3 to see at LFF 2018 if you like... extreme cinema

Michael Blyth recommends three hot tickets at the BFI London Film Festival: a film by an established director, a great debut and a wild card.

The new film from an established director…

Dragged Across Concrete

Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

What’s it about?

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play Brett Ridgeman and Anthony Lurasetti, a pair of renegade cops suspended from work after being caught on camera violently strong-arming a suspect. Meanwhile, ex-con Henry Johns returns home after a stint in prison to find his mother and brother facing perilous financial hardship.

Each with something to prove, the paths of these three men unexpectedly cross as they embark on a dangerous criminal plan from which none will emerge unscathed.

Who made it?

Dragged Across Concrete is the third film from S. Craig Zahler, following on from his acclaimed Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 (LFF 2015 and 2017, respectively). Anyone brave enough to have enjoyed (or endured?) either of those ultra-violent thrill rides will have an idea what lies in store this time around. For those unaccustomed, consider this a warning…

What’s special about it?

Quite simply, Zahler makes films like no one else. His approach to genre storytelling is thrillingly unconventional, consistently defying expectations and taking viewers on a journey they didn’t see coming. This is a bracingly eccentric (and often shockingly brutal) crime thriller for those who think they’ve seen it all before. 

See this if you like…

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975), Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997), Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler, 2017)

The breakthrough…

The Nightshifter

The Nightshifter (2018)

What’s it about?

The film tells the story of Stênio, a mortician’s assistant working in the basement of a bustling hospital in São Paulo. But Stênio is not like his fellow colleagues – he harbours the uncanny ability to communicate with the cadavers he tends to.

When the corpse of a recently deceased gangster gives him the skinny on his city’s criminal underworld, he uses the information to exact revenge on his deceitful wife. Big mistake. Huge. 

Who made it?

This unclassifiable exercise in the macabre is the debut feature from Dennison Ramalho, best known to horror aficionados for penning the most recent Coffin Joe entry Embodiment of Evil. With The Nightshifter we finally get to see the full extent of his macabre imagination.

What’s special about it?

Part crime thriller, part ghost story, part WTF curio, this is one of the most idiosyncratic and inventive horror films of the year. Effortlessly weaving together multiple narrative threads, delivering some wickedly dark humour and skilfully generating scares without resorting to those old familiar clichés, Ramalho’s film is a delightfully perverse potpourri of genre thrills and spills, positively bristling with tension and bold imagination. 

See this if you like…

Dellamorte Dellamore (Michele Soavi, 1994), We Are What We Are (Jorge Michel Grau, 2010), The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013)

The wild card…

All the Gods in the Sky

All the Gods in the Sky (2018)

What’s it about?

The disturbing tale of Simon, a depressed (and borderline sociopathic) factory worker living in the remote French countryside who devotes his life to caring for a younger sister left severely disabled following a horrific accident when the pair were children. But when social services get involved, Simon’s dedication becomes increasingly dangerous, as he looks to otherworldly forces as a means of protecting her. 

Who made it?

Developed from his acclaimed short, A Nearly Perfect Blue Sky, this is the latest film from the enigmatically named Quarxx. 

What’s special about it?

Very much a product of the New French Extremity movement, made famous in the 2000s courtesy of transgressive shockers such as Baise-moi, Irréversible and Martyrs, Quarxx’s film is every bit as controversial and distressing as such comparisons might imply. But it is also a deeply empathetic and emotional piece of work, with the innate power to move as much as shock. And boy, can it shock.

See this if you like…

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977), Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981), Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)

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