Shocktober: The Nightingale

The Nightingale (2018)

I went into The Nightingale mostly just knowing that it was the second feature film from Jennifer Kent, the writer, director, and creator of queer icon The Babadook. On paper, a brief synopsis of The Nightingale almost sounds like an action movie; something akin to Kill Bill or John Wick. This is the story of Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Irish convict who sets off to get her revenge against a British officer after he commits a horrible act against her and her family. But don’t get it twisted, there’s nothing fun or satisfying about this story. Had I known that this movie had a reputation for being unflinchingly brutal – to the point that it was a common occurrence for audiences to storm out of screenings – I might not have decided to dedicate one of my precious few reviews this Shocktober to it. But the whole idea of this genre is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and I do believe Jennifer Kent is an amazing talent, so I guess I don’t regret my ignorance. That said, if you haven’t seen this one yet, you should probably know what you’re getting into.

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Shocktober: The Lodge

The Lodge (2019)

I was on the fence about picking The Lodge for Shocktober. Even now I’m not sure if I should have gone with a different choice. I didn’t love the ending to this film but there is something special about it. I think a big part of that is the film’s directing/writing team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The two films made thus far by this Austrian aunt/nephew duo have both felt unique in the stories they tell and the way they tell them. Both are isolated films that claw at the psyche and both leave behind a cold lingering sensation long after watching them.

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Shocktober: Eve’s Bayou

Eve’s Bayou (1997)

There wasn’t a lot I knew about Eve’s Bayou going into it, other than that it was Roger Ebert’s favorite film of 1997. For a long time, this seemed a bit odd, since it’s been a fairly obscure little movie for most of its existence, though its status as a major studio film directed by a Black woman has made it more and more of a vital rarety over the years. It’s another movie that doesn’t quite fit into the horror genre, but also is just as hard to pin to any other genre. It has the feel of a straightforward family drama, but by throwing in elements like voodoo and predestined murder it has a slightly sinister edge to it. So in that regard, it’s easy to see why it was such a hard movie for people (other than Roger Ebert) to make sense of at the time, but remains a hauntingly assured debut from Kasi Lemmons.

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Shocktober: Amer

Amer (2009)

This might be the most in the dark I’ve ever been going into a Shocktober pick. Though there were two big reasons I wanted to watch this movie. 1) This was included in “Fangoria’s 300 Best Horror Movies” list back in 2010. A list I’m still making my way through after all these years. 2) I saw a trailer for Let the Corpses Tan back in 2017 and knew I had to get around to diving into the work of husband and wife team Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani at some point

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Shocktober: Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary (1989)

I’m sure there is a pretty large portion of film fans that are, like myself, only familiar with Stephen King through his movie adaptations. This is not due to a lack of curiosity, since I probably should get around to reading one of his books eventually. But since the horror genre is one I’m more than happy to spend time with for an hour or two in the form of a film, I guess I’m just a little less inclined to embrace the time commitment that comes with reading a novel in the same vein.

Also, it’s very easy to get acquainted with the world of Stephen King through his movie adaptations, since it’s hard to think of an author who has been adapted more, especially during the 80s, 90s, and briefly in the 2010s. I realize that it’s a little belittling to start this review off talking about a movie’s male originator, since the aim of this Shocktober was to highlight women directors. And though director Mary Lambert certainly is responsible for the movie’s effectiveness, it’s hard not for this to feel like one of King’s adaptations that he had the most sway over. Continue reading

Shocktober: Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Needy Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) is a violent inmate in an asylum who is convinced the people running the place are trying to keep her placid with shitty food and frequent exercise. She’s not having any of that, so she assaults someone and gets thrown into solitary confinement. It seems hard to believe that not too long ago she was an insecure student at a small town high school. Just what the hell happened here?

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The Pick: The Many Saints of Newark

Ohhh! Marone! It may be Shocktober, but there’s still nothing scarier than a mob hit. This week we’re talking about the big screen return (that kinda ended up being a small screen return due to streaming) of The Sopranos. We take a trip back to Jersey with The Many Saints of Newark by reminiscing a bit about one of the greatest TV shows ever as well as how best to assess this companion film in relation to the show. It’s a bit of a longer episode, since apparently it’s subject matter that we have a lot to say about, while we also throw in an extended segment that tests our Sopranos knowledge. Continue reading