Coming Home in the Dark (2021)

Coming Home in the Dark
Director: James Ashcroft
Writer: James Ashcroft, Eli Kent
Based on: Owen Marshall‘s short story
Cast: Erik Thomson, Daniel Gillies, Matthias Luafutu, Miriama McDowell, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 29.9.2021
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Plot:
Hoaggie (Erik Thomson), his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell) and their children Maika (Billy Paratene) and Jordan (Frankie Paratene) are taking a little road trip together. Their fun and bickering, though, is interrupted when Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and Tubs (Matthias Luafutu) show up as the family picnics. The two men are armed and dangerous and nothing will be the same after the encounter.

Coming Home in the Dark finished off the trilogy of hopelessness that was the SLASH program this evening (the other two films in this unofficial trilogy were Hunter Hunter and Teddy). Of the three films, it was the weakest. It simply gave us nothing to hold on to.

The film poster showing Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) holding a shotgun in front of a red-tinted sky and a car standing in a field.
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Hunter Hunter (2020)

Hunter Hunter
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Cast: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Plot:
Joseph (Devon Sawa), Anne (Camille Sullivan) and their daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) live off the grid, in the middle of the forest, getting by as trappers, selling the furs of the animals they catch. When they realize that a wolf is in the area, they are highly alerted, though. Anne is worried for Renee in particular, as they believe it’s a rogue wolf who is likely to attack them and who, at the very least, is a danger to their already slim livelihood. So Joseph sets out to catch the wolf.

I have rarely watched a film that left me with such a strong urge to drink something like this movie. And I actually do mean that as a compliment. It’s depressing and tense and highly effective.

The film poster showing a howling wolf, painted with white color on a black background. in front of it the silhouette of a man, and in front of that Anne (Camille Sullivan), rifle in hand.
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Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss
Seen on: 1.9.2021

Plot:
Erin (Nicole Kidman) is a police officer, only barely holding herself together. When a body turns up with markings that connect it to an undercover case from the very beginning of Erin’s career, she re-opens the investigation, she knows that her past has finally caught up with her – and that she may finally set things right.

Destroyer very cleverly cast Nicole Kidman against type, but I often felt that it relies to hard on that cleverness, on Kidman’s sallow looks. It is a decent crime movie, but it could have been a little more.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Erin's (Nicole Kidman) face with deep shadows under her eyes in blue and red light.
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Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Young Woman
Director: Emerald Fennell
Writer: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Molly Shannon, Alfred Molina
Seen on: 23.8.2021

Content Note: rape, rape culture

Plot:
Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) has a hobby: she goes out a lot, pretends to be drunk and waits until a man tries to pick her up and fuck, or rather rape her. Then she confronts him about his actions. Other than that, her life is pretty uneventful. She lives with her parents (Clancy Brown, Jennifer Cooldige) and works in a coffeeshop. When Ryan (Bo Burnham) comes into the coffeeshop one day, he recognizes her from college and asks Cassie out. This reconnection to her own past has unforeseen consequences for both of them.

Promising Young Woman is a strong film that is definitely worth seeing, even though it doesn’t come without flaws. It certainly leaves an impression and opens up a discussion.

The film poster showing the film title as if written with lipstick, inlcuding a lip print. behind this we can see Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) unfocused, lipstick in hand.
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Son (2021)

Son
Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Writer: Ivan Kavanagh
Cast: Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm, Cranston Johnson, Blaine Maye
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2021
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Plot:
Laura (Andi Matichak) is the single mom of David (Luke David Blumm) and the two have built a good life with each other. But David doesn’t know that Laura is hiding from her past. But said past catches up with them one night when Laura finds intruders in David’s room. Police office Paul (Emile Hirsch) tries to talk her down. Shortly after though, David contracts a mysterious illness and nobody knows what’s wrong with him. Now Laura has to decide what she is willing to do and to face about her own past to make sure that he is okay.

Son is a well-made film with great performances that is at times a little too predictable. But definitely enjoyable.

The film poster showing Laura (Andi Matichak) cradling her son David (Luke David Blumm) who has blood trickling from his mouth.
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Knackningar [Knocking] (2021)

Knackningar
Director: Frida Kempff
Writer: Emma Broström
Based on: Johan Theorin‘s novel
Cast: Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm, Ville Virtanen, Krister Kern, Alexander Salzberger, Charlotta Åkerblom
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 17.6.2021
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Plot:
Molly (Cecilia Milocco) was just released from a psychiatric facility where she had to spend some time after a personal tragedy. She’s still fragile, but ready to face the world again. She moves into a small appartment and tries to get comfortable there. But not only is a heatwave weighing on her, Molly keeps hearing strange knocking in her apartment – knocking that nobody else seems to hear but that she is convinced is a call for help.

