Every Monday we will be recommending films that are on TV that week, films playing at the cinema, and also remind you of those brilliant films hiding on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and possibly in your own collection.
On Tuesday 24th October, Film4’s ‘FilmFear‘ returns, with 8 nights of horror, dark fantasy and intense cinema, including 5 TV premieres of new British films. Films with (FF) next to them in the below list are part of this special run.
Thor: Ragnarok: Taiki Waititi is in the director’s chair for our third solo ‘Thor’ film. Whilst the God of Thunder’s previous solo outings have proved to be underwhelming and lacklustre in comparison to his Avengers team-mates solo efforts, this one looks do revitalise the name of Thor and if early buzz is anything to go by, we are in for a treat when it hits cinemas tomorrow! We’ll have our review up shortly.
The Ritual: “Our first bite of this year’s Halloween platter by no means leaves you dissatisfied” – Read why Jo recommends catching David Brückner’s ‘The Ritual’ whilst it’s in cinemas in her full review.
Fifty Shades of Grey: E.L. James’ bestselling romance novel series with erotica elements finds its way into film with ’50 Shades of Grey’. Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele, a college senior who steps in to take her sick roommate’s spot in interviewing elite businessman, Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan. Anastasia soon finds herself swooning for Christian Grey and his curiosity for life, delicacy, and lustrous adventures. Soon Anastasia begins to uncover Christian’s troubling life and it’s only the beginning of her concerns. Sam Taylor-Johnson directs this daring book to film adaptation that simply begs for more.
Die Hard 2: Utilizing a similar structure to the first film of the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, taking on the odds as the everyday hero who defies the impossible to save the day, this expands the general threat by not just containing the action into a tower block over a few floors, but a whole airport. Now the scale of the film is bigger, badder and more bombastic than ever before. Bruce Willis is back as John McClane going up against William Sadler’s ruthless Colonel Stuart aiming to free a powerful drug lord by taking seizing Washington Dulles International Airport. With the first bullet popping off in under 10mins, you don’t wait long for the action to kick-off and it’s just as brutal, bloody and brilliant as the untouchable original. It doesn’t try to replicate the 1989 classic, but simply give us more of what we enjoyed in a fresh setting and with new characters and set-pieces to boot. Yippie-ki-yay mother fu*maximum word-count exceeded*
Alien (FF): A near-perfect classic sci-fi horror set in deep space (where no one can hear you scream), ‘Alien’ has introduced generations to the horrifying xenomorph that kicked off a franchise. As the crew of a space vessel, Nostromo, receive what they perceive to be a distress signal on a distant moon, they detour to investigate. On arrival, they learn what they heard was actually a warning. As they begin their journey home, it becomes clear they are not alone. Starring Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley and directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is a horrifying two-hour exploration of what else could be ‘out there’.
Sightseers (FF): A dark and violent comedy drama from Ben Wheatley, ‘Sightseers’ is part cross-country road trip, part psycho couple goes on a killing spree because people annoy them. Its grim, its twisted, and it has a lot of heart.
Bronson: Nicolas Winding Refn takes Tom Hardy behind bars in his extreme biopic of Britain’s most violent prisoner, Michael Peterson a.k.a. Charles Bronson. Raw violence brushed with black comedy and a magnificent breakthrough performance from Hardy depicts the troubled but highly artistic mind of Bronson, defined from the man himself as “absolute madness at its very best”. “34 Years in prison. 30 in solitary confinement. Loving every minute.” sums up the provocative insight into the infamous convict’s eccentricity shown with style and gumption. “Hang onto your feelings,’ cause it’s going to get f****** hairy.”
40 Year Old Virgin: The purest form of crude comic relief comes to us through ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin’. Veteran actor, Steve Carell, stars in this comedy as Andy Stitzer, a nerdy guy who finds that his not-so-secret confession of being a virgin has brought him challenges as he meets a nice single mother. With friends and coworkers played by Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco, it’s hard to take advice from these fellas and actually follow through. Andy’ life gets a little more charming and funnier by the second in ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin’.
