Category Archives: Features

7 romantic horrors to watch after ‘Bones and All’

Reuniting Call Me by Your Name pair Timothée Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino, Bones and All is many things. It’s a horror movie. (It’s more specifically a cannibal horror movie.) It’s a road movie. It’s a coming-of-age tale. But perhaps most crucially, it’s an empathetic portrait of romance rooted in unsavoury origins.

Bones and All sees young Maren (Taylor Russell) embark on an American odyssey to track down her roots, after her latest cannibalistic outburst sees her finally abandoned by her father (André Holland) and left to fend for herself. Encountering other ‘eaters’ like herself, she forms a connection with drifter Lee (Timothée Chalamet), and the two fall in love while navigating their need for human flesh.

Your typical love story, then. If Bones and All has you salivating for more romances wrapped in bloodlust, here are seven horror gems (in chronological order) that have love or infatuation at their centre. Given the genre involved, it should be no surprise that few of these films end on a happy note. And since they are romances in horror movies, their inclusions here don’t necessarily reflect healthy relationships or advice to follow. i-D accepts no responsibility if you watch these films and then attempt to reanimate your deceased partner in a suspicious laboratory…

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The 10 weirdest, most powerful arthouse movies of 2022

The 66th London Film Festival is in full swing this October, presenting over 160 new features and shorts, VR works and previews of prestige TV on the big screen – with a few films also available nationwide on streaming service BFI Player after the festival’s close.

There are plentiful red carpet ceremonies, career talks with legends and screaming Timothée Chalamet fans. But what of the films themselves? In alphabetical order, here are ten of the best features from this year’s LFF…

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10 great films with DIY special effects

Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney’s Strawberry Mansion is set in the near-distant future, where a surveillance state conducts audits of people’s dreams in order to collect taxes on the populace’s unconscious existence. One government agent (Audley himself) heads to a remote farmhouse to audit an eccentric elderly artist’s lifetime of dreaming. Made on a scant budget, it’s an independent film heavily reliant on a DIY aesthetic: a virtual reality helmet resembles a bin lid, VHS tape recurs throughout, and its masks and stop-motion animation have an appealingly crude quality to them.

Given the limited budgets usually involved, independent genre fare and experimental cinema are often host to creative effects, both practical and digital. You can still get professional makeup artists and special effects wizards to help your dream project reach fruition, but when it comes to achieving that key visual component lingering in the back of your mind, there’s something to be said for giving it a go on your own: be it depicting a journey to outer space or turning yourself into a metallic monstrosity.

To mark the UK release of Strawberry Mansion, here are 10 key films that rely on what we’ll broadly label ‘DIY effects’. With one notable exception, this list sticks to films with no major-studio-backing during initial production, and, where budget information is available, nothing with a reported production budget exceeding $1 million…

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10 great British films of 2002

Looking back on a nation’s output for any artform 20 years removed, there’s a risk of rose-tinted glasses misrepresenting the quality or wider health of the medium at the time. But while certain contemporary commercial successes should perhaps remain left in the past (Ali G Indahouse and The Guru, to name two), a not insignificant portion of the British films of 2002 have endured with audiences in the decades since.

In terms of acting talent, 2002 saw the release of breakthrough films for actors who are still major names 20 years later, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, Sean Harris, Benedict Wong, Nicholas Hoult and Martin Compston. Regarding early career directors, Lynne Ramsay proved Ratcatcher (1999) was no fluke with her second feature, Morvern Callar. Another key Scottish filmmaker of the last few decades, David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Starred Up, Hell or High Water), also had his debut feature as director – the thriller The Last Great Wilderness – premiere this year. And actor-director Peter Mullan won the Golden Lion prize at Venice for his second feature, The Magdalene Sisters, which explores three teenage girls’ experiences of Ireland’s infamous ‘Magdalene laundries’. 2002 also saw premieres of key films in the careers of Ken Loach, Danny Boyle, Stephen Frears and Michael Winterbottom.

While not all of the same quality as Boyle’s 28 Days Later…, 2002 was a particularly interesting year for British genre cinema. Neil Marshall’s ambitious debut feature Dog Soldiers transplanted the formula of James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) to the werewolf movie; Jamie Bell followed up Billy Elliott (2000) with First World War supernatural tale Deathwatch; westerns influenced Shane Meadows’ Once upon a Time in the Midlands; and ouija board horror Long Time Dead made solid earnings worldwide. The American-set British thriller My Little Eye is very dated in some ways, yet its story of an online reality show experiment with a deadly twist makes it a crucial text for how internet-rooted horror would later develop.

With a new restoration of Dog Soldiers surfacing on physical media, here – in the order they premiered – are 10 of the best films made in Britain that fertile year…

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‘Men in Black’ at 25 and the end of the practical effects era

Centring on a secret organisation monitoring extraterrestrials on Earth, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black (1997) may have spawned three wildly inferior sequels, but the original endures as a sci-fi comedy triumph, thanks to storytelling and production methods largely absent from the blockbuster landscape that followed.

