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HORROR

Who’s watching Oliver (2017)

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Who’s watching Oliver” will certainly not be appreciated by everyone. It’s a film about voyeurism, sadism and total insanity. At first sight, the film seems meaningless in terms of content. But as the film progresses, you’ll conclude it contains a more pronounced message. The moment Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks) begins to abuse and torture a girl like a madman, under the watchful eye of his authoritarian mother (Margaret Roche), who’s watching the whole show via a webcam, you assume that this is the umpteenth morbid torture film. But as soon as the handsome Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane) comes into the picture, the storyline tilts slightly. From that moment on it is no longer the Oliver who has to tolerate the whims of his mother, routinely take his two pills and goes off to search his next victim. No. Now he’s the Oliver who realizes that there may be a way out of this violent existence.

Now that’s what I call crazy …

Is “Who’s watching Oliver” an excellent film? Well, I wouldn’t say that. But it’s a damn shocking and confusing film. Needless to say that I found the acting performance of Russell Geoffrey Banks sublime. The way he portrays Oliver is magisterial. That foolish expression on his face with his protruding lower jaw and crooked teeth. His silly glasses and backward combed greasy hair. The retarded mumbling and the in-mouth muttering. All this makes him look like a mentally disturbed individual. And the moment he bursts out laughing is both touching and frightening at the same time. The laughter of a fool or a schizophrenic madman. It’s also obvious that Oliver’s condition is directly related to his mother because she’s on the same level. Also a totally insane woman. Even though we see Margaret Roche only on a monitor. The way in which she addresses the victims in a denigrating way and laughs with them felt outright diabolical. And the moment you find out what happened to her husband, you realize just how crazy this woman is.

What does a fine looking girl like Sophia see in that nerd ?

And then you have the naïve and angelic Sophia who spontaneously seeks contact with Oliver in the amusement park. A place where Oliver comes to rest on a daily base. In retrospect, she’s just another restless soul who’s seeking comfort. It’s not that you get a pronounced explanation about her past. But between the lines, you can assume that she also knew a past full of abuse and grief. Why Sophia approached him, ultimately remained a mystery to me. The final scene provides a variety of interpretations. Will Oliver escape from the grip of his mother at that moment? Or did he find his “partner in crime”? Your guess is as good as mine.

A slasher film with a brilliant twist.

And there are more of those ambiguities. Why is Oliver wandering around in Thailand? And where does all that money to lure girls to his room come from? “Who’s watching Oliver” is such a film where you as a viewer can’t predict which direction it’ll go. But if you leave out the explicit nude and bloody scenes, a fragile love story remains. But in a bizarre way. Everything feels rather absurd. Especially with that cheerful jazzy music playing while Oliver chopping up the dead bodies. And the daily trip to the amusement park in this Asian country emphasizes the absurdity of the whole. For those who love slasher films with a psychopathic character whose ruthless behavior causes bloody situations, this is definitely a must see. But this flick gives it a brilliant twist as well. Therefore it’s no surprise this film has already won some rewards at a few film festivals.

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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HORROR

Prey | 20th Century Studios | Hulu

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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Genre:

Action, Drama, Horror

Release Date:

20222 (Hulu)

Director:

Dan Trachtenberg

Cast:

Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Stefany Mathias

Plot Summary:

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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HORROR

Choose or Die – A Miss For Netflix

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Netflix’s home page suggestions can always be hit or miss, and unfortunately its latest release ‘Choose or Die’ falls into the category of the latter. Captivated by Asa Butterfield on the poster, I was curious to see what this film had to offer and begrudgingly it didn’t have a lot.

We follow Kayla, a broke student who has a lot to deal with in terms of her family situation and being the sole provider for herself and her mum. She then stumbles upon a retro video game from the 80s which forces her to choose and ultimately leads to various chain reactions of horrific events involving people close to her.

Lola Evans as Kayla and Asa Butterfield as Isaac

The premise of the film sounds interesting, however, I think it swings and misses quite early into the film’s first act. Eddie Marsan sets the tone and trail of interest for Choose or Die as we are introduced to this sadistic game and the chain of events it will inevitably pursue. 

Choose or Die doesn’t make it easy to empathise with its characters, finding any connection to Kayla or Isaac was difficult. This ‘are they aren’t they’ subplot lingers throughout the film’s narrative but adds nothing to the overarching story. The supporting characters, such as Thea and Laura, are much more interesting and genuinely have you intrigued as to what decisions they will make.

What stood out to me was the violent and gore-like scenes of 80s horrors, with some pretty good stomach churning special effects make-up. Those intense scenes, one involving a rat, had me genuinely glued to the screen, anticipating what may happen next. Choose or Die’s strongest component are the early moral decisions Kayla has to make and ultimately demonstrate Meakin’s passion for the horror genre.

Ioanna Kimbook as Grace in Choose or Die, seen here in the diner in one of the more grotesque decisive moments for Kayla

The way in which this film is shot, felt very “student-esque” with its lackluster camera movements and setting. The set design lacked little depth, except for Isaac’s room which is full of detail, therefore making the world feel small and less three dimensional. An element which pulled me out of this cinematic experience, was the fact that this was evidently filmed in the United Kingdom, and the cast contained predominantly a lot of British actors doing an American accent so I wasn’t fully immersed into this world. 

Meakins clearly uses his passion for the horror genre to influence this film’s dark tone, from it’s leading characters’ moral compass as well as the gorey visuals that inevitably come with those decisions. The whole world feels cold and derelict, be it the place in which Kayla cleans or the housing estate of which she lives in, this is an unwelcoming world that no-one wants to comfort you in. 

Choose or Die isn’t a film that will stick out as one that defined 2022, however I’m sure someone will take something away from this film, be it’s reference to 80s gaming or the violent and graphic elements that the director is clearly passionate about. 

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HORROR

Off Season – To Premiere Exclusively on Shudder

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Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, announced that OFFSEASON will be available exclusively to stream on the platform starting on Friday, June 10, 2022. As a Shudder exclusive, the platform will be the only subscription service that will carry the film in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s gravesite has been vandalized, in OFFSEASON, Marie (Donahue) quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.

Check out the film’s trailer below and read our review HERE as it debuted during SXSW 2021

Written and directed by Mickey Keating (Psychopaths), OFFSEASON stars Jocelin Donahue (Doctor Sleep), Joe Swanberg (The Rental, “Easy”), Richard Brake (3 From HellMandy), Melora Walters (The Pale Door, “Pen15”) and Jeremy Gardner (After MidnightThe Mind’s Eye).

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