Spirited Away: In A Land Of Ghosts

Spirited Away is a Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film revolves around a young girl called Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi), who becomes separated from her parents after they get turned into pigs and she gets trapped in the spirit world. The film details the friendship she forms with Haku Spirit of the Kohaku River as well as her effort to escape to the mortal world again and restore her normal life.

So, my Studio Ghibli odyssey has finally brought me to the big one, the one everyone talks about, one of if not the most important piece of Japanese animated cinema, well ever: I am of course referring to Spirited away.

I loved the world this film created, other Ghibli films have referred to and referenced the spirit world, but with this film we finally get to see it. What a sight it is, it is just so brimming with vibrancy and life, much like I have said about other Ghibli films, this film is a work of art each scene could easily be a painting if paused.

Chihiro or Sen as she is called in the spirit world is such a likeable protagonist, she is an easy character to root for and admire as she manages to hold her own when she goes to the spirt world, even though she is just a little girl.

Yubaba (Mari Natsuki), is the film’s villain an evil old witch/bird like creature that rules over the spirt world. She is responsible for turning Chihiro’s parents into pigs as well as for trapping Haku and pressing him to servitude. Much, like other Ghibli designs her character is haunting and the image of her turning into a bird chilled me and stayed with me long after the film ended.

Overall, this is a magnificent film, that is both beautiful to look at and beautiful to watch, the characters are done well, and villain is menacing. In every respect this film is a triumph.


Beautiful animation.

Rich dense world.

Great characters.

A good menacing villain.


It is far too long and could easily have been an hour and a half.


Reviewed by Luke

The Midnight Swim: Truly A Film Unlike Any Other

The Midnight Swim is a POV drama- mystery film directed by Sarah Adina Smith. The film see three sisters reunite after their mother’s death. Upon their arrival back home, the sisters summon a local legend the Seventh Sister and from there things turn menacing, with dead birds turning up on their doorstep and each night one of the sisters goes down to the lake: though she can’t remember doing it.

Very much like my last review Don’t Leave Home this is a very uniquely bizarre film, there is very little else like this out there. Just when you think you have a handle on what it is, it surprises you. When I first put it on, I thought it would be a standard found footage horror film, but it is nothing like that at all: it is so much more.

There is a constant feeling of unease and menace throughout this film, you can tell that something is amiss right from the start of the film. It is never very clear exactly what is going on, whether it is something supernatural or whether it is something closer to home. The film never seems to want to say one way or another, there is a twist towards the end of the film that suggests that June (Lindsey Burdge), who has been filming everything the whole time is in fact mentally ill and has been doing all of the scary occurrences in the film.

However, later in the film when June has blacked out and goes to jump into the water for the final time something moves her camera and there is no one else around. So, there must be more afoot.

There is a lot of new age mysticism in this film that adds an interesting new dimension to it, there is all this talk about rebirth and reincarnation, and it gives you a lot of intriguing things to think about. All of this adds to a very special personality that this film has which makes it entirely unlike everything else.

Overall, this film is special in a lot of ways, very few films could have you feel tense and uneasy for an hour and a half and include a musical number. This is a beautiful film and a hell of a debut, check it out!


A mystery that has no clear answer.

Great characters.

Very unlike anything else.

A new take on found footage.


It is a little slow at times.


Reviewed by Luke

Don’t Leave Home: An Obtuse, Confusing Masterpiece?

Don’t Leave Home is an Irish horror film directed by Michael Tully. The plot sees American model maker Melanie Thomas (Anne Margret Hollyman), travel to a remote part of island to take a commission from a disgraced priest Alistair Burke (Lalor Roddy).

This film has been called a lot of things “Ireland’s equivalent to Get Out”, “A modern Wicker Man” and thought to some extent I can see what people are saying with the second quotation, that is not how I would describe it. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this film, I enjoyed it and it kept my attention and there truly isn’t anything else out there like it, it is also incredibly obtuse and confusing and I would never choose to watch it again.

During the rest of this review I am going to go into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it stop here as I really think if you’re going to watch it you should go in blind.

That said let’s get into it, this film reminded me in a lot of ways of something like Midsommar, in that it even after watching it, it still doesn’t really make sense until you watch it a few more times. There is an art house approach to horror that seems to be at the core of these sort of films that can come across as pretentious at times, but personally I think this film was one the right side of the line.

