5 things to watch this weekend – 22 to 24 March

The latest horror sensation from the director of Get Out tops this week’s handy hitlist of viewing recommendations.

Us (2019)

Us (2019)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out and – according to the director – a “straight-up horror movie”, after his debut’s melange of racial satire, black comedy and errrr… straight-up horror. Us sees a middle-class black family heading for vacation, only to find their break marred not by foul weather or a scatty Airbnb host but by an insane bloody-thirsty gang, called The Tethered, who look exactly like them.

Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke take on double-duties as the sojourning suburbanites Adelaide and Gabe AND their deadly alter-egos Red and Abraham. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker play their friends on the beach and in the brawl. Peele’s said that The Tethered represent the self-destructive qualities in all of us, the foibles that can bring us to our reckoning. Meanwhile his film has been picking up amazing reviews since its debut at SXSW earlier this year. There’s something wrong with us, but there’s nothing wrong with Us.

Sebastiane (1976)

Where’s it on?  Blu-ray

Sebastiane (1976)

Sebastiane, released in 1976, offered up a litany of firsts, although one of them was far from holy. Derek Jarman’s feature debut is a homoerotic historical thriller that tells the story of Saint Sebastian, one of the earliest LGBTQ+ icons. The film follows his path from Emperor Diocletian’s bodyguard to sun-god-worshipping political refugee to his iconic martyrdom, pin-cushioned by Roman arrows.

The first feature film to be made in Latin, Jarman’s sensual sweat-fest also featured the first non-porn on-screen erection, which he allegedly hid from the censors by showing them a widescreen version of his 4:3 ratio film, then removing the black borders hiding the ground-breaking boner after it passed uncut. The Blu-ray’s now available for the first time too, allowing us all to make deft use of the pause button.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Where’s it on?  Film Four, Sunday, 11:35pm

It sounds like a forgotten series of NCIS, and Werner Herzog’s 2009 detective drama/social polemic/breakdance video is just as much ridiculous fun. Nicolas Cage plays New Orleans police sergeant Terence McDonagh, who’s working a high profile murder case despite the city being wracked by Katrina and his mental state being addled by Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol. Somehow McDonagh must solve the case of five murdered illegal immigrants, who were every bit as caught up in drugs as he is. If only the hallucinations – including that breakdancer – would let him get on with the job.

As ever with Herzog, the off-screen shenanigans were as scintillating as the story he was trying to tell. Though he denied it, his film was based loosely on Abel Ferrara’s 1992 neo-noir Bad Lieutenant, and Ferrara was furious that it got remade. “I wish these people die in Hell,” he said of the remake/not-remake’s filmmakers. “I hope they’re all in the same streetcar, and it blows up.” Herzog’s response? “I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is.” Ouch!

The Dirt (2019)

Where’s it on?  Netflix

Watch through your fingers as the ludicrous story of a ludicrous band bursts all over Netflix in a shower of whiskey, glitter and stuff we’d rather not think about.

The Dirt is a biopic of Mötley Crüe, the 80s glam metal hedonists who somehow channelled a love of sex, stimulants and stupidity into tens of millions of album sales. Based on New York Times writer Neil Strauss’s eye-popping book, the film promises no shortage of thrills, spills and truly awful behaviour from the band’s founding members Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. On the rap sheet: drug overdoses, spousal abuse and vehicular manslaughter. It’s the kind of stuff you really shouldn’t joke about, so the band did: in 1984 Vince Neil was driving drunk when he crashed his car, killing his passenger, Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzie” Dingley. The Crüe’s early-00s boxsets, Music to Crash Your Car To, later paid tribute.

“The fans are dying for some anarchy,” says the trailer. The film will provide that at the least. They’re off-colour, outdated, but lumbering on nevertheless. Let’s see if Netflix can make these dinosaurs roar.  

The Ones Below (2015)

Where’s it on?  BBC2, Friday, 11.05pm

Theatre director David Farr made his film debut with this Repulsion-esque north London nightmare, released in 2016 and part-funded by the BFI. Pregnant Kate (Clémence Poésy) and her partner, Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore), have made their nest in the top half of an Islington terrace. Downstairs is in a state, until Theresa (Laura Birn) and Jon (David Morrissey) move in and make the place spic, span and very, very weird. Theresa and Jon have been trying for a baby for years, and, gradually, they let their jealousy of Kate’s pregnancy spill all over their surface politeness.

The Ones Below is a bubbling pot, but Farr manages to keep the lid on until the film’s finale, which is as wacky as it is terrifying. Until then, the true horror’s in how well Farr skewers affluent angst: wine, classism, kids, money and bitchiness. It all starts to look hauntingly familiar.

BFI Player logo

Discover award-winning independent British and international cinema

Free for 14 days, then £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try for free