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LFF 2020 Review: Rose: A Love Story

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London Film Festival is well underway and there’s a lot of good stuff available now and coming your way over the next few days. The 64th BFI London Film Festival is all across the UK, inviting you to experience the world’s best new films wherever you are. Twelve days of UK premieres are available to enjoy online via BFI Player or in cinemas at BFI Southbank, around London, and throughout the UK.

Before I get into it, I do want to highlight that it’s quite hard to talk about this film without giving it away or spoiling anything. This review will be completely spoiler-free so you don’t have to worry about spoilers however the review might be a little brief or vague as I don’t want to divulge any key points or anything that could ruin the viewing experience for you.

 

Rose: A Love Story is the directorial debut from Jennifer Sheridan and once film starts it instantly hooks you with a very interesting premise. Rose (Sophie Rundle) and her husband Sam (Matt Stokoe) live in a secluded woodland where Rose spends her time writing and Sam tends to vegetables and attempts to trap rabbits. But there’s a deeper mystery to their lives. We don’t really get any backstory for either of our two main characters and yet it doesn’t matter. Right from the start, you have questions you want answered and it keeps you hooked. We don’t know much about what’s going on but nonetheless we are intrigued to find out more.

However, whilst the film opens well and you want to know where it’s going, it doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. It’s a horror film although there isn’t a whole lot of horror in it which is a little disappointing. I was expecting a few more scares from the film than were delivered. I might even go so far as to say it’s also a drama film and it isn’t completely a horror. And it does walk some well-known horror tropes to the point that you can see where it’s going before it gets there if you‘re a horror film enthusiast.

As a result of all this, as well as some pacing issues in the second act, it does start to get a bit dull. The ending is good but not great because I found myself being able to predict where it was going and what was going to happen.

Even though the film was made pre-COVID-19, there are some interesting ideas regarding isolation and cabin fever in this film- and there are even face masks too!

Overall, Rose: A Love Story starts off with a really strong set-up but ends up doing very little with it making the rest of the film somewhat uninteresting and creating a rather predictable conclusion.

2.5/5

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‘Orphan: First Kill’ Review | A Fantastic, Demented, Gothic, Camp, Thriller

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Orphan: First Kill is a fantastic Demented Gothic Camp Thriller showcasing Esther’s terrifying Return from Signature Entertainment UK. This thrilling prequel to the original is nail-biting, nerve-racking & had me on the edge of my seat. Isabelle Fuhrman returns as the master manipulator 

After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family. Yet, an unexpected twist arises that pits her against a mother who will protect her family from the murderous “child” at any cost. 

Isabelle Fuhrman as “Esther” in Orphan: First Kill from Paramount Players, eOne, and Dark Castle Entertainment.

The first “Orphan” movie was released back in 2009 and instantly became a cult classic for fans of the horror genre. The film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra starred 10-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, an orphan adopted by a couple desperate to expand their family. However Esther begins to make things rough and the iconic twist is that the young girl suffered from Hypopituitarism, a disorder that caused her to stop growing, making her look like a child even though she is, in fact, a murderous adult woman in her 30s. She feels like a freak and this truly leans into her psychosis, which has inevitably led her to go mad and become destructive. Esther is hyper-intelligent and is able to pit people against one another. 

The screenplay for the film’s prequel was written by David Coggeshall from a story by producers Alex Mace and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. They’ve put Esther in a new set of circumstances which help the narrative and will truly lead the audience to think they’re getting something they’ve witnessed before, however, the filmmakers pull the rug from underneath and show an origin like no other as we witness a tense beginning inside the Saarne Institute in Estonia where Esther is residing as a patient. It’s an intense start to the film as suspicion builds because we watch Esther devise her plan to impersonate a Connecticut couple’s missing child, who had disappeared four years ago. 

Once the creative team solved the story, especially the all-important twist. Director William Brent Bell was brought on board to direct the film and he brings Esther’s psyche visually to life. 

