Tin & Tina

2023 / 119m - Spain
Tin & Tina poster

A pleasant Spanish horror flick, though a bit long in the tooth. The premise is a little too simple to warrant the 120-minute runtime and the ending could've used a bit of extra spice, but the base quality is definitely there and the film has a handful of memorable moments. That's good enough for genre filler.

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When Lola has a miscarriage on her wedding day, her only remaining chance at having children is adoption. With her husband, she visits a nearby convent, where she meets Tin and Tina, two albino kids who were left on the steps of the convent several years ago. She takes pity on them, but their dedication to religion brings some unforeseen challenges.

The presentation looks stylish, the performances are solid and the albino twins are creepy. It's a moody film, but the horror elements are quite modest and the (reversed) religious angle isn't 100% convincing. If it had been a 90-minute film with a punchier ending I'm sure I would've liked it better.

THX 1138

1971 / 86m - USA
Sci-fi, Thriller
THX 1138 poster

George Lucas' first film remains his best one. It's also a perfect example of how to clean up an old film because it sure doesn't look its age. It's a hard sci-fi genre flick that makes the most of its limited budget but slows down just a little too much in the middle to keep its status as a personal favorite.

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THX and LUH are living in a closed-off, underground city, that is using drugs to keep its population under control. They are slowly defecting, but the city has many fail-safes in place to warn them about rogue citizens. Even so, together with the help of SEN, they come up with a plan that may get them to the surface.

Stark camerawork, intriguing (but cold) sci-fi designs, and a fetish-like styling give the film a timeless appeal, though the more recent visual upgrade definitely helped. The concept is a little simple though and some scenes feel dragged out beyond their stretching point, but dedicated sci-fi fans owe it to themselves to give this one a go.


2007 / 105m - Thailand
Ploy poster

A good film, but Ratanaruang clearly struggled without Doyle behind the camera. It's not that the cinematography is bad, but for a film that put emphasis on long and slow takes, it's not quite refined enough. The score compensates and adds oodles of atmosphere, it's just wasn't quite enough to keep me engaged all the way through.

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Wit and his wife Dang return from the USA to Bangkok to attend a funeral. They arrive in the middle of the night and check in at a luxurious hotel. Wit can't sleep and goes to the bar, where he runs into Ploy, a young girl waiting for her mother to arrive. He invites her back to his room to freshen up.

There isn't much in the way of a plot, just a central cast of characters who cross paths. The soundtrack is moody, the cinematography is polished, and the performances are flawless, but for a film like this, everything needs to be perfection and that's not quite the case. Still worth a watch though, especially if you liked Ratanaruang's other work.

Two Acres of Land

Do Bigha Zamin
1953 / 131m - India
Two Acres of Land poster

An old Bollywood classic that feels more like a neighbor to the work of Satyajit Ray. Don't expect anything bold, bright, and all-encompassing. This is a poverty-based drama that moves relatively slowly for Bollywood norms and sticks to its core genre from beginning to end.

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Mahato is a poor farmer. He doesn't have much, but it is just enough to keep him and his family alive. A drought and a subsequent plan to install a mill in the village (in part on Mahato's land) make his life impossible, so he moves to Calcutta where he hopes to earn money as a rickshaw puller.

Indian misery porn isn't my favorite niche, but the cinematography isn't too bad and the performances are relatively decent. Two hours is way too long though, there's nothing here I hadn't seen already countless times before. Still, it wasn't as bad as I expected, but unless you love classic drama, it's not an easy recommendation.

Sisters of the Gion

Gion no Shimai
1936 / 69m - Japan
Sisters of the Gion poster

Mizoguchi is one of the most lauded classic Japanese directors, but he hasn't managed to wow me yet. Sisters of the Gion isn't changing any of that. It's a typical '30s flick, characterized by endless dialogues and static cinematography, exactly the opposite of what I want in a good film.

