A Tree of Palme poster

A Tree of Palme

by Takashi Nakamura
Also know as
Parumu no Ki
Specifics
Japan [2002] - 130 mins
Genre
Animation, Adventure, Drama
More info on
4.0

A beautiful and imaginative fantasy film that takes a surprisingly dark turn. The premise sounds a lot like Pinocchio and there are some jolly sidekicks accompanying Palme on his quest, but this is more fantasy Akira than it is Japanese Disney. It's a film that requires some effort, but the payoff is fully worth it.

3 from Hell poster

3 from Hell

by Rob Zombie
Specifics
USA [2019] - 115 mins
Genre
Horror
More info on
3.5

Rob Zombie's return to the depraved horror anarchy that brought him fame as a director. It's a tad strange to see a film like this being released in 2019, but at least that makes it stand out from the rest. The horror feels a little tame though and there are some pacing issues, but a sprawling finale more than makes up for that. Good stuff.

This Magnificent Cake! poster

This Magnificent Cake!

by Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels
Also know as
Ce Magnifique Gâteau!
Specifics
Belgium, France [2018] - 44 mins
Genre
Animation, Comedy, Drama
More info on
3.5

Very charming and unique stop-motion animation that delves into Belgium's colonial paste and comes up with a couple of small-scale but pleasantly surreal stories. It's quite short, not very cohesive and clearly made on a shoestring budget, but the talent of the creators easily overcame all these hurdles. A fun discovery.

Realms poster

Realms

by Daric Gates
Specifics
USA [2017] - 90 mins
Genre
Horror, Mystery
More info on
2.5

There are traces, shimmers and echoes of a good horror flick here, but for some reason the films keeps shooting itself in the food. A muddled and derivative story, poor acting, uneven genre mix and some shoddy CG stand in the way of a more respectable rating. Not terrible, but not quite a success either.

The Grudge poster

The Grudge

by Nicolas Pesce
Specifics
Canada, USA [2020] - 94 mins
Genre
Horror
More info on
3.0

Pointless continuation of the franchise. Too similar to make a real impact, too different to feel like a true Ju-On film. Pesce's direction is solid but a little inconspicuous, the writing could've used some extra spice. By itself this isn't too bad of a film, but as the next episode in the Ju-On franchise it's a pretty big letdown.

Arcana poster

Arcana

by Yoshitaka Yamaguchi
Also know as
Arukana
Specifics
Japan [2013] - 89 mins
Genre
Horror, Mystery
More info on
3.5

Not your typical Japanese ghost story. There's a bit more lore to go through here, it's also much more direct in style and execution. Quite gory at times, with solid cinematography, edgy editing and some interesting fantasy elements thrown into the mix. This was quite a pleasant surprise to be honest. Not flawless but good fun nonetheless.

Harpoon poster

Harpoon

by Rob Grant
Specifics
Canada [2019] - 83 mins
Genre
Comedy, Horror
More info on
3.5

Three terrible people get stuck on a boat. It doesn't take very long before their friendship completely deteriorates and each of them goes in full survival mode. A simple setup, but the mix of comedy and horror is effective. The ending is appropriately dark too, I really had a lot of fun with this one. Prime filler.

Doctor Vampire poster

Doctor Vampire

by Jamie Luk
Also know as
Jiang Shi Yi Sheng
Specifics
Hong Kong [1990] - 98 mins
Genre
Comedy, Horror
More info on
2.5

HK vampire comedy, the kind that was all the rage in the late 80s. It's all pretty cheap and fleeting, at the same time it's also pretty fun and entertaining. The poor acting and silly effects come with the territory, but the onslaught of cheesy and zany humor save this film from total obscurity. It's niche, but if you like this kind of thing, it's decent filler.

Sadako poster

Sadako

Specifics
Japan [2019] - 99 mins
Genre
Horror
More info on
2.5

Another entry in the Ringu franchise, helmed by Nakata himself. It's more mystery/drama than horror though and the few scares that are there are greatly ineffective. It feels like a film from a bygone era, but judged on its own merits it's not a terrible film. Just don't expect too much from it and don't try to compare it to the other films in the franchise.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires poster

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

by Roy Ward Baker, Cheh Chang
Specifics
UK, Hong Kong [1974] - 89 mins
Genre
Action, Horror
More info on
1.5

Hammer meet Shaw Bros. Two legendary production companies working on a single films sounds appealing, but the result is lackluster and troubled. Mediocre martial arts scenes, terrible practical effects and a dull mix of Western and Eastern mythology make this is project a failure. I'm not surprised their cooperation was short-lived.

Bodies at Rest poster

Bodies at Rest

by Renny Harlin
Also know as
Chen Mo De Zheng Ren
Specifics
China, Hong Kong [2019] - 94 mins
Genre
Thriller
More info on
3.5

A simple but capable thriller that plays a little like Die Hard in a Chinese hospital. It's nothing too original or out of the ordinary, but the execution is on point, the actors do a decent job and there are a few scenes that do manage to get the juices flowing. Not a very memorable film, but extremely solid filler nonetheless.

Cencoroll Connect poster

Cencoroll Connect

by Atsuya Uki
Specifics
Japan [2019] - 75 mins
Genre
Animation, Fantasy
More info on
3.5

A bright and creative little fantasy film that's a little hard to grasp, but if you have experience with the weirder side of anime then this film shouldn't be too hard to follow. A cool premise, awesome character designs and a nifty art style elevate make this a real treat. It's just a little too baseless to make a truly big impact though.

Jumanji poster

Jumanji

by Joe Johnston
Specifics
USA [1995] - 104 mins
Genre
Adventure, Fantasy
More info on
1.5

Somewhat long and stretched out family adventure that is held back by a combination of outdated effects and bad CG. Williams is rather annoying, the game itself isn't that much fun and the trials and tribulations of the cast feels flimsy and inconsequential. No doubt this works better for kids, but I clearly prefer the reboot over the original one.

Marriage Story poster

Marriage Story

by Noah Baumbach
Specifics
USA, UK [2019] - 136 mins
Genre
Drama
More info on
1.5

A pretty tired divorce narrative that isn't helped by actor who are trying very hard to act and a director who supposedly fell asleep halfway through. The simplistic people vs the system finger waving didn't really help the film forward either. There are a few pleasant scenes, but hardly enough to support a 132-minute film.

Hard-Core poster

Hard-Core

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Also know as
Hâdo Koa
Specifics
Japan [2018] - 124 mins
Genre
Comedy
More info on
4.0

I'm not a big Yamashita fan, but this mix of absurd comedy and social drama is quite something else. It kept me guessing from start to finish, it held quite a few positive surprises and the ending is simply perfect, even though it doesn't really resolve anything. Hard-Core is a very pleasant surprise, though I'm sure it's not for everyone.