Reviews Editor at THN and Freelance Writer
|Tigers are not Afraid (Vuelven)
James Cameron's low-budget tech-noir has aged like a fine wine. The film helped launch Arnold Schwarzengger whilst at the same time demonstrating the directing prowess of Cameron. Other than the effects which were clearly ahead of their time, much like a lot of Stan Winston’s other work, the element that helps THE TERMINATOR survive the years is the story. Not only does the plot have great science fiction elements, but it also has some brilliant slasher movie conventions – in many ways Sarah is the ‘final girl’, having been aware that something wasn’t quite right from first hearing the news about the first murdered Sarah Connor. More than both of those aspects though is the love story at the heart of the film. Kyle Reese has come across time purely so that he can be with the woman that he loves. Michael Biehn gives an incredible turn as the love-lorn soldier, injecting into Kyle Reese a mix of bravery, courage, pathos
From the opening moments atop the hill, to its closing moments set to Gary Jules’ haunting cover of Tears for Fears song ‘Mad World’, Donnie Darko is simply perfect. The script is tightly written, balancing all the science jargon and philosophical chatter with eighties pop cultural references and humour. The moody cinematography sets the atmosphere beautifully, and Kelly showcases a lot of technical flair. The sequence where Tears for Fears’ ‘Head Over Heels’ played over footage that is sped-up or slowed down as Donnie arrives at school is superb. It feels like a music video in the middle of the film, something that shouldn’t work, but does.
Aliens is a true masterclass in action, tension and how to make a sequel that doesn’t just repeat the original’s formula. It was revolutionary for its time, Cameron taking the format of Alien, Ridley Scott’s haunted house in space, and morphing it into an action-heavy sci-fi war movie. The perfect alignment of horror, action and science-fiction, Aliens has everything needed to entertain and enthral. It’s shocking to think that this was only Cameron’s third feature film.
Underneath its war movie facade Aliens is an incredibly layered character study, built around Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. Through Ripley, Aliens explores trauma, survivor’s guilt, motherhood (in all its forms), and resilience. Aliens charts Ripley’s metamorphosis from haunted recluse to womanly warrior at the same time as giving a whole generation of girls a heroine to aspire to. Weaver gives such a fantastic turn that she earned herself an Academy Award nomination, the first woman to ever get one for a film in this genre. Whilst she she may not have won, the combination of her committed performance and Cameron’s sizzling script are what have helped the film stand the test of time.
Tigers are not Afraid (Vuelven)
Tigers Are Not Afraid ensnares the viewer from it’s opening story of the Prince who forgot how to be a tiger, and doesn’t let go until the credits have finished rolling. A beautiful blend of Pan’s Labyrinth, City of God and Hook, Tigers Are Not Afraid has everything you could want from a film; darkness, light, pathos and hope. To get all of this into just eighty-five minutes beggars belief. A strong commentary wrapped up in a beautifully nightmarish world makes Tigers are not Afraid a formidable and stunning feature film that should be seen by everybody.
An atmospheric, bloody, and very British affair that will chill you to the bone, Hellraiser perfectly introduced the beautifully twisted mind of Clive Barker to cinema goers across the globe. Pinhead and the Cenobites may have been who initial audiences clung to and feared, but it is actually Julia who is the villain of the piece. She’s the ultimate wicked step-mother and one of the few horror antagonists that are female. Yet audiences didn’t seem ready to accept her character; instead of clamouring for more of Julia’s particular brand of devotion, they fell for the cruel and oddly calm nature of the Cenobites.
Whilst at the time of release, audiences were enthralled and entranced by the Cenobites and that nasty Lament Configuration Puzzle Box, the film has maintained its popularity because of Barker’s prose. Hellraiser is a movie that pushes boundaries in every sense, and much like Barker’s literature, it isn't afraid of a taboo topic.
A film that I have grown up with, Jurassic Park is the epitome both summer blockbuster and family film. Based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name the film has something for everyone; horror, humour, thrills, action, drama and it's easy to see why it is beloved by an entire generation. The effects are testament to the creativity of Stan Winston and it really does feel like you are watching real dinosaurs on-screen. The story is sold by the excellent work of (then) indie-darlings Laura Dern, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum. A film 65 million years in the making and one that will likely still be impression in another 65 million years.
On the surface Raw might sound like a film about a deranged cannibal, but it’s so much more. Justine is hungry for flesh, and the experience also awakens other desires within herself. A late bloomer, she suddenly finds herself on the brink of a sexual awakening amidst all the carnage. Much like Ginger Snaps, Raw utilises a horror movie trope perfectly as a metaphor for the transition from girl to womanhood. It also manages to sum up the anxiety of moving away from home, and the insane nature of fresher’s week. Thankfully mine was never this extreme.
The pace is perfect and director Julia Ducournau manages to suck the viewer in so intensely that, by the end credits, they have hit a trance-like state and one that will take a while to shake it off. Ferocious and flawless, Raw grips you from the get go and doesn’t spit you out until the bitter end. Simply incredible.
The neon visuals dazzle, and the techno soundtrack pulses. Each fight scene is accompanied by a pounding dance heavy score, with the occasional rock song thrown into the mix – THE MATRIX soundtrack anyone? Perfectly complimenting both the action pieces and the thumping soundtrack is a glorious visual style. Think graphic novel come to life and you’re along the right path
With one of the bleakest endings of all time The Mist is easily one of the best adaptations of Stephen King's work. That ending was added by Darabont for the film, the novella one which is based halts before the truly nasty stuff begins. Available to watch in both colour and black and white, each version gives a slightly different viewing experience. The latter conjures up b-movie feelings but never loses it's impact. As the years go on The Mist only becomes more relevant. Once Mrs Carmody was an irritating but magnetic screen villain, now she resides everywhere ready to judge those who don't agree with her.
The third film from Rian Johnson, Looper, is easily his strongest offering. A long-time development from Johnson Looper blended James Cameron's The Terminator and Robert Zemeckis Back to the Future with elements of the Western to create a truly captivating time-travel movie. As good as the acting and as compelling as the story is, it is the sound design, score and world-building that are unique. Continuing on from Brick, Johnson imbues the world of Looper with it's own slang and lexicon of phrases, whisking the viewer away. One of the best original science-fiction movies in decades, it's easy to see why the House of Mouse suddenly started paying him attention after this.
Whilst my choices may not be the most traditional of picks, each of these films hold a place in my heart, which to me is what makes cinema so special.