I’m not sure I’d be as effusive as Stephen King when he wrote; “No extraneous bullshit. Just nerve-splintering terror.” He’s right it’s a tight screenplay, and the cast delivers one subtle turn after another. I’m less convinced by King’s promises of terror. My nerves must’ve been dulled by years of movie trauma, because I didn’t feel anything like the adrenaline spike I was expecting. One thing it did manage was to keep the story rolling until the very last frame, which I always find very satisfying.
Mortal Engines (2018)
Mortal Engines is what would’ve happened if John Carter (2012) had a love child with Jupiter Ascending (2015), and then the two superstars broke up.
Jupiter would no doubt be left to raise their child alone. She’d do her best until Mortal, looking for the kind of validation and respect you can only find on the the streets, start getting into trouble.
John’s returns to the family home would be met with a mix of hostility and incredulity by Mortal. Only after a protracted period of withering contrition are John and Jupiter able to reconnect with their daughter.
It takes time but eventually they all reconcile, put their differences aside, and live happily ever after.
Happiest Season (2020)
A very happy Christmas coming out story. It’s not quite The Family Stone (2005). It lacks the intimate family dynamics that makes the latter so suited to Christmas. The siblings here are plagued with secrets, that gives the revelations when they come, a bitter taste. But don’t worry it’s all in keeping with the season.
A lockdown Zoom call does the impossible, and manages to hold my interest for an hour. A group of friends accidentally summon a demon when they perform a seance online. A tight script, and strong performances, make the most of the technical restriction. Strong enough to get director Rob Savage a three picture deal with Blumhouse Productions.
The longline is probably something like “famous horror writer finds inspiration for her new book when, with her husband, she takes in newlyweds”. For me it’s in love with the idea of the writer as tortured masochist. Elisabeth Moss is unflinching as the grisly wordsmith. Michael Stuhlbarg matches her as the domineering husband. It’s an internal film, making physical the interior psychology inherent in a book. Think a swim in the shallow waters of Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 film Mother!
His House (2020)
The trauma carried by refugees forms the basis for this low budget ghost story. A couple escaping from the ravages of war torn South Sudan, land in a hostile town in England. Their struggle to adjust is hampered by the ghosts of impossible choices. Performances are brilliant, as is a tight screenplay. I’m interested to see what’s next for first time writer director Remi Weekes.