Knock at the Cabin

2023 / 100m - USA
Horror, Mystery
Knock at the Cabin poster

Shyamalan's latest feels familiar. A mysterious setup that slowly reveals its true nature. It's not quite as mysterious or surprising as some of his more recent efforts, but the quality is there. Within his oeuvre, it's not the most unique film, but nobody's making them like Shyamalan these days, and that definitely counts for something.

Read all

Wen is on vacation with her two dads, when a strange man shows up. He has three accomplices with him, the four come with a very peculiar offer and will do everything in their power to convince the others they're not crazy. Wen and her family will be forced to make some very tough choices, but the fate of the world rests in their hands.

Kudos to Shyamalan for the Kiki's Delivery Service shoutout, the premise is pretty cool (even though the finale is rather predictable) and the build-up is tense, as it should be. Knock at the Cabin is a small film that still feels relatively big, and had me in its grip from start to finish. Good fun.

Strange World

2022 / 102m - USA
Action, Adventure - Animation
Strange World poster

Disney's latest animation is a welcome attempt to make a classic adventure film, but the result is pretty disappointing. Bland characters, a rather unimaginative universe, and toothless comedy stand in the way of a riveting adventure. And considering the financial flop this turned out to be, I'm not the only one who felt that way.

Read all

The Clades are respected adventurers, but son Searcher is more interested in plants and farming. His father is devastated when he hears he doesn't want to follow in his footsteps. Years later fate brings them back together. Their world is slowly dying and Searcher goes on a mission to rescue it.

The characters are pretty boring, the art style feels very familiar (despite all the comic book references) and the plot doesn't hold many surprises. But the most damning thing is that Strange World's universe just isn't all that exciting to explore. This kind of creativity has never been Disney's strong suit, and it's clear they didn't manage to turn the tables.


2017 / 124m - Japan
Noise poster

A stylish Japanese drama with some remarkable modern touches. Not too surprising since we're dealing with an Akihabara-based story that involves three young tangentially related people. The cinematography is a touch livelier, the soundtrack has some very interesting electronic influences, the characters are a bit more out there and it's clear that writer/director Yusaku Matsumoto had a close affinity with the universe of his film. The punchy ending is just the cherry on the cake. Watch this if you're craving slightly edgier and more contemporary dramas.

Rolling Marbles

Korogaru Bîdama
2021 / 95m - Japan
Rolling Marbles poster

A pleasant, small Japanese drama. One of those films that don't have big or very important themes, but are still relevant to just about everyone watching it. It's not quite as accomplished or hard-hitting as some other films in the genre (and the competition is pretty stiff), but it's a good reminder that Japan does a lot of solid drama that barely makes it across the border.

Read all

Three women are renting a small flat in Shinjuku. The location is great, but the building will be torn in a couple of months, so they know their time together is limited. All three are in their early 20s, trying to get their lives on the rails. Finding a proper job, staying true to your beliefs, and landing a proper boyfriend are harder than it looks.

The presentation is pretty stylish (but on the poppier side), the performances are solid and the topics handled will feel familiar to most people watching this film. What it lacks is something that helps it to stand out from the crowd. A few scenes that really make an impact. Other than that, I got exactly what I wanted from Rolling Marbles.

A Blonde in Love

Lásky Jedné Plavovlásky
1965 / 88m - Czechoslovakia
Drama, Romance
A Blonde in Love poster

One of Forman's earlier films, that didn't really do it for me. Booked as part comedy, I didn't find much to laugh at here. The first half is plodding and focuses more on romance and drama, the finale is somewhat lighter in tone, but hardly to the extent that it passes as something inherently funny.

Read all

Andula is a young, impressionable girl who lives in a small country town. She's developing an interest in men, but all the young boys have been conscripted. And so a local factory manager strikes a deal with the army to send over some army reservists, sadly, they end up with some unalluring middle-aged men.

The performances are pretty wooden, the first half is pretty dreary and feels overly stretched and the finale isn't all that funny. Forman was still in the process of defining himself, A Blonde in Love has a few interesting touches, but as a whole, it feels too uneven and unbalanced to leave a positive impact.

The Craft: Legacy

2020 / 97m - USA
Fantasy, Thriller
The Craft: Legacy poster

A remake of The Craft for modern/young audiences. I'm not against the idea, but when you replace most of the witch fun with sobby bisexual coming-out stories and male empowerment warnings, whatever fun there is, quickly evaporates. As such, this was a pretty poor attempt to try and revive the old film.

