This Year in Film (2019) – Film List

Personally, I feel this year in film has been a bit of a mixed-bag, as while I do feel we’ve had our fair share of great films this year, I also feel we’ve had plenty of disappointing entries as well. Obviously I haven’t seen every film this year, and I will most likely update this list as time goes on. But for now, in no particular order, here’s my thoughts on a variety of films I saw this year.

Joker

Without a doubt one of my favourite films of the year: ‘Joker’ directed by Todd Philips (The Hangover, Old School, War Dogs) is an interesting take on the comic book genre. Focusing more on being an engaging character piece with themes of untreated metal illness rather than your usual barrage of CGI action and explosions, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an eerie original score.

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Knifes Out

Director Rian Johnson proves himself a brilliant filmmaker once again after his smash-hit: ‘Looper’, as although I personally wasn’t a enormous fan of: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. I knew this director had talent elsewhere, and this was proven to me by ‘Knifes Out’. A hilarious and clever twist on the classic murder mystery, with some great performances from the huge cast, plenty of plot twists and a well-written narrative. I feel you’d struggle not to enjoy ‘Knifes Out’.

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Marriage Story

Standing out mostly for the fantastic performances from the all-star cast of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, director Noah Baumbach takes on this wonderful story of a couple broken apart by relationship troubles and long distances. Which despite the filmmaking not be anything outstanding, still manages to be engaging, emotional and very enjoyable from start-to-finish.

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The Silence

Easily one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, ‘The Silence’ directed by John R. Leonetti, mostly known for the awful: ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Wish Upon’. Is another generic horror with weak performances, dreadful CGI effects and a plot which feels as if it’s been ripped straight from: ‘A Quiet Place’ released back in 2018.

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Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari)

After directing one of my favourite films of 2017: ‘Logan’, director James Mangold now takes on the real-life story of the creation of one of the fastest race cars ever built in order to win the iconic: ‘Le Mans ’66’. Featuring some excellent performances from main cast in addition to some great cinematography and high-fueled racing scenes, ‘Le Mans ’66’ is a true thrill-ride of a film.

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Toy Story 4

‘Toy Story 4’ is definitely one of the most disappointing films of the year for me, as the original ‘Toy Story’ trilogy is (in my opinion) near perfect, and this film seems to do nothing but continue the story for the sake of it. As although the animation is incredible throughout the film, and the performances and original score are also pretty great, the narrative and character-arcs simply let the film down, and make it the weakest of the ‘Toy Story’ series for me.

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I Am Mother

This slick science fiction thriller had me excited for quite sometime leading up to it’s release. However, when I eventually watched: ‘I Am Mother’ I found myself a little disappointed. As the beautiful visuals and solid sci-fi soundtrack are sadly let down by a drawn-out and sometimes bland story. As while not boring by any means, I felt the film was a bit of wasted potential overall.

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It: Chapter 2

Director Andy Muschietti returns to once again bring the demonic clown: ‘Pennywise’ to life in this sequel to the ‘It’ remake from 2017. This time around however, I personally found the film to be a bit of a let down. As although there were plenty of entertaining scenes and great character moments throughout the film’s extremely long run-time, there were also plenty of ridiculous moments alongside the barrage of enormous CGI monsters.

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Crawl

Going off the initial reviews, I originally had high hopes for: ‘Crawl’, hoping it would be an extremely tense, edge of your seat kind of experience. But unfortunately, the film felt like a mostly standard thriller by the end of it’s run-time. Having nothing more than a few tense scenes and a couple of effective jump-scares to make up for it’s weak CGI effects and mostly dull characters.

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Yesterday

While definitely not on the same level as many other of director Danny Boyle’s films, ‘Yesterday’ was still a pretty entertaining feel good comedy which I felt had an enjoyable up-beat tone, and enough likable characters to carry it through many of it’s cheesy moments and sometimes overly predictable story.

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Aladdin

This year’s first entry from the usual barrage of pointless live-action Disney remakes: ‘Aladdin’ is exactly what I expected it to be. The classic story most know and love but incredibly dulled-down, trying to capture the adventure of the original film through an enormous amount of CGI visuals, nostalgia and a new cast lead by Will Smith which are all rather bland.

