Host (2020)

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.

Watched Shirley (2020)

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!

Shirley movie

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.

Overlord (2018)

Reluctant heroes, with orders to take out a radio tower integral to the success of the D-Day landings, discover a Nazi camp experimenting of corpses. No great insight into the horrors of war. Instead it’s a fight for survival against man made monsters. Not sure I’d watch it again but it’s well constructed, and hits all the notes it’s supposed to.

Rebecca (2020)

I’m afraid something gets lost in this translation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel. It lacks the gothic torment at the heart of the original story. Instead, the whole thing feels like that commercial with a resurrected Audrey Hepburn, the one for Galaxy Chocolate.

The Lie (2018)

The daughter of a divorced couple impulsively pushes her best friend off a bridge. Intent on protecting their daughter, the couple do everything they can to save her from the consequences of this single moment of madness. As one lie creates another, the out of control becomes uncontrollable. This really is a lesson in torturing your characters. Applying pressure until they’re pushed to the brink. A strong cast bring an expert screenplay to life.

The Boys in the Band (2020)

Quite possibly the most startling piece of writing I’ve discovered this year. The thing that’s most revealing, that you need to take into account, is that it’s a remake of a film from 1970, that is an adaptation of a play from the late sixties. Chastised by a single location, it’s very much a stage play turned into a film. It burrows deep into the psyche of seven friends, as they each deal with the pressure of loving a person, or persons, of the same sex. It feels like I walked in on the most primal encounter. More than a confessional, it spurts it’s revelations like spunk choking a throat.

Watched American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020)

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

This lacks the bleakness of the original Millennium Trilogy. Don’t get me wrong it swims in some pretty dark waters, even if that water is only twelve inches deep. In the end it’s a well made thriller that builds pleasingly enough. More than other incarnations of Lisbeth Salander, this one feels like latter day James Bond.

Watched The Rental (2020)