Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Director Alexandre Aja makes a big splash with this year's sleeper horror hit Crawl. Like many great horrors, the title has a double meaning. Not only do the monsters crawl but the majority of the action takes place in a crawl space beneath a house... plus it makes your skin crawl!
Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a collegiate swimmer, must travel back home to check on her estranged father (Barry Pepper) during a hurricane when they both become trapped in the basement with a vicious alligator. With no one coming to their Gator-Aid, they must work together as flood waters and tensions rise around them, bringing fear and their troubled past to the surface in a race against time.
Having made his name with French horror Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance, Aja has abandoned any notion of a twist that featured in that film that split audiences right down the middle like a gator chomping through a Floridian. This is an old school thriller that is as lean and mean as a hungry alligator during hurricane season. Also, he gives the humour present in his Piranha 3D remake a wide birth to focus on building the tension and emotion... although he still knows when to throw in an effective and gory kill to satisfy the blood lust!
Scodelario makes for a tough, resourceful scream queen whose fiercely competitive swimming background helps to level the playing field once the protagonists are underwater. At times, when drenched and vunerable, she is almost the doppelganger of Emma Stone and she will undoubtedly have audiences on her side willing her to survive.
The film does have a standard OTT premise needed for a good old-fashioned horror thrill ride but the writers make sure to ground this in as much believability as possible. Decisions made by characters feel authentic and the barriers to their escape flow naturally that you never scoff or remark "well that would never happen". Plus the tension and threat is maintained throughout to the point where no one is safe... even the dog!
A genre cross between Jaws and Hard Rain, Crawl is a gripping horror with bite that will once again make you afraid to go back in the water and is the most thrilling way to spend 87 minutes in Florida until Galaxy's Edge opens later this year!
Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Spider-Man: Far From Home is the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it finds itself in a similar situation to the Ant-Man films. After the overwhelming intensity and drama of the Avengers movies, the stakes for Spider-Man's European Vacation (or Magical Mysterio Tour) are smaller, the tone needs to be lighter and more hopeful but it also must nail the superhero landing and bring Phase 3 to a close whilst simultaneously addressing "The Blip".
The Blip is canonically what the MCU is calling the second snap which brought back half of the world's population following Thanos's original snap... although why they didn't call it "The Snappening" we will never know.
To be fair, Far From Home hits the ground running with a poignant but amusing high school news video bringing everyone quickly up to date with how those teenagers who disappeared would fit back into school... in short they must take their midterms again but get rewarded with a trip to Europe for a science holiday. Conveniently, all the main characters from Homecoming all got snapped at the same time so the gang is all here.
Peter is having the hardest time adjusting. Aunt May seems to be flirting with Happy Hogan. He is dealing with burgeoning feelings for MJ and he is struggling to cope the loss of Tony with the pressure of being the hero as the world looks to someone to take over the mantle of Iron Man.
That hero could just be Quentin Beck, a mysterious superhero dubbed Mysterio by a mispronunciation on Italian TV. With armour that looks like Thor, mystical green powers like Doctor Strange and the flight capabilities of Vision, he is the Avengers all rolled into one... well, at least the ones who like to wear capes!
Not only can he fill the shoes of Iron Man but he could fill the role of surrogate father that Peter has struggled to replace following the deaths of his father, Uncle Ben and now Tony.
Tom Holland has continued to grow into the role since Civil War and is now the definitive on-screen Peter Parker and Spider-Man... and Night Monkey. He is able to go from comedic one-liners to tearing your heart out at the flick of a web shooter and will undoubtedly be the heart of the MCU going forward into Phase 4.
Newcomer Gyllenhaal is excellent as Beck/Mysterio and the film truly comes alive in the second half of the film once Gyllenhaal goes, as I like to dub, "full Okja" which leads to a sequence that easily tops Doctor Strange's trippy visuals as Mysterio's demonstrates the full extent of his powers.
To discuss much more would stray too close to the deadly spoiler realm so... spider-lips are sealed.
Director Jon Watts has so far taken Spider-Man from New York to Washington in Homecoming and now on European Vacation in Far From Home so I expect the next logical step is to complete his trilogy and have the next film set at Christmas.
Phase 3 may have come to an end but the two incredible post-credit scenes, it is far to say, have flipped everything upside down and it will be very interesting and exciting to see where Spider-Man and the MCU are headed.