Hellboy (2019) – Aww, Hell!

Released: 11th April
Seen: 11th April

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In 1993 the comic book artist Mike Mignola created the character of Hellboy for Dark Horse comics. A demon-human hybrid, the character became a big enough hit with readers to get an adaptation in 2004 with the movie Hellboy that was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro who managed to turn it into a minor box office hit, pulling in almost 100 million worldwide on a 66 million budget. It got enough critical praise and a cult following to get Universal to shell out for a sequel with the same cast and same creative team, 4 years later letting out Hellboy 2: The Golden Army which fared even better, netting almost 160 million on an 85 million budget and (at least as far as I’m concerned) was just a better movie all around. Now it’s a decade later and rebooting old franchises is all the rage, and Guillermo Del Toro is coming off of two Oscar wins for his beloved film The Shape of Water so now would be the perfect time to get him to come back, drag Ron Perlman with him to don the red latex again and knock everyone out with an amazing Hellboy movie… or you could just get a bunch of completely different people to try and make money off the name alone and hope to god no one actually cares about being entertained, that’s a valid option.

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Pet Sematary (2019) – Sometimes Dead Isn’t Better

Released: 4th April
Seen: 3rd April (Advanced Screening)

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Picture it. Hollywood, 1989. The film Pet Sematary, based on the 1983 Stephen King novel of the same name, was released to cinemas to some serious aplomb. Getting really great critical reviews and slamming the box office, it’s currently the 5th highest earning Stephen King adaptation before you account for inflation (after inflation it gets to 6th). It’s a genuine masterpiece of horror that leans more on the concepts than actual scares and lets the situation itself be where the horror comes from. With genuinely great performances by most of the cast (let’s just pretend the lead actor isn’t in this discussion), it’s a film that you absolutely need to see because it’s a genuine heart stopper… and because knowing about what happens in the original actually makes this movie have a much more powerful effect on you as an audience member.

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Us (2019) -Me And My Shadow

Released: 28th March
Seen: 28th March

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In 2017 the film Get Out was released in cinemas and it was nothing short of a phenomenon. No one expected it, Jordan Peele was a comic mostly known for his work with Key and Peele or MADtv and now he was going to direct a horror movie? His first time directing was going to be a horror film? It was a weird thought at the time and when Get Out finally hit screens, it was like an atom bomb went off. No one saw that coming, people started tearing it apart looking for all the subtle little tricks he hid in it. People literally had debates on if a shot of a woman eating fruit loops was a visual metaphor for segregation, that’s how nuts the reaction to that film got. I personally named it the best film of 2017, which is only slightly less prestigious than the Oscar that it won.  It made one hell of an impact, followed right away by the burning question “So, how will Jordan Peele follow this?” which was answered this year… and it’s such a good answer.

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Greta (2019) – Great

Released: 28th February
Seen: 3rd March

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One of my favourite films of all time is Fatal Attraction. The tale of a woman obsessing over a man who she has an affair with created one of the tensest motion pictures that I’ve ever experienced. It’s the film that I believe Glenn Close deserved an Oscar for and it’s a story archetype that I’ve grown interested in. Tales of obsession slowly turning into something terrifying will always get my attention, so when I heard that there was a new thriller out there that tried to handle the idea of obsession I was intrigued and hopeful that I might find something to join Fatal Attraction in my list of great thrillers and while Greta might not be as great as Fatal Attraction, it’s pretty damn awesome.

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019) – Déjà vu

Released: 14th February
Seen: 14th February

Happy Death Day 2U Info

In 2017, the year I started reviewing, I was unfortunate enough to be embroiled in a large amount of University work. Because of that, any movie that came out during October of that year was impossible for me to get out and watch. One of those movies was Happy Death Day, which I heard a fairly large amount about but didn’t get to watch until mid-January 2018 when it came out on DVD. Having seen it, let me state this clearly as I can… if I had seen that movie in 2017, it would’ve been on my Top 10 film list that year and probably on the upper end of that list. It is one of my favourite slasher films of all time, it’s deceptively simple concept (Groundhog Day, but it’s a slasher!) and the charming performance by its lead actress created an engaging horror comedy with several moments of brilliance and pulled off one of the hardest things you can do as a modern slasher movie… be PG-13 rated and not suck! So when I heard there was a sequel planned I was pumped, I was eager to see how they would follow this idea with another film and honestly, it’s pretty good.

