Anime review: Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue movie posterIn the late 70s, the heady buzz surrounding anime that had been ushered into the West by titles such as the 1963 TV series Astro Boy and the 1965 Kimba the White Lion had started to fade. Video store shelves had begun to bulge with violent, gun-toting Lolita’s and cult followings of the hyper-sexual tentacle porn (hentai) had soured the reputation of the genre.

Then came Akira (1988) and with it a swath of landmark films that would guide the genre into a Western renaissance. The release of Perfect Blue by director Satoshi Kon in 1997 showcased a brash, gaudy, visually haunting feature that, in true Kon style, provided us with an uncomfortably accurate prophesier to the erosion of private life in the internet age. Continue reading

Hollywood’s Obsession with the Devouring Mother

Hollywood MothersHereditary, the title of Ari Aster’s eagerly anticipated new film, has got horror fans sitting up and paying attention. Rumours of psychologically broken actors suffering from PTSD and promises of a film set to be this generation’s The Exorcist, Hereditary is already guaranteed to secure a place on the IMDB Top 100 list. Motherhood is as prevalent a theme in horror as death, sex and mental illness; indeed, the most monstrous incarnations manage to assimilate them all into one. 

If you take a sweeping glance across the horror genre over the last decade, you’ll notice that mothers have had a pretty bad rap. Angry, over-bearing, sexually repressed, possessive; the devouring mothers depicted on-screen are Freudian nightmares. In the flesh, in spirit, male, metaphorical or metaphysical – the devouring mother archetype manifests in a wildly vast number of ways. Continue reading

Hereditary review “What was that ending?”

Hereditary movie posterThe nauseating anxiety triggered by this film has only just receded from my psyche. It’s rare, nowadays, for a film to imbue such writhing terror onto a usually desensitised and skeptical audience.

The jump scares are scarce as the film titters towards a creeping-dread approach to horror; horror that emerges from our inevitable capacity to inflict pain on ourselves and those we love. Comparisons with The Exorcist and The Shining do this film little justice however, as Ari Aster’s directorial debut has much more in common with subdued tension-builders like It Comes At Night and The Witch (both films are also distributed by indie-powerhouse A24). Continue reading

On Chesil Beach review “Brimming with English melancholy”

On Chesil Beach posterThe pebble beaches, brooding grey skies and that familiar reserved English melancholy of Ian McEwan’s novella On Chesil Beach have been meticulously translated into film, adapted by the author himself and directed by Dominic Cooke, this being his debut feature film. Starring Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle as the polite yet passionately in love pair, it’s a tender ode to what it’s like to fall in love in your early twenties.

On Chesil Beach is the story of Florence and Edward, two young graduates who are about to be married in the summer of 1962. Florence is a fiercely talented and ambitious violinist from a upper-middle class family, daughter to a factory owner (Samuel West) and a philosophy professor (Emily Watson). Edward is just as wickedly smart but from far humbler beginnings. Continue reading

A Quiet Place review “Quietly terrifying”

A Quiet Place movie posterCinema is awfully quiet these days. Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck and Kim Ki-Duk’s Moebius are among the small but substantial handful of films to have embraced the power of keeping schtum. In the cacophony of modern cinema, silence is an underrated commodity. John Krasinski’s directorial debut A Quiet Place is the latest to hold back on the sound in order to enhance the visual horrors. If ever a film had me inwardly crawling my way into a booby trapped bear pit whilst silently gabbering with fear, A Quiet Place is that film.

There’s been some kind of apocalyptic event, biological or alien that we don’t know, in which humanity (or the US at least) is now hunted by giant, super fast and super vicious reptilian creatures. Completely blind, they hunt with an acute sense of hearing meaning survivors must live in a constant state of silent, fearful anticipation. Even the slightest noise will draw them out and if they hear you, well, you’ll see. Continue reading