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Velvet Buzzsaw

Despite ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ not quite being the hilarious, gory and extremely weird horror/comedy I was initially hoping for, in addition to going off the back of director Dan Gilroy’s other film: ‘Nightcrawler’ (which is one of my all-time favourites). I still found the film interesting enough throughout it’s story to keep me watching, despite it not being overly memorable in it’s entirety.

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Avengers: Endgame

Marvel finally bring their enormous franchise of superhero flicks to an end (for now that is) with ‘Avengers: Endgame’, a blockbuster spectacular which gives many viewers the conclusion they’ve been desiring for many years, and although it isn’t one of my personal favourite Marvel films, I enjoyed: ‘Avengers Endgame’ for what it was. As the film provides some endings for characters alongside plenty of comedic moments, fan service and thrilling action set pieces.

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Dolemite Is My Name

Based on the real-life story of Rudy Ray Moore, Eddie Murphy makes his awaited return to film after a long break. As this brilliant comedy/drama makes all the right moves to keep it’s audience engaged within it’s story through plenty of humour, style and emotion throughout it’s run-time.

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Jumanji: The Next Level

A sequel to ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ from 2017, as well as the original ‘Jumanji’ from 1995. ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is very similar to the previous instalment in regards to it’s tone and story (with some elements mixed-up of course), and despite some humour and story moments going a little too over-the-top for my taste. The film is still enjoyable enough for those seeking another fun family adventure from this franchise.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Unable to actually decide what I thought of the film initially, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is a true mixed-bag of a blockbuster, having some fantastic monster action with flawless CGI effects and a surprisingly ranged colour palette be completely bogged down by weak characters, cheesy moments and at points, a very messy story.

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Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

Director Quentin Tarantino returns to the sliver screen once again with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’. Bringing us a slight subversion of some of his usual film tropes, to focus more on a story of a man seeking his return to fame in Hollywood, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an excellent 1960s soundtrack.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

In another one of this year’s biggest disappointments, ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ is the third entry in the ‘John Wick’ series. Which sadly, leaves a lot to be desired, as many of the trilling and well-executed action scenes are dragged down by a messy and uninteresting story, as well as a variety of out-of-place comedic moments.

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Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Arguably the most disappointing film of the year for many, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ attempted to close the enormous legacy of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, which unfortunately failed quite miserably. As overly fast pacing and a messy narrative didn’t save the film despite it’s fun moments and exciting action scenes, further proving that this franchise needs a short rest before it’s inevitable return.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

Most likely my favourite Marvel film of this year, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ hardly breaks new ground when it comes to superhero flicks. But the main cast’s great performances mixed with plenty of exciting action and a surprisingly interesting antagonist, leave ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ an enjoyable and mostly faithful comic book adventure for the iconic web-head.

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The Lion King

The second of this year’s live-action Disney remakes: ‘The Lion King’ directed by Jon Favreau, is definitely one of the worst in my opinion, as although the film’s CGI visuals are nearly flawless, the film simply lacks any of the charm, heart and overall personality of the original film. Resulting in the remake being nothing more than an overall boring experience.

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Little Monsters

Although the film is help-up by some strong performances and some interesting ideas, ‘Little Monsters’ never manages to break the structure of your usual zombie film. Coming off as an occasionally fun yet mostly bland horror/comedy, which is just as predicable as it is dull, despite many of it’s decent comedic moments.

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Serenity

While I personally didn’t dislike ‘Serenity’ as much as many others, the film still suffers from a variety of issues. As director Steven Knight attempted to achieve something very different with this film, which at some points works quite well, and at others doesn’t work at all. As many of the unusual performances and can really drag down the film’s great cinematography and editing.

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Captain Marvel

One of the most bland Marvel films I’ve seen for a while, ‘Captain Marvel’ focuses far too much on pushing on themes of strong female empowerment that it forgets to actually create a likable protagonist or an interesting origin story, making the film overall feel simply forgettable than anything else.

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Surprisingly, Zombieland: Double Tap’ was far more enjoybale than I was initially expecting. As while not as memorable as the original film for me, there were more than a few moments of humour between the excellent cast that had me laughing, despite the film’s tone going even more over-the-top than before.

