I'll admit I have never been a fan of Kevin Smith. I wouldn't necessarily call him a bad filmmaker; more that the worlds he creates and the characters that inhabit them have never held any interest for me. So when the teaser trailers appeared for Red State, I was intrigued. It neither looked nor sounded like a typical Smith film. And it isn't, and that is entirely in its favour. Smith has proven he can create a dark, intense film that is riveting and raw, and unabashed in its examination of the serious threat of the religious right in America.
Miranda July has a fascination for strangers, and how the comforts of the ordinary life perhaps become so comfortable that our reaction is to break out in rather unconventional and perhaps inadvisable ways. These themes that she explored in her first film, You and Me and Everyone We Know – the desire to find yourself through other people, and make some sort of connection – are taken to even deeper and richer heights in her new film The Future.
Jacob Tierney’s third feature film, Good Neighbours, adds a distinctly Canadian twist on a classic Hitchcock-style thriller, envisioning a cold, claustrophobic world in which no one can be either trusted or in many ways resisted. Set in 1995 during the Quebec referendum, the film spies on three Anglophone residents of an apartment block who try to find friendship merely through proximity and language.
Even with the invention and proliferation of television, radio remains a relevant and fascinating medium. There are some excellent films about the power of the DJ voice, from Talk Radio to Pump Up the Volume to The Fisher King. Something about the disembodied voice allows the listener to imagine any person they choose as the owner of that voice, and twist the words to their own ideals. Sang Man Kim’s new thriller Midnight F.M. can easily be added not only to the radio film canon, but also to the slate of great thrillers being produced in recent years in South Korea.
There is a particular subgenre of kitschy horror film that comes out of countries like Spain and Italy. Usually something to do with some dark legend, a dark devil, and a group of hot young people who get caught up in the madness. Spanish director José Luis Alemán continues with his Valdemar series in La Sombra Prohibida, based on H.P. Lovecraft's work. You have the ingredients for a cult Spanish horror film, but unfortunately the film doesn’t entirely work out.
Anytime a film has Guillermo del Toro’s name attached to it, a viewer has some fairly standard and somewhat high expectations. Del Toro wrote the screenplay for and produced Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which has many of his signature tropes. This film is admittedly not up the standards of his previous work, but it is a better-than-average horror-fantasy film with a decent story and enough scares to keep it entertaining.