Five things to watch this weekend – 12-14 April

Portals to Hell, shapeshifting reindeers and drug-fuelled God complexes – all on the menu for a weekend of watching.

Samuel Wigley

Hellraiser (1987)

Where’s it on?  BFI Player

Hellraiser (1987)

Film locations are always a boon for tourism, but we’ve yet to see any boosters for Dollis Hill make anything of the London neighbourhood’s whereabouts as a portal to Hell in this full-bore horror classic from author-turned-director Clive Barker. Based on his own novel, The Hellbound Heart, this is the one with the terrifying Cenobites and their spiky leader Pinhead – formerly human beings who now inhabit a godforsaken extra-dimensional realm. It’s a door to this realm that two newlyweds discover after moving into a north London flat. Barker’s film – freshly added for subscribers to BFI Player – was made for a relative pittance but made a ton of money. Even more than 30 years later it’s a rare horror film that still feels dangerous to the touch: a dazzlingly imaginative and disturbing odyssey into a deranged world of pure, erotic evil.

Mid90s (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut has been called Lady Bird for boys – a description that any boys who also rather liked Greta Gerwig’s own first feature may resent. But there’s no denying the similarities in a ubiquitous actor turning director with a film steeped in their own youth, creating a lived-in, nostalgia-heavy coming-of-age drama. Both are period films of the recent past, both came through the A24 indie production stable, and both are set in urban California. In Hill’s case, Mid90s is set in a 90s LA where the likes of The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Nirvana and the Pixies are never far from the stereo, and where 13-year-old Stevie (a film-winning turn from The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s Sunny Suljic) must navigate a bullying brother, a neglectful mum and the social codes of the skateboarding crew who take him under their wing.

The White Reindeer (1952)

Where’s it on?  Blu-ray

The ideal time for watching this legendarily loopy Lapland oddity would be the depths of winter – so frosty and snowbound are its feverish visuals. But if the new Blu-ray from Masters of Cinema has landed in our laps mid-Lent, we shouldn’t complain: it’s just great to have this long-obscure Finnish horror back in easy circulation. All but trembling off the screen with mythic weirdness, it’s about a lonely wife who – left to spend too many cold winter nights alone when her husband is away working – goes to visit the local shaman for help alleviating her sexual frustrations. The cure may not be what she was expecting, however: she’s transformed into the eponymous white reindeer – a vampiric shapeshifter that proves dangerously alluring to the local men. Unravelling as a nightmare fairytale in stark black-and-white images, put this one on the pile marked ‘needs to be seen to be believed’.

Wild Rose (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

This drama about a Scottish cleaner with an irrepressible passion for country music comes on like a late addition to the canon of films about hard-knocked Britons finding unlikely outlets for self-expression through untrendy pursuits like ballet or playing in a brass band. It even co-stars Julie Walters – the sub-genre’s serial award grabber. But Tom Harper’s film is more than just Hillbilly Elliott – not least as, this may go without saying, it’s the steel-strings-and-cowboy-boots version of country music that fires up Jessie Buckley’s Rose-Lynn rather than the no-teeth-and-a-banjo variety.

Fresh out of prison, and striving to bring up her two kids, she dreams of making it big in Nashville, finding a helpful patron in Sophie Okenado’s kindly bourgeois, who knows a good voice when she hears one. Viewers may fancy they know a star when they see one too, and Buckley’s roof-raisingly impassioned performance here will surely send her Hollywood way.

Bigger than Life (1956)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Sunday, 2.10am

Bigger than Life (1956)

Less famous than Nicholas Ray’s previous film, probably because it hasn’t got James Dean in it, Bigger than Life is every bit as essential as Rebel without a Cause in its excavation of 1950s suburban alienation and the tremors of discontent underlying the American Dream. James Mason plays a school teacher and family man who, after discovering he has a rare condition of the arteries, is prescribed an experimental course of the drug cortisone. As he becomes dependent on the prescription, Mason’s gently-mannered patriarch develops an escalating mania and delusions of grandeur that threaten to rip his family unit apart. Shot in astonishingly beautiful colour, with Ray making expressionistic use of the widescreen frame, Bigger than Life – which has a late-night screening on Talking Pictures TV this weekend – was named one of the top 10 American sound films by no less a figure than Jean-Luc Godard.

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