What’s New on the Site
Get Out is a Wonderful Blend of Horror, Comedy, and Social Commentary in a Great Debut Film – Jordan Peele’s directorial debut hits all the right notes thanks to great performances and an impressive balance of horror and dark comedy. Read the full review by Clint Westbrook here.
What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
I, Lucifer – Glen Duncan
What a great novel. Where else can you get something that comments on the human spirit, on the meanings of everything in life, and can crack you up so hard you choke a little? Satan, that’s where. Yup, this story involves God giving Satan one more shot at getting into heaven. All he has to do is live a half-way decent life in the body of an alcoholic writer with suicidal depression. Note – not even a good life, just ok. What follows is an exploration of religion, life, and the inner workings of heavenly politics as Lucifer looks to wreck the place (i.e. Earth) and live it up as hard as he can, even with the angel Raphael on his heels, trying to save him.This is not for the devout (or is it, at it’s core, for them?) but I can easily say this is for anyone who wants a great laugh and something contemplative, all rolled into one. There’s even a great album based off of the novel by the band The Real Tuesday Weld, pretty great stuff.
Under the Skin – Michel Faber
Those who saw the Scarlett Johanssen film have seen something great. Those who read the novel are in for something similar, but also entirely separate. Faber (a favorite of mine) delves into the mind and life of the alien race, the creatures feasting on human beings, as the roam their recommended areas looking to snare us. Trust me, you’ll never read anything else like this.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Very little is as complicated to discuss as this book. Racial slurs and critique of religion aside, the novel is very…plodding and episodic. It is certainly enjoyable for character work, but don’t look for a lot beyond that. If it’s laughs that you want then this novel will deliver in spades, everything from a black man with a hairball that accepts gold to tell you your future to yet another fake death (Twain loves this plot device).
What We’ve Been Watching
The Blackcoat’s Daughter – That title is completely irrelevant, but other than that I can say that this was a wonderfully unsettling little film. The turns it takes are unexpected and exciting, the ideas behind a girl experiencing something supernatural in a Catholic academy working well without feeling forced or overly commentary. While I don’t mind Emma Roberts, it’s girls Lucy Boynton and Kiernan Shipka that really shine here. Awkward interaction between teenage girls, discussion of the issues they face, and pure whacked-out wonder are all executed so beautifully in the film. A24 continues to excite, with most of the things they release being exciting and all feeling new.
The Monster – Speaking of A24, this came out last year as well. While not perfect, we do get a stellar performance from Zoe Kazan as she plays an alcoholic mother who struggles just to exist from day to day while raising a child who hates her (with good reason). One day, on the way through the woods, a flat tire causes mayhem. The film could have gone for gross-out factors, it could have appealed to the Japanese horror sensibilities or the Korean thrillers, could have gone for the American jump-scares, but it did not. Instead, this film focuses on the relationship between this mother and her child that hates her, the viewer watching as they suffer and grow through the creature’s attack. This one is wild, exciting, and Lovecraftian. A wonderful little film.
Blair Witch – Surprise sequel to 1999’s sleeper hit The Blair Witch Project offers a lot to like. The marketing alone warrants a look. Initially presented as an original horror film by V/H/S vets, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, fans were invited to attend a screening at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. However, within the first few minutes, it was revealed that the film was a closely-guarded sequel, and upon leaving the theater all the posters and advertisements had been swapped out for what the film truly was. As a film itself, it doesn’t present as many surprises. There are a few twists and turns, and some expansion on the lore of the Blair Witch for better and worse, trading some of the original film’s mystery for exposition. The atmosphere makes for a decent modern horror movie but only a passable sequel to a scary classic.
The Love Witch – Keeping with the witch theme is The Love Witch, a film by Anna Biller, pays homage to the trippy colorful exploitation films of the 60’s. It’s visually sumptuous, with every scene bursting with vibrant hues and old-school grain. The film uses this style to great effect, not just using it as a crutch, but weaving it in to its DNA. Its playful nature delivers a more serious look at relationships between men and women, and the lengths they will go to in the pursuit of “true love”.
The Neon Demon – Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest is outstanding. It finally strikes a strong balance where some may say he has been lacking in previous affairs, offering the glossy visual style he’s known for, while also providing an interesting plot and characters. Refn maintains confidence in his directing even as the plot veers dangerously towards the fantastic and absurd.