Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Judith Roberts Running Time: 90 minutes
He has a unique set of skills, but Joe, the driven murder machine of Lynne Ramsay’s stunning thriller You Were Never Really Here, is far from the typical one-man rampage and the film has much more than cheap kill thrills on its mind. Taking a standard grim and gritty action film plot and considering it with depth, melancholy and honesty, this a film that prompts the question, once you’ve been ‘Taken’, can you ever really come back? And can the heroes tragic backstory truly push him forward or has it long-since pushed him over the edge, not a source of inspiration but a devastating destruction?
Director: Lance Daly Starring: Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddy Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Jim Broadbent Running Time: 96 minutes
For an event that had such a profound impact on the course of Irish history, the great tragedy and injustice from which Ireland’s entire subsequent history as a nation sprang forth from, it’s surprising that the Famine hasn’t found its story told on cinema screens, particularly Irish ones, more often. Director Lance Daly takes that task on in Black 47, last week’s Opening Gala of the 2018 Dublin International Film Festival. His approach is perhaps unexpected considering the subject matter, the film being a roaring rampage of revenge, internalising the anger and injustice of the Famine into one man’s quest for vengeance. Prestigous? No. But undoubtedly compelling.
Director: Tomas Alfredson Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer Running time: 119 mins
Nordic noir is something that Hollywood has been trying to crack for many years. Although movies, novels and TV shows on this side of the pond have slashed their way to nordic noir notoriety, Hollywood’s attempts to produce this type of dark, urban-based crime fiction hasn’t produced many results.
Expectations were high, however, when news broke of The Snowman; a Jo Nesbø novel adaptation directed by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy director Tomas Alfredson, starring Michael Fassbender and produced by none other than Martin Scorsese. On paper The Snowman should be a masterpiece. In reality, it couldn’t be further from one.
Director: Juan Carlos Medina Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth Running Time: 105 minutes
Imagine one of those ITV murder mystery shows that takes place over a couple of Sunday nights, add a little budget and plenty of blood and replace the usual suspects with Karl Marx, George Gissing and Dan Leno and you’re well on your way to having The Limehouse Golem, a gory thriller about a series of murders in the streets of Victorian London at the hands of a Pepsi-brand Jack the Ripper. Adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Jane Goldman (of Kick Ass, Kingsman and more), the most appealing aspects of this mystery take their time in coming, with Goldman clearly enjoying the twists involved with the story’s killer. Pepsi Twist was always the better one anyway.
Director: Johannes Roberts Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine Running Time: 85 minutes
People don’t want to think it’s safe to go back in the water. Jaws is a classic for a reason, but even getting away from that, movies like Open Water and last year’s hit The Shallows have made easy money by preying on audiences’ primal fear of the ocean and the black-beasts that lurk within. If you’ll forgive the phrasing, 47 Meters Down attempts to dive deeper into those fears, drawing its scares not just from its sharks but from threats like drowning, the bends, accidentally spear-gunning yourself and other nightmarish scenarios that arise when trapped on the ocean floor. A maniac chasing us through our dreams to kill us with knife-gloves and awful puns is impossible, but being eaten by a shark? Sure it’s a 1 in 264.1 million chance, but there’s still a chance, and it’s that fear that shark movies tap into to great effect. Unfortunately, while your chances of enjoying this film are a bit better than 1 in 264.1 million, it’s still a long way from a sure thing.
Director: Trey Edward Shults Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Riley Keough Running Time: 91 minutes
Shotguns getting cocked. Barking dogs. Barricaded houses. Cagey, distrustful men with southern accents. Fear of the dying and their blood and their viscera. Hiding infections. Arguments. Us or them. Shotguns getting shot.
It Comes at Night is not a film about zombies, but it’s undoubtedly a film that knows that its audience is familiar with zombie tropes, and that they can use them to follow the film’s path even as it obscures everything in darkness. When you’re as sick as the delirious, sore-covered grandfather who’s shown as this film opens, it’s immediately clear that a mercy kill is not too far away. When the environment is as tense and uncertain as what the audience sees here; a family of (recently) three hiding out in the woods after a contagious disease has ravaged the world, viewers know that almost always, human nature ends up being more dangerous than the literal threat. The last thing this equation needs is more people in it. So in, inevitably, they come.
Directed By: Lorcan Finnegan Starring: Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne Running Time: 93 minutes
Without Name is the first feature length film from Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley, the same team behind the short Foxes. The film celebrates ancient Irish folklore, returning it to its dark roots of mischievous fairy folk. The use of this mythology suits the eco-horror themes perfectly. We all know to steer clear of fairy rings and where the wrong places to be after dark are out in the country side. Without Name plays well on Irish superstitions.
Director: Kim Jee-woon Starring: Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-min, Um Tae-goo Running time: 140 minutes
Twists and turns are prerequisites of the spy thriller and at times, it can be difficult to get into a film that telegraphs its surprises by the very genre. Many attempt to pull it off by being so convuluted in their plotting that firm grips on what makes sense, what doesn’t and whose side who is on become harder to maintain. Though with a talented filmmaker like Kim Jee-woon, the director of I Saw the Devil and The Good, The Bad and the Weird and one or the most well regarded names in Korean cinema, a film like The Age of Shadows can provide those thrills handily and more besides.
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor Starring: Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Jon Berenthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow Running Time: 128 mins
The Accountant is a bit of an odd mixture of a movie. It sells itself as a smart, stylish, accounting based espionage thriller. Despite such lofty aspirations however, The Accountant is essentially just a big dumb action movie; the kind where characters spout cheesy one-liners to no one in particular before doing something cool. It would have been best to embrace that, but the film can’t seem to decide what kind of movie it wants to be – tongue-in-cheek action movie or serious thriller – it tries to be both, but never fully commits to or succeeds at being either. More “John Wick” than “Jason Bourne”, The Accountant still manages to provide plenty of thrills and (unintentional) laughs along the way.