Quickfire film reviews, well it’s in the title, isn’t it?
I’m speedily reviewing old releases, re-watches, and films I didn’t particularly enjoy.
The Boy (dir. William Brent Bell) (2016)
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell
Going into this film totally blind was, I think, a very good move. Under the ‘horror’ umbrella I can see why many dislike the film; it isn’t scary, it’s creepy with the added eeriness of good character development as Greta becomes closer to Brahms. Writer Stacey Menear stated that she wanted this film to ‘get strange’ rather than violent or generic and I think the film captures that. You have to be a bit of an active watcher, a lot of the larger plot points are explained only through hints which have to be pieced together, which forces you into their world.
It runs at a very gradual pace, allowing for more time to explore the characters and the setting. Especially, this left space for some gorgeous cinematography and work with the lighting department. They manipulate Brahms’ unchanging face using light and it truly creates the sense of him being alive. Very creepy indeed!
Carrie (dir. Brian De Palma) (1976)
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt, Betty Buckley
The opening sequence of this film led me to think I wouldn’t enjoy this adaptation of Stephen King’s novel; with voyeuristic slow-motion shots of teenage girls in the showers and changing room (which arguably help to convey the underlying theme of sexual desire and maturity tackled in the film) before the necessary moment when menarcheal blood appears. From then on the film captures the horrors that surround Carrie in her school and home life, as well as the horrors of adolescence and bullying.
Ultimately, this film works because of how utterly devastating it is. De Palma knows that we know what happens at that prom and does everything he can to make it as shocking and horrifying as it is, from heightening Carrie’s happiness with Tommy and her new-found freedom of expression at prom to stripping back the sound design of the falling bucket to heighten Carrie’s heartbreaking reaction. Spacek is utterly compelling as Carrie and, along with some stunning cinematography (look at that gorgeous split focus!), the film lives up to its classic title.
Misery (dir. Rob Reiner) (1990)
Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
Taking into account the simplicity of Misery‘s storyline – famous novelist Paul Sheldon finds himself immobile and in the care of his ‘number one fan’, Annie Wilkins, after a car accident, but things turn sour when Annie hates Sheldon’s latest Misery novel – the film is incredibly effective at maintaining a gripping and refreshing narrative. It is thoroughly suspenseful throughout with the phenomenal Bates bringing so much depth to a villain so unpredictable she lives up to her ‘Dragon Lady’ title – her win of Best Actress at the Academy Awards is so deserved!
The film is claustrophobic in every sense, a creeping thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. What surprised me, however, was how darkly humorous the film manages to be at times; with Annie’s random flights between rage and adoration and Sheldon’s attempts to keep a straight face results in some weird and wonderfully funny moments.