Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Wicked Web: Infested (2024) Review

Director: Sébastien Vanicek

Notable Cast: Théo Christine, Sofia Lesaffre, Finnegan Oldfield, Jérôme Niel, Lisa Nyarko, Marie-Philomène Nga, Emmanuel Bonami, Abdellah Moundy, Mahamadou Sangare, Xing Xing Cheng


If you don’t like spiders, you should skip this one. Regardless, it would be best if you were warned that this is one of the best creepy-crawly films I’ve ever seen. Sébastien Vanicek makes his feature film directorial debut with Infested (Vermines in the original French) with a shiver-inducing tour de force that will leave audiences itching and staring into the dark spaces of their homes for years to come. After the success of his debut, Vanicek has been tapped to direct the next Evil Dead film, showing a meteoric trajectory for this young terrifier.


Kaleb (Théo Christine, Play 2019, Gran Turismo 2023) struggles to make ends meet and find meaning in his gritty urban life in Paris. After his mother's death, he and his sister Lila (Sofia Lesaffre, Lila Ganglands 2021, Les Misérables 2019) struggle to manage their meager inheritance, which Kaleb looks to subsidize by fencing shoes of questionable sourcing and pursue his lifelong dream of opening a reptile and insect zoo.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Directors in Focus: Kim Sung-soo | The Flu (2013)

Director: Kim Sung-soo

Notable Cast: Jang Hyuk, Soo Ae, Park Min-ha, Yoo Hai-jin, Ma Dong-seok, Lee Hee-jun, Cha In-pyo

Ten years after Director Kim made Please Teach Me English, he emerged from the shadows to unleash his most commercial effort to date, the disaster blockbuster, The Flu. Admittedly, this was around the time I had become introduced to the director; even though I had seen Beat quite a few years prior, I just was unaware of who he was and hadn't made the connection at this point in time. In his decade of absence from film, Kim dedicated his time to teaching more extensively at university to aspiring young visionaries. Still, the world definitely hankering for a comeback, and while stylistically, this may not be what the diehard fans of the esteemed director were waiting for, The Flu came out swinging at the box office, and was smashing success for the team. Regardless of the popularity or the anticipation of one of Korea's film giants returning to directing, how does the quality of this piece hold up? Upon revisiting this one, which I liked before, and living in a post-COVID world, let's just say how this all unfolds onscreen, I found it all the more harrowing and challenging to watch this go around.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

All You Have to Do Is Listen: Monolith (2024) Review

Director: Matt Vesely

Notable Cast: Lily Sullivan


There are ways to balance a budget for a film. Limited locations, limited characters, limited visuals. All of these are valid ways of telling a story as long as the creativity in its narrative can carry the weight of the film. Yet, it’s shocking how far Monolith takes it. One star. One location. And that’s essentially it. It’s about as minimalist as possible before someone starts filming in the void. And since it’s about a podcaster, one might argue that it does occur in the void. 


Still, as Monolith unfolds, it's strangely hypnotic following a journalist's investigation, played by Lily Sullivan, about mysterious black “bricks” that have been arriving at various people’s homes. Slowly (very, very slowly) but surely, the narrative adds subtle layers to its mystery. It’s a film that asks many questions, rarely provides answers, and loves manipulating the information provided to its audience through the questions the main character asks—or doesn’t ask.