Monday, 10 November 2014

Shocktober 2014

It has become customary for the month of October (retitled 'Shocktober'), to celebrate the Halloween season by embarking upon a 31 horror films in 31 days challenge. This year I went with a theme of 31 horror films from 31 different years. These were watched in a random, non-chronological order, but there had to be a minimum of 31 films from 31 entirely different years (including at least one film from every decade from the 1930s onwards) viewed across the entire month. The dates I used for films were the ones given on IMDB, just to avoid any confusion.
The full criteria of the 'Shocktober' challenge including details of other people who took part and the shortlist I eventually chose (although I did deviate from it slightly) can be found on my Letterboxd HERE. The following are the films I eventually watched listed in chronological order and on the main list below in the actual order I watched them during the month, just managing to fit them all in by cramming four films in on the final day of Halloween itself! I have also included my post-viewing Twitter mini-reviews here for each film also.......................

EQUINOX (1970)
TORSO (1973)
THE PIT (1981)
BRUISER (2000)
FEAR X (2003)
EVIL DEAD (2013)


(1980) (USA)
Motel Hell: Grisly gallows humour, more EC Comics in tone than hardcore horror, topped off with that iconic chainsaw pig climax.
(1990) (FRANCE)
Baby Blood: A mad maternal murder spree ensues in absurdist French horror about a parasitic pregnancy. Sleazy, splattery fun.
(2011) (CANADA) 
Father's Day: Boundless energy & ambition on a sparse budget. Crazy, crude, incredibly rough-hewn but spirited splatterfest. 
(1963) (ITALY)
Black Sabbath: A trilogy of terror of Gothic ghostliness. Exquisitely composed - a masterclass of atmosphere, design, sound & vivid colour.
(1994) (USA)
In The Mouth Of Madness: Agreeably insane mix of literary influences moulded into nightmarish paranoid vision of mental meltdown.
Mosquito The Rapist: Disturbing descent into depravity & defilement, handles troubling subject with almost childlike innocence. A perverse gem.

(1970) (USA)
Equinox: Amazing B-movie curio. Hybrid of Lovecraftian demonology, Harryhausen like stop motion monsters & a plot which echoes The Evil Dead.
(I973) (ITALY)
Torso: Textbook Giallo ,its currency is naked female flesh, black gloved psychos & sudden bursts of savage violence. Lush & lascivious.
(1976) (USA)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976): Evocative small town period setting in otherwise unremarkable sack-headed psycho drama with clumsy comedic moments.
(2008) (AUSTRALIA)
Lake Mungo: Sombre, unsettling, stunningly shot & seriously eerie pseudo documentary which archives supernatural mystery in midst of grief.
(1945) (UK)
Dead Of Night: Quaint & melodramatic anthology by today's standards, but still sends shivers down the spine & the climax is a horror classic.

(2003) (USA / CANADA)
Fear X : Haunting & downbeat psychological thriller about compulsive obsession with unsettling streak of surrealism & ambiguity.
(2010) (HONG KONG)
Dream Home: Capitalist aspiration in guise of extreme violence. Satirical bite, social subtext & splatter. Demented & different.
(1935) (USA)
Bride Of Frankenstein: The pinnacle of Universal's horror classics - ambitious, impressionistic, subversive. A timeless, moving masterpiece.
(1981) (USA / CANADA)
The Pit: A psychopathic version of Where The Wild Things Are. Dementedly warped & perversely inappropriate adolescent dark fantasy. Amazing!
(1999) (SPAIN)
The Nameless: A doom-laden brew of procedural investigation mystery & occultism horror. Bleak & barren with a portentous sense of dread.
(1986) (SPAIN) 
In A Glass Cage: Powerful, problematic, perverse. Relentlessly bleak & increasingly harrowing. A really tough watch, but a morbid masterpiece.

(1967) (USA)
Spider Baby: The inbred Addams Family - influential & insane, a warped cult classic sitting at crossroads of classic & modern horror cinema.
(1967) (ITALY)
Kill Baby Kill: Bava's Gothic ghost tale is a fever dream of misty graveyards, kaleidoscopic spiral staircases & chilling child apparitions.
(1992) (USA)
The Vagrant: Paranoia turns to hysteria in manic comedy / horror as a mental meltdown becomes increasingly more slapstick & surreal in tone.

(1982) (USA)
One Dark Night: Mean Girls with 'psychic vampirism'. Cheesy 80's horror is a bit one note, but mildly chilling & claustrophobic in parts.
(1954) (USA)
Creature From The Black Lagoon: Universal's last great creature feature, superb underwater sequences & one of greatest ever monster designs. A classic.
(2000) (USA)
Bruiser: Its core masked metaphor of a man devoid of identity is a bit laboured, but as a payback fable of a downtrodden drone it delivers.

