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Showing posts from September, 2022

Film Review: The Black Phone (2021)

The Black Phone , a supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson ( Hellraiser: Inferno , The Exorcism of Emily Rose , Doctor Strange )  and adapted from a short story by award-winning writer Joe Hill, has a lot to say. In a single movie, The Black Phone is many things. Sometimes it's a family drama (a drunk father raising two children after his wife dies). Other times it's a psychological thriller (will a young victim of kidnapping find an escape from his evil captor?). And then there's the supernatural element (ghosts guide the main character to eventual safety and younger sister having visionary dreams related to missing children). Collectively, these story ingredients make the perfect blended recipe for one heckuva fun film. Sure, there's flaws along the way (our villain has very little backstory leaving us questioning why he does what he does). Yet, these minor issues are easy to overlook because they're eclipsed by brilliant cinematic storytelling, po

Film Review: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

An American Werewolf in London is a brutal and brilliant film. Paying tribute to the great monster flicks of yesteryear, director John Landis serves up a terrifying cinematic homage to the creature feature genre, while breaking new ground in the process. The concept of the story is simple, reminding the audience of legends and lore related to a fateful attack by a werewolf. In this case, the victims are two American men backpacking their way across the moors in Yorkshire. Jack (played by Griffin Dunne) is killed and David (played by David Naughton) survives despite his injuries. As the film moves forward, David's insistence that his transformation into a werewolf is imminent is what fuels the movie. We, the audience, are aware that his change is coming and we wait for it with edge-of-your-seat anticipation. And what a change it is. It's worth noting this film received the first-ever Academy Award for Best Makeup and that accolade is well-deserved. The transformation scene in w

Film Review: Aliens (1986)

I recently had the chance to see Aliens on the big screen, specifically at the historic (and beautiful) Crest Theatre in Sacramento. When the movie premiered in July of 1986, I was a sophomore in high school. I saw the movie five times (at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland) within the first two weeks of its release. Yes, I loved it that much. And, after my recent viewing, I can say I still love it that much. Aliens holds up really well. So much of this is due to James Cameron's expert directing. The set up here is intentionally slow-moving so the second half of the film feels like the ultimate thrill ride it is. The action sequences are some of the best ever filmed. Yet, the film really belongs to Sigourney Weaver, whose powerful and nuanced performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (the first time a leading actress in a sci-fi film had been acknowledged by the Academy). Weaver's performance is history-making for many reasons. Before this film, audien

Film Review : Mermaids (1990)

Adapted from the novel by Patty Dann, this coming-of-age family dramedy from 1990 is an adorable film, filled with charm, terrific and very quotable dialogue, and career-best performances. Set in 1963, the film follows the lives of three women, specifically a single mother and her two young daughters. Told from the perspective of Charlotte, the oldest daughter (played by Winona Ryder), Mermaid s is endearing from start to finish. Director Richard Benjamin creates an intimate connection between Charlotte and the audience by allowing her inner thoughts to be shared through often hilarious voice overs. It's through these one-liners and monologues that our fondness for Charlotte grows, drawing us into the often-turbulent navigation through her young life. The characters of this film feel like people we know: you have the larger-than-life mother (played by Cher in her best role yet), her antithesis in the form of a conservative daughter, and the wild youngest child (a very young but im

Film Review: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

From the opening frame when the iconic title is splashed across the screen in blood red letters, you know you're in for a wild ride with Amy Jones's cult slasher classic The Slumber Party Massacre . Set in sunny Southern California, the 1980's aesthetic of beautiful surroundings are juxtaposed with a terrifying murder spree thanks to a power drill wielding maniac. Shot on a next-to-nothing budget, this mighty film went on to make millions and become a three-film franchise, similar to other successful slashers of the same era. This one stands out as being different from the pack. Sure, all the genre expected tropes are there. We have beautiful women being hunted by a serial killer. We have brutality and blood. There's a lot of T and an abundance of A. And, most importantly for my fellow horror film aficionados, we have a high body count. Yet, there's a stylishness to the movie that isn't always as prevalent in comparable films. Much of this is apparent in Jones&#

Film Review: The Invitation (2022)

The Invitation , a new horror film from director Jessica M. Thompson, wants to be many things. At times, the film feels like a wonderful tribute to gothic horror romance novels of the past (there's even a Jane Austen reference in the movie for Northanger Abbey fans) and other times it feels like a solid entry in the cinematic canon of great vampire flicks. While watching the film, I caught intentional echoes of Dracula , True Blood , Interview with a Vampire , Midnight Madness , and even Downton Abbey . These influences and tributes are apparent, but there's so many of them they inadvertently create a strange hodgepodge of a film. It's as if the film is suffering from an identity crisis and isn't quite clear what it wants to be. Is it a ghost story? A movie about a haunted house? A supernatural horror film? A film about how far best friends will go to help each other? Instead, you're left unsure and confused. The film is enjoyable and fun, but it could've been

Welcome to Filtinsel

Hello. Welcome to Filtinsel. We're happy you're here. Our favorite film genres include overlooked classics, horror movies, international cinema, and suspense thrillers. Discover new and old films to add to your must-watch list. See you at the movies!