Berlin Syndrome

3.5 Stars

If you feel like having a sinking feeling in your stomach for close to two hours…

Clare (Teresa Palmer) is an Australian backpacking around Germany on her own. Her life is turned upside down when she meets a teacher named Andi (Max Riemelt) on the streets of Berlin.

From the start, Clare seems vulnerable as she is travelling solo, but there’s nothing to increase your concern for a character than to share similarities with them. As an Australian with my family over the other side of the world, I was able to relate to some extent. It didn’t hurt that Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt put in convincing performances as Clare and Andi.

Berlin Syndrome is actually an Australian-made film, but Clare is the only Australian character so it feels more like a German production.

The general plot is fairly predictable, but the film is very well executed and has a few nuances that give extra interest – such as Andi’s multi-faceted character. This makes it feel much more true-to-life whilst adding some uncertainty as to what might happen next. If not for lack of originality in the overall story, I would have given this at least 4 stars. All things considered, it lingers between 3.5 and 4.

Berlin Syndrome is released on DVD in Sweden on 18 September.

It

3 Stars

Good enough.

I was really hoping to be blown away by director Andy Muschietti’s incarnation of Stephen King’s classic novel. And while I can see that it really was necessary to bring it up to date with modern audiences, (check clips from the 1990 miniseries on YouTube and you’ll see how cheap and cheerful it looks!) and it did have a fair share of positive notes, on the whole it didn’t leave me feeling wowed.

It’s 1988 in the small town of Derry when Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing after being coaxed towards a drain by Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård). As other local children start to disappear, Bill and a group of friends band together to look for his lost sibling.

Bill Skarsgård is no doubt a fantastic actor and is completely transformed as Pennywise. But he lacks the same level of playfulness and aggression that helped to make Tim Curry’s version (from the 1990 adaptation) all the more terrifying. As with anything scary, there is often a lot more to be said for what you don’t see than what you do. I found two scenes in the film to be particularly creepy and neither of them had clear glimpses of Pennywise.

Sophia Lillis did a great job as the only girl in the group of friends, Beverly Marsh. She came across as natural and endearing.

It’s obvious even from the trailer that there are some similarities to ‘Stranger Things’, from the period in which it is set, right down to the cast including actor Finn Wolfhard. But it doesn’t have the same eerie vibe as Stranger Things – that would have added some extra points in my book.

Nonetheless, I appreciated that there was a good moral message – and if nothing else you can leave the cinema with something of value.

For those who are already hanging out for more, there will be a sequel!

It premieres in Sweden on 13 September.

Get Out

4.5 Stars

This unlikely mix of horror-thriller and comedy is pure brilliance!

Since the disappointing plot of A Cure For Wellness in February, I have been hanging out for a thriller that absolutely delivers – and I seem to have gotten my wish far sooner than expected. Writer, producer and director Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele and Keanu fame) is an absolute genius to marry these two genres together with such ease in his directing debut. The humor ends up being a perfect antidote to the very serious and sinister story as it unfolds.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) have travelled out to stay with Rose’s Mum (Catherine Keener), Dad (Bradley Whitford) and brother (Caleb Landry Jones) for the first time as a couple. The already apprehensive situation of meeting her folks is compounded by the fact that he is of African-American descent. And why are the cook and groundskeeper are acting so peculiarly?

I have so many good things to say about this film. The acting overall is really impressive. Daniel Kaluuya gives a remarkable and emotional performance, which I think makes a huge difference to the realism and impact of what happens. You would never know he’s actually British, his American accent is flawless. LilRel Howery provides much of the comic relief as Chris’s friend Rod and is laugh-out-loud funny.

It’s a breath of fresh air these days when a film can stand on its own two feet without any big name actors, acclaimed directors, or franchises behind it to justify its presence.

Rewatchability is very important to me and Get Out is certainly a film I could watch over again. It’s the kind of film you’d like to watch again with someone who hasn’t seen it, so you can clock their reaction.

