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LFF 2020 Review: Possessor

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London Film Festival is almost over and there’s been a lot of good stuff over the last couple of weeks. The 64th BFI London Film Festival has been all across the UK, inviting you to experience the world’s best new films wherever you are. Twelve days of UK premieres available to enjoy online via BFI Player or in cinemas at BFI Southbank, around London, and throughout the UK.

Possessor (also known as Possessor: Uncut) is the latest film from Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg, who’s known by horror enthusiasts as the king of body horror. Brandon has clearly learnt from the best as could be seen from his 2012 debut film Antiviral starring Caleb Landry Jones. Brandon’s second feature film, Possessor premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January and was released in America and Canada on October 2nd. I managed to catch an early preview of it at London Film Festival before it’s UK release at the end of November.

The film follows Andrea Riseborough’s Tasya Vos, an agent who inhabits other people’s bodies through a new technology and in doing so she commits assassinations to benefit her company. But slowly she starts to lose control over the system and finds herself trapped in the mind of Christopher Abbott’s Colin when trying to kill his father (Sean Bean).

Right from the start Possessor is a very gruesome and gory film. It opens with a very brutal and bloody killing that throws us straight into the futuristic world of the film. If the name Cronenberg on the poster didn’t already tell you, within minutes, we know that this film is not going to be one for the faint-hearted. The premise of the film is a little over the top, with the whole idea of inhabiting other people’s bodies and being able to control them. But it’s one that Cronenberg handles with ease and skill. As well as gore.

The film is disturbing but it’s carried out in a stylish manner so that it never really feels too disturbing. If you’re not a horror fan, or if you’re not someone that can handle much gore, then this isn’t a film for you. But if you relish the films of David Cronenberg then you should definitely seek out Brandon’s film.

Whilst the film does have its ultra-violent moments, there’s more to it than that; Andrea Riseborough gives a good performance in the lead role and helps bring life to the main character and the world the film takes place in as well as the bodies Tasya takes over. There are a lot of interesting ideas to unpack in this film and whilst Cronenberg doesn’t really get a chance to deal with them all in sufficient detail, he takes a good stab at it.

Overall, Brandon Cronenberg has created a film that’s a clear step up from his debut film and a welcome addition to the body horror genre that leaves you shocked but also excited to see what he goes on to make next.

3.5/5

Possessor is released in U.K. cinemas on November 27.

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LFF 2020 Review: Rose: A Love Story

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London Film Festival is well underway and there’s a lot of good stuff available now and coming your way over the next few days. The 64th BFI London Film Festival is all across the UK, inviting you to experience the world’s best new films wherever you are. Twelve days of UK premieres are available to enjoy online via BFI Player or in cinemas at BFI Southbank, around London, and throughout the UK.

Before I get into it, I do want to highlight that it’s quite hard to talk about this film without giving it away or spoiling anything. This review will be completely spoiler-free so you don’t have to worry about spoilers however the review might be a little brief or vague as I don’t want to divulge any key points or anything that could ruin the viewing experience for you.

 

Rose: A Love Story is the directorial debut from Jennifer Sheridan and once film starts it instantly hooks you with a very interesting premise. Rose (Sophie Rundle) and her husband Sam (Matt Stokoe) live in a secluded woodland where Rose spends her time writing and Sam tends to vegetables and attempts to trap rabbits. But there’s a deeper mystery to their lives. We don’t really get any backstory for either of our two main characters and yet it doesn’t matter. Right from the start, you have questions you want answered and it keeps you hooked. We don’t know much about what’s going on but nonetheless we are intrigued to find out more.

However, whilst the film opens well and you want to know where it’s going, it doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. It’s a horror film although there isn’t a whole lot of horror in it which is a little disappointing. I was expecting a few more scares from the film than were delivered. I might even go so far as to say it’s also a drama film and it isn’t completely a horror. And it does walk some well-known horror tropes to the point that you can see where it’s going before it gets there if you‘re a horror film enthusiast.

As a result of all this, as well as some pacing issues in the second act, it does start to get a bit dull. The ending is good but not great because I found myself being able to predict where it was going and what was going to happen.

Even though the film was made pre-COVID-19, there are some interesting ideas regarding isolation and cabin fever in this film- and there are even face masks too!

Overall, Rose: A Love Story starts off with a really strong set-up but ends up doing very little with it making the rest of the film somewhat uninteresting and creating a rather predictable conclusion.

2.5/5

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#Alive – Is More Than A Regular Zombie Movie If You Look At It That Way

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I must survive.

 

I had nothing but words of praise for the movie “The night eats the World” or “La Nuit a dévoré le monde”. A quirky film about a Parisian who suddenly wakes up in a Paris occupied by zombies. “#Alive” (original title “#Saraitda”) is the South Korean version. The only difference is that the zombies are portrayed more explicitly here. About the French version, I said that non-zombie movie aficionados could watch it without worrying about leaving skid marks in their underwear every time such a hollow-eyed creature appears around the corner. This rule does not apply to “#Alive”.

 

 

Damn viruses.

