Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including “Spiral,” the Chris Rock reboot of the “Saw” franchise, the Amy Adams thriller “The Woman in the Window,” the non rom com “Together Together” with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison and the trippy folk horror of “In the Earth.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including “Spiral,” the Chris Rock reboot of the “Saw” franchise, the Amy Adams thriller “The Woman in the Window,” the non rom com “Together Together” with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison and the trippy folk horror of “In the Earth.”
“In the Earth,” the latest film from Ben Wheatley, now on VOD, once again returns to the psychological horror that fueled his other movies like “Kill List” and “A Field in England” with a hint of the social commentary of his J. G. Ballard adaptation “High-Rise.” Add to that a dash of folk-horror and you have a truly timely and mind-bending film that is best avoided by the squeamish.
Most people see a walk in the woods as a quiet respite from the world. But when researcher Martin (Joel Fry) and ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia) head out to meet scientist Dr. Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires) and perform some tests in the forest during a pandemic, they are sent off with some ominous advice. “People get a bit funny in the woods sometimes,” says Martin’s doctor Frank (Mark Monero). “It’s a hostile environment.”
Sure enough, things go wrong early on. They come across eerie, abandoned campsites, equipment breaks down, Martin becomes ill and they are even attacked in their tent on a tense, sleepless night. The next day help comes in the form of Zach (Reece Shearsmith), an eccentric loner who lives deep in the woods. He offers some painful but much-needed help—this is roughly where the squeamish may want to go make a sandwich and read a book—but soon begins acting erratically with a mix of metaphysical ramblings and homicidal tendencies.
By the time they contact Dr. Wendle, it is unclear who they can trust as their journey into the heart of darkness takes on an increasingly mysterious, psychedelic tone.
“In the Earth” is a trippy movie that nonetheless feels earthbound. No matter how weird the going gets, and it does get strange, masks, isolation, HAZMAT-suits and talk of quarantine and being outside for the first time in forever, ground the story in all too familiar terms. The postapocalyptic vibe is all too real, but the Pagan alchemist rituals, evil spirits and a dollop of paranoia provide the journey into the heart of darkness and the absurdist comedy integral to Wheatley’s style.
Some will call “In the Earth” a horror film, but it isn’t really. The repeated home surgery scenes are woozy-making, and the strobe effects are unsettling, but your pulse will never quicken. Then there’s the under developed characters. You may feel sorry for them when weird things happen, but it’s hard to be invested in them.
What that leaves you with is a movie that offers up a handful of ambitious notions about science vs. religion and some extra-ghastly visuals but, at best, it’s about intellectual dread; all ideas and no emotion.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the timely period piece “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “On the Rocks,” the re-teaming of Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola, the cerebral sci fi of “Possessor Uncut” and the unusual Gloria Steinem biopic “The Glorias.”
We have seen movies about assassins and we’ve seen movies about mind control but “Possessor,” the new film by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, he’s David’s son and seems to share some of his obsessions) now playing at select theatres and drive ins, mixes and matches the two in an unsettling, surreal hybrid of sci-fi and horror.
Anyone with trypanophobia—fear of needles—may want to cover their eyes during the film’s opening minutes as a young woman (Gabrielle Graham) impales herself with a long needle, right through the cranium. The needle is attached to a box with a dial. A twist of the dial and soon she is gruesomely stabbing a man in the neck, in public.
Turns out, it’s not really her brandishing the knife but a mercenary named Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), a mind control assassin who “possesses” people’s minds via brain-implant technology and forces them to do her bidding. Her handler, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh), helps her find her way back to her own identity after sublimating herself in someone else’s brain.
Tasya’s latest gig involves parasitically getting into the mind of former cocaine dealer Colin (Christopher Abbott), a trainwreck of a man whose girlfriend Ava’s (Tuppence Middleton) father (Sean Bean) is John Parse, a high-powered executive. A rival wants Parse dead and Colin is the perfect patsy to do the deed.
From the film’s savage opening minutes through the sex and gore splattered landscape of the middle section to the climax “Possessor” is like a nightmare. Surreal visuals of Tasya and Colin as one hideous being or a severed hand unfurling its fingers are direct from night terrors, but Cronenberg takes pains to ensure that, unlike nightmares that are disconnected scenes that play in our heads, his psychodrama has depth and meaning. His highly developed visual sense—and a bloody colour palette that would make Dario Argento envious—is eye-catching and consistently interesting but it is the film’s ideas that linger like the unsettled feeling after you wake from a nightmare.
The movie’s exploration of how technology and humanity intersect is an increasingly timely question. “Possessor” takes that crossroads to a narrative extreme but Tasya and Colin’s technological melding is a terrifying vision of a future that feels like it might be right around the corner.
