Thursday, April 29, 2021

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Director: Simon McQuoid

Notable Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Mehcad Brooks, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Chin Han, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson, Nathan Jones


Mortal Kombat has a rich history, whether people like to admit it or not. Not only from the ever-expanding series of games that ballooned to include all kinds of crazy shit from fighting tournaments to action-adventure platformers, but to the overall pop cultural impact that was left in the wake of its controversial birth. There have already been two live-action films, a handful of TV shows, and a few animated stories. This is IP with a lot of fans, a lot of skeptics, and a lot of expectations when it comes to a new live-action film being crafted with “the fans'' in mind. 


For 2021’s Mortal Kombat, produced by genre auteur turned populist icon James Wan and directed by Simon McQuoid of - let me check my notes - nothing, the key was finding a balance between everyone’s expectations. A relatively daft task, if we are all being honest with ourselves. Partner that with the insane combination of being one of the first major films to drop into theaters as they start to reopen in the wake of a still ongoing pandemic, and this film was already riding a very tight line even before its release. 


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

In the Earth (2021)

Director: Ben Wheatley

Notable Cast: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires


One of the fascinating things about bold and auteur-focused voices in cinema are that audiences will ebb and flow with their projects. Ben Wheatley, despite bursting from the gates with a handful of positively regarded slabs of artistic genre fair, including the altogether incredible Kill List, has seen his clout come and go with how his audience is able to digest his films in the ways he challenges them. With his latest effort, In the Earth, Wheatley aims to jam in a solid indie and artsy horror flick in between much larger profile projects (Rebecca and The Meg 2, respectively), and the results are as strange and off-kilter as one might expect. Slathered in a naturalism meets acid trip sensibility, where the former eventually succumbs to the latter, In the Earth is a film where the experience directly feeds into its messaging and the execution between the two is experimentation in challenging its viewers to hold their own on the ride. People wanted artsy genre work after everyone bitched about Free Fire? You fuckin’ got it.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021)

Director: Adam Wingard

Notable Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Kaylee Hottle, Demian Bichir, Shun Oguri, Eiza Gonzalez, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler


Well, it’s here. Finally. After three previous films, each one receiving rather mixed reviews and a continually declining box office, the Legendary and Warner Bros. ‘Monsterverse’ culminates in Godzilla Vs. Kong. Yes, that’s correct, the titanic duo come together once again in the monster showdown that was well on its way into production when Godzilla: King of the Monsters struggled at the box office. To its benefit, the long delays to release postponed originally to “allegedly” distance itself from the relative disappointment of the previous film and then a few more times due to the pandemic, have allowed the film to breathe a bit and find its footing. Its surprise success at the theaters, despite premiering day and date on HBOMax, is an indicator of two things: a) that audiences were ready to see a film truly made for the theatrical experience and b) enjoy a film more fine-tuned to deliver on its promises.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Honeydew (2021)

Director: Devereux Milburn

Notable Cast: Malin Barr, Sawyer Spielberg, Barbara Kingsley, Stephen D’Ambrose, Jamie Bradley, Lena Dunham


The love letters to past horror styles recently have been, to some degree, all-consuming. All art influences art further down the spectrum, but the intentional replication of past decades by young filmmakers is certainly an overarching theme in horror as of late. Fortunately, most films that attempt that approach are not just recreating the choices of previous cinema, but are often remixing it. Honeydew, the debut feature from director and writer Devereux Milburn, is one more film to reach for that blend. Combining elements of 1970s rural terror with a sly, modern angle on the material is the name of the game for this flick. The mixture proves to be impeccably intriguing, particularly as the film is laying the groundwork, but it’s also one that promises far more than it can fulfill by its finale.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Unholy (2021)

Director: Evan Spiliotopoulos

Notable Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Cricket Brown, William Sadler, Cary Elwes


Dropping a Christianity-based religious horror film is a relatively regular occurrence, but having the audacity to release it to theaters on Easter weekend is priceless. That’s just what happened with The Unholy, the latest venture into horror for Sam Raimi’s Ghost House, and the directorial debut of Evan Spiliotopoulos. Although that release date angle is certainly a tasty morsel on its own merits, The Unholy as a modern horror venture is an act of mistitling. Technically, yes, the film is about an unholy witch, but it’s a film that should have the more apt title, The Unmemorable. It’s a shame. There are quite a few intriguing elements to the film, but it’s overly reliant on hitting the formula beats and shoehorning in jump scares to make up for a lack of cohesive narrative, plot, and atmosphere. 


Sunday, April 4, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast: Klaatu Barata Necktie (Evil Dead Franchise Part II)

Today there is a discussion of the long-time fan favorite Army of Darkness, AND Sean and Matt discuss the finer points of the remake.

Spoiler alert, the finer points are violence.

Also, Sean and Matt discuss the brilliance of Fede Alvarez, why Evil Dead fans are terrible at showing up to things when they need to, ask the hard questions about Ash's skillsets, and drop their rankings for the Evil Dead franchise - which features not one, but TWO controversial decisions. 

So strap on your chainsaw, pick up your Chemistry 101 textbook, cut off the barbed wire on your book, and listen to the NFF's finale on the Evil Dead franchise.