Posts tagged Film Review
Film Review: Ready or Not

A violent romp of class warfare, Ready or Not is a fun - if predictable - exercise in survival horror. Neither very insightful nor clever, the film is bolstered by a single silver lining: the undeniable charm of Samara Weaving. The Australian actress is far and away the best part of the movie, carrying its light narrative with her considerable charisma. And while Ready or Not may not be particularly deep, its B-movie thrills and kills are sure to guarantee at least a passably good time.

Read More
Film Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid

Tigers Are Not Afraid, the new film from writer and director Issa López, is a haunting blend of fairy tale and horror. Bracing and fearless in its magical realism, the film navigates a nameless Mexican city in the throes of gang warfare and violence. Anchored by a stunning and precocious young cast, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a confident effort by López that combines affecting storytelling with a poignant message. Minor spoilers ahead…

Read More
Under the Radar: The Phenom

Under the Radar is a column by Strange Harbors that explores hidden gems in pop culture. Whether it's a little seen film, an underappreciated television show, or a forgotten comic, there's a lot of quality stuff out there that goes relatively unnoticed. This column's job is to shine an oft-needed light on these overlooked, but ultimately worthwhile, works. This week, we'll be taking a look at The Phenom, Noah Buschel’s under-seen film that powerfully tracks a talented young pitcher and his fraught relationship with his father.

Read More
Film Review: The Farewell

Director Lulu Wang’s sophomore feature-length film, The Farewell, is one of the year’s best. As a second-generation Chinese American myself, the film hits particularly close to home in a way I never expected to see on the big screen - a transcendent examination of the gap between cultures and generations, The Farewell is a funny and emotionally poignant portrait of a family and the secrets it keeps. Minor spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: Midsommar

Midsommar, a harrowing tale of grief steeped in uncomfortable folk horror, is a confident and gut-wrenching sophomore effort from director Ari Aster. With his second feature-length film, Aster proves that Hereditary was no fluke, and solidifies himself as a new master of squirm-inducing terror. Florence Pugh absolutely owns the role of Dani Ardor with a breathtaking performance, and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski directs some of the most beautifully disturbing imagery seen in cinema this year. Minor spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tom Holland’s second standalone appearance as the friendly neighborhood web-head, is a worthy followup to 2017’s Homecoming and a strangely fitting end for Marvel’s Phase Three. A confident mix of humor, action, and comic book zaniness, Far From Home’s sleight-of-hand pulls off effective and high-impact twists and turns, even when you see them coming. With an assist from Jake Gyllenhaal’s captivating performance as Quentin Beck, the film is one of Marvel’s best in recent memory. Mild spoilers ahead…

Read More
Revisiting 1988's Child's Play

With the remake being released this Friday, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at 1988’s cult classic, Child’s Play. Written by franchise legend Don Mancini and directed by Tom Holland (Fright Night, Thinner), Child’s Play sees the birth of one of horror’s greatest monsters: Chucky. How does the original killer doll hold up, and what makes him so special? Let’s find out. Spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: The Perfection

Netflix’s The Perfection is a nasty little film that has lofty aspirations. Part love story, part body horror, and part revenge tale, director Richard Shepard aims high with his twist-laden story, but is never fully able to rise above the trappings of B-movie camp. Elevated by some fantastically deranged performances from Allison Williams and Logan Browning, The Perfection is popcorn fare disguised as high-brow horror. Mild spoilers ahead...

Read More
Film Review: Pet Sematary

The 2019 Pet Sematary remake deviates wildly from previous iterations, but the fable remains the same: let sleeping cats lie. Directed by the relatively green duo of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and starring familiars like Jason Clark, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow, the film touts few impressive scares, but wins points for its ultra-eerie and unsettling ambience. Minor spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: Shazam!

