In Review: Antlers

Scott Cooper returns to a bleak American landscape with Antlers, a horror film that riffs on the Wendigo legend. The film stars Keri Russell as a teacher returning home to her childhood mountain town in rural Oregon, carrying a history of abuse at the hands of her father. Living in the family home with her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons), she sees the ghost of her past reflected in her ostracized student Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas). But at home with Lucas is far more than what she suspects: it’s not just the horror of the home, but a monster that has been brewing in the mountains, in this community, and in the national identity. In the hands of Cooper, the result is a scareless thriller that handles the opioid epidemic and child abuse with the humanity and, perhaps more crucially, intention of a muckraking local news segment.

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In Review: Last Night in Soho

The films of Edgar Wright are stooped in references, unafraid to invoke his influences with reverie, winking at those in the audience who share in that unbridled affection. His latest, Last Night in Soho, achieves this with the most abandon, blending together such inspirations as giallo, Basil Dearden, and even Fosse for a spell. It’s an unexpected mix, all set to a quintessentially joyous and try-hard Wright-assembled soundtrack. But the gorgeous horror movie spell collapses quickly as Wright wanders into unfamiliar thematic territory. Last Night in Soho’s stumbles reveal that Edgar Wright is perhaps an enthusiast first, and storyteller second. Or maybe third.

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In Review: The Night House

Look, between David Bruckner’s new supernatural thriller The Night House and Sean Durkin’s unsettling psychological character study Martha Marcy May Marlene, I think I’m all set on ever visiting the Catskills. But while Durkin used the environment to set a mood with just a dash of horror, Bruckner’s effort is much easier placed within the genre’s safe zones. And there are many other horror films that it will make you remember. Set in the idyllic lakeside of the New York woodlands, The Night House has terror lurking just beneath its beautiful surface, and delivers some spunky atmospherics that diminish the basicness of some of its genre conventions.

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In Review: Censor

Naked nostalgia in genre filmmaking has become one of the more instantly off-putting modes in recent genre filmmaking. Constantly serving us the same broad reference points without a context to make them interesting, the lingering trend relies on our enthusiasm and knowledgeability for the genre to gas up unfulfilling stories. Results have been self-serving, and too often unable to produce something terrifying thanks to too much mimicry. Censor is a thornier horror retread however, with more specific influences on its mind and a perspective on how to incorporate them in an original way.

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In Review: “47 Meters Down”

47 Meters Down is an oceanic disaster film so morose and shoddy that it begs for some levity. With only a handful of cliched jump scares and general lack of visual tension, there’s a lot of room for your mind to wander to lighten the mood over its lethargic 89 minutes. For example, which Mandy Moore track do sharks prefer: “In My Pocket” or “Candy”? What would the film be like with a commentary by Brian Fellows? “Does that shark have arms?”


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