Unfriended is an unusual type of horror film. It’s unusual because it’s a mainstream horror film, being given a wide release, which feels so very independent (and it is, being made for $1 million). It’s a specific premise that, on premise alone, doesn’t cater to conventions of its genre. It’s different. And in the midst of the supernatural ghosts/exorcism tenure of horror films that we are currently in, Unfriended feels like something that isn’t released in every theater. What that says about our current cinematic state is something I won’t get into but it is surprising. And it’s refreshing that this type of horror film exists and is playing nationwide. It also helps that Unfriended is pretty damn good.
I couldn’t help but watch Focus and enjoy myself. It’s sleek, well made, features two strong central performances, at least one outstanding scene, has twists and turns, and is occasionally pretty funny. What’s not to like? I’m not sure, but here I sit giving the film less than three stars. For all the glitz and glamour of Focus, there lies what I can’t help but feel is an emptiness. There isn’t much underneath the surface of Focus; no message or meaning to take away. And while the film falters in that regard, it sure makes up for it in some polished fun.
There are movies that are violent for the sake of being violent. This is not one of them. Not only is Kingsman: The Secret Service a joyously fun, retro-fitted, violent blast of energy, but it’s a film that has something to say. Touching on a generation gap, Kingsman deals with our society’s necessity for action while holding a grand sense of style and old-school proceedings. It’s also just outrageously fun.
The thing missing from horror films is a human element. There are humans in it, to be sure, but they aren’t real. Most of the time characters in (bad) horror films are not fleshed out. They have one or two basic motives and they don’t stretch beyond what is needed of them as pawns. There can be and have been great horror films with characters that aren’t very interesting; The House of the Devil and Saw come to mind. Those films achieve their “greatness” status based on their technical artistic achievements. The Babadook, directed with gusto by newcomer Jennifer Kent, is so deeply rooted in character interest that it is elevated from not only the best horror film of the year but one of the best films of the year.
Art is subjective. We see it how we choose. There is no correct way to feel about a work of art; the artists creates something, we observe and interpret. I think that’s how Mike Leigh made Mr. Turner. He took this man’s life as his canvas, he chose to show us the parts he felt needed to be shown, and presented it to us to decipher. Whether that completely works as a movie, I’m not quite so sure, but hey, that’s just how I feel about it.
Never before has a film captured a cultural icon like this. This might be because Martin Luther King, Jr. is our most untainted of heroes. He is thought of as something almost mystical, something so above an ordinary person that he doesn’t even come across as a human being. He is seen as a remarkable person who has no flaws or faults, who can do no wrong because he did so much good. That’s the beautiful thing about Selma and David Oyelowo’s performance, for the first time we see just how human Martin Luther King, Jr. was and how that makes him all the more amazing.