Living With Chucky: A Love Letter

Written by Luke Barnes


A documentary about the people who have brought the Child’s Play franchise to life over the years and what the films mean to them.

I thought this was a sweet film, especially in the later stages when the documentarian reveals herself and what her connection is to the franchise.

What I liked the most about this film is that you can tell it was a labour of love, and more than that you can tell how much the series means to all of the people being interviewed and as a fan of the series, I don’t understand why you would be watching if you weren’t, that spoke to and connected with me.

I liked the deeper insights the documentary gave into the behind the scenes production of the films and the fact it gave a voice to some of the lesser known people who have been involved with the series and allowed them to talk about their experiences as well. It was fascinating.

My one complaint and this is a very nit picky one if I do say so myself is that this film felt incomplete. Whilst I understand it was probably shot a few years ago and only being released now, it feels incredibly remiss to not talk about the Chucky tv series that is currently airing within it. All of the films get a mention but the series isn’t name checked once which feels like a noticeable admission at least on my part. I would like the thoroughness of having the documentary go through everything to do with the franchise but again I see that is hard when it is on-going perhaps they will do a follow up down the line.

Overall, a lovely documentary and if you are a fan of the franchise one that you simply must check out.



The real sense of love

The look behind the scenes

It brings back a lot of happy nostalgic memories

The sweet connection of the documentarian to the franchise


They don’t mention the show

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Sideworld: Damnation Village


Written by Luke Barnes


A horrifying look under the skin of a number of British village.

With the previous two entries into the Sideworld series I was a big fan I enjoyed their creepy blend of folklore and wider mythology and how they feel so specific to different aspects of the British experience. As such I was expecting big things when I saw this film, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. Now I am not saying this film was bad, far from it, but I am saying it felt a little stunted when compared to the two previous films. I don’t know whether it is because this film decided to focus more on a modern and man made area but it just felt limited and frankly a little stretched thin.

That aside all the technical aspects of this film were on point and the film for the most part generated a creepy atmosphere that sucked you in and didn’t let go, leaving you chilled to the bone. I thought the horror elements were perhaps at the strongest here with regard to the whole series. Certainly I was left unsettled.

Overall, Still a fun scary experience but a bit more threadbare than I was expecting it to be.


The scares

The atmosphere

It is interesting, but it doesn’t go far or deep enough


It is too short

It should have gone into greater depth and really explored the area

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Sideworld,Terrors Of The Sea: What Waits For Us At The Bottom Of The Ocean


Written by Luke Barnes


This film explores the dark and sinister side to our oceans.

I have long thought that there is something quite gothic and mysterious about the sea and I know I am not alone in that belief. I often say to people how crazy it is that we have barely scratched the surface with ocean exploration and cannot fully comprehend what may be waiting for us at the very bottom of the sea, in the areas where there is no light.

In that vein this film really captures in essence the foreboding nature of the sea, coming off often as more curious and mysterious than outrightly scary. I think it is in that regard that this Sideworld film differs from the last, it is less scary. I don’t know if this is by design, but certainly I found this to be different in tone and intent than the last film.

In terms of the sea stories, it was a good smattering of different things from ghost ships to sea monsters. None of it will be things you have never heard before, but thanks to the narrators fantastic delivery it still manages to feel captivating and intriguing until the final frame. I think the sea monster section was probably my favourite.

Overall, if spooks and creepy stories to listen to as the nights slowly darken again are your kind of thing then you will be doing yourself a disservice not to check this out.


It truly captures the mystery of the sea

It is intriguing

It has a good mixture of tales

The sound work is incredibly strong and really does both set the sense and create a fantastic atmosphere.  

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Interview With Writer/Director Ross Munro: The Moviegoer

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director Ross Munro about his new film The Moviegoer which serves as a personal love letter to cinema and reflects an experience many films fans can relate to. In this interview we discuss home movies, early cinematic memories and the films of Charles Bronson.  I hope you enjoy.

Q:  What was your inspiration behind making this film?