Knackningar is a strong film that manages to draw you into Molly’s paranoia, and keeps a clear eye on power dynamics. A really great start for the spring edition of the SLASH film festival.

The film poster showing a close-up of Molly (Cecilia Milocco) in profile. There is only a small shaft of light on her eye and cheek, and in that shaft is the shape of a woman who is falling.
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The Drowning (2016)

The Drowning
Director: Bette Gordon
Writer: Stephen Molton, Frank Pugliese
Based on: Pat Barker‘s novel Border Crossing
Cast: Josh Charles, Avan Jogia, Julia Stiles, Tracie Thoms, John C. McGinley
Seen on: 8.4.2021

Content Note: attempted suicide, stalking, saneism

Plot:
Psychiatrist Tom (Josh Charles) and his wife Lauren (Julia Stiles), an art teacher and artist, have arranged themselves with their different wishes for how their lives should be. So, Tom spends his time in a small town in New Jersey to enjoy the relative quiet and work on his newest book, while Lauren enjoys the art and culture of New York, but goes to New Jersey whenever she can. On one of her visits, the two go for a walk and see a young man (Avian Jogia) just about to commit suicide by drowning himself. Tom is quick to react, throwing himself into the water and pulling him out. The next day, Tom realizes that he knows the man – Danny used to be his patient when he was a child and Tom’s assessment led to him being incarcerated for murder when he was just eleven years old. Now, Danny obviously wants to reconnect with Tom, but Tom doubts his intentions.

The Drowning is a rather drab paint-by-numbers affair that never quite achieves the tension it would need to pull off its plot. Despite the cast, it remains a very average film.

The film poster showing a blurry male shape looking out over the water in dusk at what could be a tower under the moon.
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The Perfection (2018)

The Perfection
Director: Richard Shepard
Writer: Eric C. Charmelo, Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder
Cast: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman
Seen on: 20.3.2021

Content Note: rape, child abuse, pedophilia, racism, ableism

Plot:
Charlotte (Allison Williams) used to be a promising cellist at the Bachoff academy, the famous music school, until she had to quit as a teenager to take care of her ill mother. Quite a few years later now, her mother has finally passed and Charlotte flies to Shanghai where she meets Lizzie (Logan Browning), the school’s new star, and her old mentors Anton (Steven Weber) and Paloma (Alaina Huffman). There is an instant spark between Charlotte and Lizzie and Lizzie invites Charlotte to come with her on a trip through China the next day. That trip proves to be rather more fateful for them than expected.

The Perfection starts off well enough, but then it starts to fall over itself in attempts to be clever that ultimately derail the entire film.

The film poster showing Charlotte (Allison Williams) playing a cello. There is blood on her face and on the cello.
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Thoroughbreds (2017)

Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) used to be friends when they were children, but they haven’t seen each other in a long time. Now Amanda’s mother has asked Lily to hang out with her again since Amanda got quite a reputation after an incident with her horse. And Amanda is weird, no doubt about it. But despite initial awkwardness, they bond over their mutual dislike for Lily’s stepdad Mark (Paul Sparks) – which leads to a plan that could solve their problem.

Thoroughbreds has excellent performances and a good sense of style, but also an ending that ruined the film for me, unfortunately.

The film poster showing Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) sitting as far away from each other as possible on a white couch in a white room wearing white and gray.
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Horns (2013)

Horns
Director: Alexandre Aja
Writer: Keith Bunin
Based on: Joe Hill’s novel
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse
Seen on: 9.11.2020 [I missed to review this, so you’re getting a late entry.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
A year ago, Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) had it all: a nice girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple), a good family (Joe Anderson, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan), a great best friend, Lee (Max Minghella), and many plans. And then Merrin got raped and murdered – and Ig is the only suspect. Bit by bit, his life and he himself fell apart. The day after the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up with the worst hangover of his life – and horns growing out of his head. While Ig still wonders whether the horns are really there or not, he notices that they have an effect on people: They tell him all their darkest secrets and lowest impulses. Soon Ig decides that he will use the horns to finally learn the identity of Merrin’s killer.

I really liked the novel this is based on and then it never came to cinemas here and got kind of lost in my netflix list. But I finally made it and can say that it is a very capable adaptation, even if I didn’t love it as much as the book.

The film poster showing Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) with his horns and a snake over his shoulders. Merrin (Juno Temple is holding on to him from behind.
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