Tomorrow Never Dies: Pierce Brosnan returns in his second James Bond film, this time to tackle the more modern day plot of media corruption and manipulation that takes the world to the brink of a nuclear war, all for better ratings. for twisted newspaper mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce). With support from kick-ass Michelle Yeoh, the gorgeous Teri Hatcher and the imposing Gotz Otto as a poor man’s Jaws, along with series regulars Dame Judi Dench, Samantha Bond and Desmond Llewelyn, it’s another nice mix of actors and decent characters, even if they aren’t exactly groundbreaking by now. Backed by an exciting soundtrack by composer David Arnold, this is fast-paced, loud and action-packed Brosnan Bond film that does just what is says on the tin.
Thor: We leave Earth and explore the mythical world of Asgard in another Avenger introduction – this time it’s the God Of Thunders turn. Thor himself, played with entertaining arrogance and might by Chris Hemsworth. It’s a great return to the fantastical, comic-book world of Marvel that some of the earlier ones ignore for focus on modern reality. It was nice to see a Marvel film spend time to focus on these elements of mystical powers and mythical legend, all showcasing nifty CGI. Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo flesh out the godly cast and all have a blast in this multi-dimensional adventure that cements Thor’s future as an Avenger as he goes up against forces intent on destroying Earth, and Asgard, all in the name of power and glory.
The Babadook (FF): Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman play an unsettled mother and son in Jennifer Kent’s Australian psychological thriller, colliding with the most inventive and terrifying horror icon in years that even had William Friedkin’s spine tingling. Featuring a captivating and frightening manifestation of a damaged psyche with a ground-breaking display from Davis, Kent’s first feature film will leave you completely absorbed and wishing you had kept the lights on. The Aronofsky-styled ambient sounds and sinister imagery will relentlessly remind, you can’t get rid of… The Babadook.
A Dark Song (FF): The feature film debut of British writer/director Liam Gavin, ‘A Dark Song’ is an intensely thrilling black magic drama about a grieving young mother who hires an occultist to contact her dead son. What transpires is a unique and brutal supernatural thriller as two damaged souls search for meaning in life.
28 Days Later: Looking for your mid-week fix of Zombie chaos? Danny Boyle takes you back to basics in his game-changing addition to the flesh-eating franchise, putting Peaky Blinder’s star Cillian Murphy on the run across British soil from the pesky infected ones. Presented as brainy and character-driven with a killer soundtrack, Boyle creates a unique and isolated tale of survival opposing a deadly virus while showcasing an impressive London wasteland. A stripped-back and heart-racing chase that will leave you feeling tainted by the Rage virus.
Drag Me To Hell: Before Sam Raimi’s foray into a mostly successful ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, he was renowned for his horror-comedy filmmaking. ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Evil Dead II’, ‘Army of Darkness’ put Raimi comfortably into the horror film hall of fame. Post ‘Spider-Man’, he returned to make the criminally underrated and underseen ‘Drag Me To Hell’. Packed with genuinely scary horror sequences as well as some brilliantly gross moments, ‘Drag Me To Hell’ is a delight. Alison Lohman (who has in fact disappeared off the face of the earth since the making of ‘Drag Me To Hell’, ironically) is the unlucky soul having to deal with a supernatural curse and goes to great lengths to get rid of it with the help of her boyfriend Justin Long. What could have been a paint-by-numbers horror flick is imbued with a sense of charm thanks to the practical effects work Raimi is famous for, as well as his trademark black comedy streak that runs right through this film. You’ll laugh and you’ll likely scream, but ‘Drag Me To Hell’ is worth it, it takes hold of you right through to its final moment
Bruce Almighty: I’m not sure how universal this is, but I’m fairly certain as a product of the British school system, I’ve seen ‘Bruce Almighty’ more than most films. ‘Bruce Almighty’ was the staple end of term film choice for any and every Religious Education teacher, and despite this, ‘Bruce Almighty’ remains funny. Through a combination of a simple idea that asks us, the audience, to question what we would do with infinite power and a genuinely classic comedic performance from Jim Carrey, ‘Bruce Almighty’ just works. At this point, the scene in which Bruce messes with Evan Baxter’s (Steve Carell in an against-type bad guy role) script has gone down in film history is an all-timer that never fails to make me laugh out loud. If there’s anyone that hasn’t seen ‘Bruce Almighty’, you’re in for a treat. If you have, watch it again. I promise it’s as funny as you remember.
