Review: A college student, Tree (Jessica Rothe), woke up in a random guy’s (Israel Broussard) dorm room before she went on and did what all mean girls should do: screwing everyone she encountered. There’s no stopping for her sinister behavior until she finally got herself into trouble: being killed by a masked killer, only to find herself waking up to the same room she woke up earlier and relived her final day again, again and again.
In short, Happy Death Day does Groundhog Day with teen-slasher tropes. Director Christopher Landon and writer Scott Lobdell utilize time-loop formula to showcase their references of old-school slasher films in creating tension. But, more to it, they also utilize the same formula to formulate a fun whodunit thriller with the victim as the center. It looks campy and a little generic, but it never stops bringing funride for its whole duration.
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Review: The idea of reliving the same day in a loop a la Groundhog Day gets a South Korean treatment in Cho Sun-ho’s (writer of Killer Toon) directorial debut, A Day (a.k.a. Ha-roo). When I said ‘South Korean treatment’, it means that this film has some touch of melodrama and another shade of revenge thriller wrapped in a moving, time-loop story about life, death and grudge that glues them together.
In A Day, a glorified surgeon Jun-young (Kim Myung-min) keeps living the same day when he loses his daughter in a traffic accident. He’s en route to reconcile with the daughter when a taxi hit the poor girl and instantly killed her. Soon, as the doctor began to get engulfed by sense of helplessness and trauma, he found out that he’s not the only person to suffer the looping fate. Continue reading A Day (2017) – Review
Review: Jack Zagha Kababie’s Almacenados (a.k.a. Warehoused) houses an absurdly ridiculous two-man show about employment, specifically pre-retirement syndrome, in an empty warehouse, hence the title.
Set in a warehouse located in a Mexican suburb, the drama-comedy revolves on the last five working days of Mr. Lino (José Carlos Ruiz), an old, diligent employee, and first five days of Nin (Hose Meléndez). Each day represents a chapter in this smartly outlandish observational tale, which mostly comes in tranquility but always has the ability to trigger bittersweet laughs. Continue reading Almacenados (2015) – BALINALE Review
As an avid fan of Siswono Gautama Putra’s 1980 cult classic Pengabdi Setan (a.k.a. Satan’s Slave), Indonesia’s most versatile director Joko Anwar crafts a highly inventive yet highly respectful remake—a nightmarish love-letter to a nightmare—in his own version of Pengabdi Setan.
Mr. Anwar reinterprets the original phantasm, reconstructs the core elements and injects his cinematic virtue to create a déjà vu experience over his fresh concepts of nightmare. Some core elements from the 1980 film are reimagined to fit Anwar’s concept; a completely new backstories are added into the foray; but the whole terror remains there. Even, at some points, this remake appears to be more compelling and terrifying than the original. Continue reading Pengabdi Setan (2017): A phantasmal love-letter
Review: As timely and important than ever, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit makes an unsettling yet poignant film about racism-induced Afro-American uprising in Detroit circa 1967. While Bigelow presents downtown Detroit riot in Hurt Locker fashion where smoke soaring high and dusty ruins are practically adorning every corner of the city, it’s not the carnage which is highlighted; but, the root of it all: white’s oppression.
Combining real footage with sharp recreations of the event, Detroit immediately plunges into the warzone, displaying the horror and volatile circumstances. Without warning and proper exposition, pivotal characters—including racist cops, undervalued security guard, white girls among black, black ‘Nam veteran & black musicians—are introduced and lured into the climactic standoff patiently; while audiences are expected to draw the thread between them. Circumstances, characters and the film’s message culminate in robust one-location havoc in a place called Motel Algiers.
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Review: Teresa Palmer showcases a vigorously bold performance in Cate Shortland’s kidnapping drama, Berlin Syndrome. Adapting Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same title, Shortland creates a placid drama-thriller by devising sense of claustrophobic and two-person dynamic with Palmer as the center.
Portraying an aspiring Brisbane-based photographer named Clare, Palmer’s eyes unravel her character’s passionate spirit to find an adventure as a solo traveler in Berlin. It’s during her tenure in Berlin’s street that she meets a charismatic yet restrained schoolteacher, Andi (Max Riemelt, Sense8). There are some electric touches and reluctance before they finally engage in consent, non-commitment one-night stand. In the morning after, Clare wakes up to find that she is locked in Andi’s apartment, suggesting that the man simply forgets to leave the key for her. When the next morning she finds herself locked again, she finally realizes that Andi isn’t going to let her free. She’s simply kidnapped.
Continue reading Berlin Syndrome (2017) – Review