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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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Director: David Slade
Writer: Charlie Brooker
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry, Will Poulter, Tallulah Haddon, Catriona Knox, Paul Michael Bradley, Jonathan Aris, A.J. Houghton, Fleur Keith, Laura Evelyn, Alan Asaad
Seen on: 28.7.2019
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Plot:
Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) is working on a computer game, an adaptation of the Choose Your Own Adventure novel Bandersnatch, a cult classic. It’s difficult to adapt, but Stefan can convince the people at Tuckersoft to consider releasing it. Tuckersoft is run by Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) but it’s most famous employee is Colin (Will Poulter). How things go from there depend entirely on what decisions are being made.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a Choose Your Own Adventure film that is very cleverly made. The format here is definitely more important than the story, and so it is that, despite some cool meta stuff, the story falls a little flat. But the format works very well.

The film poster showing a profile shot of Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), white waves moving inward (or outward) over his head.
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The Experiment (2010)

The Experiment
Director: Paul T. Scheuring
Writer: Paul T. Scheuring
Remake of: Das Experiment
Based on: Stanford prison experiment
Cast: Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr., Ethan Cohn, Fisher Stevens, Travis Fimmel, David Banner, Jason Lew
Seen on: 26.6.2019

Content Note: homomisia, orientalism

Plot:
Travis (Adrien Brody) is a pacifist in need of money. That’s why he agrees to participate in a study that simulates a prison to find out about the violent tendencies of people. He and 19 others get put into two groups of prisoners, while 6 men, among them Helweg (Travis Fimmel) get appointed as guards. They all get a set of rules to follow and things are on their way. But pretty soon, the “guards” turn vicious and the “prisoners” have to fight for basically their lives.

The Stanford prison experiment is a famous sociopsychological study that has seen its fair share of criticism, but has nevertheless persisted in its claim to fame. The Experiment takes that real-life science project, dials the bad things about it up to eleven and believes it has something meaningful to say about the human condition in that way. In short, it is a very bad film.

The film poster showing Travis (Adrien Brody) holding on to iron bars.
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Cam (2018)

Cam
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
Writer: Isa Mazzei
Cast: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey, Flora Diaz, Samantha Robinson, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Quei Tann, Linda Griffin
Seen on: 23.6.2019

Plot:
Alice (Madeline Brewer) works as a camgirl. She is pretty good at it and hopes to reach the Top 50 of the site she is on soon. She is not beyond some tricks, one involving one of her fans, Tinker (Patch Darragh) and she climbs the ranks pretty quickly. But the site is competitive and it’s not easy. The one day, Alice finds that somebody else is running her account. Someone who looks just like her and moves like her – but definitely isn’t her. Now Alice has more to fight for than just her space at the top.

Cam is a decent thriller with a very good main actor. It nicely builds tension and, even if you shouldn’t think about it too hard, it works very well.

The film poster showing Alice (Madeline Brewer), one half of her face starting to doubling, distorted and glitching.
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Greta (2018)

Greta
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Ray Wright, Neil Jordan
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Zawe Ashton, Thaddeus Daniels, Raven Dauda, Stephen Rea
Seen on: 17.5.2019

Content Note: stalking

Plot:
When Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag in the subway station, she makes sure to return it to its owner, widow Greta (Isabelle Huppert). Greta, a retired piano teacher, seems lonely and the kind-hearted Frances resolves to spend some time with her. But soon things start to become a little weird. There seems to be more to Greta than Frances suspected at first.

Greta has unfortunately more holes than plot and for a film that tries so hard to lure people on the wrong path, that is more than unfortunate. It breaks the film.

the film poster showing a purse dangling on a fish hook.
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Teenage Cocktail (2016)

Teenage Cocktail
Director: John Carchietta
Writer: John Carchietta, Sage Bannick, Chris Sivertson
Cast: Nichole Sakura, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Michelle Borth, Joshua Leonard, AJ Bowen, Zak Henri, Lou Wegner
Seen on: 11.5.2019

Plot:
Annie (Nichole Sakura) just moved to a new town and feels insecure. When she meets Jules (Fabianne Therese) in school, she is drawn to her strength and free spirit and the two girls quickly become friends and even fall in love. They dream of leaving their small town behind and starting a new life in New York. But those dreams need cash, and the easiest way to get cash for two young, pretty girls is to do some “modeling” online. That soon turns to more.

Teenage Cocktail is yet another film about two women falling in love that gets ruined by the male gaze. It’s a pity.

The film poster showing Annie (Nichole Sakura) and Jules (Fabianne Therese) in cat masks and not a lot of clothes looking at a notebook.
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