(1991) (USA)
The People Under The Stairs: Craven's satirical suburban shocker mixes dark humour & demented horror in wickedly warped fairytale framework.
(1989) (USA)
The Dead Pit: One Flew Over The Corpses' Nest - great location & some ominous atmosphere but shuffles like the undead for its first hour.
(2002) (FRANCE)
Malefique: Offbeat & original, a paranormal prison drama with well-etched eccentric characterisation & a nicely nasty sinister streak.
(1987) (USA / CANADA)
Invasion Of The Bodysuckers: Typically grungy n' gooey 80's creature feature. The impressive giant bug is far more animated than Steve Railsback.
(2014) (USA)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014): Works as both a meta slasher cleverly riffing on the original film & a superior remake with a harder horror edge.
(2013) (USA)
Evil Dead (2013): I stand by my original assessment - a different beast to the original, but a properly brutal hardcore horror film. I really rate it.

(1988) (USA)
Pumpkinhead: Plays out like a grotesque fairytale. Superb creature FX & lingering Gothic atmosphere. Pity Winston didn't direct more movies.
(1978) (USA)
Halloween (1978): What more needs to be said? A masterpiece of horror cinema, Carpenter's classic stands up to endless repeat viewings.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Faux Frightfest 2014

After missing out on this year's annual Frightfest shindig in London's glitzy Leicester Square, due to the utter shambles which was The Vue Cinema's online / phone booking system (which went into predictable meltdown the day tickets went on sale, and duly remained an absolute farce throughout), being obviously bitter and twisted, I decided to curate my very own 'Faux Frightfest' over the same August Bank Holiday weekend as the genuine article, as a means of easing my resentment, and keeping up with new releases in the ever evolving world of horror cinema.

Programming twenty new and recent horror / genre films from around the world proved to be quite fun, and a bit of a gamble as all were to be first time watches, so frankly quality was far from guaranteed (in that respect, mirroring the real Frightfest then!). I chose a selection of films which were either screening at this year's Frightfest (The Den, Dead Snow 2, Coherence etc), had been shown at recent previous Frightfest events, such as this year's Glasgow Frightfest (Mindscape, Torment), or last year's main London bash or Halloween all-nighter (After, Soulmate etc). Other titles were mainly gathered from well-received screenings shown at various other regional and international horror / fantasy film festivals (Found, Rigor Mortis etc). The films programmed were made up from a selection of retail / rental / import / screener & VOD sources, and went a little like this, with my post-viewing Twitter mini-reviews included here for each film.......................


(2013) (USA) (81mins)  
The Den: Ingeniously merges current online & horror cinema trends to form suspenseful & sinister zeitgeist grabbing cyber-stalk & slasher.

(2014) (JAPAN) (86mins)
Gun Woman: Heroically deranged & depraved orgy of cartoonish sex, sleaze & splatter with a hardcore taboo-busting agenda.Gloriously extreme.

(2014) (NORWAY) (100mins)
Dead Snow 2: Far more comedic than previously. A cavalcade of creative cadaverous carnage & inspired comic-book splatter. An absolute blast.

(2014) (USA) (85mins)
Alien Abduction: Not quite 'Dire In The Sky', but fails to capitalise on initially eerie build-up & camcorder FF conceit rapidly wears thin.


(2013) (USA) (89mins)
All Cheerleaders Die: Tonally ramshackle, entertainingly madcap subversion of high school horror, even if it's essentially Jennifer's Bodies.

(2013) (USA) (89mins)
Coherence: Labyrinthine lo-fi / high concept mindbending sci-fi, cultivates a warped reality of escalating paranoia & cryptic perception.

(2013) (USA) (84mins)
Delivery: Rosemary's Baby for the reality TV era. Nothing groundbreaking, but manages to raise a few shivers & the climax genuinely shocks.

(2014) (USA) (91mins)
Life After Beth: An indie-spirited Warm Bodies, with manic sense of absurdity & surprising emotional depth. Enjoyably offbeat & affecting.
(2013) (HONG KONG) (105mins)
Rigor Mortis: Jiangshi revival / supernatural portmanteau set in gloomy apartment block. Beautifully shot, visually rich, pedestrian paced.



(2013) (SPAIN / FRANCE) (112mins)
Witching & Bitching: Agreeably barking mad supernatural battle of sexes, bit ragged, but inspired lunacy & visual flair prevail. Bitchin'!

(2012) (USA) (90mins)
After: An intriguing mystery unravelling in the subconscious with deviations from expected plot & sensitively handled central relationship.

(2014) (USA) (91mins)
At The Devil's Door: Slow burn Satanic shocker, switches focus between leads & has some mood & menace, but drags its cloven hooves terribly.

(2012) (USA) (103mins)
Found: Raw & rough edged, this controversy-baiting indie pulls few punches with its grim vision of a psychotic sibling & copycat violence.

(2013) (JAPAN) (100mins)
R100: A fetishistic fantasy, grief & guilt manifested in a series of increasingly perverse & surreal encounters as the 4th wall shatters.


