Tag Archives: Netflix

Fear Street: 1666 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

In covering each entry in director Leigh Janiak’s interconnected Fear Street trilogy as they drop weekly on Netflix, it’s been relatively easy to be vague with plot details. That said, the fun and freaky final instalment, subtitled 1666, is near impossible to discuss without spoiling some threads left dangling from parts one and two. So, to paraphrase Fear Street author RL Stine’s better-known horror series, reader beware…

Full review for Little White Lies

Fear Street: 1978 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

The 1994-set first part of Leigh Janiak’s RL Stine trilogy saw teenagers stalked by several undead mass murderers from their seemingly cursed town’s history. It established that these homicidal outbursts across 300-plus years were the work of suspected witch Sarah Fier, a woman killed in 1666, possessing unsuspecting Shadysiders every so often from beyond the grave, as a means of revenge against the town.

Extinguishing their specific nightmare problem in part one, the surviving characters were then left on a cliff-hanger when one of their own became Fier’s latest victim of possession. The second film’s framing device sees her friends turn to the only local who might believe them. C Berman (Gillian Jacobs, selling two decades of trauma in only a few scenes) is a scarred, nihilistic survivor of the ‘Camp Nightwing Massacre’ of 1978. In its immediate aftermath she spoke of Fier’s involvement, but no one would listen. Berman was said to have briefly died, before resuscitation, while her sister was among the slain…

Full review for Little White Lies

Fear Street: 1994 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

Pre-global pandemic, a gamble was taken with a trilogy of gory films loosely based on YA-horror series Fear Street by RL Stine, all directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak. Twentieth Century Studios (née Fox) was originally set to distribute these three interconnected movies, each set in a different time period, in cinemas across three consecutive months in the summer of 2020.

With theatrical distribution disrupted that same year, production company Chernin Entertainment sold their experiment to Netflix, with the streaming giant now releasing the trilogy across three consecutive weeks. First up is the 1994-set film, directly inspired by that decade’s slasher genre revival, and it will be followed by trips to 1978 and 1666…

Full review for Little White Lies

Where to stream the best Scottish films

From homegrown filmmakers who’ve gone on to international acclaim to features that make evocative use of its towns, cities, communities and landscapes, Scotland’s cinematic output has always been particularly rich. Excluding movies that you can currently only watch digitally by renting or buying them (sorry to The Wicker Man, Whisky Galore! and most of Bill Forsyth’s efforts), here are some of the best Scottish films you can stream right now…

Full feature for the BFI

Rose Island (Sydney Sibilia, 2020)

Relatively early in 2020, one video game became a phenomenon as Nintendo Switch players looked to simulate some sort of structured existence in the context of quarantine. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees your customisable character move to a deserted island, decorating the place and developing it into a community of anthropomorphic animal residents. Selling the most units of any title in 2020, it has already cracked the top 30 list of the best-selling video games of all time.

All the specific factors for Animal Crossing’s success would merit a deep-dive article, but one thing appears clear: with the world in the grip of a pandemic, vaguely whimsical explorations of forming start-up communities during a period of global unrest are hot right now. By sheer luck of timing, Sydney Sibilia’s Rose Island, based on the real-life story of an island being created and bringing people together, looks set to capitalise on this…

Full review for Little White Lies

I Lost My Body (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

Adapted from a novel penned by co-screenwriter Guillaume Laurant (Amélie), I Lost My Body is the feature debut of Jérémy Clapin, a man known for directing animated shorts with odd premises. One example of this is Skhizein (2008), in which a person who has been struck by a 150-ton meteorite has to adjust to living exactly 91 centimetres from himself.

I Lost My Body is also concerned with displacement in various ways. From the title, one might expect a story in the vein of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (2017), with a phantasm dealing with (after)life after death. But while I Lost My Body has a similar melancholy tone, this curious blend of 2D and 3D animation techniques in fact focuses on a still very alive human and his also very alive dismembered hand…

Full review for SciFiNow

Earthquake Bird (Wash Westmoreland, 2019)

A few minutes into Earthquake Bird, Alicia Vikander’s Lucy Fly is shown translating an English-language film into Japanese for what we soon learn has been her job in Tokyo for a number of years. The film in question is Black Rain, Ridley Scott’s cross-cultural action movie in which Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia play New York City cops escorting a Yakuza member back to Japan for extradition.