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The Irishman

Iconic director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street) returns to bring us another tale of crime and regret with: ‘The Irishman’, and while the over three hour run-time can definitely make the film drag at points, the brilliant performances and phenomenal filmmaking are sure to keep those paying attention engaged for the majority of the film’s run-time.

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Us

Director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his 2017 smash-hit: ‘Get Out’, was a far cry from excellent for me. As despite the brilliant reviews, I personally found the film’s story to be bloated with rushed ideas and ridiculous scenes, all adding up to a horror flick that placed more focus it’s themes than it’s narrative. Resulting in a film which was just as inconisitant with it’s tone as it was with it’s story.

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Hellboy

The latest superhero to get his own remake is the iconic: ‘Hellboy’, with the remake this time falling far, far from the mark. As a ridiculously messy story mixed-with poor CGI effects and dreadful comedy, leave the film pleasing no-one, despite David Harbour’s decent performance as the horned hero.

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1917

Made to appear as if it was filmed entirely within one shot, ‘1917’ is a brutal, gripping and engaging story involving two soldiers who set-off in a race against time to save thousands of men from a doomed battle, and while not flawless, the film is definitely impressive for both it’s narrative and filmmaking.

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Jojo Rabbit

Heartfelt, emotional and brimming with comedic charm, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is another one of my favourites from this year. Being a completely different take on the war genre by giving the audience a new view of the events of the second World War All under the excellent direction of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok).

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Missing Link

From Lakia animation studio, the production company that brought to life many of my favorite stop-motion animated films, such as: ‘Coraline’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ comes another fun family adventure. Shame this one couldn’t have done better at the box office, as the film is wonderfully put together, featuring plenty of humorous moments alongside the great voice acting and beautiful animation.

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Ready or Not

One of the most surprising films of the year for me, ‘Ready or Not’ may have your usual cliché plot for a modern-horror, but somehow the film manages to carry it through. Managing to be extremely funny, gory and fun throughout the majority of it’s run-time.

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Doctor Sleep

The long-awaited sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s classic: ‘The Shining’, ‘Doctor Sleep’ attempts to continue the story of the ‘Overlook Hotel’, and does so with mixed results. As although the film does pay plenty of the respect to the original film, I couldn’t help but feel the film doesn’t stand on it’s own very well, having a mostly average story with some pretty bland characters alongside.

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Uncut Gems

After many poor attempts at comedies in recent days, Adam Sandler gives one of his best performances in years with: ‘Uncut Gems’, portraying a shady jeweller who’s actions and consequences carry the film from start-to-finish, despite some shaky cinematography and an unusual original score.

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Midsommar

Although I quite enjoyed: ‘Hereditary’, director Ari Aster’s other film from 2017, ‘Midsommar’ was most certainly not for me. Feeling far too pretentious at points with a slow paced narrative and weak characters, the film’s unique ideas and decent visuals couldn’t save from becoming the boring mess it ended-up.

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The Kid Who Would Be King

A decent fantasy adventure for families, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) definitely has some areas in need of improvement. As the film is full of cheesy moments and a very unfitting original score, despite it’s pretty engaging story and overall fun tone.

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It Follows (2015) – Film Review

‘It Follows’ is easily one of my favourite modern-horrors to date, as the film utilizes some amazing cinematography by Mike Gioulakis, alongside an extremely eerie atmosphere and some decent performances, all tied together with an original and engaging story. Overall resulting in a film that’s both very memorable, and very tense throughout.

After a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, teenager ‘Jay’ finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone (or something) is following her. Faced with this burden, ‘Jay’ and her friends must find a way to escape the nightmare, that seems to always be a few steps behind.

Mostly due to the direction by David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover, Under the Sliver Lake) the film feels very polished throughout, as every scene usually plays out very slowly, always using the screen-time to build more tension, which I quite enjoyed. I also found the underlining themes of the film very interesting, as the film’s narrative subtly explores ideas of sexual diseases through it’s unique plot. However, one element of David’s direction I personally don’t like is the lack of any specific time-period for the film’s setting. As although the majority of the film does feel like a classic 1980s monster flick, the film constantly shows many modern devices and cars, in addition to a variety of old films on ‘Jay’s TV. Making the film feel very inconsistent with itself, despite this being an intentional decision.