RM:  Around the time of the pandemic first hitting, everyone was understandably bummed (to put it mildly!) about having to be separated from friends and family as well as participating in the normalcy of their favoured activities. In the case of myself and my producer/wife Maria, we really missed our movie going community here in Vancouver. There were a couple of movie theatres that we always went to that showed an amazing assortment of films and we really bonded and shared the camaraderie of our fellow movie lovers there.

So, since pretty well the whole filmmaking industry was on a shutdown as well, I had the idea to make a one-off little cinematic homage to how much we all missed going to the movies. Originally, the movie was intended as a collection of photos of myself as a young kid with my narration about my own movie going memories- a nice little cinematic nostalgic love letter that we could pull off very quickly and get it out there for people to enjoy.

Of course, as we started piecing the film together it started to take on a life of its own as we started to add more and more complicated production components as the film industry and society started opening up more. What started as a collection of photos with narration soon found us shooting several complicated live action sequences with numerous actors, original costumes, green screen fx, and the commissioning of original animation all of which added up to a nearly two year journey to make what is now the final version of The Moviegoer.

Q:  What is your earliest cinematic memories?

RM:  I’m definitely a product of growing up in the 1970s and going to the movies during this amazing time of films that made their way to theatres. Probably because my parents were such lovers of movies, I really absorbed this love and pretty soon as young kid movies became the most important fabric of my love- even more than playing hockey which I actually loved a lot. My earliest memories wrestled back and forth between which I’d love to win more: an Oscar or the Stanley Cup.

Probably my first memory was our back in 1969 when I was around 6 years old and my parents took myself and all my brothers to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”- I don’t remember that much except the image of Newman and Redford jumping off the steep cliff into the waters below with Redford comically proclaiming that he didn’t know how to swim.

Going to movies really took root a little later when my older brother Cam went to see “The Aristocats” in 1971 and snuck me along after my parents said I was too young to accompany him on the bus to the theatre downtown. I remember the dizzying enjoyment of going to the movies as we stayed and watched the movie all day long and ended up coming home at sunset and I got into a lot of trouble with my parents for defying them and sneaking along to the movie with my brother.

The next year- in 1972 when I turned 9- I started going to movies regularly and my first and greatest memories were seeing the films of my first Hollywood idols Charles Bronson and Raquel Welch. I loved seeing Bronson in “Red Sun” and Miss Welch in “Kansas City Bomber”.

Since 1972 seemed like the most pivotal year of my early movie experiences and best represented my movie fandom awakening, I decided to have The Moviegoer focus entirely on my journeying to the movies in that year. And, of course, we filmed a whole montage of scenes based on “Kansas City Bomber” with our homage entitled “Kansas City Roller” where we recreated some of the film’s iconic scenes. This was a huge amount of fun to do and not to mention a lot of work for Maria who also served as the film’s Costume Designer and had to recreate all those early 70s roller derby outfits!

Q:  Will we ever see your early Kung Fu films remade?

RM:  Ha! Wouldn’t that be cool? Your referring, of course, to the segment in The Moviegoer that details how my love for movies eventually started me down the path of making my own Super 8mm versions of Kung Fu movies when I was 9 years old as well.

I was a huge fan of martial arts movies back in the early 70s and, of course, Bruce Lee was the holy figure of that amazing, action-filled genre. I remember going to see The Chinese Connection back in 1972 and how my friends and I at school would run around trying our kung fu moves on each other in the playground and pretend to swing around nunchuks like the expert Lee himself. It didn’t matter that the Kung Fu movies were badly dubbed and all had the same story- they were so thrilling and unlike any other typical action movies playing the theatres- it’s almost they came from another planet that’s how unique and mind-blowing they were. Another fave of that genre I saw at that time was “Five Fingers of Death”- definitely not for the squeamish.

But to answer your question, it’s not too likely I’ll end up reacquainting myself as a filmmaker making a martial arts movie- I guess audiences will just have to enjoy my early kung fu movies that came from the mind of a 9-year old wannabe filmmaker using my dad’s Super 8mm camera. Although I’m thinking if I made my own version of “Kill Bill” it might be called “Nunchuck Buck”…

Q:  In 1972 what was your favourite film?

