Angus,Thongs and Perfect Snogging: The Teenage Experience?

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is a British teen rom-com directed by Gurinder Chadha, based on the novel series by Louise Rennison.  The plot follows the life of Georgia Nicolson (Georgia Groome), as she tries to get a boyfriend and plan her 15th birthday party, plenty of hijinks and misunderstandings happen along the way.

This is by no means a terrible film, it is watchable enough, though I did have a large amount of problems with the film and some of its themes and messages. Firstly 14 seems a bit young for a lot of the things these kids seem to be into, to illustrate my point, there is similar subject matter in seminal British comedy series The Inbetweeners and the characters in that are much older. I suppose the counter argument to my point would be that it isn’t as sexual as The Inbetweeners and that is true they mention intimate aspects, but not sex itself, though it is still slightly uncomfortable seeing them come out of the mouth of a 14-year-old.

Moreover, the film makes getting a partner seem like a life or death issue which I understand for some teens at that age it is, but these teens seem focused on it to an unhealthy degree. Also the way they go about getting boyfriends and the whole world these young kids seem to be in revolves around very questionable morality, like it goes beyond selfish at times to boys and girls manipulating each other to further their own aims, which is realistic in some senses I suppose, but it feels jarring when you consider what kind of film this is.

To that end, the film’s ending is as picturesque as you would expect, Georgia gets the guy, the mean girl who was cheated on and dumped at a moment’s notice is defeated and Georgia’s parents are staying together; it is all tied up in a neat little bow. To me, this happy ending doesn’t mesh with the rest of the film, towards the end of the film, Georgia is called out on a lot of the nastier things she has done and then is forced to live with the consequences of it, this is I think is good, this works. As such I think a sombre and more meditative ending would have been a better fit, conveying the films message that she has matured and risen above her childish behaviour rather than rewarding it, as it does.

Overall, this tries to be a YA film with a message, but it ends up being crushed under the weight of it’s flawed morals and feels almost a bit creepy at times.

Pros.

Some of the more grown up approaches to love.

The stuff with her parents.

Cons.

If they had been aged up by a year or two it would be less icky.

It is cliched.

The film seems to be two very different tones/messages that fundamentally don’t work together and clash badly.

2/5.

Reviewed by Luke

 

The Droving: A True Sequel To The Wickerman

The Droving is a thriller horror film directed by George Popov. The plot sees Martin (Daniel Oldroyd), return from a tour of duty to find that his sister has gone missing in a remote community. He then sets out to find out what has happened to her and find those responsible. Descending further and further into a world of violence and death.

This is a superb horror film, it reminded me in a lot of ways of the Wickerman it has a very Wheatly esque folk horror vibe to it. There is something about these sorts of films that remind you just because Britain has developed over the years, there are still wild parts scattered here and there. There is a deep sense of isolation and tradition in these places and that is scary in and off itself.

There are plenty of twists and turns throughout this film, all of which are really good and add to the overall scope of the mystery. The ending especially did this, when we see that the folk traditions that have underpinned this whole story are in fact all true, and the ending sees Martin fall under the influence of the evil.

The performances are also fantastic, Oldroyd has such a great presence throughout the film. His Martin goes from zero to one hundred in under a second and it makes all of the scenes incredible tense. I love the unpredictable temperament his character has, and it seems so realistic for someone who would be in that situation. Someone who is doing everything they can to save someone they love, but also further sliding into the dark.

The atmosphere in this film is also great, it is menacing and oppressive, it feels like the character we are following is alone in a hostile world, where supernatural things happen and are real, this leads to a lot of good scares and terrifying moments.

Overall, this is a terrific film, it feels almost like a spiritual sequel to the Wickerman, the performances are great, and the ending sets up a lot of very interesting questions for future sequels, which I really hope they make.

Pros.

Great atmosphere.

A terrific lead.

The ending.

Fantastic scares.

The twists and turns.

Cons.

It becomes repetitive after a while.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Slice: Doomed, Delivery Drivers

Slice is a comedy horror film directed by Austin Vesely. The film takes place in a world where supernatural beings are commonplace and no longer out of the ordinary, in this particular town, ghosts have been forced to move off their land and go and live in Ghost Town, their land was then turned into a shopping centre, then a pizza parlour. As our film picks up someone or something is killing the pizza delivery people and the whole town is thrown into a state of fear. Only a ghost and a Werewolf can save the day.

