Doused in colorful lighting, Lola (Madeline Brewer) sits in front of a webcam with a knife in hand. She raises the knife to her throat and carefully presses down, releasing fake blood that flows down her front. Lola’s fans go wild, tuning in to more of her shows and sending her tips. Lola, who goes by Alice off-cam, is thrilled — she’s moving up the ranks of the livestreaming site thanks to her hard work crafting unique and exhilarating shows like the fake suicide show. With her newfound success, Alice continues to set up eye-catching shows to move further up the ranks. Another cam girl gets in her way, though. And she looks freakishly similar to Lola/Alice. The film takes a quick turn into psychological horror territory as Alice embarks on a mission to find the doppelganger and get to the bottom of things.
“The Turning” starts off as a promising reimagining of an old classic, as it weaves itself down a winding road of mystery. But, once that mystery is unravelled...the film comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying halt.
I was not looking forward to 2020’s “The Grudge”. In the interest of transparency, I will admit that I have seen Takashi Shimizu’s original 2002 film, and I utterly hated it. It was a sluggish, overlong piece of work that, I feel, was incapable of overcoming its low-budget roots. There was very little that co-writer (Jeff Buhgler) and director Nicolas Pesce brought to my excitement. The only hope to be had had come from the fact that I recall loving Pesce’s previous film, the ultra-dark, black and white exercise in bleak cinematic macabre, “The Eyes of my Mother”. And for the first 20 or so minutes of this, I was worried. In the year 2004 (the year that the American remake of “The Grudge” was released, also directed by Shimizu--I wish he could say be pulled a Micahel Haneke; but nothing in both the remake or the original deserve that compliment), Fiona, a live-in nurse is seen visibly disturbed by events she had witnessed in a house she has just left.
With “The Gentleman” (2020), Guy Ritchie attempts to prove that he’s still the king of British gangster films, but he falls a bit short. It's certainly an entertaining romp as a myriad of charming and talented actors get into all sorts of scrapes while trying to pass a booming marijuana business into different hands. Despite the film’s strong points, it lacks cohesion and the treatment of its only central female character is abysmal.
He’s done it, he’s finally done it! Writer/director Tyler Perry has brought into existence, this demonic spawn of a film, this thing--this living, breathing creature from the depths of darkness where no light penetrates. Given what I’ve seen from Perry, I was expecting awful, but this far exceeds anything my mind could’ve conjured up. This spectacularly misogynistic monstrosity is one of the most inept films I’ve ever seen. Cheaply made, phoney, stilted, insultingly asinine...and all I can say is: Watch. It. Now.
Numa Perrier’s feature debut “Jezebel” (2019) is a deeply personal film that makes viewers feel like they’re a part of the action. Perrier, the writer director, and co-star of the film, based the film on her experiences as a cam girl. The film is an important step in humanizing sex workers, a group of people who are often looked down on and disrespected. At its heart, “Jezebel” is about sisterhood and grief through the lens of two sex workers struggling financially and emotionally.
Poker often appears in film as an analogy to some other plot point to heighten the tension of the action. In “Quezon’s Game” (2019) poker is not just a typical cinematic cliché. Through a series of seemingly innocuous nights of cigar smoke and friendly card dealing, the lives of hundreds of desperate people were saved. This is an uplifting and heartrending true story of hope and crushing loss, framed in Manuel Quezon (Raymond Bagatsing) viewing newsreel footage with his wife, Aurora (Rachel Alejandro).
This provocative yet cheeky documentary by director Penny Lane follows the Satanic Temple through an incredible rise in popularity and details their aim of challenging the dominance of conservative Christianity. I can understand why some would be put off by the title and subject matter of this film but it might help to know that the question mark is important. So please stay with me on this.
“When you’re underwater for months at a time, you lose all sense of day and night.” Kristen Stewart laments in voice-over as the film opens up; a hint at the potentially Lovecraftian elements to follow. Lovecraftian horror, (a subgenre of fictional horror which *checks notes* places an emphasis of cosmic horror of the unknown or unknowable--with big, giant creatures!), certainly puts the vampires and werewolves Stewart faced in “Twilight” to shame. Admittedly, the thought of Stewart going face-to-face with an enormous aquatic monster--while ruminating on loneliness, the unknowable, the concept of nature getting revenge on man--is ripe for potential. However, all this potential is completely wasted.