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Furusawa is a banker who went bankrupt. He lost his possession, his wife left him and he ended up in the Gion district. He tries to hook up with Umekichi, a geisha who takes pity on the man, but Omocha, Umekichi's sister, isn't too pleased with his advances. She does everything in her power to keep the two apart.

The performances aren't great, the cinematography is bland and uninviting and the conversations overpower the drama, which is pretty basic to begin with. It's short for sure, but with hardly anything of interest present that's only a meager comfort. My struggle with Mizoguchi continues.

The Sonata

2018 / 90m - UK
Horror, Mystery
The Sonata poster

A decent music-inspired horror film. It's more of a dark mystery really, with slight Gothic overtones, but the second half pushes it into horror territory. Don't expect anything too gruesome or scary, but if you care for moody horror that is all about creating a haunting atmosphere, this is a pretty safe bet.

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Rose is a prodigy violinist. One day word arrives that her father died, a man she hasn't seen since he left her when she was just 14 months old. He left her a mansion in France. When Rose goes there to find clues about the man she never knew, she discovers an unfinished violin sonata.

The Sonata is not a very complex, nor a very original film, but the execution is on point. Desmond slowly reveals the mystery, the setting is pleasant and the performances are solid. It's the definition of horror filler, a film that doesn't offer anything new, doesn't stand out in any way, but still delivers on its promise.


2023 / 92m - USA
Mystery, Thriller
Hypnotic poster

Robert Rodriguez returns with his first "adult" film in years. Rodriguez' oeuvre has been pretty messy of late, with docs, music projects, and children's films fighting for attention. Hypnotic, a seemingly prestigious A-lister project landed with very little fanfare, watching the film it's obvious to see why it didn't receive a bigger welcome.

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Hypnotics are people who can control the minds of others to make them see and do whatever they want. Danny is a police detective who comes into contact with them. The loss of his daughter protects him from their talent, even so, staying alive in a world where everybody can be controlled by someone who wants you dead is tougher than expected.

While the setup is fun, it's also a trap for lazy writing and twists, and there's plenty of that here. Rodriguez also has a lot of trouble finding the right tone. He obviously wanted to make a very serious film, but his attempts to do so just made things cheesier. It's amusing genre fluff for sure, but a premise like this deserved a way better film than Hypnotic.

The Boogeyman

2023 / 98m - USA
The Boogeyman poster

Another King-based horror film. That means you're getting classic (80s-like) horror, familiar tropes, and few surprises, but director Rob Savage handles everything gracefully. The Boogeyman isn't out to revolutionize the genre, instead, it's doing its best to do right to clichés that turned cheap over the years.

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Will is a therapist whose wife died just a month ago. One day a man visits him, telling him about a dark creature that killed his kids. Will calls the police, fearing the man might be violent. While he does so, his latest patient hangs himself. Soon after, Will's daughters start seeing the creature in their home.

The performances are solid, the boogeyman looks neat and the scares are properly executed. I don't really care for little kids fighting off age-old evil, but putting that aside, I had a lot of fun with The Boogeyman. Savage is proving himself a talented horror director, though I like to see him tackle projects that aren't quite as restrictive.

Space Family Carlvinson

Uchû Kazoku Carlvinson
1988 / 45m - Japan
Comedy, Sci-fi - Animation
Space Family Carlvinson poster

A cute little space comedy. I wasn't familiar with this one at all, but it looked quite goofy and weird, which is always a plus in my book. Looks can deceive, but not so in this case. Carlvinson is genuinely kooky and goofy, a simple school comedy at heart, only with a bunch of odd-looking aliens trying to act like a normal family.

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When cruising through space, a small ship gets into an accident and crashes on a nearby planet. The station they crashed into sends out a team to see if there are any survivors. All they find is a little baby, with its parents dead beside it. They decide to take the baby and raise it, giving it a fair shot at life. Someone else is also interested in the kid though.

