MCO viewing: New genre thrills to spice up your day

APRIL 18 ― As we enter the third phase of the movement control order (MCO) and with the end still not likely in sight, I’m pretty sure a lot of us have watched most of the movies and TV series we’ve been thinking about watching by now.

Last week I delved into some mostly forgotten gems from the 1970s and 1980s, just so you dear readers, will have a bit more variety in your home viewing menu, because I’m pretty sure you’ve read enough articles and postings recommending you to watch stuff like Money Heist and things like that.

So to add some more variety this week, let’s dive into more recent stuff but from the always fertile and often surprising genre film scene, especially gems from the indie horror scene, forever victim to underexposure and neglect just because they’re low budget horror flicks.

The Hunt

The latest film from Craig Zobel (of Compliance fame) was supposed to be released last year, but its subject matter, about rich US liberals hunting and killing working-class conservative types, which can be seen from the trailers, meant that an uproar ensued, with even President Donald Trump weighing in; everyone basing their opinions just on the trailer.

The film’s producers, Blumhouse and Universal, gave in somewhat and pulled the film from its scheduled release date and more or less left it on the shelf without any commitment as to when its eventual release date will be.

The unexpected arrival of Covid-19 and the chaos that came with it, with cinemas forced to close and film releases put on hold, meant that alternatives needed to be found, which has seen major Hollywood studios releasing some films online instead of in cinemas.

The Hunt is one such beneficiary, receiving a surprise online release that many here are probably not aware of. Having seen the film, I really struggled to understand why there was an outrage in the first place because the film is clearly intended as an action thriller sprinkled with a reasonable dose of satire, with Zobel gleefully taking aim at seemingly everything and everyone, from keyboard warrior liberals to bone headed conservatives.

It’s really hilarious in a lot of places and we get legit thrills from watching lead actress Betty Gilpin (Dr Carrie Roman from TV’s Nurse Jackie) channelling her inner badass, just like the unexpected female hero in You’re Next.

In short, The Hunt is pure, naughty, genre fun, the kind that people don’t really dare to make these days. Check it out, have a blast, and thank me later.

VFW

After the very singular triumph that is Bliss, fast rising genre auteur Joe Begos (director of the glorious The Mind’s Eye) has quickly followed that up with a charmingly violent throwback to 1980s style shoot-'em-up siege movies a la Assault On Precinct 13.

Starring a bevy of tough guys from back in the day like Fred Williamson, Stephen Lang, William Sadler and David Patrick Kelly, this one is more or less Green Room, but with old dudes who are veterans of foreign wars instead of that film’s trapped punk band, and with deranged drug addicts on the attack instead of that film’s bunch of skinheads.

It’s grimy, it’s basic, and even the fights and shootouts are choreographed like those 80s action movies, with the highlights coming from the wonderfully executed practical gore effects, but there’s no denying the kind of basic thrills and fun that only the best of these films can hope to provide.

If you’re down for something nostalgic, this one’s just for you.

Color Out Of Space

Even though late-career Nicolas Cage has been making so many movies that it’s not even funny any more, for every cheapo clunker that he’s made out there you can also find startling, one-of-a-kind jewels like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Mandy and Mom & Dad.

This is one of those one-of-a-kind jewels. Directed by an also one-of-a-kind director, the South African auteur Richard Stanley (who made his name with Hardware and Dust Devil, after which everything crashed and burned when his dream project The Island Of Dr Moreau was taken away from him), this is his first feature film since 1996, and he can find no better source material to return to feature film-making with than from something by the also peculiar and one-of-a-kind H.P. Lovecraft.

This is a seductively strange film about a family coping with the side effects of a meteorite falling in their yard, and how what it brings ― a colour, out of space ― mutates everything around them, and of course ultimately them as well.

Cage has a field day indulging in his trademark mannerisms and offbeat vocal inflections, which gels perfectly with what Stanley wants to bring into this film adaptation.

It’s a slow burn, but an endlessly fascinating one, and definitely unforgettable once you’re done with it.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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