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Director: Lorcan Finnegan Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris Running Time: 97 minutes

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Even as news reports were starting to darken and arrive ever closer to our doors, while sitting in the sold out screening for the Opening Gala of VMDIFF 2020 it was difficult to imagine just how real Vivarium would become. Or how quickly the energy of a film premiere, glamorous stars ; a room packed full of people eagerly anticipating the uncertainty and possibilities of the immediate future, would feel like a bittersweet memory of oohhh, a billion years ago.

If Vivarium is a horror, it’s a horror about the domestic drudgery, a blunt jab at how social constructs can be so narrowly confined, widely expected and hellish to navigate that they can feel like a trap from which there is no escape. The fact that we all have to stay indoors right now with unknown and deadly consequences lurking ominously over us all the time has made the film’s blunt, exaggerated parody of suburbia very real in ways that director Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley (who paired previously on Without Name) might never have anticipated when putting this story together, and it would be hard to blame the average viewer for running a mile from its ideas at the moment. The black joke has gotten a few shades darker, but the film is so committed to the bit, so giddily weird, it manages to pull off the delivery.

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Director: Leigh Whannell Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen Running Time: 124 minutes

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Leigh Whannell is in the director’s seat for this modern adaptation of the 1897 sci-fi horror tale by H.G Wells. Whannell has had plenty of horror experience on screen, as a long time collaborator with James Wan. He’s also dipped his feat into directing with some impressive results. Insidious 3 was arguably the second best film of the series, and 2018’s Upgrade was well received by critics.

 

At a time when Ireland has just seen its first conviction for coercive control handed down in February of this year, it would be an understatement to say that the timing is appropriate to clear up narrow misconceptions about domestic abuse. It’s not always about physical abuse, nor is it exclusively about sexual harassment. Often, it’s a sociopathic lust for control. This is an aspect that The Invisible Man attempts to tap into, with limited success.

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Founded in 2009 by Hannah Neurotica, Women In Horror Month is an international grassroots initiative that assists female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through various events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. The vision is a world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression. Every February, WiHM supporters host events (blood drives, film screenings, art shows), write blogs and articles, conduct interviews, and create videos and podcasts for mass consumption, and over the last number of years has been a regular part of the calendar here in the fair city of film. Womxn in Horror Month Ireland are hosting a number of events this month.

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Director: Robert Eggers Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe Running Time: 109 minutes

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Flying witches, talking goats, mystical seagulls. That’s only a select few of the mad and intriguing things that director Robert Eggers has brought to his first two feature films; 2015’s The Witch and, now, The Lighthouse. There is no doubt that Eggers likes to challenge cinema goers or, more accurately, create stories that demand attention and encourage debate. A straightforward cinema experience is not something you are going to get here, but you are, without a doubt, the better for that. With The Lighthouse, Eggers delivers an atmospheric psychological thriller unlike any other you’ll see all year. This is an intoxicating, feverish, unnerving and often hilarious experience and one that will have fans ruminating on its messages for years.

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We here at Film In Dublin would be big fans of the aul Christmas now, whether it’s catching classics at the Light House or taking the time to look out for those in need around us. Or just eating cheese and crackers by the boxful. But even we can admit that the same old thing, year in, year out every December can occasionally wear a little thin. Enter Horrorthon to cater to those who are bloody tired of the Yuletide grind and are looking for something alternative. The Irish Film Institute and Horrothon will be hosting the screening of Deathcember, a Nollaig-nightmare that looks sure to delight horror fans.

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Later this month the experienced writer/producer Stephen Cleary will be in the fair city of film to provide two intriguing workshops on interest to budding storytellers on screen. Running next week with Film Network Ireland, the workshops will provide an opportunity to advance their knowledge of story structure, genre writing and more.

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As culture in our fair city of film continues to recede, bulldozed aside by the careless and artless to stick up a few more hotels, it is more important than ever to encourage those who share art for art’s own sake. Those who genuinely embrace the wonderful, the wild and the weird of cinema, rather than simply Press Up against it….

Cabaret Noise introduced themselves during the summer with their efforts to  bring “cinemas greatest and most forgotten oddities” to  venues and locations around Dublin and they will be returning in the weeks and months ahead with their second series, THE HARVEST BLOOD MOON, a selection of horror films about seasonal change that are set to take place at The Darkroom this autumn and winter, with admissions free of charge (and donations welcome).

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Directed by: Gary Dauberman Starring: Mckenna Grace, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson Runtime: 106 minutes

In light of the success achieved by James Wan’s The Conjuring in 2013, something interesting happened in the horror genre. The traditional horror franchise was reinvigorated with a sexy contemporary touch. What became known as The Conjuring universe was formed. Invoking the trend of the Marvel Universe, the deal worked well for all interested parties.  A fresh look on supernatural tales with a sincere effort that went into character development and that tried to find the balance between jump scare cliches and atmospheric horror. While The Conjuring and its 2016 sequel The Conjuring 2 did well to serve up a feast of scares, a distinct compelling feature was that it also had interpersonal depth. Indeed, it was as much character driven as it was driven by a desire to generate buzz around its refreshing demonic spirits. With characters like The Nun spurring justifiable albeit tepid spin-offs, supernatural investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are the cohesive glue that bind the Conjuring Universe together. The closer they’ve been to the series in the respective films, the better the films have fared, and with such good onscreen chemistry it’s easy to see why.

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Director: Ari Aster Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe Runtime: 147 minutes

Watching Midsommar feels like watching someone boil a frog. And no matter how much pretty lighting and composition you use in the process, you can’t help thinking “Why are we boiling this frog?”

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One of our most eagerly anticipated Irish releases this year, homegrown horror The Hole in the Ground has a new trailer out now that’s sure to leave your skin crawling, as Séana Kerslake surveys her son who’s come back from a mysterious hole out in the woods not quite right. The stylishly modern trailer combines some creepy imagery, old people smacking their heads off of windows, bodies flying, the ominous sight of the hole itself, set to a suitably scary version of the old classic of Irish infanticide, Weila Weila Walya. The film, premiering over at Sundance soon, will be out on Irish screens this spring. Check out the trailer after the jump.

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