The setup sounds a little dark, but the film is very light-hearted and comedy-focused. It's more about alien creatures joining in with school activities rather than anything dramatic or nefarious. It's essentially a very basic, simple anime, made funnier by the fact that half of its cast are grueling alien monsters. Fun and quirky, a nice find indeed.

The Iron Horse

1924 / 150m - USA
The Iron Horse poster

John Ford's 150-minute silent western epos about the construction of the transcontinental railway running through the USA, including some extra schmaltzy drama. Whether this event was best served by a rather bloated, 2.5-hour silent film is debatable, but that's what we're faced with.

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When Brandon witnesses the death of his father, he is deeply hurt. It was his father's dream to build a railway that would run all the way through the US. When Brandon is old enough to be his own man, he puts all his efforts into realizing his father's dream, but there are many that would love to see him fail.

People back then were slow readers, so you'll be watching a lot of bland intertitles. The story isn't really that interesting, the drama is highly exaggerated and the runtime is excessive. It's not quite the worst of its kind and I'm sure a film like this was more of an event back in 1924, but watching it now, it's just an endlessly dull experience.

Long Weekend

1978 / 97m - Australia
Horror, Mystery
Long Weekend poster

I watched the remake of Long Weekend years ago, it was about time I gave the original a shot. I remembered the remake to be a fun take on eco-horror, that same premise was already present in the 1978 version. It's just a lot cruder in its execution, making it a less polished and enjoyable film.

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A couple decides to spend the weekend outdoors, though the wife would rather stay at a more luxurious hotel. They find a little bay where they put up camp, but they show no respect for nature (and for each other, for that matter), littering and destroying whatever crosses their path. Nature is ready to fight back.

The idea is still pretty fun, the characters are despicable (a bit cartoonesque maybe, but it works) and nature's revenge is fun. The soundtrack is terrible though, the effects are doubty and the performances are bad. The ideas were there, but some scenes are funnier than they are scary, which was clearly not the intention.

My Little Sweet Pea

Mugiko-san To
2013 / 95m - Japan
My Little Sweet Pea poster

A tiny Japanese drama that starts off pretty cute, but gets progressively more dramatic. It's a pleasant film with nice characters and some interesting takes on loss and mourning, but in the end, it lacks a little bite to set itself apart from so many others. It really is an overcrowded niche and one that is happy to stick to a formula that works.

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Mugiko lives together with her older brother. She lacks direction and has no idea what to do with her life. Their mother walked out of them years ago, something that left a gaping wound. Suddenly, their mother finds her way back into their lives, and Mugiko ends up shacking up with her. While she wants to reconnect, there's also a lot of anger and resentment to deal with.

The performances are solid, the cinematography and setting are pleasant and the drama in the second half leaves its mark. It's just that there isn't that much here which could leave an indelible impression. It's a good, adequate drama that is sure to please fans of the genre, but if you've seen your share of Japanese dramas, it doesn't pop enough.

A sequel to the first Nightmare Radio anthology. The concept hasn't really changed all that much, you get a handful of horror shorts that are linked together by a somewhat random story. If you care about coherence or thematic resemblance then this project is not for you, if you like a varied selection of horror shorts, have a go at it.

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A late-night DJ is hosting a radio show where she invites listeners to phone in and tell her a creepy story. In between well-intention callers, a creep is also trying to reach her. He keeps calling and seems to hold a grudge against the DJ. She tries to put on a tough act, but which each phone call she feels more threatened by the mysterious caller.

The quality of each short differs, there isn't much that binds these films together and most of them aren't too original, but with something different served every 10 minutes or so. With no shorts being bad or boring, the film offers plenty of treats for dedicated horror fans.