Orphan: First Kill also sees the return of Isabelle Fuhrman reprising her role as the titular character. The actress, now 25 years old still possesses her youth and it’s a testament to the filmmakers for crafting this illusion so that the audience is convinced that Fuhrman is thirteen years younger. Special makeup effects artists collaborated with the actress and other departments. They relied on old-school Hollywood techniques such as contacts, makeup, and raising tables on apple boxes, and the cast wore very high heels to alter the perspective. Fuhrman also had to undergo a transformation to act more childlike, a lot of that came from the fantastic young body doubles and bringing back the dialect she has painstakingly studied for the first film. Some things which are to be questioned about Esther will be answered but once the twist happens, Orphan: First Kills becomes a different movie. 

We’re also introduced to the wealthy, suburban Albright family- Tricia, Allen, and their son Gunnar- had a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude as their youngest daughter, Esther, disappeared four years ago and we witness the reflect this incident has had on each of them. The Matriarch, Tricia Albright is played by Julia Stiles who shines in the role as she brings such depth and personality. The movie showcases the uneasy reconnection with her mysteriously returned daughter and I absolutely loved Esther and Tricia’s complex relationship as it truly created tension. 

Passing herself off as the real Esther, she uses the same manipulative techniques that she’ll eventually use on Vera Farmiga. We see her gaslight Tricia, awkwardly seduce the father Allen( Rossif Sutherland) and threaten her new sibling Gunner (Matthew Finlan). However, she underestimates the dynamic she’s conned her way into. 

Orphan: First Kill fully embraces its self-awareness and dials up the madness as it injects energy and plenty of camp unhinged moments that are certainly entertaining.

Signature Entertainment presents Orphan: First Kill exclusively in Cinemas from Friday 19th August 

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HORROR

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities | Netflix

This anthology of sinister stories is told by some of today’s most revered horror creators, including the directors of The Babadook, Splice, Mandy, and many more.

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Genre:

Drama, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

October 25, 2022

Creator:

Guillermo Del Toro

Cast:

Megan Many, Ish Morris, Sofia Boutella

Plot Summary:

This anthology of sinister stories is told by some of today’s most revered horror creators, including the directors of The Babadook, Splice, Mandy, and many more.

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SHUDDER ANNOUNCES BIGGEST EVER HALLOWEEN SLATE | 61-DAY CELEBRATION FROM 1ST SEPTEMBER TO 31ST OCTOBER

SHUDDER, THE HOME FOR HALLOWEEN, ANNOUNCES ITS BIGGEST SLATE OF MUST-SEE ORIGINAL SERIES
AND NEW MOVIES

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Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller, and the supernatural will kick off its annual 61-day Halloween event beginning Thursday 1st September. Shudder is the leading streamer for thrills and frights year-round. But the service goes above and beyond every September and October, this year presenting an unprecedented line-up of eight acclaimed, must-see new films and new original series, along with other special treats to be announced, to truly be “The Home for Halloween.”

“Halloween is the best time of year on Shudder, and this Halloween, we’re featuring the best line-up of programming in our history,” said Shudder General Manager Craig Engler. “We have eight original and exclusive movie premieres, including a new film from horror master Dario Argento, and three new series – from Bryan Fuller, The Boulet Brothers, and the producers of Eli Roth’s History of Horror.”

Shudder members will enjoy a spooktacular new slate of weekly movie premieres, original series debuts, a new edition of Shudder’s fan favourite “The Ghoul Log,” a 24/7 streaming jack-o’-lantern, and the annual return of Shudder’s Halloween Hotline, where members can receive live, personalised movie recommendations from head curator Samuel Zimmerman.

He’ll discuss with you all things horror: From their favourite genre films of all time to the most highly anticipated horror releases of the year. From those conversations, Sam will then use his horror expertise to offer customized viewing recommendations from Shudder’s expansive film collection.