(2013) (UK) (104mins)
Soulmate: Low key & leisurely, an old fashioned, mournful, melancholic ghost story more concerned with character & mood than cheap scares.

(2014) (USA) (86mins)
Crawl Or Die: Micro-budget creature feature throwback. 90 mins of monotonous crawling about in dark confined spaces. Tedious tunnel-vision.
(2013) (CANADA) (80mins)
Torment: Formulaic home invasion fare, essentially You're Next minus genre-savvy smarts. Katherine Isabelle in scream queen mode is a bonus.
(2013) (USA / SPAIN / FRANCE) (99mins)
Mindscape: Absorbing psychological chiller of paranormal psycho analysis. Treads familiar ground, but with assured footing & a classy cast.

(2012) (FRANCE) (75mins)
Dead Shadows: Parisian Night Of The Comet/Lovecraftian apocalypse. Feels rushed & televisual but at barely 70 mins doesn't outstay welcome.

(2014) (UK) (90mins) 
The Last Showing: Obsolescence turns to psychosis as embittered Englund goes One Hour Photo in cat & mouse multiplex manipulation & murder.

Friday, 3 January 2014

2013 - A Year In Film In 140 Characters Or Less

2013 is like so last year already! But for my own benefit more than anything else, here's all my mini-reviews I published on my Twitter account for films I saw last year handily gathered together in one place. This is by no means every film I saw, but just the titles which I felt compelled to post a succinct '140 characters or less' verdict upon. For the full list of films I saw and logged in 2013 click this link for my Letterboxd Film Diary 2013. For my latest Twitter reviews you can follow me here: @M_R_Movie.

In Alphabetical Order: 

2 Guns: Slick & snappy with whip sharp wisecracking chemistry between its leads & a deceptively complex plot. Feels like a Tony Scott joint.

13  Eerie: Unusual location aside it's pretty run of the mill splattery zombie fare. Seen a lot worse but nothing to distinguish it. Average.

100 Bloody Acres: Gore & guffaws in Ozploitation splatstick with inspired & unexpected character dynamics & gleeful gallows humour.

A Field In England: Kaleidoscopic cocktail of Ken Russell-like surrealism. A metaphysical monochrome mindfuck, defies convention or category.

After Earth: Ill-conceived & idiotic vanity project by the Smith dynasty. A dreary, nonsensical sci-fi slog devoid of logic or impact.

Aftershock: Lewd, crude, tasteless, relentlessly piles on the misery. It's The Impossible with added rape. Lowbrow, grim & trashy.

A Good Day To Die Hard: Not great, but not a complete disaster either, even if it's main fault is it's resolutely NOT a Die Hard film.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints: Feels like a film from another era, but its themes & emotions are timeless. A poignant rustic tale of sacrifice.

Alan Partridge-Alpha Papa: Faithfully maintains parochial naffness & excruciating awkwardness of the TV show. Hilarious. Radio Gravy.

Amer: Arcane, seductive, achingly artistic ode to eurosleaze surrealism & style. A feast for the senses, a famine for coherent narrative.

Antiviral: Conceptually rich, astute & grotesque. Totally nails the ideas-driven, metaphorical bio-shock of Cronenberg Snr's early work.

Apartment 143: Perfectly functional faux documentary that'd be lot more effective if we hadn't seen it all before in Paranormal Activity etc.

Bad Grandpa: Uneven clash of styles. Dramatic interplay between Knoxville & kid works better than the trailer spolied gags. Very hit & miss.

Bad Milo: Toilet humour meets body horror as corporate stress & anxiety manifests itself in demonic form. Crudely comical B-movie fatuity.

Banshee Chapter: From Beyond meets Fear & Loathing. Crazed compendium of conspiracy claptrap & Mkultra mad science. A fun narcotic nightmare.

Beautiful Creatures: A generic blend of romance & angst with oddly puritanical streak. Tends to get rather bogged down in its own mysticism.

Before Dawn: Interesting & intimate British zombie horror. An atmospheric slow-burning approach building increasingly bleak & brutal.

Beneath: Aquatic horror with hidden depths. It's a monster movie as metaphor for protagonists' downward spiral into moral decay & murder.

Big Ass Spider: Tongue in cheek creature feature that delivers on its absurd premise & is a film my inner 9 year old prefers to Pacific Rim!

Bounty Killer: Deliriously entertaining ode to VHS-era exploitation, Mad Max rip-offs, spaghetti westerns & Russ Meyer. B-movie nirvana!

Bullet To The Head: Clumsy, clichéd incredibly generic throwback action fodder that has all the hackneyed traits of a direct to DVD release.

Byzantium: Mature & melancholic, a haunting revisionist take on vampire lore & a poignant study of maternal blood ties & self-sacrifice.

Captain Phillips: From exhilarating boarding to white-knuckle hostage siege Greengrass milks every drop of nerve-shredding tension. Superb.

