Fatman (2020) – Slenderman’s Crappy Cousin

Released: 18th November
Seen: 26th November

When it comes to iconography that must be handled with care, I can’t think of an image more precious than that of Santa Claus. A universal symbol of love and joy, it’s something you have to be careful with especially if you decide to use that imagery in a transgressive manner. If, for example, you plan on making an over the top slasher film like Silent Night, Deadly Night then you had better go all out and make good use of what you’re playing with.

You could also use the image of Santa for comedic value, the evil robot Santa of Futurama is a prime example of a hilarious evil Santa that plays with the iconography in fun interesting ways. One big thing with this is you probably shouldn’t go half assed when you use that kind of imagery because otherwise you just seem like an edgelord instead of being actually edgy in an interesting manner… and that, right there, is the problem with Fatman.

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The Comeback Trail (2020) – Stop, Don’t Comeback

Released: 12th November
Seen: 23rd November

The Comeback Trail Info

Some films follow familiar tropes in order to tell their story, look at the slasher films of the 80s who all leapt on the basic structure that Halloween laid out and kept twisting it in various ways. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, story structures exist for a reason… they work. They’re a good foundation to work with and can often lead to great films when handled properly. Then there’s the kind of film that feels like it took a really popular films story and filed off the serial numbers… this is that kind of film.

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All My Life (2020) – Oh Life, Oh Liiife, Do Do Do Do

Released: 19th November
Seen: 22nd November

All My Life Info

In the romance genre there is an interesting variation that I will lovingly refer to as the “Oops, cancer” film. We’ve seen the story play out before numerous times, boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, either girl or boy gets terminal cancer in a way that’s handled with all the grace of the breast cancer reveal in The Room. Recent saccharine films with this story include I Still Believe, a film that was more about preaching the word of god than telling a story about a couple in love going against a powerful disease, and Irreplaceable You, which took the “Oops, cancer” moment and used it as a jumping off point for a film about a dying wife trying to set her husband up with someone to look after him when she’s gone. The films made with this “Oops, cancer” reveal currently take up a solid quarter of the lifetime TV movie schedule. It’s also a film trope that lives and dies on the charm and liability of its leads… so, how does All My Life fare? Better than most, but it still has problems.

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Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist (2020) – Possessed by Potential

Released: 19th November
Seen: 20th November

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist Info

So, fun fact, I was meant to see a film very similar to this about a year ago. When I went to the Sydney Underground Film Festival one of the films that I was meant to see was called Friedkin Uncut, a documentary about the director of The Exorcist. For some reason the film was pulled a few days before the screening and I never got to see it. At the time I could’ve gone to another film that was screening at the same time but instead I chose to just skip it and go to my next film of the day (since that day I had four other films to see).

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In Search Of Darkness II (2020) – Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Released: 18th November
Seen: 18th November

In Search of Darkness Part 2 Info

Back in March I talked about a little documentary called In Search Of Darkness, a four-hour long love letter to the 80’s horror film. In short, I felt it was a genuinely great film that was easily digestible, gave a good overview of the genre at the time but had the bad habit of using a lot of films from the same franchise which made it repetitive and robbed the audience of getting to hear about a wider array of films from the decade. So when I found out that they were planning a sequel I had high hopes, even bought it ahead of time, thinking if they could be a little less repetitive with the movies they picked then it could be great…. Sometimes, getting your hopes up can actually end well.

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (2020) – Run, Sponge… RUN!

Released: 5th November
Seen: 17th November

The SpongeBob Movie Sponge On The Run Info

On the first of May 1999, the first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants was aired and it was an almost instant phenomenon and became one of the longest running animated series in history. It spawned multiple video games, a Broadway play and several movies. The first two films were fairly big hits and it’s fair to say that this one would’ve been too but, you know the drill, the world decided to end and all the potentially good movies either got pulled out of cinemas until 2021 or they got thrown onto VOD. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is one of the latter kind of films and honestly, I feel like VOD is the right place to put this film.

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Zeroville (2020) – Zero Fun

Released: 2nd November
Seen: 11th November

Zeroville Info

Sometimes a film is filled with subtext meant to make the audience think as they leave the cinema. Sometimes a film is working on layers that can be unravelled for decades to reveal new ideas and meanings with every viewing… and then there are films that are pretentious self-fellatio giving trainwrecks that want you to study them and find out what they mean when in reality they don’t mean a single goddamn thing, but the director threw in enough strange and weird shots that you could believe that there is something deeper there… welcome to Zeroville, a film that discovered it likes the smell of its own farts and wants you to know just how awesome that odour is.

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Honest Thief (2020) – Honestly? Not Great

Released: 22nd October
Seen: 11th November

Honest Thief Info

Can we, as a society, just admit that Liam Neeson action films have become repetitive and stale? Is that a thing that we can collectively do? Hell, let’s be honest, they were getting stale roughly around the third time he played a character who had a member of his family taken. It’s now to the point where you could write a Liam Neeson action film using a madlib form, they all have the same basic plot and only change the minor superficial details. It’s always the same and every time it gets a little bit less interesting and Honest Thief is just another one for the pile.

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Freaky (2020) – Freakishly Fun

Released: 12th November
Seen: 12th November

Freaky Info

In 2017 Christopher Landon brought us the movie Happy Death Day, a movie that asked the very simple question “What if Groundhog Day was a horror film?”. The result was one of the most fun slasher films in recent memory, which was followed up by Happy Death Day 2U which was also a lot of fun. This filmmaker has stumbled upon a great little mini-genre that he is clearly going to milk for all it’s worth… take a classic comedy with a mystical element and turn it into a horror movie. Proof that this works? The joyfully fun film Freaky.

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Stage Mother (2020) – Life Is A Drag

Released: 23rd October
Seen: 2nd November

Stage Mother Info

Drag has been given something of a resurgence lately thanks to the phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race. While Drag has always been around, recently it’s exploded in the mainstream with the hit reality series. Now, not only do we have Drag Race, there’s the horror equivalent in Dragula, a campy queen version on YouTube in Camp Wanakiki and probably a half dozen others for various kinds of queens.

From TV shows like AJ and the Queen (which should’ve had more than one season and I will die mad upon that hill) to movies like Cherry Pop or the Hurricane Bianca series, we’ve seen a huge uptick in entertainment focussed around drag queens. Well, Stage Mother is another one of those, it doesn’t exactly do anything new but I can’t think of a better way to introduce the topic than to point out that this movie probably wouldn’t exist without that explosion in drag.

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