The premise of this woman traveling to Ireland to make a model for this former priest isn’t in and of itself scary, the fear comes from how quickly the situation sours once she gets there, there is an intense uncomfortability that runs throughout this film; you know it is going to end badly and then it does.

I still don’t understand how the priest’s paintings makes people disappear, or go to heaven as the film says, frankly I think the twist doesn’t really make any sense it just kind of happens midway through and you are left to pick up the pieces and make some sense of it. I think the whole sequence with “the collectors”, and the auction was weird and didn’t feel like it belonged to the same film as everything else, it was jarring.

Overall, I can’t really end this by saying watch it, or don’t watch it, as I still haven’t really made my mind up about it. It is definitely not something you have ever seen before and it is staggeringly original, if a little inspired by modern art house horror hits, I would say if that description appeals to you then check it out.



Scary and troubling.

Good characters.


Obtuse and hard to understand.

It ends with a whimper rather than a bang.


Reviewed by Luke

The Raid 2: This Time It’s Personal

The Raid 2 is an Indonesian action martial arts film directed by Gareth Evans. The plot takes place not long after the events of the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais), has to go undercover within the Jakarta underworld to try and protect his family. His brother is also killed at the start of the film, so Rama is on a side mission of vengeance; seeking out evil rising mobster Bejo (Alex Abbad).

The Raid 2 had a hard job to do, it had to live up to the scale and intensity of the first film, while also raising the stakes and taking everything to the next level. I have to say the film does both of those things. It shows us the wider underworld that was only slightly hinted at during the first film and we get to see some interesting new characters and players. Also, the fight scenes are on a whole new level as well, the prison fight sequence is brutal and relentless.

However, while it is doing all of these things it sacrifices the personal threat and tension from the first film. For those of you who haven’t seen it the first Raid film is all set within a tower block and there are a lot of fight sequences that take place within very tight areas, this makes the film feel very claustrophobic which adds to its overall greatness. The second film really leaves this element behind.

This film introduces some new character who I found to be cool. I don’t remember their names, but I refer to them as Baseball guy and Hammer Woman, they were both very gimmicky in their fight style, but I did really like the final showdown between them and Rama at the end, I thought it was on a par with the first film’s fight sequences.

Finally, I loved the ambiguous ending this film has, it ends with Rama stood in front of a wave of Japanese gangster foot soldiers with him saying he is done. Does he die will he survive we don’t know and with no plans to do a third film any time soon we might never know, but it is a neat way to end things.

Overall, a very solid follow up that does a number of impressive things that raise the stakes and surpass the first film. My only issue is that by doing that it loses some of the things that made the first film great. Both are definitely worth checking out.


Larger scale.

Rama’s ending.

The new characters.

The fight sequence between Rama and Baseball Guy and Hammer Woman.


It loses some of the tense claustrophobia of the first film.


Reviewed by Luke

The Crucifixion: The Best Possession Film?

The Crucifixion is a horror film directed by Xavier Gens. The plot follows reporter Nicole, (Sophie Cookson), a woman without faith, who travels to Romania to cover an exorcism gone wrong that resulted in the death of a young woman. Nicole wants to prove that it was superstition and mental illness that motivated the murder, but when she arrives, she finds out there might be far more afoot.

When I put this film on, I was worried it would be just like every other possession horror film out there, the genre has been done to death, however I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had enough originality to standout. For a start the premise of the film an investigation into whether possession is in fact real, is something that hasn’t been done to death yet, there is still new ground to be found and this film found it.

Moreover, it is nice to see a possession film focusing on Orthodox Christianity, rather than Catholicism. It adds a nice new flavour to the type of film, and as such is infinitely more interesting. The country of Romania is one of my favourites in the world and it is nice to see a horror film set there, it is a beautiful country and also a very mystical one which really adds to the atmosphere of the film.

The scares of the film are a mixed bag, when the film is trying to be creepy and using its setting and atmosphere to make you feel uneasy it works, it works very well. However, when the film uses cheap jump scares reminiscent of the bastard spin-off Conjuring films it doesn’t work, they are laughably bad and incredibly obvious.

