Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The Loved Ones
This low-budget Australian horror-comedy is a must-watch for fans of b-movies, as it views like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a unique twist: the killer here is a woman. All too often these kinds of films are populated with crazy men terrorizing women, but here that trope is turned on its ear, with the main character being a crazed high school girl who wants to have her ideal prom night realized. So of course, she and her deranged father kidnap her school crush and torture him while she wears a pink dress, dances under a disco ball, and takes photos. This kind of movie usually just dives head first into the torture porn subgenre of horror, and movies like Hostel often leave me exhausted by the end because of the amount of brutality that the viewer has to endure along with the characters. The Loved Ones, however, pulls off a solid balancing act, depicting enough gruesome scenarios that you cringe, but not so many that you want to turn it off. The film’s trim 84-minute running time also insures that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The performances are good, the gore is plentiful, and the final act of the film has some awesome revelations. For what it is, The Loved Ones is damned near perfect.
4 out of 5

Sound of My Voice
Sound of My Voice is the first collaboration between actor/writer Brit Marling and director/writer Zal Batmanglij, and it is proof positive that you don’t need high production values, fantastic sets, elaborate costumes or even special effects to construct a compelling science fiction story. All you need is a room full of actors, and indeed, that’s where most of Sound of My Voice takes place – in just a basement room. I won’t spoil much of the plot, but the set up is that two undercover documentarians have decided to infiltrate a cult, whose leader claims to be from the future. Most of the film examines the phenomena of groupthink and brainwashing, to the point where the audience will begin to question whether or not the leader of the cult – Brit Marling – is telling the truth. The strength of the writing and performances are what make Sound of My Voice work as well as it does, and the last fifteen minutes of the film are guaranteed to inspire conversation among viewers.
3.5 out of 5

A Fantastic Fear of Everything
Going into it, I was ready to love A Fantastic Fear of Everything because it was based on a novella by one of my favourite writer/directors Bruce Robinson and starred a favourite actor of mine: Simon Pegg. Watching the film, however, I was struck by how much better it must have been in print. So much of what works in the movie takes place inside the head of the main character, and the weaker bits are where the story strays into cliche serial killer setups instead of focusing on its slowly-going-insane protagonist. This is the paranoiac version of Withnail & I, but without the things that made Withnail & I work as well as it does. Perhaps the greatest problem that A Fantastic Fear of Everything seems to suffer from is the fact that the film doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is this a comedy? I’m afraid I didn’t laugh once, and in a film with Simon Pegg playing a crazy children’s author turned true crime novelist, that’s a bad sign. Still, it’s not a total loss, as the production design is truly strange and has a Terry Gilliam bent to it, and certain sequences, particularly in the first act of the movie, are enjoyable enough in their craziness. In the end, this probably would have worked really well as a short film instead of a feature length one. As it is, it’s a mess.
2.25 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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