A low-budget film crew is trapped in a high-rise – due for demolition – by gangsters. Impressive micro-budget action comedy with some great gags, fine stuntwork and fight choreography. Lots to enjoy for genre fans; the film’s limitations work to its advantage.
Month: February 2019
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974, dir. Terence Fisher)
Frankenstein, hiding out in a lunatic asylum, takes on a young disciple. The last of the Hammer series is an okay entry, hampered by over-familiarity and a poorly-designed creature, but with some nifty moments and Cushing’s typically meticulous performance.
Hunter Killer (2018, dir. Donovan Marsh)
A US submarine captain attempts to prevent a rogue minister-led coup in Russia. Old-fashioned military thriller aping the likes of Tom Clancy. Not bad while its on, though there’s not one surprise; a game cast of character actors play the material straight.
Halloween (2018, dir. David Gordon Green)
40 years later, Michael Myers escapes to track down Laurie Strode again. Decent-enough and respectful series reboot (ignoring all the sequels), albeit one which feels too restrained. Some awkward storytelling doesn’t help either, one lovely moment and one great child actor aside. Sequels followed in 2021 and 2022.
I See You (2019, Andrew Schuth)
Vlogger recording life captures murders in a take on found footage film. Has early promise but struggles badly to make its ‘point’. Hampered with limited budget and oddly out of date ideas – the plot chokes and splutters into tired formula.
Hugo (2011, dir. Martin Scorsese)
A boy lives in a railway station clock. Splendid family adventure, as well as a love letter to early cinema. Scorsese enjoying playing in a new genre and with some fresh cinematic toys, not least the remarkable use of 3D. Hugely recommended.
First Man (2018, dir. Damien Chazelle)
Biopic of Neil Armstrong, from test pilot to Apollo 11 days. An impressionistic, oblique approach doesn’t really penetrate the subject, leaving Gosling free to offer another blank, introverted performance. Impressive rather than good, though with a sterling cast of character actors in support.
House (1986, dir. Steve Miner)
A blocked writer seeks refuge in his deceased aunt’s haunted house. Awkward comedy-horror with neither enough scares or laughs. Some weird moments linger, but the overly-busy screenplay (Vietnam trauma, childhood bereavement, etc) and flat TV-style lighting and direction don’t help.
Phantasm V: Ravager (2016, dir. David Hartman)
Reggie, now diagnosed with dementia, tries to tell others about The Tall Man. Episodic fifth and final (?) instalment, which ties up some loose ends. Low production values, poor digital effects, and lack of narrative coherence are offset somewhat by affection for the ageing actors/characters.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998, dir. Don Coscarelli)
Reggie tracks down Mike, after the events of part III. Low-budget series continuation – reliant on re-used footage from earlier instalments – which tries to freshen things up by adding a prequel element, though the mix is pretty much the same as before. Nothing for newbies here.