Overall, this is a good possession film with enough newness to it that it stands out from the thousands of other films like it. There is something special about this film, it is a shame it went under most people’s radars when it came out, but it is defiantly worth a watch. The jump scares ruin the scenes they are in, but everything else is unique and interesting.


The horror.

The setting.

Changes from the genre standard.

Interesting plot line.


Jump scares.


Reviewed by Luke



The Bay: Don’t Go In The Water

The Bay is a found footage film directed by Barry Levinson. The plot revolves around a small town that has something in the water, parasites. These parasites invade the body and then eat you away from the inside out, soon most of the town is dead and it is up to one blogger to try and get out the truth of what happened as the US government has since suppressed it.

This film genuinely surprised me, when I put it on, I had low expectations, but as the film went on, I found that I enjoyed it more and more. The premise is great and scary, what makes it scary is the fact that it could happen, we as a world have environmental disasters all the time, so something like this is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Furthermore, there were several moments in the film that actually made me jump, which is rare. As such the horror of the film really worked for me, and I found it to be one of the scariest films I have seen recently.

My one issue with the film was that the story was told through vignette style, as such there were multiple different characters and each of their stories were explored, the issue with this is that some of the stories are more interesting than others. I cared about the French scientists/ divers; I didn’t really care about the young teen couple.

I thought this film was fascinating, I couldn’t take my eyes off it as I watched it. Found footage as a genre has been done to death, but this film managed to find new ground to explore, making it almost like a faux environmental documentary, I applaud the imagination and creativity behind it.

Overall, this film is great for the premise alone, but it was made even better by the fact that the execution was also fantastic. It was scary, fascinating and I could have easily watched another hour of it, perhaps one of the best of the best-found footage films I have ever seen.


It is fascinating.

It is scary.

It does something new with found footage.

It made me jump!


Some of the characters are more interesting than others.


Reviewed by Luke

Kidding: The Perils Of Kids TV

Kidding is a comedy drama series created by Dave Holstein. The series revolves around a kid’s TV presenter Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), who loses his son in a road traffic accident before the events of the series. He carries on working, but his mental health deteriorates, and we the audience watch his breakdown.

I love Jim Carrey, I think he is one of the best actors working today, over the years he has proven he can do both drama and comedy really well and this show is proof of that.  Carrey excels himself here, he is the perfect actor to play a Mr Rogers type gone bad. He plays the character with a degree of wholesomeness, but a wholesomeness that feels like it has been taught more than existing naturally. Furthermore, he also conveys the characters breakdown really well, becoming almost frightening at times, he manages to be both loveable and menacing; which is something only Jim Carrey could do.

Moreover, all of the characters on the show are imperfect, they have done bad things of varying degrees, but they are still loveable, and you still root for them to succeed. Later in the series we learn that Jeff’s pen pal is a death row inmate who has killed several people, however, when Jeff meets up with the man’s son and hears the story from his point of view it is shown to be far more nuanced. That is the perfect description for this show, nuanced.

Kidding isn’t always the easiest show to watch, as there are a lot of deeply uncomfortable moments scattered throughout, but despite this you can’t tear your eyes away and you want to watch it all at once. There are as many happy moments as there are sad ones and they balance each other out very nicely, making the show feel very well balanced.

Overall, this is a damn near perfect show, it is easily one of the best shows I have seen in recent years and proves that Jim Carrey is a fantastic actor. Season 2 comes out here in the UK next week and I can’t wait. If you haven’t seen it yet, you defiantly should make it your next binge!


Jim Carrey.

Maintaining the balance between happy and sad.

The songs and the imagination.

The emotional moments.

The ending, that I won’t ruin here.


Reviewed by Luke


Broad City: The Best Show YOU Haven’t Seen

Broad City is a sitcom created by and starring Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer. The plot follows the two as they live and love in New York city. The series is supposed to be somewhat autobiographical, based on the two’s real-life friendship and their years trying to make it in the big city. It ran for 5 series from 2014-2019.

The reason why I like this series so much is because it is the closest thing to real life, I have seen on television possibly ever. The way the two go about life, is very close to how I go about my own life. The series deals with some really quite heavy themes, such as depression and self esteem issues, which I applaud it for; much like something like Atlanta, this show also manages to handle these darker themes in comedic way, whilst also treating them with respect.

