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Hunting Emma (2017)

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 Hunting EmmaGentle, beautiful, pacifist Emma witnesses a murder in the wild. Six violent men killing a cop in cold blood. So, they hunt her like an animal in the desolate Karoo. She should have been an easy prey. But life is full of surprises.

Genre : Thriller
Country : South Africa

Cast :
Leandie du Randt : Emma
Neels van Jaarsveld : Bosman
Luan Jacobs : Piet

Director :
Byron Davis

My opinion on “Hunting Emma”

“Geweld kweek geweld.
Ek wil ’n ou hê wat die ander wang kan draai.
’n Gentle ou. Punt.”

Quote from Channel 24 : “Jagveld”. The local skop, skiet and donner flick.

It’s quite obvious that I’d compare this one with the movie “Revenge“, which I’ve seen recently. Both films take place in a searingly hot desert. Once again it’s an innocent, vulnerable young woman who’s being chased by some ruthless men. And just like in “Revenge” these macho’s soon learn that it’s not some stupid blonde chick they are hunting, but a ruthless fighting machine whose father (an ex-soldier) has taught her a few tricks about self-defense and survival techniques. The pursuers are just as stupid and overconfident as in the other mentioned movie. And in “Hunting Emma” there’s also a lot of bloodshed.

My first South African movie ever.

Hunting Emma” or “Jagveld” is different from “Revenge” in all kinds of ways. The acting is not of the same level (although you can discuss about whether or not there’s some kind of acting in a revenge flick). The amount of blood that flows looks credibe. In short, the victims don’t have an inexhaustible blood reserve. The retaliatory actions are reasonably soft. But the main distinction can be found in the used language. I had no idea this was a South African film. You can imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized that I understood quite a bit while watching this film. It’s a juicy mixture of weird sounding Dutch and hip English expressions. I have to admit that I really love this South African language.

Hunting Emma

A perfect working car is necessary in South Africa.

It all starts when Emma le Roux (Leandie du Randt), a beloved school teacher, is on her way to her father Jacques le Roux (Tertius Meintjes), to enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation. Only disaster strikes on the road when her car breaks down. Coincidentally, this is just near the place where Bosman (Neels van Jaarsveld) and his gang arrived after they’ve kidnapped a policeman who stopped them for a routine check. I suppose Bosman and his gang are involved in drug smuggling. Anyway, something they want to keep hidden from the local authority. Emma happens to be in the neighborhood cursing at her her car because of a leaking radiator. That’s when she hears a shot in the distance. Before she knows it, those kooks are chasing her just so they can shut up this annoying witness for good. It’s such a typically composed gang. Bosman, Baz and Jay are the die-hard criminals without any compassion. AJ and Boela are, in my opinion, two wannabe criminals who want to make a quick buck. And Piet (Luan Jacobs) is the wimp of the gang who will shit his pants faster than shooting a real revolver.

Hunting Emma

Not really original, but worth a try.

Despite the shortcomings, I found the end result admirable. Leandie du Randt convinces as the adamant Emma. Just like Jen in “Revenge” she turns out to be a real Lara Croft who suddenly concocts smart diversions and behaves as a fury while outsmarting her attackers. Among the latter are mainly Neels van Jaarsveld with his psychotic traits and softie Luan Jacobs who excell. Maybe this African film borrowed a bit from other films and as a result won’t score high in originality. But it sure radiates Hollywood allure. Karoo film describes the film on their facebook page as follows : ” polsende aksie in ware ‘Quentin Tarantino-styl’ wat die kyker uitdaag” (Pulsating action in true ‘Quentin Tarantino-style’, challenging the viewer). Brilliant. Nie?

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Action

Politically Charged Controversial Trailer For ‘The Hunt’ Has Arrived

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

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Genre:

Thriller, Action

Release Date:

March 13, 2020

Director:

Craig Zobel

Cast:

Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin, Ethan Suplee, J.C. MacKenzie, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley

Plot Summary:

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

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Thriller ‘Knives and Skin’ Cuts Deeper Than Most

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Genre : Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jennifer Reeder

Cast:
Kate Arrington
Tim Hopper
Marika Engelhardt

A small rural town is turned inside out when local student Carolyn Harper goes missing. Despite the best efforts of the suburban sheriff and Carolyn’s mother she cannot be found. As the days go by a wave of fear and distrust slowly begin to seep into the town’s foundations. As more and more townspeople try to figure out how to deal with their shared trauma a collective awakening takes over the town’s youth.

As simple as that synopsis may sound Knives and Skin is so much more. Written and directed by indie favorite Jennifer Reeder (2017’s Signature Move), Knives and Skin is a hard movie to explain. What starts out as a conventional teen thriller becomes a surrealist take that’s two parts Twin Peaks, one-part Rian Johnson’s Brick with a dash of Heathers to help it all go down. And although Knives and Skin is a grounded mystery it tackles so much more including toxic masculinity, LGBTQ issues and shared trauma.

Just as unique is how Reeder and cinematographer Christopher Rejano present their tale of tragedy. Nostalgic for the bright and vibrant look of the 80’s Knives and Skin uses deep blues and reds feel like they belong more in an Argento film than grounded thriller. Just as intricate are the relationships and characterizations of the town’s inhabitants. Mostly focused on Afra (Haley Bolithon), April (Aurora Real de Asua) and Joanna (Grace Smith) the most compelling performance Carolyn’s mother Lisa (Marika Engelhart). Over the course of the film we watch Lisa go from choir teacher and concerned mother to unraveling mess to a weird kind of acceptance. Marika’s performance is able to straddle tightrope between tragic and touching all at the same time.