Read all

Three girls are missing a fourth to create a coven. When Lily arrives in town, they immediately recognize her potential. Lily is somewhat of an outcast and is happy to finally make some friends. As it turns out, she has a talent for witchcraft. The four are finally able to freely apply their powers, but they're not fully aware of the dangers that come with it.

The girls have chemistry and the setup is somewhat promising, but when they finally are able to use their powers the film lacks bite. There's too much bad drama, Duchovny is a terrible miscast and the finale is a pretty big disappointment. This could've been decent fun, sadly, it wasn't.

One Piece: Chopper's Kingdom in the Strange Animal Island

One Piece: Chinjou Shima no Chopper Oukoku
2002 / 56m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
One Piece: Chopper's Kingdom in the Strange Animal Island poster

Film 3 in the One Piece franchise. Three films in, it's pretty clear what to expect from them. They are basically just expanded episodes, with Luffy and his friends taking on a slightly bigger mission. I'm not complaining mind, 60 minutes is more than enough for this type of material, stretching it to 90 would probably just make it more grating.

Read all

Luffy and his pals arrive at a new island. His friend Chopper gets separated from the rest of the bunch and is found by a small animal population, who immediately bombard him as their new king. While Chopper enjoys the attention, he's also tasked with protecting the animals from a gang of malicious hunters. Luckily, Chopper has Luffy to help him out.

One Piece is pretty loud, which is both a blessing and a curse. It makes things a bit more dynamic and helps to set it apart from other franchises, but it can also be a little annoying. But once you're familiar with this series, you know what to expect from it, which is pretty decent entertainment. It's hardly my favorite anime franchise out there, but I don't mind giving these films a whirl.

Evil Eye

Mal de Ojo
2022 / 100m - Mexico
Evil Eye poster

After a quick (and somewhat less successful) trip to Canada, Isaac Ezban returns to his home turf to direct a core horror film. Evil Eye isn't quite as conceptual as his previous films, but it feels a bit more refined and it does pack a few neat surprises. Horror fans will find a lot to like here.

Read all

Luna has a mysterious disease that can't be cured. At least, not according to modern science. Together with her sister Nala, Luna is dropped off at her grandmother's place in the countryside. Once their parents leave, the woman turns on them and Nala believes she might be dealing with a witch.

Witchcraft is quite a common theme in horror films, but Ezban finds some interesting ways to dress up the story. The cinematography is pretty stylish too, the performances are solid, and the ending comes with a mean twist. Maybe not quite brutal or tense enough to be a horror classic, but people looking for an accomplished South-American genre film won't be disappointed.

Chinese Dinner

Chainizu Dina
2001 / 78m - Japan
Mystery, Thriller
Chinese Dinner poster

Fun little flick from Tsutsumi that predates 2LDK by a year or two. It would've been a perfect entry in the Duel project and it resembles Kitamura's effort quite a bit. It's a single-location film with just two actors and a limited runtime, where Tsutsumi tries to draw the most from a simple, singular setup. He's quite successful at it too.

Read all

Two men find themselves in a Chinese restaurant. One is a contract killer, the other a shady businessman who makes his money from backhanded deals. The contract killer agrees to have a final supper before he kills the man, the businessman will have to use every chance he gets to try and escape his imminent death.

The premise is extremely basic, but Tsutsumi has a lot of fun with the characters and the mystery behind the hit. The performances are solid, the styling is efficient and the film never gets boring, even when not much is effectively happening. It proved to be a perfect exercise for 2LDK, which serves a better build-up and a more satisfying ending. Chinese Dinner is a very entertaining flick in its own right though.


1957 / 91m - Poland
Canal poster

A classic war film, that reminded me a bit of Le Trou (especially those final 30 minutes). I didn't really care for Wajda's direction though. The first hour, in particular, was pretty dry and dreary. It picks up when they finally enter the titular sewer system, but by then the film had already lost me and the finale isn't that strong that it could rectify the rest of the film.

Read all

Canal is a film about the Polish revolt in Warsaw against the Germans in 1944. The Germans launch a final assault, that drives the remaining Polish fighters into the sewers. The tunnels are dark and the smell is horrible, and every escape route they find appears to be sealed off by German soldiers.

The performances are pretty wooden and the start of the film is very slow. I imagine the first hour is there to build a relationship with the characters, but that part failed for me. The trip through the sewers is more thrilling, but it just wasn't enough to save the film for me. Not the worst, but not very memorable either.

