Spiderhead (2022), the dawn of cyberbeige

Of the big streaming services, mostly because it’s given up on having any kind of 80s and 90s back catalogue, Netflix is currently the best place for new cyberpunk things to watch. So, when this Chris Helmsworth fronted drama, written by the team who did Deadpool randomly appeared on Friday I was all kinds of pumped up about it. And now I can happily report that it was mostly okay if you have time to kill. Continue reading

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is an okayish disappointment.

If psychotronic cinema, or, when you get down to it, any cinema, is about experience then The Texas Chain Saw Massacre must be one of the greatest movies of all time. It is an unrelenting, exhausting, almost total-body experience; be it during its moments to shocking terror, its nightmarish social observations, its frequently disjointed surrealist turns, or its nihilistic horror spectacular. Even its soundtrack, which for the final third of the movie is dominated by the constant screams of its Final Girl being dredged through a stygian hellscape, is an emotive and evocative tour de force.

Obviously, it’s not to everyone’s tastes and the bulk of its greatness comes from pushing the boundaries of genre conventions, seeking to indulge the worst excesses of exploitation cinema, budget and talent constraints, and just plain dumb luck. But it is a singular, majestic vision that few have come close to matching. Especially its sequels, which for the most part cranked up the gore they thought was in the original and pissed away the cultural commentary that they clearly thought was an irrelevancy. So, when I heard (in the same week it was being released) that Texas Chainsaw Massacre* was coming out I was filled with indifference towards it.

Then I spotted it on Netflix, draped across the front page as its big welcoming offering, and it was Friday night and it would be rude not to.
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Army Of The Dead (2021)

When Zach Snyder debuted in the feature film world, it was with his 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead. It was a smart, exciting, and overall interesting take on George A Romero’s classic zombie story; taking the basic set-up and social themes, then working in some new flourishes to keep the audience guessing. The movie had something to say, it knew how to do that in a visually and emotionally satisfying way, and whilst it played with themes of inertia and boredom it did so without frustrating the audience. It was an explosive, captivating film, from a director with everything to prove. Continue reading

The Devil All The Time (2020)

Continuing with its run of “it’s okay, if you like that sort of thing” films from big-name producers, Netflix has entered into the world of American Gothic with “The Devil All The Time”. Adapted from the book of the same name, and with its author Donald Ray Pollock acting as the narrator through its 138 minutes run-time, it follows the life paths of Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) and his son Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) as they deal with violence, death, and religion in ’40s, 50’s and 60’s Knockemstiff, Ohio. Intertwined with them are the various lives, challenges, and horrific murders of everyday rural America, resulting in a road trip through an Appalachian heart of darkness. Unfortunately, for all the wonderful scenery and charming locals, it never really ends up going anywhere.
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The Last Days of American Crime (2020)

There’s been a lot of hype going around Netflix’s latest action-adventure, The Last Days of American Crime; mostly that it’s a terrible movie and that Netflix should be ashamed of themselves for making it. But, having sat through its 148 minutes run time (138, if you discount the solid 10 minutes of credits), I believe that it’s not that bad a movie. It’s just a bit too long, a bit undercooked, and nihilistic in an unfashionable manner.
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Klaus (2019)

Christmas is here, so Netflix has launched its first feature-length animation to its holiday-offensive arsenal in the form of “Klaus”. Aimed firmly at the family market, it’s the directorial debut of Disney alumni Sergio Pablos and his Madrid-based animation studio that offers heartfelt fun and an alternative take on the origin of Santa. The film is a melting pot on two key fronts: firstly with its international production staff and secondly with its blend of hand-drawn frames being assisted by computer lighting. So, how well does it work out?
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