As unique as Knives and Skin is in presentation it has its drawbacks. By taking inspiration from David Lynch it also replicates his signature acting style. How his style could make a performance feel stacato and suddenly give off a burst of intensity. Or how someone who was a normal teenager in the scene before would do a complete 180 and feel like a nihilistic monster in the next. Although David Lynch has shown that this style of telling a story can work it can just as often feel off putting. Just as confusing is the narrative of the story. Although the story itself is straight forward I found the way it was being told to be a bit jumbled in execution. Needless to say, Knives and Skin isn’t the kind of movie you put on as background noise.

A bit of a sleeper on the festival circuit Knives and Skin emerges as one of the most unique thrillers of the year. Jarring in presentation and story it isn’t for everyone. And that is probably it’s biggest strength. Not only does writer-director Jennifer Reeder show a skill at genre conventions but she also shows a willingness to look at topics we don’t typically talk about in genre cinema. Whether you love it or hate it Knives and Skin will speak to you in some way.

Rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Knives and Skin is now in theaters and on VOD

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HORROR

Little Monsters: “It Was Like A School Project In Which The Creatures Were Played By Fellow Students”

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Can we play the shooty game,Uncle David?
I don’t want us to get in trouble, Felix.
We’ll have to play it with the sound off.

 

Well, there’s always the award “Disappointment of the year”. I’m afraid this year the film “Little Monsters” will take the credits for this. I had regained confidence in the combination of horror and comedy after watching “Monster Party” and “The dead don’t die“. I’ve always had a problem with it when moviemakers mix these two genres. But these last two films managed to rekindle my enthusiasm. Well, “Little Monsters” has nipped that enthusiasm in the bud. There were some highlights in this zombie movie. But overall, I was plagued by a yawning attack and I was constantly annoyed about certain situations.

 

Little Monsters

 

Not my kind of humor.

I do understand that all kinds of new perspectives have to be devised nowadays to make the zombie genre even more interesting. In “The dead don’t die” they largely succeeded in that. But that’s personal taste. Coincidentally this film used the type of humor that I like the most. In “Little Monsters” the humor was generally absent. The absurdist tone of “The dead don’t die” was traded for flat and childish humor. Believe me, the amount of irritation exceeded the allowable level several times. After 2 minutes I was already annoyed by the opening scene where Dave (Alexander England) and his girlfriend constantly yelled at each other. Just like their friends, I felt ashamed on their behalf. And that wasn’t the only time while watching this film.

 

Little Monsters

 

Lupita dazzles.

First, let me list the most positive aspects. Without a doubt, there’s first and foremost the presence of Lupita Nyong’o. This Oscar winner moved me in “12 Years a slave“. And played a hair-raising role in the movie “Us“. In this movie, she’s such a ray of sunlight with that dazzling yellow dress. Probably strategically chosen so it contrasts sharply with the splattered blood. And with her ukulele and catchy version of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off“, it seemed like I was looking at a modern Maria from “The Sound of Music“. Certainly when the entire classroom joins her with the song like a real Von Trapp family. But apart from the fact that she’s very musical and fashion-conscious in this film, you also have to admit that Lupita is simply a beautiful woman. Even if she opens her mouth in a panic and produces an uncontrolled scream with her eyes wide open, she’s still adorable. And she’s actually the funniest one in the film.

 

Little Monsters

 

Dave. An annoying big kid.

To a lesser extent, I also thought Alexander England was pretty good. This irresponsible, sometimes imbecile klutz, is quite annoying at times. But nonetheless, due to his clumsy attitude and behavior (mainly in terms of social skills), he still manages to arouse some sympathy. I found his encounter with Miss Caroline quite endearing. That suddenly emerging urge to seduce this teacher. But then, in the next scene, you see him giving a demonstration of solo sex on the toilet while drooling over a class photo (with school teacher Carolina in it of course) of his nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Would I be a teenager, I would chuckle about this. Now a raised eyebrow was the only result.

 

Little Monsters

 

It’s a zom-com.

This would-be-creepy zom-com also had its charms. The clumsy way in which Dave tries to impress Miss Caroline is quite funny to see. And of course, eventually, she gives in, even though she hates Dave from the start because of his brutal and stupid remarks. And finally, there are a few very funny moments such as the Darth Vader scene and the horde of singing zombies. I got the most spontaneous smile on my face when I saw a bewildered zombie attempting to clap to the rhythm and he found out that both his arms were missing. And here and there there was a pretty good joke or one-liner.

 

Little Monsters

 

A lot of irritating stuff.

But still. Unfortunately, the number of irritating things was overwhelming. I was relieved when this zom-com ended. First of all, I thought the zombies were extremely ridiculous. It was like a school project in which the creatures were played by fellow students. A Wednesday afternoon activity that involves a lot of fun. You can’t call it a horror, in my opinion, because of the lack of tension. The most bloody scenes always take place off-screen. This is probably due to the budget. Perhaps the much-used photo with Lupita covered in blood and those anxious-looking children in the background, raised wrong expectations for me. And as I mentioned before, the humor was missing. But mainly I was annoyed by the figure of Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). Such an annoying character. If I could, I would have personally fed him to those bloodthirsty undead. I know it’s an Australian indie. But to be honest, it looked really cheap (literally as figuratively). The only question I had was: “What’s a famous, talented Hollywood star like Lupita doing in this movie?“.

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB

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