Fans can call Sam at +1 914 481 2239 during Hotline Hours. (No calls will go through outside those hours.) 

Please note: While recommendations are provided for free, please note that normal phone and long-distance charges may apply. Call volume is expected to be high, so please keep trying if a busy signal is received. There are no guarantees that every call will be answered, but Sam will get through as many as he can within the hour.

Below is an overview of the key programming for “The Home for Halloween” including all September library title additions.

NEW SHUDDER ORIGINAL SERIES

101 Scariest Film Moments of All Time – A Shudder Original Series: Premieres Wednesday 7th September; new episodes weekly

In this eight-episode new series from the producers of Eli Roth’s History of Horror, master filmmakers and genre experts celebrate and dissect the most terrifying moments of the greatest horror films ever made, exploring how these scenes were created and why they burned themselves into the brains of audiences around the world.

Queer for Fear: A History of Queer Horror – A Shudder Original Series: Premieres Friday 30th September; new episodes weekly

From executive producer Bryan Fuller (Hannibal), Queer for Fear is a four-part documentary series about the history of the LGBTQ+ community in the horror and thriller genres. From its literary origins with queer authors Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the pansy craze of the 1920s that influenced Universal Monsters and Hitchcock; from the “lavender scare” alien invasion films of the mid-20th century to the AIDS-obsessed bloodletting of 80s vampire films; through genre-bending horrors from a new generation of queer creatorsQueer for Fear re-examines genre stories through a queer lens, seeing them not as violent, murderous narratives, but as tales of survival that resonate thematically with queer audiences everywhere.

Queer For Fear – Key Art – Photo Credit: Shudder

Untitled Boulet Brothers Series – (Date to be announced soon)

For the third straight Halloween season following The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection (2020) and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula season 4 (2021), the groundbreaking duo return to Shudder to horrify and delight with their boldest and most ambitious show ever.

SHUDDER ORIGINAL & EXCLUSIVE FILMS

Who Invited Them – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 1st September

Adam and Margo’s housewarming party goes well enough except for this mysterious couple, Tom and Sasha, lingering after the other guests have left. The couple reveals themselves to be their wealthy and successful neighbours, but as one nightcap leads to another, Adam and Margo start to suspect their new friends are duplicitous strangers with a dark secret. Written and directed by Duncan Birmingham, and starring Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), Melissa Tang (The Kominsky Method), Timothy Granaderos (13 Reasons Why), and Perry Mattfeld (In the Dark).

Saloum – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 8th September

Shot down after fleeing a coup and extracting a drug lord from Guinea-Bissau, the legendary mercenaries known as the Bangui Hyenas – Chaka, Rafa and Midnight – must stash their stolen gold bounty, lay low long enough to repair and refuel their plane and escape back to Dakar, Senegal. When they take refuge at a holiday camp in the coastal region of Sine-Saloum, they do their best to blend in with their fellow guests; including a mute named Awa, with secrets of her own, and a policeman who may be on their tail, but it’s Chaka who happens to be hiding the darkest secret of them all. Unbeknownst to the other Hyenas, he’s brought them there for a reason and once his past catches up to him, his decisions have devastating consequences, threatening to unleash hell on them all.

Saloum stars Yann Gael, Evelyne Ily Juhen, Roger Sallah, Bruno Henry, Marielle Salmier and Mentor Ba, and is written and directed by Jean-Luc Herbulot, from a story by Herbulot and Pamala Diop. Official Selection TIFF 2021, Fantastic Fest 2021 Best Director/New Wave winner.

