Doctor Sleep is a 2019 horror/thriller directed by Mike Flanagan, based on the 2013 Stephen King novel of the same name. It is the sequel to the 1980 horror classic The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, itself having adapted the predecessor King novel. Years later and suffering from alcoholism, the same as his father, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is still traumatized by his experiences at The Overlook Hotel when he was a young boy. After years of drifting he settles in a small New Hampshire town where he manages to clean up and eke out a peaceful existence as a hospice orderly, known by some as “Doctor Sleep” for using his psychic abilities, or “shining,” to ease those passing on. This is all disrupted when a young girl named Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), with a shine more powerful than his own, comes to him for help against the True Knot, a tribe of psychic vampires that prey upon those like them.Read More »
Us is a 2019 horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. As a child, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) had a traumatic experience after wandering off from her parents at a boardwalk carnival. Wandering into a house of mirrors, where the power cuts out, she encounters another little girl who appears to be her exact double. Years later, still haunted by her childhood experience, Adelaide, her husband, and her two kids take a summer vacation to Adelaide’s family home in Santa Cruz, California, where she first had her harrowing experience. Their vacation is fraught with tension, but takes a turn for the horrifying when they are besieged by their doppelgangers, who suddenly outside their door in the middle of the night.Read More »
Alita: Battle Angel is a cyberpunk action film directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Rosa Salazar as Alita. The film is based on a Japanese manga series published in the 1990s called Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita in the English translation) by Yukito Kishiro. The film takes place in the year 2563, 300 years after a devastating interplanetary war known as “The Fall” has left human civilization in ruins. That is, except for Zalem, the last sky city that remained after the war. Iron City dwells on the ground below, where refugees from all across the world congregated to flee the catastrophe. While searching through a scrap pile ejected from Zalem, cyber surgeon Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers a disembodied cyborg with a still-living human brain. Taking her home and restoring her with a new body, the cyborg is named Alita by Dr. Ido after she regains consciousness and finds she has no memory of who she is or where she came from.Read More »
The Sisters Brothers is a 2018 Western dark comedy directed by Jacques Audiard. It is based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt (which I have a review of here). The story follows Charlie and Eli Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly), two brothers and hitmen who work for the rich and powerful Commodore (Rutger Hauer), hunting down people who “steal” from him. The two are tasked with finding Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), a chemist heading to California to prospect for gold. John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) is already tracking the man as a scout, leaving postage behind so the Sisters brothers can pursue. What follows is a humorously strange odyssey through the West, during which their relationship as brothers is tested and they wonder if they can expect anything more from life than danger and death.Read More »
In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.
A Ghost Story is a 2017 supernatural drama written and directed by David Lowery. It stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a couple living in a suburban Texas home who are making plans to move. They are awoken one night by a noise they cannot explain and shortly afterwards Affleck’s character (simply credited as “C”) dies in a car accident. His spirit, appearing as a bedsheet ghost, returns home, a place he becomes anchored to.Read More »
As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.
Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Not since the lead up to the first Avengers film released in 2012 has an entry in this ambitious cinematic universe been so anticipated. Thanos (Josh Brolin), the villain of this feature, was first teased in a post-credits scene of that film, leaving fans to eagerly anticipate his appearance as a main villain. Most MCU films since have teased, introduced, and/or involved infinity stones since then as well, all in preparation for this massive crossover event. The cast is honestly too expansive to list; nearly every hero makes an appearance to fight this threat on different fronts. I was highly anticipating the film myself, though cautious about how effectively an effective story could be told with such a large cast of characters in play.Read More »
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
A Quiet Place is a 2018 horror film directed by and starring John Krasinski. He plays Lee Abbott alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt, who plays Evelyn Abbott. The two are devoted parents who work hard to raise their two children in a world terrorized by blind yet dangerous creatures that hunt with highly acute hearing. I remember seeing trailers for this film long before it came out, and my expectations were actually considerably below the reality of what this movie is. It did look intriguing, but knowing the ways a lot of mainstream horror films get made I was expecting this to be a run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic survival film with a gimmick. I couldn’t be happier with being dead wrong.Read More »
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
Pacific Rim Uprising is a science fiction action film directed by Steven S. DeKnight and starring John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, the son of Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) from the first film. 10 years have passed, with Earth having enjoyed relative peace since the sealing of the breach, an act that stopped the monstrous Kaiju from invading. Through a series of mishaps trying to sell machine parts on the black market—salvaged from Jaegers, the giant robots that humanity used to fight the Kaiju—Jake is forced to rejoin the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) to instruct new recruits as Jaeger pilots. An attack from a powerful rogue Jaeger reveals that times are not as peaceful as they thought and that a plot is brewing to restart the Kaiju invasion once again.Read More »
A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.
Annihilation is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film stars Natalie Portman as biologist and former soldier Lena. Her Army Special Forces husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) mysteriously returns home after having gone missing during a mission nearly a year before. Soon afterwards he becomes violently ill and slips into a coma. They are taken by government forces to the secretive Area X, which studies a shimmering electromagnetic field that has engulfed a wide area of land after an object from outer-space struck land. Lena finds out that this is where Kane disappeared and joins an expedition team led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), along with paramedic Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), physicist Josie Radeck (Tessa Thompson), and anthropologist Cass Sheppard (Tuba Novotny), into “the Shimmer” to find answers.Read More »
A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.
The Ritual is a 2017 horror film directed by David Bruckner and based on a novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. The film stars Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton. Originally released in the UK in October 2017, it was widely released on Netflix on February 9, 2018. Though I knew little about the novel other than a passing awareness, I did pick up on some buzz for this film that got me very curious. A group of friends getting lost while hiking in a spooky forest is hardly a new idea for a horror film, but I’m always up for a familiar premise executed well or uniquely. This was something the film looked like it had the potential to deliver upon.Read More »