resulting saga delivers more on its generic-sounding […]

FrightFest 2020: The Clapboard Jungle review

★★★☆☆ Justin McConnell’s The Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business is an eye-opening and informative documentary all about the rough road countless artists travel on to get films made and seen by audiences. For making a movie is just half the […]

FrightFest 2020: Skull: The Mask review

★★☆☆☆ An inventive setup unfortunately cannot save Skull: The Mask from its poor attributions. Confusing editing, disjointed storytelling, too many subplots which appear to be from completely different films, only the delightfully gruesome special effects and vivid cityscape location shooting leave a […]

FrightFest 2020: 12 Hour Shift review

★★★★☆ In Brea Grant’s ghoulish US healthcare farce, 12 Hour Shift, a junkie nurse and her accomplices run a body parts scam for the local mob, only for their secretive operation to come crashing down, when an unreliable courier enters the […]

FrightFest 2020: The Columnist review

★★★★☆ In Ivo van Aart’s timely psycho-thriller, The Columnist, a female cultural commentator subjected to an endless stream of misogynistic vitriol by online trolls decides to get her own back, showing these vile men their hateful words have consequences.   Femke Boot […]

FrightFest 2020: There’s No Such Thing as Vampires review

★★☆☆☆ Brought together at random by a car crash in the middle of the night, twentysomething Ariel (Emma Holzer) is thrown headfirst into a nightmare as she helps a mysterious man named Joshua (Josh Plasse) escape the attentions of a […]

FrightFest 2020: Programme highlights

With Covid-19 still a global threat, festival organisers have been pushed to making crucial decisions: Cancel or opt for an online edition? While a few hardy festivals, such as Venice, have announced the show must go on, at least in […]

Film Review: Young Ahmed

★★★★☆ Going in cold, the Dardenne brothers appearing to tackle the subject of radical Islam and a vulnerable boy falling prey to its teachings might be construed as reactionary and misguided. In their skilled and compassionate hands, however, Young Ahmed […]

Film Review: Bacurau

★★★☆☆ A joint effort between Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, Bacurau is an acid western depicting a ragtag group fighting back against the outsiders who wish to do them harm. Picture Howard Hawks’ classic Rio Bravo, only the heroes […]

Film Review: The Wild Goose Lake

★★★★☆ Chinese director Diao Yi’nan’s first film in five years, The Wild Goose Lake is a gangster flick mainlining on pure fatalism and turns the tables on genre conventions and expectations. The result is an occasionally opaque but tremendously well-made […]

Film Review: A Hidden Life

★★★★★ Authentic being, leaps of faith and mortality haunt every frame of Terrence Malick’s latest opus, A Hidden Life (aka Radegund). Basing his new film on the life and death of WW2 conscientious objector, Franz Jägerstätter, the reclusive American auteur […]