Speak No Evil – A Shudder Original: Premieres, Thursday 15th September

On a vacation in Tuscany, a Danish family instantly becomes friends with a Dutch family. Months later the Danish couple receive an unexpected invitation to visit the Dutch in their wooden house and decide to go for the weekend. However, it doesn’t take long before the joy of reunion is replaced with misunderstandings. Things gradually get out of hand, as the Dutch turn out to be something very else than what they have pretended to be. The small Danish family now find themselves trapped in a house, that they wish they had never entered. Speak No Evil is directed by Christian Tafdrup (A Horrible Woman) and written by Christian and Mads Tafdrup, and stars Morten BurianSidsel Siem KochFedja Van HuêtKarina SmuldersLiva ForsbergMarius Damslev. Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival 2022.

Speak No Evil – Photo Credit: Shudder

Raven’s Hollow – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 22nd September

West Point cadet Edgar Allan Poe and four other cadets on a training exercise in upstate New York are drawn by a gruesome discovery into a forgotten community. Starring William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia), Melanie Zanetti (Bluey), Callum Woodhouse (All Creatures Great and Small), Kate Dickie (The Green Knight), and David Hayman (Sid & Nancy). Written and directed by Christopher Hatton. Official Selection, FrightFest 2022.

Sissy – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 29th September

Sissy stars Aisha Dee and Hannah Barlow as Cecilia and Emma, who had been tween-age BFFs who were never going to let anything come between them – until Alex (Emily De Margheriti) arrived on the scene. Twelve years later, Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman, until she runs into Emma for the first time in over a decade. After reconnecting, Emmy invites Cecilia on her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where Alex proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell. Sissy is written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes. Official Selection, SXSW 2022

Deadstream – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 6th October

A disgraced and demonetised Internet personality tries to win back his fans by live streaming himself, spending a night alone in an abandoned haunted house. However, when he accidentally unleashes a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life (and social relevance) as he faces off with the sinister spirit of the house and her powerful following. Deadstream stars Joseph Winter, who wrote and directed the film with Vanessa Winter.

Photo Credit: Shudder

Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 13th October

Rome. An eclipse blocks out the sun, blackening the skies on a hot summer day – harbinger of the darkness that will envelop Diana when a serial killer chooses her as prey. Fleeing her predator, the young escort crashes her car and loses her sight. She emerges from the initial shock determined to fight for her life, but she is no longer alone. Defending her and acting as her eyes is a little boy, Chin, who survived the car accident. But the killer won’t give up his victim. Who will be saved? A triumphant return from Italian master of horror, director Dario Argento. Starring Ilenia Pastorelli and Asia Argento

Dark Glasses – Photo Credit: Shudder

V/H/S/99 – A Shudder Original: Premieres Thursday 20th October

V/H/S/99 marks the return of the acclaimed found footage anthology franchise and the sequel to Shudder’s most-watched premiere of 2021. A thirsty teenager’s home video leads to a series of horrifying revelations. Featuring five new stories from filmmakers Maggie Levin (Into The Dark: My Valentine), Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City), Flying Lotus (Kuso), Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) and Joseph & Vanessa Winter (Deadstream),V/H/S/99 harkens back to the final punk rock analogue days of VHS, while taking one giant leap forward into the hellish new millennium.

“THE GHOUL LOG” – 2022 EDITION

The “Ghoul Log” is Halloween’s answer to the Christmas Yule Log: a 24/7 streaming jack-o’-lantern providing the perfect ambience for all your Halloween festivities. Fan favourites The Ghoul Log, Return of the Ghoul Log and Night of the Ghoul Log are back, along with a surprise new instalment for 2022.

NEW ADDITIONS TO SHUDDER’S MOVIE LIBRARY FOR SEPTEMBER

5th September

Disappearance at Lake Elrod

A year after her daughter’s disappearance, another girl from Elrod, Georgia, goes missing. Convinced there is a connection, Charlie won’t stop searching until she discovers the truth.


The Lodger

An elderly woman takes in a lodger, offering her accommodation in return for help around the house. The eccentric woman behaves as if her long-deceased husband is still alive. But soon the lodger begins to feel his presence.

