DEPRAVED – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Longtime independent Larry Fessenden, whose Glass Eye Pix has consistently supported young genre filmmakers, returns to a classic story he first tackled 25 years ago in No Telling, with a modern-day Frankenstein story that returns to one of the novel’s core themes: The dense and complex relationship between parents and children, however ambivalent the parents and however challenging the child. Fessenden pokes around some uncomfortable truths and the result is a discomfiting horror film for the social-media generation.

Read more

KOKO-DI KOKO-DA – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Harkening back to Nyholm’s earlier work, Koko-Di Koko-Da features a notable inclusion of the same shadow puppetry-like animation that in style and content recalls his 2009 short Dreams from the Woods. Bringing back some of that short’s key characters, the filmmaker again has proven his strengths lie in merging form in a simultaneously dark and playful manner with a sharp thematic edge.

Read more

LUZ – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Luz is a sleepy, creepy slow burn that—like oh-so-many films about demonic possession—lives in the twilight zone of adolescent sexuality, a sleepy wasteland that breeds monsters of every shape and form. And like so many films whose origin lie in relationships between adolescent girls, Luz is rooted in the primordial horror of female sexuality that stops short of blaming female problems for all the troubles of the world.

Read more

RIOT GIRLS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Jovanka Vuckovic’s feature debut Riot Girls is set in a future where the adult population has been decimated by a plague kids have remained immune to. Riot Girls makes Vuckovic’s punk sensibility explicit not only through its very title (riffing on the underground 90s riot grrrl movement), but by the subcultural styling of its two central characters, Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and Nat (Madison Iseman).

Read more

THE NIGHTINGALE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

In Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the monsters are white human males of privilege who commit horrifying atrocities in order to maintain their presumed superior status. Set in early 19th-century Tasmania, the gorgeous primordial surroundings are in stark contrast to the constant acts of ugliness and brutality primarily committed by British soldiers against convicts from England and Ireland who are constantly debased and abused. Women and native Aborigines are placed on even lower rungs, meant to serve the needs of the ruling military class.

Read more

THE NIGHTINGALE – Review by Loren King

Writer/director Jennifer Kent knows just what she wants in The Nightingale. There’s no soft-pedaling around the brutality and violence central to her story about the dehumanizing and vicious treatment of women and the indigenous people of Australia by men with power during colonization.

Read more

THE NIGHTINGALE – Review by Sheila Roberts

Jennifer Kent’s masterful writing and direction foster empathy for the plight of all the characters, both good and bad. She avoids the usual cathartic violence and exploitative storytelling tropes of revenge thrillers we’re accustomed to, and elicits strong, compelling performances. She takes an unflinching look at Colonialism — how racism and gender violence affect us, how they have always been used as weapons of war to marginalize and destabilize a vulnerable society, and why compassion is so essential.

Read more

THE NIGHTINGALE -Review by Leslie Combemale

Chilling, haunting, bracing, repulsive, heartbreaking…these are all apt descriptors of various parts of writer/director Jennifer Kent’s sophomore feature. It may be excruciating to watch, but it is also spectacularly good, and likely to remain on the top of my best of 2019 list. But I’m not watching it again to make sure. If you are as a viewer triggered by scenes of rape, torture, and murder, move along. This is not the feminist revenge drama you’re looking for.

Read more

CULTURE SHOCK – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The spirit of empathy makes Culture Shock an unforgettable and important horror film. There is no subtext here; it would take some determined, dedicated ignorance to miss how the film’s title refers to the immigrant experience, where desperate people trying to change their lives for the better are forced to accept a new culture at the expense of one’s original one, shattering their sense of identity and self.

Read more