In the middle of an undisclosed forest, a house exists. It’s an odd looking mansion of sorts that, once entered, is filled with pathways leading throughout the labyrinthine structure. A woman and a man live in this house; the woman is tasked with shaping and molding the house into a home, while the man searches for inspiration for his new book wherever and with whomever he can. You can feel that this story is building towards something uneasy, something difficult; a place that will challenge the characters’ understanding as they try so desperately to control their crumbling, destructive situation.
It was the summer of 2002. Spider-Man was swinging into theaters under the steady guidance of Sam Raimi. The result was impressive, a comic book movie that would further define the blueprint of the superhero film. Two years later the sequel would come out, a film that I still hold as one of the top three best comic book movies ever made.
Fast forward a mere 15 years and audiences are getting their sixth overall film and second reboot of the Spider-Man saga. While it would be easy to write this film off because we have seen a version of this story six times already, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first film to be controlled by Marvel Studios; it is also the first Spider-Man film to make the character a piece of the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
It's been more than 40 years since the release of Jaws, and people are still afraid to go in the water. That's the undeniable quality of the film, that its effect on generations of film fans is still, firstly, fear of what lurks in the water. Since its release, numerous films have tried to emulate the qualities that so richly personify the film, but very few have come close.
The legendary Boris Karloff portrayed many iconic characters throughout his long career—The Monster in Frankenstein (1931) and Imhotep in The Mummy (1932) are undoubtedly two of the most recognizable. Mr. Karloff's roles in these films are a fundamental building block in creating the foundation for Universal Pictures, which would go on to make the classic monsters we can all identify today.
And now, Tom Cruise has been chosen to lead the Universal Monster universe in a new direction, with a new franchise.
In Joseph Conrad's cynical, politically influenced work Under Western Eyes, the author takes steps in describing themes of terrorism, the degradation of character, and the suffering experienced by ordinary people caught in the wave of political influence. Mr. Conrad makes a poignant statement describing how two factions of society lived in pre-Revolutionary Russia when it is stated, "only that a belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness."
It's within this nature of humanity that writer/director Trey Edward Shults positions his new film It Comes At Night; within the turmoil that humanity faces with the unknown, within the natural distrust that exists deep in the souls of humans, within the emotions that motivate choices to act without compassion.
While walking into the anticipated screening of director Patty Jenkins' film Wonder Woman, two women were walking a few steps in front of me and one of them proudly said, "We finally have a superhero we can call our own." It's a pertinent comment because this Wonder Woman film is a huge step in the right direction for female-fronted superhero films, but also the DC Extended Universe, which has seen a string of disappointing superhero/antihero films, including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
Kong is king! And since 1933, Kong has been one of the iconic movie monsters. For over 80 years in numerous films, the giant ape has gone from a stop-motion puppet to a spectacle of computer-generated effects. But Kong isn’t the only super-charged element in director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' new monster movie, Kong: Skull Island, a rather fun and never-too-serious action adventure film.
Hugh Jackman has played the Marvel Comics character Wolverine since 2000, and Logan makes it the eighth time (ninth, if you include a cameo) Jackman has played the clawed mutant superhero. After seventeen years, the role is coming to an end for Jackman in Logan, a gritty and violently fond farewell that wraps up the journey of the beloved character.
We’ve all been in that weird, unnerving situation where it seems like everyone in the room is completely different than you. This seems to happen much more these days in the divisive landscape that we currently experience in America. Get Out takes the premise of a stranger in a strange world, adds in some pertinent social commentary about race and racism, and mixes it up with an interesting horror angle that is both disturbing and darkly humorous.
Director Gore Verbinski has crafted quite an interesting career. After striking genre gold with the remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu, orchestrating one of Disney’s most successful franchises with Pirates of the Caribbean, and continuing his collaboration with Johnny Depp on the animated film Rango and the reboot of The Lone Ranger, Verbinski was poised to do whatever he wanted to do with his next film, and it doesn’t take long to realize this quality in the director’s new film, A Cure for Wellness.
M. Night Shyamalan is on a career upswing, and Split is somewhat of a return to an earlier form for the director of the standout fright film The Sixth Sense and the superhero-influenced Unbreakable. Mr. Shyamalan was, and still is, unfortunately typecast as a director known for surprising, shocking twist endings. This makes watching his films somewhat of a difficult and frustrating ordeal because of the need to overanalyze every aspect. Still, minus a few films, Shyamalan has crafted a career that indulges in the art of the mystery, and with Split, the writer/director proves that he can still build an effectively suspenseful film that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.
To call 2016 a good year for horror would be an understatement. It was a fantastic year with a little something for every genre taste. You didn’t have to venture very far to find something that was absolutely fantastic. With great television shows like Channel Zero: Candle Cove or The Exorcist, wonderful films like The Witch and Green Room, and music from labels like Waxwork Records and Death Waltz Recording, the horror genre was finely taken care of. Here are few of the standouts for me in 2016.
Everything that happened after the vows on my wedding day is a bit of blur. The whirlwind reception of meet-and-greets with family and friends went by in a flash, so whenever a newly engaged couple asks me for advice about their wedding day, I tell them to remember to eat their dinner.
A wedding is the setting for director Marcin Wrona’s Demon, a satire as well as a horror film that evokes Polish history and culture to compose a remarkable genre-bending feature.
Coming off a successful first film, many talented directors fall victim to the dreaded "sophomore slump," the second film in a director's catalogue that builds so much hype, anticipation, and expectations that it's nearly impossible to find any sort of success.
Turn to any television network over the next few months and the height for political dissension in America will be at its most aggressive level. It’s during these specific times that my frustration with the political machine turns the most negative and disheartened, making a film like The Purge: Election Year seem more true-to-life than a work of fantasy. It’s this aspect, along with a clever marketing campaign utilized during the election year, which makes this third installment in the franchise far more interesting than it otherwise might have been.