What to Watch on Shudder: Shivers and More

Horror aficionados, gather round and look at the highlights on horror streaming platform Shudder. Here is what to watch on Shudder this week…

What to Watch on Shudder: Shivers

1975’s Shivers was writer-director David Cronenberg’s first commercial movie. Those who have seen the filmmakers other pictures will recognise some distinctly Cronenbergian motifs in this mid-1970s film. Shivers offers the trademark body horror, as well as the destruction of normal human society. The residents of an apartment block in Canada are infected with a parasite that turns them into sex-crazed fiends, hellbent on converting others. The set up is reminiscent of High-Rise (the book was published the same year as Shivers was released). The film is far superior to the film adaptation released in 2015. Shivers’ cast includes horror royalty Barbara Steele, and was produced by Cronenberg’s fellow Canadian Ivan Reitman (best-known for directing Ghostbusters).

What to Watch on Shudder: We Go On

We Go On is a Shudder exclusive from filmmakers Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. Despite the platform, We Go On is not a traditional horror; the film is better described as a supernatural drama. Miles, a loner, is paralysed by his fear of dying. He takes out an advert offering $30,000 to anyone who can prove the existence of life after death. Naturally, he receives several responses. The film is worth a watch because of its interesting premise and its rendering of the search of life after death. Those looking for scares galore may be disappointed, however the storytelling intrigues and the feeling of dread is permeable. We Go On‘s cast features Annette O’Toole (aka Lana Lang from Superman III).

What to Watch on Shudder: The Stylist

2016’s The Stylist is a short film from director and co-writer Jill Gevargizian. The film is about a hair stylist waiting for her final client of the day. The less known about the narrative the better. Suffice to say, The Stylist is a macabre little tale. Najarra Townsend is immensely watchable in the short.

This is a new series that features highlights from horror streaming platform Shudder. To find out more about the service and to sign up, visit https://www.shudder.com.

LFF 2016 Highlights Part 2

The BFI London Film Festival has come to a close after another year of some striking and wonderful films. Some brilliant films have already screened in the first week. Here is part 2 of the LFF 2016 highlights…

LFF 2016 Unmissable

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a sumptuous and tense film. The director keeps viewers captivated throughout. Ford’s wonderful directorial debut A Single Man would have many keen to know what he would do next in the cinematic sphere. Despite the recess, this sophomore picture does not disappoint. READ MORE

Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven’s film is unrelenting and unforgiving. Brimstone can be difficult to watch, but it enthrals nevertheless. Brutish and bruising, Brimstone is a thriller that does not know when to quit. But make no mistake, this is a good thing. READ MORE

Lion

Lion

Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast. Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Best of the Rest

Elle

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle absorbs, entertains, and intrigues. After a lengthy break, Verhoeven reminds viewers exactly why he is a great filmmaker. Based on the novel by Philippe Dijan, Elle is a curious and rewarding feature. READ MORE

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun. Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. READ MORE

Prevenge

Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s black comedy Prevenge is a fun watch. A quirky premise is transformed into an entertaining film. Writer, director, and star Alice Lowe has created an off-the-wall dark comedy with Prevenge. The premise is original and amusing, and the film itself follows suit. READ MORE

Lake Bodom (Bodom)

Lake Bodom (Bodom) is a very entertaining horror-thriller. The film defies expectations, in a tantalising way. Director and co-writer Taneli Mustonen has created an interesting horror thriller with Lake Bodom. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 5th-16th October 2016.

Film Review: Free Fire

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun.

In Boston in the late 1970s, Justine brokers an arms deal between two gangs. The deal is set to take place in an abandoned warehouse. What should be a simple transaction turns into something else entirely…

Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. The pair keep things simple with the set up. The premise is basic, functioning to get the characters into a controlled environment. Very little of the action takes place outside of this setting.

With a simple premise and an almost one-room setting, the emphasis of the film has to be on the script and the characters. Wheatley riffs off the 1970s gangster films with Free Fire. The film has the style of gangster films of this era, and functions as something of a homage to the genre. Characters are quickly established, and the protagonists are given enough depth to engage viewers. The script, meanwhile, is frequently funny throughout the duration. The humour mixes character-driven jokes and wit with slapstick incidents. As is Wheatley’s way, humour is mixed with goriness for some black comic laughs.

Aerial shots early on in the film work well to establish the setting. At later stages, however, the camera work is sometimes too dizzying to figure out what is going on. One song in particular is used to great effect. Sharlto Copley is wonderfully humorous as Vern. He is the stand out character in the film. Elsewhere, Armie Hammer shows his comedy chops, and Cillian Murphy instils some much needed dryness. Sam Riley and Bree Larson are also decent.

Free Fire is a gangster comedy which does the job of entertaining its audience throughout. A very enjoyable film.

Free Fire is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

Film Review: High-Rise

High-Rise

Ben Wheatley’s film High-Rise has a promising start, but the overall execution is left wanting.

Dr Robert Laing moves into a flat in a high-rise tower block. At first the building seems to have everything for a busy professional, but life begins to run out of control for the many residents…

High-Rise is broadly about society, class and humanity. However, later in the film the message Wheatley is trying to push through gets jumbled. Anarchy reigns, but not in a manner which says anything in particular. High-Rise would have been a more satisfying film if director Ben Wheatley had stuck to one vein and explored that.

The film’s setting is appealing, with unmistakable 1970s dystopia look. The claustrophobia of the location is successful function as things begin to crumble. Chaos is depicted effectively, although it would have been more enthralling if this was further punctuated. As it stands, the film builds to a type of climax which is without carthasis.

Protagonist Robert Laing, played by Tom Hiddleston, is an interesting character to begin with. There is a hook at first as it is unclear which direction Laing will take. As the film progresses however, this becomes less interesting, as High-Rise simply suggests that he is as affected by the situation as everyone else in the building.

Class in the film is depicted in very explicit terms. This is often a source of humour. The film is most successful when it employs comedy in fact. However High-Rise paints in broad strokes, not really having much to say on the subject.

The film’s final sequence makes further political statement. If there had been a coherent message throughout High-Rise, this certainly would have been in-keeping with the tone. However, it feels like it has been tacked on.

It is a shame that High-Rise does not live up to its initial strong beginning. There are good ideas in the film, but they are buried beneath a lacklustre execution.

High-Rise is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015.