Tank 432 (FF): Award-winning camera operator on Ben Wheatley’s films, Nick Gillespie makes his feature length directorial debut in ‘Tank 432’, a psychological horror about a team of mercenary soldiers forced to hide out in an abandoned tank. It is a claustrophobic nightmare that doesn’t quite hit the mark it is aiming for, but is unsettling all the same.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (FF): TBA
Candyman (FF): TBA
Resident Evil: Arguably the best, and most watchable entry of the franchise, Paul W.S Anderson’s ‘Resident Evil’ has the incredible Milla Jovovich in the role of Alice, who wakes up in a mansion with little to no recollection of who she is and how she got there. As events unfold, she learns of a virus outbreak in a secret facility in Raccoon City called ‘The Hive’, which Alice and a small team from the military must navigate to shut down the ‘Red Queen’, the computer system that controls the facility. It soon becomes clear that this virus turns it’s victims in flesh-eating zombies and the team fight to survive the onslaught of the undead as they try to prevent the virus from being spread across the world. With some great action sequences, and some memorable scenes, why not add this to your list of horror films to watch this month!
No One Lives (FF): Starring the wonderful Luke Evans, ‘No One Lives’ is a gory serial-killer thriller with a twist, when a group of bandits kidnap a wealthy couple who are not as helpless as they appear. Let’s just say ‘No One Lives’ delivers on it’s title.
Aaaaaaaah! (FF): Written and directed by Steve Oram (star of ‘Sightseers’ and ‘A Dark Song’, also on this list), this debut is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humans never evolved beyond an ape-like state. A satire of modern life as the primates’ beastly behaviours never feel too far removed from humans of today, the cast communicate only in grunts and groans. With a biting British humour, starring Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, ‘Aaaaaaaah!’ is a must watch.
Fright Night (FF): The film debut of now-legendary horror director Tom Holland, ‘Fright Night’ is an 80s teen horror classic, as a teenage boy learns his reclusive new neighbour is, in fact, a vampire. And he must rely on has-been TV vampire killer Peter Vincent, as played to perfection Roddy McDowell, to help him.. If you’re going to indulge in any vampire comedy this spooky season, make it this one.
Hiding Online / In Our Collection / Out This Week
The Mummy: As the film that was meant to kick off Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ (after snubbing ‘Dracula Untold’, which was originally meant to be the start of this cinematic universe), ‘The Mummy’ failed to deliver a strong and promising start for this monster universe. If you didn’t catch it in the cinema, you can now rent or buy it from today! You can also read our verdict here.
Gifted: Chris Evans puts down his shield and steps into the shoes of loving uncle Frank, who is single handedly raising his niece Mary, played by the wonderfully talented Mckenna Grace. His niece is a child prodigy, but to give her the childhood every child deserves he has her attend a regular school, which fails to challenge his niece. When Mary’s Grandmother learns of her mathematical abilities, she begins a legal process for custody of Mary so she can enroll her into a school more suited for her abilities. ‘Gifted’ is a wonderful film, filled with fantastic performance from all the cast, and a touching story of trying to do what you think’s best. You can read our full review here.
Fate of the Furious: Vin Diesel and the ‘Fast and Furious’ family are back for another adrenaline fuelled sequel. This time, Charlize Theron joins the franchise as a hacker by the name of ‘Cypher’, who is able to blackmail Dom to turn against his family and work for her. But how far will the team go to stop Dom and and the terrorist organisation he’s now working for? Check out our full take on ‘Fate of the Furious’ here.
A huge thank you to contributors this week: Chris Gelderd, Jessica Peña, Rhys Bowen-Jones, Jo Craig, Sasha Hornby