6th September


Lifechanger

Drew has an identity problem. Every few days, he has to shape-shift, or face a painful death. He has to find someone and make a copy. He takes everything: their looks, memories, hopes and dreams. Their entire life. He becomes them, and they die horribly. Lately, the changes are becoming more frequent. Facing his imminent death, Drew sets out on one final blood-soaked mission.

12th September

St Agatha

1950s Georgia, a pregnant con woman on the run seeks refuge in a desolate convent only to be met with an unsettling and horrendous evil waiting on the other side. From Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of Saw II, III and IV.


Antrum

In 1988 a screening of Antrum at a cinema in Budapest resulted in the tragic death of fifty-six people when the building caught fire and burned to the ground. Other deaths linked to the film resulted in Antrum being condemned as a ‘cursed’ film and its master negative destroyed.


Rabies

In this clever Israeli slasher, a group of people get caught in a serial killer’s web. There are two siblings who’ve committed a major sin, 4 teen athletes, a forest ranger and two pervy cops. As each of them enters the woods where the psycho lurks, their decisions lead to terror and torment.

19th September

Cemetery of Terror

On Halloween, a group of medical students steal the corpse a serial killer from a morgue and raise him from the dead, inadvertently putting themselves and a group of young neighbourhood children in danger.


Grave Robbers
Teenagers accidentally resurrect a satanic killer who targets the local police captain’s daughter to birth the antichrist.

Videoman       
Ennio, a giallo-obsessed VHS collector with a drinking problem, finds a highly collectable video tape that could solve his money problems and save him from eviction. He makes a deal with a shady, anonymous collector before realising the video has been stolen. So begins Ennio’s desperate hunt for the black-gloved perpetrator while, along the way, he meets Simone, an alcoholic woman obsessed with the 80s. As Ennio searches for the tape and begins to lose a grip on reality, his and Simone’s mutual love of nostalgia draws them together. Can they find redemption in each other?


The House at the End of Time

A wrongfully convicted murderess must solve a metaphysical mystery to find the real killer. 30 years ago, Dulce was convicted of killing her husband and kids, despite her pleas that an evil entity in the house committed the slayings. Now, as part of her sentence, Dulce’s sent back to the home where the murders happened. As memories come flooding back, Dulce teams up with a priest to uncover the secrets of the house and find peace.


I am Toxic

A man wakes in a world destroyed by biological warfare with no memory of his previous life. Taken prisoner by a group of scavengers he meets a young woman who tries to helps him escape as the scavengers pursue them through the barren wastelands.

26th September


Darklands

A journalist investigates an evil cult who may have murdered a female colleague. After Rachel dies mysteriously while investigating her brother’s death, Frazier Truick decides it’s time to get to the bottom of what the cult is all about. But he’s not prepared for pagan rituals, Satan worship, and human sacrifice. Racing against time, Frazier must solve the crime before he winds up its next victim.


Wild Country

After being forced to give her baby up for adoption, a teenage girl decides to go on a cross country hike through the Scottish Highlands with a group of friends. In an attempt to re-kindle their relationship, her ex-boyfriend appears uninvited, but his attempts at reconciliation are interrupted after they find an abandoned baby in the ruins of an old castle. As they attempt to get the baby to safety, a wolf-like creature appears from the darkness hell-bent on protecting its brood.


Goldberg & Eisenberg

Goldberg is a lonely computer programmer who spends his time searching the internet for a girlfriend. After a blind date in the park, he meets Eisenberg, a thug who stalks him, intruding into his everyday life until Goldberg’s actions to get rid of him spin dangerously out of control.

30th September

Tailgate

Hans is a self-confident man, driving across the country with his wife and two daughters by his side. His ego gets the better of him when he gets into an argument with another driver. The van driver turns out to be the wrong man to cross on the road and sets out to teach Hans a deadly lesson. Skillfully pushing the buttons of Hans’s arrogance, a simple family road trip turns into a deadly obstacle course in this nerve-wracking, blackly comic morality tale thriller.

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