Amy Seimetz - ELLE's Women In Television Celebration presented by Hearts on Fire Diamonds and Olay held at the Sunset Tower Hotel at Sunset Tower Hotel - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 20th January 2016
Sometimes, the fantasy world is more appealing than reality. For Davina (Natalia Dyer), this is certainly the case, as she often finds herself falling into a world of make-believe to escape into her childhood. In reality, caring for her disabled mother has forced her to grow up too fast, and she seeks to escape through a relationship with an older boy. When the world wind romance of excitement and adventure wears off, she finds herself at the mercy of his more volatile side, and forced to live up the strange new world that she now inhabits.
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Yet another found-footage thriller, this chilling horror film at least has some solid roots as a fictionalised version of real events. The fact that something like this actually happened (on a vastly larger scale in 1978) gives the movie a lot of weight it might not otherwise have. And the realistic setting and grounded performances help sell the story.
It opens in New York, where hipster magazine reporter Sam (AJ Bowen) enlists cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg) to travel with photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) to visit a mysterious commune called Eden Parish deep in a foreign woods. There Patrick's sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) is working as the assistant for Father (Gene Jones), who has created a religious paradise far from the crime and greed of civilisation. Of course, the cynical journalists begin to wonder if anything can truly be this idyllic. And sure enough, before the end of the day someone hands them a note that says, "Please help us!"
While there are several potent issues gurgling throughout the story, filmmaker Ti West keeps the focus on the lean, mean scary-movie aspect, adding an atonal score to ramp up an underlying feeling of tension beneath the otherwise beautiful scenes of hippy parishioners living in peace. But the mask begins to slip, and things turn genuinely unsettling before breaking out into all-out nastiness. After the slow and involving build-up, what comes next feels rather a lot more staged. And grippingly terrifying.
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Too-clever filmmaker Shane Carruth'sfascinating 2004 time-travel thriller Primer was confusing enough, but he goes a step further with this utterly impenetrable freak-out mystery. It looks amazing, and is packed with eerily resonant themes and feelings, but Carruth never tries to make the narrative coherent, challenging us to make sense of the vivid visual and audio textures.
Here's what it seems to be about: Kris (Seimetz) is a young woman who has her life upended when a thief (Martins) gives her a hypnotic drug then tells her to give him everything she owns. When she wakes up, she has to piece her life together from scratch. She's also now strangely drawn to Jeff (Carruth), a guy she sees on the train during her daily commute. And as they begin a tentative romance, they start to feel that something bigger is going on around them. While trying to figure out who is controlling their life, they encounter a sound recordist (Sensenig) who has a pen of piglets that seem to be a clue to what's going on.
Frankly, anyone who watches this film would probably piece together the premise in a different way. Without a clear plot or consistent characters, it's impossible to know what's happening: everything is a mystery. But the film is so precisely put together that we know Carruth is telling his story exactly as he wants to. The sound mix is especially beautiful, while the cinematography captures stunning imagery that keeps us watching even if we're not sure what we're looking at. And the actors are strong enough to convey their emotions, so at least we know how they feel about whatever's happening.
Continue reading: Upstream Color Review
Wildly over-praised by audiences desperate for a scary horror movie, this film has little more than the germ of a solid idea followed by a series of predictable cliches. It's a clever twist on the violent home-invasion scenario, fraught with family tensions and shifty characters. But the story develops without much sense of direction, and all of the scary bits are added in post-production through jolting editing and a freak-out sound mix.
It centres on a family gathering at a palatial summer home for the 35th anniversary of Paul and Aubrey (Moran and Crampton). All of their kids are here: Crispian (Bowen) is nervous about bringing his girlfriend (Vinson) to meet everyone, and his three siblings Felix, Aimee and Drake (Tucci, Swanberg and Seimetz) have also arrived with their respective partners (Glenn, Myers and West). The usual arguments are re-ignited at their first meal together, but they're quickly interrupted by a bigger problem: someone shoots an arrow through a window and begins picking them off one by one. As they are forced to work together, Erin rises to the challenge, leading the defence against the invaders.
The set-up is fairly simplistic, as the family members all have a sense of dread about this gathering, knowing that it's going to be tense. Then the fiendishly efficient attackers arrive, dressed like ninjas with animal masks, well-armed with knives, machetes, hatchets and cross-bows, plus booby traps to make the house itself a killing machine. None of this is very plausible, frankly. The actors aren't quite up to the challenge of making us believe the inter-relationships, and the plot is deeply contrived. The filmmakers seem determined to make a film without a single gun, which is intriguing until people pick up a tiny steak-knife to defend themselves when the handy baseball bat would be a lot more effective.
Continue reading: You're Next Review
When the Davisons decide to embark on a vacation to a remote getaway house with their family and friends to celebrate a wedding anniversary, everything seems so perfect, peaceful and undisturbed. However, when a crossbow arrow comes flying through the window killing one of the guests, they realise that their blissful weekend has turned into a deadly nightmare when it is revealed that three axe-toting murderers in animal masks have been stalking them for days, waiting for the right moment to butcher them one by one. What they hadn't banked on was that they would become the ones watching their backs when the most unlikely guest of all, Erin, starts hunting them down.
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It's not for lack of trying. Swanberg builds a loose character setup within an ambitious background of reality and artifice. He asks us to consider when intimacy is true, when it is simply make-believe, and when the hell we should be able to tell the difference.
Continue reading: Alexander The Last Review
Sometimes, the fantasy world is more appealing than reality. For Davina (Natalia Dyer), this is...
Yet another found-footage thriller, this chilling horror film at least has some solid roots as...
Too-clever filmmaker Shane Carruth'sfascinating 2004 time-travel thriller Primer was confusing enough, but he goes a...
Wildly over-praised by audiences desperate for a scary horror movie, this film has little more...
When the Davisons decide to embark on a vacation to a remote getaway house with...