• Queen of Spades

    Queen of Spades

    Review by Eric Hillis

    "Beware of the Queen of Spades, her black widow's curse might find you yet."

    So sang hair-rockers Styx on their 1978 track 'Queen of Spades''. Director Patrick White's Queen of Spades isn't a movie adaptation of that power ballad, but it might as well be. Rather it's a Canadian remake of a 2015 Russian movie, Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite.

    The Russian folklore figure of the Queen of Spades has its roots in an 1833…

  • Nobody

    Nobody

    Review by Eric Hillis

    With Nobody, director Ilya Naishuller and writer Derek Kolstad do for vigilante action flicks what Coralie Fargeat did for rape-revenge thrillers with Revenge. As with that French film, Nobody takes a disreputable genre and rehabilitates it by embracing its appeal to the recesses of our lizard brains while commenting on and having playful fun with its tropes.

    It's 2021. We're supposed to be above the notion of a mild-mannered hero taking on "the scum", but are…

  • My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

    My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

    Review by Eric Hillis

    A child actor can be something of a vampire, so associated with their youthful work that audiences refuse to allow them to age. Patrick Fugit has been working consistently over the past two decades, yet he's still commonly referred to as "the kid from Almost Famous". No wonder he might be attracted to starring in and producing a movie concerning vampirism – writer/director Jonathan Cuartas's My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To.

    Fugit doesn't…

  • The Father

    The Father

    Review by Eric Hillis

    With the aid of fellow playwright Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller adapts his much lauded play The Father for the screen in his equally acclaimed directorial debut.

    A portrait of dementia, the film is an unsettling yet sensitive exploration of senility that portrays the condition in almost Lynchian terms as characters blur and fade into one another to the point that the viewer might believe they themselves are being driven mad.

    It opens conventionally enough, with doting…

  • Shiva Baby

    Shiva Baby

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Funerals are supposed to be sombre affairs but that very atmosphere can lend itself to good humour. At my father's funeral I morphed into a third-rate Catskills comic to help lighten the mood, and I'd like to think that when I pass away, my funeral guests will turn my passing into a comedy roast, ribbing me in death the way they did in life. If Four Weddings and a Funeral had instead featured four funerals and…

  • A Perfect Enemy

    A Perfect Enemy

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Much like the recent Canadian thriller The Oak Room, Spanish director Kike Maíllo's A Perfect Enemy is a movie in love with storytelling. Cynical viewers might say it's a little too in love with its own story, stretching a premise that might just as easily have worked in a short across 90 minutes. But it's the telling of the tale here, and the various stories within its central narrative, that keep us hooked.

    A Perfect Enemy…

  • The Amusement Park

    The Amusement Park

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Today, an indie filmmaker just has to make a barely competent and mildly successful horror movie before Hollywood comes calling. That wasn't always the case, and in the decades bridging the death of Universal Horror and the success of The Exorcist, Hollywood didn't see the genre as commercially viable. The late George A. Romero was cursed with bad luck, and in the case of Night of the Living Dead, bad timing. Had he made his debut…

  • Carmen and Lola

    Carmen and Lola

    Review by Benjamin Poole

    The gay experience within Roma and Traveller communities is difficult to quantify, probably due to the lack of empirical research permitted by this hermetic, and at times ephemeral, culture (seriously so: in the absence of published documentation while researching this review I ended up reading some kid’s - excellent - Brighton University dissertation on the topic! Thank you Lucie Fremlova!). However, most sources (including travellermovement.org.uk) concur that LGBTQ+ existence within the Roma and Traveller society is…

  • Safe Inside

    Safe Inside

    Review by Eric Hillis

    When you think of European thrillers of the 1970s and '80s you think of logic defying narratives, an abundance of style and actors of various nationalities performing with dodgy accents. Polish director Renata Gabryjelska's featue debut Safe Inside feels like a throwback to such an era, though it's sadly nowhere near as fun as your classic euro-thriller. It's daft as a brush but insists on playing its silly premise with a straight face, right down to…

  • Holler
  • The Killing of Two Lovers

    The Killing of Two Lovers

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Writer/director Robert Machoian opens his small town separation drama The Killing of Two Lovers with what initially feels like a flash forward to the outcome suggested by its arresting title. A man stands over a sleeping couple, aiming a pistol at their heads. Interrupted by a flushing toilet in a nearby room, he retreats out the window and runs all the way to his own nearby home.

    The would-be assassin is David (Clayne Crawford), and his…

  • Flashback

    Flashback

    Review by Eric Hillis

    Ever since Jimmy Stewart dived into the San Francisco bay to fish out a suicidal Kim Novak in Hitchcock's Vertigo, movies have been filled with men trying to save enigmatic blondes. Perhaps the tragic and untimely death of Marilyn Monroe has something to do with this obsession too. Maybe the movie lovers who make movies have been attempting to retroactively save the late Norma Jean Baker. David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks – in which…