Carrie: Plenty of blood but very little soul. As an original film it would be bland & perfunctory, as a remake of a classic it's worthless.

CBGB: Flimsy, fanciful, factually inaccurate. Takes a literal comic book approach, lacks veracity but vitality of the music shines through.

Cloud Atlas: A sprawling cinematic conundrum, epic in scope, endless visionary ambition, a multiplicity of ideas unified by theme of freedom.

Come Out And Play: Almost identikit remake of Who Can Kill A Child. Effective if you’ve not seen original, pointless & derivative if you have.

Community: Reactionary urban slum set horror lazily exploits Daily Mail derived phobias of feral youths, drugs & an evil underclass. Grim.

Contracted: Grisly cautionary tale plays out as body horror with a knowing black-toothed grin, escalates towards a gross & inspired payoff.

Crawlspace: A so-so subterranean shocker with over-familiar B movie plot used in endless other STV cheapies (Shadowzone, Mindripper etc).

Curse Of Chucky: Savvy & sprightly series reboot, goes back to basics whilst cleverly ingraining itself in previously explored mythology.

Dark Skies: Somewhat predictable Paranormal Activity meets Communion crossbreed, but manages to maintain an effective sense of creepy unease.

Dark Touch: Celtic twist on Carrie, concerned with the ongoing trauma of child abuse & the scars inflicted. Oppressive & terribly earnest.

Dark Tourist: Intense, gritty road trip into a psychotic abyss. Somber, brooding & austere with extremely fine performances through.

Django Unchained: The best & worst of Tarantino - superb performances, dazzling setpieces & sizzling dialogue yet overlong & self-indulgent.

Drinking Buddies: The complex rules of attraction & dynamics of relationships. A leisurely, organic, but incredibly slight slice of life.

Elysium: Bold & ambitious in scope & design. It’s a captivating class-war with cyberpunk trimmings, which doesn't quite fulfill its potential.

Escape From Tomorrow: Its desire to be incongruous is a bit forced, but cultivates a sinister sense of decay beneath outwardly shiny facade.

Escape Plan: Solidly entertaining & well-structured thriller, with surprising amount of character & chemistry amidst its retro action beats.

Europa Report: Technically impressive low budget space oddity, but yields few surprises & definitely suffers from being seen after Gravity.

Evil Dead: Different tonally & stylistically to original, but refreshingly hardcore & unsanitised. Ferocious, full on, but crucially no fun.

Filth: A full-on affront to decency & good taste through a hyper reality descent into depravity & delirium. A career-best McAvoy is immense.

Flight: Terrifically tense crash sequence & raw powerhouse performance from Washington get lost in a meandering moral & emotional conflict.

Frankenstein's Army: Threadbare, episodic plot enriched by succession of brilliantly grotesque steampunk creature designs. Fun if throwaway.

Fright Night 2: Strictly 2nd division bloodsucker bilge, but has great cell animation sequence midway through. Pity whole film wasn't so.

Gallowwalkers: Makes not an iota of sense, but has skewed style to burn. A bloodthirsty & brilliantly bonkers ode to Leone & Jodorowsky.

Gambit: More farcical than farce. A charmless, witless, messy misfire of grating accents, risible racial stereotypes & outdated slapstick.

Gangster Squad: Big on brutality, slight on substance. Almost comic book in approach. Stylish & superficial, enjoyable despite shallowness.

Getaway: A dumb, directionless, dismal misfire in the form of one elongated car chase sequence which revs up tedium instead of tension.

G.I.Joe-Retaliation: A series of setpieces of varying spectacle loosely linked by a frequently absurd plot that teeters towards incoherence.

Going To Pieces: Nothing profound or academic, but comprehensive slasher doc covering classics & minor titles with abundance of great clips.

Good Vibrations: Evocative, uplifting, buzzing with maverick energy. Music as a unifying force against a backdrop of chaos & conflict. Magical.

Gravity: Visually astonishing. Emotionally sapping. Technically revolutionary. Cinema as a pure immersive experience. Believe the hype!

Hammer Of The Gods: Makes most of its modest budget but it's a plodding, ponderous journey into the Heart Of Darkness. Valhalla Snoozing.
Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters: Brash, boisterous, camp, ill-disciplined & wildly misjudged, yet a thoroughly undemanding brainless blast.

Hatchet 3: Absurd levels of gore & viscera as this plays it largely for laughs. This series has descended into self-parody in record time.

Haunter: Absorbing twist on ghost story which comes at its subject from an unusual angle. Too many ideas to sustain tension but a worthy try.

Here Comes The Devil: A simmering intensity & unsettling undercurrent of chilling unease. Eerie & unusual with a powerful dramatic core.

Hitchcock: Lightweight & unfocused, neither a biopic, filmmaking insight or psychological study it borders on dreary soap opera.

