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Film Review: Eggers creates art-house horror classic with The Witch

To no surprise, niche horror continues to be met with antipathy from the mainstream.

The Witch earned Robert Eggers best director at Sundance more than a year ago, and reactions to advanced screenings of the film were such that A24 made the bold decision to give the independent horror a broad theatrical release in the United States. It made sense; championed by critics and bloggers alike and blessed with a superb marketing campaign, The Witch appeared to be the rare horror film that could draw audiences both young and old.

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And draw it did, taking in just over $8 million during its first week in mid-February. An exceptional return considering the movie’s $3.5 million budget, sure, but far from the $16 million it tracked for following strong Thursday screening numbers.

So, what happened? Expectation and tradition, unfortunately.

Audiences tend to revolt against films that subvert expectation, that confound logic and invest in the ambient and emotional rather than the graphic. The Witch is no gore fest, and it shares little with its independent horror brethren. As such, casual movie-goers failed to connect with Eggers’ grim folktale (to put it nicely).

This, of course, is a shame because The Witch is one of the finest horror films of recent memory. Continue reading

SotM: Back to the Future Remix

We have reached the future. I repeat, we have reached the future.

Back in the 80s, as a child you were obsessed with Back to the Future. You just were. Then Back to the Future Part II came out, and you were obsessed with self-lacing sneakers and, of course, hoverboards.

At the time – winter 1989 to be exact – 2015 was so far away. Flying cars seemed plausible. So, too, did roughly 75 Jaws films. We all longed for 2015. Continue reading

The Case for Captain America

Cap is back, and apparently America – indeed the globe – is happy to see him. Captain America: The Winter Soldier took in more than $300 million worldwide in its debut weekend, a number that nearly matches the entire run of Steve Rogers’ first standalone foray into theaters, 2011’s First Avenger which grossed $371 million worldwide.

The numbers are well deserved. Winter Soldier is superb, a film that transforms the series – and indeed the Marvel cinematic universe – by thrusting Captain American into modern day espionage. It’s an action-intense throwback to 70s political thrillers that, despite its grand ambition, remains surprisingly grounded – that is, as long as you approach the over-the-top action sequences (which are supremely constructed, mind you) with some sense of playfulness.

Continue reading