This might as well be a comedy film, there is nothing scary about it. Yes, there are ghosts and witches and what not, but they are handled so calmly that they aren’t scary at all, but that is the point. As a comedy film, this is quite strong, there are a number of good jokes and amusing surprise cameos, it might not have made me laugh all the way throughout, but I was smiling a lot as I watched it.

The thing that is the most commendable about this film is the scope of it, its creativity, and its world. The first 20 minutes of the film are very exposition heavy, a lot of stuff is set up, and through this a very dense very well-crafted fantasy world is created. I would love to see more from this world where a portal to hell can appear under a pizzeria; the world reminded me in a lot of ways of the world of What We Do In The Shadows.

Zazie Beetz is a strong lead, she brings a large amount of style and personality to the role of Astrid and is also convincing as a vigilante in the closing act of the film, but we already know she can play the action hero role well, because of her role in Deadpool 2, she is easily the best actor in the film.

Overall, though it has some issues, this is still a very interesting, imaginative film that will make you laugh.

Pros.

The world.

The cameos.

Zazie Beetz.

Cons.

Most of the characters are forgettable.

It doesn’t leave a huge impact on you.

The second act is a slog.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

We Summon The Darkness: Christianity, Satanism and Heavy Metal Music

We Summon The Darkness is a metal themed horror film directed by Marc Meyers. The plot sees 3 girls head to a rock show, whilst there they meet a group of boys, the girls then proceed to drug them and kill them. They do this to bin blame on Satanists, and create a moral panic sending people into the arms of their hardcore church.

I don’t know if I have seen too many of these sort of horror films or what, but the idea of a few of these guys dying and then the remaining hero picking off the evil religious fanatics one by one, eventually converting one of them and then getting away at the end, just feel cliché to me at this point. This film is nothing new, there are a million other horror films out there will slightly different, but overall the same premise and I for one am bored of them.

This film has one or two neat ideas, the premise is solid and could be done well, however it isn’t. It’s dull. Alexandra Daddario is having fun as Alexis the leader of the female fanatic trio, she is manic and over the top at every turn, which does get slightly grating after a while, but she is clearly trying to get away from her more family friendly image. She is the best performer in the film by a country mile and I applaud her for giving it her all. Sadly the direction and writing just weren’t there.

Moreover, Johnny Knoxville plays Alexis dad Pastor John Henry Butler, so if you wanted a blast for the past watch this film. Good on Knoxville for still trying, he too gives it everything he has and actually manages to shift his normally nice guy persona and be menacing at times. I think the acting of Knoxville and to an extent Daddario show up the rest of the cast and put them to shame a little bit.

Overall, a film with this premise, with Alexandra Daddario and Johnny Knoxville in, shouldn’t have been as boring as this film was.

Pros.

Cool premise.

Daddario.

Knoxville.

Cons.

The execution of the premise is disappointing.

The rest of the acting sucks.

It feels ten a penny.

It is dull/ painfully slow at time.

2/5

Rabid: Beauty Has A Price

Rabid is a horror film directed by The Soska Sisters, based on the 1977 David Cronenberg film of the same name. The plot sees fashion designer wannabe Rose (Laura Vandervoort), get into a grisly car accident. With the very likely future of being disfigured for life, Rose decides to undergo experimental cutting-edge surgery that can supposedly repair her face; it also turns her into a monster with a taste for human flesh, but hey every medical treatment has side effects.

It was a little surreal to watch a film about a viral outbreak, even if it was a different kind of virus; rabies. I have been a huge fan of the Soska Sisters since they started out, they are incredibly talented and remaking Cronenberg is no easy task, however I do believe they manage to not only match the man himself but exceed him in a few ways.

Firstly, and most importantly for a Cronenberg film/ in this case a remake, the body horror. This film is a little light on that, not in a bad way though, because the few times this film does have some quality body horror it is used to great effect. Such as the scene at the end of the film when Rose is trapped in the room with the mad scientists technically, but not really, dead wife, in this scene we get to see the scale of monstrosity we would expect from such a film and it is haunting.

I thought that Vandervoort was exceptional in the lead role, this is due to the fact that you really buy her emotion and her sadness after the crash. The desperation that leads her to undergo risky experimental surgery is real and plain to see. Even when the more malicious side of her comes out later in the film, she is constantly shown fighting against her darker half and is a hero until the end.