House At The End Of Street: As formulaic, predictable & underwhelming as feared. By the numbers teen drama with diluted horror undertones.

Hummingbird: Statham flexes acting chops in a film of emotional & physical bruises. An urban redemption tale played out in Western clichés.

Hypothermia: A total throwback to 80’s style VHS-era men in rubber suit monster movies. Dumb, gory but nostalgic fun.

Insidious Chapter 2: Bland & by the numbers, bereft of scares & surprises, indistinguishable from any other mainstream horror for the masses.

In Their Skin: Strong opening, creepy build-up descends into formulaic home invasion horror cliché. Well played, some menace but unremarkable.

Iron Man 3: A Shane Black film 1st. Marvel film 2nd. Smart, slick, sarcastic. Best of series & underlines how plodding Favreau's films were.

It's In The Blood: Superior indie with real artistic prowess, gradually unravels layers of psychological torment used as metaphorical horror.

Jack Reacher: Modestly complex & engaging thriller hampered by fact Cruise is totally miscast. Herzog’s oddball villain dominates proceedings.

Jack The Giant Slayer: Devoid of camp lunacy of H&G Witch Hunters this feels languid, laborious & crucially lacking in fantasy or adventure.

Jug Face: Bizarro backwoods grotesquery with askew air of rustic ritualistic oddness. Crazier than a moonshine-addled a good way.

Kick Ass 2: Lacks vitality & freshness of original. Rather uneven in tone & more mean-spirited, but there's still some solid material here.

Killing Season: Ham-fisted polemic on the horrors & futility of war, in guise of repetitive survivalist yarn with sadism & silly accents.

Killing Them Softly: Bleak & brooding 70s inspired crime movie, which uses recession as a backdrop to decay & downward spiral in the mob.

Kiss Of The Damned: Radiates with sensual opulence of classic Gothic euro-horror. Sleazy, stylish, dripping with decadence & a great score.

Lincoln: Worthy, wordy & earnest. Stylistically subdued. Great performances but reliance on drawn out dialogue renders pacing arthritic.

Lovelace: Seyfried & Sarsgaard excel in a strangely skewed & somewhat passive biopic which struggles to find a tonal or moral standpoint.

Machete Kills: A lazy, disorderly, disappointing sequel - little more than a rambling series of cameos, CGI splatter & repetitive setpieces.

Mama: Serviceable shocker if hardly groundbreaking. The dark fairytale elements work best. Chastain adds touch of quality to proceedings.

Man Of Steel: An unruly cacophony of styles & themes. Moments of reflection & brilliance lost in an orgy of excess & destruction.

McCullin: Eloquent, enlightening, harrowing. A 'conscience with a camera', a life in pictures exposing raw truth of war, famine & poverty.

Mimesis Night Of Living Dead: Great concept, largely under-explored & sadly mishandled in clumsy attempt at cine-literate post-modern horror.

Mud: Superb Southern rites of passage fable, rich in character & detail. Beautifully portrays fragility & complexity of trust & companionship.

No One Lives: Plays in clichés, but subverts them brilliantly. A full-throttle gory exploitation film of rare invention & savage wit. Superb.

Nothing Left To Fear: Slowburn smalltown paranoia incrementally edges towards full-on ritualistic demonic horror. Watchable nonsense.

Now You See Me: Energetic & entertaining heist movie with a few tricks up its sleeve. However like its subject it's all show & no substance.

Oblivion: Compelling ideas-driven SF, diluted slightly by blockbuster action trappings. Flawed, but looks amazing & has good stuff in there.

Odd Thomas: Vivid, imaginative, quirky & creative. Director Sommers still has tendency to throw too much into mix, but it's huge fun.

Olympus Has Fallen: Idiotic, jingoistic, relentlessly violent, yet unashamedly entertaining. A maelstrom of machismo & head-stabbings.

Only God Forgives: Cooler than an ice sculpture of James Dean. An abstract neon cocktail of simmering sleaze & unflinching brutality.

Outcast: Wonderfully idiosyncratic Celtic creature feature. A culture clash of gritty urban realism & black magic ritualistic weirdness.

Oz The Great & Powerful: Raimi excels with darker elements, but it's a sprawling sugar rush, lavish visuals masking the lack of substance.

Pacific Rim: Nonsensical science, risible cliché-driven dialogue, disorientating action. Partially redeemed by sheer scale, scope & spectacle.

Pain & Gain: Bay's vulgar excesses on steroids. Loud, prejudical, over-stylised & devoid of subtlety. Monumentally crass, hateful horseshit.

Parkland: Overwrought drama that captures solemnity of events on various directly involved & peripheral figures. Forgoes momentum for grief.

Paranormal Diaries Clophill: Concept of mixing fact & faux documentary footage is intriguing but the execution lacks focus or credibility.

Parker: Statham's charisma & surprisingly star-studded support elevate this above what is a fairly conventional if over-convoluted thriller.