As a cast of mostly unknown actors, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe and Olivia Luccardi all give decent performances here, as while nothing truly phenomenal of note, all the characters do feel as if they have chemistry with each other. With Maika Monroe being the obvious stand-out of course, as although her character doesn’t get much development, she portrays ‘Jay’ quite well, coming off as a mostly innocent and likeable teenager.

The cinematography by Mike Gioulakis is nothing short of brilliant, especially in regards to many other horrors. As aside from a few too many hand-held shots, the film constantly uses the camera to build tension and paranoia throughout entirety of it’s run-time. As in addition to using the a variety of different shots (many of which contain large amounts of movement) the film also uses the plenty of P.O.V. shots to see though ‘Jay’s eyes, placing the audience in the terrifying position of the protagonist themselves.

One of my favourite aspects of the film is definitely the original score by Disasterpeace, as this synth score really lends itself well to the eerie atmosphere, creating an original soundtrack which is just as tense and chaotic as it is memorable. However, this does fall back on the problem of the film not being set within the 80s, as this original score would fit in perfectly, especially with the two tracks: ‘Heels’ and ‘Title’.

As appose to many other modern-horrors, ‘It Follows’ has an noticeable lack of jump-scares, as the film is usually in favour of attempting to use simple yet creepy visuals hidden within the background of shots, which really gives the film a very fresh feel. ‘It Follows’ also separates itself from many other modern-horrors by having many of the scenes involving the creature take place during the daytime and/or in locations such as: a sandy beach or ‘Jay’s home, locations many would think to be safe.

I truly enjoy ‘It Follows’ from beginning to end, as the film is a genuine horror experience which takes risks and doesn’t simply feel like more of the same ideas we have seen before. As the fantastic cinematography and original score help create a film that we keep any horror fan engaged in this thrilling story. An 8/10 overall, as while the film may not be entirely flawless, I really do hope more films within this genre can succeeded as well as this one does.

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Adventureland (2009) – Film Review

This comedy/drama from 2009 is an underrated classic in my opinion, as Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul) brings us a simple yet effective story of two young people from different worlds meeting over one memorable summer, and while it may not be as hilarious as some of his other films. I do feel Greg Mottola has brought us a much more emotional story this time round, with the comedy not too far behind.

Taking place in the summer of 1987, where a college graduate takes a ‘nowhere’ job at his local amusement park, only to soon find it’s the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world. Meeting new friends and sending him down a new life path, while this is nothing incredibly original in regards to storytelling, the film does make the most of it’s simple plot.

For a film like this, it’s crucial that the characters are likable and are given plenty of development, as in my opinion, drama really only works within film if the characters are developed enough to be invested in. Luckily, the film succeeds here, creating very funny and mostly realistic characters within only a short amount of time. As the film doesn’t waste screen-time setting up it’s narrative and characters, but always does so in a way that doesn’t feel too fast-paced.

All of the cast are also pretty great here, as Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Reynolds all have decent chemistry with each other, and don’t simply treat their characters as joke machines. Bill Hader as the park manager: ‘Bobby’ has to be my personal favorite however, purely through his hilarious dialogue leading to many brilliant moments throughout the run-time.

Being set in an amusement park local to the home of the protagonist, this is where the cinematography by Terry Stacey really shines. As the film really uses the different rides and attractions as well as the colourful lighting as a beautiful backdrop for many great scenes, as the film is always very inventive with the different locations of the park, exploring new areas in each scene, with some locations even being used to reflect a character’s personality.

The original score by Yo La Tengo also helps add to the 1980s atmosphere, being mostly subtle yet still effective in many scenes. Various other songs from the 80s are also used throughout the film, everything from iconic classics to more unknown songs get a short appearance. With all of it eventually adding up to a pretty fantastic soundtrack, as well as another link back to the time-period.

The film also uses a bright orange, yellow and blue colour palette throughout it’s narrative, which really enhances the film’s visuals. The main issue with the film for me is it’s comedy, as mentioned, the film does have plenty of comedic moments. But I simply feel the film has far more in regards to drama then in regards to comedy, as the majority of it’s memorable moments are for emotional purposes. There was also a sub-plot between two characters which I felt was a little rushed over, but as this was near the film’s ending, this may have been done to avoid a lack of focus.