My one complaint of the film would be that I would have liked to see the Sisters themselves more, they’re great actors and after recently watching Dead Hooker In The Trunk I would have loved to see them have bigger parts, maybe next time.

Overall, this film easily manages to live up to Cronenberg, which is the highest form of praise a film can get, great horror and very watchable; check it out!

Pros.

Sparing use of body horror.

Laura Vandervoort.

Well written.

It lives up to the original.

Con.

I would have liked to see The Sisters themselves play a larger role.

The ending was a bit too open ended for me.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Book Smart: All Work And No Play

Book Smart is a comedy film directed by Olivia Wilde. The plot sees two straight A students Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), decide to have one wild night of partying before they graduate high school. This comes as a result of the girls choosing work over partying, only to find out that their choice made no difference and was my all means futile.

I rewatched this last night and I have to say it is an exceptionally smart film, it manages to keep a lot of the sex comedy traditions alive, but also modernism them and add a feminist spin. It is interesting to see the ‘one wild night that will define the rest of their lives’ plot line from a female perspective. Much like its predecessor Blockers, this film adds to growing number of females coming of age films.

Personally, I think this film was so relatable and true, it felt realistic, well to a point, the situations the girls find themselves in aren’t that wacky and over the top as can be the case with a lot of other sex comedies. I also loved the style of the film and the way it is shot; I think Wilde has a clear eye and can do stylish very well, even her slow-motion sequences worked; which is not something I often say.

The characters are well written and deep, which again is not really something you would expect from a teen sex comedy, even the side characters prove to be more than they first appear to be; which is very nice to see. The best supporting character is easily Billie Lourd as Gigi, who is a scene stealer whenever she is on screen. The main duo are likable and relatable, Feldstein especially. Molly as a character easily has a lot of the best moments in the film.

Overall, a very strong, very honest debut for Wilde. A nice breath of fresh air in an ever-decaying sub-genre. This film deserved more love than it got.

Pros.

Smart.

Well written.

Well-rounded characters.

Funny.

It is a breath of fresh air.

Cons.

Kaitlyn Dever is the weak link.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Super-Size Me: Ronald McDonald’s Day In Court.

Super-Size Me is a documentary film directed by and staring Morgan Spurlock. The film explores the role that fast food plays in our modern lives as well as asking what degree of responsibility the fast food/ junk food companies have in the rising tide of obese people in the world today. The answers hit hard and close to home.

Before I get into this review, I just want to say that Morgan Spurlock has admitted to a history of sexual misconduct and that Jared, the peado, from subway also makes a rather unsettling appearance, so be warned. While I was watching it, I managed to separate the art from the artists, so it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the film.

This film is fascinating because it tries to show where the line between personal responsibility ends and corporate responsibility begins. Is it McDonald’s fault there are more and more people becoming obese and suffering from things like heart disease? There is no clear answer as the film shows. However, it also exposes cultural practices that try and trick consumers and create a cycle of addiction; which isn’t the best look for Ronald and Co.

The best thing I think this film does is show you just how important the fast food industry is as well as how baked into society it is. People are conditioned to think a certain way about it and even crave it, even though it is slowly destroying their bodies. I think it is almost impossible to watch this film and not rethink eating fast-food; even if that thought is only fleeting. The film does such a good job convincing you and winning you around to its viewpoint that it is very hard to argue against.

Overall, a reverting documentary that asks a lot of hard questions about our relationship with food, highlighting what it can do to us if we are not careful. A cautionary tale for sure.

Pros.

Fascinating.

Not afraid to ask hard questions.

Or show their answers, even if they’re unpleasant.

Will have an effect on your life.

Cons.

The people involved make it off putting to a degree.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Porno: The Devil Finds Work For Idle Hands

Porno is a horror comedy film directed by Keola Racela. The plot centres around a group of people who work at a cinema in a small deeply Christian town in America. One evening when the manager of the cinema is out, the group find themselves rummaging around in recently opened ruins beneath their place of work; the ruins of an adult cinema. While they’re there they find a reel of film footage, that they decide to play, however once they do, they find it is full of the devil’s tempting smut and that playing it has also summoned a succubus (Katelyn Pierce).