Passion: Subdued stereotypical sleaze-lite. Incredibly televisual & takes an age for De Palma's customary artistic flair to kick in. Average.

Pawn: Structurally complex, dramatically intense low budget heist/siege film with surprisingly starry, eclectic cast. Nothing new, but not bad.

Pawn Shop Chronicles: Pulp Fiction meets My Name Is Earl by way of Creepshow! A series of lurid vignettes in a crazed, uncategorizable film.

Phantom: A mournful, terrific Ed Harris dominates this laudable, tense Cold War drama, which succeeds despite raw speculation of its story.

Premium Rush: Kinetic, two wheeled twist on action formula. Routine plot, but fine stuntwork & scene-stealing Shannon elevate proceedings.

Prince Avalanche: Quirky & whimsical with nicely observed bickering chemistry between leads, but it's very flimsy & doesn't amount to much.

Prisoners: A powerful parable in the guise of police procedural. A bleak study of guilt & vengeance, brooding & intense despite its length.

Red 2: Globe-trotting geriatric dynamics lack focus or originality & there's an almost Woo-like gun fetishism in star-studded so-so sequel.

Red Dawn: Bland, brainless & banal reboot, attempts to mask over its inherent stupidity & soulless void of a script with relentless action.

Red Lights: Rather too pedestrian & ponderous for its own good, but mashes genres well, great cast & builds impressively toward its climax.

Resolution: Low on budget, but full of creativity. A slow-burning surreal puzzle that eschews conventional structure & warps expectations.

Robot & Frank: Charming & engaging sci-fi drama mixing gentle comedic moments with genuine pathos & touching sentiment. Langella is superb.

Riddick: Strangely low-key series reboot which is keen to emphasise anti-hero elements in a slow-paced, ill-judged, non-event of a movie.

R.I.P.D: Bridges' gruff charm elevates an otherwise derivative & uneven film, which though flawed is undeserving of box-office bomb status.

Runner Runner: Slick, superficial, entirely predictable. The twists are telegraphed, the plot bereft of intrigue. Affleck is on autopilot.

Rush: Its central rivalry veers towards caricature, but evocative detail captures peril & madness of period & race sequences are exhilarating.

Sawney-Flesh Of Man: Scottish splatterfest - lurid, pulpy, gleefully grisly, it's Wrong Turn played out beneath granite skies. Morbid fun.

Seven Psychopaths: Strives for Charlie Kaufman style smarts with partial success, retains acerbic wit & quirky characterisation of In Bruges.

Sharknado: Embarrassingly inept on every conceivable artistic & technical level. Many "so bad they're good" cult films exist, this isn't one!

Side By Side: Vital & infomative. Works as technical deconstruction & ode to cinematic evolution. Balanced, unbiased, essential for film fans.

Side Effects: Excellent malingering mystery, consistently confounding expectations & disguising plot directions. One of the year's best.

Sightseers: Twisted, tainted, surreal. Hilariously eccentric & oddball British subversion of U.S. road movies. Badlands in a caravan. Superb.

Silent Hill Revelation: A distillation of why video game adaptations don't work - incoherent & uninvolving. Soulless, senseless, scareless.

Silver Linings Playbook: Real chemistry between leads but quirky to point of irritation. Fails to resonate on a romantic or dramatic level.

Skinwalker Ranch: A barmy blend of found footage folly & X-Files alike crackpot conspiracy theories. Utter hokum, but entertainingly so.

Sleep Tight: Beautifully crafted & understated study of psychosis, obsession & infatuation. A superior suspenseful psychological shocker.

Snitch: Has plenty of dramatic meat amongst its muscular action, which leads to an often conflicting tonal compromise. Laudable but flawed.

Sound City: Fascinating & engaging, works as both a nostalgic rock history piece & study of demise of analogue studios as digital eclipses.

Sound Of My Voice: A total gem, stylistically minimalist, but enthralling, intriguing, utterly immersive & beautifully understated.

Spike Island: The Stone Roses career-defining gig proves an incidental backdrop to themes of friendship, family & euphoria & energy of youth.

Spring Breakers: A dayglo descent into hedonistic self-destruction & excess. A gaudy, nihilistic headrush. Superficial, shallow, stylish.

Springsteen & I: A candid,  passionate love letter  from a devout congregation. For tramps like us it’s a communal celebration of hero worship.

Star Trek Into Darkness: Everything you could ask for-action - spectacle, humour, emotion. Respectful without being over-reverential. Superb.

Static: A real under the radar gem. Exploits genre tropes with a subtle sleight of hand to deliver a surprising & emotionally impactful coda.

Stitches: Blackly comedic throwback splatterfest with graphic, wildly inventive gore, but none of delicious darkness of similar Psychoville.

Stoker: Delicious dark tale of family ties & infatuation, awash with cryptic, seductive symbolism. Furtive, sensual, sublimely shot & edited.