Although ‘Adventureland’ is nothing incredible in regards to it’s filmmaking, I personally really enjoy the film. As I’ll always find myself turning back to it when in need of a more up-beat flick, with a unique setting and a great cast of characters, there isn’t much to dislike here. Some of the film’s comedy could be improved, but I wouldn’t say this drags the entire film down. Overall, I’d say this one is a 8/10, definitely check this one out if you can, I feel it really deserves more attention.

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Get Out (2017) – Film Review

Comedian and actor Jordan Peele tests his hand at directing for the first time with this intelligent thriller, with a very original story and some great performances. The film is a definite step-up for Blumhouse Productions usual standard for films. However, while many people think this film is phenomenal, I personally don’t agree. As I do feel there is more than a few areas in need of some improvement.

The story begins when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, until his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches an extreme boiling point. Leading ‘Chris’ to believe more sinister forces may be at work there.

As already mentioned, the film’s narrative is very original, and any originality in film I will always appreciate. However, although originally pitched and advertised as a horror film. ‘Get Out’ is really anything but. Having many inclines of comedy mixed with a few tension-filled moments here and there. The film is entertaining, but not really eerie or frightening in the slightest. Which is why I believe the film is now classed as a thriller rather then a horror by most.

By far, the best aspect of the film me for are the performances by the cast, Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are all exceptional. Daniel Kaluuya as the protagonist: ‘Chris Washington’ in particular. Mostly known for his roles in: ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Black Panther’. He gives a very ranged performance here, and manages to create a very likeable character within only a short period of time. Sadly though, not all of the supporting cast level up to this standard. Combining these great performances with the effective writing also allows the script to place many little clues and hidden meanings within the dialogue itself.

The cinematography by Toby Oliver is also a great aspect of the film, creating many interesting shots and really making use of the large open spaces most of the film takes place in. Especially in the opening scene of the film, which is very well-executed and really helps set-up the narrative yet to come (along with being my personal favourite scene in the film).

Personally though, I’m not a huge fan of the original score by Michael Abels. The entire soundtrack sounds very strange to me, and although unique, it can come off as very distracting and out-of-place during many scenes within the film. Also only a small complaint, but I do also feel the film could do with a little more colour grading at points. As the bland colour palette can sometimes make the shots look very dull.

Although the writing in the film may not lead onto many terrifying moments. Jordan Peele does balance the comedy very well, in addition to building up an engaging mystery throughout the run-time. Obviously with a plot such as this one, there is also an enormous amount of different themes and social commentary underneath the main story, and while I did find most of this commentary very interesting and thought-provoking (as the film brings up some very relevant issues in our society today). I also found it be very distracting at points throughout the film, being a little too on the nose for me.

In conclusion, ‘Get Out’ is a decent thriller. The performances and cinematography here are definitely very impressive, and easily some of the most brilliant aspects of the film. But I do still feel the lack of an eerie atmosphere and an impactful score really don’t help the film. Along with this, I also do feel some elements of the film come off as oddly comedic when they weren’t quite meant to be. Overall, a 7/10, while nothing absolutely amazing. ‘Get Out’ definitely has it’s moments, and I would say the films a solid watch if you enjoy the occasional thriller.

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Attack the Block (2011) – Film Review

From producer Edgar Wright and director Joe Cornish (The Kid Who Would Be King) comes a violent, thrilling and exciting sci-fi spectacle. Despite a smaller budget, the film manages to create an incredibly entertaining film with a variety of brilliant effects. All equalling to a super enjoyable British thrill-ride.

The story focuses on a teenage gang in South London as they defend their block of flats from a deadly alien invasion after they fall from the sky in large meteorites. With a plot as inane and unusual as this, it’s fair to go into the film with ‘different’ expectations.

Despite being a simple science fiction thriller, the script is not only tense at points, but it can also be funny and even thought-provoking at times. Having themes of racism, crime and abandonment. Most of the action in the film is also very well done, not being overly edited, or shot with too much hand-held camera (unlike many action films or thrillers today). The film also manages to keep a really fast pace throughout, only ever having small breaks in between action scenes to develop the characters and give the audience a quick breather.

