The Banshees of Inisherin

2022 / 114m - Ireland
Comedy, Drama
The Banshees of Inisherin poster

I didn't really get the buzz surrounding Three Billboards, so my expectations were pretty low going in. That turned out to be a good thing, as the hype that The Banshees of Inisherin generated is quite overblown. It's a film that has its moments, but I don't think it will linger for very long.

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Colm and Pádraic are lifelong friends, until one day Colm doesn't want to have anything to do with Pádraic anymore. The latter is thoroughly confused, but Colm's mind is made up. Pádraic is frustrated that he can't even get a decent explanation out of Colm, and he isn't willing to let go of his best friend that easily.

Gleeson is good, Farrell is a bit overdone. The setting is nice and gritty, but the cinematography and score feel quite outdated and dim. The story didn't really interest me either, the comedy is a tad bland, and the drama never truly blossoms. The film's racking up awards though, so others are clearly seeing something I didn't.


2021 / 127m - Japan
Drama, Sci-fi
Arc poster

A stylish blend of genre and arthouse. Ishikawa finds a lovely balance between the two, serving a heartfelt drama without compromising on the genre elements. The cinematography is extremely polished, the score feels tailored to the film, the performances are refined and the plot is interesting. Some of the stylistic choices didn't entirely vibe with me (the black-and-white cinematography is lush, but not quite as good as the color segments), but that's just a little nitpicking. I was pleasantly surprised by Arc, it's a shame the film didn't generate more hype, but what else is new?

Nozoki Ana

2013 / 55m - Japan
Romance - Animation
Nozoki Ana poster

Oh this was bad. I don't mind a little ecchi nonsense, as long as it is done with the proper glee and cheese. Nozoki Ana takes itself way too seriously though, without anything of real substance to back it up. The result is a complete drag, making that 50-something minutes feel like a three-hour film. Some people hate labels and such, but proper tagging could've at least prevented me from watching this crap.

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The premise isn't entirely terrible though. A young student moves to Tokyo to start design school. He finds there's a hole in the wall, with a girl behind it who has a penchant for peeping. He isn't too comfortable with the idea, but the girl is pretty headstrong and convinces him he'll come to appreciate the setup. It will just take a couple of detours first.

In the hands of someone like Ryuichi Hiroki this could've been a superb drama with a taboo edge, instead you get a film more occupied with teen lust and boobs. The animation is crap, the art style bland, the plot and characters are paper thin and the premise is little more than an excuse. I'm sure there's an audience for this, I'm just clearly not it.

Gate of Hell

1953 / 89m - Japan
Gate of Hell poster

A proper restoration made this film a bit more watchable. The colors do pop and add some visual appeal, but the slow pacing, endless dialogue, and somewhat barren plot didn't really hold the attention. The emotional core of the film just didn't work for me, and that's not good for a drama.

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Morito is assigned to protect Kesa, when she is used as a diversion to prevent a coup. Morito falls for her charms and when he's given a wish, Morito asks for her hand. She is already married to another samurai, but Morito isn't planning to step down, and he demands his wish be honored.

I guess you could also label the film as a romance, but the emotions are so stoic and the behavior so formal that it just feels wrong to do so. Performances aren't too bad and some of the shots really look nice, but the film doesn't excel at anything and I just got bored with the drama after a while.

Witch Hunt

2021 / 98m - USA
Witch Hunt poster

A bit of a misfire, this one. The premise is pretty damn ridiculous, but nobody seemed to have informed the crew and director. Witch Hunt is a pretty serious film, even mixing in some societal critique, but none of it hits the mark. This would've worked a lot better if everybody involved would've just embraced the camp.

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Witchcraft is real and it is deemed illegal in the US. A special police unit tracks down witches and burns them. Claire lives together with her mom, who provides safe shelter for witches wanting to cross the border. They have a pretty good system in place, but the police begin to suspect something is off at their house.

The film plays like an "elevated horror", but even that attempt feels pretty cheap. The soundtrack is dim, the cinematography comes off a tad cheap, and the performances aren't too great. To then have modern witch hunters running around as police people, chasing witches, just makes everything worse.

Demon Hunter

Demon Hunter Makaryûdo
1989 / 30m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Demon Hunter poster

Anime defaults. 30 minutes isn't a whole lot, it's certainly not enough to cover a demon invasion of our Earthly realm. Demon Hunter doesn't care though. It just condenses everything as much as possible, sticks to cliches to fill in the gaps, and tries to get to the good parts as quickly as feasible. And so you get a film thaw it's just 30 minutes, but covers as much as some other OAVs.

