Looking for some scares? This week’s guide of what to watch on Shudder features Blood and Black Lace, Mirror Mirror, and The Home…
What to Watch on Shudder: Blood and Black Lace
Mario Bava’s 1964 Blood and Black Lace is surely one of horror’s most visually arresting films. Starring Eva Bartok and Cameron Mitchell, the film is about models who are killed at a fashion house by a masked figure. Visually, the film is a joy to watch. The use of colour, the composition of shots, and the art direction are all spot on. Coupled with this are the costumes and great sets. Blood and Black Lace mixes these wonderful aspects with a suitably satisfying slasher narrative. There is a great sequence early on with numerous suspicious parties keeping their eyes on a bag which contains a diary. This acts as a succinct preview of what is to come.
What to Watch on Shudder: Mirror Mirror
Mirror Mirror fulfils the cult 90s movie trope; the television aspect ratio of Shudder’s version merely adds to this. Released in 1990, Marina Sargenti’s film is very much of its era. A teenage outsider moves to a new home, where she gains magical power through an antique mirror. Mirror Mirror combines supernatural horror with a teen movie. There are definite allusions to Carrie (1976), and Sargenti’s film can certainly be seen as a precursor to The Craft. Whilst not the scariest of movies, Mirror Mirror works as a supernatural teen movie, with some decent sequences. The film stars Rainbow Harvest, Karen Black (Family Plot, Five Easy Pieces), and Yvonne De Carlo (best known as Lily from The Munsters).
What to Watch on Shudder: The Home
L. Gustavo Cooper’s 2016 short The Home is brief, yet unnerving. Set in an Irish home for pregnant young women, the period-set-set film is about an evil that descends on the convent. There is very little by the way of narrative, but this does not matter as The Home is atmospheric, and offers a great final sequence.
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Chronicle is a highly enjoyable science fiction film. Don’t be deterred by the age of the protagonists; the film should satisfy a wide demographic.
Teenager Andrew decides to start filming his day-to-day life; a clear indicator of his detachment from fellow students and the social order of the American high school. When his cousin Matt and popular classmate Steve find something unusual at a party, they ask Andrew to come along and film it. The trio soon discover some unusual side effects…
Chronicle is a very entertaining directorial debut from Josh Trank. The reason the film functions so well is because it fulfils the regular super hero movie tropes, but in a way that is fresh and interesting. The screenplay by Max Landis is great in its ability to combine teen concerns with a science-fiction narrative.
Characters in Chronicle appear multi-faceted. At first, the three main players seem like broad stereotypes. However, complexities arise as the film progresses. The interactions between these three in particular come across as authentic. There is some good humour that helps to balance the later seriousness of Chronicle. The film’s initial set up works well to absorb viewers; there is sufficient mystery which is retained for a significant part of the duration.
The handheld camera works well in Chronicle. There seems more of a point to the characters filming, compared with many ‘found fotage’ films. The special effects are decent, with some impressive sequences. The film exhibits elements of certain 1970s films, notably Superman and Carrie. Thankfully Chronicle does not attempt to rip them off; they appear as slight influences instead.
Dane DeHaan is fantastically cast as Andrew. He certainly looks the part of the isolated teen, with mannerisms to match. Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan share great chemistry as Matt and Steve. Chronicle should certainly raise the profile of these three actors.
Josh Trank and Max Landis have produced a great film. Chronicle functions superbly as a sci-fi/superhero/teen movie hybrid and is highly recommend for those with an interest in any of these film genres.
Director Gurinder Chadha said in a recent interview that she was sick of making romantic comedies. Perhaps not the best way to promote your new film; a romantic comedy.
It’s a Wonderful Afterlife tells the story of Roopi, a British-Asian woman, and her mother who is desperate to see her daughter married. So desperate in fact, that she has taken to murdering those who get in the way…
The story is very flimsy, based on a rather ridiculous premise. This would not matter if the film was consistently humorous. However, the film is weak in this area; although there are some funny gags, it lacks the frequency of comedy you would hope for from this genre.
Goldy Notay shines in It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, giving an earnest performance despite the material she has to work with. The one highlight of this film is in its casting of Notay as the leading lady; it is refreshing to see someone in this role who is not stereotypically attractive, as with most rom-coms. Thus, when she struggles to find a partner or laments her situation, the audience can believe her.
It is a pity that less effort was spent developing the other characters in the film. Sendhil Ramamurthy is attractive as the love interest, but there is not much else too him. One is never given too much of an impression as to how his character feels, or his motivations. Sally Hawkins is bright and entertaining as the best friend Linda, although her Carrie-inspired sequence goes on a lot longer than necessary, thus losing any initial amusement.
It is decidedly positive that Chadha has chosen to take a different direction. Whilst Bend It Like Beckham was a fun and engaging film; this most recent offering is far less inspired. Coupled with this is Chadha’s inclination to offer a very similar, stereotypical depiction of Asians (particularly Asian parents) in almost all her films. By avoiding the romantic comedy genre, hopefully her next film will offer more originality.