The main gang of teenagers are portrayed by John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Simon Howard. Who I think all do a great job acting like a rebellious group of London teens, having many comedic moments playing London ‘chavs’, without taking their portrayals a little too far. Jodie Whittaker (Black Mirror, Doctor Who) also appears in the film, as young woman who gets mugged by the group, and while she is less interesting, I still felt she really helped give the audience more of a perspective throughout the story. Even Nick Frost gets a small appearance as ‘Ron’, a drug supplier who has many hilarious moments.

On a rewatch, I also noticed the cinematography by Thomas Townend is surprisingly well-done, while I wasn’t expecting to be terrible by any means. It isn’t nearly as bland as I remembered it being, utilizing many different shots in both the action and non-action scenes. The cinematography also benefits many of the various effects in the film, both practical and CGI. The film’s effects still hold up today and work very well within the narrative, even many of the gore effects for various character’s death scenes are still impressive, and remain shocking to me even now.

The original score by Steven Price is another element of the film I really enjoy, combining a decent sci-fi soundtrack alongside a almost hip-hop like beat works really well with the idea of the inner London city clashing with outer-space. I personally believe this to be one of his most underrated scores right to next his original scores for both: ‘Fury’ and ‘Gravity’.

Personally, I think the only really weak element of the film aside from a few slightly cheesy scenes here and there, is the film’s sound design. As although I really like the various noises of the alien creatures themselves (as I believe it goes along with their amazing designs extremely well) there are a variety of other sounds I simply don’t feel fit with their placement in the film. Whether that’s because they feel out-of-place or simply come off as a little cringy at points.

‘Attack the Block’ is simply awesome, it remains a very exciting film from start-to-finish. Knowing exactly what it is whilst not afraid to push itself ever so slightly further to elevate above other films within it’s genre. While I don’t think the film is perfect by any means, and I don’t believe the sound design could be improved. ‘Attack the Block’ is still a solid sci-fi thriller. A high 8/10, definitely give this underrated film a chance if your interested.

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Pyewacket (2018) – Film Review

From director Adam MacDonald (Blackfoot Trail) ‘Pyewacket’ is a very character-focused indie horror. The film mostly being a small-scale narrative, having a very refreshing look and feel for a modern-horror, complete with an eerie location and a brilliantly tense atmosphere. Containing very little jump-scares or gore, more in favour of eerie silence and well-written dialogue.

For the most part I would say this approach to horror is very effective, the film flushes out it’s characters very well, with the story focusing entirely on a frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl (Leah) as she awakens something in the forest near her home when she naively performs an evil ritual in an attempt to kill her mother.

Although I’m not a huge fan of jump-scares, and I do very much appreciate the film’s draw towards more creating atmosphere. I do feel one or two scattered throughout the film wouldn’t have done any harm, as I feel they would’ve done a great job of scaring the audience when they least expect it and would’ve broke up some scenes of tension nicely. The film does succeed in creating tension in other ways however. As Adam MacDonald manages to incorporate darkness extremely well throughout the film, using dark lighting and colour grading to focus on the audience’s paranoia of what lurks in the dark corners of the screen. However, the scenes are never overly dark to the point of obscuring the audience’s view, and this works very effectively.

Nicole Muñoz portrays the main protagonist: ‘Leah’, as a mostly unknown actress, Nicole does a fantastic job of playing an angry teenager dealing with a broken family. Laurie Holden from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ is also surprisingly great as her mother. Which I definitely wasn’t expecting as I never really cared much for her character in the TV show, believing her to be very annoying and unlikable. But it’s clear to me now that this was mostly an issue with the writing on the show, and not with her performance, as here she really does a well with her character.

Alongside the use of darkness and great performances, the film also has amazing cinematography by Christian Bielz. As the film always uses the camera to the best of it’s advantage to create fear and tension. One shot in particular was a fast-paced P.O.V. shot, which reminded me heavily of the classic ‘Evil Dead’ films, and really sent a shiver down my spine when it first encounters one of the characters. The original score by Lee Malia unfortunately is nothing too memorable, mostly being a cliché horror soundtrack with the odd emotional tone mixed in. 