I think another reason why this show is so important is because it features two strong self-motivated female leads, who are both in charge of their own destiny and live they way they want to live. I think this show is great as there are few other shows like it on TV and when you watch it you will see what I mean.

Both of the leads are hilarious, Glazer and Jacobsen both make me laugh at least a few times every episode, another reason this show is so good and so special is because there is very few bad episodes; most of the episodes are good and some of them are great.

The wider supporting cast which has changed over the series is also fantastic. Hannibal Buress as IIana’s on again off again boyfriend Lincoln is a very welcome presence on-screen, he has some of the best jokes on the show and his relationship with IIana is sweet and wholesome; it is one that you root for over the course of the show as you want the two of them to end up together.

Overall, this was one of the best shows on TV and one that will sorely be missed. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t already seen it.


Both of the leads are hilarious.

It is empowering.

Hannibal Burgess is hilarious.

There are no bad episodes.


Okay there are one or two bad episodes, but more slow than bad.


Reviewed by Luke

The Innkeepers: Please Someone Close This Inn Down.

The Innkeepers is a supernatural horror film directed by Ti West. The film revolves around two employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, who try and prove the existence of the supernatural goings on at the hotel before it is closed; things quickly escalate.

I have heard people talk about this film for a while, so imagine my surprise when I did finally watch it and was left underwhelmed to say the least.

This is very much a film of two halves and much like Housebound that I reviewed recently, the two don’t work. The first 30/40 minutes of the film seem to be quite a light quirky comedy and then all of a sudden it becomes a horror film. This transition between the two is incredibly abrupt and a little jarring as well.

I think there is an interesting idea here, the premise leaves itself open for great scary moments, however, it just can’t deliver. Whilst watching I was not scared at all, not even mildly creeped out, if anything I was bored, this once again is a film that drags on and on.

Sara Paxton is fine; she is serviceable if not memorable in anyway. She does nothing to elevate herself or the character above the standard horror leading lady. This might not be her fault and might instead be a script and characterisation issue.

Defiantly the worst thing about the film for me is the casting of Lena Dunham. Her personal life aside, she can’t act, she is painfully herself in everything she is in; she can’t play characters just slightly different versions of herself. Though she is only in this film infrequently, whenever she does appear it serves to take you out of the film, as her performance reminds you that you’re watching a film.

Overall, this is a film of two halves if they had been blended together in a better way they could have worked, but as is they clash and the two feel jarringly different. There is nothing here to elevate this film beyond mediocrity.


The scarier half is okay.

The premise is good, but poorly executed.


It is boring.

The two halves clash.

It is uninspired in near every way.


Reviewed by Luke


Housebound: The Boy Before Brahms

Housebound is a New Zealand horror comedy film directed by Gerard Johnstone. The plot follows criminal Kylie (Morgana O’ Riley), who is sentenced to house arrest in her childhood home, once she arrives back home, she realises that something is wrong, there are supernatural goings on, or at least that is how it first appears.

This film is a horror comedy, that I don’t think works hugely well as either, the horror isn’t very scary; though there are a few good moments that will make you jump. The comedy is defiantly the central focus of this film and that didn’t work for me either, I didn’t find myself laughing and as I watched it, I wished they had focused on one for the other.

What’s more the film is oddly paced, there is a twist, that I will talk about in a minute, but rather than have the twist near the end of the film, it happens midway through. The reason this is an issue is it makes the film feel like two separate features and both seem to drag on.

The twist of the film is that their house use to be a halfway house that was the site of a horrific murder, however there is no ghost, rather all of the strange goings on are a result of a man from the halfway house who still lives in the walls; yes it is The Boy, about two years before it.

For me I liked the twist, I think it fitted perfectly into the manic absurd nature of the film, I didn’t see it coming.

Furthermore, I think O’ Riley makes this film, she is fantastic throughout and you get to watch her character develop throughout the course of the film. She starts off the film as a troubled youth who doesn’t really care about anyone but herself, but by the end of the film she rises to the occasion as the hero and proves she does care about those around her.

Overall, I think that this film has moments of greatness and O’ Riley is superb, however, for me the comedy and the horror don’t work together and instead clash horribly, which heighten the already bad pacing issues.


Morgana O’ Riley is great.

The twist is good.

There are some good scares scattered throughout.


The two styles don’t mash.

The pacing issues ruin it.


Reviewed by Luke