To me this film was hilariously absurd, the juxtaposition of having these Bible loving teens who think that porn is the work of the devil, having to fight a succubus that is playing off their deepest sexual desires is a genius premise that is guaranteed to make you laugh. The horror of the film mainly comes from how the succubus seems to kill/feed on people, by making their testicles explode, the gore factor here is done tastefully, never once does it become too much to handle.

The nudity is quite gratuitous, whenever the succubus is one screen, she is nude, but I suppose that makes sense. If nudity of both the male and female kind makes you feel uncomfortable then be warned.

The comedy of the film mainly plays out of the absurd nature of the film and just how God fearing these teens are, which makes for a refreshing change to how teens normally are in horror films. I think for sure the balance between comedy and horror here is askew, it is for sure more of a comedy than a horror and the film really isn’t scary in any way.

There are some neat visuals on display here, mainly during the trippy film sequence, that are quite memorable and intense; during this same sequence there is also a lot of flashing lights so watch out for that to.

Overall, this is a solidly entertaining comedy horror film. Very easy to watch, good for a laugh, and some good gore.

Pros.

The premise.

The juxtaposition.

The gore.

The comedy and some of the cool visuals.

Cons.

The nudity is a bit much and could definitely be called gratuitous.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Stan And Ollie: Going Out On Top

Stan and Ollie is a biographical comedy drama film directed by Jon S. Baird. It follows the last tour of beloved classic comedians Laurel and Hardy and details the later years of their life/ partnership. It gives us the audience a peak behind the curtain into the lives of these two funny men and it is far from singing and dancing happy. This film is as heart-breaking as it is hilarious.

I would say for sure this film is more of a drama than a comedy, there are funny moments scattered throughout, especially if you like their version of comedy, but a lot of it is sad. That is the nature of life though, especially if you’re a performer, a day will come when you have to take the curtain call one last time.

I think both actors do a great job and get you to really care about the characters. Steve Coogan sells Laurel as an almost tragic figure, still haunted by events from the past, but also a person who just wants to recapture his friendship with his best friend.  John C. Riley is also incredible as Hardy, we can see the toll carrying on performing has on him, but he continues on anyway. Both men manage to capture the friendship between the two perfectly making it believable. Riley especially is a really good, really strong dramatic actor and things like this prove that he can shine outside of the comedy genre.

There is a real earnest sense of tragedy to this film that pervades it entirely, it hits you hard and it will make you feel something. It is because of this that when you get what is essentially a bittersweet ending it makes you cry and cheer, all because the film has made you care about these men.

Overall, a touching biopic about some of the best comedians of the Golden Age, Coogan and Riley show off their talents as both comedic and dramatic actors, giving damn fine performances. This film will affect you emotionally.

Pros.

Riley and Coogan

A near perfect biopic.

Touching/sweet.

The ending.

Cons.

Quite bleak at times, it might not be what you’re expecting.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Ruin Me: The Slasher Experience

 

Ruin Me is a horror thriller film directed by Preston DeFrancis. The plot sees a group of people attend a slasher film inspired weekend camping experience, only for the fun and games to become shockingly real; a fight for survival soon begins.

This film is the anti-Found Footage 3D, because it approaches a tired, overstuffed horror sub-genre and actually iterates and does something interesting with it. This film plays off the tropes of slasher films and flips the script; the film constantly wants you to be thinking is this weekend away these people are on real? Or is it something far more sinister? As such, the narrative keeps switching between the two ideas.

This choice paired with the writing is genius because it makes you feel unsafe, in situations that would normally be safe in films, it makes you constantly be on edge and as a mystery it keeps you guessing right up until the end, never being clear; even when it ends. I loved the ending of this film as it showed you a whole other side to the horror that you might not have even considered and the twist works incredibly well. Almost Shyamalan levels.

The lead performance by Marcienne Dwyer is also incredibly, we are trained from the off to distrust her and distrust her narration, but we see as the film goes along that she is not crazy at all, but other characters want her to think she is. Her performance is realistic, as in it takes the form of how a normal person would be in that situation, whilst also feeling earnest and likable; we warm to her over the course of the film. The rest of the cast do quite well with what they’re given, but there can be only one final girl.

Overall, an interesting take on the genre, that offers something truly new.

Pros.

Interesting approach/ premise.

Great lead.

Unreliable narrative.

A loving homage to the genre, while also doing something new.

Cons.

Slightly confusing in parts.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke