2022 / 96m - UK
Horror, Thriller
Stalker poster

A neat little single-location thriller with horror overtones. You get two characters stuck in an elevator, so if you want lots of things happening this is probably not the film for you, but Johnson does a great job building up the tension and hides a few fun (but somewhat predictable) twists in there to boot.

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When Rose arrives at her hotel, nobody is there. She takes the elevator, and at the last moment, a strange-looking guy joins her. On their way up the lift gets stuck and as they are unable to get it to move again, they start up an awkward conversation. The man turns out to be a colleague of Rose, who knows a thing or two about office secrets.

Both actors do a splendid job, Johnson makes excellent use of the small environment (he is a cinematographer after all), the music is moody and some minor twists here and there keep the film moving forward (even when the elevator isn't). A nifty and polished film that makes me interested in Johnson's other work.

Death Race 2000

1975 / 80m - USA
Sci-fi, Action
Death Race 2000 poster

Cute and cult. A film with few pretensions. Death Race 2000 is clearly geared at providing something short, sweet and explosive, regardless of the somewhat bland morality injection thrown in at the end. It is easy enough to ignore though, and just focus on a wacky race that no doubt inspired games like Carmageddon decades later.

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Every year a killer race is held. Several teams show up in crafty race cars and try to reach the finish first. On the way there they must rack up points by killing civilians, with different genders and age brackets being assigned a different amount of points. Yes, there is some strategy to it. The media loves to cover the race, but the public is starting to rebel.

The performances aren't all that great (Stallone is terrible even), and the effects and car designs are a little crummy, but the satire works and the film has a bright and happy vibe that contrasts perfectly well with the actual themes. I wouldn't call it great cinema, but there's still some appeal left, which is something for a 40-year-old film.

The Story of a Cheat

Le Roman d'un Tricheur
1936 / 81m - France
Comedy, Crime
The Story of a Cheat poster

A cute little film that felt a lot younger than its actual age. Guitry wrote and directed this film, while also taking on the lead role (and I assume that includes the endless voiceovers). The result is quirky and amusing (almost like a very old precursor to Amélie), but also a little tiring.

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Guitry tells the life story of a charming cheat. As a young boy, he was already an avid scammer and swindler. When his parents found him out, they punished him by denying him dinner, ultimately saving his life as the food contained poisonous mushrooms. Guitry sees it as a sign from God to keep doing what he loves.

The film is stacked with quirky details, the pacing is pleasant and the cinematography solid. The voiceovers did become a bit much after a while, certainly as they drone on for about the entire length of the film. It's a shame, as there was potential to do even better. It did make me want to check out more of Guitry's work, and that's not something I say very often about classic directors.

Speak No Evil

2022 / 97m - Denmark
Horror, Thriller
Speak No Evil poster

A fun take on the horror genre. The first half of the film isn't all that horrific, but the presentation (the music in particular) makes it clear we're watching a horror film. It's a good thing then the final third delivers. I think Tafdrup could've pushed it a little further still, but that's just nitpicking.

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Bjørn and Louise meet a Dutch family on their holiday in Italy. The two families hit it off and six months later they get an invitation to spend a vacation in The Netherlands. They oblige, but when they arrive, cultural differences drive a wedge between the two families, to the point where they don't feel comfortable anymore.

The first half of the film thrives on discomfort and anxiety (though not without a dash of comedy), as you feel something is off, it's just difficult to pinpoint what it is. The film takes a rather sharp turn halfway through and delivers some prime chills, including a rather disturbing ending. The performances are solid, the presentation is pleasant and the finale is right on target. Very good.

A raw and sobering look at the youngsters of a small fishing community in Britain (the type of town that would play a considerable part in the Brexit victory). The film is bleak and confrontational, some scenes are extremely tough to watch, but at the same time it's what makes this one stand out. Two scenes jump out immediately (the one bang in the center and the finale), making sure you'll be exiting the film with a nasty aftertaste. Impressive though, even after all these years.


2022 / 101m - USA
Grimcutty poster

The idea is good, splendid even. A horror film where the fear of overprotective parents is brought to life to take revenge on the children is pretty original. Sadly, the execution falls flat and we get a pretty pale, generic, and lifeless horror exercise that never comes close thrills and excitement it chases so desperately.

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Asha's parents aren't too happy with the time their kids spend on their mobile devices. When they hear about a new internet challenge, they freak out and take away their devices. Other families in town are doing the same, and soon enough nobody is allowed to go outside. Asha and her brother set out to uncover the truth behind the hype.

The premise is smart, but the performances are poor and the CG is appalling. No idea why Grimcutty looks like a poor man's Ryuk (from Death Note), but he looks ridiculous instead of scary. There are no real frights, the tension is missing and the finale is predictable. It's a real shame because the premise had potential.

Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi! Final Chapter poster

The final chapter in the series, though of course, it isn't quite final. Shiraishi went on to make a few more spin-off episodes. For the main franchise though, this was the end, and what an end it was. This is by far the craziest entry in the Senritsu Kaiki franchise, and the way things have been going in the last couple of films, that's quite a bar.

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Tashiro is the only remaining member of the film crew. He continues the work of his predecessors and hits the jackpot when he runs into Eno, a psychic who promises he can bring back Kudo and Ichikawa. For that, Tashiro has to complete four seemingly random missions, each one trickier than the last.

The first two-thirds of the film is still pretty sane, especially if you've seen the previous parts. Then all bets are off and Shiraishi goes all out. Technically it's not great, but there's a creepy mood running throughout and the finale has some pretty wacky ideas. It's a shame the series is coming to a close when things are actually getting good, but at least it ends on a high note. This was not what I expected when I started these films, and that's a big positive.

Lost in America

1985 / 91m - USA
Lost in America poster

Ah yes, the archetypical 80s comedy that refuses to be funny. Instead of laughs, you get a sad, little schmuck who turns his life around and screws up just about everything he undertakes. Unpleasant characters and setbacks lie at the core of the comedy, dreary performances and bland writing take care of the rest.

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When David tells off his boss after a missed promotion, he is immediately fired. This gets him thinking, and that same night he tells his wife that he wants to leave their old lives behind and tour the country with the money they've saved. Their marriage is in a rut, so she obliges right away.

Albert Brooks isn't all that great in the lead, his directorial skills are negligible too. There are no funny or interesting characters, the situations they get themselves in are pretty boring and the vibe is just drab from start to finish. At least it stopped short of 90 minutes, that was by far the smartest choice Brooks made.


2022 / 87m - USA
Comedy, Horror
Deadstream poster

A live streamer parody and a haunted house horror rolled into one. It's not the most original premise, though I don't think I've seen it done before with this type of gag streamer nonsense. It's a smart move and it works well, but not for 90 minutes straight. After a while, the lead character was just a bit too grating for my taste.

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Shawn is a popular streamer who messed up and got canceled by the internet. Six months later he resurfaces, and he wants to build up his brand again. He is willing to stream from a haunted house and he locks himself inside the premises. Not a smart move, as some actual ghosts are eager to take a swing at him.

Joseph Winter does well, but his character isn't strong enough to carry the film the whole way through. The effects are a bit crummy (I get it, the 80s and all, but not a success), the streamer stuff starts taking up too much time and the film overstays its welcome. Not bad, it just would've been better with 15 minutes cut.

The Legend of Enveloped Demons

by Yin Yue
Dao Jian Feng Mo
2022 / 94m - China
Fantasy, Action
The Legend of Enveloped Demons poster

A slightly more elevated Chinese fantasy/action project. It's not on their usual blockbuster level, it's not quite a streamer filler either. It doesn't do a whole lot for the overall quality of the film, which is fine but not excellent, but at least it gives you mildly different parameters to appreciate. And that's all I really needed from this film.

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The Vanquishers are a special brand of warrior, brought to life to fight off a demon invasion. They are successful in their endeavor, but when their mission is finished they serve little purpose and people begin to fear them. When they arrive in a city where the ruler has made a pact with a particularly vicious demon, they'll have to fight more than just a couple of demons to survive.

The effects are slightly better and the scope of the film is also a little bigger. The added runtime gives more time for melodrama though, which isn't really the best way to spend those extra 15-20 minutes. It's a fun, pleasantly paced, and adequately made demon basher, so I'm not complaining at all.

Significant Other

2022 / 84m - USA
Sci-fi, Horror
Significant Other poster

A cute little sci-fi horror, with some neat twists and inconsequential reveals. Not everything works here, the ambition for this film seemed to have been relatively low too, but the result is a pretty fun genre flick that doesn't overstay its welcome and delivers when it really matters.

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A young couple is going on their first hiking trip. What they don't know is that an alien ship has just landed in the forest, and is looking for Earthly subjects to study. It starts trailing the couple, but they're going through some relationship troubles, so they don't notice that something is eyeing them from the shadows.

The intro is a bit long, the midway twist is cheapish and Lacy may not have been the best cast, but some decent effects, a lovely setting, and some solid horror shots make up for it. You won't find anything new here, but the presentation is solid and people looking for pleasant, seasonal horror filler won't be disappointed.


2022 / 89m - Canada
Control poster

A simple sci-fi concept, held back by some mediocre drama. A film like this hinges on the execution of its genre elements, but when the focus shifts to drama you need other things, like proper actors, subtlety, and earned emotions. Those aren't the characteristics of your average genre film, and so it is not surprising Control ended up being a little contrived.

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Eileen wakes up in a small room, sitting in a chair. A computer voice gives her tasks, which she has to complete in a certain amount of time. If not, the life of her young daughter is at stake. Eileen obliges, but her mission becomes way more difficult when her estranged husband is added to the room.

It's a fun enough premise and though there aren't any major surprises, the solid pacing and decent presentation make this an easy watch. The relationship drama is quite dreary, bland, and poorly acted, which really works against the film. A bit more focus and a stronger dedication to getting the genre tropes right could've turned this filler project into a small cult favorite, but alas.

Roger & Me

1989 / 91m - USA
Roger & Me poster

The big Michael Moore show. Moore's breakthrough documentary sees him returning to his hometown when news breaks that the big General Motors plant is closing down. The town depends on those jobs, so Moore tries to reach the chairman of General Motors Roger B. Smith for an interview.

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Moore's typical techniques are already in full effect here. There's a comedic layer, but it never feels entirely truthful and/or genuine, which undermines the points he's trying to make. This is a shame because some of those points are definitely worth making, and they kind of fade into the background.

I'm not a big fan of "let's try to reach this man so we can shit on him" type of footage (as it isn't very realistic), Moore's documentary is more interesting when he deviates from his original premise, it's just that I've grown to dislike his style over the years. It's still somewhat entertaining, just not very effective.


2022 / 121m - USA
Hellraiser poster

A slight disappointment. Not that my expectations were all that high, not after they axed a slew of way more interesting directors from the project, but it was obvious that they wanted to bring back some of the original flair to the Hellraiser franchise. That didn't really work out with Bruckner helming the film.

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Riley is recovering from a drug addiction, but her newest boyfriend gets her on the wrong path again. Together they plan a heist, where they find the infamous puzzle box. Riley takes it home and inadvertently calls on Pinhead. She and her friends will have to fight off the Cenobites, as they lust for their flesh.

There's been a lot of talk about having a female Pinhead, but who cares when the Cenobites look like crap, the film lacks the excessive gore and the tension is completely absent. Yes, the budget is finally there again, but the horror elements are poorly executed and boring. That's not what you want from a Hellraiser film. Also, two hours is insane for a simple film like this. Just hire a good director for the next one, please.


2019 / 106m - USA
Serenity poster

A very odd little mystery. The premise isn't that original, but I am quite curious how this ended up being a film about a fisherman eager to catch a legendary fish. I understand the analogy and all, but I'm not sure it quite worked for this type of film. In part though, that's what made it stand out, so maybe Knight was onto something after all.

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Dill is a captain who takes tourists out on fishing trips. There's a big tuna that has escaped him for years, and whenever he runs into the fish, Dill hijacks the trip. He never managed to catch the fish, and he's running low on funds. Then his old girlfriend arrives in town, and she comes with a peculiar request.

McConaughey and Hathaway clearly weren't the best actors for the part, but even they can't ruin this otherwise interesting setup. The film looks decent enough, the reveal of the mystery is meticulous (though not too surprising) and the pacing is pleasant. Far from perfect, but an intriguing little experiment nonetheless.