My main issue with the film is the pacing, as the film is actually a slow-build, it can sometimes drag. The film mostly does a good job at keeping the audience invested with that brilliant horror atmosphere and great character drama. But some of the scenes set at ‘Leah’s’ high school can really feel very bland and drawn-out. Especially when you compare these scenes to the scenes in the forest surrounding ‘Leah’ and her mother’s home. As these are always brimming with tension and are incredibly fun to experience.

Alongside this, without ruining anything, the ending of the film is also very memorable. As the film truly leaves the audience on a dark and shocking note, which is sure to stick with you long after the credits have rolled, and genuinely helps the film become far more of a standout when compared to similar film’s in it’s genre.

‘Pyewacket’ is probably not one of my favourite all-time horror flicks, however it is one I would recommend to most. Although the slow-pace and lack of jump-scares may frustrate some viewers, the film does build up an amazing atmosphere, with great performances from the small cast and some decent dialogue to back it up. The film isn’t perfect but it does mostly contain what I personally desire from a modern-horror film. A 7/10 overall, I think ‘Pyewacket’ is a great watch for a different kind of horror fan.

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Don’t Breathe (2016) – Film Review

Truly a visual treat when it comes to the film’s lighting and attractive colour palette, ‘Don’t Breathe’ is the second big-screen outing for director Fede Alvarez after directing the extremely gory: ‘Evil Dead’ remake. As this incredibly tense story makes great use of it’s single location, while simultaneously keeping the viewer engaged with a variety of close-calls and it’s brilliant cast.

Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a elderly blind man. However, the three of them soon discover he may not be as helpless as he first seems.

This simple yet unique plot is surprisingly effective in creating many eerie scenes, as the film uses it’s single location to the best of it’s advantage. Utilizing the tight corridors and dark rooms of: ‘The Blind Man’s house at every opportunity, giving the characters plenty of extremely close encounters with the blind old man. Even holding their breath at points so he can’t hear them breathe, as the title of the film implies.

Stephan Lang of: ‘Avatar’ fame, portrays a character only ever-known as: ‘The Blind Man’, and he does a phenomenal job of it. Giving the audience an almost sympathetic view of the character through his portrayal of him, despite him still being incredibly intimidating and very creepy every-time he is on-screen. The rest of the cast of Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto also do a brilliant job as the young group of thieves, making the audience sympathise with them despite their awful actions and only small amount of characterisation.

The cinematography by Pedro Luque, is decent the film but nothing phenomenal. As aside from the occasional shot, the real visual flair of the film is the beautiful lighting and colour palette as already mentioned, from dirty blues and greens, to bright oranges. Each location and time of day is always given it’s own unique look, sometimes even replicating what the audience is feeling at that point, whether that is fear or relief, depending on what point of the narrative we are.

Roque Baños, same composer as the ‘Evil Dead’ remake returns to work alongside Fede Alvarez, as he creates a memorable horror score. As the original score helps to build-up an eerie atmosphere, and really lends itself well to the personality of the film, which does truly feels like this is a passion project from director Fede Alvarez. As he brought over producer Sam Rami from the ‘Evil Dead’ remake to help fund this small-budget horror/thriller.

When it comes to the run-time, ‘Don’t Breathe’ is actually quite short. As the film doesn’t seem to want to overstay it’s welcome, as many horror flicks can suffer from over doing their concepts (therefore making their ideas less creepy/interesting by the end of the film). Luckily, ‘Don’t Breathe’ avoids this, aside from one short scene near the film, which I feel drags on for slightly too long. As if it would’ve cut-off a few seconds earlier I feel it would’ve been far more effective in regards to the story, but this may just be a personal preference.

In conclusion, I really enjoy: ‘Don’t Breathe’, as this original and extremely tense film is a pleasure to watch everytime it’s on. As aside from my issue with the ending, as well as maybe some more entertaining deaths for the characters, I have very few issues with this one. As Stephen Lang leads a great cast with a mostly simplistic story, which somehow still becomes one of the most memorable horrors/thrillers I’ve seen for a while. A high 8/10 overall from me, I personally am really looking forward to what else this director has up his sleeve, horror or not.

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