RM:  That’s a fun question to answer as it allows my mind to wander back to the halcyon days of my movie going back in 1972. Where to start? Because of my love for Chuck Bronson and Raquel Welch I have to include both “The Mechanic” and “Fuzz”- two more movies that we reference lovingly in “The Moviegoer” by the way. Also, I remember being in awe of the granddaddy of disaster flicks “The Poseidon Adventure” (Gene Hackman as a priest!), “Blacula”, “Hickey and Boggs”, whichever one of the “Planet of the Apes” series was out at that time, the cool Peter Cushing horror anthology “Asylum” (couldn’t find any friends who were allowed to come and see that with me at the time!) and a cool- and now underseen- Western revenge flick with another of my faves Ernest Borgnine called “The Revengers”. Oh, and let’s not forget another of my faves Chuck Heston trying to save terrified passengers from a deranged plane hijacker in “Skyjacked” which I saw on a double header that year playing with “Kelly’s Heroes”.

Of course, I could go on and on. We tried in our film “The Moviegoer” to mention and create some kind of homage to as many of these films as possible- it’s fun to see how many of these cool 1972 films people who watch the film pick up on. As an added bonus to making the film, it would be nice if people will go out and try and discover these films for themselves- they definitely won’t be disappointed.

Q:   Do you have any funny stories from production?

RM:  I don’t really have too many stories about anything funny going down during production but while building our film’s main segment of recreating what it was like to see a movie back in 1972 we originally created a spoof of a “short documentary” that was to play on screen while my 9-year old self attends a typical Saturday afternoon at the movie theatre. The mock short detailed the attempts of a teenaged girl taking her driver’s test and devolved into the eventual destruction of many cars as a crazy police chase also ensued- we had to remove this segment late in the editing game of the film as it felt almost right out of the movie “Airplane!” with its over-the-top humour. It actually hurt a little to remove it- I know our film’s editor Julia took the news a little hard when we had to make that eventual request.

Also, I just remember having tons of fun with all our talented cast shooting both the homage to X-rated sexy stewardesses trailer and “Kansas City Roller” women’s roller derby sequences- lots of great authentic costumes that the actors really had a blast performing in. I think everyone involved really pulled these sequences off great- lots of campy energy that hopefully transports audiences back to 1972 (or if they never lived through 1972 then taking them on a fun ride there for the first time!).

Q:  Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

RM:  Well, sometimes I wonder why anyone would want me to dispense filmmaking advice and then, upon reflection, I soon realize that, damn, I’ve actually been at this indie filmmaking business for almost four decades! So I guess I’m now on the cusp of getting my home in Malibu and daily film luncheons at Spago in Hollywood…ya, right.

Actually, the main things I’ve learned and am happy to pass along are that you should always follow your dream and vision. Sometimes things might seem impossible to do but there are always solutions and you will definitely find away if you keep grinding it out. You will have many doors closed along the way and though it may prove a temporary setback and cause a little heartbreak, you will soon realize that it will lead to new doors opening and illuminate your path even more as you continue your journey. Because you are definitely on a long journey and definitely not a sprint- you have to keep your mind, spirit and body full of energy and, despite the ups and downs, keep the belief.

And, most importantly, filmmaking is a collaborative effort- try to surround yourself with others who share your beliefs and passion for your projects. This cannot be stressed enough! There were definitely times I felt like giving up but, luckily, I was able to turn towards my wife Maria who, at that time, had just left her job as a graphic designer and didn’t know what her next career path would be. As mentioned, I was on the verge of throwing in the proverbial cinematic towel but I reached out to her and asked if she’d be my producer which, thankfully, she agreed to even though she was not in any way part of the film scene. Now, four films later collaborating together, we are able to strengthen each other and lift the other up as we continue this journey. The point is that she was able to turn her passion to share my vision with me into an amazing collaboration which reinforces my point about surrounding yourself with the right people.

Q:  Future film plans?

RM:  Having now made two features (“Brewster McGee” & “A Legacy of Whining”) and four short films with the latest, of course, being “The Moviegoer”, we are always on the go with developing several projects.