When Oh Joon-woo (Ah-In Yoo) wakes up early in the morning and crawls behind his PC to continue gaming, he doesn’t realize that the day will turn out very differently than usual. Soon, alarming news reports are broadcasted about a strange disease that is spreading rapidly, causing people to become enraged and attacking fellow citizens with bloodshot eyes. When Joon-woo looks out the window of the apartment, he witnesses this bizarre phenomenon. The young gamer is smart enough not to rush out of the apartment in a panic. Instead, he barricades the front door, makes an inventory of what’s left to eat, and tries to make contact with the outside world. It’s not really a surprise that this isn’t so easy to do.

 

 

Survival of the fittest.

The largest part of the film takes place in the apartment, just like in “La Nuit a dévoré le monde”. You witness how someone has to deal with a life-threatening situation and how they desperately look for a way to escape this situation. Of course, he’s faced with the inevitable. After a while, he is confronted with a lack of food and liquor. The fact that there’s a fully loaded drinks cabinet with liters of spirits can provide short entertainment. But really quenching thirst with it isn’t really recommended. Missing his family and the corresponding loneliness are also starting to weigh heavily. Contact with the outside world is not possible. And keeping a video diary only helps partially.

 

 

Seems he’s not the only survivor.

Time to introduce the next protagonist. Namely the young girl Kim Yoo-bin (Shin-Hye Park) who lives in an apartment right across that from Oh Joon-woo. What follows is a primitive interaction between the two individuals using technical aids such as tablets and a drone. Both have the same goal in mind and that’s surviving. Not that people who have a similar situation in other zombie films don’t have this goal. But instead of going out and trying to find their way through a zombie-plagued society, the two sit quietly in their hideaway and wait for the right time.

 

 

Just give it a try.

#Alive” is not very original and basically shows nothing new. The zombies themselves do look extremely creepy. There are times when things are getting tense. There are also some funny situations to be seen. Towards the end, they added a separate storyline. Some will find this disruptive. On the other hand, I thought it was a successful addition. It brought a bit of variation to the overall story. Maybe the denouement was a bit over-the-top. But overall I could agree with the general tone of this movie. Ultimately, we are now in a similar situation with the COVID pandemic. Of course, there aren’t any zombies. But many people haven’t left their homes for quite some time in the last six months to prevent worse. So, “#Alive” is more than a regular zombie movie if you look at it that way. Are you a fan of zombie flicks such as “La Nuit a dévoré le Monde”? Or to a greater extent also “Zoo”? Well, you should give this South Korean variant a try on Netflix. It’s well worth it.

#Alive” is now available on Netflix

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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The Boat | How Exciting Can A Movie Be In Which A Boat Sails Its Own Course?

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Abandoned
Adrift
Not Alone

 

Obviously, there are more movies about machines suddenly having a will of their own and starting to make life miserable for their fellow humans. For example, in days long gone, there was Herbie, the love bug, who regularly took over the steering wheel without asking. Admittedly, this movie won’t scare you since it was a hilarious family movie. Of a different caliber is the movie “The Car” with a demonic, black Lincoln Continental Mark III car that repeatedly left a rubber trail on the face of an innocent passer-by. Even better and more famous, the glitzy Plymouth Fury ’58 in “Christine”. A car that could restore its wrinkled bodywork to its original condition without hesitating. And it killed those who bothered its owner. You could say that the “Titanic” made quite a few victims as well. But that wasn’t because this mastodon of a boat suddenly started sailing its own course, but rather because an iceberg popped up suddenly. The boat in this movie, on the other hand, is a different story. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

 

 

There’s not much to work with.

It does sound exciting. The film itself wasn’t. But admit. How exciting can a movie be in which a boat sails its own course? And what if there’s a passenger on board who accidentally ended up there? The only thing such a wayward boat can do is try to get that guy off the boat by swinging certain parts in his direction. You can also lock him up in a small room so that he can’t move. But these are eventually all the available possibilities that can be used. Unfortunately, you still have to fill up the rest of the film.

 

 

Rocking the boat.

And that’s what you get the rest of the movie. Uninteresting filler footage. You see how a young fisherman (Joe Azzopardi) leaves his house in the morning and sails his boat across the Maltese azure blue ocean. I suppose to go fishing. I immediately wondered why he had to go so far at sea for this. That aside, because I’m actually a complete layman when it comes to fishing at sea. In any case, he ends up in a fog bank and (literally) bumps into the abandoned sailboat. When he climbs on board to see if anyone is present, he suddenly finds out that his own boat has disappeared. And so he finds himself in a hopeless situation. Completely alone. Without water, without food, and non-working communication tools.

 

 

Nope, it wasn’t exciting for me.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I had a similar feeling about “All is lost”. There’s nothing wrong with the used images. The endless ocean and dark cloud formations are rewarding objects for making timeless images. Even the footage inside the cursed ship (with its limited surface area) looks professional. But a single man on a boat bobbing around, cannot provide lengthy, entertaining conversations. Apart from a bit of grumbling, swearing, and murmuring, there is nothing to be heard in that area here. And at one point it seemed as if the film was repeating itself. The only highlights you could mention are the toilet scene and the storm suddenly coming up. And of course, the acting of the sole protagonist wasn’t bad at all (even if it was limited to staring desperately). But otherwise, in my personal opinion, I thought it was pretty boring. Even the denouement was pretty dull. As if they were also a bit on a wrong track in terms of creativity. That last image of the floating boating on the horizon had the wrong effect on me. It just made me chuckle quietly.

 

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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