Stone Roses Made Of Stone: Subjective & smoothes over rough edges, but Meadows' fanboy affection is infectious & live footage is exhilarating.

Stranded: Shoddy sci-fi schlock which seems to derive inspiration from the likes of Inseminoid & Galaxy Of Terror rather than Alien(s).

Texas Chainsaw 3D:Void of inspiration & shocks, ridiculous backstory adds to the woes & Leatherface is diluted to point of being called Jed!

Tower Block: Generates decent tension & some shock value despite blatant plot holes, unlikely character arcs & credibility stretching story.

Thale: Compelling Nordic dark fairytale, subdued but with a sense of oppression & dread, balanced by an ethereal arthouse sensibility.

The Act Of Killing: As a concept - sort of entrapment & confessional via cinema it's astonishing. As a study of man's cruelty it's haunting.

The Battery: Essentially a two-hander travelogue, works wonders with zero budget but arrives at THE most drawn-out, patience-testing climax.

The Baytown Outlaws: Insignificant but intermittently entertaining southern fried action / crime comedy with decent characterisation.

The Bling Ring: Superficial satire employing vapid teen culture to condemn shallowness of celebrity. Makes Spring Breakers look profound.

The Call: Solid if formulaic sweaty-palmed suspense thriller, which strikes a balance midway between police procedural & psycho horror.

The Collection: Solid stylish splattery sequel. Nasty & nihilistic this ramps up the action & body count, but keeps pacing & duration brisk.

The Colony: Derivative it may be, but fully exploits potential of its bleak premise via well-crafted thrills & chills. A superior B movie.

The Conjuring: Refreshingly retro, succeeding via malevolent mood & expert manipulation of primal fears of things that go bump in night.

The Conspiracy: Odd quasi-documentary, tries to cultivate sense of insidious paranoia & menace, but lacks momentum or any real surprises.

The Corridor: Slow-burning existential shocker that succeeds as strong character piece & disturbing study of escalating paranoia & dementia.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident: Builds escalating sense of unease, leading to an admittedly barking mad conclusion, but the journey there grips.

The East: Shares common ground with Sound Of My Voice but expands themes & ideological conscience. Full of ideas, many too underdeveloped.

The Family: Not particularly funny as a comedy & too lightweight as a drama, it's incredibly inconsequential given the talent involved.

The Frozen Ground: Clinical cat & mouse serial killer thriller. Solid if disposable. Cage better than of late, Hudgens the standout here.

The Great Gatsby: Luhrmann's more concerned with surface gloss than core themes of greed & corruption, but visually it's vibrant & audacious.

The Hangover Pt.3: Deviates from tired formula, now plays as more crime caper than comedy, but it's too little too late for this ugly series.

The Helpers: Unremarkable mix of Vacancy & Saw with unlikely revenge motivation. Characters so dumb death by torture is too good for them.

The Iceman: As cold & impassive as its titular hitman. Shannon nails the stark duality of his ruthless killer, but film lacks dramatic heft.

The Impossible: Takes a vast natural disaster & presents it as an intimate, emotionally traumatic family drama. Terrific performances by all.

The Kings Of Summer: Charming, whimsical, laugh out loud funny. A rare subtle teen movie that captures the awkwardness & complexity of youth.

The Last Days: Lyrical & emotionally-wrought apocalyptic drama, which for all its sincerity & striking imagery is rather sluggish & drab.

The Last Days On Mars: Mature & magnificently bleak, this really utilises grim isolation of its location. One of year's best genre indies.

The Last Exorcism Pt.2: A chilling opening sequence rapidly descends into a predictable, plodding litany of stock horror clichés. Poor.

The Last Stand: Riddled with plotholes & idiotic narrative, but has a strong ensemble supporting Arnie & delivers on the action big time.

The Last Will & Testament Of Rosalind Leigh: Has a fusty, archaic feel of a film from another era. Impressively builds from sleepy to creepy.

The Lone Ranger: An overlong, ill-disciplined, often spectacular, frequently deranged $200m folly with a charisma free lead & crackpot Depp.

The Look Of Love: A flawed but fascinating film of hedonistic highs & emotional lows. Fabulous attention to period detail & strong ensemble.

The Lords of Salem: Surreal Satanic stew, utterly all over place - banal, batty, beguiling & brilliant in parts. An unhinged ambitious oddity.

The Master: Enigmatic, hypnotic & remarkable performances, yet somehow aloof & meandering. The final act just fizzles out without impact.

The Numbers Station: Mundane & archaic in concept & approach, limited location & cast gives it a stage play sensibility. Cusack on autopilot.

The Pack: Gloriously grotesque Gallic gorefest. A macabre marriage of potently poetic horror imagery & grimly fiendish gallows humour.

The Paperboy: Idiosyncratic & incredibly uneven, a star-studded sleazefest masquerading as art. A garish, lurid but never dull trash curio.

