Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s latest film, Synchronic, may initially seem like a far-out sci-fi horror flick about a time-altering drug, especially based upon the opening scene. However, the film is anchored to reality, specifically the personal struggles of two paramedics working in New Orleans. Their story and character arcs ground Synchronic in all the pain and beauty of everyday life. The result is a powerful genre film about human connection.
During the turn of the century, the New French Extremity film movement spread across France, potentially its most iconic film movement since the New Wave. These were dark, provocative films that aimed to dissect the country’s taboos and unrest. Many films within the movement are worth discussing, but I’m talking about this for one main reason. New French Extremity has some crazy horror films! There was a time when a horror fan went to NFE to really test their stamina, often with depression inducing results (it took me a long time to recover from Martyrs). The horror community embraced these films, and since the movement’s “end” in the early 2010s, French horror has been left in the shadow of New French Extremity. A few gems can be found throughout the last decade, but as of 2020, one surprise film may signal a second wave of arthouse horror in France. This is Anonymous Animals, the feature debut of Baptiste Rouveure.
Lane and Ruckus Skye, the writers of Becky (2020), are back with another revenge-fueled tale, The Devil to Pay. In their directorial debut, the husband and wife duo create a world with its own rules, where anyone who breaks “Creed” is punished severely. The film contains mesmerizing cinematography and an affecting score. Though the story is at times a little uneven, the film’s hardscrabble protagonist is well-drawn.
There comes a time when relationships come to a crossroads and the couple either make up or break up. If it is the former, the relationship moves forward, if it is the latter, the relationship comes to an end. When the relationship ends, more often than not, there is anger and pain between the two parties but, through time, they both find a way to heal and move on with their lives. This is not the case with the short film Common Decency.
Who doesn’t like streaming a movie from the comfort of their home? While that may seem like a good thing, director Thomas Edward Seymour’s documentary VHS Massacre Too explores the decline of the exploitation film and physical media in the Netflix era and the impact that is having on film preservation. The doc is one of the best defenses of physical media and independent film that you’re likely to encounter
How well do we really know our friends? Amelia Moses puts that concept to the test in Bleed with Me, a horror film rooted in the psychological with a slow-burn pace. At times, the story is a mind game, and some scenes are completely ambiguous, but overall, it works. The film stands a cut above other thrillers and was a real highlight of the recent Charlotte Film Festival. The film speaks to a deep-rooted fear that those closest to us may not be who we think they are.
The zombie genre has become as tired as a groaning corpse. Even the megahit "The Walking Dead" will end with its 11th season. Yet, 2020 and all it's unleashed upon the world should make the zombie genre relevant again. Director Il Cho’s #Alive feels incredibly timely at moments, especially in its portrayal of isolation and a global crisis. The film’s main flaw, and it’s a big one, is its deus ex machina ending. The conclusion mars an otherwise solid zombie flick.
Any film director that didn’t start off making horror films or have roots in horror rarely jumps into the genre. Why is that? The answer could be a multitude of reasons, but quite possibly the primary reason is because horror is not exactly their cup of tea so to speak. But we can dream, can’t we? I’ve compiled a list of three directors that I would love to see delve into the horror genre. Even though some of these directors might have had horror elements in some of their films, none have directed a straight-up horror film.
In a quest to absorb all things 90s nostalgia, I knew I would feel right at home inside the world of writer-director Jon Stevenson’s Rent-A-Pal. A gritty and neon look at isolation, acceptance, and the errant paths the mind wanders when teetering between fantasy and reality.
When it comes to foreign films, most of us will get turned off having to read subtitles. In the case of the French Horror/Drama Raw by director Julia Ducournau, the visuals capture us early on and won't let go. Now I had heard about this movie many times since its release in 2016, but never gave it a chance. Well, now that we have all been stuck inside from this pandemic I figured now is as good a time as any. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for this journey.