Get Out gives the cliché line “If you only see one movie this year…” relevance. Probably the best film i’ve seen since reviewing films for Siaeva. But don’t just take my word for it, my fellow critics gave it a round of applause at the end of the press screening!

Get Out premieres in Sweden on 19 April.

A Cure For Wellness

2.5 Stars

A poor man’s Shutter Island, overcompensated by far too many plot twists.

I really enjoyed Shutter Island so I was interested to see this as it looked like a similar concept… sadly, it falls way short.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a brash young executive who has been sent by his colleagues to a rehabilitation center in Switzerland to bring back Pembroke (Harry Groener), in order to secure a business merger – but bringing him back becomes much harder than he imagined.

What starts out as a promising and intriguing tale with a beautiful backdrop of the Swiss alps, ends up in a whirlwind of horror clichés. I love a good plot twist, but this plot twists back and forth so many times you just want to slam on the breaks. There really is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’.

I’m not sure if the story is just not expressed well enough or if it literally didn’t make sense, but several times near the end I felt like I needed to consult a second party to explain what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, i’ve seen films where confusion has actually built more suspense; but this was confusing to the point where you start to lose interest.

On the plus side, it does give you an uneasy feeling which stays with you after you have left the cinema. I always appreciate films that can give you an ongoing experience after you’ve seen them, even if unpleasant.

The film really does have all the ingredients for a top-shelf thriller, it’s just the storyline which lets it down greatly.

A Cure For Wellness premieres in Sweden on 17 February.

Split

4 Stars

One of those rare, good-quality horror flicks.

Split should satisfy both horror and thriller fans, and most certainly M. Night Shyamalan fans will see this as a strong return to form.

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Teen classmates Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lou Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by Kevin (James McAvoy), who suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder. With 23 different personalities and talk of a frightening new personality to soon show himself, the girls must try to find a way to escape.

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James McAvoy does an amazing job at projecting Kevin’s different personalities with clarity and ease; in some scenes doing one after the other. Anya Taylor-Joy does well as the troubled Casey but I wish she didn’t remind me so much of Kendall Jenner as I think I could have warmed to her character a bit more otherwise.

Disassociative Identity Disorder is an extremely interesting subject in and of itself, and this gives it an extra dimension when compared to a bog-standard horror film.

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As director, producer and writer of the film, Shyamalan is in full knowledge that his audience will be expecting plot twists. He doesn’t disappoint here, you may even find yourself being double-bluffed as I did!

The film is probably more of a 3.8 than a 4, but i’ve rounded it up for simplicity’s sake.

Split premieres in Sweden on 20 January.

Crimson Peak

4.5 Stars

Just beautiful.

I never thought a horror film could be quite as enchanting and cosy as this. It took a pro like director Guillermo del Toro to take the genre and make it sparkle. Haunted house? Check. Girl exploring said house all alone? Check. But Crimson Peak is so much more than that.

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Aspiring writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) makes acquaintance with Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) while working at her father’s office. As Edith and Thomas become closer and Thomas’s sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) comes into the picture, Edith’s father grows suspicious of their true intentions.

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It was actually disappointing for me not to be able to award this 5 stars. It has so much going for it: top-notch acting (and who knew Jessica Chastain would look this good as a brunette?), gorgeous sets and scenery, exquisite period costume design, interesting story, and even some extremely touching moments too. Not only that, but this is a film that makes you think. You get that wonderful feeling of walking out of the cinema and having an ever-so-slightly different perspective on things.

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Yet I still reserve the top rating to films which, in my point of view, are close to perfect. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t quite there; the main culprit being CGI. In some scenes it looks like they borrowed the CGI skeletons from Pirates of the Carribean and dripped them in red wax. Less is more, people! I can’t help but think it would have been so much eerier if they had taken it easy on the digital effects. Secondly, the plot – although very interesting, wasn’t quite as polished as it could have been. But don’t let that dampen your spirits. Its enjoyability factor is through the roof, and that’s the main thing!

Just in time for Haloween, this one is a definite must-see. Crimson Peak premieres in Sweden on October 16.