[EXPRESSO] Hatching (2022) | My very own Birdperson

I said it before, many other fellow reviewers said it before, and indeed it’s a great year for horror films. This Finnish body horror thriller being no exception.

The trailer felt a little too honest and overly spoilerish, but it’s actually not, as it doesn’t revolve about a drawn out reveal of the creature, since it shows you fairly quick how it came to be and how it looks. It’s just the bait, so to speak.

The plot concerns a young girl that trains hard as a gymnast to make her monstruosly demanding mother happy, but one day feels bad for a bird that enter their house, made a mess, and was almost killed by her mother, as she later founds the bird isn’t dead yet, forcing her to tearfully finish it.

To placate her guilt she decides to take care of the egg the dying bird crawled back to, only to be surprised at the creature that eventually emerges and she seems to share a psychic bond with…

Aside from the creature being a stunning delight of horror with excellent effects, there’s plenty of outright disgusting moments, and a character that actually one ups the creature in the “monster” factor, the girl’s mother, what a gloriously despicable, narcissistic, commanding, guilt tripping abomination of a human being that you really want to see killed.

And the movie isn’t afraid to go to some heavy scenarios that reinforce the family (mostly the mother) as more than “typically disfunctional”, feeding into the manifest but effective and heavy themes explored, the fairly reinforced symbolic parallels, but the narrative actually develops in an interesting way, the characters are quite good and there’s plenty of that nordic horror stylical furnishings and love for pulling no punches.

Great feature-lenght debut for director Hanna Bergholm.

[EXPRESSO] Smile (2022) | Shaped Like A Friend

Not related to that one you’re probably thinking off. Or the sequel.

No, it’s just a new horror movie with a very simple and explicative-but-not-really title.

What did Doflaming Doquixote do this time?

Surprisingly not so much, as the plot involves a psychiatric doctor, Rose Cotton, seeing one of her patients committ suicide in front of her eyes, sporting a horrific grin before committing the deed.

Aside from the understandable shock and trauma, Rose starts having horrific visions and getting involved in strange phenomenons. What’s worse is that the entity that seems to haunt her is acting exactly as her patient told her in the moments preceding her unpumpkin face carving, and as Rose tries to make any sense of the situation, she discovers that similar incidents occured before…

It’s that kind of supernatural horror movie reminescent of early 2000s (and It Follows came to mind too) as we have this evil entity spread itself by using people, acting as a parasite of sorts to the hosts, which he fucks over by playing with their minds, shapeshifting into the victim’s fears, forcing Rose to confront a trauma from her past…

In a way, it’s a pretty simple concept that picks various elements from other movies, but dang it, the execution, characters and pretty much everything in Smile it’s more than “good enough”, it’s honestly very good. The characters are smart, react in believable ways to the increasing sinister events that come their way, the gore it’s quite grisly but not overused, and the reveal of the entity it’s definitely some good stuff.

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, features a very nice atmospheric soundtrack, and it has been a while since i’ve seen some good jumpscares like these.

We eating good horror this year, indeed!

Original horror, to boot!

[EXPRESSO] Don’t Worry Darling (2022) | Sure It’s The 50s

Leaving aside the absurd controversy that surrounded the movie pre-release and pretty much – as it usually does- dominated the discussion instead of the movie itself, the trailer itself immediatly shot most of the interest i had in Don’t Worry Darling, because it basically gave away the whole thing.

It’s one of those trailers.

Then i went to see the movie in theathers… and yep, my fears were correct. Mostly.

I wasn’t expecting the specific kind of the twist the movie pulls, which i won’t comment on since it’s pretty spoilers and any direct comparison will give it away, but if you think you know where this movie it’s going from the trailer, you’re right.

The premise sees Alice live with her husband Jack, living in the experimental 50s community of Victory, an utopic gated paradise where the men go to work on “innovative material developments” and the wives tend to the house and prepare to welcome them back.

Obviously the facade starts to crack as Alice starts asking questions about’s Jack actual work, and notices some odd things that do not match their perfect lives…

It’s a shame the visuals are great, as there are some good ideas here, but the script it’s really flawed, like, even the actual reveal of the twist and its implications are undermined by how the writing it’s overreliant on pure narrative commodities (characters are mostly infodumps for the audience), some notable repetition, notable holes and “horror allucinatory sequences” that deliver some solid visuals but are also just.. kinda randomly there.

While flawed, Don’t Worry Darling it’s entertaining and pulled through by the performances (Florence Pugh alone carries the whole thing), the excellent cinematography and some remarkable directorial ambition, so overall i’d say it’s ok, i liked it more than i expected to, honestly.

[EXPRESSO] MEN (2022) | Manstalking 101

AH, yes, that sequel to The Woman we were waiting for, and by Alex Garland nonetheless, um!