Right now we are looking at making another feature from an original script I wrote called “The Illuminating Angel” which is a somewhat surreal and comical look at a trio of mismatched office workers stuck in a literal and figurative purgatory whose only escape comes their daydreams. Another project on the docket is Maria’s debut as director with the original short film “La Fiesta” which is her autobiographical look back at her family in early 1970s Caracas and will be shot in Spanish from a script we wrote together. We’re also working on an animated film about the life and death of an historic movie theatre called “The Esquire”.

So, as you can see, we have a ton of things that we’re always moving forward with which- along with submitting our current “The Moviegoer” to film festivals- never puts us at a loss when it comes to keeping our passion and desire for making movies as we go into the future!

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The Moviegoer: A Youth Spent At The Cinema


Written by Luke Barnes


One man’s personal cinema coming of age story reminds us all why we care about this medium so much.

They say catching lightning in a bottle is hard to do once let alone twice, well folks I would dare say Ross Munro has pulled off this very feat.

There is something so intimate and personal about the directors love affair with cinema, but also one that can reflect any of our own experiences. Though we lived and grew up in different times and places I could find a lot of my own journey into cinema reflected within the context of this film.

Moreover, I believe that truly good filmmaking is a personal and authentic affair, far from the trendy politics of contemporary Hollywood, and stuffed with the biggest stars there just to have their name sell tickets. In my mind a solid piece of filmmaking reflects one’s passion and their love for the craft and this film has that in spades.

Whether it is the main narrative itself or one of the many asides, including a fake trailer, this film is a lot of fun to watch and frequently has you laughing as it serves up in-jokes that only those who spent their youths in cinemas could ever understand. I appreciate the films scope and everything it tried to do, it has instantly become one of my best of the year.

Overall, a deeply personal connection between you, the filmmakers and the cinematic medium. Every cinema fan will love this film.


It is sweet

It strikes a very personal connection

It is ambitious

It is funny

It gets the pacing just right

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Elizabeth A Portrait In Parts: One To Anger Both The Royalists And The Anti-Royalists


Written by Luke Barnes


A documentary about the life of Queen Elizabeth II told in parts.

Man, there was a lot wrong with this film.  I am going to assume that a lot of the more questionable aspects of this were done for stylistic reasons because other wise I can see no clear justification.

Firstly to the issues of this as a documentary. There was no narration and no interviews it was simply a series of seemingly connected bits of stock footage pieced together, sometimes this stock footage wouldn’t even be of the Queen but from films or other things which added to the confusion of the film. Moreover, there were a lot of odd time jumps within the film that made it hard to follow, an example would be intercutting the Prince Andrew Pizza Express interview between segments on Princess Diana, who thought this was a good idea?

Moreover, I found this piece to be manically depressing showing a woman who has given so much of herself to the public that she has nothing left. There are moments in this film were the Queen looks thoroughly miserable and like she hates the life she has been forced into. Maybe that comes from my reading of the film but it made it hard for me to get through.

Finally there are a number of odd musical choices such as a song by Stormzy and a song wherein the singer wants to have sex with the Queen, both of which feel disrespectful but also incredibly out of place, who did the score for this film?

Overall, a very bad attempt at documentary that will likely leave no one happy.


It is at times so strange that it becomes funny

A few nice moments


The out of place songs

It is depressing

It doesn’t work as a documentary

It jumps around far too much in a timeline sense

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Navalny: Calling Up Your Would Be Murderers


Written by Luke Barnes


This documentary follows Alexei Navalny in the aftermath of the attempt on his life by the Russian Government as he tries to find out who the assassins were and continues his fight against the Russian regime.

I thought this was a hugely eye opening documentary, not in that it revealed anything that I didn’t already know, but because it highlighted to me the impunity with which the Russian government is able to influence things abroad and the complete control they have at home. With the current war in Ukraine this feels especially relevant and chilling.

