Movie review: Lost River [2014]

Ryan Gosling made a movie, and Warner Brothers paid for it. This is what he turned in: a nightmarish portrait of urban decay, reimagining  Detroit as a rural ghost town. Billy (Christina Hendricks), down on her luck and behind on her mortgage, takes a job dancing at a giallo-inspired burlesque theater, run by the sinister Dave (Ben Mendelsohn). Her son Bones (Iain de Caestecker) scours abandoned buildings and steals copper to sell on the black market, running afoul of the sadistic Bully (Matt Smith). Their neighbor Rat (Saiorse Ronan) lives with her elderly grandmother (Barbara Steele) and pet rat Nick. Not too far away lies an underwater town populated by dinosaurs, where streetlamps rise out of the reservoir.

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Movie review: The Conspiracy [2012]

Has conspiracy theory gone mainstream? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, but its popularity certainly seems to be on the rise, having gone beyond speculating who really might have killed JFK. These days, everyone seems to have a friend who believes the 9/11 attacks were an inside job or a relative convinced the Sandy Hook shootings were a “false flag” operation. The chairman of the Senate Environment Committee believes that global climate change is a hoax, or at least he did in 2003, and he gives very little reason to believe he’s changed his mind since then. The time is ripe for a movie like The Conspiracy.

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Movie review: Starry Eyes [2014]

Hollywood is the ultimate horror-movie town. It’s got a sinister history, is populated with low-lifes, creeps and weirdoes of every stripe, and is full to overflowing with metaphor. Already this year we’ve seen David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars (which I reviewed for Cinema Axis), which envisioned Hollywood as a ghost town. But there’s more than one way to skin a starlet, and Cronenberg’s influence is evident in Starry Eyes, which marries a classic tale of greed and ambition with the new “vaginal” style of body-horror à la Contracted and Thanatomorphose.

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Movie review: It Follows [2014]

It’s hard to believe, at first glance, that there might be anything particularly special about It Follows. Suburban teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself stalked by a malicious supernatural entity after having sex with her boyfriend (Jake Weary). Chuck in the pulsing, throbbing synth score, and you get nothing you haven’t already seen a thousand times, right?

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Movie review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [2014]

Bad City: a decaying ghost city populated by restless loners, lost souls, and exploitative creeps. Arash works his fingers to the bone for years to buy a vintage hot rod, only to lose it to a crime lord who claims it as payment for his junkie father’s debts. Atti, an aging prostitute (if 30 counts as “aging”), dreams a dream of escape that seems more ephemeral with each passing day. Party kids dose heavily and lose themselves in swirls of dance and EDM. And in the shadows, she lurks, the hijab-clad vampire girl, prowling the streets at night.

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Movie review: The Last House on Cemetery Lane [2015]

Judging from his IMDB page, Andrew Jones, the writer/director of The Last House on Cemetery Lane, seems to be something of a one-man British version of the Asylum: his CV includes titles such as Valley of the WitchThe Amityville Asylum and the upcoming Poltergeist Activity. I’m not sure that’s actually true, but it’s as good a theory as any to explain Cemetery Lane’s myriad flaws, from its generic title to its overly-familiar premise.

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Excursions into uncomfortable cinema