Arrival (2016)

Arrival
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Based on: Ted Chiang‘s short story Story of Your Life
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Twelve alien spaceships appear all around earth. They don’t seem to do much, but may be trying to establish contact. To try and figure out their language, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is contacted and contracted. In a team together with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and others, and in cooperation with teams around the world, they try to figure out what the creatures could want – and if it’s peace or war they have in mind.

Arrival is the rare breed of science fiction that actually takes Science As It Is Properly Done Right Now seriously and obviously admires and respects it, which is absolutely refreshing as a lot of SciFi today feels mostly like militarized power fantasies with a bit of technobabble. For that alone, I had to like the film, but there are also the cinematography, the soundtrack and the characters to really make me love it.

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Lights Out (2016)

Lights Out
Director: David F. Sandberg
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Based on: Sandberg’s short film
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Bello, Billy Burke, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Andi Osho, Lotta Losten
Seen on: 22.8.2016

Plot:
After the violent death of his father (Billy Burke), Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is left alone with his mother Sophie (Maria Bello). But Sophie isn’t doing too well and seems to believe that there is somebody in the house with them. When Martin falls asleep in school again, they call his sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) who thought that she left her mother behind after a problematic childhood. But when she realizes that Martin is experiencing the same issues she had, she knows she has to step in.

The short film this is based on was creepy as fuck, but it was also build on a single scare, making me wonder how well they’d be able to stretch it into an entire feature film. The answer is that they manage pretty damn well by focusing on what is too often ignored in horror at the moment: the characters.

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