FEBRUARY 11 — My Oscar binge is not quite over yet, as even after last week’s round-up of four Oscar contenders, plus the few I’ve already written about before like Hell Or High Water and front runners La La Land and Moonlight, there’s still quite a few more to see before I can make proper judgments and predictions.
After that much munching on serious dramas, of course I’d need a bit of palate cleansing to balance things out, and what better way to do so than a good old fashioned diet of genre flicks?
It’s only the beginning of February and already I’ve managed to acquaint myself with some seriously good new genre movies, and in the spirit of sharing, here are four pretty good ones that you might want to check out.
John Wick: Chapter 2
I’m pretty sure that when director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad came up with that tough little action flick called John Wick back in 2014, they didn’t expect it to become the cult favorite that it is now.
And surely it’s beyond their wildest dreams to not only see it spawn a sequel, but judging from how excellent this sequel is, very possibly spawn a totally legit trilogy and maybe even a full-on franchise!
But when you can come up with a sequel this brilliant, that not only preserves the no-nonsense attitude of its predecessor but also expands on the original’s rules, mythos and breathtaking action scenes, your talents fully deserve a franchise.
Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick, with a new dog, and a new reason for vengeance, only this time there’s clearly a bigger budget, and Stahelski makes every single cent count, giving this sequel an epic feel, orchestrating one great action set-piece after another, which will leave all the fanboys grinning from ear to ear. I know I did!
The Love Witch
A bit like The Greasy Strangler, a personal favourite of mine from last year, The Love Witch is a film with such a singular style, attitude and philosophy that trying to evaluate it using conventional rules of film appreciation will thoroughly miss the point.
The acting is intentionally mannered, which some people might call stilted. The accumulation of drama in the narrative is so poker-faced that it may seem more like a Robert Bresson film than your usual US indie flick.
And yet The Love Witch, which tells the story of a woman who becomes a witch (embracing it as her religion) after being left by her husband, is so alive in its dialogue with itself about what it means to be a woman in the post-feminist world of today where systems of patriarchy still rule.
The eternal conflict between the wants and needs of both sexes (when it comes to love) are brilliantly illustrated here by writer-director Anna Biller... so much so that the film is clearly more than just a horror film about a love witch. And did I tell you that it’s also pretty funny?
Out of nowhere I stumbled upon this low budget indie horror flick when I saw it being described as a feature film expansion of a segment in the first V/H/S film called Amateur Night, which was easily one of everyone’s favourite segments, alongside the one by Radio Silence.
Still it was a flimsy premise at best, as the short segment was all about a group of friends picking up a girl only to later find out that she’s some sort of a monster, and that’s it.
SiREN, is a sort of prequel to that segment in that we now get to see where the girl, Lily (played by the same actress in V/H/S, Hannah Fierman), came from and how she came to be. In short, it’s an origin story.
There’s still a group of guys out partying, but now there’s an entire hidden world of supernatural beings and evil men involved around them that makes the whole experience even richer and more exciting.
In fact, the pace of this barely 70-minute film is pretty relentless, keeping you glued to your seat with plenty of new revelations as it marches towards its conclusion, revealing Lily as the winged and man-eating siren that we all got acquainted with in Amateur Night. It doesn’t do anything new, yes, but it’s a very nice thrill ride all the same.
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
With only two feature films, writer-director Oz Perkins (sometimes also billed as Osgood Perkins, and is the son of legendary actor Anthony Perkins) has established himself as a very, very interesting new voice in the field of US indie horror.
Shot with a striking photographer’s eye for framing and composition, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House plays like a living and breathing American gothic novel brought to beautiful life in film form, telling the story of a young nurse who takes care of an elderly author who lives in a haunted house.
Preferring to serve his viewers with a creeping sense of dread instead of the usual loud shocks, this one may test the patience of some viewers. You can test your tolerance for this film by simply reading the film’s opening narration here – “A house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living. It can only be borrowed from the ghosts that have stayed behind.”
If you find the words captivating and intriguing, then this one’s definitely for you. If the words bore you, then maybe it’s best you stay away.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.