‘Love, Simon’ is a romcom starring Nick Robinson (‘Jurassic World’) as the titular character, but it’s a little different from your usual mainstream romcoms that often star heterosexual couples; Simon is gay and still in the closet. The films follows his journey of coming to terms with his identity when a classmate finds out his secret and uses it to blackmail him. He also begins falling for an anonymous pen pal who is struggling with his identity, and tries to figure out who it is. It’s like a love letter to queer teens and is a comforting story in the end, and also acknowledges the casual homophobia/stereotyping that has become normalised. It has sweet, likeable characters and a relatable story that will probably resonate with the LGBT+ community in particular for a while, while also providing a sense of understanding to audiences outside of the community as well.
‘Overlord’ is half war movie, half Cronenbergian horror film; based on the real operation Overlord during WWII, the story revolves around American soldiers who need to destroy a radio tower to cut off communication between the Nazis in a small town in France. However, it becomes apparent that disturbing experiments are taking place there which results in some amazing body horror, and used sparingly to great effect. The aesthetic and cinematography are really good, and at times feels like you’re watching a video game, particularly in one of the opening scenes when the soldiers jump out of a plane. Most elements of the films are done well, including the casting – Jovan Adepo is easy to empathise with as the moralistic protagonist, Boyce. Wyatt Russell (Kurt Russell’s son) stars as Ford, and proves himself to be a badass in his own right. This has to be one of the most underappreciated movies of the year.
This is proof that postmodern horror isn’t dead yet! ‘You Might be the Killer’ is best described as a slasher comedy that’s a cross between ‘The Mask’ and ‘Friday the 13th’, which isn’t a combination I would have imagined working, but it does. Fran Kranz stars as Sam, a camp counsellor who finds himself covered in blood, surrounded by murder victims, and experiencing memory loss. When he calls Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), his horror movie encyclopaedia of a friend, she suggests that Sam might actually be the killer. It’s a fun time that had me laughing out loud (how could I not at “The Kayak King”? You had to be there) but it also had me genuinely empathising with Sam’s character. Luckily the ending was left open, so there better be a sequel.
‘Infinity War’ was easily one of the most hyped up movies of the year – after all, roughly 10 years of the MCU had been building up to this. This penultimate Avengers film brought together nearly everyone a nerd could dream of, as it also included the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Having the Russo brothers at the helm was a brilliant choice, since Whedon’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was so disappointing. The Avengers and co. team up in this epic crossover to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from collecting all of the infinity stones, which would allow him to control the universe. There were a lot of concerns I had going into this film; that the tones of ‘Avengers’ and ‘Guardians’ would clash, it would be overcrowded, and that there would be too much comedy (which is usually my problem with some MCU films). Particularly after having my hopes crushed that ‘Age of Ultron’ would be darker as its trailer suggested, I thought ‘Infinity War’ was also giving me false hope for something with more depth. However, it managed to find the perfect balance between comedy and incredibly sad moments that genuinely brought a tear to my eye, and even stood up to multiple viewings. I was wonderfully surprised by how good it was, and it boasts some great performances from Zoe Saldana, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan and Robert Downey Jr. in particular. Now I can’t wait to see ‘Avengers: Endgame’, the end of the Avengers as we currently know them.
‘Call me by Your Name’ is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, about a teenager in 1980s Italy called Elio (Timothee Chalamet) who falls for an older man that’s been hired as his father’s research assistant (played by Armie Hammer) for the summer. The film doesn’t rely on the narrative to be engaging, as not much really happens in terms of plot, but rather the chemistry between the two main characters. It’s sensual without being overly reliant on nudity or gratuitous sex scenes which is all thanks to the brilliant acting. Although Chalamet and Hammer are the main focus of the film, it’s impossible to go without mentioning Michael Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father, who delivers a beautiful monologue near the end which says what most people probably need to hear. Overall, it’s about love and cherishing moments of love while you can, and although not necessarily being a tragic movie I finished it feeling heartbroken for Elio (the last 2 minutes will do that to you, along with Sufjan Stevens’ contribution to the soundtrack). However, it’s a film that celebrates the whole spectrum of human emotion and encourages its audience to stop being afraid of getting hurt, but rather to feel pain when necessary instead of becoming numb to it.