While there was a considerable marketing blitz (see Will Smith’s inescapable tie-in single), the fact that Men in Black became summer 1997’s biggest hit domestically (and close worldwide) is surprising in many ways. Even in comparison with the same era’s TV mega-hit The X-Files, it boasts a very cynical worldview. Most alien invasion narratives incorporate some kind of sense of wonder (see Smith’s hit of the previous year, Independence Day), where a close encounter of the third kind is treated as the biggest thing to happen to our species. With Men in Black, it’s the opposite.

Smith’s rookie agent aside, everyone in the organisation maintains the perspective that everything happening on Earth is ultimately irrelevant. Tommy Lee Jones’ agent K delivers one particularly fun line about our place in the universe’s pecking order: “Human thought is so primitive, it’s looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies. That kind of makes you proud, doesn’t it?” Positing that mankind doesn’t really matter – and is a minuscule part of a much grander story of the universe – is still a pretty unique driving concept for a movie aimed at getting millions of bums on seats. Yet somehow it worked…

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IberoDocs: 2022 festival preview

As with basically every UK arts festival in the first five months of 2021, the eighth edition of IberoDocs – Scotland’s main showcase for documentary works from Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American filmmakers – went fully online in light of lockdowns. For the ninth edition, in-person events in Edinburgh and Glasgow are back on the cards, but lessons from last time haven’t been completely abandoned.

Between 6 and 10 April there will be screenings at those cities’ participating venues, while between 11 and 17 April a selection of the festival programme will move online and be available across the UK. There’ll be one online-exclusive in the form of Bolingo: The Forest of Love – a documentary exploring the journey undertaken by women migrants from the heart of Africa to northern Morocco, searching for the ‘European dream’. Additional accessibility will also come via a number of post-film Q&As featuring BSL interpretation…

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10 films to watch out for at Glasgow Film Festival 2022

New Claire Denis, new Terence Davies and a spotlight on the first woman to direct a film noir. This year’s Glasgow Film Festival offers plenty to get your teeth into…

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Where to begin with Shinji Somai

Critic Shigehiko Hasumi once suggested that Japanese filmmaker Shinji Somai – who died young aged 53 in 2001, after directing 13 features – “is the missing link between the end of the studio system of Japan and the rise of independent filmmaking”. In their compassionate depictions of loneliness and alienation, you can certainly see the influence of Somai’s films in the works of several younger directors who followed, including Shunji Iwai (All About Lily Chou-Chou) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse).

So why is Somai relatively unknown in the west? It’s all down to the mysteries of international distribution. For whatever reason, none of Somai’s films got released in the UK, with opportunities to see them relegated to festival appearances or one-off repertory screenings. Even a particularly high interest in contemporary Japanese cinema in Britain in the early 2000s – the time of the J-horror boom – didn’t result in distribution for Somai’s final features, Wait and See (1998) and Kaza-hana (2000).

In recent years, the Edinburgh International Film Festival showcased a full retrospective of his work in 2012, while Moving (1993) was part of the touring programme in support of Mark Cousins’ A Story of Children and Film (2013). At the time of writing, we’ve just seen the first ever home-video outing for any of Somai’s features in the west: Arrow Video’s Blu-ray of Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981). It’s hopefully a sign of good things to come, as Somai’s CV includes some of the finest Japanese films of the 1980s and 90s…

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25 years on, Mars Attacks! is the ultimate Main Character Syndrome comedy

When re-evaluating critical or commercial disappointments, it can happen that artists’ work goes underappreciated because of trends and tastes at the time of its original release, only for the film, album, or artwork to age like fine wine as the world changes its sensibilities. Case in point: Tim Burton’s gleefully chaotic Mars Attacks!, in which humanity at large is incredibly stupid and short-sighted in the face of a potential extinction-level event. Sound familiar?

Mars Attacks! opened to largely middling reviews in December 1996 and commercially bombing domestically. It was unfairly and unfavourably compared by many to Independence Day. The two projects have little in common beyond alien invasion plots, big ensembles, and the same year of release. Independence Day had opened five months earlier, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It was a no-win situation for Mars Attacks! opening that Christmas season, coming across like a rushed, snarky response to its supposed counterpart film, despite the established (and then still fresh) brand of Burton and a much more star-studded cast…

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An Introduction to Indie Film Darling Adrienne Shelly

“I was going for a tone where you can find what’s funny in what’s painful, which has always been my kind of strategy anyway in life,” says Adrienne Shelly through archive footage in a new HBO documentary, Adrienne (2021).

An actor, screenwriter and director, Shelly broke through in the early 90s as the luminous lead of indie maverick Hal Hartley’s first two features: The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust (1990), which were key early texts in a wave of independent films that helped define the stylistic directions of a considerable number of American movies that decade…

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