It’s a cute nod given that Scott Free Productions is one of the companies behind this Netflix-distributed film, and that Black Rain opened in 1989, the year in which Earthquake Bird is set. But the reference ends up backfiring. While the general consensus on Scott’s film remains largely negative, not least due to its use of Asian stereotypes, many of its detractors have nonetheless pointed to the director’s stylistic excesses as a positive. By contrast, Wash Westmoreland’s adaptation of Susanna Jones’ 2001 novel is a pedestrian thriller lacking any zest or flair…

Full review for Little White Lies

Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber on Blumhouse’s ‘Cam’ and being sex-work positive

A multiple prize-winner at this year’s prestigious Fantasia Festival, the Blumhouse-produced Cam, now available on Netflix UK, is one of 2018’s most interesting horror films for numerous reasons.

First of all, the film, set in the world of webcam shows, is among the most sex work-positive fiction features to date from any genre, and a crucial pop culture asset in a time when sex workers worldwide are under threat, thanks to livelihood-threatening legislation from various governments.

Secondly, Cam is one of the few films with sex work at its centre that’s actually written by a former sex worker. Debut screenwriter and producer Isa Mazzei had a similar camming career to that of the film’s protagonist, Alice (online alias Lola, played by the spellbinding Madeline Brewer of The Handmaid’s Tale).

Thirdly, although the film is directed by Daniel Goldhaber (his debut feature), it is credited as ‘A film by Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber’. Despite taking on specific roles (Mazzei is the sole screenwriter), the pair are adamant Cam is a 100 per cent joint vision, making it a particularly fascinating case study in a climate where who gets to tell what stories is under more scrutiny than ever.

Cam follows Alice, who makes a living as a camgirl on a popular chatroom site, but withholds sharing the details of her career with her mother (Melora Walters) – until she cracks the top 50 ranking of the platform’s performers. Around the time she does, she suddenly finds she’s been locked out of her account. Someone else is broadcasting from it, though: a doppelgänger of Alice/Lola, who veers into content that goes beyond the rules Alice had set for herself. In a bitter twist, the imposter Lola’s shows help her channel become one of the most popular on the site. With the exception of a fan who seems strangely attuned to what’s going on, no one seems able to help Alice stop Lola, forcing her down a path of creative and eventually violent improvisations.

While they were in London for the film’s UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, we sat down with Mazzei and Goldhaber for a fascinating, extensive conversation concerning, among other things, what their film says about our relationship to technology, making such a sex work-positive movie, working with Blumhouse and their thoughts on Jason Blum’s recent comments about women in horror filmmaking, the curious influence of documentarian Frederick Wiseman on the film’s storytelling, working with star Madeline Brewer and how to successfully collaborate with people to empower underrepresented voices, creating a new cinematic language to tell their horror tale, and their unique partnership that dismisses traditional notions of auteur theory…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

Samantha Robinson on Netflix’s ‘Cam’, ‘The Love Witch’, social media, and ‘Paris, Texas’

Set in the world of a specific type of sex work, Netflix’s Blumhouse-produced horror Cam offers plenty of food for thought alongside its unsettling thrills. Written by former camgirl Isa Mazzei and directed by Daniel Goldhaber, the film sees a rising star camgirl, Lola (real name Alice, played by Madeline Brewer), locked out of her account, after it has been taken over by a mysterious entity that looks exactly like her and is near-constantly broadcasting. No one can tell the difference and it seems nothing can be done about this supernatural occurrence. In its portrayal of an identity theft nightmare, the film taps into and escalates real fears for the social media generation.

Although Alice is the centrepiece of the film – one of two, if you count her digital doppelgänger – there are plenty of memorable supporting characters. One of these is a young woman we only get to know as PrincessX, a camgirl rival of sorts to Lola, played by Samantha Robinson, currently best known for her breakthrough lead role in Anna Biller’s The Love Witch.

We met Robinson in London for a discussion of what drew her to the film’s material, the lack of a male gaze in the film thanks to its unique co-vision, what Cam says about our relationship to technology, how her career’s changed since The Love Witch, and her love of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas informing a new creative project.

We also tried to get any information at all about her experience working on Quentin Tarantino’s next movie. Tried…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018)

From Jodorowsky’s Dune to a film about Tim Burton’s cancelled Superman, documentaries about movies that never got made have proved a popular prospect over recent years. Sandi Tan’s energetic Shirkers, ostensibly an entry in this subgenre, differs for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s directed by the helmer of the original film it concerns, which shares the same name. Secondly, it’s about an independent Singapore-made film the world never got to see, rather than a Hollywood property. Finally, and most crucially, the original Shirkers was actually completed. The reason it was never released is because one strange individual involved in production stole all of the film’s materials once the 1992 shoot had wrapped…

Full review for Little White Lies