I thought the tone of the documentary was a nice mix of happiness and sadness, obviously a lot of the events depicted are manically depressing, but there are some moments of levity peppered throughout, such as the scenes with the pony which I particularly enjoyed. Moreover, on the pacing front I liked that this documentary didn’t spend very long at all explaining who Navalny was and assumed that its audience already had a degree of knowledge on the subject. It is nice for media to have that faith in the audience.

Overall, I think this documentary is a must watch, especially with the current geo-political situation being what it is.


It is very informative

It is inspirational

It maintains a good tone and pace

The pony scenes


Some of the scenes feel a little disjointed and out of place

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Sideworld Haunted Forests Of England: Viewing Material Before Your Next Trip To The Woods


Written by Luke Barnes


3 of England’s most haunted forests are explored with their myths and folklore brought to life.

I can’t believe George Popov has done it again, he has forged yet another masterpiece after his previous work The Droving. I think this film spoke to me so much personally because I am a huge folklore fan, I love going to new locations and learning about their strange and mysterious pasts, my book shelf is filled with tomes about mysteries and ghost stories and so this film was right up my alley.

I enjoyed how the film was set out, I thought by exploring 3 different forests and by extension 3 different types of folklore the film allowed itself a lot of room to stay fresh and also produce so really strong scares. I was surprised at how many times this film unsettled me, moreover it not only unsettled me but it also stayed with me after watching, I found myself still creeped out hours later.

I also think another strength of this film that is no less important is the fact that it teaches you more about England, and for those of us that live in Britain that means we learn more about our island and possibly have new places to visit next Halloween. I always enjoy films that can teach me something I didn’t know before and this definitely does that.

Overall, a deeply engaging, creepy affair and definitely one to check out.


It teaches you a lot

It is scares

The folklore is fascinating

The pacing is superb

It stay with you



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Why Me: In Search Of Answers


Written by Luke Barnes


Actor Pietro Sermonti goes in search of answers regarding how much our DNA predetermines our life.

I thought this documentary was quite informative and posed questions I had never really thought about before, I can say that I feel smarter for watching it.

Moreover, I thought the cast of talking heads the film brought together were a nice mix, I found them to be both knowledge able, but also from enough different areas and backgrounds that it never felt one sided in it’s exploration of the subject area.

Overall, interesting for about three quarters of the run time, sadly that other quarter really drags.


It is interesting, for the most part

A good selection of talking heads

It is informative and I felt like I learnt something from it


Pacing issues

Some sections went on for too long and approached boredom

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Tiger King Season Two: Series Overview


Written by Luke Barnes


All of the supposed Tiger Kings and Queens are back for a follow up.

The biggest question I have for this show after watching it is did we need the second season at all? What did it add? In many ways, it just showed us more of the same and doubled down on a lot of the themes and narrative through lines of the first season. Including more of the unethical issues that many decried the first series for, to see an example of what I and others are talking about consider the issue of bias within the second season of Tiger King. There are clear heroes and villains in the overarching narrative of the show and this is less to do with who is or isn’t guilty but rather who the public latched on to. Yes, I am talking about Joe Exotic. The second season is incredibly in love with him, and decides to ignore his rather obvious animal abuse charges and instead paint him as some kind of falsely accused, for the murder for hire plot, folk hero whilst painting all of his enemies even the ones not convicted of any wrong doings as villains. You can see why Carole Baskin didn’t want to come back.

In the sense of a true documentary this series is and always has been an abject failure. It does not care about the truth but rather what is the most entertaining narrative, as such it is more akin to reality TV. It is in this sense I come to my review score because whilst this season did not need to exist I did find it entertaining whilst it was on, I enjoyed the roadshow as much as anyone else so whilst I can stand here and say it is bias therefore it is a bad documentary series, I think it is already aware of that and doesn’t care.

Furthermore, in some ways this second season provided comfort to me as we got to see a lot of the worst characters from the first season go to prison, or be on their way there, which restores some of my faith in humanity.

Overall, though it was unneeded and incredibly bias, I did still enjoy my time with the series.


Dumb fun

The absurdity

Seeing some of the cruel animal abusers facing consequence


The clear bias

It was needless

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