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A young boy walks home at night with his friend. Of course, demons are waiting in the alleyways, hoping to jump and kill the boy, who holds a special place in the conquering of the human world. A new transfer student comes to his aid. She is familiar with the boy and she tries to get close to him afterward after the attack. Not soon after the leader of the demons will reveal itself.

This felt a lot like a simpler, shorter, and cheaper version of 3x3 Eyes. The demons are pretty cool, the art style is decent, it's only the animation that feels a tad shabby in places. The story is clearly rushed, at the same time, which makes it a bit easier to stomach, since it's not covering any new ground. Solid but simple filler in other words.


2023 / 91m - UK
Consecration poster

A decent but somewhat basic and predictable horror flick. The setting is a small convent on the Scottish shores, the story pretty much writes itself after that. There's certainly nothing blatantly wrong with Consecration, it's just that Christopher Smith used to deliver more notable horror films, so it's hard not to feel just a little disappointed.

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Grace is called back to Scotland when her brother is found in a local convent. He committed suicide, a priest was found nearby, murdered. Grace isn't religious and has some traumatic events in her past that makes her wary of anything to do with faith, but the longer she stays in the convent, the more she feels drawn to this way of life.

The setting is gorgeous, the performances are solid and there are some neat little twists in the story, that do add a little intrigue. But it's not enough to make a sizeable impact, and the horror elements are a tad generic. It's a proper horror film that doesn't bore and deliver exactly what it promises, so if you're looking for pleasant genre filler, give it a go.

Detective Dee and Dragon Hidden Lair

2023 / 64m - China
Fantasy, Mystery
Detective Dee and Dragon Hidden Lair poster

Detective Dee, the Chinese answer to Sherlock Holmes, was popularised by Tsui Hark with three sprawling blockbusters. Nowadays he's featured mostly in simpler streamer fare. Dragon Hidden Lair isn't on par with Hark's work, but it is short and pretty amusing regardless, which are qualities too. I've come to expect a little more of films like this in recent times though.

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The Empress is trying to improve her reputation by throwing a big ceremony, but when the event draws close a military boat is completely annihilated, with all the men left dead on board. So close to the ceremony this throws a serious wrench in the Empress' plans, so she summons Dee to solve the case before the ceremony takes place.

The CG is pretty crummy and the case a little too simple. It's really just a matter of trying to fit all the clues in the very limited runtime. And whenever that time isn't there, Dee has sudden realisations that solve whatever needs to be solved. It's not a very remarkable film by any means, but it is good, short, condensed genre fun, which is all I really needed from it.

The Donor Party

2023 / 93m - USA
The Donor Party poster

It's a bit weird, but there's such a dearth of easy comedies these days that even simple filler like this feels like a breath of fresh air. The Donor Party isn't anything special, it's not even all that funny, but there's just no drama or other secondary nonsense to break up the comedy. And that in itself is worth something.

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When Jaclyn runs into her ex-husband, she decides it's time to take the next step in her life. She wants a kid, but without a man or money that's not an easy feat. Her friends plan a little party, where they invite some eligible targets. It's up to Jaclyn to amass as much sperm as she can in one night.

Subtle it is not, but the film isn't as crass as the plot suggests. The comedy is pretty predictable, but Akerman is solid and the rest of the cast offers proper support. It's also a healthy 90 minutes with little extra fat, and no real drama to take away from the happy vibes. I wouldn't call it a good film, but considering the scarcity, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Vampire Wars

Vampire Senzo
1990 / 50m - Japan
Action, Horror - Animation
Vampire Wars poster

A pretty bland and generic anime, that still manages to score some points by neatly checking off all the genre boxes. Vampire Wars is a forgettable film, but it is short, pretty lively, and mixes quite a few different genres. Chances are you won't be bored watching this one, you probably just won't remember it all that fondly.

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Violent attacks are carried out on some American intelligence institutions. A French Secret Service agent calls in the help of Kousaburo Kuki, a private investigator with a solid reputation. His investigation leads to Lamia, a young pop queen who is threatened by a strange vampire cult. Kuki will have to be careful if he wants to escape his latest ordeal alive.

The animation and art style aren't too great, the mix of action, horror, romance, and crime is probably a bit too ambitious for the short 50-minute runtime, and the film doesn't do enough to set itself apart from other, similarly generic anime. It's still a decent film if you're looking for short and sweet anime filler.

The Cars That Ate Paris

1974 / 91m - Australia
Comedy, Horror
The Cars That Ate Paris poster

A slight disappointment. With a title and poster like that, it's hard not to expect something a little crazier and wilder. But The Cars That Ate Paris is a pretty subdued film considering its pretty outlandish premise. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not really what I wanted from a silly film like this.

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Paris is a little backward town in Australia. To survive, the people of Paris have some nasty tricks up their sleeves. They cause car crashes whenever tourists roll through town, then they scrape the cars for parts and sell those for good money. Arthur survives his crash and the people of Paris decide to make him a part of their community.

It takes quite a while for things to get really moving, it isn't until the last 15 or 20 minutes that things really start to heat up. The premise is fun though, the performances are decent and it's not a bad film by any means. The tone and vibe are just a little off, which takes away from the overall fun.

The Boy Behind the Door poster

A simple but stylish horror film. The premise couldn't be more basic, and apart from purposefully hiding the perpetrator during the first half, the directors don't attempt anything special. This is one of those films that puts everything on execution and is all the better for it. One for the core horror fans in other words.

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Bobby and Kevin are best friends. One day they are kidnapped and taken to a remote house, where they are locked up. Bobby manages to escape, but he can't leave Kevin behind, so he does his best to conquer his fear and get his best friend out. Not an easy task for a scared little boy.

The build-up of the tension is superb, the cinematography is stylish and there are just enough little twists and turns to keep things interesting, even though nothing here is even remotely original. The film lacks something to truly set it apart, but if you're looking for prime horror filler, it's a very good bet.

The Way of the Househusband

2022 / 117m - Japan
Comedy, Crime
The Way of the Househusband poster

The Way of the Househusband was already a popular anime and live-action TV show, so I'm not surprised they turned out a movie version too. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a live-action anime adaptation, funny and over-the-top, but a bit low on cinematic qualities and a bit too generic to make a lasting impression.

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A former Yakuza hitman mellowed out and turned his life around. He has a wife and kids now, and he stays at home, taking care of the household. His old life still follows him around though, and the police are wary of his behavior. Some big misunderstandings will make his life a big old mess.

The comedy is pretty predictable, the acting style is well over-the-top and the pun-based misunderstandings are a little too generic. Japan likes to Yakuzafy everything and this wasn't a bad attempt, it's just not a very remarkable or memorable one. Pretty decent if you're looking for light comedy fluff, but don't expect anything more.

The Outwaters

2022 / 110m - USA
The Outwaters poster

Vintage found footage horror. The Outwaters does nothing new (though it prides itself on not using any special effects whatsoever), so you should have a good idea of what you're getting yourself into. After a rather long introduction, things get crazy and cameras start swinging. The scary part is not knowing exactly what is happening.

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Four young people take a trip to the Mojave desert. They are out there to shoot a music video, with some sightseeing on the way up there. The first day goes well, but then strange things start happening at night and the group finds themselves struggling to survive an unknown enemy.

The four main characters aren't that interesting, so the long intro was a bit unnecessary. The second half of the film is one big, frantic clusterfuck. Things get weird and it's hard to make out what exactly is happening. The film is pretty stingy with hints too, so people hoping for a clear conclusion shouldn't even bother. I had a pretty solid time, but I've seen better.

The Whale

2022 / 117m - USA
The Whale poster

Aronofsky keeps it small, but his hand is clearly visible still. The Whale is a condensed drama about a man who let himself go physically and is trying to right some wrongs in the final days of his life. It is set in a single house (and a very small porch), and the drama takes center stage.

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Charlie is an English lit teacher who teaches from his home. He tells his students his camera is broken, but in reality, he is morbidly obese and just doesn't want to show himself to the world. After leaving his wife and daughter for a male student eight years ago, his life fell to pieces and he never managed to recover.

Even though the drama is the primary focus, the film is still pretty visceral. Aronofsky really highlights the physical and mental strain Charlie's body imposes on him, which is a big plus. The middle part felt a little long in the tooth, but the finale was amazing. There are quite a few memorable moments that left a real mark, the performances are great and it really feels like a thing of its own. Another good film by Aronofsky, not quite a personal favorite, but it's a lot better than most other dramas out there.