Cronenberg’s sophomore movie, after 2012’s “Antiviral,” is disturbing and ambitious with an icy, cerebral veneer that will linger in your mind for a long time afterward.
Richard and CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Christopher Nolan head scratcher “Tenet,” the Disney+ animated flick “Phineas And Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” the timely period piece “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” the long awaited X-Men spin off “The New Mutants” and the return of William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq and Theodore “Ted” Logan in “Bill and Ted Face the Music.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Christopher Nolan mind bender “Tenet,” the Disney+ animated flick “Phineas And Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” the timely period piece “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” the wrestling doc “You Cannot Kill David Arquette,” the long awaited X-Men spin off “The New Mutants” and the return of William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq and Theodore “Ted” Logan in “Bill and Ted Face the Music.”
I will give “The New Mutants” director Josh Boone a couple of points for attempting to push the limits of what an X-Men movie can be. The spin-off of the Marvel comics, now playing in theatres, isn’t about saving the planet or battling little green beings from outer space.
Boone mixes and matches the superheroes with psychological horror, placing people with extraordinary powers battling their own, earthbound demons. It’s a genre film, but not a memorable one. In this case, you can’t spell “generic” without “genre.”
The story centers around Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), an indigenous teen whose entire reservation was wiped off the face of the earth by… something. For some reason she survives, only to find herself chained to a hospital bed in a mysterious facility. Enter Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), a kindly (or is she?) physician who unchains Dani and explains the situation to her. “You’re in a safe place,” the good (once again, is she?) doctor says. “Nothing can hurt you here.”
Soon she is introduced to the other inmates… er… patients. There’s Russian meanie Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), a mutant who can teleport and slice people to bits with an arm that morphs into a sword. Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) is part human, part werewolf and can smell trouble from a mile away, while hunky Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) is so hot he will occasionally burst into flames. Completing the line-up is Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), a southerner whose slowed down drawl hides the fact that he’s gifted with thermo-chemical energy propulsion that would make Usain Bolt look like a slow poke.
As young adults they are new to their powers, attending therapy sessions with Dr. Reyes to learn how to control their abilities.
How does Dani fit in? What are her powers? That’s what Reyes wants to find out. What will she do with that information? “This isn’t a hospital,” warns Illyana. “It’s a cage and you’re trapped in here forever.”
“The New Mutants” then becomes a guessing game as strange things start happening. Bad dreams terrorize Dani’s fellow mutants, each reliving a terrible, formative moment in their development. “We’re trapped in here with demons!” Roberto shrieks.
Boone conjures up some eerie imagery. Illyana’s slender-man wannabe ghouls are unsettling, but the idea of the manifestation of the character’s fears has been done before and done better in movies like “It.”
Eventually “The New Mutants” biodegrades into a computer-generated slog as the movie approaches the end of its 90-minute running time. Whatever character work the cast, who are actually quite good, have done to involve the viewer is undone by a series of loud episodes that favor empty spectacle over humanity.
“The Lodge,” now on VOD, may be mostly set in the great outdoors it is, nonetheless, a claustrophobic thriller that plays on dark psychological trauma.
Richard Hall (Richard Armitage) is the father of Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) and the soon-to-be-ex-husband of Laura (Alicia Silverstone). The estranged couple share custody until Richard breaks the news that he has met someone new and wants a divorce so he can marry Grace (Riley Keough). Distraught, Laura kills herself. The kids, traumatized, blame Grace for their mother’s death. In an attempt to bring his kids and fiancée to something close to speaking terms, Richard plans a “family” trip to a remote cabin so they can all get to know one another.
Almost as soon as they arrive Richard is called back to the city for work, leaving Grace, Aiden and Mia alone. “Things are very uncomfortable between us,” Grace says to the kids, “but we’re stuck in a house together.” That growing sense of unease is exacerbated after Aiden and Mia google their soon-to-be-step-mom and discover she is the daughter of religious leader and the only survivor of his cult’s mass suicide.
They are stranded—the car won’t start and the weather has made travelling on foot impossible—as strange things happen in the cabin and Grace begins to spiral. “We need to sacrifice something for the Lord,” she says.
“The Lodge” builds slowly creating eerie unease while peppering in some shocking scenes. Directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala play up the small details to create an uncomfortable atmosphere. The vastness of the icy outdoors playing against the claustrophobia of the cabin provides the backdrop for story ripe with religious imagery and surreal touches.
As the aura of paranoia grows, so do the questions. Is Grace is being tormented by the kids, or is she a victim of a supernatural force—possibly her father—who wishes her harm. Keough is terrific as a woman tormented by the past, unpredictable in the present. It’s hard to know whether she is dangerous or in danger and that pouch and pull is the movie’s strong point.,
“The Lodge” is a bit too ponderous in its early moments but finds its groove in the haunting exploration of Grace’s trauma.