Inexorable (2021)

Director: Fabrice du Welz
Writer: Joséphine Darcy Hopkins, Aurélien Molas, Fabrice du Welz
Cast: Benoît Poelvoorde, Mélanie Doutey, Alba Gaïa Bellugi, Janaina Halloy, Anaël Snoek, Jackie Berroyer, Sam Louwyck
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 6.5.2022

Content Note: misogyny, animal death/cruelty, incest

Marcel (Benoît Poelvoorde) is an author, supposed to be working on his next book that has been a long time coming. Together with his publisher and wife Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey) and their daughter Lucie (Janaina Halloy), they decide to withdraw to Jeanne’s family estate in the country for a bit of calm. Shortly after their arrival, Gloria (Alba Gaïa Bellugi) turns up, bringing back the family dog that ran off. Quickly, Gloria finds a place in their home as a housekeeper and friend to Lucie. But her presence has an unsettling effect on the family.

Inexorable had me rolling my eyes so much because it is, on the one hand, boringly familiar, and on the other hand, enragingly misogynistic.

The film poster showing Gloria (Alba Gaïa Bellugi) and Marcel (Benoît Poelvoorde) grabbing each other by the throat in a sexy way. He is turning around in suspicion. Behind them we see Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey) on the staircase in the distance.
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Oranges sanguines [Bloody Oranges] (2021)

Oranges sanguines
Director: Jean-Christophe Meurisse
Writer: Yohann Gloaguen, Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Amélie Philippe
Cast: Alexandre Steiger, Christophe Paou, Lilith Grasmug, Olivier Saladin, Lorella Cravotta, Fred Blin, Denis Podalydès, Blanche Gardin, Patrice Laffont, Vincent Dedienne
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 3.10.2021

Content Note: rape

Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) is an attorney working for a minister (Christophe Paou), his job turning ever more into keeping the minister from being embroiled in scandal. What Alexandre doesn’t know is that his parents (Lorella Cravotta, Olivier Saladin) are in trouble, too, financially. But they are convinced they can solve everything by winning a dance competition despite their age. Meanwhile teenager Louise (Lilith Grasmug) is preparing for sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time.

Bloody Oranges starts well enough with a very critical, biting sense of humor. But after setting up its characters, the film changes pace and that change didn’t work for me at all. In fact, I was considering just getting up and leaving for a while. In the end, I did leave a few minutes early to catch my train back home in a less stressful way, but I wish I would have caught an even earlier train and skipped this film.

The film poster showing a politician with an orange in his face as if it was a clown's nose.
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Violation (2020)

Director: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Writer: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 1.10.2021

Content Note: rape

A while ago, Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) and her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) spent some time with Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and Greta’s husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) whom Miriam has known since they were kids. The relationship between the sisters hasn’t always been easy and the meeting between them is supposed to be a fresh start. Since things between Miriam and Caleb have been icy for a while, Miriam also hopes for a fresh start with him as well. But things turn out quite differently for Miriam, leaving her shaken to her core and desperate.

Violation is not an easy film. It’s not easily digested and it works better on an intellectual level than on an entertainment level. But that’s kind of the point as it questions how rape-revenge movies usually work.

The film poster showing Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) screaming in the rain.
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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

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

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)

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

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

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)

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

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)

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

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

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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