Catnapped! The Movie

Totsuzen! Neko no Kuni Banipal Witt
1995 / 77m - Japan
Fantasy, Adventure - Animation
Catnapped! The Movie poster

Aimed at younger kids, but with enough creativity and vibrancy to please a more mature audience. It's one of those films I wished I'd seen when I was younger, though considering its release date that would've been impossible. I can still enjoy a good fantasy adventure, especially when the fantastical elements still feel fresh and original.

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Toriyasu's dog has been missing for a week, and nobody knows where he has gone. Then one night, Toriyasu and his younger sister are taken from their beds by cats. They take the two kids to their kingdom. Their dog ended up there and fell into the hands of a princess who wants to seize control of the Kingdom. It's up to Toriyasu to try and calm down his dog.

The art style is cute, and the animation is splendid. The designs are interesting too and the film is bursting with creativity. The story is very simplistic though and the film is clearly aimed at younger kids. It's a shame Nakamura wasn't able to find a better balance, but I still had a pretty good time with Catnapped. This is an easy recommendation for animation fans.

Dark Nature

2022 / 85m - Canada
Dark Nature poster

Simple, but that doesn't need to be bad when it comes to pure genre fare. There's something that doesn't quite work here though. While it's difficult to say where exactly the film misses the mark, it just fails to be tense or scary, which is ultimately what a film like this is all about.

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Four traumatized women are going on a weekend retreat to overcome their fears and get their mental health back into shape. Their hike is going well until one of them disappears. The others feel like someone or something has been following them, but their guide reassures them that it's all just part of the healing process.

The performances aren't too bad, the cinematography is solid and the setting is nice and desolate, but it's still not enough. The characters are somewhat annoying and the creature looks bland and uninspired. I just didn't care much for their fate and as the film takes no real risks or chances, it's all just very middle-of-the-road.

Harlan County U.S.A.

1976 / 103m - USA
Harlan County U.S.A. poster

The US loves a good social drama, especially when it's the common man fighting against big, heartless corporations. Harlan County U.S.A. offers exactly that. Miners go on a year-long strike when they're fed up with the conditions they are working in. The company isn't willing to budge an inch.

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Director Kopple mostly registers the people who participate in the strike. There aren't too many classic interviews, instead, we see people making their plea in front of microphones to their community. The company spokesman also gets a couple of scenes, but he's clearly the villain.

While not a bad documentary, it didn't really show me anything new. Classic drama and familiar arguments take up most of the 105-minute runtime, and that's really all there is to it. It must've been pretty relevant at the time and people with a soft spot for history might like it, for me, there just wasn't enough there to warrant the runtime.


2023 / 93m - USA
Malum poster

Bit of an odd one. DiBlasi remakes his own film (Last Shift), which was just released 8 years ago. It's a bit early for a remake if you ask me, not in the least because the original was quite good (and still holds up, I imagine). That said, I did enjoy Malum quite a bit, even though it brings nothing new to the table.

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A new recruit asks to spend the night at the old police station before it gets torn down. One year earlier her father killed herself, after taking care of a cult leader. Members of the cult are wreaking havoc outside, and strange things are happening around the old station. The night is about to get a lot worse when a homeless guy breaks in.

There are few surprises here since the film follows the same build-up as Last Shift. Not that I remember too many specifics from that film, but enough for Malum to feel familiar. It's still a pretty good horror flick though, with some creepy creatures, a couple of tense scenes, and a pretty insane finale. Unnecessary, but fun.

Infinity Pool

2023 / 117m - Canada
Sci-fi, Horror
Infinity Pool poster

Brandon Cronenberg's latest is another intriguing mix of sci-fi and horror, relying on a mysterious script, a moody soundtrack, and distinct cinematography to set itself apart from its peers. And that it does. While the film starts off simple enough, it doesn't take too long before things get quite convoluted and the audience is left to the whims of Cronenberg. While not the most original concept, it's hard to get a grip on the film and Cronenberg makes sure you never quite know what will happen next. He's clearly one of the most interesting contemporary genre directors, cultivating a signature style while reinventing himself with each new film he makes.