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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) – Did Somebody Mention Art?

Released: 1st February
Seen: 1st February

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According to Urban Dictionary, the term “Velvet Buzzsaw” is a term with two possible meanings. The first one is a slang term for vagina (Which the dictionary itself uses in the sentence “As the conversation became sexually charged, she could feel her Velvet Buzzsaw begin to hum”). The second being an extreme oral sex technique where the male essentially motorboats the aforementioned vagina, meaning it’s theoretically possible to Velvet Chainsaw a Velvet Chainsaw. Interestingly, both these meanings of the term predate the conception of this movie by decades and neither one really has anything to do with the actual content of the film. It’s a vulgar title that elicits an image that the film itself chooses not to use; it merely refers to it when one female character explains that she used to take that on as a name in a moment that implies it reflects on her past. It’s a nickname that links her to female art groups like Pussy Riot, an artist group that intentionally chose a name that suggests sexuality in order to gain attention so that their message can be heard.  Now, I bring all this up to show you the disconnect between this film and the very idea it’s trying to explore… that art critique done for the purposes of profit is a crime worthy of the death of the critic and all those who might profit from their work. This idea makes this a fun film to try and talk about, but let’s see what happens.

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Mom and Dad (2018) – Hello Murder, Hello Furder

Released: 19th January
Seen: 4th December (Catch-Up Screening)

This year might be the best year Nicolas Cage has had in a very long time, this year he’s put his names on such amazing films as Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Mandy and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, films where he’s been allowed to have a lot of fun and either deliver a really clever vocal performance or just be the pure maniacal insane man we kind of love. Mom and Dad combines both of those performance styles for what is arguably his best role of the year, and one of the most delightfully dark films in recent memory.

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Overlord (2018) – 100 Nazi Scalps!

Released: 6th December
Seen: 3rd December (Advanced Screening)

One of the great joys of doing this is getting to really see some intense hard-hitting films. As I slowly start to finish out 2018 I look back and think about the hard intense thrillers, the powerful dramas, the deep explorations of the human psyche that I have sat through for the last 12 months and after all that it’s about time that I got to have a nice simple movie that I could switch my brain off during and just enjoy for its visceral delight in being over the top… and Overlord provided me exactly that.

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Summer Of 84 (2018) – Way WAY Before Nirvana

Released: 10th August
Seen: 28th November

Official Trailer for Summer of 84

One of the fascinating things about pop-culture, particularly the impact nostalgia plays on it, is something known as the 30-year cycle. To get a good explanation of this you need to look at Lindsay Ellis’ video essay Stranger Things, IT and the Upside Down of Nostalgia but basically, this cycle is why we’re seeing so many 80’s style content in pop culture recently. Not only is it why shows and movies like, well, Stranger Things and It are getting such buzz and are hitting something special in the audience, it also explains things like the stylistic choices of Thor: Ragnarok or the throwback nature of Mandy. The nature of the 30-year cycle lends itself really well to the horror genre, especially now since that 30-year cycle means we’re seeing echoes of one of the golden ages in horror. Summer of 84 capitalises on that and its echoes of a distant cinematic past are loud, vibrant and engaging.

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Halloween (2018) – No More Days Till Halloween, Silver Shamrock

Released: 25th October
Seen: 31st October

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In 1978, an unknown director named John Carpenter was given the chance to make a movie about a man in a mask who stalks babysitters. He worked with Debra Hill, who he had worked with on the film Assault on Precinct 13, and together they created Halloween. The original movie not only launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis but it also created one of the longest running franchises in horror movie history and, effectively, created the slasher genre. Yes, there were films before Halloween that we now count as slashers, but Halloween popularised it and created a very basic formula that dominated the horror landscape for decades. If you see a horror film today, the odds are good that someone at some point will cite the original Halloween as an inspiration. It’s also a series with a timeline so confusing that it can really be impossible to follow. Say what you will about series like Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, those series were relatively good at keeping a consistent story between films. Halloween has had several story changes, major plots dropped, main characters die only to come back in the next film, a full-fledged reboot and even a departure to tell a story about witches. Hell, even THIS film is confusing enough since it shares an identical title with two other films in this franchise. It’s confusing, so let me try and ease that confusion.

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