When I heard this film was a zombie musical comedy (set during Christmas, I should add), I was already sold. While the concept is fairly simple, it’s something that could really easily have fallen flat but due to the catchy songs, incredibly talented cast and well-written script, it landed. A zombie apocalypse hits the town of Little Haven, so Anna and her friends have to fight for survival while they try to find their loved ones and make sure they’re safe. The main cast are mostly unknown but hopefully up-and-coming, because they’re all talented as hell with beautiful voices; Anna (Ella Hunt) and John’s (Malcom Cumming) voices sounds great together, and along with their friends are the most precious characters that you can’t help but root for (Sarah Swire as Steph is ridiculously adorable). Not only is it funny, but also has heart and packs an emotional punch. It’s now going to be added to my list of mandatory Christmas viewing, and I hope it becomes the cult hit that it deserves to be.
You’d think after having 3 different versions of Spider-Man hitting our screens in the span of about 10 years that we wouldn’t need another one. That’s where you’d be wrong, because ‘Into the Spider-verse’ is possibly the one to beat them all. Rather than focusing completely on Peter Parker, this is Miles Morales’s story, a teenager who becomes the Spider-Man of his reality who has to team up with 5 others like him from different dimensions. Together, they need to stop the threat to their realities. Firstly, the animation is beautiful and unique. It has a comic book style that really makes it stand out in a way I haven’t seen much of before. It’s funny and emotional, and doesn’t just go over the same old story that we’re used to from previous adaptations. Bringing all the different versions of Spider-Man gave it a fresh perspective, and showed what the character is really about.
I can’t say that a sequel to one of the most influential horror films of all time, one that defined the slasher genre, which was going to be directed by the guy behind the train wreck that is ‘Your Highness’ (2011), was something that sparked hope in me. However, I’m not too proud to admit when I’m so remarkably wrong about something, so here we go – I loved this movie. I didn’t have any expectations for it, and it surprised me in the best ways. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has to confront her fear of Michael Myers when he’s on the loose, and this time she has family to protect. It pays homage to the original without completely banking on nostalgia for its success, and it does a great job at reminding us of what a terrifying person Myers is. You know they did well with that when you actually think to yourself, “is Michael going to stab that baby?” at one point. The Shape returns more brutal than ever, with some violent death scenes but also retaining his fair share of off-screen kills. One thing I felt it actually improved on from the original was making me care more about the background characters who get killed off, whereas in the first film Laurie’s friends aren’t very likeable. However, the film does a good job of showing you snippets of the lives of the people who get killed through short conversations they’re having which was effective in getting more of a reaction out of their deaths. Furthermore, the film does also have an edge of comedy to it too (which isn’t a surprise considering Danny McBride of all people helped pen the script), so the characters feel more real. Curtis returns with what I believe is an Oscar-worthy performance, so this isn’t one to miss.
The synopsis for ‘One Cut of the Dead’ goes a little something like this – when a Japanese crew are filming a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse, they end up being attacked by real zombies. However, that’s just one part of the film and it has so much more to it in ways that I didn’t expect at all. It’s best to go into this movie without knowing much about it, because you will be caught off guard by how smart, hilarious, and perfectly executed it is. According to IMDb, the first 37 minutes is one take and the whole film was shot in 8 days. If that’s true, then it’s a testament to the dedication of the cast and crew. This has quickly made it into my top 10 favourite films ever; it’s one of those ones you walk out of smiling, and reminds you of why movies are so amazing in the first place. At the end of the day, it’s about not only the difficulties of the filmmaking process itself but also the joys of it. This is a great time for anyone, even for people who might not be horror fans, and is best enjoyed in an audience.
Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman brought their stage play ‘Ghost Stories’ to the big screen in 2018, and it’s no secret how much I love it. Nyman co-wrote the script but also stars as Professor Phillip Goodman, who is asked to reconsider his scepticism of the supernatural and investigate three unexplained cases. Not only does it have brilliant performances all around – Paul Whitehouse did some of his best work here in my opinion, and Alex Lawther provides humour with his uneasy, paranoid character – but every element of the film is done well. The story is constructed well and has a good plot twist, the music will give you chills, even the jump scares don’t feel cheap. The camerawork and set designs are also something to be admired, especially in the third act. Independent horror films have had a good year to say the least.
So, it seems that 2018 was actually a pretty good year for film. Some others that I loved and are also very much worth watching are ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘You Were Never Really Here’, ‘Game Night’, ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘The Death of Stalin’. Let’s hope the good stuff keeps coming in 2019!