The seventh entry in the DC Extended Universe, Shazam! continues Warner Brothers’ quest to find its footing among superhero features. Bringing in a remarkable sense of humor and fun, the film is the DCEU’s best installment yet. Shazam! coasts on the charms of its young cast plus the shenanigans of Zachary Levi in the title role, and is able to transcend its cookie-cutter villain and third act doldrums with an upbeat confidence. Mild spoilers ahead…

Read More
Revisiting 1989's Pet Sematary

What Stephen King calls his most frightening novel makes for a bloody, but muddled film. Directed by Mary Lambert and penned by King, Pet Sematary is written faithfully close to its source material, but stiff acting and off-balance pacing dampen its effectiveness. Packed with 80s camp, including some stellar gore and creepy-kid horror riding off the coat-tails of 1988’s Child’s Play, the film is vintage fun, but is probably viewed through rose-colored glasses. Die-hard King fans may be able to appreciate the sickly silliness, but not if they’re searching for a sincere scare.  

Read More
Film Review: Dragged Across Concrete

In today’s sensitive political climate, a film like Dragged Across Concrete is sure to prod, offend, and enrage. The third feature from writer and director S. Craig Zahler, the film is a perfect cauldron of incendiary messaging - from its casting to its characters and narrative, Dragged Across Concrete teems with nasty provocations that will undoubtedly cut against the grain of all liberal sensibility. But, Zahler’s latest is also an effective and engrossing police thriller that paints realistic portraits of its characters, rough edges and all. As a left-leaning member of today’s society, my experience with the film is a curious paradox: a cautious and hesitant appreciation for a stylized and violent tour de force, even if it is steeped in a harrowing backwards morality. Mild spoilers below…

Read More
Film Review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female-led superhero flick, sees the highly anticipated (and also unfortunately controversial) debut of Brie Larson as the titular super-heroine. Directed by indie film duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel is the living embodiment of some of the MCU’s worst tendencies, but still ends up being an enjoyable ride and a fine introduction for Carol Danvers. The film’s uneven pacing, muted character beats, and boring CGI spectacle leaves a lot on the table, but are outweighed by the script’s humor and Brie Larson’s fun and easy chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson. Mild spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: Greta

Not trashy enough to be low-brow, but not nuanced enough to be high-brow, director Neil Jordan’s Greta instead finds itself in a rote and disposable middle ground. Even with the talents of Chloë Grace Moretz and the inimitable Isabelle Huppert, the film struggles to rise above a tedious script and paper-thin characterizations. Greta offers some basic thrills and a bevy of interesting individual moments, but none of it is enough to make the film particularly memorable. Minor spoilers ahead…

Read More
Film Review: The Prodigy

The Prodigy, director Nicholas McCarthy’s new bad-seed horror film, is a fairly predictable tale that telegraphs its plot, but not necessarily its scares. A no-frills exercise in creepy-kid frights, the movie isn’t particularly worth writing home about, but through able direction and a nasty little performance by Jackson Robert Scott, it’s able to rise above your typical horror fare for a good amount of fun. Spoilers ahead...

Read More
Film Review: The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, screenwriter Henry Dunham’s directorial debut, is a quiet VOD and limited release sure to fly under the radar of general audiences during this sleepy January. A taut and effective single-location thriller, the film’s pulp dialogue and airtight pacing make it one of 2019’s first great surprises. The always welcome and underrated James Badge Dale rounds out an all-star cast of character actors in a pulse-pounding mystery. Minor spoilers ahead...

Read More
Let’s Talk About Serenity’s Monumentally Stupid Twist Ending

Serenity is not an easy film to review. It isn’t an easy film to review not because it’s good - it’s most certainly terrible - but because it’s inextricably entwined with an absurdly awful twist ending. Director Steven Knight (Locke) crafts a delightfully trashy noir throwback that is both fun and immensely watchable, but demolishes it with a bafflingly stupid plot twist that has to be seen to be believed. Let’s take a deeper look at 2019’s most batshit movie so far, and see if you agree with me. Major spoilers ahead for Serenity…

Read More
Film Review: Glass

The third and final film in M. Night Shyamalan’s so-called Eastrail 177 trilogy, Glass is a frustrating and joyless conclusion to an original deconstruction of the superhero genre. A more modest and quiet film than its epic trailers would lead you to believe, Glass is smart and stylish...until it isn’t. James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson carry the film nicely along with franchise newcomer Sarah Paulson and a sharp script from Shyamalan himself, but a misguided and disastrous third act sinks not only Glass, but the entire trilogy. Mild spoilers ahead...

Read More