One hell of a title that goes straight to the point, does tell you what it’s actually about, and it’s not ashamed to be beyond blunt in the handling of its themes of misoginy and female abuse.

The movie tells of a woman renting out a house in a small countryside english village for two weeks, in order for her to recover from seeing her husband commit suicide (by jumping off from a balcony in the apartment above theirs) after she decided to finally divorce him.

But instead of some quiet solace to process events, she’s stalked by a naked man from the woods, and confronted by a variety of other men that are either condescending, hostile, weird or abusive, most of which seem to share the same face.

To be honest, considering the director involved, MEN it’s kinda disappointing, and not necessarily because it’s so decisively non-subtle about its themes (after all, social media showed us how subtlety is less and less effective), but more because the script lacks the usual sophistication and quality, so we have this really good cast and direction, some incredible (and incredibly disgusting) scenes in the latter half that in themselves make the movie worth seeing, good atmosphere..

…. but also a very slow moving first act, and the script trying to make up for its excessively straightforward nature by overdosing on the “A24”-isms to the point it’s kinda silly, since it mostly stylistic filler that should have been dialed back, since it doesn’t add any real substance and hammer over the already obvious motifs.

Again, it’s just disappointing, but overall a decent horror thriller still worth watching, as the final act definitely delivers “the goods”.

[EXPRESSO] NOPE (2022) | Cosmic Slide

As usual, we had to wait for NOPE to release here well before it US theathrical release, but it was definitely worth wait, i can say that much already.

And this is one that definitely leaves both a lot to discuss and yet it’s best enjoyed by just going in with minimal to zero knowledge about the premise. And it was brilliantly marketed too, because we had no idea what the hell this movie was gonna be about early, especially with such a deliberate tease of a title, but even with later trailers it wasn’t much clearer.

But i guess giving the basic premise isn’t doing the movie the disservice you would expect, so…

Set in a desolated California valley, NOPE tells the story of a brother and sister that work in movie biz by providing trained horses for cinematic purpose and struggle to continue upholding the job and the ranch their father left them after his sudden and unexplicable demise.

One day, they notice something strange is lurking there, hiding in the sky, so they set out to discover and film whatever is it, but the revelation it’s as outright absurd and defies logic.

To not give the movie away, we’re going in a “ufo-cosmic horror” direction, but even that won’t exactly give away the twist nor the execution, and this is far from one of those movies that erronously stakes everything in hiding the monster to excessive degrees, and NOPE has a lot more to it than just the “surprise factor”.

And honestly Peele just delivers another excellent piece, one distinct from his previous efforts, but still plentiful of his great ability to balance terror and comedy with a story that’s captivating and fairly original to boot.

Ten “ The Scorpion King 2001 crew jackets” out of ten.

Lake Placid Legacy (2018) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

While Lake Placid VS Anaconda ended by sequelbaiting “Crococonda VS Sheriffs”, they didn’t actually followed that up, at least not yet, as for the next (and at the time of writing, the last) Lake Placid installment we have a prequel.

A prequel, kinda. Sorta. We’ll get to that, but it’s not a prequel for the character of Jimmy Bickerman played by Robert Englund, nor any of the Bickermans, it’s a prequel for the original saltwater crocodile, explaining how the fuck a crocodile came to inhabit the lake in the first place.

Actually, not quite, but yep, every excuse is good to pump anything out with the franchise name. It always is.

Continua a leggere “Lake Placid Legacy (2018) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs”

[EXPRESSO] X (2022) | Fornicators!

Kinda “surprise release” of this one in theathers here, didn’t really expect it!

I wasn’t familiar with Ti West’s work before i saw this, FIY, but i’m glad i did.

Set in 1970’s rural america, X tells of a crew that rents a farm house in Houstin, Texas, from an elderly couple, to whom they obviously didn’t told their real purpose: shooting a porno film in order to make it big thanks to the promises of “home video entertaiment” as an upcoming industry.

The problem is the couple happens decrepit and crazy, as they both are driven homicidal by the lethal combination of old age, puritanical christian values (fueled by fearmongering televangelists) that clash with the newfound sexual revolution in the younger generations, and envy.

It’s a tribute to the early 70s gruesome slashers and similar films depicting – at the time – unseen levels of violence, set in the remote depths of Texas, but it’s not just style and homages, as it balances out comedy, fairly violent gore with creepy, unsettling sequences, great acting and good characters, even the villains have a relatable side.

Also, incredibly it juggles the line very well in terms of the exploitation factor, as it’s fairly graphic, the kills are satisfying, there’s plenty of nudity, so it definitely doesn’t pull punches, but also doesn’t feel it’s being too excessive or tacky, showing some class and being able to touch upon some meaningful topics, of having some moments of earnest tenderness amongst the carnage.