The Place Beyond The Pines: Ambitious in scope & beautifully played, a mature study of fathers & sons & generational fate & destiny.

The Possession: Formulaic & unremarkable, notable mainly for the USP of its Jewish exorcism. A chilling MRI sequence is the highlight.

The Purge: Intriguing premise that largely forgoes social comment in favour of violent action. Works better as concept than the construct.

The Rise: Decent gritty urban Brit crime thriller, which unfurls via flashback to reveal a sort of Ocean's Eleven meets Shameless narrative.

The Seasoning House: Man is the monster in this well-made but relentlessly grim & oppressive film. Harrowing, haunting but very heavy-going.

The Signal: A blackly comedic & ultraviolent apocalyptic vision. Impressive indie that delivers social comment via a crescendo of carnage.

The Sweeney: Partially successful update, slight of plot, solid of action, works best as a character study of Winstone's archaic machismo.

The Vatican Exorcisms: Po-faced, generic mockumentary mix of The Last Exorcism & The Rite. Startling physical contortions aside, v.dull.

The Way Way Back: A fine cast enrich an otherwise prosaic, indie-spirited coming of age dramedy which is hugely derivative of Adventureland.

The Wolverine: Less dynamic & frenetic than many other summer blockbusters. Well-judged balance of action & character. Better than expected.

The World's End: For a film about a pubcrawl this is strangely sober stuff. A lament to lost opportunity against a Midwich Cuckoos backdrop.

This Is The End: Treads very fine line between self-conscious & self-indulgent. Original idea, but as a comedy laughs are few & far between.

Thor-Dark World: As slick & stylish as we've come to expect from latter-day Marvel. Increased spectacle in a confident, accomplished sequel.

Trance: Dazzling, dizzying, dynamic. Its internal logic is flawed, but masked by Boyle's trademark flair.Shallow Grave for Inception age.

Twilight Breaking Dawn Pt2: Ends series on utterly bonkers high with orgiastic decapitation frenzy & climactic X-Men-alike showdown. A hoot.

Twixt: Largely told thru vivid dream sequences presented via striking luminescent monochrome with hints of sparse colour. Visually stunning.

UFO: An alien invasion of a Midlands housing estate portrayed via endless bickering, punch-ups & a baffling Jean Claude Van Damme cameo!

Under The Bed: Slow to get going, steadily builds impressive air of portentous dread, before becoming full-on 80s inspired creature feature.

Universal Soldier-Day Of Reckoning: Surreal, stylish, disorientating, abstract, crazed & insanely violent. I think that’s a recommendation!

Upstream Color: Like a jigsaw with wrong & missing pieces, just doesn't fit together & is a pointless challenge. Abstract chinstroker toss.

Vehicle 19: For a film which almost exclusively takes place inside a car, this travels nowhere fast. A dull, contrived, idiotic misfire.

VHS 2: Loses much of leery fratboy idiocy of first & is far more consistent & effective with format. Superior sequel in almost every respect.

Warm Bodies: Vibrant, witty, inventive. Creates its own spin on a tired subject, mixing genre elements expertly. Best teen movie in ages.

We Are The Night: A chic Euro 'Lost Girls' - Lensed with decadent, hedonistic pop video polish. Stylish, slick, sultry, but superficial.

We Are What We Are (2010): Smart & subdued, growing steadily sinister. Uses horror tropes to comment on poverty, desperation & dysfunction.

We Are What We Are: Lyrical, melancholic slice of pastoral American gothic infused with a solemn tragic tone. Mickle is a major genre talent.

Welcome To The Punch: Superior crime thriller. Top Brit cast excel in a complex & compelling story with slick, sterile, stylish sheen.

We're The Millers: The game cast is the trump card of an amiable comedy which largely shuns sentimentality. Will Poulter is the standout.

West Of Memphis: Exhaustive account of criminal injustice. Impactful & incredibly cinematic, Zodiac-like in-depth re-examination of case.

When The Lights Went Out: Evocative period design, uneven tone switching between mischief & malevolence. Engaging & effective ghost story.

Wild Country: Modest parochial monster movie with accents as strong as its splatter. Creaky creature FX when finally revealed. Cheap but fun.

Wither: Spirited Swedish splatter is a virtual carbon copy of The Evil Dead. Delivers gore by the bucket load but has little else of merit.

World War Z: Episodic in structure & at times uneven in tone, but plays out on an epic canvas & the action & spectacle is often breathtaking.

Would You Rather: Uncomfortable viewing, a gleefully sadistic mix of Clue & Saw, but with the harrowing intensity & cruelty of Compliance.

Wreck It Ralph: Beautifully animated, brisk & colourful but lacking the wry humour & post-modern deconstruction of best recent cartoons.

You're Next: It's no game-changer, but it's an inspired spin on the home invasion/slasher genre with tight direction & wickedly black humour.