Shotgun Wedding

2022 / 100m - USA
Comedy, Action
Shotgun Wedding poster

A romcom setup that turns into an action/comedy. The idea is fun enough, but the execution isn't quite as fun or funny as it was conceived to be. Lopez's poor comedic performance has a big part in the film's failure, but the lack of goofy secondary characters isn't helping either.

Read all

Darcy and Tom invited their families to a private island in the Philippines, where they plan to get married. Tom tried to come up with the perfect wedding, but his plans are thwarted when pirates take over the island. Darcy and Tom are having a little private row when it happens, which makes them the only ones left on the island to save their families.

There are quite a lot of obvious jokes that might have worked with a stronger lead duo, but now they fall flat as Lopez constantly fails to deliver a good punchline. The action looks pretty fake too and the film lacks any truly zany characters, but the setting is pleasant and the mood is light, so it's not all bad.

The Pig King

Da Tian Peng
2020 / 101m - China
Fantasy, Action
The Pig King poster

Another take on the Journey to the West saga, this time by streamer king Dai Yilin. With a longer runtime and (presumably) larger budget, Yilin has a lot more trouble getting this film on the rails. The result is a gaudy CG fest that never impresses the way it's supposed to. It just goes to show that some directors benefit from imposed limitations.

Read all

The Pig King functions as a prequel to the classic Journey quest, explaining how Tainpeng became the infamous pig character. After Wukong makes a terrible mess in the heavenly Palace, he is banished to Earth, to live on Five Finger Mountain. Tianpeng is sent after him to prevent any future troubles, but romantic woes will complicate Tianpeng's quest.

Like most other Monkey King films from the '10s, the CG is a real eyesore and kills most of the film's fantastical appeal. The background story The Pig King provides isn't all that interesting either unless you're really invested in these characters. Not the film I was hoping for, Yilin has made much better ones under more stringent circumstances.


2022 / 93m - Australia
Carnifex poster

A cute little creature horror. Carnifex is a very simple film, a less-is-more affair that keeps its monster hidden until the very end and builds up the tension with familiar tricks. If you don't like core horror films then there's nothing to see here, but Lahiff does a pretty decent job with the little material he has.

Read all

After the forest fires in Australia, some wildlife preservationists try to map out how native species are coping in their renewed habitats. They hire a camerawoman to film their work, hoping to bring a little attention to their goals. With less forest to go around, some thought-to-be-dead species are finding their way back into the public eye, and not all of them are gentle.

The setting is nice and the actors do a solid job, which really helps the first hour of the film. The tension slowly builds, but it's hardly the first film to pull this feat and Carnifex has little to set itself apart from similar films. The finale delivers, but again, fails to make a real impact. Solid horror filler.

One Piece: Clockwork Island Adventure

One Piece: Nejimaki Shima no Bôken
2001 / 55m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
One Piece: Clockwork Island Adventure poster

The second One Piece film is a slight step up from the first one. Not that a whole lot has changed, it's just that the adventure and the setting are slightly more out there. Not having seen the TV series makes it a little harder to keep track of the characters, but other than that these standalone films should be easy enough to follow for everyone.

Read all

When taking a breather on an idyllic island, Luffy's ship is stolen right from under his nose. Tracking down the location of the ship, they arrive on Clockwork Island, which is held captive by the Bear King. He is building himself a tremendous weapon and wants to marry Luffy's girlfriend. Getting to him won't be easy though, as his palace is littered with traps.

The animation and art style are pretty basic. Instead, One Piece tries to score points with its energy levels. And it does a pretty decent job at that. It's hardly the greatest anime franchise ever, but the series has a Lupin-like charm to it. Not too surprising since we're dealing with a pirate thief who goes on wacky adventures. Fun.

Tales from the Occult

Shi Heng Xiong Jian
2022 / 111m - Hong Kong
Horror - Anthology
Tales from the Occult poster

Hong Kong loves a good horror anthology, but they often struggle to put out straightforward horror flicks. Tales from the Occult is a decent enough attempt, but none of the shorts are truly scary and the slight decline in quality throughout made me question the order of the shorts.

Read all

The first short follows a young girl as she moves into her new flat, which triggers an old trauma. The second one digs up the history of a burnt-down mall trying to reopen, while the final film is about an internet novelist who develops paranoia through writing about gruesome murders.

The first short builds up the tension quite well but has some iffy effects that take away from the experience. The second short has an interesting premise but struggles to connect it with the fun finale, and the third short tries to mix in some lighter elements, which work against the horror vibe. Not bad, but also not the best of its kind.