And even a bit of Lake Placid action, between the porno shoots and the creepy elders deciding its time yet again to vent the frustration of old age on the youngins.

It’s also very damn satisfying in terms of kills, to boot, so i’d say X it’s pretty good stuff.

Recommended!

[EXPRESSO] Black Parthenope (2022) | ♫ Goin’ Naples Underground ♫

Bringing you more new italian horror movies coverage, the new ones that just kinda “sprout” out of nowhere into the programming schedule of my local cinemas, with no fanfare and almost no national marketing budget to speak of.

And i guess this is the year of smaller italian horror movies like this that frustrate me, as they make good use of distinctive regional italian locations and have some potential, but kinda squander it or are afflicted by fairly big flaws.

Black Parthenope is a horror thriller set in the incredibly extensive set of underground catacombs and tunnels of Naples, the so called “Naples Underground”, where some business people met in order to sell the entire “underground city” to a company that’ll make parking lots out of it, but they get lost and haunted by the neopolitean folklore legend of the “Monaciello” (meaning “small monk”), a wronged soul that was shunned and then killed in the underground tunnels, forever seeking revenge on anyone that walks his haunting grounds.

The Neapolis Underground setting it’s great, some of the scenes manage to create a decent atmosphere, the cast it’s decent and it’s a well produced movie… but it’s almost brought down entirely by how shallow, grating and obnoxious the characters are, to say nothing of the aggressively awful dialogue, and how uneven and often middlesome direction can be, falling back to cliches in a way telling of this being a feature debut for the director in question.

While the final part partially redeems the movie from “proper bad” territory, the first act almost makes you wanna give up on it entirely, but at least you can tell that this movie was always meant to be a thriller-horror movie, unlike the previosly reviewed The Bunker Game.

Even so, it’s definitely not a bad effort!

[EXPRESSO] The Bunker Game (2022) | Paranazical Activity

Out of the blue a new italian (well, an italo-french production, but still, shot in Italy with italian actors) horror movie sneaked into cinemas here as an event screening.

I will say that this time i’m not so much disappointed or angry but utterly confused as to what they were even trying to do.

The setup is that there’s a LARP set up in a WWII nazi-fascist bunker in Italy, with an alternate history post-apocalyptic scenario, but when security measures break down, they evacuate the place and only the staff decides to remain and investigate to what happened, as the game/scenario creator has gone missing…

Given the title you’d expect the movie turning into either a battle royale, a Saw-style thingie, even a simple slasher, but nope, it goes into supernatural territory…. for reasons.

In the first part you kinda forget – despite the movie stating immediatly it’s a LARP – that’s a farce, a game, and i honestly wonder why it didn’t play the “alt-history Fallout cum Fourth Reich” scenario straight, i mean, the production values are quite good, the costumes too, so it could have been simply a modern nazisploitation flick.

For what it actually is, a horror movie, one where the horror part feels really forced and cliched, there’s some atmosphere due to the setting but no tension as the movie randomly veers into horror, the characters are token, unlikeable or barely have any screen time to be even worthy of adjectives.

The Bunker Game has some good cinematography, decent-to-good acting, but it feels way longer than its 90 minutes runtime, as it meanders about unsure of what the hell it’s even doing or saying, if anything at all.

Still better than In The Trap, but this one frustrated me way more since it had actual potential.

[EXPRESSO] Choose Or Die (2022) | Curse Text Adventure

It was just a matter of time before we got a movie like Choose Or Die, not only due to the rising prominence of videogames in popular culture, but also as a byproduct of the various legends like the Polybius one, and inadvertly of the metacurrent, as i got whiffs of an hypothetical Pony Island X Jumanji reboot crossover (plus references to the Waterworld Atari contest and the likes) from this.

Plus, it has Robert Englund in it. Always nice to see, regardless of the movie.

The plot sees two friends booting up an old 80s videogame, intrigued by the fact there was a competition with money on the line, but nobody ever claim the rewards in the following decades.

To their dismay, they actually enter the game, Curs<r, and will have to survive the surreal world laying before their eyes, as the game it’s actually, literally cursed, and can alter reality with destructive, immediate effect, forcing the player to make horrible binary choices.

It’s a simple premise but it’s novel enough, and the execution it’s surprisingly good, the direction is confindent has quite the bite, taking advantage of the premise (in this case the videogame elements) in a straightforward but also quite interesting and satisfying manner, leading to some really grisly (yet not over the top in terms of graphical violence) setpieces that show off some style to boot.

The likeable characters (especially the main protagonist), and compact runtime round up the package, making Choose Or Die a very nice surprise, overall, especially for Netflix’s often lacking offerings in terms of horror films.

It’s nothing special or deep, and maybe it was a bit longer it could have actually explored in any depth some of its themes, but regardless, a solid, fun, fresh teen horror romp with some pizzaz.