Tension in The Lighthouse (2019)

The blazing foghorn pierces through the cloudy sky and enters into the cavity of primal fear. The first time you hear it, you can’t help but feel unsettled. After what may be the 100th time of hearing that hellish, otherworldly sound, you are swept alongside the madness of the main characters as they drop into a downward spiral of nightmarish imagery and psychological tension.

The Lighthouse is set all in black & white with an unusual aspect ratio that creates an exceptional claustrophobic atmosphere that goes hand-in-hand with the film’s isolated setting. It makes the foreboding dread that much more impactful. The story itself is drenched with hallucinatory imagery and dreamlike sequences that are never concrete; all of it is ambiguous. It is intended for multiple interpretations, but it never lends itself as pretentious or overbearing as the presence of the light from the lighthouse, the piercing foghorn, and the character dynamics are executed well and create a nightmarish experience.

The unconventional chatter between the two characters is both uncomfortable and lighthearted, and it translates well into the later half of the movie. The two characters’ contrasting personalities help in creating an interesting dynamic between them, creating heated arguments that can boil into joyful rebound or intense exchanges. It also helps that Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe both play their characters exceptionally, delivering phenomenal performances and meticulously capturing the downward spiral of their characters.

The sound design, jarring and disconnected, helps make the chaos that much more terrifying. The music is otherworldly, mysterious, playing off of the Lovecraftian feel alongside the setting; it is extremely uncomfortable to listen to. The foghorn and the other delirious sounds, especially the distorted scream near the end of the film, help capture the nightmarish atmosphere that wraps itself around both the characters and the audience. The film’s format – black and white with a more claustrophobic aspect ratio – compliments the sound design and music very well, creating tension that penetrates your ears and eyes even during the quieter moments.

The Lighthouse establishes a fresh and profound aesthetic and atmosphere that creates a wonderfully nightmarish experience through the perspective of two men working in an isolated island with a lighthouse. It’s a meticulous movie through and through, and its affinity for rewatches because of its ambiguous nature helps in keeping its legacy clawing at the back of its audience’s mind long after it has finished.

Bone Tomahawk – Review

Night sets in. A woman tends to the aid of a suspicious stranger while the deputy stands by watching. Another man, checking out a commotion in the stables, unfortunately comes into contact with unknown individuals. A kidnapping ensues. Four individuals are forced to make a journey through the western plains in order to rescue their own, coming into the land of a merciless and violent tribe.

Bone Tomahawk is quiet. Even during its climactic moments, the film never exaggerates the intensity of its scenes; instead, it lets the actors’ performances speak for themselves. The film moves slow, but it never lets itself drag. Much of the journey is made while getting to know bits and pieces of the protagonists as they partake in their rescue mission. The conversations they have with each other are fascinating as their own conflicting ideals and beliefs lead to confrontation and growth. At the end of the day, they make a good team as they trek through the landscape filled with many dangers besides the tribe.

The lack of ambience creates a perfect atmosphere that feels grounded and real. It also makes the suspense that much more tense and nerve-wracking. Sequences are never overblown through loud music or special cues to signify their importance. The build-up and frequent usage of the horns of the tribe are executed brilliantly, providing a hook of tension that wraps itself around the audience, never once letting itself loose. Even when shit hits the fan, it happens so abruptly and strikes you out of balance but it makes perfect sense given the grounded nature of the film. The film plays off the realism of the relationship between the Natives and the settlers of America, which makes the exchanges that much more convincing.

What Bone Tomahawk lacks on a grand scale, it executes perfectly in a more refined, subdued manner. It’s a raw western thriller that pulls off its simple premise exceptionally, with a band of interesting protagonists setting upon the barren landscape of the western plains. Accompanied by expert displays of suspense and tension and a gruesome last thirty minutes, the film will linger on in your mind a long while after you’ve finished it.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? – Not for me

Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a stylish and high-octane love letter to cinema. It’s insane and ridiculous with a quirky sense of humour, but unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. Some of the jokes and comedic moments made me smile, others not so much. A lot of the appeal comes from its ridiculous story but it never felt interesting. It’s crazy for the sake of being crazy, stylish with no substance but relying on the character’s ridiculous personalities. Investment is important for me when enjoying a movie, and I never felt invested in the film’s story nor in the film’s annoying characters. I liked some parts of it, like its stylish direction and the massacre of an ending, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression. Either you will love the craziness or that craziness doesn’t click. For me, it was the latter.

Grade: C

 

 

 

Lake Mungo – Beneath that scary exterior

Lake Mungo is one of those films that you can fully enjoy as a pure horror but also recognise it as an exceptional way of portraying the handling and coping of grief. Its static and jarring sound design adds a new layer of unsettling to its already creepy imagery filled with ghostly apparitions and moving figures. It gets under your skin, and I found myself looking behind me a few instances while watching. It’s not that it’s overt in its presentation or an overall in-your-face scary; it’s quite the opposite. It’s genuinely unnerving, the haunting imagery leaving a lasting impression on your psyche.

The way Lake Mungo portrays grief blends perfectly well with its aspects of horror. A family coping with the loss of their daughter, figuring out the how and why to her death.  The movie encapsulates these feelings perfectly through a documentary-styled aesthetic that doesn’t lend itself to any sort of melodrama. It feels natural, not only in part by the actors’ methodical performances that breathe authenticity, but also in the way the film directs itself. It’s a slow-burn that doesn’t feel like a burn at all, and its pacing is smooth as the story progresses forward. The bits and pieces of information added are placed effortlessly as the mystery begins to unveil itself. The drama is nice and not excessive. Lake Mungo, like I said again, feels natural. And its in this natural feeling that makes it such a captivating watch.

Lake Mungo is not your typical horror film. It’s much more than that. It’s a film that gives you that adrenaline feeling of being suddenly aware of your surroundings while also allowing for you to analyze and sympathise with a down-to-earth story. It’s through this this storytelling that makes it so brilliant.

Grade: A

Trollhunter is pure entertainment, and that’s a good thing

Trollhunter is one of the most gorgeous found-footage films I have ever seen. Set in the lushes landscapes of Norway, Trollhunter depicts three college students filming a Trollhunter’s job. It isn’t anything complex, and it doesn’t need to be. Trollhunter‘s specialty isn’t in being thematically dense; it’s specialty lies in being pure, unfiltered entertainment sprinkled with beautiful and natural cinematography. It’s immersive nature is delivered through its road trip vibe, but it never uses it as a crutch as it does contain an interesting story filled with thorough world-building and characters that drive the plot forward in a favorable direction. The film is absolutely packed with the adrenaline feeling of being in that adventure yourself, and that feeling is delivered perfectly. The story paves the way for an enjoyable ride, and the characters, in particular the Trollhunter, are fun to watch.  With a lot of movies being either successful or unsuccessful at creating something complex, or being just plain lazy and generic, Trollhunter manages to distance itself away from those two aspects and lets itself be the wonderful entertainment that it is. And I applaud it for it.

Grade: B