Category Archives: Horror

They’re coming to get you, Barbera.

Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

This review of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs and its 2016 remake is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Note: This review goes into spoilers for both films. You’ve been warned.

Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film Martyrs is perhaps the crowning achievement of the New French Extremity, as it ties together the disparate themes and generic components of the movement in the most cohesive and intriguing way.

The American remake of the film, directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz and distributed in part by Blumhouse, is not in conversation with the films and filmmakers of the New French Extremity. It is entirely removed. As such, it is merely an exploitation film.

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Now, Laugier’s Martyrs is no walk in the park when it comes to excessively violent subject matter. But for most of its running time it doesn’t feel like an exploitation film. It is a film about Continue reading Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

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Saw (2004) Movie Review

This review of Saw is part of the Saw Franchise Retrospective series in anticipation of this month’s release of Jigsaw.

The first image we see in James Wan’s Saw, now somewhat of a perennial torture porn classic, sets up the illogical world that this series is grounded in. A fitting introduction, one might say. We see Adam (Leigh Whannell, who also serves as screenwriter) underwater in a tub with a key dangling in front of his face. He is holding his breath, but also unconscious. When he wakes, he yanks open the drain and the key disappears forever.

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How long was he out? How could he be alive after Continue reading Saw (2004) Movie Review

Gerald’s Game (2017) Movie Review

A sexually frustrated married couple, Jess (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), travel to a vacation home in the forest to spice up their sex life. Two pairs of handcuffs (the real ones, not those fuzzy novelty ones that break when you really get going) trap Jess to the reinforced bedposts of a queen-sized bed.

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Jess stops Gerald as the sex game goes to far and starts treading into a rape fantasy that she was not expecting, but of course it can’t simply end there. As they fight about their broken marriage, Jess repeatedly asking for him to uncuff her, Gerald Continue reading Gerald’s Game (2017) Movie Review

Happy Death Day (2017) Movie Review

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover in the dorm room of Carter Davis (Israel Broussard). Glibly, she blows him off and leaves to her sorority house, where she continues to brush off people left and right. If you cannot yet tell, she is not a very nice college student. She doesn’t even care that it is her birthday.

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She goes to class (she is engaging in an adulterous relationship with her professor), comes home to prepare for a party, and leaves alone to get there. On the way, she is cornered by a masked knife-wielder and killed. But wait… Continue reading Happy Death Day (2017) Movie Review

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) Movie Review

Over the past decade, The Poughkeepsie Tapes has become an artifact of horror fandom lore. Initially set for a 2007 release, John Erick Dowdle’s mockumentary profiling of a serial killer was pulled from the release slate and faded away.  In 2014, the film received a light VOD release and vanished again.

On October 10, 2017, The Poughkeepsie Tapes was given, for the first time, a proper release. It is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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In retrospect, the film feels like the found footage love child of The Blair Witch Project and V/H/S. Talking head interviews frame the story of a serial killer who Continue reading The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) Movie Review

Sheitan (2006) Movie Review

This review of Kim Chapiron’s Sheitan is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The abrupt open to Sheitan is an utter delight. The first image is a closeup on a man’s shocked face. He asks if we’re ready. There is indistinct noise, perhaps in protest, from outside of the frame. He asks again. Then, he begins scratching a turntable, and we are introduced to a rowdy night club that presents us with the energy of the film. Text appears on the screen that reads: “Do not forgive them, for they know what they do.”

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In this night club are three men who are quickly thrown out for one of their transgressions against patrons. The transgressor, Bart (Olivier Barthelemy), has some issues with anger and sexual aggression toward women (and apparently bad breath).

Before being kicked out, however, they meet Eve (Roxane Mesquida), who invites the three men and Yasmine (Leila Bekhti) to her eccentric home in the country, which is filled with Continue reading Sheitan (2006) Movie Review

Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review

This review of Fabrice du Welz’ Calvaire is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) is a singer. He wows crowds at retirement homes, but he wants to make it big. On the road to a big Christmas gig, his car breaks down in the woods. A man (Jean-Luc Couchard) in search for his dog leads Marc to an isolated inn run by a man named Bartel (Jackie Berroyer).

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Bartel appears an honest, genial innkeeper. In the morning, he tows Marc’s van to the inn and helps to repair it. But he also Continue reading Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review